December 22, 2014, 11:30:19 AM

Author Topic: Family portrait - my first assignment - advice and comments, please  (Read 6282 times)

JonAustin

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Re: Family portrait - my first assignment - advice and comments, please
« Reply #15 on: December 27, 2013, 07:25:50 PM »
The picture looks like you asked them to "smile" or something. It doesn't feel like they actually generated a smile. You need to work on your posing and expressions, which is (i think) more important then lightning etc.

I agree with JYRBBA's comments above. The younger boy looks like he hasn't learned how to smile for a pose yet ... he's baring his teeth rather than smiling.

Professional photography is just one of the services I perform in my consulting business, but portrait work is a large percentage of that. For family sessions, I've found it's better to just position everyone, and then engage in a running conversation, tell a few silly jokes, etc., while firing away. I think the results are much more relaxed, fun and "real." (And my clients tend to agree.) Here's a sample from an outdoor shoot in late summer. I think it makes my point better than my words.
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Re: Family portrait - my first assignment - advice and comments, please
« Reply #15 on: December 27, 2013, 07:25:50 PM »

JonAustin

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Re: Family portrait - my first assignment - advice and comments, please
« Reply #16 on: December 27, 2013, 07:29:35 PM »
(Another one from the same shoot)
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PureShot

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Re: Family portrait - my first assignment - advice and comments, please
« Reply #17 on: December 27, 2013, 07:43:28 PM »
Good job ! here, you can see different family picture shot  in my website http://www.studio-photo.ca/galerie/photo-portrait-familiale/

privatebydesign

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Re: Family portrait - my first assignment - advice and comments, please
« Reply #18 on: December 27, 2013, 08:30:33 PM »
JonAustin,

With the utmost respect, while your two images do illustrate your point about getting the subjects relaxed and comfortable, your shoot looks like it was a lot of fun, the lighting is very harsh and you have broken one of the golden rules of small groups, keep each subjects eye level different.

JonAustin

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Re: Family portrait - my first assignment - advice and comments, please
« Reply #19 on: December 27, 2013, 11:37:52 PM »
JonAustin,

With the utmost respect, while your two images do illustrate your point about getting the subjects relaxed and comfortable, your shoot looks like it was a lot of fun, the lighting is very harsh and you have broken one of the golden rules of small groups, keep each subjects eye level different.

With all due respect to you, as well (a) these are just two out of a couple hundred shots from this gig, selected specifically to illustrate getting the subjects to relax and (b), with respect to "you have broken one of the golden rules of small groups, keep each subjects eye level different," wtf?
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PKinDenmark

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Re: Family portrait - my first assignment - advice and comments, please
« Reply #20 on: December 28, 2013, 04:56:02 AM »
Dear all.
Thank you a lot for spending your time (during Christmas-period, even) to give this great feedback.
You have entered so much valuable information. Not only direct comments to my pictures but also:
- Good suggestions for new setups / props / interactions
- Deep insights like
     * Portraiture is not about technicalities but about relations
     * Understanding the 3D to 2D transformation inherent in the process.
        (This is an eye-opener for me - much better than rules such as 'Don't cut a joint' etc
- Instruction on how to smoothen skin (sofar I have decided not to - but may give it a try and show it as a suggestion)
- Encouragement (appreciated, too)

So let me respond / react to some of the specific input, that you posted:
- About 'smiling'. Yes, I am aware that this is difficult. You do not just ask people to look 'natural'. I tried to not demand any specific looks, just keeping a relaxed atmosphere. I guess I need to learn some tricks to make people relax more (and let it show). Maybe the suggestion 'Say yoga' could work.
- I realise that I need to work much more with Posing and Expressions. When they don't work so well, I need to figure out how to do something about it. E.g. choose a completely different setting (in the park for example)
- @PureShot: I like the samples in your fine gallery. Many specific ideas to pick up here. Thanks for sharing.

A bit more background on this session:
- I am in no way on planning to make a living from making family portraits (or from photography in general). But approaching my senior years, I certainly hope to make photography an even more filling activity for me. And to produce something 'useful' from time to time would be great.
- When asked to do this session I first hesitated - will I make the family satisfied? will I spend too much time? will I risk to fail completely? will I deliver in time for Christmas? ..... etc.  However I decided to put those doubts aside, and am happy I did.
- I usually try to do my best and to improve on my skills. That is probably also the reason that I 'dare' to show my pictures to this forum asking for honest critique.
- I warned the family that my arrival and setting up in their home would look like an invasion. They took this with very good and relaxed spirit, and we actually had a good time together setting up, shooting, viewing afterwards.
- We tried various things - starting out with the first goal: A formal portrait of all four - and then various more free setups. Actually we tried a couple of the variations, that you have suggested, but I find that additional setups need more time and preparation.
- After one hour shooting no more concentration could be mustered, which I understand.
- I would have liked to try much more and have more time for some of the setups. Also to try out adjustments to the ligthing (adding hairlight would be my first add-on), other lenses, narrow DOF, etc. But no time for such experimentation.
But that I will have ready to bring with me for future sessions. And some of it I can practice in advance, so I do not have to experiment too much during a session.
- I brought my pad, WiFi-connected to the camera to show a few examples during the shoot and to preselect the family's favourites after the session. This is a great option to have (Yes, I am happy with the 6D)

Again: Thank you for your input.
« Last Edit: December 28, 2013, 06:23:18 AM by PKinDenmark »
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DanielW

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Re: Family portrait - my first assignment - advice and comments, please
« Reply #21 on: December 28, 2013, 07:38:25 AM »
@ PKinDenmark

Read this book. You will not regret it.

Picture Perfect Practice: A Self-Training Guide to Mastering the Challenges of Taking World-Class Photographs
Roberto Valenzuela

Cheers

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Re: Family portrait - my first assignment - advice and comments, please
« Reply #21 on: December 28, 2013, 07:38:25 AM »

DanielW

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Re: Family portrait - my first assignment - advice and comments, please
« Reply #22 on: December 28, 2013, 07:51:22 AM »
JonAustin,

With the utmost respect, while your two images do illustrate your point about getting the subjects relaxed and comfortable, your shoot looks like it was a lot of fun, the lighting is very harsh and you have broken one of the golden rules of small groups, keep each subjects eye level different.

With all due respect to you, as well (a) these are just two out of a couple hundred shots from this gig, selected specifically to illustrate getting the subjects to relax and (b), with respect to "you have broken one of the golden rules of small groups, keep each subjects eye level different," wtf?

Even though I have to second privatebydesign about the lighting, I am also not familiar with this rule. Can you explain further, privatebydesign? Do you have photos to illustrate?
Thanks!
Daniel

P.S.: Funny that a sentence beginning with "With all due respect" can end with "wtf"... :)

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Re: Family portrait - my first assignment - advice and comments, please
« Reply #23 on: December 28, 2013, 11:00:58 AM »
...Funny that a sentence beginning with "With all due respect" can end with "wtf"... :)

A sentence that begins "with all due respect" seldom has any. 
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privatebydesign

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Re: Family portrait - my first assignment - advice and comments, please
« Reply #24 on: December 28, 2013, 11:33:11 AM »
I was trying to be respectful of the person, whilst showing my disrespect for the example. Obviously I succeeded, sorry.

As for the "rule" well like all rules it is meant to be broken, but only for a reason and only effectively when done deliberately.

The viewers eye will always try to connect tangential edges and/or keys to form satisfactory, to the brain, patterns. The eyes are almost always key on portraits so in group portraits the brain tries to connect the dots, if they are on the same level the brain stops at that line and struggles to get past it.

Whilst this comprehensive and very formal approach is not, generally, a "look" we often shoot for now, the core lighting and posing tips found in this series of pages is a bible that has more common sense and experience than anybody here can claim to have, I am not ashamed to say I refer to it prior to a shoot with an unfamiliar grouping, look at chapter 8. For a more modern slant and interpretation look at number 4 here.

Zeltsman does state you can put peoples faces on the same height if they are separated by another body, my experience is that the body has to be very distracting to brake the brain connection of a strong line. Certainly if it is the two anchoring figures, oldest or outside pairs, it doesn't work, kids inside a grouping can work.

Only trying to help, sorry if ti was too antagonistic.

privatebydesign

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Re: Family portrait - my first assignment - advice and comments, please
« Reply #25 on: December 28, 2013, 12:01:10 PM »
I am very much an amateur myself (a few paid gigs, to buy more equipment:)

I did a shoot in my livingroom today of some family members. I also think it is hard to get people to give a certain type of look, but luckily I had several helpers that made distractions :)

Here is one of the pictures I took today. Warning, I am a moron in photoshop, so please be kind....

Quasimodo,

That is a fine image. If you want it nitpicked I'd (respectfully) suggest the background is a little too hot, you are getting some wrap and a loss of contrast. If you are using background lights then turn them down a touch, if you are using a window as a white background shorten your shutter speed a stop or so.

An effective way to not get wrap/bleaching etc is to nail your background exposure first, without subjects. Just adjust your exposure until the background is just not blinking, then lift the picture 1/10 stop in post, perfect white background but not affecting the subjects, then introduce the subject and subject specific lighting. Unless, of course, that is the look you were going for, in which case even better.

Quasimodo

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Re: Family portrait - my first assignment - advice and comments, please
« Reply #26 on: December 28, 2013, 12:10:35 PM »
I am very much an amateur myself (a few paid gigs, to buy more equipment:)

I did a shoot in my livingroom today of some family members. I also think it is hard to get people to give a certain type of look, but luckily I had several helpers that made distractions :)

Here is one of the pictures I took today. Warning, I am a moron in photoshop, so please be kind....

Quasimodo,

That is a fine image. If you want it nitpicked I'd (respectfully) suggest the background is a little too hot, you are getting some wrap and a loss of contrast. If you are using background lights then turn them down a touch, if you are using a window as a white background shorten your shutter speed a stop or so.

An effective way to not get wrap/bleaching etc is to nail your background exposure first, without subjects. Just adjust your exposure until the background is just not blinking, then lift the picture 1/10 stop in post, perfect white background but not affecting the subjects, then introduce the subject and subject specific lighting. Unless, of course, that is the look you were going for, in which case even better.

Thank you privatebydesing, it is much appreciated. Having aquired studiolights I find it hard to get them down enough. I did a mistake today that I actually callled in beforehand, I should have used two lights for the background, and next time I will try to turn them down further as you are suggesting. What I find the hardest is to get the balance between the background and the key lights. I feel that I am forced to shoot at an aperture of F16 to get the lights down enough (thus going beyond what are the ideal settings for each lens, as far as resolution is concerned).
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DanielW

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Re: Family portrait - my first assignment - advice and comments, please
« Reply #27 on: December 28, 2013, 12:27:03 PM »
I am very much an amateur myself (a few paid gigs, to buy more equipment:)

I did a shoot in my livingroom today of some family members. I also think it is hard to get people to give a certain type of look, but luckily I had several helpers that made distractions :)

Here is one of the pictures I took today. Warning, I am a moron in photoshop, so please be kind....

Lovely photo!
I like both the expressions and the technical aspects involved.
Keep posting!

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Re: Family portrait - my first assignment - advice and comments, please
« Reply #27 on: December 28, 2013, 12:27:03 PM »

DanielW

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Re: Family portrait - my first assignment - advice and comments, please
« Reply #28 on: December 28, 2013, 12:27:55 PM »
I was trying to be respectful of the person, whilst showing my disrespect for the example. Obviously I succeeded, sorry.

As for the "rule" well like all rules it is meant to be broken, but only for a reason and only effectively when done deliberately.

The viewers eye will always try to connect tangential edges and/or keys to form satisfactory, to the brain, patterns. The eyes are almost always key on portraits so in group portraits the brain tries to connect the dots, if they are on the same level the brain stops at that line and struggles to get past it.

Whilst this comprehensive and very formal approach is not, generally, a "look" we often shoot for now, the core lighting and posing tips found in this series of pages is a bible that has more common sense and experience than anybody here can claim to have, I am not ashamed to say I refer to it prior to a shoot with an unfamiliar grouping, look at chapter 8. For a more modern slant and interpretation look at number 4 here.

Zeltsman does state you can put peoples faces on the same height if they are separated by another body, my experience is that the body has to be very distracting to brake the brain connection of a strong line. Certainly if it is the two anchoring figures, oldest or outside pairs, it doesn't work, kids inside a grouping can work.

Only trying to help, sorry if ti was too antagonistic.

Terrific! Thank you!

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Re: Family portrait - my first assignment - advice and comments, please
« Reply #29 on: December 28, 2013, 12:50:06 PM »
I am very much an amateur myself (a few paid gigs, to buy more equipment:)

I did a shoot in my livingroom today of some family members. I also think it is hard to get people to give a certain type of look, but luckily I had several helpers that made distractions :)

Here is one of the pictures I took today. Warning, I am a moron in photoshop, so please be kind....

Lovely photo!
I like both the expressions and the technical aspects involved.
Keep posting!

Thank you DanielW for your kind words :) It´s fun but tons to learn for me :)
1Dx, 5x600 EX RT, ST-E3Canon:16-35L II,  24-105L , 70-200L IS II, 135L, 100L, 2x III TC, EF 25II, 40 F2.8 STM, Sigma 35 F1.4 Art, Sigma 50 F1.4 Art, Sigma 85 F1.4, Sigma 150-500.
Canon A-1, 199A, FD: 24/2.8, 35/2.0, 100/2.8, Vivitar 400/5.6 Mamiya RZ67 pro ii, 50,110,180
www.500px.com/gerhard1972

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Re: Family portrait - my first assignment - advice and comments, please
« Reply #29 on: December 28, 2013, 12:50:06 PM »