Catherine shows you her tips and tricks
Tips + Tricks
You have that favorite chair at home, don’t you? You know, the one where you can prop your feet up, and just vege in front of the TV or take a power nap? It’s a little worn, but it’s too comfy to get rid of, and you feel at home in it. Have you checked under the cushion for change lately?
Most photographers have that same comfort zone when it comes to shooting. We gravitate towards our favorite lens, aperture, perspective, lighting, the list goes on. While not neccesarily bad, it may be keeping you from growing to your potential and inspired. I always start out with my “comfy” shot, and change things up until I get the rushing feeling of inspiration and inner voice screaming…”I nailed it!”.
In the below before & after check out the reward of moving beyond my comfort zone. In the before shot I walked up to the scene, digested it, and began shooting in my comfort zone. I am not ashamed to admit it – the resulting image is not good (bad, really). The top of the wall cuts off the brides head, the frontal perspective is flat and uninteresting, and the lack of detail in the sky is boring.
So I made a few adjustments -
- Got higher which: kept her head below the wall, took advantage of the interesting background and gave me a more flattering perspective
- Moved to the side to get better light and angle on her face.
- Changed from 24mm to 150mm for more flattering compression
- Retouched the image
Just like under the cushion – you need to find the change. Change lens length, shoot from up high, shoot from down low, high key, low key, change the aperture, long exposure, short exposure. If your gut is telling you there is a great shot to be had, listen and go and find it. Don’t settle for the capturing the scene at face value or falling into the trap of producing the expected. Experiment, play, and have fun!
When I first saw this man, I knew I wanted to photograph him. He has so much character in his face, such stories to tell, you just want to sit down and have a beer with him and listen to his tales.
But when I asked, he said no.
I asked again.
He said no.
I strategically moved on and shot other people around him. He watched me. He became intrigued with my process. Eventually he came back to me and asked me to shoot him too.
There are many ways to convince someone to let you photograph them. Sometimes you need to spend a lot of time talking to them, sometimes they need to see your portfolio, sometimes charm; every person reacts differently. But no matter what, if it’s a subject that you really want to capture, be Persistant. If one method does not work, try another one. As long as you are genuine and respectful in what you say, that person will usually come around. In this case I did not need to go back and ask. By demonstrating my approach with others I earned his trust.
Many couples are nervous when having their wedding photos taken and that is reflected in their body language. Physical space between the couple can read as emotional space between them. Definitely not the feeling you want conveyed on their wedding day! Watch their body language and encourage them to get close and snuggly. The resulting image will read as much more intimate and loving.
For more of Devorah and Carlo’s beautiful wedding, please see my previous blog post.
Tune in for an action packed TWiT Photo episode on June 19th at 1:30pm Pacific time! Joining me will be the talented Stop-Motion-ista Petra Cross, Aria Haghighi from GetPrismatic.com, and Joseph Linaschke from ApertureExpert.com
See you in the chat room!
Did your eye head straight to Breaker Novogratz? It’s not the lightest or the brightest object in the image, in fact it is nearly the darkest. What draws your eye in is the shape. The rest of the photograph is dominated by vertical and horizontal lines. The grid window frames, the shadows, the railing, even the skyscrapers in the background are perpendicular or parallel to each other. Breaker and his skateboard echo the linearity but at 45 degrees to everything else. This is why your eyes probably went straight towards him.
When shooting, look for patterns in your environment. Place your subject so it repeats that pattern. It could be an urban, grid pattern like this one, or a mountain ridge, rolling hills, or an architectural detail that is repeated in a building. For a more dynamic image, place the subject at odds with the background, for a harmonious image have it echo it.
Try some of the exercises by Darren Rowse to practice looking for and emphasizing patterns. They are everywhere you look!
Thank you to the Novagratz’s for the gracious opportunity to shoot inside your home, I will never forget the experience.
Often emerging portrait photographers lack confidence in their ideas. If that is you, don’t let it show! Your subject will pick up on your insecurities and loose faith. Learn to trust your gut and believe in your vision for a shot – radiate that confidence and dedicate yourself to making it a success.
When shooting this model, I had the idea of putting her out in the middle of moving traffic. I suggested it with a big grin and guided her out into the street.. My enthusiasm transferred to her and out to the street she walked. If I had been even the slightest bit hesitant, she would have picked up on my doubt and probably said no. It was confidence and assuming success that made the shot.
Thank you to Jenefer Taylor for being such a great model and check out her beautiful music and photos.