formal portrait help wanted

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Desdemona, Sep 14, 2007.

  1. Desdemona

    Desdemona TPF Noob!

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    Hi Everyone,

    I'm looking for some help and advice as I've been asked to take formal portraits of parents and students at our school awards ceremony next week. (I'm one of the teachers.) People think I'm a decent photographer, which is why I've been asked, but I usually do candid shots or landscapes, and they usually only see my best shots!

    We're going to do it as a sort of post-ceremony production line, where each family comes forwards, does their pose and goes. It's an important moment in the lives of the students, at their age, and I want to get it right. The trouble is, I'm never too good at those posed pictures. I'm not sure how to put people at their ease and stop them looking totally uncomfortable. I thought of taking a few on burst mode - is this a good idea?

    I probably won't have much in the way of set up beyond a tripod, a camera and a blank wall. Is there anything I can do to make the light work better? (It will probably be dark outside, and I'll have overhead strip lights - not ideal, I know.) Or anything I should do with camera settings to make the light work for me? (I've got a Panasonic FZ7)

    Many thanks one and all!
     
  2. Mike_E

    Mike_E No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Here you go.
    http://www.msnusers.com/Asktheoleproaboutphotography/joezeltsman.msnw

    If you can do a custom white balance or you camera is good with auto WB you might look for some Halogen work lights. You surely know someone who has some and you can use white foam core for reflectors. What ever you do, don't use your on camera flash if you can help it.
     
  3. JIP

    JIP No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I think it would help to know exactly what you have as a setup now. Also, how formal do you want these pictures to be. An idea for a decent setup might be to have a flash (if you have one if you don't you need to get one pronto) mounted on a light stand off to the side with a reflector as has been stated you can use foamcore. Des I think any of the links from Zeltzman might be a little elaborate for what the op has or even wants to do. One place that might be helpful though mught be http://strobist.blogspot.com/ because alot of what he does is on location with flashes not studio lights.
     
  4. kundalini

    kundalini Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    ...hmmm...I was just wondering. If you're good and prefer the candid stuff, is there any chance to have a few really good jokes or wisecracks about the ceremony. As you're cracking them up in an unguarded moment, fire off a few bursts. As it may lighten the mood, the formal shots could be less stiff looking.

    Another thought might be to visit your local photo shop, tell them of the conditions you will have to shoot in. They may let you rent the extra equipment needed at a nominal price to make decent portraits into good portraits. To take it a step further, ask if they will donate for the night by you posting their business name in you "studio". Never hurts to ask. Push the fact that it's for the school that you teach at.
     
  5. Desdemona

    Desdemona TPF Noob!

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    These are great ideas; thanks very much. It's been kind of sprung on me with no time to prepare, but I might be able to get some equipment from the Art dept. I'll definitely need to prepare some "chat" so that I put people at their ease, and some jokes are a good idea!
     
  6. JIP

    JIP No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I think the rental idea is a great one just be sure to practice with whatever you get before the important night.
     

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