May 29, 2011
how to pose normal, everyday people for portraits
When you work with models, or subjects who are used to presenting themselves to the camera or an audience, it is much easier for the photographer to pose them. The challenge though is how to pose people who aren’t used to pose in front of the camera. Then it is up to the photographer to guide them, and give clear instruction how they should pose for the camera. The question just came up in the Tangents forum - how to pose everyday normal people.
The photograph above is of me as I was showing a model at the After Dark photography workshops how I wanted her to pose. Now you may well say that I was showing a model how to pose, and not an inexperienced subject … and some may even say that I am hardly ‘everyday’ or ‘normal’. However that may be, this image neatly underlines my advice on posing.
You need to be able to show your subjects how you want them to pose.
If you’re working with subjects who aren’t used to the camera, then you absolutely need to be able to show them what you want them to do – how to position their feet, their hands, their body and head. Just vaguely pointing, with vague verbal instructions just won’t get you as far as physically showing them.
April 29, 2011
random found available light as portrait lighting
With the recent trip to California for the workshops, I was also keen to meet up with another favorite model, Bethany. We were allowed to shoot in a night-club on a Sunday afternoon when it was all quiet with no one there. It’s an interesting place to work with a beautiful model, finding interesting spots and then figuring out how I might adapt my flash setup. I had 4 speedlights with me and 2 softboxes and a slew of the new PocketWizards.
The first series of photos of Bethany however, was shot with just the available light there. But first I had to recognize the light as being interesting light for a portrait. I had to “see” it first. As it happened, I only saw that this might be useful light for a portrait when I did a few test shots while Bethany was having her hair and make-up done.
April 15, 2011
finding something to bounce your flash off
One of the frequent questions that come up, is what to do when there is nothing to bounce your flash off. When working indoors and there are bounce-able surfaces around me, my first instinct is to use on-camera bounce flash. It is easy to use, and the results can look surprisingly good, especially if you consider the minimal effort that went into it. No extra gear to carry around and set up. But when there is nothing to bounce flash off, you have to adapt your technique …
November 10, 2010
tips for posing people / working with a model
So you have a great camera and lens; and someone who is willing to be photographed and willing to work with you; and you have a great idea for a setting or backdrop … but now what?
Quite a few people have asked about advice on posing their subjects in the thread on future topics for the Tangents blog. Posing your subject is something that can be quite intimidating to a newer photographer. The pressure is now on YOU to create magic .. or at least an arresting image. Leaving everything up to the model or your subject to do, or for them to come up with ideas … while you just click the shutter, makes you just an owner of a camera, and not a photographer.
When photographing portraits of people then, at some level you need to be able to pre-visualize what you want. Or, recognize when you actually have something in front of your camera that makes a good subject. The point I’m aiming at here, is that if you want to photograph portraits of people, you can’t be passive. At some level you have to exercise control, whether it is the location or the light, or some element that you add or make a decision about. You have to be active in creating the portrait. And this often means directing your subject or posing them.
October 11, 2010
favorite image from the weekend – romantic bridal portrait
When possible during a lull in the wedding reception, I like to sneak the bride and groom away for a few minutes to do romantic portraits. Since time is usually tight, and the couple wants to enjoy as much of their reception as possible, I like to work efficiently. Jessica and Michael had their reception at a venue where I hadn’t worked before, so during dinner time, I quickly went around the venue with my assistant, to scout a few places to photograph the couple.
In the basement of this venue, I noticed the light shining through gates … casting interesting shadows on the wall. I thought this might be ideal to pose the couple, and then light them beautifully with a hand-held video light.
September 7, 2010
photographing the bride and bridesmaids – location and direction
One of the series of photographs that I like to “have in my pocket” are the individual photos of the bride with each bridesmaid. This is the kind of photograph you can hammer out very quickly, one after the other. The bride with a bridesmaid, hugging each other. I always make time for this. One stumbling block might be a lack of place to do this. But there is usually somewhere to do this, by isolating your subject with a long lens against an out-of-focus background …
September 6, 2010
influences and inspiration
Triggered by the most recent post on the pin-up photo session, I thought that an on-going theme about influences and inspiration in photography would make a good topic.
The photo above was taken during an engagement photo session. In posing Melissa and Dennis for the one sequence, I wanted to use an idea that I saw on the cover of the disc of a movie I had watched just a few days before – An Education. (Amazon)
The young actress, Carey Mulligan was nominated for an Oscar for her role in this touching coming-of-age story. Beautifully told and acted and filmed. It was based on a book written by Nick Hornby. He was also the author of ‘High Fidelity’, a book dear to my heart.
The cover image of the DVD / Blu-Ray disc caught my attention – the two actors, elegantly posed. When I saw it, I immediately knew I would reference this image some time during upcoming photo session.
August 22, 2010
progression of an idea during a photo-session
This post was going to be something entirely different – a mini-review of an Elinchrom Ranger Quadra Set that I got hold of to try out. But a key part was missing. Without the Skyport that allows you to control the output of the unit from the camera itself, a review would be less useful. Having booked Priscilla as our model already, and my friend Richard along to assist, we decided to just go ahead and have fun with a photo-shoot anyway …
August 21, 2010
positioning your subject – direction of light & choice of background
Taking cover from the rain under this awning, we ended up in the same spot where I took this available light portrait posted here previously. Looking along the wall at the same angle, the black paint of the wall reflected the light from behind, completely changing the character of the background. Since the available light was low level, and not flattering, we added some light from an off-camera flash in a softbox …
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August 20, 2010
posing your subject – direction of light & choice of background
Reinforcing the ideas from a few previous posts,
we’re going to look at that intersect where everything comes together:
- direction of light,
- choice of background,
- posing your subject,
- positioning yourself.
When we work with our subject – whether a family member or a model or anyone we’re photographing – then we have the opportunity to control at least a few aspects to make the final photograph more successful …
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