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Portraits - what are you trying to achieve ?

lemmy 11 2.7k United Kingdom
15 Nov 2012 12:58PM

Quote:I've been looking for an inflatable foreground rock for years

One agency photographer used to take a very realist shooters decoy duck to Wimbledon tennis or other large national events when they were in danger if being rained off. He'd find a convenient puddle with a recognisable part of the venue in the background and bung the duck down in the water.

He couldn't do it all the time, of course but used sparingly that little ploy earned him a few bob over the years.

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AlexandraSD 6 759 United Kingdom
15 Nov 2012 1:58PM
I guess the biggest plus of working outdoors was the informality of the situation.

Take Viktoria, a girl i worked with loads at one point, though our first shoot was in a studio, every shoot thereafter was on location somewhere, and the fun we had doing it was plentiful.

Its like there were two me's, the studio one where im much quieter than i usually am, more serious, and the location one, where i am more relaxed, though more energetic, more experimental, and more myself. I never liked being serious anyway, its not really me.

And the feedback after shooting on location either with established pro's or wide eyed newbies was always better than those for studio shoots, a typical response would be "it was like a day out with your friend" Now i know many pro togs do not aim to achieve this, i didnt if im honest, i was just being myself, and i am relaxed in reality, and always looking for a punchline to be delivered in a deadpan way. I preferred the location images, the models were always happy with what they got, well, 95% of the time, cant make everyone happy but as long as you try, no one can knock that.

I suppose if i was a hardcore serious peoples photographer i would appreciate the studio for what it is, its not like i dont know my way around one now, i even own loads of studio lighting myself with everything i could need aside from a set of barn doors, but i use it very rarely and have considered selling it all (just the studio equipment).
lemmy 11 2.7k United Kingdom
15 Nov 2012 2:41PM

Quote: "it was like a day out with your friend" Now i know many pro togs do not aim to achieve this

You wouldn't really. You are there to make an image on behalf of a client. 'Avin a larf' doesn't figure highly. I'd work with several different models some weeks. The models would work with many more photographers. You couldn't 'have a day out with your friend'. In the end, if you want a day out with a friend, do that but don't expect to mix it with work.

I've worked with models I cannot stand but they would never have known this and if asked would think we got on fine. That would apply the other way round too, I expect. It's work. I'd no more expect a professional photographer or model to 'have a day out' in their job than I would a plumber or a doctor.

There does seem an idea that professional photography is somehow not like other jobs. But it is. It can be a highly rewarding but in the end it is a job and the end result must be a profit.
AlexandraSD 6 759 United Kingdom
15 Nov 2012 3:19PM
To be fair, being a doctor is completely different to being a photographer, one is a health care professional, the other an artist, and with photography artistic merit should win every time, regardless of what aims it took to get there. Anyway, it is important to have a laugh at work, otherwise you turn into c3p0, many people mix business with pleasure, but there are limits, its knowing those limits what count, i would never act a complete moron on a shoot, likewise, i would never keep my tongue still in an attempt to be seen as professional, at the end of the shoot its the images that count, not how straight you can stand, and if you had fun getting there, all the better in my book!
brian1208 Plus
14 11.4k 12 United Kingdom
15 Nov 2012 3:43PM

Quote:'Avin a larf' doesn't figure highly.

Lemmy, I agree with your overall point but your work ethic as shown by this comment reminds me of a Dutch colleague many years ago who firmly stated:

"Fun is for before 9 and after 5 - not in work"
lemmy 11 2.7k United Kingdom
15 Nov 2012 6:23PM

Quote: but your work ethic as shown by this comment reminds me of a Dutch colleague many years ago who firmly stated:
"Fun is for before 9 and after 5 - not in work"

If you look at my web site and my comments about my work on there you'll see that I sometimes found my working life such pleasure and so enjoyable that I found myself preferring my work life to my private life. I've worked with people like Les Dawson and Morecombe and Wise and found myself crying with laughter and with musicians where I found simply being with these people while they rehearsed or at their concerts a complete privilege.

I think my point about 'fun' was that I went to work to produce images for my clients. In that respect, I have a strong work ethic because my clients received large bills and I felt the need to justify them. Having a 'larf' or a day out was not on my mind. But enjoyment and pleasure came my way often, sometimes simply from the pictures I made.

As I mentioned before, I've always had the gift of the gab and I've always enjoyed the company of people (except maybe premiership footballers) and in the end that has been of more use to me professionally than photographic ability and artistry which above a certain level is taken for granted.

I worked for a long time with one of the biggest rock stars ever and his wife - my work with them came about partly because the photographer they were using, a very talented man, had upset them with his over-familiarity and a tendency to 'ave a larf'. And they were not po-faced people at all.

The photographer's greatest gift is to blend into the background but always be present. It's great to have fun but it's not the first priority and if you are doing the right work for you, just being there is fun in itself.

I hope I'm not the miserable old s*d I appear to make myself sound Sad
ade_mcfade 14 15.2k 216 England
15 Nov 2012 6:26PM
I always have a laugh with clients, and still manage to deliver the goods.

It depends on the job I guess.

For a start - I seem to be getting work shooting the client, rather than models. The style most clients are after seems to be "friendly business casual" - ties off, relaxed, smiling, so to get that natural look you have to charm/engage/humour them or you get this zombie like smile.

Photography is a very broad discipline and I guess there are many areas where humour in inappropriate, I havn't done any of those yet though.

Working for yourself is what YOU make - I choose to be happy, jovial and friendly
Paul Morgan 17 19.1k 6 England
15 Nov 2012 7:14PM

Quote:to be fair, the main reason I don't use studios is cost in this current climate

It can cost one hell of a lot, especially if you want to set your own up on your local high street.

I know some one that took the route of setting up a market stall several mornings a week to bring in a good part of the work.
ade_mcfade 14 15.2k 216 England
15 Nov 2012 8:24PM
yeah - I keep meaning to do an Artsmix market in Leeds, bought 150 worth of mount cards and have all the photos ready to go in them.... just not got round to that one yet!

the stall is a contact point to the public, rather than a huge money making event - you can hand out flyers and stuff.

with about 1000 opportunities each week, you just got to try them and see what works... the stalls is one I need to nail really...

studio... well I've got spaces I can use, but they're pretty much empty offices where I can play - rather than a controlled environment with changing rooms and stuff
Paul Morgan 17 19.1k 6 England
15 Nov 2012 8:27PM

Quote:the stall is a contact point to the public, rather than a huge money making event - you can hand out flyers and stuff

That`s right, its a contact point, and loads cheaper than renting an office.
brian1208 Plus
14 11.4k 12 United Kingdom
15 Nov 2012 8:49PM
I'm very lucky in that a member of our club has built himself a professional standard studio, fully equipped, which he lets members of the Studio sub-group use once a month for a 3 hour session
and we can hire it from him at very reasonable rates on a small group or individual basis should we need.
Its only a 10 minute walk away which makes it even better! Smile

(I agree Craft fairs are a brilliant way of making contact with the public, and for me, great fun too)
ade_mcfade 14 15.2k 216 England
16 Nov 2012 10:08AM
I'm off to an empty office at 11 - armed with 3 speedlites and black backdrop....

shooting some "nutty professor" chap my mate's working with

we'll do that then hit Dock Street in Leeds - that's where my interest perks up...

I do enjoy the black background stuff, carefully placing 3 lights and modifiers, keeping warm - but there's something a bit more exciting about an old street of warehouses

What's my aim...?

no idea today - it's something John (Mr NLP) has set up and I'm literally just going to turn up and see what happens.... may be a dream, may be a nightmare....
lemmy 11 2.7k United Kingdom
16 Nov 2012 10:36AM

Quote:I do enjoy the black background stuff, carefully placing 3 lights and modifiers

One of my favourite techniques was to use a mid grey background and dress the subject(s) in black, white and grey clothes, just one lamp with a bowl reflector for directional lighting. It's difficult to get the tones right but when you do you get the creamiest, most stylish effect imaginable.

With black model(s), it's even harder to get the tones distributed how you want but the effect is even better. Very subtle, very glamorous.

One session I did about 20 years ago of a couple of nude models, one light one dark skinned still earns me decent residuals to this day and I'm pretty sure it's that publications like the unusual grey scale effect on colour material.
Paul_Anthony 6 442 4 Wales
16 Nov 2012 10:50AM

Quote:What helps achieve you goal of more sales?

Simply put: Variety, Fun, Quality Images, Quality Products and a reasonable sales patter. The sales pitch is always the hardest part I find, I enjoy taking the photographs, being creative and getting people to relax and show their personalities.

arhb Plus
10 3.4k 68 United Kingdom
16 Nov 2012 10:14PM
I was asked a week or so before the last shoot I did, if I had a 'mood board' , by the model I was using.
I think that question is the closest thing I can think of to what you're asking Ade?

I told the model I didn't have a 'mood board' but a picture in a magazine(could have been used for the mood board),
then to think of a blend of 'Corpse Bride' and 'Alice in Wonderland' meet Vogue magazine.
I do like to leave things up to the model's interpretation, rather than get too involved in posing them.

I've only done a handful of paid portrait commisions, and my main intention with these is to capture a natural expression, as opposed to a 'smile for the camera' type of capture.
People tend to be more natural in a natural environment, although not always.
I did a shoot for an old friend, who wanted to give a couple of framed prints to his parents for xmas,
and he was just more photogenic, and looked great in many shots.

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