Portrait work has plateaued. Ideas?

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by andrewdoeshair, Jul 1, 2018.

  1. andrewdoeshair

    andrewdoeshair No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    hi! The last time I came to this forum for help with my portraits I improved about a thousand percent through advice on lighting. Then I bought some of Peter Hurley’s videos about posing and that helped a lot, too. I just started messing with frequency separation in photoshop and that seems to be a very powerful tool that I can’t wait to understand better, and I’ve tried a few of the tricks I’ve seen on the internet (like using a crumpled up foil blanket for a backdrop of shimmery bokeh, or making long narrow flash modifiers out of mailing tubes). But now I’m bored and I don’t know what I should learn or add next. I thiiiiiink I want to explore colored and textured backdrops, but I don’t want to get a backdrop that ends up looking like a JC Penny portrait or a yearbook photo. What should I know before buying a backdrop (The only one I currently have is Savage black paper)? I’m really trying to avoid buying new strobes out of boredom, mine are super cheap but I know new gear isn’t going to transform anything dramatically. Sorry for the long rant, just thinking out loud. Any advice or inspiration is hugely appreciated. Thank you!!!

    I’ve attached a bunch of photos to give you an idea of what I’m doing already. Here’s an early photo from before I found this forum

    5B45FB90-D279-4C3D-AEB1-E6373136B83D.jpeg

    Photos from shortly after I learned from you folks
    C9A27C99-5787-4BE2-989A-C128E53B18DC.jpeg
    AE44C223-0EF6-4C5E-8872-05BFC7A59C0C.jpeg

    Fiddling with the brenizer method (12 photos stitched together using a 135mm F2 lens)
    073E9D6B-2B6E-4D58-90C0-0733939673A7.jpeg


    Photos I took last week (sloppily cropped screen shots quickly on the fly because they were originally too big to upload)
    72F7A182-7CDD-4C4A-8D95-80DDB3CFEEE5.jpeg
    C9A9FFAC-8550-4681-B88B-7FBDB5D171E7.jpeg


     
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  2. KmH

    KmH In memoriam Supporting Member

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  3. chuasam

    chuasam Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Your technical is good (and I rarely give out praise) learn to work in on developing feel and spontaneity. Challenge yourself to illustrate an idea.

    A backdrop or better strobes won’t improve your work.

    Your work is currently far better than many professional portrait photographers.

    Hurley is soooo overrated.
    Go look up Avedon, Penn, Newton and many others.
    Find portraits that move you.

    A good photo will make you ask how did the photographer take that
    A great photo would make you ask why did the photographer think to take that.

    Also, where are you located? Those are amazing fades!
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2018
  4. Jeff15

    Jeff15 TPF junkie!

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    They look OK to me...
     
  5. chuasam

    chuasam Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Ok I looked up your site

    The branding is super strong, your images are superb.
    Possible improvements, understand how super red hair sometimes clips on a regular screen. Understand colour spaces and perceptual colour rendition vs absolute colour rendition.

    Get a colorchecker and calibrate your cameras so your dye jobs look spot on perfect.

    You should start a course to train hair salons to take good photos.
     
  6. adamhiram

    adamhiram No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I went down this path recently, although my goal was pretty much the opposite of yours - I was looking for something more traditional that could be used for family portraits and school photos. That being said, I picked up a Savage hand painted canvas backdrop for about $135, and a set of colored gels for another $30. Much like gray seamless, I’ve been able to get a lot of mileage out of a mostly neutral gray textured backdrop. Check out this thread for some examples, including reference charts I posted on the 2nd page using each of the gels.

    Traditional backdrops for portraiture
     
  7. andrewdoeshair

    andrewdoeshair No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Thank you! I have noticed that reds are realllly hard to work with, I lose detail in there and have no idea how to save it. In fact after the last time I worked on really red hair I decided not to book anymore red hair for photos...

    I use the X Rite color checker for video work to match footage between multiple cameras— color finale pro reads the thing and corrects color to a decent starting point really easily, then I just lightly tweak it. I haven’t used it for photo ever because I haven’t been a stickler for accurate color (I don’t actually do hair color, just cutting and styling) but now after reading your comments I’m starting to think it might help my branding to have more uniform color across my shots. I’m assuming when I see an IG account that has perfectly matched colors across every image (whether they’re on a beach or in a forest) that they’ve put some work into this kind of calibration. Can anyone recommend a good place to learn about color spaces and all this? Would the calibration be done in camera (I use two 5Diii’s and a 6D) or would I create presets in LR or PS?

    Thank you for the complements! I cut hair by appointment in downtown Los Angeles a few times a month (gopanache.com/pro/AndrewDoesHair) but my day to day work is doing trades with willing sitters in a tiny studio in Corona, California. The content I create there stimulates sales for my hair product line, for seminars I teach all over the world, and for my recently launched online courses (mostly about haircutting but I do have one that is two hours of photography basics as they’d pertain to a barber or stylist in a salon or barbershop trying to improve their Instagram photos) at thehairjam.com...
     
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  8. chuasam

    chuasam Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    If i ever make it to LA I’ll visit
    You can use your XRite Color Checker to create a colour profile for your 5D3 and 6D. It's fairly easy to create a customer profile for your camera on lightroom.

    There's a bunch of colour management information out there but that's beyond my scope. Do you work in ProRGB? it has a larger gamut but it's the final viewing screen that might matter more when clients see it.

    I guess you can judiciously desaturate your reds either in profile or manually so that you don't get a blowout of the details. Colour fidelity vs texture...your call.

    Accurate colour is important if you're selling hair dyes where you want the image to match the real product.

    My GF says that if you lose colour in details, flip to B/W *LOL*
     
  9. keen.observer

    keen.observer TPF Noob!

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    Get a green screen system, and so have access to an infinite supply of backgrounds.
     
  10. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    One thing I see in some of these shots is big, dark eyes..cow eyes is the way I think of them...eyeballs that have the pupil of the eye opened wide, and in which the eyes lack much color...when one looks at people photos, high-end people photos, shot by high-end people shooters for publication, one thing you'll notice is that the eyeballs themselves show the pupil small, and the colored area of the eyes, the iris, is large, and shown with good detail and color. And THAT is where better strobes do play a part, because they have bright, 250-watt or 150-watt quartz modeling lamps, which are bright! This type of bright modeling lamp closes down the pupil, revealing that beautiful, colored iris!

    It's perhaps a small thing, but to me, this is why Speedotron Black Line, or Einstein 640, or Broncolor, or ProFoto, other high-priced strobes actually are worth their price, compared with low-output or even worse, NO-output speedlights with no type of modeling lights. The difference between eyes that look lively, and dead-looking cow eyes is a big,big deal. Look at a Revlon advertisement...look at the eyes...

    As far as the creative aspects go...you need to decide what you need to improve upon. You have a good handle on the basics, but there's always a style or look that can be applied. if you want background colors, then gels are a way to get to that,easily.

    Just want to say, that YES, a single studio flash that offers _bright_ modeling lamp output as an option, might actually be one easy thing you could add to your portrait work. I personally detest the cow eye look. I've read on-line arguments saying wide pupils and dark, black eyeballs are perceived as "sexually arousing"...but to me, it looks more like heroin-induced bug-eyes or drugged out eyes...

    mrca uses the variable output of his Einstein 640 lights to control eye iris and pupil size. I can literally SEE the difference between say 3x25 Watt modeling lamps in a Brown Line M90 head, versus 1x 150 Watt quartz modeling lamp in a brown Line M11 flash head, and the 250 Watt quartz halogen lamp of a Black Line 206 Variable Focusing flash head is super-apparent.

    Just saying...there's a little bit of difference between studio flash heads...the $99 heads and the $689 heads are somewhat different...
     
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  11. chuasam

    chuasam Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    hey i kinda like the dilated pupil look.
    good point about the speedlights not having modelling lights leading to the cow eye look.
     

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