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Photography Question 
Sherry L. Davis
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/4/2007
 

Directing Portrait and Model Shoots


I want to take a course in learning more about posing and directing portrait and model photoshoots. I have a problem with directing photoshoots. It seems I clam up a lot when it comes to directing a photoshoot. I would love to take a class to learn more and grow in this area. Any suggestions would be so appriciated!!


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4/1/2010 8:06:33 PM

 
John H. Siskin
BetterPhoto Member
John-Siskin.com
John's Photo Courses:
4-Week Short Course: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting
  Hi Sherry,
It came as a shock to me, but subjects actually want to be directed. Under normal circumstances people donít want to be told how to stand, but put them in front of the camera and that is exactly what they want. I often ask people to move slowly from one pose to another or repeat an action this helps. Hereís some information from one of my classes about posing:
A portrait should invite a stranger into a more intimate relationship with the subject. It creates an almost formal introduction to the subject. You may want to examine the portraits taken by a guy named Karsh; he was an absolute master at this. Plus he was terrific at posing people. Can you imagine posing John Kennedy, Fidel Castro and Sophia Loren?
You can get the subject to stand up; this gives structure to the body. The background should be out of focus. This makes the portrait feel more three-dimensional. I also crop in on the subject. If there are some soft catch lights in the eye that is better. Catch lights are a really important thing in a photo they make the eye appear lively.
A pose is not very flattering when the body is flat to the camera; this generally makes people look broad and fleshy. If you get the subject to stand up and place his/her body at an angle to the camera, then turned her/his face toward the camera, the shot will work better. Turning the head makes the neck tighten up, reduces double chins.
There are a couple of small things I would consider: first straighten the tie. Remember people look at the details of a portrait more carefully that they look at a person in life. It is considered impolite to stare at a person, but it is perfectly acceptable to examine a photograph. There can be a particular difficulty with a womanís make up. Women do make-up to be seen a few feet away, often this is too garish for a photograph. Make-up for a portrait must be very subtle.
It is one of the great pleasures of a photograph that you can look at someone in great detail without violating their personal space. When we do photography we break down a wall around a person. In order to do that effectively we need to see the subjectís face, as it will appear on a print. To make an intimate portrait we need to have some intimacy with the subject. Thanks...


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4/2/2010 6:03:53 PM

 
Sherry L. Davis
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/4/2007
  Thank you so much, John. I will definately check out your posing class. I know what I want to do but have problems directing it and getting my ideas across to the clients. :) I really appriciate your help here!

Thanks again!
Sherry


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4/2/2010 7:58:58 PM

 
John H. Siskin
BetterPhoto Member
John-Siskin.com
John's Photo Courses:
4-Week Short Course: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting
  Hi Sherry,
My classes are more about lighting than other subjects, but I would be pleased to see you in one of them. Here's one thing, you should practice. Get a model, that you don't have to give anything more than prints to, and work with the model, just to practice directing. People expect to do things for the first time with a client. Practice makes better photos. Thanks, John


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4/2/2010 8:44:08 PM

 
Sherry L. Davis
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/4/2007
  Thank you so much, John! I will practice with models! :)


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4/2/2010 8:51:24 PM

 
Bruce A. Dart   Sherry,
John is right here. When people come to a professional for a portrait (or model shoot) they expect that the professional knows how to make them look good and trust them to do just that. Even most corporate CEO's will say "OK, you're in charge. What do you want us to do!" Many years ago when I started out, I asked a friend who had been in the business for a number of years some advice about posing (essentially directing.)His advice, while not what I wanted to hear, was correct. "You just have to do more. It comes with practice." Taking classes from someone like John is also critical.
In my first portrait lighting class, back in the Dark Ages, covered 50 hours of instruction during an intense week with all the patterns of light to make faces look good -- with just the "main" light. Lighting ratios and accent lights (and posing) all came later. And it is a continual process. After thousands of portrait sessions over the past 30 years I'm still learning. And remember to "lighten up." People are generally nervous about getting portraits done and if you are too serious about everything they are not going to be comfortable with you. Many years ago I did a family portrait session for a local dentist. Of course some folks compare portrait sessions to going to the dentist anyhow. I didn't even have music in the studio then and as I was overly concentrating on where to put lights and pose people, Frank, the professional that he was, could see that things were way to serious. Just as I was getting close to start shooting, he looked up at me, totally deadpan, and said, "Now this isn't going to hurt is it?" It cracked everyone up and things went much better from then on. It was a valuable lesson that I always remember.While I don't have a BP web site, I have many portraits at www.photosbydart.com
Best wishes,
Bruce


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4/7/2010 5:11:44 AM

 
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