help!...advice on portraits please

Discussion in 'The Professional Gallery' started by Arch, Jan 24, 2006.

  1. Arch

    Arch Damn You! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Hi all,
    I was sat in my office today (i'm a graphic designer by trade and i'm in a building with a load of other companies media, design, exhibitions etc) and a lady came in about some exhibition design and asked if there was a photographer in the building. Scince i have renewed enthusiasm for photography (after going digital) one of my collegues said "yea he can do it". Well i wasn't too confident but thought what the hell!

    Trouble is up untill now i'v only ever done landscape, abstract, industrial style stuff and she wants portraits of her and her working partner for advertising materials. Basically thier a kind of performace duo that do stuff for charities, hospitals etc. She said about doing some of them together normally and also with some of thier costumes and stuff on.....

    Does anyone have any tips for this kind of thing?....i'v read through some stuff about managing your subject and so on, but should i ask them to pose in certain positions or should i tell them to do whatever is natural to them?

    Any advice would be much appreciated :D
     
  2. 303villain

    303villain TPF Noob!

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    i have always struggled with this question too! someone enlighten us! :)
     
  3. markc

    markc TPF Noob!

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    I think a lot will depend on how you like to work. If you have a knack for directing people and usually work by pre-visualizing an image and then making it happen, then reading up on various poses and formal lighting techniques would probably serve you best.

    If you are like me and tend to like just going with the flow, then having them interact with each other while you observe and grab the shots that present themselves might be better.

    The end result tends to be rather different, so knowing what they want would be major factor also. Since you haven't done much portrature, maybe a good mix of both.

    Not to discourage you, but getting good studio-style shots is harder that it looks. They will be compared to what everyone sees in the magazines done by practiced pros.

    If I were doing it, I'd use a large window as a light source with a big piece of foam core as a reflector. I'd have them talk and tell stories about their past exploits and watch for those moments that make a great picture.
     
  4. Arch

    Arch Damn You! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Thanks markc, that helps alot. Yea i am the type that would go with the flow and create a rapport with the person, wouldn't want to do too much planning.

    I think the pictures would only be used for local interest, plus i mentioned to her that i dont have all the top proffessional equipment and if she wanted something really studio style she should go for a reputable pro.... but she really didn't want to spend the money! which is good for me. :thumbup:

    The window idea sounds good because she mentioned doing them at her home so that should give me a starting point.

    Great advice thanks :thumbup:
     
  5. markc

    markc TPF Noob!

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    No problem. Since you are going that route, here's some more ideas.

    I don't like flash, especially on-camera flash. If you don't have a separate flash to use, I'd skip it. Use a prime lens if you have it so you have a wide aperture as an option. Up the ISO if need be to keep the shutter speed above 1/focal-length. A wide aperture will also blur out the background so that you don't have to worry about it so much. If you go with a really shallow DOF, just make sure that the close eye is in focus (preferably both).

    A translucent white shower curtain also makes a great diffuser or reflector. If you need more light (like a cloudy day), put one or more bright lights behind the curtain for a "wall of light" instead of the window.

    Good luck!
     
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  6. df3photo

    df3photo TPF Noob!

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    On the posing you might just shoot them working on something (doing there normal job) maybe have them pull a table up to a window instead of a cluttered cubical. More journalistic looking... that way you dont have to pose them much, just have them look up acouple times or whatever.
    If they want a more "power" look, shoot low... by this i dont mean lay on the ground by there feet. Just alittle lower than normal eyelevel and stand back a normal distance.
    the best tip i could proably give you is shoot alot of pictures... and your sure to get something good out of them.
    good luck, and have fun doing it (it tends to show in the work.)
     
  7. Arch

    Arch Damn You! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Thanks markc thats great advice, i had a feeling she wanted the more natural look rather than bright studio so i will take on board everything you've said.
    The shower curtain is an interesting idea...i'll check out the cheep homeware shop beforehand and see if i can pick one up.....don't think she'd be too happy if i rip down hers! :lol:

    thanks also to you df3, getting them to just do thier thing should bring up some interesting resaults! don't worry i'll be filling my whole 1G card....she's gotta like one of them right!!

    Thanks again :thumbup:
     
  8. Christie Photo

    Christie Photo No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    uhhh.... this is a delicate issue for me to address. My situation is the other way around. I'm in an office with a graphics guy. Since the popularity of digital cameras, he's seen a bunch of this sort of "good enough" photography submited from his clients. Fortunately for me, he advises them when the photos really fall short, or when they're more important images.

    I would think any photo for advertising is important, since business is on the line. I'd bet you too have seen a lot of in-house desktop design that falls short.

    So.... what I'm trying to say here (without gettin myself in trouble) is, you might be better off leaving the photography to photographers.

    Photographing people has many different concerns compared to landscapes and the like. If you have time (and there usually isn't in your trade), shoot some images for approval. If it doesn't fly, then bring in a photographer.

    Just some of my thoughts. I truely hope I haven't offended anyone.

    Pete
     
  9. Christie Photo

    Christie Photo No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    EXCELLENT idea! You can be sure I'll add that one to my collection.

    Pete
     
  10. Arch

    Arch Damn You! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Thanks for your comments but like i said earlier, i'v already told the client if she wants professional results to seek a local pro photographer. She was quite happy to proceed with me in full knowledge it wont be studio standard, and like i said she doesn't have the money for pro anyway.

    But no offence taken, I see your point on quality of desktop design. But i dont think my photography is too bad!
     
  11. df3photo

    df3photo TPF Noob!

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    Ill toss some other randome things out there for you...
    If you do try possing them or things you just might notice...
    I always have a problem with hands... I get really pickey anymore when shooting models when it comes to how there hands look... Its hard to make them look natural... (and its hard to explain in words...) main things to watch are claw hands and blocky hands... (you may not want to put too much consern on that though...)
    other things: face wrinkles (while smiling and turned heads...), dont shoot fat people from too low of angles (makes them look bigger), watch necklase clasps on closer shots, check there jib line(watch buttons and shirts that may open too far, may not be "revealing" but may show a patch of skin or tshirt you dont want), dont shoot up noses, watch there hair... sometimes if its pulled up it can look sloppy in back and make sure you can see there faces, EYE GLASS REFLECTION can sometimes be fixed by tilting the glasses forward just a tad (try not to make it look obvious, possibly get the arms of the glasses threw there hair to hide it), if they are wearing tops w/o sleves watch fat arms... you can me skinny but if you push your arm against your body it can look fat and blocky or sausage like...
    those are off the top of my head. Good luck! and let us know how it goes.
     
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  12. Arch

    Arch Damn You! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Great advice again df3 thanks, interesting about the hands, the limited portraits i have done (friends and family - not commercial) it is one thing that often gets overlooked but can be distracting factor after the shots have been processed, so i will def try and remember that one. also the eye glass reflection is one to consider (not sure if he wears them or not) and would be useful.

    Well if all goes ahead as planned i'll post the shot she like best on here.

    Thanks again for superior advice :thumbup:
     

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