The Portrait Group Out And About

The Portrait Group's aims and objectives

The Portrait Group has been active for a number of months and is part of the Club's Mentoring Initiative. It's led by Ray Kearney, a long- standing member who has been a professional photographer and has over 30 years' experience.

The group aims to help members gain experience in both working with and directing real, everyday people when using natural light.  


The main objective of the group is to give members advice and share tips and techniques in directing ordinary people rather than professional models, as may be found in some businesses offering "Portrait Day" shoots in studios. These can be a bit daunting to some and the end result can sometimes appear rather staged. Instead of using any type of flash, initially, the group will focus on mastering natural light in portraits in natural locations.  

The Group's early sessions

A couple of outdoor locations were chosen and a group of photographers booked a place on a shoot through the Club's website. Keeping the numbers to small groups (a max of 5) ensured photographers and models had ample space as they moved around during the shoot location.



In the first couple of sessions, the group photographed other members who were attending, as each person took a turn to be the model. As no one had any modelling experience, it was up to the photographers to direct the 'model'. This worked very well and everyone entered into the spirit with some even enjoying the limelight of being a 'model'! 

The initial shoots took place in Denzell Gardens in Altrincham on Sunday mornings, as the Gardens can only be used at weekends; the main house is used as offices during the week and there are lots of cars and workers around, which isn't ideal.

To accommodate those members who couldn't make the weekend dates, Ray selected Walkden Gardens, in Sale, as an alternate venue as it's very quiet and full of beautiful backdrops.

The later sessions

After these initial sessions, and in order to take the photographers out of their comfort zone, (after all, directing friends and people that you know is easier), Ray sought out volunteer models via a post in his local Facebook group, requesting locals of any age or gender who would be willing to take part. There were no costs or fees involved but each participant would receive a set of images from each photographer who photographed them. He was overwhelmed, as more than thirty people contacted him wanting to take part…a fabulous response!  



Organising the first volunteer shoots was a lot more complicated, as two shoots were set for Walkden Gardens on a Monday and Friday and one for a Sunday at Denzell Gardens. The problem he had given himself was to find 15 models and 15 photographers!



Needless to say, the models and photographers came through in the end and everyone said they really enjoyed the experience. Several of the models said they would love to do it again. Some of them said they were very nervous at first and pushed themselves to join in and then couldn't believe what a confidence boost it was for them. A couple of photographers admitted to being slightly terrified at the thought of working with total strangers but they really got into it and produced some brilliant images, as you can see here.



Group feedback and mentoring

The group shares images in their Portrait WhatsApp group, with Zoom and face to face meetings held to help provide feedback and further mentoring, as appropriate.

Future sessions

The Group has more sessions planned going forward, so if you are interested in joining the Club, take a look at our 'join the club' page.  Existing members can of course join the group via the Interest Groups page in the members' area.

Roll on the next few sessions!