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No longer a newbie, moving up!
Oct 26, 2003
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Brisbane, Australia
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Did a photoshoot for 3 sisters recently at a local very boring park. The place looked dead and the weather was horrible but we got sick of postponing. Here's one of the better shots of the day:

Random snapshot of the oldest sister which was unplanned but included in the final selection anyway.
what type of lens were you using if you dont mind me asking?
My new 80-200 f/2.8 mostly around the 80-100mm mark.

150 views and 1 reply? I can only assume people find the image boring and average but can someone explain why? Or should I specifically ask for some critique ;)
I must not critique anyone's portrait shootings, least of all in the pro area. I am too far from being a) a portrait photographer and b) a pro, on top of it all.

The first makes me wonder where you set up your flash, though, and what light you worked with to begin with. Looks too low for having been the sun, and too much from the side, too. So - that set-up is a bit intriguing.

If this was a planned portrait shoot, I wonder why the top one of the two sisters did not get her hair seen to any better beforehand? Her natural colour shows so clearly out of the (untidily combed - and not styled-untidily-combed[!] part) - maybe it's just that because of old age I am becoming more and more self-conscious what my own photo is concerned, and if I were to get one taken "officially" ... I think I would get "prepared" in a way...

Not sure about the other sister's arm dominating the other photo, though her expression is nice, and a profile is always a pleasant change!
I must not critique anyone's portrait shootings, least of all in the pro area. I am too far from being a) a portrait photographer and b) a pro, on top of it all. !

On the other hand, I remember seeing a very professional looking shot of your sister, a while ago, so you obviously have some talent in that area. :wink:

As to critique, first problem is that the clothes don't work. Sleeveless is considered a no,no for portraits, particularly for shots from that angle because the arm distracts the viewers attention from the face. Related to the second one, the viewer is distracted by her armpit which because of the angle is what you see first before her face.

Posing and camera angle need to be changed as well. Never shoot a round face at a 3/4 angle because it makes the face look fatter. The clothes and angle in the first one also emphasize her bust which in turn exmphasizes her weight. A slight turn with a straight-on face shot would make her look slimmer or avoiding flash and flat lighting and using shadows could help as well. In the first shot she also looks like she is squinting which can also be fixed by a change in pose or direction.

Other items in both shots also interfere with your subjects which require either a change of location or postprocessing. In the first one there are small twigs sticking out under the bustline and in the second, there are a couple of trees coming out of her head and shoulder. The second one is at a very unflattering angle and looks like her arms are cut off at her elbows which also does not work in any pro portrait.

No flash was used. A reflector dish was used in the top one camera right. The second one is entirely natural lighting. As I said it was a snapshot, but it turned out ok anyway (she selected it not I). I'm not really seeking much critique on that one since I just pointed and clicked. The first one is the one I was interested in.

Sun was non-existent, we've had horrible weather here for weeks now. The hair and cloths were... well if you knew the subjects you'd know it doesn't get much better than this... ever. They just turned up dressed and said take pictures of me.

True about the arm. It's a pity looking back at it now. I didn't even notice it when editing but that arm really does take up 1/5th of the frame.

Skieur: Head one for the slightly larger. I'll have to keep that one in mind. Again I had no control over the cloths. I guess the couple of weddings I've done got me used to photographing bridesmaids with horrible dresses which didn't suit their figure in the least.

How do you suggest I improve the camera angle on the first one?

The location was horrible, lots of minor playing around was done to keep cars, handrails, rubbish and bins out of the shot, but I will go back and have a play with that first one as it really can be fixed in photoshop. The spiky bits really must come out now that you mention it.


I'll post the group photo tomorrow after a bit of PP.
OK, as to clothes, my usual approach is meeting with the client beforehand and go over guidelines for clothes explaining how clothes will affect the photo. I also go over make-up and jewellry.

In terms of sleeveless outfits the eye is drawn to bare skin and the bare skin that the eye should be drawn to is the face in a portrait. If as you say, that you are "stuck" with the outfit for number one, then there are two approaches that are normally used. The first one is "hide" the arm.

In one and two, you have inadvertantly done just the opposite, with the result that the eye of the viewer hits the arm before the face.

One approach to hiding the arm and thinning her face at the same time is to place her under the tree so that shadows fall on one side. This can only work with great lighting and exposure control, since you want detail in the shadow areas and you want them light enough not to hide the body, but sufficiently visible to de-emphasize the width of the face and arm.

Another approach is angling the woman diagonally to the camera with her weight towards the back foot so that her front shoulder is higher and her head face on to the camera with a slightly higher camera location. The idea is to make the face the first thing that the viewer sees not the bare arm and to make the face and body look slimmer. Try to light more for the face than the arms as well and make sure you don't introduce lens distortion into the mix. An 85mm would probably be best.

With the shot you have for number one, it is possible to thin her arm and face to produce a more attractive shot but it would have to be done very carefully and subtly to make it look like a naturally great shot as opposed to a touched up one. Some photographers by the way also clone the outfit to cover the shoulder and top part of the arm.

Ahhh yes I should really invest in building a snoot for my flash so I can make the lighting more directional. As for the slimming, err I did that already :err:, don't want to do it too much more or it won't look like them anymore.

The entire family wants more photos so I get the chance to re-shoot, and see if I've learnt anything :)

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