Portraits and Candids
So this is the classic portrait setup, you've seen it it probably a bazillion times and there's a reason why it's a classic portrait set up most people look at this way here's what's happening? He has his body turned to the side kind of like this almost like a three quarter, and I think he might have been seated on a stool and oftentimes if you're going to take pictures like this, if someone especially if they're taller, you want to have them seated or you want to be kind of standing up on some things you can get, I noticed my camera positioning are just a little bit above his eye line, right? I'm not coming in from down below, not coming in for way up above, just a little bit above his eye line for the classic portrait, yes, just about the island so that the eyes are wider and just a little bit up a little bit flattering for the next u s o so hans had a good question he was saying just a little bit higher up, so the eyes are wider. Well, we talked about that yesterday, but I'll do a l...
ittle rendition here sometimes when you're photographing people, if you're coming in from down below, their eyes might look a little. Kind of closed, and if they have a propensity to sort of raise their head up and pictures, some people do it's a nervous habit assumes the camera comes in, they go like this, and so when they do that, their eyes kind of become these little slits, so if they're their chin is down a little bit and the cameras coming in from up above their eyes now open up just for my I'm going down like that, my eyes are opening up more so that's, more flattering and then also there's kind of darkness under here a little bit, and you can see in this instance his jaw a little bit more that since he's turned like this, so he's turned three quarter and he has one shoulder down a little bit lower that also creates some interest. So so where to stand just like this, you know, it's kind of like boring, and people look kind of boxy, so if you turn him to the side, whether they're on a chair or standing, people immediately look better just from this three quarter vantage point. So in this picture, he's kind of leaning a little bit forward, which in portrait's, especially for business or models and actors, especially its commercial work, you want to look friendly and engaging and approachable, you don't want business shot you know, unless that's what you're trying to depict in your business, you want something like almost as if someone were leaning across the table at you? You know, high in this instance, this is an actor, and he wanted something a little more serious, almost theatrical in a way so that's, why we have I have the dark background, so the way I shot it was he's on a stool he's turned to the side one shoulders down like this and the way I lit it and the way I set it up, so I threw a piece of black fabric over his door in his apartment, so he's, this got his his stool sitting right there in the doorway doors open through black piece of fabric over it, and that is light coming in from outside, and I think I'm also pumping up the light a little bit. I have a soft box just like the one I'm going to show you today, that's I had plugged in and it was like, outside of the store, and I'm adding a little more light to the scene, so the outdoor light is really kind of lighting them up. And then I added a little extra punch by adding in one of the lights and, well, we'll do that later today. So that's how I took the shot and I just had him kind of, you know turn his face a little bit this way and the other and sort of turn him around to find his better side and that was it so this is a picture we capture is just a classic portrait shot just a little note aside from the portrait shot here, if you're photographing people and they're standing, one thing that you want to do is make sure that for them to look better is again not to have like standing like that but put one foot behind them and put the weight on the back foot so look what happens to me automatically I go from this to now I'm looking a little more felt right little because the weights back here and so what's up here is looking a little thinner and there's also kind of you don't have to like pose but just with the weight on the back foot it's already adding a little shape to my body it's not just a plain line, boxy looking shape so that's one thing that you want to d'oh another thing proposing people one thing unconscious of especially if I'd have on sleeveless shirts or short shirts are short sleeve shirts is my arms and I wanted to live in bigger than they already are, so I'll kind of make sure that my arm is not squashed against my body I'll start just hold it out just a little bit, so it looks as thin is humanly possible, so I've got the weight back here, I got my arm out just a little bit, and then I think about this is this is mainly for women, but just depends you want also think about kind of elongating your neck a little bit, and if you bring your chin out just just like a tad out just a little bit, it makes this thing or two. So it's just very subtle what you don't want to do is what happened once when I went to a wedding and all my girlfriends were saying, show us how to pose, you know, we don't want to look good, and I gave him all those tips, and then everyone was like, they don't want exaggerated. This is subtle thing, but just instantly, you know, weight on the back foot that's automatically going to make make you look better. So moving on too other kinds of portrait's incorporating hands in your portrait ce you want to be really careful about this now, there's something that, you know, a lot of people have done over time, and I've seen that sometimes can look a little cheesy, you know, if you're like, ah. Yes, sir, I don't know there's things that just look a little contrived with the hands and the photograph, especially if you're getting in kind of close. Now, this is my friend olivia she's, an actress in los angeles. She's been an a print model. She's done a lot of things in front of the camera, so she kind of I already knew it was something that I want to share with you if you do have your hands in the photograph and they're up by your face, first off, if you're showing off any of your nails or anything like that, nails, make sure that you've got, you know, some kind of manicured going on if you're doing close ups, otherwise, use the photographer may end up doing a lot of retouching later on, so that's one thing you don't want to deal with that, so if you're showing off hands, make sure they look good and then also noticed how she has her hand upon her face. It's not like this, right? So if you had someone put there, we're us, their face on their hand don't actually rest it just kind of touch it to their face. Is she's barely touching her face with it? It looks like she's leaning on it, but she's not so it kind of adds a little casual feel to the photograph and, like she's kind of like sitting there talking to you, but it's very well thought out what she's doing it's not as casual as it looks, but sometimes it can be hard to tell if you're just photographing people that are used to being in front the camera to do that. So be cautious when you have hands up near the face and photograph and also when you're photographing people oftentimes that's where tension comes out in their hands, so if they're nervous about having their picture taken and maybe they're, you know, sitting on a chair or something, you're going to be like grabbing the chair and her hands are going to be like this and there they got all this going on, but then they're like their hands. This look weird, so I always tell him, just shake out your hands and let him fall where they naturally fall. Shake out your hands if you're on a table, just follower than actually fall and it's going to look better, we'll certainly look more natural. The hands can be hands could be tricky, so just be cautious with hand things now I want to tell you a story about a girl named sophia. She's a cute e isn't she? He doesn't look like she's in a very good mood, though, and here's what happened? I was going over to her parent's home and her parents and grand parents were all there and wanted family photographs and I was all excited to take the photographs and I showed up with them assistant and photo equipment we came in the house and I'd never met sophia before and she wasn't really happy we were there because we were interrupting saturday play time and he didn't know us and she just wasn't all that happy that we were taking attention away from what she probably wanted to be doing that day so she was not in a great mood of first, so I just want to show you how it all started off, so I always in my car keep all kinds of props and things, especially for kids I've got like fabric and netting and bubbles and toys and all kinds of stuff that I could just bring out if they don't have any I just want to be prepared so I brought out the netting and suggested ok, well it's just kind of start with this and play around with it I have her in the backyard it's beautiful soft light back there it was in the afternoon and it was kind of coming through the trees we had some nice open shade in the backyard, I didn't really have to do that much with lighting, so that was a perfect place to just have her play around and shoot, because I didn't have to worry too much about contrasts, shadows or anything. The light was pre even and soft, but here's, what happened? I gave her the netting, she tried it on she's, not too happy, but as soon as we started playing around in the backyard, I just kind of let her play. You know, we said let's make you into a princess, and she just started kind of walking around the yard, and she had this netting wrapped around her head and it was flowing out on the grass, and she had her own little moment. I didn't tell her to do this and pretend she was a princess is just what she naturally did. I was ready with the camera, and fortunately, it was nice even lighting back there, so I didn't have to worry about reflecting or doing any of that. So here she is, she's kind of thinking about being a princess, you know, I just captured that moment. That's a candid moment, she knows she's in front of the camera, but for that split second she's off somewhere else in another world, so you have to be observant as the photographer to capture these special moments be aware of what's going on in between when you think you're supposed to be taking the picture because that's like I said oftentimes when the magical things happen so as the day goes on we're playing around in the backyard we turned on music, she had a jump rope, she had we had all kinds of toys she's just running around and I'm just capturing her running around and doing fun things and the day went on and it was like two hours that we're doing this and I was exhausted and we I think we got all the shots we get, the family, we got everything in there and and pictures of her so ok, so we finished the photo shoot and now we're all sitting around the picnic table and it was later in the day and have having a glass of wine and packed everything up except one camera, which I always keep out and we're sitting at the table and then sophia, who really didn't like me much in the beginning, comes up and sits next to me and, you know, just it's smiling and she decides she likes me because we built up a relationship over the course of the afternoon and I let her do what she wanted to do, and I was just kind of there taking pictures and so she became more comfortable and at ease with the situation and felt like but I was also giving her attention and making her feel good and that often can do wonders for people in front of the camera. So what happened was I turned to her and I said cash no, sophia, I I would love to roll around in the grass but it's been so long I forget how could would you mind showing me? Because you seem like you'd be really good at it would you show me how to roll around in the grass and she's like okay, you know, so I took my camera and we're rolling around in the grass when now down on the ground and shooting over right at her and this is a picture I was able to capture. This is so different from the one in the very beginning, isn't it? One of the very beginning she was not happy and looking off camera and not at all interested in anything and now she's like completely just there and comfortable and opened up and she's having a moment and this was a special photograph so that's, what can happen if you did one go in way had are contained space? It was someplace I knew I could shoot with the light and all that and kind and just let her play and did some fun stuff and played around and took a lot of shots now there were a lot of shots that didn't work out these are just the ones that and I got many photographs out of the day, but I probably took I don't maybe a thousand pictures that day digital shots and went through mall so there's a lot of we call post processing after you take the shot to go through everything and find it, but I knew when I looked through the camera view finder that this was it I knew this was the shot and that's what will happen with you? You know, and you're you're taking these pictures, you'll just it'll be a moment and it will just make sense everything will gel for you right in front of the lens so also taking pictures of people in succession, you know, and just kind of placing them together, it becomes like a little personality photo and this is jack is a while ago and he was ah over my house and just kind of, you know, I want took a bunch of pictures of him, but I took him all from pretty much the same distance, same angle because I knew I wanted to put them all together and have him look kind of the same, but just different expressions and things like that and that's kind of a fun thing to play around with two I wanted to talk a little bit about candid photographs a cz faras capturing a moment that's that's happening but also an element of spontaneity and surprise so I was prepared for this I knew that the cake was coming in I was off to the side I turned off the flash on my camera even though it was dark outside because I knew I was going to get light from the candles on the cake and I knew if I flashed it with my camera it's totally going to change the ambiance of the scene that's why sometimes flash is not so great because it changes the other ambient light that's going on in the scene or the other light sources that might be of interest so in this in this instance I knew the birthday cake was coming in and so I was ready I raised my eyes o on my camera toe let in more light essentially the cameras sensors sensitivity to the light I think I must have raised it to at least eight hundred maybe a thousand or something had the flash off and I stabilized the camera I think on another table and just got ready to get the shot and this was it and this was a really fun moment and it's it's something you can't really you could try and maybe re create something like this but this was the moment you have to be ready for it the candid shots there's another family I've shot on the beach for years and we've done all kinds of fun things they're just you know they're not opposing kind of group but they wanted a group shot so I kind of got him together and then just had him interact with each other and just captured a bunch of shots of them basically laughing and talking with each other and and on occasion almost all of them were looking towards cameras sometimes they weren't but that was ok because that was the moment that they were having together on camera that really that really depicts their personality and just the fun that they have is a family other candid shots this is kind of an older man I think I might have even taken this one on film a while back and scanned it but here's the scoop with this is oftentimes you find having people kind of walk around and take their picture what I'll do say at the beach is have people just keep walking back and forth as a group and they'll be far away sometimes and I'll just say walk down to that that's ah klompus seaweed down there and then just walked back towards me slowly and you're not looking at me you're talking to each other you're looking out you're kind of doing whatever feels naturally and that's what I have people do just kind of walk back and forth maybe ten times and I'm photographing them from the front as they walk away whatever it is and somewhere in there is some magical moments so this is when janina here when she was a lot younger she's over here on the wall now when she was a lot younger she just was like uh love yes ocean and she just did it I didn't tell her to do that they didn't tell her to do that she just did so you give people a contained space give him a little direction just let him do what they do and the special moments between people are so important a grandmother and her one year old grandson just kind of having a little moment and this is the cubist thing and then this little boy I got in kind of close we're having a little talk about the number of freckles that he had on his face as the final moment that we had together so sometimes you might have you know just really little intimate conversations with people and just pull the camera you know and you can capture something that's just happening right then and there that's a candid moment an authentic moment or a moment between father and his newborn daughter just kind of playing around I love all those little hats that they wear those really have you seen on the baby photographs of all the little hats and all the things you can do but this is the hat you know his daughter was wearing it wasn't like done for the photograph it was just a real moment happening and actually I was a barbecue I was at their barbecue house for a barbecue and just happened to capture this and it was nice soft light in the afternoon didn't use a flash or anything like that but this was a moment and I was noticing all the moments you have to really that's one thing I think what that draws a lot of people to photography is europe in an observer you you notice things that are going on maybe other people don't and that's what you can capture so think about that props or a lot of fun ok, this was actually my went back to school later in life and got a an art degree graphic design degree and this is my graphic design professor on the left and he was very meticulous everything I did it had to be just right so he was had his magnifying glass class out it was on his desk and I I was by his office and said, hey, this would be a great portrait and he just whipped up the magnifying glass and the books in the background or kind of creates a nice environmental portrait so think about people you're photographing what do they do that's of interest? Maybe they mitt maybe they're woodworkers maybe they grow flowers, whatever it is, think about getting pictures of people while they're doing something they really like. Well, they're doing something that's about them that has meaning to them, and he was also a painter. So I think in this instance, I was up on, like a step ladder above him, and he we decided, just put all of his paintings on the ground. Fortunately, he was a good sport. Some people don't want to lay on the ground or, you know, do funky things, you have to kind of feel it out. You don't want to make people feel uncomfortable by insisting they do something that's, you know, not comfortable to them, but if they're willing to play can really you could get a lot of fun photographs. Speaking of playing the family that was out on the beach that I showed you before that was they were kind of interacting the candid shots we came up with this idea, like let's have a pillow fight and the mom over here is really good about thinking of oh, you know, what will the outfits be and all of that? So she got him all in pajamas and this was a fun. Fun photo shoot, I think originally they were going to use it for, like a really estate at or something, but then after the husband saudi goes, I'm not putting it in the paper, I don't blame him, but it's a fun family shot, I think they have this printed, its hung on the wall of just them playing around and having fun so you can kind of think about, you know, themes of things you might shoot or or come up with fun ideas and just, you know, play around it's just it's about life it's about capturing relationship and moments between people and things that you see or things that, you know could happen that you suggest, and then they happened like the baby you know is up in the air or the couple is kissing or whatever, you can give some direction, but then let people do what they do and and captured this guy had amazing dreadlocks, and we got a lot of great pictures that day, but I just thought, wow, wouldn't it be cool to see his hair to stall twirling around? So that was the direction I gave him and, you know, it's just so it's a fun, almost abstract shot and just other things, other pictures of people that you wouldn't normally expect shoes, you know, you think how interesting with a bunch of shoes be but actually they can be really interesting because they show off the personality of whoever is wearing them another another way to play is think about ways you can frame the shot in the front so here this is a dancer from new york and her feet are very big part of what she does and this is kind of the opposite way of using depth of field now all the other pictures I've showed you where I used shallow depth of field where the background is all blurry um that was that kind of depth of field this looks like shallow depth of field in the front but it's actually because her feet are probably so close to the lens that the lens can't focus that close so that may happen to you sometimes you're taking pictures of something up close with the lens that's not a macro lens um things look a little blurry it's maybe because you had him too close to the camera but in this instance it worked for me creatively so I just went with it so her feet are framing her and it's just a fun playful shot and has some meaning. Okay, remember the couple I told you about that I made them work that day on the beach and they were exhausted? Well, this is one of the things I had him dok go over their twirl around and I haven't beneath this kind of framed archway underneath the pier so I use that as a frame so again I pulled back I noticed what was around them and then just pulled back to use that as a framing element and then how don't do something you know it's like it just gets boring after a while people are just standing there you want movement moving around have energy I don't think I asked him to jump think just twirling at this point this is a friend of mine who is a tennis coach and she wanted just a fun shot of her plan tennis use on her website and of course I took you know all the regular shots of her just kind of portrait wise and with tennis rackets by that let's just get one of you like you really like coming at me and playing and so the set up for this I wish I had someone there to take a shot of me taking the shot so you could see the set up but what it was we're at the tennis court and I'm just like down on the ground and I had a flash on and she was just kind of over me like this and the wind who happen to be blowing and her hair was blowing back and so it just looks really cool and she's used this a lot is like an energetic looking shot on her tennis website so that is actually the end of my my composition and composing and directing and candids and all that for this particular section, so I get at this point if anyone has any questions about any of it or I would like to add in feel free we did have a few questions a pro photographer asked where do you get ideas for new poses or new idea is where how are you inspired? That's that's a great question, tio well, I'm as a creative person I'm always looking at, um, art and what he's looking at other people's photographs and I guess that's really what creative people been doing since the beginning of time it's called appropriation so you look at other things other people are doing, and then you come up with your own idea that might add some uniqueness to that and build from that so I I I often I keep what's called an inspiration book at home and I actually is going to bring it, but it was so big I was so overweight already on the airline they didn't bring it, but I'll talk about it and it's actually just I goto tio like office depot buy a notebook by those plastic pages and then I go through magazines or just in my daily life I'll see an ad come through the mail and I'll like the way that they took the picture or I just find something interesting about it. I like the color or the posing or the light, and I'll tear it out and put it in my inspiration book, and so when I'm just kind of hanging out at home and I'm thinking about, I've got a photo shoot coming up or something all start flipping through that book and just kind of in graining some ideas in my mind about things I can do, and sometimes when I go to a shoot, I'll have, like, a little outline of some ideas. I come up with a head of time for poses and kind of rattled those off because so much is going on in a photo shoot dealing with the camera, dealing with light, dealing with people that I'll have a little outline for that, but it just it comes from a lot of different places and also there's on some great acts out now. There's opposing app I use sometimes that's on my iphone if I'm just like completely feeling brain dead at the moment, all this flip through that and go, oh, that's interesting, I'll try that, so I just take things and then work with them and then also just working with people looking at their face or their body, I'm thinking, how would they looked the best? You know, so if I turn around this way, you know what? That look nice. And I think about all the different angles I could move around and all the different angles they could move around and kind of go from there. There's, no one set way. I do like to do things candidly a lot of the time. But then there are also things you can tell people to do. Like I was mentioning, you know, the whole weight on the back foot thing that will just instantly make things look better. But just anything that looks, you know, kind of natural. It is always nice. Um, not things that look force or like some of us, you know? So it zamora about having thinking of the pose, but then incorporating that, having someone do it could be another thing, too. So you've got also have those those exercises to give to people like loosen up. Yeah, that was great. That was great. You know what I mean? What is there prepping process? Look like, do you get ever get images of your client's beforehand, and then go to the location beforehand and kind of think about how the poses and the body type will fit in the environment, or how much time do you invest before the shoot and that's a great thing to dio and thank you for that question to this it's a good thing to talk about if you have a photo shoot coming up save a family and they want great family shots or you know you haven't event happening in your friend's or group of people you know that you want to take a great shot think about the location and go to the location beforehand if you have that luxury and check out the light that around the time of day you're actually going to shoot to see you know where is it coming from and what's the quality of the light what what might I need to d'oh oh for the light and then if you have a group of people think about wow okay, so am I going to bring a ladder for this so I can be a pie and shoot down and get everyone in the picture or are there stairs? I could have people stand on all those things that I think about before you get to the photo shoot because what you dont want tio is have a lot of people all there waiting for you and ready to have their picture taken and you're like, well, let's see, I think we want to maybe shoot over there no, no, no that doesn't work let's move over here because groups of people are not going to have that patients most people don't unless they're professional models are actors, you know, they just they don't have that that patients levels to the more you can prepare ahead of time the better so what I'll do is go check the location I'll talk tio the people before and if that's possible and talk to them about their wardrobe and I often tell him to dress kind of banana republic esque, you know, in neutral tones or solid colors you know don't wear t shirts with with low goes on don't wear any wild prints because taking a picture of a group of people I don't want one person to like pop out in their neon yellow shirt everyone has on dark blue if you want them to kind of totally go together so the location the wardrobe I also just talk to them about you know what other pictures have do you have? So what am I taking? What pictures have you had before? If I can see those like I just took pictures of a real estate agent who had really no pictures of himself other than that snapshots and they were awful, he looks so much better than that and s o I knew what I was working with so I pretty much you know knew that whatever I give him it's going better than that but you also want to know what you're playing off of what is it that they didn't like before that they'd like to do now? So you want to ask some questions and do some homework in that regard too, but definitely the location, the light, the wardrobe? And then I start thinking about when I asked, you know who all is going to be there if I know they're really young kids and then all the way up to, you know, much older people what's going to be the comfort level for them and, you know, really try and get as much information as possible if you have that luxury, sometimes you don't sometimes you just show up at an event you're like, okay, yeah, how do you approach posing and photographing differently for men and women? Um well, for women, I mean, most women want to look as attractive as possible guys want look great, too, and oftentimes there's some classic things that you do with women such as all women want to look, you know, a little thinner. Most women want to look a little thinner than they are, so you, you know, you work with that, they're different posing techniques you can use if someone is very overweight, you might want to think about lighting them turning them or, you know, three quarters saseidx and having how we're working yesterday with the light from the side and the dark shadows tend to make things look smaller and recede anything bright looks a little bit, you know, advances and looks larger, so kind of working with shadowing things that's often one andi also making sure that, you know, people don't look, uh, to brinkley uh, the hair is not all over all over the place, but as faras posing, you just want to make sure that depending on the body type that you're working with, but you're positioning them so it's not accentuating anything that might be unattractive and with men what I've often found, if I'm having them just posed that that the classic thing was posing men is you don't want mental like kind of tilt their head too much decide it's more of like straight on, so if I have a guy that's kind of moving his head around in front of the camera because often I'll give direction and say, okay, I'm gonna the shutters going to go off, and what I'd like you to do is just move a little bit between each shutter sound that you hear, so say ok click, click, click, click, click, click. If I want to get some different looks and so they kind of get into that and he'd give them a direction, they get to know it I mean that's, what models and actors do right? The cameras going off his team catalog models were like going back and forth on two feet like this like looking like they're going somewhere, but they're really not they're staying in the same place so you can give direction to people like that, but with men you want to make sure that their faces pretty much, you know, straight on it's not tilted like this women sometimes well, we'll give a little tilt like that and it looks nice, but you have to kind of look and see where the lights falling. A lot of variables included just trying to throw out some ideas. Yeah, now and again, these are subjects that we could literally spend days, tony so getting getting that little overview is great. I appreciate that one other question, and I think this one was it's a little bit off topic, but I think it's it's got a little time and it's a good one. People were asking as they saw your shots of the group on the beach how do you meet her? And where do you like get your light readings when you're photographing a group of people, different skin tones whether it's you know african american or you know like on asian skin tone or a very pale skin tone like when you have those those varying degrees where do you where do you get your exposure? Yes, that could be a tricky one and well, first off, if you're shooting a group, you want to make sure that everyone is in the same lighting so if you're say underneath the shade of a tree and you've got sunlight coming through the leaves shining on people, you want to make sure that you know you don't I have one person that's in bright sunlight and someone else is in the shade you want the whole group to pretty much being the same even lighting if possible, so if you're shooting outside you know, the shots I was taking out on the beach it was nice even light and that was pretty easy to shoot in as faras media ring for it. I think I was just probably using evaluative mita ring so that is also known as matrix metering another one, some other cameras, but it essentially divides us the scene into zones and analyzes each zone and gives you the best exposure for that sometimes when you're shooting things that are very dark and very bright in the same situation it's always a challenge with a digital camera because our eyes see a greater range of tone than digital cameras d'oh we see detail in the darks and the brights. Where's. The digital camera does not so that's where you might come in and try spot metering. But if you've got a group and you want everyone with different skin tones to look, you know, some are going to look totally is bright as they might, some might not would not look as dark as they could, but there's kind of an evening out that you've got to do in there. One thing you can also do is take, um, is bracket and take a lot of pictures that air say underexposed, overexposed and right on a lot of cameras have that feature recon auto bracket. And then, if you wanted to work in an image editing software program, you could go in and kind of lightened some areas and dark and others if that was really an issue. It's always a challenge, though that's it's I don't know there's one easy rule to fix everything, but for sure, make sure that whatever group you have, they're all standing in the same light.