Sunday, July 25, 2010

Exercise 1: Review

Well I definitely learned some things from this exercise.  The main piece is that I must take more time to plan and pre-meditate, be imaginative and flexible during the shoot and assertive in terms of directing the sitter.  I find myself getting all caught up in firing the camera and I stop interacting with the subject which makes them wonder if they are doing the right thing.  This is all about slowing down and being more confident.

I wanted to approach this as a more formal classic portrait shoot with the subject looking directly at the camera - away from my most common style of candid close-up shots but I could have explored more options and alternatives as well.

Areas for improvement:

  • Plan better - visualise the end results
  • Be more flexible during the shoot - should have moved the sitter out of the sun
  • Try more angles and poses - don't be afraid to change subject's position and be more experimental
  • Give the sitter more direction and reassurance
  • As my style in portraits is usually very close up, I need to practise with full figure poses to create drama/narrative
I think I am very afraid of coming across like an amateur to the model.  Need to really get over that quickly.  

All in all, I am pleased with some of final images.  The model likes them - says he wishes he was this good looking in real life - and I have had positive feedback from other viewers.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Exercise 1: Full figure

I chose this image as I felt it was the most interesting pose - the others seemed to look too much like snapshots and I found the background distracting.  This picture portrays Lee's character and thoughtfulness.

Exercise 1: Torso

I selected this from the Torso scale as I felt it was the most arresting image.  Lee looks confident and relaxed and the image has power and I hope appeal for the viewer.

Exercise 1: Head and shoulders

This was my choice of the head and shoulders scale.  The angle was more interesting that a straight front on shot.  The jut of his chin reaches out to the viewer and his eyes are almost smiling giving the image some intrigue.

Exercise 1: Face, cropped in close

This one worked best as there is full focus on the eyes.  I think the viewer would find this quite engaging.  I wish I had included his whole chin as this looks a bit odd but then there may have been less emphasis on Lee's eyes.

Exercise 1: Portrait, scale and setting

This exercise was designed to help me consider composition and weight of attention on face.  At different scales, different parts of the body need to be taken into account.  I invited a friend Lee to be my sitter and planned four scales - 1) face cropped close; 2) head and shoulders; 3) torso, arms and hands; 4) full figure.

Preparation involved finding the right place for the evening light with some interesting background.  I gave Lee a glass of Cava to relax him, although he is very confident in front of a camera and briefed him as to what I wanted to achieve.  In hindsight, I think that starting with the full figure and moving into the close crop would have been less intimidating for most subjects - having a big lens in one's face is always rather disconcerting.

Although I got a handful of passable shots from this shoot, I was disappointed with how I handled it.  I had not planned the variety of poses sufficiently and did not give enough assertive spoken direction.

I also noticed that there was some dappled sunlight coming through the foliage but I failed to move Lee to somewhere else.  As usual I rushed through and felt very self-conscious.

The beginning.

OK.  Now is the exact right time to start this course properly and begin to really extend my portrait photography skills.

My mission:

  • To try new approaches and styles (particularly using more lighting and speed options)
  • To learn more about (and from) the masters of the genre
  • To come out of my comfort zone
  • To considerably improve my direction skills
  • To stop taking bloody stupid pictures with small bits of the tops of heads cut off - either a close crop into the face or ALL of the head shape!
  • To avoid silly mistakes so that my pictures look slick professional and not just like amateur snaps
  • To photograph more people
  • To take more time over individual captures
  • To meet my deadlines

Let's get it on.