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 – 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!

Portraits – Setting

As fall approaches the possibilities for outdoor portrait settings are wide open. The weather cools down to temperatures pleasant enough that a smile automatically graces your face without thinking about it.

Personal Note: I walked outside last week with a cup of coffee in my hand; as the door opened I felt the wind rush and I was surprised that it felt cool for what I was expecting. Walking out front with the cool temperature sensation continuing on my arms and face, I began to smile. Taking in a breath of fresh, cool air it only seemed natural to smile and laughter began to bubble up from a heart full of joy and inspiration.

With cooler temperatures and fall rains, fall bearing trees begin to produce their fruit and leaves change color making this the perfect time for many portrait occasions. This opportunity is too good to pass up, so with school starting up it is a good time to pick out a park or garden that provides the situations you want. Let us discuss some possibilities.

    1. Park bench
  • There are at-least three angles or perspectives on one place, so do not be too hasty on abandoning one place for another.
  • A Change of sitting positions offer more variety without changing locations.
  • Simple elements such as a book, flower or jacket can take a picture from good to favorite as quick as your shutter can move.
    2. Tree row
  • Peeking from around tree trunks are a nice touch for mystery and surprise, however caution is to be used to prevent too much of your subject from being hidden.
  • Taking shots of a pair of children can be fun especially when the camera is using a vantage point to see both children.

These are just some thoughts for you to use as you design your personal portraits.

Snap shots

Snap shots are one of most rewarding and irritating events in photography. Allow me to explain.

Say I am on vacation and I take my camera along because anticipating you will see is impossible (even while planning your itinerary). Besides, who does not take a camera when planning to do so many fun things? I mean, that is a given. Even if it is the old Polaroid camera!

I carry my camera with me every where I go, so that means; hiking, flying, driving, activities (especially so), reading a book on the patio, camp fire, dinner meetings, museums, parks, monuments…I think you get the idea. In fact I carry my camera with me so often that in some department stores have asked me to keep my camera in my bag or leave the store. *Sheepish grin* (In addition I suggest never to make a scene in a store. It is not good for your business nor theirs and may even destroy possible future business relations.)

The main thing is to always have you camera so that you can capture that ever so rare moment!

Next: Learn to anticipate things. A parent is an expert at seeing possible dangers their children can walk into, mostly from experience. So, if you miss a snap shot because you lack this anticipatory experience, avoid condemning or punishing yourself! No one likes a “grumpy” photographer (parental or professional). Smile, laugh and enjoy the moment!

I think of snap shots as an art form all their own! Snap shots have no preparatory time, meaning you cannot clean up the living room before the moment passes, or that large field of uncut grass cannot be manicured. Take heart! You need not document the unkempt living room or the uncut field.

Friday, we will talk about some solutions in avoiding distracting backgrounds.