More to photography that just the camera and gear

Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by Garbz, Jul 23, 2009.

  1. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Ok I know there's a somewhat distaste against the production line style of photography stuidos. You know the ones set up in the shopping mall with the person who has no idea what camera they are using to take the photo. The type of studio which is text book brolly 45 degrees on the left at 1/4 power, 45 degrees on the right at 1/4 power, shoot at f/8 and be done with it.

    Well I finally got around to going to my graduation ceremony and sure enough one of these "stuidos" was setup in the carpark under the graduation hall. So I sat down and had my picture taken. The result? Well the lighting was bland, plain, the blue background is emotionless compared to the snaps I took with the family in front of the university at sunset, and overall, the final prints were ... so very much better than my own?!?!?!!!

    Not a lot can be said for the technical competence of the photographers. But what really made the difference is that she sat me down, tilted my hood slightly, move that little dangly bit on the hood to the side of my head, then spent about 10 minutes trying to get my trencher perfect. All in all there was about 15minutes spend setting up me, and then 5 seconds taking 3 quick snaps.

    The result is I looked much better in the bland, textbook lighting, blue background, mass produced photo that everyone else got, as I did in any other shot. I guess where I'm going with this is just because those people getting paid minimum wage to sit in these photo factories don't know which side of the camera to look in, doesn't mean they don't know what makes a good photo.
     
  2. dxqcanada

    dxqcanada Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Correct.

    I actually spend a month doing just that (I needed a job).
    All of our training was about how to pose the subject. There was no discussion on the equipment or the word photography.
     
  3. musicaleCA

    musicaleCA TPF Noob!

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    Ah, well, it would have been better with a hard side light. It always looks better with a side light. j/k

    Very good point. :)
     
  4. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    :lol:

    You know, we're not all portrait photographers here, nor do we all want to be. To the ones that have concentrated on taking pics of people, I knew where this was going from almost the beginning.

    When I do weddings, I walk the subject through pleasing positions, angles, I really *work* to make them look good before I take the shot. The good shots are not always the ones where you tell them to smile and just say "cheese"... its the one where YOU as the photographer, manipulate your subject as carefully as you manipulate your camera and the lighting.

    Where you said that the snapshot came out better than yours, I would have looked at mine and said, nice expression... blah, ****ty lighting and background with no real emotion to the pic outside of a well manipulated subject.

    You can take a good portrait at F/8... but the real fire, passion and emotion happen when you tie ALL the aspects together. :mrgreen:

    Garbz, all she did was take a really nice passport shot. I am sure you could do better... now that you know... yes?
     
  5. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Oh I could have done better before. But I wasn't the photographer, I was the subject in this case. What I was getting at was more a case of rushed vs carefully planned. Also just because these people spit out clone photos doesn't mean they have no creative flair for posing subjects in a nice manor, which is what I have often heard about these types of studios.

    It may not be ideal, but it's far from the worst.
     
  6. Baaaark

    Baaaark TPF Noob!

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    But f/8 is usually where the lens is sharpest. Usually no barrel distortion or pin cushioning! It makes perfect sense!:er:
     
  7. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    :lmao:
     
  8. Torus34

    Torus34 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Many years ago I ran across a phrase which describes in a few words the ideal toward which the portraitist should strive. It is this:

    'More than just a likeness.'

    Any one, with a bit of care and with sound basic lighting, can produce a very good 'likeness' of the subject. Today's gear, with it's automatic features and post-processing, makes it relatively easy to do. As noted above, a bit of fussing with the appearance of the sitter and you're home free all.

    But to produce a portrait which actually 'says' something about the character, the personality, of the subject -- and to do it in such a way that it is understood by the viewer -- that, my friends, is doing portraiture at its very finest.

    Examples: Dorothea Lange's portrait of a woman, P.151, in 'The Family of Man'. Dan Weiner's portrait of a judge, P. 173, ibid.
     
  9. c.cloudwalker

    c.cloudwalker TPF Noob!

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    I agree with you. Sometimes what people want from portraits is nothing more than a likeness and that is exactly what they get in the portrait factories. And they get it for a very good price.

    On this forum, you have more artistically inclined people thus the distaste you talk of. But the average joe is not very artsy. Why should he be when we have so little art education in our schools. And here in the US we have way more than in France where I spent most of my High School years. Over there, there was none. And I don't remember any in any other country where I went to school after I graduated from finger painting in kindergarten :lol:. What about in Australia?

    Now, I want to offer an example of a portrait which is not that different from what you describe. Not quite 1/4 power left and right but almost even though it was shot by a photographer who, we know, can do and does much more interesting work. This portrait will stay with us not because of its artistic value but because of the subject.

    New official portrait released | Change.gov: The Obama-Biden Transition Team

    Cheers.
     
  10. Dwig

    Dwig TPF Noob!

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    IMHO, extreme understatement. The vast majority of photography, as is true with any art form, is not the technical side.

    Technical competence is important, but its far from everything. A couple of decades ago, I attended a gallery opening for a landscape photographer of some note. His work was technically flawless; his prints were easily the equal, if not better, and those of Ansel Adams (the gallery had several Adams as well as other major name photographer's work on display as well so direct comparison was easy). I am, or at least was in my darkroom days, an excellent printer and would have killed to be able to match these superb prints. But the bottom line was that they were all "dead", no "life", no "expression", no "emotion". The photogravures by Edward Curtis ( Edward S. Curtis - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia ), that the gallery also had were far better despite the technical limitation caused by the reproduction method. The photographer who's work was featured that night was a brilliant technician, but not so great an artist.
     
  11. Alleh Lindquist

    Alleh Lindquist TPF Noob!

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    Your photos will only be worse than those studios as long as your not really thinking about the photos you are taking. Just take the time to think about your subject, your composition and your light. Actually examine it don't just go ok direct sunlight is bad for photos. Actually think about your end result. Light bounces off everything in different ways if you start to pay very close attention you will find it's pretty easy to see. You have green light bouncing up from the grass on a sunny day or red light coming in from a red roof on a building 200 ft away. These factors play a major roll in your end result and make the diffrence between snap shots and planned shots.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2009
  12. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    There's no doubt that the photos can be better. That's not the point I was trying to make. We all know with a bit of creative flair, if all the parts fit together we could easily do better than these factory studios.

    I am just saying, the care and attention that was given to making me look good does add a bit of quality to the photos. Overall I looked still like me quite plainly, but that's what I was after in the formal shot, not something that says before you is a psycho engineer geek who loves weird facial expressions, but something that says "here am I and I graduated." While they are still just factory studios they do serve a purpose, and the staff (in this case anyway) knew what made that specific photo good. i.e. me looking good and well composed, and not overly creative.

    This isn't senior portrait or wedding type stuff.

    That hit the nail on the head, in every way except for price. They want $27 for a 8x5! And we'll pay it too several times over for a large on because that's exactly what is needed when someone graduates. This hanging on the wall :)
     

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