Senior Pictures

Discussion in 'Photographers' started by Laostyle17, Jul 12, 2012.

  1. Laostyle17

    Laostyle17 Member

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    Hello all,

    Any advise on taking portraits? My mother has given me the task of taking my younger sister's senior pictures. I don't have a studio, so most of the shots will be outdoors. I'm pretty certain she'll be the only student w/ Analog shots. Any tips will help.

    Thank you!!!
     
  2. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    I love taking portraits.... in fact, that's my favorite area of photography. I'm still learning though.

    Doing portrait well by itself is a complex process and it's not something one can give you a "tip" and you can do it. Senior photograph is a specialty in itself as well. You have to know what kind of poses works and doesn't. There are certain things to look for in each of them. On top of it, lighting must be considered. Digital or analog makes no difference. Portrait is portrait.

    What is your experience? What kind of help do you need? Poses, lighting, or do you have something in mind and just need help in pulling it off?

    That said, the best I can do for you is to give a dump list of what I do. It's too late to "take your time and learn" because it needs to be done now.

    To me, finding a suitable location is a big problem. The location must be attractive without distracting objects. Also, it has to be well controlled in terms of lighting. No direct sun and diffused open shadow will make your job a lot easier. Make sure no obvious shadow is falling on your subject's face. Make sure the face is well lit and catch light (sparkle in the eyes) are there. If necessary, use a reflector or two to compensate/adjust/create the necessary lighting. Make sure the focus is accurate and on the eyes closest to the camera. Unless the background is meaningful to the composition, I tend to put it well outside of DOF to bring attention to the subject.

    Make sure subject's clothing is right. No attention getting graphics, overly revealing clothing, and watch for wrinkles. If any jewelry is worn, make sure they are in the right place. Take variety of shots, full length, half, and head and shoulder. Typically, nose should be pointed to the camera but body plane face plane should not be parallel. (in other words, face points to the camera, body points elsewhere - body "twisted" somewhat) One foot forward and put a weight on it to create some movement.

    Um.... and have fun if you still can....
     
  3. ChristopherCoy

    ChristopherCoy Subscriber

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    Shoot in open shade, early morning or late afternoon, and wide open for shallow DOF.
     
  4. F/1.4

    F/1.4 Member

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    Late afternoon, open shade, put the sun to her back, lens flare the hell out of it for a few shots, shoot wide open and spot meter for the shadow side.

    Shoot XP2 and 400h at 100 or 200 and mail it off to RPL. it will look amazing.

    If you're on 35mm, I'd stick to a 50 or 85mm. If MF, anything 80mm or longer.
     
  5. darkosaric

    darkosaric Subscriber

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    I would also say that good thing is to speak with the subject - it that way it is possible to get more emotions and more expression in the final result.
     
  6. pbromaghin

    pbromaghin Subscriber

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    I have little technical knowledge or advice, but I do know the subject and the shooter.

    Your mom has given you a real challenge.

    Number one, use a tripod!

    Burn some film and see what happens. Take notes so you can repeat what works. Since she's your sister, take advantage of your frequent access by experimenting with locations and light and then go back and re-shoot what, where, and when it works best. The trees behind your folk's house might give good open shade in morning and evening, probably good for face shots. You might get a nice look under the trees at Lake Marion beach with the lake in the background, good for full body shots. It will probably be empty in the morning. Try using your flash for fill in light.

    Does Melissa remember where the guy shot her sitting by a stream? That was beautiful.

    Take your film somewhere that offers quality processing and printing. National Camera by Burnsville Center might be a good place to start. Maybe somebody from the Twin Cities can chime in.

    Start doing this right away so they have time to go to a pro if it doesn't work out.:laugh:
     
  7. Alan Gales

    Alan Gales Member

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    Parks are great for shooting outdoor portraits. As pbromaghin says "Number one, use a tripod!". :smile:
     
  8. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    If you are using a 35mm camera, make sure you use a lens between about 90mm and 135mm which will enable you to step back and make a more pleasing perspective.
     
  9. Arkasha

    Arkasha Member

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    If I could advise - think about the reason why you're taking the pictures in the first place. Clearly, your mom wants to try and capture the event, because it's important to her. Ask your sister how she feels about the graduation- preferably just as you're about to take the picture. With luck, you'll grab something something special there.
     
  10. pbromaghin

    pbromaghin Subscriber

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  11. F/1.4

    F/1.4 Member

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    I'm going to advise not to use a tripod (unless you're shooting large format). It's another piece of equipment you have to fiddle with and put between you and your subject, it prohibits the creation of those great grab shots you could only get with the speed of hand-holding, and if you're at shutter speeds slow enough to use a tripod, your subject might still be blurry from moving.

    Like what ChristopherCoy and I said before, just shoot hand-held, wide open the whole time. It will look great. Shooting at f/11 on a tripod is for large groups and old timers who had to stop down on their 4x5's.

    Take a look at this one, Shot the whole thing on a 1V and 85L, hand-held. Looks awesome: http://www.michellemooreblog.com/2010/07/26/senior-portraits-on-film-amelia-going-back-to-my-roots/
     
  12. jvo

    jvo Subscriber

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    all they said...

    all good stuff.... i to would the tripod, but use a paper background and a posing stand to lean on - just the effect i like and it causes them to stick in one place!
     
  13. Alan Gales

    Alan Gales Member

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    Just because you use a tripod does not mean you have to stop down to f/11 and use a slow shutter speed.

    I guess I'm an old timer (age 50) who shoots 4x5 and 8x10 :D but when I started out I shot a whole lot of 35mm film. When I was shooting 35mm I noticed early that almost all my best shots were done using a tripod. They were not necessarily sharper, just better. The reason being that when I used a tripod It slowed me down and I spent more time with my subjects.

    This is my opinion about tripod shooting. Nice portraits by the way! :smile:
     
  14. Alan Gales

    Alan Gales Member

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    Michelle, I do understand where you are coming from with the spontaneity you can get with hand holding a camera for portraits.

    The thing is that Laostyle17 has little to no experience with portraiture and is asking for advice. I just feel a tripod will slow things down so he can concentrate on the shot.

    Also we don't know what camera he is using. If he's got a Mamiya RZ67 like I used to have it can be a bit awkward for hand holding! :smile:
     
  15. pbromaghin

    pbromaghin Subscriber

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    Laostyle17 has little photography and almost no film experience, but a VERY high degree of enthusiasm for film. Prior to about a year ago (when we spent a couple hours putting our noseprints on Ansel Adam's Museum Set) all his shooting had been digital point and shoot and he knows his way around photoshop pretty well. He has 3 35mm slrs from the 70s, 80s and 90s, various lenses (mostly zooms) available to him. He reads all the time and absorbs like a sponge.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 16, 2012
  16. Alan Gales

    Alan Gales Member

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    A VERY high degree of enthusiasm is just what he needs! Knowing his way around photoshop puts him way ahead of me in that respect, I just have lightroom 2!

    I wish him a whole lot of fun with film photography and that his enthusiasm spreads to his family and friends!