Is it professional if I did it for practice?

Discussion in 'The Professional Gallery' started by schuylercat, Apr 3, 2008.

  1. schuylercat

    schuylercat TPF Noob!

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    I made a bit of money shooting racing photography, and I did some "portrait" work as well...head shots of team members for sponsor brochures.

    These examples would constitute my first real "potrait" session: a practice session I shot for my neighbors for free. It was a challenge: the corner made for bad shadows, so I was almost forced to bounce the flash off the ceiling. I don't own a softbox, lighting stand, gobo, or snoot yet.

    The location was not up for discussion - they picked it, I shot there. Shoes were an equally off-limit subject.

    After a lot of preliminary test shots to remove the shadows and make sure my reflection wasn't visible in the granite around the fireplace, I shot about 25 all together, forced to repeat a lot due to one hyperactive kid who evidently enjoys the benefits of sugar in quantity, bouncing like a ball much of the time. Comes with the territory, and my daughter thinks he's pretty cool.

    Details: Canon 40D with 17-40 f/4L, two 580EX flashes, mounted on table stands and placed on dark tabletops to camera right and left, roughly 45 degrees to the subjects and pointed AWAY from them to further reduce shadows, triggered with an ST-E2 remote. Metering was in-camera - I let ETTL handle the exposures (bad idea - they look about right in the screen after I reversed the flashes, but no, not really so much later, so I adjusted everything up 1 stop in RAW before converting to jpg). Camera was hand held, which might explain the softness, even though they're much sharper as RAW images.

    I'm not impressed with the shots. They originally asked me to take pictures with their little Nikon point and shoot, and I asked to do this instead. They still look point-and-shoot-ish to me. It's all very...beige.

    Comment and critique is invited.

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  2. kellylindseyphotography

    kellylindseyphotography TPF Noob!

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    to me (i'm not a pro so take it for what its worth) your exposure and the picture, technically, is very good.

    Unfortunetly, the setting doesn't do it justice nor do their expressions. And the composure is boring. Too bad you didn't have more creative freedom.

    Great job for doing what you could with the limited resources that you had, though.
     
  3. Johnboy2978

    Johnboy2978 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I think the posing is a little haphazard and the composition is pretty centered. The camera height is either too high or too low for me as well. Generally, you want to arrange folks so that they're heads and eyes are not on the same plane. Triangle configurations are popular with groups of 3 (more like #2). I also find the window distracting and more interested in what's happening outside than with the subjects.
     
  4. CWA_JGEISINGER

    CWA_JGEISINGER TPF Noob!

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    there is a decent amount of noise in the photo's

    What iso where you shooting with?
     
  5. ghpham

    ghpham TPF Noob!

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    Hi, I'm fairly new so take my critiques with a grain of salt. Firstly, you are the artist and you should not let the client dictate the location. I think you need to be convincing in why x location would not be good for a photoshoot.

    Photo 1.

    You shoot from above looking down. It doesn't work in this picture IMHO. For this type of picture, it would be better looking straight on. The dad is sitting on this right leg. While that maybe comfortable for him (I sit like that myself), it does not make for a flattering pose. There is too much emty space above their heads. The picture is a bit distracting since nothing is level.

    Photo 2.

    Again you took this picture looking down. The father is sitting position is not flattering.

    Photo 3.

    You are shooting from below. I don't like them sitting on the arm chair at all. Mom's right arm look stiff.

    Photo 4.

    Here you seem to be a bit more level. Mom's right hand is chopping off son's hand (I know she is holding it, however, her hands are too large compare to his). Dad's left toes got chopped off.

    Lighting seems fine, but as you say, the pictures are a bit soft, and could benefit from the use of a tripod. Also, why are there no close up shots? I would think there would be a few close ups since these are portraits?
     
  6. Christie Photo

    Christie Photo No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Ahhhh... so these are photos THEY made. They need some training. The location they chose is OK. I would put a fire in the fireplace. Their biggest shortcoming was selection of clothing and posing... especially mom. She did herself NO favors.

    Why not suggest they have YOU do some photography next time. You know.... let YOU make these sort of decisions.

    I bet this all sounds a bit cocky. But truly.... I wouldn't work like that. If I'm to be credited for an image I insist on being in control. I won't let amateurs have that sort of impact on my reputation.

    Please try to take all this constructively. I'm just trying to bring things into focus for you.

    -Pete
     
  7. AprilRamone

    AprilRamone TPF Noob!

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    My suggestion for next time is this:
    * Turn that chair to the left a bit so you can get some nice window light. Shoot at a time of the day when there would be more light coming in (looks like it was late in the day and not enough light coming in?)
    * Get a more close up shot of Dad and son. (Actually, in this sit. with such a boring location, I would get more close ups in general) You don't need all that excess body in the picture.
    * Tell them that it's distracting in a portrait with more than one person for one to be wearing such a dark color while the other is wearing a light color.
    *Bouncing the flash on the ceiling would not have been a bad idea!
    *These look kind of yellow or reddish from the indoor lights they probably had going on.

    Also, #4 looks to be the best height out of all of these. Also, it's good that they were snuggling in close (some of my clients are hard to shoot because they have a hard time getting close enough to each other)
    I like Pete's suggestion of turning on the fire and doing in front of that too. Plus they have that painting hanging over the fireplace too.
    Right now, the background is just too distracting in all of them.
    Hope this was helpful!
     
  8. schuylercat

    schuylercat TPF Noob!

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    Been a while since I checked this thread - good feedback, all. The biggest message: let the photographer do the photography, including poses, location, and such.

    - These were shot with ISO set to auto - my 40D likes to head straight for 400. That shouldn;t cause all the noise, and the RAW images don;t have as much. Conversion issue, I assume. I used Canon's stock RAW converter.

    - Faster shutter! I was at f11 and didn't need it - a sample shot at 5.6 was plenty sharp front and back. These were 1/30 - dumb dumb dumb. I could have shot at 125th or so. That and a tripod, maybe a monopod. That'll do me for sharpness.
    - Fire in the fireplace...HELL yes. Total miss on my part. It was cold, too!
    - Shoot at eye level. Shoot at eye level. Shoot at eye level. I will write this on the chalkboard a hundred times. Shoot at eye level...
    - Get away from the window...yes again. Forcefulness in my part.
    - Bounce the flash: I did! But I have no stands, and the flashes were sitting on low tables. This meant there were shadows - really ugly shadows - behind them: even with the flash aimed at the ceiling, they face "front" a bit and leave shadows. I turned them backwards, lost a full stop of light, but lost all the shadows, too. I need stands, bad, and umbrella swivels: I have a pair of 36" silver umbrellas.
    - Christie Photo/Pete: no offense taken, sir - your point is inarguable. Next time I will remember to take my testicles with me. "I am the Photographer." A new mantra for me. I had plenty of chutzpah shooting Andrettis and Unsers and such when I did racing photography - where'd it go?
    - And finally: maybe I should give them all a little Elavil before the next shoot. Dad looks like he's attending an execution. The boy was incredibly difficult - I have half a dozen pictures of his butt, his hand in front of his face, the back of his head. He was, shall we say, VERY energetic, and they wouldn't have let me hit him with a hammer. Much.

    I am going to shoot this same family sometime this weekend and take this advice to heart. Thanks guys,
     
  9. PhotoDonkey

    PhotoDonkey TPF Noob!

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    The thing that struck me most was that you were taking the shots for free, and they sounded incredibly difficult about details like "shoes", equipment and, most importantly, location.

    Is the customer always right? No! The customer is always the customer. If they give you those same difficulties again, tell them, "Sorry, but if you want my best work, you have to let me call the shoot. Otherwise you can find someone else to take your free pictures."
     
  10. KristinaS

    KristinaS TPF Noob!

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    You took the words right out of my mouth. I never understood hiring a photographer but not letting them chose the best location, clothing, etc. for the picture. How does that make sense?!
     

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