Improving my lifestyle photography?

TheStupidForeigner

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I am an "aspiring" portrait photographer, especially I shoot mostly with artificial light because I am a control freak and pretty rubbish at getting candid photos like in events/lifestyle.

Next week I will have my biggest job so far which will mostly be portrait shots in an office but they also want some candid shots of their staff working with a modern and happy feel to them. Similar to the images on this link: Leben | Karriere bei Airbnb

For the portrait shots I will have no problem at all, but for the candit shots I am a little nervous... I always struggle to find the right shots, my auto focus never seems fast enough, and/or I never seem to click at the right moment... :(

I have a week to get myself up to par but unlike other genres like portrait there doesn't seem to be any teaching videos or material online, I guess it's just less of a technical skill and more of an art?

So does anyone have any suggestions for me on how I can improve myself asap? Turning down the job is not an option, and even as I am now I'm sure I wouldn't totally disappoint them but I'd like to really do a good job especially as I know they will hire me again many more times in the future.
 

imagemaker46

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Yes, invent a time machine, race years back and learn everything you need to know about taking a job as a photographer before you decide that you can't do it. Don't jump ahead to the future where you aren't a photographer anymore, you don't need to know that just yet.

Honestly, there is very little that can be said that will suddenly make you comfortable shooting the candids, or suddenly give you the experience and skills to do a complete job correctly. It seems the "control freak" in you skipped past the learning everything you need to know about working as a photographer before accepting paid work. If you don't have trust in yourself, are blaming your gear, and admit to missing the right time to shoot, you'll fail every time. In the span of one week you are hoping to do what many take years to accomplish, and no it's not just less of a technical skill and more of an art. It seems that you lack all the skills to do this job.

Now you can get back in the time machine and go to the future, where you'll find out that "I know they will hire me again many more times in the future" didn't happen. Spoiler alert.
 

tirediron

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In addition to the wise words of one who's been there and done that, let me add that I don't think any of the images on your link are actually candids. They all look like carefully planned and posed images to me. Real candid images are for weddings, parties, and police surveillance. The type of images in your link call for planning, equipment and know-how. You need to have each shot planned, brief the talent, and shoot it quickly. You also need to account for clothing, ambient lighting, and a whole bunch of other stuff...
 
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TheStupidForeigner

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Yes, invent a time machine, race years back and learn everything you need to know about taking a job as a photographer before you decide that you can't do it. Don't jump ahead to the future where you aren't a photographer anymore, you don't need to know that just yet.

Sorry but how do you think you can make this judgement without knowing a single thing about me? I have actually been studying photography full time for almost 2 years and have already been working for 6 months as a photographer and 6 months before that as an assistant. I've never had a single disappointed client because I always give every job 110%. It is maybe because of that high standard I expect of myself that I want to improve on my weaknesses and that I might sound unconfident, but your reply was completely over the top.

I know I am not the best photographer in the world, but I am accurately priced and more than capable of doing this job, I posted here because I want to more than just "do" it.


In addition to the wise words of one who's been there and done that, let me add that I don't think any of the images on your link are actually candids. They all look like carefully planned and posed images to me. Real candid images are for weddings, parties, and police surveillance. The type of images in your link call for planning, equipment and know-how. You need to have each shot planned, brief the talent, and shoot it quickly. You also need to account for clothing, ambient lighting, and a whole bunch of other stuff...

Thanks, actually I agree. It was the client that said they wanted candid but now I think about it I guess they just didn't realise how those shots were taken. I guess if I look at it as more of a photoshoot with "models" pretending to work I will be totally fine.

Still, if anyone knows any good resources for this style of photography it would be great to go over them.
 

imagemaker46

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You're studies to be a photographer, 2 years, working as a photographer for 6 months, assistant for 6 months and yet you have just decided a week before an important shoot that you need online help to shoot candid pictures, that you don't trust the gear you use, because it doesn't focus fast enough, and that you miss shots because you don't "click" at the right time? Is this accurate?

As far as me judging you, I based my opinion on what you said about yourself. You are an aspiring photographer that lacks confidence in shooting, blame your gear for problems you may have when shooting, and have a week to get on par with experienced photographers. Is this accurate?
 

Vtec44

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For the portrait shots I will have no problem at all, but for the candit shots I am a little nervous... I always struggle to find the right shots, my auto focus never seems fast enough, and/or I never seem to click at the right moment... :(

It seems like the reason why you're nervous, struggle to find the right shots, not fast enough auto focus, and not the right moment is because you lack experience, in both the equipment you're using and the type of work you're taking on. There is not a lot for you to do but to practice, or intern with someone that does this type of work and learn from them before taking on the job.
 

vintagesnaps

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That's what it sounds like to me. I've done sports and events and I found it took practice and learning how/where to get positioned, to know what length lens to use for the occasion/event, how to figure out good vantage points, etc. It involves timing and can take waiting and watching as people move in and out of a scene. You need to know how to adjust your camera for the existing conditions and be able to do that efficiently as you move around the event.

You could go to events where attendees are allowed to bring cameras and take pictures - get there early, figure out what might be some good aspects of the event to photograph, and see what you can do to get good photos of it. Then go thru your photos and see what worked or what you might need to do differently.

I think it would be better to take on jobs that you know how to do. Work on developing skills you don't yet have, then you could eventually expand the type of photography jobs you can do.
 

Derrel

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Do you have lights and modifiers? Do you know how to light? Do you have any experience shooting interior lifestyle photos in a fluorescent-lighted office environment? Or in some other type of environment? It's not really clear what, exactly, you are worried about; lighting? white balancing using mixed sources? not having enough light to light up an office? posing? directing talent? Not trying to put you down, but I'm not really understanding what, exactly, the worries you have are.

The photos you linked to on that web site are really NOT very good ones, meaning they are not top-level commercial photography work, and the way the processing is done, by muting the contrast and dimming the images down, makes them look even worse, but they do, in a general sense say, "Modern, open office environment, a place where we have employees."

Do you have art direction on this? Or are you being tasked with the whole shebang? I suspect the latter, otherwise you'd KNOW, right now, what the assignment will entail, and you would have scouted the location, and made some test shots already, to check your lens lengths and angles, and ascertained what the in-building lights are, etc..

Maybe you can figure out a plan of action. Scout the place, get the talent lined up: employees, right?
 

The_Traveler

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There are several things that you've brought up here that I think need clarifying.

Of the picture that they've pointed to only the banner image and the one at the party (lower right) are probably not posed. The banner was shot/chosen to give room for the text and, in itself, is a terrible picture.

They are referring to a web page as examples of the shots they want. That means to me they have some actual use in mind, some things that they want to document and/or use. You need to talk with the client and really understand what they have in mind.
Will the shots be used with text overlay? Do they want space for text? Do they want to illustrate certain things/certain people?

Once you understand exactly what they want, you need a designated point of contact at the day you shoot who will look at what you've shot and verified that that's what they wanted. Wedding shooters have an actual shot list they work from and, when I do events, I have someone with me to point out important people or situations.

That being said, shooting candids successfully takes an enormous amount of practice because you must see the situation developing and have your camera ready when it happens - and before it dissolves. The difficulty is not in the looking through the viewfinder but in the anticipation. The shooter has little control because the situations develop and disappear.
Since you shoot with a 610, my guess is that its not really the time to autofocus but the fact that you are looking through the viewfinder, composing and then pressing the shutter. That will never work.

I can go to virtually any event, meeting, wedding, demonstration, parade and, once I know the schedule or direction, pretty much know I will get the shots because I know how the event will evolve - because I've been somewhere similar before.
You need to get the ideas from the client.
Spend some time walking around, shooting pictures until the subjects get used to you shooting and stop concentrating on the shutter sounds.
This article may give you some idea. Taking pictures of strangers in a new place.
 

tirediron

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... only the banner image and the one at the party (lower right) are probably not posed. The banner was shot/chosen to give room for the text and, in itself, is a terrible picture...
While I agree that it's not a great image, I do believe that it was posed; I'm curious as to why you feel it wasn't.
 

The_Traveler

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... only the banner image and the one at the party (lower right) are probably not posed. The banner was shot/chosen to give room for the text and, in itself, is a terrible picture...
While I agree that it's not a great image, I do believe that it was posed; I'm curious as to why you feel it wasn't.

Honestly, it's hard to believe that was the best that they could do in a posed circumstances. I assume they wanted to show aomeone on a laptop one side and two humans conversing on the other (my sense of the heading) but the two people on the right are so blurry that it's hard to make them out. And what's the deal with all the pink stuff in the middle?
 

tirediron

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I think it's an odd choice, but I do think that the gent on the laptop and the blurred person in the blue shirt were posed. The two people against the white wall in the background and the heads around the brown divider I suspect were "natural". I don't get the concept, but I don't think it occurred spontaneously.
 

imagemaker46

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Flipping through the web site, it looks as if most of the content was posed. It's all pretty basic stuff, some looks like it may have been lit.
 

dennybeall

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Candid work is different from portrait and or studio work as you've found out. Experience and learning in photojournalism is a big help. You learn to look ahead to where the subject will be, not where it is. You'll use tools like manual focus and rapid shutter shooting along with Auto ISO and fast focus techniques. Shooting in raw and using less lens with the thought of getting more in the shot is helpful at times.
 

imagemaker46

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Has our Op left the building? I may have been a little reality harsh, as were others, but there are times when people really need to hear what it takes to do a job correctly.
 

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