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Photography QnA: Studio, Still, & Personal Portraiture Photography

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Category: All About Photography : Photographic Field Techniques : Studio, Still, & Personal Portraiture Photography

Read about techniques for personal portraiture photography, tricks for still photography and studio photography techniques here.

Page 2 : 11 -20 of 159 questions

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Photography Question 
Rachel Larson
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 12/3/2005
  11 .  Light Temperature: Buying Lights
I need purchase additional lighting. I currently have two soft boxes that are rather weak (250 watts each). My question is does color temperature play a big part in selecting lighting? I have seen several options with fluorescent lights ... that sounds kind of scary to me. Are these any good?

9/4/2008 11:19:35 AM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member
gregorylagrange.org

member since: 11/11/2003
  Yes it does. You need to have your lights match to have consistent color, although you can use different light temperatures together for creative and aesthetic reasons.
And by match, I mean the color temp match. You can use different types of light that have the same color temperature

9/4/2008 5:13:23 PM

  Hi Rachel,
Fluorescent light sources have an irregular spectrum that only approximates the continuous spectrum of daylight, tungsten or strobes. Since the color output varies with 60 cycle electricity (or 50 cycle electricity if thatís what you have), a shutter speed of 1/30 or 1/15 is best. This will ensure you get a full cycle. There may be issues with specific lights and specific colors, but this is not a frequent problem.
Strobes are the best light source for still photography. They are consistent and powerful, and the color matches daylight. In addition, they do not make your studio into an oven.

9/6/2008 8:34:14 AM

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Photography Question 
Karen Johnson
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/23/2008
  12 .  Posing Mom and Teen Son
Does anyone have ideas on poses for a mother and teenage son? I've seen lots of couple poses, but they don't seem quite appropriate.

8/29/2008 1:01:07 PM


BetterPhoto Member
  The best shot I've ever taken of this nature, I had the mother sit in a chair, and had the son stand behind her with his hands on her shoulders. I hope this helps.
Have fun and keep shooting!

8/30/2008 3:52:27 PM

Karen Johnson
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/23/2008
  Thanks Mark, I'll try it.

8/30/2008 7:31:42 PM

Tanya Riggins
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/20/2007
  For a less formal shot my son enjoys us sitting on the floor with him possibly laying on or across my lap some way... or we are both on our stomachs with faces toward each other. For more formal shots we have stood behind a stool with each of us having one hand on the stool leaning forward. The head and shoulders are the only parts in the picture.. my shoulder is slightly behind him. I will try to find the pic and email it to you.

9/2/2008 5:03:50 AM

  Along with Mark's suggestion, I would try to capture an environmental portrait and have the subjects doing something together. I googled mother, teenage son, portrait and came up with this example.

http://tinyurl.com/6rrbvo

Since I receive my inspiration from others, thought something like this may help you as well. It's just a starter idea.


9/5/2008 5:05:19 PM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member
gregorylagrange.org

member since: 11/11/2003
  If you google ugly candle holder, would it come up again?

9/5/2008 10:04:59 PM

  Smart Arse!
I'm certain will come up. But, is in the eyes of the beholder.

9/5/2008 11:33:32 PM

  What I meant to write is that I'm certain that //candle holder// will come up, but //ugly// is in the eyes of the //beholder//.

I tried searching for //mother and teenage son// at BetterPhoto.com and nothing came up, so I went to Google, knowing that portrait photographers advertise on the worldwide web.

Personally, whether one is capturing a candle holder, or a mother and teenager, is always better to have the subject holding or doing something together. This makes the image an environmental portrait.

9/5/2008 11:38:51 PM

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Photography Question 
Dee Augustine
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 2/8/2004
  13 .  Reflector: What It Is, How to Use It
I just bought a set of lights and all the goodies that come with it, including a reflector disc. What is that used for? And how does it work? Thanks so much for any responses. Dee :)

6/24/2008 11:14:03 AM

W. 

member since: 9/25/2006
  You use a reflector to reflect/bounce light from the source onto the subject. It's usually used to "fill" shadows on the subject with a bit more light, so that they won't be too hard, too harsh, or too black.

6/24/2008 11:26:13 AM

Dee Augustine
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 2/8/2004
  THanks so much for the response.

6/27/2008 8:12:00 AM

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Photography Question 
Krista BonAmour
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 3/8/2008
  14 .  Portable Backdrop Stand
I just purchased a portable backdrop stand that I need to use for an outdoor shoot next weekend. I set it up yesterday, which was extremely easy to do. My problem is that it is so lightweight that it kept falling over due to the wind. Any suggestions?? Thanks!

6/21/2008 8:04:34 AM

  I sent you an email about this. :)

6/22/2008 10:40:51 AM

  Sand bags. You could use the ones for a flood, but there are refillable bags from camera retailers. The problem is that a large background will act like a sail outdoors, so sometimes you need very heavy duty-stands to use for a background. Consider C-Stands for such use, also called "century stands".
Thanks, John Siskin

6/22/2008 1:39:13 PM

Andrew M. Zavoina

member since: 3/23/2006
  I had several of the cheap nylon briefcases you get at conferences laying around. I filled two gallon size plastic bags with sand from the lumber store, covered them with duct tape for extra strength, put them in a nylon bag I had and put this in the conference bag. Viola, nearly free sandbag with a handle, shoulder strap or both. And because I used two gallon bags, you can get a natural crease to place over the leg of the stand. I have one for each of my stands now.

Many weighty things could replace the sand if you have them. It was a good way to recycle those bags I've had taking up space.

6/24/2008 10:42:47 AM

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Photography Question 
Brad A. Harr

member since: 5/22/2008
  15 .  Engagement Pictures for a First Timer
I have been asked to take my friends' engagement pictures, and honestly, I am nervous. I typically photograph wildlife and landscapes but occasionally dab in photographing people. We are going to be outside at early afternoon in Alaska. I have constructed a homemade silver reflector, and it works well. Do you have any tips for good poses or anything dealing with photographing people for engagement pictures? Any help I can get would be GREATLY appreciated. I'm hoping to make this a great time for my friends. Thanks!

5/22/2008 2:52:36 PM

Michael  Wasson
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 3/28/2006
  Search BP for engagement photos. Having a few initial poses in mind helps you to get going and will also get those creative juices flowing. Know your equipment. Be aware of backgrounds (no trees coming out of their heads). Remember to keep cropping in mind and leave room around the edges for it. Most of all just have fun. If the couple has some crazy ideas of poses they want to do, go with it. If it's possible to have an assistant, that would definitely help. In most shoots like this, I always start out a little nervous but once you start shooting, it just begins to flow and always turns out better than you thought. Good luck and hope to see some of your photos.

5/22/2008 3:22:26 PM

W. 

member since: 9/25/2006
  You probably know what you're doing, Brad, but in case you need reminding: set ISO 100 or 200, WB to daylight, a longish focal length like 80 or 100mm (35mm equivalent) for a flattering perspective, and remember to use fill-flash when useful. And shoot in RAW.
Got an assistant to hold the reflector? (Your very own wireless remotely controlled intelligent soft fill light ;-) )
A circular polarizing filter is probably not a good idea for skins. But, if you're at the seaside or at over 3,000 feet altitude, a UV filter probably is.
Could be a fun gig!

5/22/2008 4:14:22 PM

Ryan Glaze

member since: 2/9/2005
  Brad -

I shoot a lot of engagement pictures. When I first started shooting engagement pictures I would look at other websites that had engagement photos on them and I asked myself if I liked the picture or if I didn't...and then I tried to answer the question, "Why?" What I found is that I really liked candids...I would have the couple account something in the past that would get them talking to each other and me (e.g. tell me about who asked who out)...I then sort of act like I am setting my camera when I am actually getting ready to snap a photo. They often will look at each other when it comes to that question or one of them will look off as if they are trying to remember if the story is accurate.

I also find that my photos are better received when there is less separation between the couple. That might mean she needs to snuggle up to his arm, his head might need to touch hers, her hand could be placed on his chest or shoulder, he needs to wrap her up and squeeze her in a fun way.

I also tell them a very few simple rules...it is a fun event...and they must look good...both individually and as a couple...it is my job to make them look better...it is there job to look good. I also give them very general posing guidelines (e.g. Let's get comfortable in a sitting position close together) I then take the opportunity to tweak the image...a knee needs to come up, hands interlock, head tilt, etc. The whole time I am engaging them in conversation and keeping it light so that they are comfortable and enjoying the process.

I hope this helps.

Ryan Glaze
www.RyanGlazePhotography.com

5/29/2008 5:45:23 AM

Debby A. Tabb
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/4/2004
 
 
  Lovers
Lovers
 
 
Brad,
I to do alot of these and can tell you that it is all in making them feel comfortable,so that the love they share shows.
get them where you are going beach,park,zoo resturant ect.
Then just lay back and let them relax,before jumping in to pose.
the candids you will catch will be awsome!
Then on & off put your two cents in.
and get those poses you want & need.

Great places for poses are as stated here,others web sites, and Magizines.
one of the poses shots that I get compliments on all the time came from a "Iternity" ad and it also leads to some Very Cute candids!
I hope this helps,
Debby

5/29/2008 6:42:14 AM

Pete H
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 8/9/2005
  Brad,

Posing is the least of your worries. Proper exposure is.

Get a friend and go practice first!


all the best,

Pete

5/29/2008 10:01:49 AM

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Photography Question 
Beth Huling
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 12/29/2007
  16 .  Studio Dimensions and Props
What is an adequate amount of space to create a portrait studio? Does it need to be 15 to 18 feet in length with around 19-foot ceilings? Also, where is the best place to find nice props?
Thankful for advice.

5/9/2008 12:02:24 PM

  Hi Beth,
Certainly I would like to have a large studio, my last one was about 24X30 foot with a 10-foot ceiling. I am in a smaller space currently. The first thing I did to make the smaller space work was paint the walls a dark neutral gray. If I had white walls, the reflections would be uncontrollable. I think that if you do not have 12 feet in width you will be limited in the size background and subject you can use. If you had a little more length, that would be good. If the ceiling is dark, you can work with a low ceiling, even 10 feet - it could work for most subjects. You want to make arrangements to hold a reflector on the ceiling, and you will want them for the sides of the shot, some of the time. Check out this article: www.siskinphoto.com/magazine4b.html
Studio Specialties (www.superiorstudio.com) makes a range of props, also backdrops. You should also check out thrift stores for bargain furniture.
Thanks, John Siskin

5/11/2008 9:06:25 AM

Bruce A. Dart

member since: 1/7/2007
  Hi Beth,
John has lots of good info here. Every photographer wants MORE space but we often have to work with what we have. I wanted a larger space until I crunched some numbers to realize what it would cost and how much more money I would have to generate just to break even. My studio for the past 30 years certainly has limitations but it is workable. I have a 11-1/2 foot by 22 foot camera room with 8 - 1/2 foot ceilings. With larger family groups I have to work on location. I have photographed groups of 11 or 12 in my small space -- with a lot of extra effort. I had to move everything else out of view, hang a 10x20 muslin background horizontally and extend it to the side walls and put another matching background on the floor in order to keep everything in the frame. And then I sometimes have to extend backgrounds in Photoshop where I have run off. Time consuming to be sure. Some folks are amazed at the photos I produce in my "small" space. Check out my gallery at www.photosbydart.com Much like the purchase of camera equipment, get the best you can afford and work with it. When you outgrow it, you will have to upgrade. Generally, every few years you can replace or upgrade some things without buying everything all at once and each time. Good luck.
Bruce Dart

5/14/2008 5:22:57 AM

Debby A. Tabb
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/4/2004
  Hi Beth,
I have worked in a office type space as small as 10x9 , you can make most anything work if you want it to.
As far as Props, you can find them anywhere.
The good will is great for bags of pearl type beads.
6 pieces of moding can make a nice french window frame, for background use in nursery sceanes, teens looking through or a child looking out of in frount of a snow sceane backdrop during the holidays.
a old laundry basket is great for kids & pets.
Look on Ebay as well.
Try the Studio Threads for more:
PART1:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/QnAdetail.asp?threadID=17534

This thread will let you see into the development of several Studios at thier start.
It will go through Business, posing templets and how to deal with clients as you are trying to get expression.
I do hope this helps.
Debby

5/14/2008 6:01:14 AM

Beth Huling
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 12/29/2007
  Thank-you for the great advice! You are all so helpful!
John I checked out and printed the link you suggested.
Bruce I will absolutely check out your site and it is good to know that others put so much work into their photographs too!
Debby ooh I never thought about, well really any of the props you describe! Thanks for the input and I will look into the threads! :)

5/14/2008 9:48:20 AM

  Hi Beth,
Good luck with the studio! Learn how to make your space work for you.
Thanks, John

5/15/2008 7:58:30 AM

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Photography Question 
Joni Earley
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Joni
Joni's Gallery

member since: 8/6/2005
  17 .  Lighting for Model's Portfolio
My son's girlfriend has asked me to do some head shots of her for a modeling portfolio she's putting together. I have no special lighting equipment and wonder if anyone could give me any ideas on how/where to do this shoot and what type of background to use? My camera is a Nikon D70, and I do have a tripod.

5/7/2008 1:09:45 AM

W. 

member since: 9/25/2006
  Hi Joni,
The tripod is good! Use a window as your main light source to light your subject from one side, and fill/soften/open up the shadows with a D-I-Y reflector on the opposite side of the subject. Experiment with it, placing it closer or further away.
Choose an empty wall as background, at least 4/5 feet behind the subject. Shoot Raw, so that you can adjust exposure after the fact in Photoshop, and shoot as many frames as you can.
Have fun!

5/7/2008 6:05:02 AM

  Wow! Thanks for the quick reply to my question! Great advice and I will definitely try what you suggest! I always shoot in Raw so that's a given. What sort of materials could be used as a reflector that one would have around the house?

5/7/2008 7:29:08 AM

Alan N. Marcus

member since: 3/4/2006
  Hi Joni,
No fancy lighting equipment is needed to take great portraits in a home setting. However, studio lighting makes everything far more convenient. You can make do with window lighting and reflectors. Reflectors can be foam-core insulation purchased at Home Depot or cardboard covered with aluminum foil.
At Home Depot, you can buy several clamp-on lighting fixtures, with or without aluminum reflectors. I suggest the with-out reflector design with porcelain sockets. Buy several R-40 bulbs; these are indoor floods with built-in reflectors. You will need stands to clamp the fixtures on. With a little forethought, you can make do, clamping to doors and pole lamps and the like. Set one lamp high and off to the side to simulate midday sun. Place another close to the camera to act as a fill to soften shadows. Place another behind the subject aimed at the background.
For portraiture, focus on the eyes and use a large aperture like f/5.6. Large apertures yield shallow depth-of-field as this the convention for portraiture.
Because the learning curve is quite steep for indoor lighting, my advice is to shift the venue to an outdoor setting. Use parks with trees and fountains and gardens as your backdrop. Try to work on an overcast day or in the open in shade cast by a building or under the trees. Take along a couple of friends armed with sheets of foam-core. The idea is to use reflectors to fill shadows. You can also shoot near white walls, they serve as excellent reflectors.
As to focal length: Use a long lens. The D70 sports an imaging chip size APS-C. This format is 66% the size of the chip used in full frame models. The normal focal length for this camera is 30mm. likely you purchased with the 18-70mm zoom lens. Note that 30mm is about the center of the zoom range. This is true because when set to 30mm the view that results is considered "normal". Longer is brushing telephoto range and shorter the wide-angle range. For the type of work you described, you are advised to shoot at 70mm - i.e. maximum zoom. Best would be 75mm or longer but the advantage will be slight so donít go shopping unless these sessions become routine.
Hope this helps,
Alan Marcus (marginal technical gobbledygook)

5/7/2008 8:16:44 AM

  Hi Joni, Alan and W have some great advise. I would just like to add to make notice of shadows. Some people's features look better with hard light and strong shadows while others may look better with diffused light and soft shadows. Again, experiment as much as possible to get the most flattering light. Have fun...

5/7/2008 8:23:05 AM

Oliver Anderson
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 11/16/2004
  Hey Joni, I shoot models for agencies in SF/LA. The reason I got accepted is due to my ability to properly light the subject. When shooting for a portfolio, you MUST light the face properly so the agency representative gets a complete idea of what you look like on camera. You do NOT want anything to artsy with shadows when starting a portfolio, you want a clean simple photo that doesn't distract from the clients vision ... and that is the major mistake I've seen. I've seen models get turned down with amazing photos because they're just not what the agency is looking for ... you'll hear too commercial ... only good for editorial, etc. When you're shooting for a model's portfolio, makeup and hair are very important as well. You need makeup, even on males, but less is best.

5/7/2008 5:53:15 PM

  I'm overwhelmed with the responses I've gotten from all of you. Thank you so much! I will definitely have fun and be challenged by everything you've suggested! Perhaps I'll even send you a pic or two when all is said and done. Truly, I'm grateful to all of you for your help!!!

5/7/2008 7:54:38 PM

Allison W. Laster

member since: 1/9/2007
  hey joni,
i attended a lighting essentials workshop a month ago and we work with natural light set-ups. my favorite and the easiest was the model with her back to a large window and two large foam core boards (you can get these at Michael's craft store) placed in front of her at an angle (about 45*). this way the natural light from behind her was reflected back on to her face in a very even way. the thing that caught my attention when using the reflectors was the fact that they were right up against the subject. so don't forget to get the reflector close to the model. I hope this helps. I if you have any questions or would like to see an example please let me know.
allison

5/13/2008 5:35:25 AM

  Great advice, Allison! And thanks so much! I'd love to see an example if you'd like to send one along!

5/13/2008 8:08:46 AM

Allison W. Laster

member since: 1/9/2007
 
 
 
hey joni! here is the example of the setup I was talking about. slight sharpening and boost to contrast.

5/13/2008 7:16:23 PM

Allison W. Laster

member since: 1/9/2007
 
 
  lindsey at the window
lindsey at the window
 
 
hey joni! here is the example of the setup I was talking about. slight sharpening and boost to contrast. because the background is blown out it gives the shot a commercial look to it. very easy set up. hope this helps.

5/13/2008 7:16:46 PM

  What a gorgeous shot! It really helps for me to SEE what people are talking about so thanks so much for sending this! Very helpful!

5/13/2008 7:25:33 PM

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Photography Question 
Maryana Zagorodny

member since: 5/1/2008
  18 .  Indoor Pictures of Dark Clothing
Hi! I take pictures of clothing on a live model. I currently do this outside on a white paper background, but this really limits what I can do to cloudy days. How can I soot pictures of clothing inside? My current problem is that dark items, such as a dress, lose the details if I use flash, which I have to if I am inside. I take pictures next to a window and use a flash but the dark details get lost. I use a Sony Cybershot DSCN1 8.1MP Digital Camera with 3x Optical Zoom and white seamless paper. Any help would sincerely be appreciated! Thank you!

5/1/2008 12:08:21 PM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member
gregorylagrange.org

member since: 11/11/2003
  Sounds like you're trying your flash straight on. You'll need to find a way to light at an angle if you want to show texture. A cloudy day will look different than direct sunlight, but it will still give more detail in the clothes than a straight-on flash. Or with your current set-up, lessen the power of your flash so that the main exposure is coming from the window.

5/1/2008 12:19:28 PM

W. 

member since: 9/25/2006
  Reflector panels can be foamcore boards from Home Depot, or, better, D-I-Y reflectors: some spray-glue, aluminum household foil, any panel, and an iron is all you need. Have fun!

5/1/2008 6:47:38 PM

Maryana Zagorodny

member since: 5/1/2008
  thanks for the great tips. cant wait to try! Will let you know how it goes!

5/1/2008 9:58:16 PM

  Hi Maryana,
You might want to check out this article about using one light: www.betterphoto.com/article.asp?id=129. Lighting, really controlling light, is one of the most important skills a photographer can have. BetterPhoto has some good lighting classes!
Thanks.

5/2/2008 5:00:59 PM

W. 

member since: 9/25/2006
  On those D-I-Y reflector panels: Don't forget to crumple up the aluminum foil good, then stretch it out carefully, so as not to tear it, before you apply it, shiny side up, to the spray-glued panel. Then iron it flat without heat.

5/2/2008 5:05:48 PM

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Photography Question 
Tara R. Swartzendruber

member since: 3/28/2007
  19 .  Capturing Motion in Studio
Why do I still "miss shots" (such as a kid turning their head) with studio strobes? I have two photogenic 1250's synced with my Nikon D80.

4/30/2008 10:52:54 AM

Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 3/17/2005
  Timing, Tara, is everything, especially in portraiture. It ain't the lights it's like the photographer. Posting some examples to fully understand what you mean would be helpful, at least to me.

OTOH, if it is your timing, maybe this will help: When I shoot portraits, regardless of format, I rarely take my eye out of the viewfinder unless we're taking a break. I talk to the client as I work and don't use a tripod. When I shoot medium format, I prefocus, watch the client while we chat and trip the shutter electronically without looking through the viewfinder but always watching the client and anticipating their movement or facial expressions. (See, e.g., the portraits on my website (not the gallery here).
Take it light ;>)
Mark

4/30/2008 12:22:49 PM

W. 

member since: 9/25/2006
 
OR you can shoot bursts at 7fps, and I bet there'll be plenty good ones among them.

4/30/2008 3:25:14 PM

Tara R. Swartzendruber

member since: 3/28/2007
  I am very much a viewbinder/no tripod person. I like to talk and take pix at random as the kids are playing, etc... I guess I was under the impression that the strobes would "stop motion," but I'm always amazed at the pix I get when I think I'm getting a certain expression as I push the shutter, and end up with their head turned away at the last minute. Kids move quickly, but I thought the strobes would help "freeze" this a bit more. I'm sure, then that it's the photographer. It's difficult, though to always catch the right look in small children. Will my strobes still fire if I shoot 7fps as W.S. suggested? I guess I should try that....

4/30/2008 5:17:25 PM

  Hi Tara,
Your strobes may fire once or twice at 7 fps, but no more. The key is to learn to think just a little ahead. When your camera takes a picture, the mirror flips up, the aperture stops down, then the shutter opens, THEN the strobe goes off. All this takes time, which is a problem with a moving child. Keep in mind that pushing the button harder will not make the camera take the picture faster. Your strobes will stop action, but they can't turn back time. What shutter speed are you using?
Thanks, John Siskin

4/30/2008 7:29:28 PM

Tara R. Swartzendruber

member since: 3/28/2007
  John,
I generally keep my shutter speed at 125 with the studio strobes and change my aperature as needed to keep my subjects properly exposed. Thanks for the explanation about what all is happening. This is pretty much what I was assuming was "the deal," but I really hate to miss out on something I should be doing differently as I'm still somewhat new to this.

5/1/2008 7:11:21 AM

  If you ask me, children are not studio type people. If you can get a child to sit still for more than 300 miliseconds, you are the luckiest photographer on earth. Try shooting in a more candid setting, where they are comfortable. If you follow them while they play, You can get the most dramatic photographs of them. I rarely shoot children in a studio. I usually try to shoot them in their home or at a park.

Have fun and keep shooting,
Mark H.

5/1/2008 7:48:25 AM

Tara R. Swartzendruber

member since: 3/28/2007
  Thanks, Mark. I agree. I do enjoy taking photos outside when possible. Living in Nebraska, however, winters and many springs (rain & wind), summers (mosquitos & wind) and falls (cold...but better) don't always allow for this, so the studio is a good second choice. :)

5/1/2008 10:22:40 AM

  Hi All,
I have had a couple of commercial clients that regularly required shots of children from newborn to teen. The key is to be prepared, and to have extra children. So you want to have the lights et-up and tested, product if any, ready to go. I assume for any child less than ten years old I will get less than 45 minutes of shooting time. Donít waste it! I used to keep toys around for the very small, not for them to use but for them to keep. This not only impressed the kids it helped with the parents. Finally you have to keep the people in the studio to a minimum, if your client is there, someone from an ad agency and a parent you are going to have a tough time getting the kids attention.
Thanks, John Siskin

5/1/2008 4:46:14 PM


BetterPhoto Member
 
 
 
Hi John

The problem I have is shooting portraits of toddlers and young children. I have found the best frames are captured while the children are involved in activities that they know and enjoy.Most of what I do with children comes from photographing my own two daughters. My daughters taught me to always be ready for the unexpected so you can get the perfect shot. I have captured som unbelieveable frames, one of the best being of my oldest daughter simply playing with a paper bag.

Have fun and keep shooting,
Mark H.

5/2/2008 10:44:51 AM

 
 
  Drummer Boy
Drummer Boy
Shot for a client, Rhythm Child, that makes drums and clothing products for children.
 
 
Hi Mark,
Nice shot of your daughter! Although I have a few candid shots of my nice and nephew, most of the shots I have of children are for clients. I think that it is very satisfying, in several ways, to take photos for a commercial client. I get to see my images used by the client, and I get paid! Thanks! John Siskin

5/2/2008 4:27:48 PM

Bruce A. Dart

member since: 1/7/2007
  Hi Tara,
Like most things in photography, studio portraiture is not just a quick snap of the shutter. Photographing children especially illustrates this. Henri Cartier-Bresson said "you shoot, shoot, shoot and sometimes the picture is in between!" That's why he talked about the "decisive moment" when you make the picture. With kids you have to have an infinite amount of patience and take lots of images because they are quick. Expressions change rapidly and when you see something by the time your brain transmits to your fingers to hit the shutter, they are on to the next. As suggested, set up a "play" situation and anticipate. Since they tire -- and bore--quickly, try something and move on to the next attempt. With practice and timing you will get better at noticing what works. Contrary to everything else you learn in photography, studio lighting is different. It depends more on the f/stop for lighting and less on the shutter speed. As mentioned, the strobes will stop action so it doesn't matter if you are at 1/125, 1/60th, 1/30th as far as stopping action is concerned. The slower shutter will make a slight difference in picking up ambient light and the background will get lighter. The faster shutter will tend to make the background slightly darker but it won't really change the exposure on the subject. Of course these settings are in manual mode. You need a broad light source because the subject will move and the light will change. Kids who can crawl will; those who can walk (or run) will! You just have to keep putting them back. If several people are on the camera room, only ONE gives direction to the subject. Others, while trying to be helpful, will have the subject looking different places until the poor kid gets so many directions and voices that they don't know what to do or where to look. You need to have approximately the same f/stop light output (main) over most of the area the child will be in so if they move you still have adequate light. Moods change with young children in a moment. Keep shooting; they can cry one moment and laugh the next (and vice versa.) Good luck
Bruce

5/6/2008 5:16:59 AM

Tara R. Swartzendruber

member since: 3/28/2007
  Thanks everyone, for your advice. It makes me feel better that I am not doing anything wrong, per se, and that while there are some missed shots, there are still many good ones I am able to capture....and I will keep practicing timing, etc.... Thanks again!

5/6/2008 7:40:02 AM

Bruce A. Dart

member since: 1/7/2007
  Tara,
That is exactly the point. Looking at the great photos what you don't see are the missed ones in between and the "rejects." Everyone has them. The better you get the fewer rejects but everyone has them. The not so facetious joke used to be that the difference between amateurs and professionals is the size of their waste basket. Throw away the bad images and show only the good ones and your photography "improves" tremendously!! Once when I asked a colleague about how to get better at a certain type of photography, his response of "you just have to do more of it" really ticked me off at the time. Looking back, he was right of course but that was not the answer I was looking for at the time. We all want the "magic wand" kind of solution but in reality you just have to do it. Again, and again and again. Don't forget to have fun along the way.
Bruce

5/6/2008 8:03:11 AM

Oliver Anderson
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 11/16/2004
  Hey Tara, I use portable strobes and ringlights...they're great BUTTTT you have a lag between pushing the button to the time the flash POPs however slight that is it is still long enough to miss great shots. I use White Lightnings with Pocket Wizards and the AB800 ringlight.
My opinion is the same as several above when shooting kids get them out of the studio and into their environment...you'll have tons of looks and less chance of missing THAT SHOT...BTW every photoshoot (especially kids) there will be shots you miss, should've tried or could've done better.

5/6/2008 9:18:24 AM

 
 
  Rattle Snake & Rat
Rattle Snake & Rat
I think this shot shows the importance of being aware of your surroundings. I think this was taken with a Kodak Retina, 2A, a fine old rangefinder camera.
 
 
Hi Tara, et al,
I did an article about the decisive moment for the ASMP journal here in Los Angeles, a few years ago. You can see it at: www.siskinphoto.com/magazine1b.html. I was writing about the way that decisions of others interact with the photos we might want to make. Since I am a commercial photographer this affects me quite a bit.
Thanks, John Siskin

5/6/2008 11:35:36 AM

Bruce A. Dart

member since: 1/7/2007
  Hi All,
I thoroughly enjoyed John's article about the "decisive moment." While this came in to my computer I was called on 10 minutes notice to go create an image for our local university for a billboard and all those resulting decisions flooded through my mind with laughter as I read John's article. Well done my friend and so true!!
Reminds me of an article former RIT instructor and author Ralph Hattersly published years ago about how light is a wave similar to sound and are we really using "light" to photograph.LOL But that's another story. Apart from all the editorial decisions, when the photographer actually presses the shutter button is what Cartier - Bresson intoned. Another article, and I wish I remembered the author, maintained that each image is the sum total of and draws from all we have learned about photography to that point. Also true and worthy of discussion. Thanks to all for sharing.
Bruce Dart
bdphoto@ptd.net www.photosbydart.com

5/6/2008 12:33:33 PM

  Thanks Bruce! I often don't hear anything from people who have read my articles. So I really appreciate your response.
John Siskin

5/6/2008 3:19:02 PM

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Photography Question 
Mandi M. Wiltse
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 10/30/2007
  20 .  Shadows Against a Backdrop
 
I'm very new at this and just bought and received my first backdrop. My question is about shadows. I don't have any extensive lighting yet, but would that correct the problem with the "shadows" you see in some of my photos or do I just need to adjust my subject? Any feedback would be appreciated!

4/18/2008 2:14:13 PM

Bob Fately

member since: 4/11/2001
  Mandi, the "drop shadows" you speak of are the result of three factors - the "hardness" of the light, the distance of the subject from the background and the distance from the lens axis to the light source. As you increase each of the latter, the shadow will be less visible.
"Hard" light refers to high-contrast illumination - think of a sunny day at the beach. As a point light source, your electronic flash is a hard light source unless you modify it with some sort of diffusion - there are many flash diffusion gadgets on the market. The diffuser makes the light softer - think of an overcast day where the sun is diffused by the cloud cover - which helps eliminate shadows.
Meanwhile, it's just a matter of having enough room in the studio and asking the subject to step forward. A few feet may make a big difference.
As for increasing the lens-to-light-source distance - this is what flash brackets are made to do. Alternatively, you could have your flash mounted on a light stand off to one side and triggered by remote control.
Hope that helps,

4/18/2008 3:41:25 PM

Mandi M. Wiltse
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 10/30/2007
  Much thanks. I've ordered a few more backdrops and will work on my photos with the things you mentioned!!

4/18/2008 4:47:38 PM

Bruce A. Dart

member since: 1/7/2007
  Hi Mandi,
Understanding light and shadows is the essence of photography and we all work at that our whole careers. Bob is correct but there is more too. We see shadows every day and often don't think about them. I joke with some of my subjects that I spent years learning how to get shadows out of photos -- now I'm (sometimes) putting them back in as part of the composition. Putting your flash on a bracket (wedding photographers do this all the time) elevates the flash above the lens. The shadow is still there but it drops low behind the subject and is hidden from view. In the studio, raising the flash about 45 degrees and moving it to the side not only helps hide shadows, it generally provides more shape and form to the subject you are photographing. Of course you modify this depending on your subject and a bunch of things you intend to do but it generally works. Bouncing your flash off a wall, a large white card or shooting through some diffusion material also help. When I started I used darker backgrounds because the hid the shadows more until I learned how to control them. As you add more equipment, a background light will help also. Remember that the falloff of light varies in an inverse square proportion (I failed physics in high school and God laughs when I have to use it every day.LOL) so a little distance away from the background can make a big difference with shadows too.Check out my web site at photosbydart.com or e-mail at bdphoto@ptd.net if I can answer any other question. What seems clear when you start sometimes gets a little muddled when you actually do it. Good luck, and most importantly, HAVE FUN!

4/22/2008 4:41:31 AM

Mandi M. Wiltse
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 10/30/2007
  thanks for the repsonse bruce. I will be looking at your website today and I'm sure I will be amazed. Everyone here is always so nice and helpful.

Like I said I'm very new at this, but I'm sure I will be able to master the art of photography the more I practice! :)

4/22/2008 6:14:46 AM

Roy A. Meeks
Contact Roy
Roy's Gallery

member since: 10/21/2003
  Until you have a two or three light system always be sure that the shadow is behind the back of the subjects head i.e. the subject should never be looking at the shadow if it is a profile. Roy Meeks

4/22/2008 8:45:43 AM

Mandi M. Wiltse
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 10/30/2007
  Roy could you please explain a little more? I'm not sure that I understand on to make sure the shadow is behind my subjects head?

4/22/2008 10:43:21 AM

Bruce A. Dart

member since: 1/7/2007
  Hi Mandi,
A flash unit from camera position will put the shadow behind the subject. Raising the flash, as with a bracket or a synch cord, will cause the shadow to fall down low behind the subject. A flash to the left of the camera -- at camera height -- will create a shadow on the opposite side. If you don't have a "modeling light" that shows you where the light is going, you can demonstrate it with a flashlight or any other light near the flash pointed in the same direction just to show how the shadows fall.
Bruce

4/22/2008 11:43:25 AM

  Hi Mandi,
You might ant to look at this article on how to manipulate one light. www.siskinphoto.com/magazine3a.htmlIt is the quality of light that creates shadows. There are some more articles on my site and here that should help.
Thanks, John Siskin

4/22/2008 3:29:26 PM

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