Throwback Thursday: Evocative Portraiture Field Trip

In August, we were lucky to have traveling photographer and artist Ally Schmaling teach us a CM Field Trip on Evocative Portraiture over at the brand new Archery in the Mission. Here’s what you missed:

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Deep in the Mission lies a neighborhood of industrial lofts and buildings. Scattered among them are the SFPCA, Farmhouse Kitchen Thai, and a seemingly nondescript garage, freshly renovated with the sweet smell of fresh paint still in the air, and a head a bright pink hair running around. Ally Schmaling (they/them), a queer, non-binary artist and photographer, visited CMSF Field Trips all the way from Boston to talk about what portraiture means to them, and how they use it to document and elevate queer and gender-expansive communities with their art.

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First up, Ally warmed up the class by sharing, not only their own inspiration photos, but by welcoming us to connect with our fellow classmates and share our own history with photography, portraiture, and the creative process.

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Portraiture is play. Photography becomes art when you decide what story is going to be told. A portrait’s story comes across when you play with the subject body and invoke weird feelings with the imagery.

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With our lovely model Clara as the first subject, Ally showed us how it’s done, using lighting, movement, and even trash as her paintbrushes. Non-traditional lighting techniques, thought-provoking composition, and a sense of curiosity are all tools that can help you as a photographer engage your subject in a way that is, above all else, authentic.

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Whether you have your trusty iPhone, a  easy-to-use point-and-shoot, or a heavy duty DSLR, photography is for everyone. Trust your eye to find what evokes emotion, even if it’s not for everyone. It’s OK to color outside the lines.

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Thanks again to Ally Schmaling for teaching a truly unique and hands-on workshop. Thanks also Chiara and the Archery team for hosting us in their beautiful new photography studio. You can find the co-working space at 470 Alabama St in the Mission. Photos by Sana Maq. Check out more photos on Flickr and Ally’s Portfolio.