Needs tips on shotting portraits!

Discussion in 'People Photography' started by SaphFIRE, Oct 13, 2009.

  1. SaphFIRE

    SaphFIRE TPF Noob!

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    Hello all,

    I have recently been propositioned to do some fall portrait photography for friends and I have never shot people, just scenery and automotive. Can someone give me the most basic tips as far as shooting portraits outdoors. I have a Nikon D60. No external flash and no props. Please point me in the right direction!
     
  2. craig

    craig TPF Noob!

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    Reveal your clients personality through your photograph.

    It will take your understanding of the client and every single element in the frame. Use the available light and the elements to paint a perfect photograph.

    Love & Bass
     
  3. IgsEMT

    IgsEMT No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Google David Ziser, His tutorial are amazing.
     
  4. Zeckson

    Zeckson TPF Noob!

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    I ever wrote these when guiding/teaching people in portrait photography. Hope it helps.

    If you are new to portrait photography and have the intention to seriously go into this genre, joining mass photo shoots to get some experience is a must and inevitable. In mass shoots, you will get to know how things are excuted and how you can put what you learned into practice.

    In photography, there are no shortcuts. Knowing lots of theories does not give you any good pictures if you do not put them into practice. Likewise, practice blindly without understanding what you are doing will also land you in the rubbish bin. The best and only way is to study the fundamentals and laws of photography and then put whatever you studied into practice. As you advance from level to level, you will find that moving up one level requires lots of dedication, patience, time and money.

    I understand most of the newbies went through a lot of dilemma on this, getting lots of opinions from other members before making a simple decision of whether to bring a spare battery or not to a shoot. It shows that newbies have very low confidence and a fear of embarrassing themselves during the shoot and when posting their pictures here to share their achievements. Newbies are afraid, intimidated and fearful of the comments they will be getting and wants to make as little mistakes as possible, letting no holes for not-so-nice comments to seep in.


    Such feelings or emotions have became an obsession in the hearts and minds of the newbies and this caused them to only think about how not to make those silly little mistakes and totally neglect what photography is all about.

    So let's start with some basic preparation before going, during and after mass photo shoots.

    Before the shoot:
    Try to choose sessions in the late afternoon
    Many people say that morning is a good time to shoot. I agree. I would also say late afternoon or early evening is an even better time to shoot. Reasons to support my statement? Lots of them. Just to name a few, ambient light is at optimum in terms of portrait photography, you are wide awake (no puffy eyes, no half-dead brains, no stinking breaths, etc.) and this goes well to your model as well. Shoots are often organized on the weekends, either Saturdays or Sundays. You or the model will go out and have fun with your/her friends on the night before and must wake up early the next morning for the shoot, this is not good.

    If possible, go to the location of the shoot before the actual day and study its surroundings
    You need to know the location well enough for you to commence your shoot. You need to know where the light is coming from during your shoot. You need to find out what good locations are there to position your model. Plan all these and give recommendations to people during the shoot. Do not sit there and depend on others to suggest. Don't be lazy. Be pro-active and initiate. Going mass shoots doesn't mean just wait for people to start and you join in. You pay your money so you better make your money worth the trip.

    Study your model
    Study her features. Look for more of her photos taken by fellow members before. You need to know what your model's prominent features are and you will want to focus on those prominent features during the shoot. You are not to stare at the model's picture and start dreaming of some romantic dinner with her or going some trip with her and end up somewhere later. Cut all those crappy thoughts and focus on photography. Your model is your subject. See things objectively.

    Flip through magazines or websites and study the poses for the model
    Poses are very important in portrait photography because different poses will bring out different character of your subject. Start with the very basic poses and shoot. Don't be intimidated by others saying the poses are too normal or too safe or what other reasons they give. Let them say what they want. In the end, you are the one getting the experience, not them. As you advance on this, you will realize that you need to know your model's character in order to recommend poses to her so that her character is brought out. Do not try to be superman and start posing artistic or glamourous or fashioned poses on your model. She may not be suitable for those poses or maybe she is not ready to be at that level and you are not experienced enough to control the flow of shooting with so many advanced level poses. The model will feel uncomfortable after a while and you do not know how to direct your model from one pose to another. You can try observing how other experienced photographers do and you remember it and use it again next time, appropriately.

    Do your basic camera and equipment maintenance
    Nothing much to say on this one as this is your basic cleaning, battery charging, bag-packing processes. You should know this at the start.

    During the shoot:
    Be calm
    Don't get all excited and go telling everybody there that this is your first few times shooting or how much you like the model or whatsoever. Just keep quiet and stay calm.

    Be yourself
    This is important. Often newbies will see the more prominent others and try to take them as an example or role model but subconsciously the newbies will tend to imitate the more experienced ones trying to be like them. This is not advisable. Always remember to be yourself. Shoot what you like to shoot. See things the way you see. Do not let others affect you. Some others may shoot in a particular way that impresses you. Just observe but do not imitate. Study their works later when they post their pictures for comments. You may never know, the pose or style or whatever impresses you are actually not their best and not what they like.

    Do not hurry
    Take your time to compose your shot. Always check the information on your viewfinder. Look for things that are not supposed to be in your frame. Use basic fundamentals. No one is to hurry you. You paid your money, you deserve your time.

    Do not wolf (meaning do not start shooting like mad when the model comes out)
    This is so common even to the experienced people here in this forum. Wolfing only kills your learning path. You will be so focus to get so many pictures of the same model that you totally forget about you are supposed to do. Especially in exhibitions, man... I don't want to say it.

    Observe
    When observing, you will look at how other experienced hold their camera, how they direct their models, their stance, their execution. These are the things you should capture. Do not spend time observing how the model brush her hair, how she stands, how curvy she is, etc. All these have nothing to do with your learning path.

    Take turns
    This is courtesy that everybody should observe. In a group, only one photographer should be directing the model at a time. Once the pose is set, snap. Do not interfere. Wait for your turn. Good organizers will know how to control this.

    Be focused (this means your mind)
    Yes, this means your mind should be focused, not only your camera. Keep your focus on how to shoot your photo, not letting your mind wander off with some other things during the shoot or start imaging some romantic dinners with the model or how to get the model's phone number and try to start something.
    Look at your frame in your camera's viewfinder and study it, confirm it and then press shutter release

    Smile often
    Suggest recommendation courteously

    Respect others
    Do not be big mouth or show off

    After the shoot:
    Pick your best 36 shots from the heap of photos you took and study it
    Why I suggest keeping 36 of your best? Many people will tell you to choose only 1 or 2 of your best and keep it or post it. I am asking you to do more. Keep 36 of them. The main reason is CONSISTENCY. You need to observe yourself how consistent you are on shooting. You need to hit a consistent standard as you advance into more advance level. If you are able to maintain your consistency, you are assured of your own standard and you are able to better evaluate yourself. I usually respect photographers that post a lot of pictures rather than showing just 1 or 2 photos. I would like to see how consistent they are on their execution. There is a lot of difference when you see 36 solid pictures than seeing just 1 or 2. Perhaps its is just me.

    Study the EXIF data of each photo
    Studying the EXIF will give you information of your execution. Look at the photo and look at the EXIF. This is self-explanatory.

    Study the composition of each photo
    Self comment on your photos. Learn to self comment. Learn to be your own critic. After you have criticised yourself, let other people comment on it. Be cruel to yourself. And be smart on what to look at.

    Keep these 36 photos for later studying
    These 36 photos will serve as history of your learning. Looking back at your own photos 1 year later will let you know how much you have progressed.
     
  5. SaphFIRE

    SaphFIRE TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the tips guys.....I have been studying some portraits and their composition. I guess I just need to get out and shoot! Will post pictures for C&C soon!
     
  6. SaphFIRE

    SaphFIRE TPF Noob!

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    I took this photo today of my girlfriend. It was about 50 degrees out (cold fall weather here in Michigan) and she already has a cold......please C&C and provide some feedback. Thanks!
    Editing: Converted to B/W. Blurred background (noticeable because it was quickly). Brightened pupils.


    [​IMG]
     
  7. Patrice

    Patrice No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Hello SaphFIRE

    Not a bad try for a first portrait. The sepia finish sort of gives a timeless look to the photo and helps the mood of a cold grey day.

    Blurring the background through processing never looks quite right. Isolate your subject from the background by controlling the depth of field. A larger aperture gives you a shallower depth of field.

    A flash can also be used during the day outside. In this case a small amount of fill flash, even from your camera's pop up flash, would lighten the shadows under her eyes, around her nose and under her chin. You don't want to completely eliminate, just lighten a bit. The flash will also create a bit of highlight in her eyes.

    Be careful of what you see in your viewfinder. Images are made up of all the elements in the frame. This horizontal bar of the fence just behind her head cuts the image in half, another strong horizontal line created by the lower fence rail and still another line is created by the horizon. However, the most distracting one is the one at her head level. Looks a fence rail growing out of her ears.

    Vertical framing is often more appropriate for portraits, not always but you have to create a pretty convincing image if you frame horizontally. You can always crop your image after capture. Placing your subject smack in the middle of the frame is not always the best choice. Having your subject off centre and turned slightly into the frame sometimes looks a little better.

    Unless you are creating an environmental portrait, most times it is better to have your subject dominate the frame. Include more of you subject in the image. Reduce the amount of free space above her head, include a bit more of her torso and reduce some of the empty space to her left and right.

    You are lucky to have an enthusiastic girlfriend who will let you experiment with portraiture. Treat her nice and say thanks. Go out and practice together, have fun and enjoy each other's company.
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2009

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