How I Shoot: Capturing Portraits of Friends with @wesleytaylor

How I Shoot is a series where we ask Instagrammers to tell us about the setup and process behind their photos and videos. For more portraits from Wesley’s adventures, follow @wesleytaylor on Instagram.

For Instagrammer Wesley Taylor (@wesleytaylor), every portrait is an opportunity to connect more deeply with a friend. “I enjoy shooting portraits because the possibilities are so endless!” he explains. “The range of human emotions is there just waiting to be captured. I love how even the same emotions can look different depending on the person or their surroundings. I get a jolt of adrenaline when I see a portrait begging to be made.”

Want to try your hand at capturing portraits of your friends? Wesley provides the following tips:


iPhone 5

Vantage Point

"The majority of my shoots are spontaneous. Often a patch of light catches my eye, I’ll see a wall that someone matches perfectly, or I’ll have an idea and grab a friend who’s nearby. Over the last year I’ve focused on staying aware of my surroundings and making use of them to the best of my ability.

"Typically I take a quick survey of the surroundings, live in the space for a few minutes when possible, and then decide how my subject could fit in and interact with (or sometimes ignore) what’s going on around them. I’ll look for the way light is hitting a spot, or how the shadows can convey a specific mood."


"Have your subject face toward or stand in the light. Pay attention to what moving them around does to their face, or to the feel of the portrait in general. One quick way to tell if you’re in good light for a close crop: take a picture and check their eyes. For most portraits, even moody ones, you’ll want to use the energy and emotion in their eyes to convey your message. Making sure the face is well-lit also gives a solid base to any portrait.

"For me, using an app that allows me to split and lock focus and exposure is invaluable! I love being able to choose how I want a portrait to look—often it’s a matter of tricking the camera into seeing things the way my eye does. Find the brightest light source, and move the exposure reader closer to it to make the portrait darker or further away to make it brighter. Don’t forget to double-tap to lock it. Always make sure your focus is in the right place—it’s a very simple detail that can make the difference between a perfect or unusable shot.

"Don’t be afraid to take as many shots as you can! Have your subject do different things with their body and hands. Sometimes it’s the ‘in-between’ shot that is the best! Get creative, and always keep shooting. Regardless of what you’re shooting, where you are or what your purpose is, never forget to enjoy the process and the people you’re with. What’s the point otherwise?"


"For the last year or so I’ve used VSCOCam exclusively, with the exception of the native camera app for quick shots. I’ve used a wide variety of apps in the past, but I’ve found that being in control of the focus and exposure combined with the finesse of the tools VSCO provides works best for me. I’m a fan of the film-inspired filters as well, and loved the ability to give the Faces of Friends portraits a uniform look despite the fact they were taken on different days at different times.”