Portraits – Candid Scrapbook

How do I use candid shots in a scrapbook?

There are a few things to remember before getting into this process:

  1. Scrapbooking starts with a good photo.
  2. Scrapbooking does not need full face shot (unless  you “the creator of the scrapbook” require it)
  3. Scrapbooking is meant to tell a story (pictorially and in written narrative). It depends on how the story is written about what pictures the creator chooses for the book.

Now this is not to burden you down and squash your creativity; however this is meant speak on the photography side of what to expect in a candid shot and how many photos you may shoot or reject as you choose between the “good” and “great”.

As we have covered in the earlier posts, all photographers will take more shots in a portrait session than they would in a studio of a piece of jewelry. This is to ease the stress on the subject by asking them to hold an uncomfortable place for an indeterminate amount of time.

For instance, the piece of jewelry is not going anywhere and will not lose shape under common conditions. For a model or paying customer, this changes dramatically because even sitting in a relaxed position, their radiant smile, twinkling eyes and squared shoulders can become a dark frown, dull eyes and rounded shoulders.

So as to avoid these issues, I urge you to learn to let the natural motion continue of daily life and capture those moments and times of spontaneous laughter, joy and thought.

Do not be surprised about getting 1 good photo out of 15 or more, because it was the continuous shooting which enabled you get that 1 good shot.

Candid shot is best focused on the persons emotions. That is to say, ask yourself what could take away from the emotion being shown. Next ask yourself what is important to draw out the emotion being shown which is already inside the viewing frame.

Have fun, because that is important! If you are not having fun, your model or person of interest may be keying off of your attitude or intensity. Besides, it is the holiday season, fun is in the air!

Portraits – Candid Capture

Q. How does a photographer catch the candid emotion, expression or action?

A. It can be difficult, however there is something consistently said by every portrait photographer I know, only 1 in every 10 is a good photo at best. The more experience in the portrait field, a photographer has I have heard the numbers dramatically increase from the 1 in 10 to 1 in 100.

I certainly found this to be true as I shot a wedding. Out of the hundreds of photos I got throughout the time of the wedding, reception and exit I only liked as many as 7! Remember though that I am coming from a viewpoint of quality and clarity, so even though the pose is good, I may not like it for smaller details that no one else might notice.

This may be a little steep for some photographers shooting film, so my caution to that is “Be careful on what you use your film.” In this age of technological advances and affordable digital cameras, use both styles (film and digital) but do not stop shooting with the digital until you get the right shot and then pick up your 35mm to get that one shot you found through the inexpensive digital shot. Do not hesitate either about deleting the digital photos! They essentially cost cents on the dollar as compared to the 35mm photo which costs a good part of a dollar if not more.

Q. How can a candid be posed with the same intensity of emotion?

Several things factor in but I will say one of the most important parts of getting that smile or   intense concentration is being able to communicate that emotion to the subject. Now, for a truly candid shot being that the subject does not know they are being photographed means the photographer should be ready to take a minimum or 3 – 10 pictures in a burst so that you can choose from the best of the expressions. One last point is to do your best to get the surface of the eye in focus because the soul of the person and the eyes being the window to the soul will give the true emotional expression.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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 – Multi-purpose

In our recent article of property or photo “props”, I suggested using an umbrella as a diffuser. I would like to explain that thought a little more in-depth for the sake of creativity and fun.

To use an umbrella as a diffuser it is necessary to keep it between your subject and the sun, but that does not mean it is not for you to use without being seen at the same time!

‘ “Woe!” you say?’ Allow me to elaborate.

Pose your subject as if they are walking along a sidewalk and turn back slightly to see what they heard behind them, to find you and your camera trained on them. Catch the edge of the umbrella and framing their face is the part which incorporates the tool to diffuse the light as a prop too. Great idea? I like it!

What about having some fun pretending that it is raining and your subject is dancing in the rain? Have them hold their umbrella up in the air as they look simultaneously into it and the falling rain.

Even still, another possibility is to use the umbrella as a background, letting the sun back-light the umbrella. This can light the edges of the face and hair for a wonderful time exposure. [NOTE: Since your subject is back-lit with the sun diffused by an umbrella, use a longer shutter speed to develop their face and not only the umbrella.]

These are a few ideas with which to start and some I hope will adapt in your own style.

There are many good ways of using your lighting tools as portrait props. Try new things, have fun and tell me about them! I love to hear what you are doing! We all can use a help now and again, even me. I am no one special just because I write a blog.

Enjoy!

Camera Specifics For Me

“Is it really necessary that I purchase an expensive camera to get nice photos?” Answer: “No. An expensive camera is not necessary to get nice photos.”

Even though I now am a professional photographer I still do not own the top of the line digital camera and a studio full of fancy equipment.

I actually began testing myself in the field of photography with a camera in a cellular phone. I have since the age of 4 played with differing film camera models which came from the late 1960’s, but this was different. This time, using a digital camera in a cellular phone, I did not need to buy for film and pay for processing.

This is not to say that I would be satisfied to go back to using the camera inside the cellular phone, however it provided me a great opportunity learn the angles and perspectives which bring the picture together to communicate a logical visual thought. [Woe! Okay Mr. Big Words; Let us read this in an understandable language this time! – Blog editor] It is important to capture the subject in a natural, comfortable pose. If a viewer looks at the photo and says what they are thinking, would they say something like “That does not look comfortable!” Or would they say, “Wow! I wish I looked that good.” Truthfully we all think that about ourselves, super model or not. The important thing to remember is that the beauty we see is inherent within the person and how they look comes from the way the picture was taken.

Go to a camera store, and I mean a camera store, not a computer super-store. Talk to a sales associate about renting a digital camera and take it out with you everywhere; subjecting it to all the situations in which you will find yourself, testing its abilities. Learn the camera’s strengths and weaknesses. If it will help you, treat the time you have rented the camera as a product review and you are a highly acclaimed journalist who could make or break this store’s sales quarter.

In other words, enjoy your time and put the camera through its paces.

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!

Camera Troubles – Part 6

What can I see that my camera does not?

There is not an easy way to answer this question, although I will say to say that our visual capability can not be directly and equally compared to the output of film or digital cameras.

Our sight is taken in motion whereas photographs are still images possibly showing movement by blur or subtle indications of motion. So while we may remember a certain pose, facial expression or scenery of a person or place we appreciate as if the memory were a still photograph does not mean our Eye and Brain receives these memories in just such a way.

Video recorders are truly much like cameras in this way that they capture motion or movement in 72 still frames a second or more. A video recorder more closely resembles our vision in that it records motion in so many frames.

Beyond multiple frames to give the illusion of complete motion, our vision is affected by the ability to change so quickly between seeing detail in the shadows from previously inspecting the details lit by broad daylight.

From observing myself and questioning what I see and how I see it, I believe now to better understand the difference of what I see and how I can operate my camera to photograph a scene as I see it.

I see: the bright sunlight streaming through the ceiling of tree leaves, illuminating the grass and garden floor in a brilliant array of color. As I continue to observe and breathe in the wonder of the contrast and illuminated detail, I begin to notice more detail which remained hidden until I had gotten close enough to notice for the first time.

This is done in photography in several ways. Let me begin with the best and quickest being the first.

  1. Simplicity – Photography studios will set-up the portrait studio with solid color backdrop and lighting to evenly light the subject while still allowing some shadow to remain but lighting enough to see detail in both shadowed and lit areas. This is the effect of many additional flashes.
  2. Specific detail – Scenery which cannot be reproduced or moved in-studio must be shot as is. This requires additional flashes or shooting 3 or more photos  from the same place and position of varying shutter lengths and putting them together in HDR format. (For more on HDR, please see our blog posts “High Dynamic Range” and “The Make-up Of An HDR Photo“.)

So it is not that our cameras cannot reproduce something similar to what we see, but that we have some understanding of how we can enable it to see. There are no quick and simple steps to follow for every camera to shoot fantastic photos. I wish there were! Though if this were the case I believe we would have lost some of the adventure in photography.

It can be this simple though, to know that the camera does not as quickly adjust its Lens Diaphragm and Sensor to see detail in shadow and light as do our Iris and Retina. Thus we seek to separate detail we want captured per photo by the varying amounts of light in its surroundings.

Photography truly is an amazing art. The amazement is not intrinsic to itself, but because it is base off of our visual ability which we are blessed to have received from the kind Providence who created us and the world we love to photograph.

Thank you for reading! I pray you have learned and enjoyed reading as much as I have in writing!