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Jason Lanier's High-Frame-Rate Portrait Method

When new technology becomes available, forward thinking photographers like Jason Lanier (@jasonlanierphotography) like to push it and see what it can do, to see the applications that the technology is suited to that it might not specifically have been designed for. So as he’s been using the Sony α9, Lanier, who shoots a lot of portraiture, has been putting the camera’s high frame rate to use, not to “spray and pray”, but to make best use of his model’s efforts and to get exactly the right shot.
In this video describing how he’s working with the α9 and high frame rates, Lanier says, “When the α9 first came out a lot of people, myself included, were super excited about the fact that this was an answer for people to be able to utilize the 20 frames per second with the electronic shutter for a lot of applications. Those applications including sports, wildlife, that kind of photography. Really fast, action type stuff.”

He continues, “I was a wedding photographer for many years, and I've shot some 300 weddings. And in that time, you learn the art of throwing veils and throwing the trains of the dresses, and so on. If you try to capture it with a five-frames-per-second camera, or a seven-frames-per-second camera, or a three-frames-per-second camera, whatever it may be, it can be frustrating.”


Enter the α9 with 20 frames per second. He explains, “When I shoot with the α9 I’m not wasting a single moment or a single ounce of effort from my subjects…When you are doing shots where there's fluidity, where you have a subject that’s moving, these high frames per second can be phenomenal. They can do something different for your work. And I guarantee one more thing. When your subjects see that not a single drop of their sweat and effort is wasted and that you're capturing all of it, they're gonna love you for it.
Lanier also comments on how he’s using the AF in the camera when shooting his high-frame-rate portraits, “One thing I will note is the facial recognition on this camera. The α9's focus is the best focus system I've ever used in any camera, hands down. And with the focus on this camera, the fact that it will maintain focus on her is a game changer for me. I don't have to worry about a flexible spot or center focus or just choosing my focus point. The camera does it for me. That's an enormous benefit when your subject's moving around and you want to keep focus on the face.”
There are other fast cameras on the market, but Lanier emphasizes that 20 frames per second is a quantum leap forward. “I will tell you, having shot with the α6500 or shot cameras that are 10, 11 frames a second, 20 frames a second is a completely and utterly different ballgame. To be able to shoot that in a full-frame sensor, it's amazing.”

See more about Jason Lanier here

You can follow him on YouTube and on Instagram @jasonlanierphotography