Posts Tagged ‘portrait’
Please consider this photograph a sketch. It’s a rough mockup of what I think is a really good idea and may be useful to some of you at this late date. (That’s those of you looking for a card idea.)
It’s not a real photograph because despite the fact this IS my family it’s NOT really my house. I’ve been planning to do a Photo Tip about shooting a family portrait on the porch lit by Christmas lights and stumbled onto this house on the way home from the Christmas caroling party. So it’s really a pretend photograph of a pretend family posing for their pretend Christmas card.
There are no Christmas lights on the outside of my house…yet. But there we were and I had my camera and so imagine that this could be your family at your house. It’s almost a reason to set up lights.
We did ask permission to shoot this photograph. I made Anne knock on the door and explain what her nutty husband was up to. The people were lovely and I got what I wanted—almost. I thought it would be pushing it a bit if I asked Anne to go back and see if the lady of the house had a red dress she could borrow but, like I said, that would’ve been a little much.
If there’s a situation in your life where you could shoot this photograph a tripod is a nice thing to have. The ISO of this photograph is 1600. The shutter speed is 1/20th and the f-stop is 2.8. The tripod would have let me lower the ISO so there would be less noise. The shutter speed would have been longer but when a camera is on a tripod you can usually get people to hold surprisingly still for 1/8th or 1/4th of a second.
The latest digital SLRs are are very receptive to lowlight situations and I think it’s almost time for many of you with who have purchased cameras recently to turn up the ISO and take advantage of them.
Merry Christmas to the strangers who loaned me their house to make my point. It would be a little deceptive to use this photograph as our Christmas card— I mean, it’s not my house— but the spirit of goodwill is in the picture and I hope someone out there finds this helpful.
Almost anytime something is glowing— like Christmas lights— there’s an opportunity for a nice portrait.
(Yes, I know, this is more of a Christmas lights picture than a people picture, but it’s a nice change of pace, isn’t it?)
If you’re looking for a holiday gift to make with your camera this is a great one. I’m putting it out there now because Thanksgiving is coming and you may see someone then that’s an ideal and meaningful subject for this. (I’ve found that you can knock off about half of your Christmas gift list with your camera at a Thanksgiving family gathering—think about it.)
The photos here speak for themselves. In this case, you need nine pictures that need to be visually diverse. Serious. Funny. She’s picking her nose in one. The back of her head. Diversity makes this work. It’s not that easy to come up with nine different photos.
Here are a few ways to get something different.
If your subject does ANYTHING goofy push the button. Don’t ask questions.
Direct the subject if you need to. Say things like “be totally serious” or “give me a great big laugh”. Unexpected things happen when you direct people; be prepared to push the button when they don’t follow directions. They will often do things that are better than what you had in mind but you have to push the button and go with the flow.
The profile shots help in the layout. Tell your subject to look at an object in the direction you want them to look. Look at that doorknob over there or look at the flowers is what I’m talking about.
As always, it’s better to do this kind of thing when you are the only two people in the room.
I’m not going to go into how you edit nine pictures into one picture—that’s another conversation. But the fun part here is how to layout the photographs. Where do the profiles go? Where does the finger in the nose picture go? (There may not be one in your version.) There’s a flow to a layout and a set of simple photographs is a great way to challenge yourself.
Also, frames and mattes with pre-cut holes for nine images are a standard item at all of the online frame suppliers. If you decide to go with a matte—life will be easier if you don’t—make sure you have the matte in hand before you attempt to produce a print that will align with the holes.
There are photographers who do volunteer work in cancer wards shooting last family portraits. It’s tough duty, but a wonderful calling. It wasn’t much easier for Helen to shoot this goodbye photograph of her family’s best friend. Thank God for autofocus when you can barely see through the viewfinder for the tears. That’s her daughter saying her goodbye to life long friend, Harley Girl.
If “Get Close to Your Subject” is the granddaddy of all photo tips, then “Find Great Light” is the most soulful of them all. I can tell most of you to get closer to your photo subjects, you can do it, and the results are immediate and amazing. But when I tell you to find great light, the floundering begins. Finding great light and using it to give your photographs impact is a lifelong project. Searching for and finding great light is what professional photographers spend much of their time doing. Yes, the subject has to be right, but if the light isn’t, you’ve got a problem.
But when you get this one, when it sinks in, the floodgate of wonderful photography opens up and all of a sudden you’re a real photographer. You’ll know what great light is after you’ve photographed it a few times and watched your viewers react to it. This is the real deal here.
Yesterday I told you to Turn Off Your Flash. That’s not without its problems. When you turn your flash off you need to deal with getting your subjects into some light that makes the hassle— yes, I said hassle—worth it. Part of being a good photographer is knowing how to put the pieces of the puzzle together. The puzzle is how to get a beautiful subject into some beautiful light. Sometimes you have to grab the bull by the horns. It’s so worth it.
I think you should start with something that looks like the situation in the photograph above. It’s the front door of my house. Sunshine is hitting the sidewalk outside but you can’t see that. You can, however, see it’s beautiful result in the glow of my neighbor’s face. There are serious portrait photographers who use nothing but light that looks like this, and they are extremely successful. It’s a gorgeous, classic look. You can hardly go wrong.
Wherever you live, you are very likely within a few minutes of light that looks just like this. It could be your front door, it could be your garage, it could be on the porch, or it could be under the shade of a tree. The secret to using the slight is finding it.
Have a portrait session with someone you love. Their age doesn’t matter. They need to be willing to cooperate and be patient with you as you develop your photographic skills.
For some of you out there, when you get a few pictures that look like this under your belt, a light won’t go off in your head, it’s going to be more like rockets taking off. I’m confident, that for at least a few of you out there, this is the photo tip that’s going to make all the difference. You’re going to write to me and say, “Nick, it was Find the Great Light! That was the one! That was the one that changed everything.”
Maybe that’s going to be you. I certainly hope so.