New photograper needs advice for portraits

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Laurids Oppermann, Jan 7, 2020.

  1. GlenGeen

    GlenGeen TPF Noob!

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    This is a picture I took of my son when he passed his driver's license exam. I like the fact that the school provided a sign for him to hold to commemorate the event. We good the photo inside the building. The location was suggested by the examiner. Note that I am fairly close. I could have been closer and not done a full body shot. In retrospect I think a half-body would have been better. Note that there is not a lot of background in the picture. I also got down so that the photo was not looking down to him. The lens was center to his body for the full length shot.

    Caleb - geenfoto


     
  2. TWX

    TWX No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Just looking at the examples, I have a few simple suggestions, most of which aren't particularly related to the camera or lens.

    First, if the license paperwork is a standard size, consider putting together some kind of backing board or frame to temporarily place that license into, such that it stays flat and rigid, and such that the student's fingers don't block what the paperwork says. This will help to make the brightness and contrast across that paper more even such that it will be more clear what the purpose of the paperwork is. You could also possibly add some additional context through signage, perhaps a magnetic sign that goes on the car door indicating that the car belongs to a driving school, or if the school has a sign posted at the street, parking next to that so that it's visible in the photograph. If none of those are an option, and if you do choose to make something for the paperwork to slip into, you could put the name and logo of the driving school on the frame, something like GlenGeen's example, though perhaps slightly more subtle.

    Second, consider the height that the lens/camera is from the ground when compared to the height of the student. Camera height relative to the subject can be used to convey a sense of the power or strength of the subject, when Orson Welles made the film Citizen Kane, he used high, overhead, downward shots to portray weaker characters, and low, upward shots to portray strong characters. You do not need to go so extreme as he did, but if the camera is say, chest height, then you won't find the pictures ending up looking down upon the students like with your student Maria.

    Third, of your photos on your site, the ones that stand-out most positively to me are of Olivia, Amalie, Thomas, and Dennis. The photo of Olivia is a little busy in the background but the lighting is interesting and she looks very happy. Amalie looks happy and is almost flirting with the camera, and the lighting on her face makes her face visible rather than half-obscured in dark shadow. Thomas's face is likewise visible, his eyes aren't in little pockets of shadow. Dennis looks confident and proud, and again, the lighting contrast on his face isn't too extreme such that we can actually see him. So for me, being able to see your subject's face is key. Among the photos that I don't think turned out too well, Lasse's face has too much shadow, and there's too much contrast across Zubajdah's face, too much bright to shadow.

    Fourth, if you are forced to shoot with bright sunlight behind you and shining directly into the student's face, instruct the student to look down at the ground while counting down, and when you hit the end of your countdown, the student is to look up at you as you immediately snap the picture. If the timing works out right then the student's face will be illuminated by the sun but they will not have started squinting yet. This technique might have helped with Andreas in particular and generally with many of your subjects.

    And lastly, as others have said a lens with a narrow field of view will have some positive effects though will require the photographer to have more distance to the subject. An additional thing that will help will be controlling aperture. A wider aperture will reduce the sharpness of the background, such that the student and the car to a lesser extent will be what the picture focuses on. Unfortunately that may require different equipment, which means cost and possibly more effort for the photo.
     
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  3. Laurids Oppermann

    Laurids Oppermann TPF Noob!

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  4. Designer

    Designer Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    If you try our suggestions, please post the resulting photographs.
     
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