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Portraits - what are you trying to achieve ?

ade_mcfade 14 15.2k 216 England
14 Nov 2012 2:43PM
pretty open question really...

I now take more portraits than anything else - a few years ago I took none and just shot trees and rocks.

When I shoot someone new, it's an interesting interaction - small talk, putting them at ease .... all that stuff.

I guess my goal, in a nutshell, is to capture the person being totally natural - I rarely, if ever, pose anyone - that is definitely not what I'm about. I don't do much post processing other than generic changes (curves, clarity etc.) in Lightroom and use flash to add a bit of interest - and technical challenge. Locations' the final thing - I rarely use a controlled environment like a studio, preferring to create a look "on the fly" in hotels, board rooms, tunnels, streets, hills... proper busking

Very interested to hear what other people look to achieve - there are many fantastic shots which are "very posed" and "very processed" - a different (and arguably more popular) vibe.

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Paul_Anthony 6 442 4 Wales
14 Nov 2012 2:49PM

Quote:what are you trying to achieve


Nearly all of my Portraits are taken in the studio, it's comfortable, controlled and predictable (unlike the weather).. I would like to get out and about more, but as I am studio based my clients come to me wanting a studio experience, who am I to argue with them.

It's way too cold this time of year for all that out doors stuff anyway, no one would be enjoying themselves.

ade_mcfade 14 15.2k 216 England
14 Nov 2012 2:56PM
what helps achieve you goal of more sales?
14 Nov 2012 3:21PM
I guess when i am doing portrait shoots i am mostly going for emotion. Usually thats a 'staged' emotion from the model, and lighting/processing to compliment it. I would add that these portraits are not necessarily the sort that are typical with portrait studios that Paul Anthony is referring to (i think) and more of an arty type (apologies if that sounds wrong, but i guess i mean i dont shoot what would be regarded as a 'family portrait', as usually the model is hired for a particular image rather than me being hired to take a shot).
lemmy 11 2.7k United Kingdom
14 Nov 2012 5:47PM
I specialized in photographing women, show biz types, singers, actresses for publicity shots and the newspapers and magazines.

I used to talk a lot of artistic guff about bringing out the character of the person, how lighting could accentuate or minimize features, all that - I always had the gift of the gab I'm glad to say.

But it was business and basically I was successful at it because I made them look nice Wink
Paul Morgan 17 19.1k 6 England
14 Nov 2012 6:53PM

Quote:I guess my goal, in a nutshell, is to capture the person being totally natural, I rarely, if ever, pose anyone

Snap shooter Smile
brian1208 Plus
15 11.4k 12 United Kingdom
14 Nov 2012 7:23PM
I'm still a novice at this and my present challenge is to produce an image that shows something of the personality as well as the person.

I like faces that light up when they smile and that can change mood in an instant.

Shooting in our camera club studio evening we normally end up with two 5-7minute sessions each so its a real challenge to chat with the model and try to establish a rapport with them in this time (but it has surprised me how quickly it can be achieved)

I provide the model with a DVD of images + few good quality prints (mounted if I feel they are really special) and its great to get positive feedback, particularly from someone who started out unsure aboout how they looked in front of the camera

Shooting out of the studio its just trying to capture the moment, usually of the grand-children defying death and having a great time Grin
JackAllTog Plus
9 5.0k 58 United Kingdom
14 Nov 2012 9:47PM
I'm trying to achieve something they like AND something i'll like.

This is what I want for my main current emphasis (even though I'm hardly shooting at the moment)
I want to capture, emphasise, even create beauty beyond the person themselves. More creating an Illusion than reality - I call this the perfume ad look.
I want to control how the shadows on the face transition into the darker areas in a smooth toned flow.
I want eyes to engage the viewer and there to be the illusion of deep thought or feeling, above all i want the look to be aspirational.

So less like Ade in this one particular aim that I'd like to achieve. But then remembering that I'd also like them to have something they like too, perhaps it has to be much more like Ade's.
AlexandraSD 6 759 United Kingdom
14 Nov 2012 11:21PM
My aim was and still is to create something memorable, with drama and intrigue.

Working in the studio was well and good, but as Ade pointed out, nothing beats working on the fly, making it up as you go along. For me, too much planning often created issues, i overcomplicated matters when i should have been simplifying them. And the creativity that flows from working on location is without equal, studios can be stifling places at times, though convenient granted, but its more of a buzz outside the blinding lights of the studio.

Its been a year now since i worked with any models, i have not actively been looking to shoot models again, or any kind of clients for that matter, but what i used to achieve the goals with my models i extend into most area's of photography, even though i am taking less images at the moment (i have a day job now) my aim is the same, memorable, dramatic and intriguing, whether i even come close to any one of these remains to be seen.
Paul Morgan 17 19.1k 6 England
15 Nov 2012 12:54AM

Quote:I want to capture, emphasise, even create beauty beyond the person themselves. More creating an Illusion than reality

You want to take up corporate portraiture, accountants will love you Smile
ade_mcfade 14 15.2k 216 England
15 Nov 2012 12:18PM
interesting Alexandra - I too rarely use "models". For fun shoots I know a bunch of professional dancers and have a huge pool of musicians (through my blues brothers band and their connections) who are only too happy to have a shoot. Dancers can do all sorts - the positions they can get in and height they can jump... .cool

99% of my paid shoots are with non-models, usually company directors - they've no idea what to do 1/2 the time, so the most important thing with them is the "people skills" side, to get them talking and having a laugh, lighten up, get the right shot that way.... need to do it fast too as they're always busy! Shooting with "non models" means you're going through this process all the time - it's great practice for the paid jobs. You can try things out before doing it with a paying client Wink

Working with real models is, in a way, too easy... they just look great and get into great positions without prompting - which is all well and good for fashion/arty stuff, but not good practice for tricky clients Wink

It's a bit like a landscaper going out and having a perfect sunset every day.... which is brilliant, but in reality, it doesn't help you learn when the conditions are not so good.

One of my "mentees" (if that's a word....) is an NLP trainer, doing shoots with him is a real eye opener - I'll set everything up and then watch his interactions with the sitter... he reads people and within about 5 shots he's got them laughing and talking about all sorts... amazing skill to have
lemmy 11 2.7k United Kingdom
15 Nov 2012 12:23PM

Quote: studios can be stifling places at times

No offence Alex but if they are that is your fault. A studio is a large room where you control everything from lighting to choice of subject - even the temperature. That's all.

The results you produce there will owe nothing to serendipity. That is why some people find it difficult or stifling. Nature gives you luck and opportunism but the studio gives you control.

The work that comes out of a studio is the work of the photographer alone. For a professional photographer, that means there are no excuses. That's why many pros, including many I have known, don't like it. To control and build lighting you must understand light and how it works in the same way a painter must.

It shouldn't be either/ or. Most capable photographers can do studio and natural light and combinations of them. But creativity is in the mind, not a room or the great outdoors.
ade_mcfade 14 15.2k 216 England
15 Nov 2012 12:35PM
.....to be fair, the main reason I don't use studios is cost in this current climate. If I thought I could drum up enough extra trade to justify one, I'd probably go for it.

Especially in winter...

I guess it's what you "enjoy" too - maybe there's the landscape/architecture photographer in me which enjoys using locations
lemmy 11 2.7k United Kingdom
15 Nov 2012 12:43PM

Quote:maybe there's the landscape/architecture photographer in me which enjoys using locations

Viz Top Tip: Have sand, stones, astroturf and some blue backing paper delivered to the studio. Hey presto, instant winter landscape photographs without getting cold or wet!
ade_mcfade 14 15.2k 216 England
15 Nov 2012 12:49PM
I've been looking for an inflatable foreground rock for years Wink

one for Dragon's Den ?


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