Session Planning

I have been teased about being overly sensitive about small details and using time to fix them. Well, this is about the planning of a specific photo, we should step back and consider planning the event.

I have mentioned in other posts about planning your shots, choosing your locations and getting it written, but what about plans for specific events such as weddings, graduations, engagements or family portraits.

Ask (according to the event) for a list of photo priorities.

Write down and give a kind of visual demonstration shots you have in mind for the session.

Keep a list of poses and shots for “plan ‘B'”.

Weddings are events that the bride and groom will remember and certainly one that they want photographs of for time to come. Photos of weddings are all over the place and there will be almost without exception a photo or two that the bride will want of her and her man, so it is a good idea to ask her to make a list of her priority shots. Keep the list close on the wedding day. You can almost guarantee that the wedding day will be filled with nerves and schedules not making any of their deadlines.

After interviewing the couple there may come to mind a few shots which are perfect for them. Keep good notes for later reference. These shots will come in handy as you have already taken the stock wedding shots and one party or the other are busy.

‘Plan “B”‘ can take several forms. One solution is to have a second photographer picking up shots simultaneously to your own.

Another alternative could be taking two or three days before the wedding to stage the shots with the couple and taking candid shots “in the moment” during the ceremony.

Enjoy and Happy New Year!

Reflection – Part 3

– Troubleshooting the reflections –

Reflections can be very difficult to “diagnose”, though remembering that the reflections in the photograph can only be fixed if they are fixed from the viewing perspective of the camera.

Reflections may be fixed from your perspective separate from the camera and I am sorry to say ‘it may not fix what the camera sees.’ The best way to be sure the reflection is fixed or blocked is to view the scene through the camera with software or directly through the camera.

Most professional line of cameras carry with them access to software for seeing the current camera view. If that is not an option, tripods or other mounting options will guarantee the least amount of movement possible. This will enable you to check the camera view and leave to fix the unwanted reflections.

Reflections will come in different ways. I will not have time or space in this post to help you troubleshoot them, but I will list those I have more recently met.

Round shiny objects, like Christmas ornaments, drinking glasses.

Flat reflective surfaces, mirrors, glass doors, heavily polished wood.

Liquids.

It takes a good head/eye for details to catch it early and a time or two of being caught with reflections in a photo to bring the point home, or paranoia. Okay, that  crack about paranoia was a joke.

I would caution that if you are taking portraits and your subject is wearing shiny jewelry or sunglasses which can give your reflection, be ready with alternate shooting angles and poses.

I wish I could give you draw illustrations of how reflections are made, but you are intelligent and very capable of learning this process or searching for other resources that will teach you in the way you learn best!

A quick story on myself before closing: “I was shooting a glass trophy that has an etched design in the center and an arched top. I was stumped how half of the arched trophy top was not block-able no matter what I put around it. Then I took the time to look closely at what detail I could see of the reflection and I realized, ‘I am seeing the etched inside!'”

No matter how you avoid some reflections, some will just have to be featured. Enjoy!

Portraits – Posing

Posing for portraits can be a unique skill of its own when taking portraits. However it is not impossible, so take heart; you will find your niche?

“Posing” as I am using it for this post is meant as “A particular way of standing or sitting, usually adopted for effect or to be photographed, painted, or drawn.” Some would say posed shots can be organized by looking at the camera or not, but that is not totally correct.

Before going on I would like to define candid to clarify more of the differences to posed and candid shots.

Candid:

  • Truthful and straightforward; frank.
  • (of a photograph of a person) Taken informally, esp. without the subject’s knowledge.

Basically, it can be a little difficult knowing a posed photo from candid if the photographer  and subject or model are good at directing and holding a pose. Poses can seem candid and in reverse a candid shot may even seem posed. The difference between posed and candid lies in the knowledge and participation of the subject or model.

We want the pose to look natural and comfortable as if the subject or model is supported. Tension is noticed by a viewer most often subconsciously, and tension is created by the appearance of the subject’s discomfort.

While choosing a pose which accentuates your subjects beauty, take care to make your support visible. For instance, if you have your subject prop themselves on one arm, make sure their arm is visible through the camera. I want to leave you to use your own creativity in methods of support, but illustrating tension, the subject will seem to be performing an isometric crunch on the front lawn. This obviously is not our intent.

Turning the shoulders to one side or the other from the relative position to the hips will show a slimmed abdomen.

A bent knee (in a seated position) will draw muscles tighter in the thigh and hip for contrast to the extended leg.

Drawing the shoulder back and down will show a relaxed chest and shoulders.

One of the main visual queues for poses is the positioning of the subject’s head. If they are not comfortable their head will be pushing forward or resisting a fall backward. Keeping the head in a neutral position will certainly cut the visual signs of strain, offering the best start for positioning.

Candid shots will be our topic for Friday’s post. Looking forward to another visit then!

Portraits – Interaction

When this topic of interaction during portrait sittings came up, a flood of memories and events came through my imagination. I am sure some embarrassment flashed across my face as well as a smile or two. I bring this up to say that I am not the best in the world, but I can share with you how important it is to make your customers comfortable and relaxed so that you can capture the pure expression of joy or surprise.

Your customers look forward to comfortable, pleasant and uplifting interaction during the session. The more relaxed, easy to work with and decisive you are, the more trust and loyalty will be built. Trust and loyalty are very important in a portrait session (yes, they place a certain amount of trust in you to have you shoot their portraits, but the lesson is learning how to build further still without betraying the trust already given).

Portraits can be staged “stiffly” and then the customer hears “Say cheese!”; they move their lips up slightly showing some of their pearly whites, but if you and they were relaxed and comfortable just a bit of humor will soften what is left of the nervous tension which every portrait sitting creates (the more you know about your customer the easier it will be to know their style of humor, but it is always advisable to avoid crass jokes). Now breaks across their face of the most gorgeous and wide smiles with a twinkle in their eyes showing the pure enjoyment they unexpectedly received.

One last thought: with children it takes a special joy in the simple things to encourage the response for preservation by photograph. Interaction must not always include speech to produce the desired expression. For instance, in the photo illustration on the right I used a distraction which caught the youngster’s attention. My assistant was standing in the direction I wanted his face to look and when my assistant began juggling the objects it brought a look of wonder and intense concentration. This was just the look I wanted! I hope that you can take my experiences and use them as they can best serve you. Have fun and take care!

Holiday Parades

Since yesterday was Labor Day, “Happy Labor Day!” I am grateful for the opportunity and ability to earn a living by labor!

Parades are some of the best times to get shots of the children and the excitement on their faces of the candy flying in their direction or fantastic clowns pulling their usual antics. Keep your camera handy because these moments can come faster and more frequently than every day events! In addition to those great shots of the children there are plenty of opportunities for any number of shots and a wonderful way to meet friends and neighbors.

The plethora of shots I speak of can pose some wonderful opportunities for learning the speed at which your shutter should open and close depending on your style. Artistic shots may use some motion blur while viewers of portraits prefer eyes perfectly in focus. However, more than talking about techniques in this post which we have more than amply covered before, I encourage you to take these opportunities to train yourself to anticipate each shot.

In a spontaneous environment such as a parade the subject of a shot seen is all too easy to forget. When the subject is forgotten, proper lighting can be one of the most elusive prey to capture. Thus when the photo is taken, the subject is either under or over exposed. So be wary to survey the amount of light around your subject rather than the light filling your general surroundings. It is an easy mistake to make, but “perfect practice, makes perfect!”

So enjoy the opportunities you have for pictures, because if I have learned anything it is this, if I don’t pick up my camera and take some shots, I give myself less opportunity to get better by learning from my mistakes!

Construction Zone – Part 2

As I continued thinking about the post “Construction Zone“, I realized that some of it may not have made sense. Safety is also a rather obvious subject in regards to “photo ops” inside a Construction Zones, but a time wherein we each would be wise to heed these reminders.

It is not my desire to list shots for you. Creativity has its place in your work as it does mine. However, I want to play the salesman and in a friendly way “demonstrate” to you that such a style of photo are great for portraits. Ready?

Construction Zones provide you with a unique opportunity to see a physical transition from  a natural landscape to intentionally designed architecture which into it has had many hours of labor and planning invested. Does this sound like a graduate, or engagement, perhaps a wedding? These also are relationships which are being constructed in individual people. This is to set the subject of you photography within a pictorial statement of what is happening in their life.

To illustrate setting your subject in a pictorial setting of their life happenings, I will find in my archives of photos a picture I set-up and took while in college. My college time was a time of testing and maturing, so within this picture you see a few statements such as I suggested for Construction Zones.

Now there is more to this photo than just the setting, but let us first address the surrounding settings. Since I am the subject in the photo above, the photo setting I was in reminds me of being isolated from distraction. This isolation for me was beneficial so that I could focus on course work but also provided an aspect of quiet reflection.

This quiet reflection is part of the maturing process I mentioned earlier. I was able to consider my motivations and match them against the standard for living a quiet and peaceable life. This is the other part of this photo. My actions in each pose speak to my attitudes because of my choice motivation. As I questioned my motivations and looking to understand where attitudes came from, the very foundation of my beliefs were settled, suitable for building.

This is the same purpose that your stock images taken from Construction Zones can serve as portrait backgrounds.

I will leave the rest to your fertile imagination!