It’s common for photographers to feel weird during their first portrait session. Like learning a new dance and being unsure what it looks like, shooting your first portrait session is full of motions you’re not familiar with yet. Choosing, posing, composing, shooting, refining. The question “am I pulling this off” might be looming and producing anxiety. In the hopes of defusing some of that weirdness for you, and assuming your first portrait session isn’t with a professional modeling agency, here are some things you can probably count on during your first portrait session. So breathe easy.
There are numerous factors that go into making eye-catching portraits. But an important (and sometimes overlooked) characteristic of a good portrait is that it is free of distractions. Any number of things could act as a distraction and it is easy to take care of the most obvious problems like stray hairs or blemishes. But be sure that you don’t neglect the background. Don’t worry if you don’t have a studio and backdrops for your portrait sessions; there are plenty of other ways to include — or exclude — a background so that it enhances rather than distracts from your image.
A good portrait draws the viewer in to the subject, creating a connection between the two. It should provoke thought and intrigue, making you wonder what the subject is thinking at the time the shot was taken. If there is one part of the face that can communicate this the most, it is the eyes. Beautiful, sharply focused eyes grab your attention and hold it there, they can make or break a portrait, but there is an art to getting pin sharp eyes, a lot of it in the technique used to take the shot, some of it in the post-production. Let’s take a look at what we can do to get those eyes sharp.
A wedding is a sacred moment for many people. A wedding photographer is hired to document that moment, as discretely as possible, without ruining the fun and moment for anybody. As easy as this may sound, this is a task which many professionals fail to accomplish the right way. Photographing a wedding means that you need to be everywhere, but not obstruct anything. In addition, keep in mind that your photographs will need to be top notch from the get-go because there is no “let’s try again” or “don’t worry, we will reschedule”.
It’s October and that frightful time of year is upon us in many countries around the globe. Halloween. For kids, it’s costumes of ghosts, goblins, princesses, movie characters and animals. For photographers (notice that I did not say grownups!), it’s a time of creating mystery, a bit a dark drama, a lack of color and a starkness that emanates foreboding emotion. We’ll explore subjects that automatically evoke a creepy, eerie sensation using techniques of 1) harsh editing 2) silhouettes 2) shadows 4) exposure 5) distortion and 6) movement.
Blurry images are the bane of a photographer’s existence. I’ve yet to meet a photographer who has ever stated anything even remotely resembling the following: “After spending a day out with my camera, I don’t mind unloading my memory card and discovering that 75% of my photos are blurry.” Nope. Never. Unless you intend a shot to be blurry for some artistic reason, blur is something everyone tries desperately to avoid and rightfully so, as this can easily render a perfectly composed shot of your ideal subject useless.
Did you know that you can use color contrast to make your photos more interesting and attention-grabbing? You can achieve it only if you understand the basics of color. You need to know what primary and secondary colors are and how that knowledge can help you get a better image. Colors can represent a lot more than you think.
No matter what you are going to shoot, you can’t foresee the weather, right? Weather isn’t the only problematic aspect of photoshooting. Many other unexpected things can happen, therefore you must always go prepared. Aside from the obvious stuff – your camera, lens and flash – what else should you always pack and why?
What do you think of when you hear the term “special effects”? Given the ubiquity of “Photoshopped” images in our culture, I suppose we have to forgive people who immediately and singularly relate photographic special effects to digital manipulation. In a pre-Photoshop world, photographers had to endure hours of darkroom work in order to achieve the look they desired for their photos. These days any one of us can totally transform an image in a matter of a few keystrokes and mouse-clicks. But there are, in fact, special effects of a certain kind than can be achieved in-camera — no fancy software needed.
One of the challenges photographers face is posing. It’s a conundrum because it requires a kind of authority most of us aren’t used to having: The authority to say if something looks good or bad. So much of this authority is earned and demonstrated to your subjects in the swiftness and confidence with which you pose them. Therefore, photographers spend a lot of time working on just where to place a loose hand, and exactly how a person’s back should arch, or how their legs should cross. But in all this fuss, they frequently lose sight of the spirit in their subject.