Table Top Portraits

By Gilmar Smith

My Platypod doesn't travel to exotic locations like Dave William's, but it goes on different kinds of adventures. Last week, my Platy Ultra hosted a Portrait Party in my garage studio.

I Invited a few friends from the Photography industry to take the first images of a new portrait series called Tabletop Portraits with my Platypod. This has been a series I have wanted to start for a while, so I finally gathered a few props, made a table out of reclaimed wood and set up my studio in my garage.

Table Top Portrait Setup.jpg

To some photographers, I may have committed a crime by shooting my subjects at a focal length of around 24mm and a low perspective, but sometimes to create images with impact you have to break a few rules. Don't get me wrong, I'm all about learning the rules, but I am also a rebel by heart, and I'm not scared to break a rule or two in order to portray my vision.

Breaking the rules of portrait photography of Tatiana 2.jpg

By placing my Platypod Ultra at the table, I gave my subjects a sense of intimacy. They easily connected with the camera. The subjects and their emotions look larger than life. If you are familiar with my work, this is my number one approach when taking portraits. The angle makes you feel so close to the subjects as if you were right there taking the picture.

Intimate portrait photography Clinton.jpg

I recently moved my home studio from my living room to my one car garage. I set my Franklin Backdrop, two V-Flats, put together a table with reclaimed wood, and set up my lights. After setting all this up, space was really tight. Having placed my camera on a tripod, we wouldn't have had any room to walk around.

table top portrait setup.jpg

I always have a clear idea in my head of the images I want to create and for these, I had envisioned my subjects filling the frame, being really close to the lens, and I knew my Platypod was the perfect tool for the job.

Close up table top potrait 5 Kara 2.jpg

In this social media era, you have to be bold and create impactful art that makes your audience stop for a few seconds and double tap on your image.

You have to use what is available to you and be creative. And by that, I am not talking just about gear. I'm talking about your network, your personality, what makes you different from the rest, your sense of humor, the way you connect with people, and your techniques to bring emotion out of your subjects. Those are things you cannot buy in a store, but they definitely make a big difference when you are creating art.

I always try to bring an element of fun and emotion into my images. You can easily see when somebody is not comfortable in front of the camera, and that can totally break an image. It takes one laugh for them to be comfortable.

Fan table top portrait session with Austin.jpg

As I mentioned before, these images were shot in my home studio, but you could easily create images like these while you are out eating with friends, family or your significant other. I will give you some ideas:

  1. If you're a natural light shooter make sure you ask for a table close to a window when you go to a restaurant. Place your camera on your Platypod and shoot pretty pictures of whoever is with you or even your food!

    • Restaurants usually have very nice light fixtures. Include them in your shot!

    • Some restaurants and bars have neon lights. Use these for your advantage. They make colorful and beautiful flare.

  2. If you have a flash with you, use two Platypods; one for your camera and one for your flash, you can use a napkin to diffuse your light!

  3. Bring your Platypod and camera to family gatherings such as Thanksgiving and create fantastic memories with your loved ones.

table top portraiture 7 Angelica.jpg

A huge thanks to Nikon for sending me the gorgeous camera I used to shoot this portraits, a Nikon Z7 and a 24-70mm f4 lens. Other BIG thanks to my beautiful subjects, Angelica Chrysler, Autin Burke, Clinton Lofthouse, KaraRobinson and Tatiana Sidorova.

Fun table top portrait shoot with Tatiana 1.jpg
Dramatic portrait from a table top  Kara 1.jpg

Gilmar Smith is an Orlando-based photographer, content creator, Photoshop addict & social media junkie! Visit her at and be sure to follow her on Instagram

Noah Christensen