Portraits – Property

Little things that might otherwise never be considered in portraits are good to keep accessible. These little things should target a purpose for the photo.

  • Is this a yearly portrait session?
  • Is this special birthday session?
  • Is this a business portrait session?

These three examples are a start on the purposes for portraits but what kind of session do you most often shoot? Which session properties will be the most valuable to your business or in-formal shots?

Property or “props” are added elements which suggest motion, share information and set the mood within the photo. Listed below are some “props” which may help you get your “prop” inventory started.

  • Numbers – Numbers apply to birthday and yearly portrait sessions by signifying the age of the subject or the year the portrait was taken. This is the basic use of numbers in a shot, but what other ways can you bring the number into a portrait?
  • Letters – Most commonly a letter is used to state the first letter of the subject’s last name.
  • Umbrellas – Making a statement to Weather or femininity, umbrellas are incredibly versatile! Umbrellas range in design from large to small, dainty to rugged and sporty to fashion.
  • Bean-bag chairs – Styrofoam pellet stuffed chairs give the ultimately conformable property for the wiggling young child or relaxed appearance for older children and young adults.
  • Large stacking blocks – Boxes made of wood or other solid materials can create fun variations on a set. Making impromptu stairs for your subjects to ascend or a small pattern to partially separate activity in your photo frame.
  • Picture frames – Picture frames can be a visual reminder to the viewer of the portrait’s focus in an artistic way or even offer a pictorial time-line with a photo inside of a previous event. (For instance; during the bridal portrait session the bride could hold her favorite picture of her engagement portrait session.)

These are all suggestions which I hope inspire you to use things I have never thought about. I look forward to hearing your success stories and the “props” you use!

Spread-sheet and wHaT?

This is a post to iron out some specifics in the process of cataloging imagined shots.I apologize but I can not write here the steps to using your personal version of office software. Please find a specialist in that department to help you.

It can be a little difficult to prioritize by location so here is a tip on accomplishing this goal. Leave a column to the left of your “location” column and assign each location a letter. Please note that this will limit you to 26 locations, but here is the downfall of using numbers to assign priority for each location: spread-sheet protocol typically organizes first by the beginning number until there are no more of that number and then move onto the next in sequence.

For example:

  • 1
  • 10
  • 11
  • 12
  • 13
  • 2
  • 20
  • 21
  • 22
  • 3
  • 30
  • 31
  • 32

In my experience 26 locations will be sufficient as this list is meant to be constantly revised and amended. Also remember that multiple shots at the same location can be cataloged with the same letter! So you will not be limited to 26 shots, but 26 locations.

This process is very simple for me. If it is not for you, please organize the spread-sheet in a way that works best for you. If it is not simple and effective for you, it is not worth using. As everything else, I am only share with you what I have done, to give you hope; possible ideas of how you can make these things your own and make your fun more inspiring! Enjoy!

“All aboard!” Part 2

Continuing on at our present location…when shooting on location it is important to keep in mind your objectives.

Here are two photos I took by way of illustration.

The image on the left is my attempt at creating a feel of an older train station set in unavoidable elements of our modern age. Something by which can recall memories of a by-gone era. On the right is an affect I have been working on for a little more than a year. This technique is unique because of intended motion blur on the photographer’s part. As this commuter train passed me I faced the direction it was headed and opened the shutter as I looked over my shoulder and panning with the train as it moved. This affect left everything a blur but the lights and number of the middle train car.

Lest I leave without a word on how these methods and principles can be used in all photography, I would like to point out that simplifying your objective to something achievable is the basic message. The second emphasis is learning how your imagination works and beginning to organize the pieces of the shot with the focal point and the elements. Yes, it can get complicated quickly, but it only has to be as complicated as you want.

Let me share a hint with you. I began in photography as a hobbyist who would look for “shots”. That means that if I saw something of beauty that I wanted to capture in photograph, I would bring out my camera and find a way that best captured what I saw in my mind’s eye. Take your camera with you everywhere you go and ask yourself questions; What attracts me to this scene or object? How can I express what I see in my mind in this picture?

Take one thing at a time and observe how it is used in other works of photography.

Until next week, take each photo opportunity as an adventure, exploring the ways of expressing yourself via photography!

Safety in Numbers

It is always best to have a back-up plan for any course of action! Do not worry, this is not to confess a lack of confidence in your own preferred plan, but rather an insightful precaution to ensure a productive outcome. What is the old adage? “There is safety in numbers.”

There are so many ways that we communicate and each method requires an ability to communicate with numbers. Even in the simple phrase “A picture is worth a thousand words” numbers are used to express the strength of the picture’s composition.

Creatively speaking, there are two numbers in the phrase “A picture is worth a thousand word”, whether obvious or implied. Did you catch them? Those words are “A” and “a thousand”. Yes “A” is repeated but the second usage is to specify how many “thousand”. “A” is to refer to a single image or “1”. I bring this up in an attempt show that it is not necessary to “shoot” literal numbers, but looking creatively at our surroundings for the number we are looking to find.

Numbers can be a fun way of taking some “time off” and focusing on a totally different subject rather than the same subject day after day. I have mentioned “stay-cations” before in this series of posts as a way to “get away” and relax from the daily routine; so enjoy your stay “away” from your “routine”.

Perhaps three is your number, you could start your adventure with a picture of three fingers on one hand, three leaves of a tree or three people walking on the beach. The possibilities are endless!

Enjoy and remember the safety rule, “There is safety in numbers!”