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.
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....
Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?
Shoot in open shade, early morning or late afternoon, and wide open for shallow DOF.
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.
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.
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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.
Parks are great for shooting outdoor portraits. As pbromaghin says "Number one, use a tripod!".
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.
“The contemplation of things as they are, without error or confusion, without substitution or imposture, is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of invention”
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.