Tag Archives: lenses

Portraits and Making Your Subjects at Ease

15 Sep

Anyone who’s every shot a portrait – professional or novice – knows that a comfortable subject makes for much more natural photos. Putting people at ease takes practice and good people skills (a sense of humor doesn’t hurt either!). Add on top of that getting inspired, capturing the style or type of shots they have in mind, working with the light and environment around you… there’s a lot to juggle. Here are a few starters to help get them – and you – relaxed and ready to capture some magical moments:

1. Set it Up

Talk to your clients before the session. Get to know them. Make decisions together about locations they like and even the style of images that gets them excited. Offer ideas about what to wear. Emphasize choosing clothes and accessories that show off their individual personality – and make them feel like a million bucks.

2. Be Prepared

It’s a no brainer, but still the most important part of the session. Know your gear well, think about the session in advance, have a plan for poses and settings that will make for great shots. A good photographer is constantly learning and growing. Never let your skills get stale!

3. Sweat the Details

Get your gear in order. Lenses cleaned, batteries charged, cards formatted, reflectors and props packed (and whatever else you’ve got in mind for the shoot). You’ll be like a well-oiled machine with nothing incidental to distract you.

4. Relax and Have Fun

When you’re feeling good and exuding confidence, your clients will sense it and know they can trust you, your skills and your creativity. If you’re feeling a bit nervous in advance (which is totally normal!) set the mood on your way there with a song that gets you positive and pumped!

5. Start the conversation

Get to know them. Ask questions and learn about what makes them tick. Take any great trips lately? What’s your favorite restaurant? How about them Phillies? Most importantly, be yourself. Get to know them like you would at a party – not like it’s an interview. Great conversation can help their mind wander, get them to relax and even lead to some fun expressions!

6. Give them a Sneak Peek

Being in front of the lens when you’re camera shy can make you feel vulnerable. When I start a portrait session and notice any anxiety, hesitation or awkwardness, I’ll often show the couple (or kids or family) a frame or two on the back of my camera to get them excited and show them how great they look.

7. Master your Poker Face

If you’re not in love with a shot – the composition, lighting, expression, anything – don’t give it away. Keep smiling. Set the tone. Adjust, move, give direction; do whatever you need to in order improve the shot – but don’t let it stress you out. Stay fluid and keep shooting. That amazing shot could be your next one!

8. Be intuitive

– Don’t get so wrapped up in the aperture, light, composition or lens choice that you aren’t in tune to your subject and their expression, body language or comfort level.

– If they’re shy or hands-off, don’t get in their personal space. Instead provide clear direction and helpful tips. Show them with your own body, what you have in mind. If there’s a stray hair out of place, or a strap or tag showing, be polite and ask permission to adjust it, or ask them to fix it themselves.

– Gauge their comfort level and choose poses accordingly. Personally I like to start with something natural and move around my subjects, giving them little tips if needed, and only occasionally. Eventually they start to ignore me, relax and not think so much about what they’re doing, how they are smiling, etc.

9. Share your Enthusiasm

Every photographer I have ever met is absolutely head over heels in love with what they do. You are too, am I right? So while you’re shooting, share your enthusiasm and love for photography! Let your subjects know what amazing light you’re seeing or the fact that you love the bright green wall across the street. It’s contagious and they’ll get excited too!

Do you have great tips or advice on portraits and getting your subjects comfortable? Add a comment and share!

Advertisements

Check Out Skip’s Summer School

31 Mar

By Heather O’Mara

Last March I woefully knew I had missed the bus on WPPI. Come May, I needed something that offered great speakers and resources at my fingertips. Something where I could get a jumpstart and find out what I was really doing right, or really doing wrong.

Then it happened – I got an email about “summer school” – Skips’ Summer School – being held in August in Las Vegas. The description, covering a wide range of photography topics such as weddings, portraiture, portfolio creation, lighting, business tips and more, was completely appealing. It was exactly was I was looking for and so much more. At the time, I did not realize the positive impact it would have on my creativity, my business and future planning.

When I returned, my head was spinning. It was very intense; back-to-back presentations beginning at 8am and concluding at 5pm. In fact, Tuesday, we came back from 6am to 8pm. Yes, intense.

So what was it that I found so uplifting, so life changing, that made me a better Heather O’Mara? Okay, maybe that’s laying it on a little thick. But here are a few highlights from some names you may recognize…

Dane Sanders

He opened it up at 8:00am – easy for east coasters. Touching on so many things, giving us a glimpse of himself and how he launched his business. He identified with so many of us in the audience, reviewing blogs for inspiration and reading additional education pieces to hone our skills. He also mentioned those late nights, when we are reading other photographers blogs with our glass off wine thinking “These people are so darn good, my images stink.” His advice? Stop, stop, stop!

Kevin Kubota

Loved him. He had such a warm, approachable energy. What struck me was how he shared his personal self-doubt (what?!) about the quality of his work. One day he said to himself, if these people can be published in a magazine with their work, “Why not me?” This is a question we need to ask ourselves. He also delivered us homework, projects that I still continue to work on, because they are not easy.

Joe Buissink

I do not know where to start with how wonderful I thought his presentation was. He spoke from to heart. For a man that has photographed the weddings of Jessica Simpson, Jennifer Lopez and Jennie Garth – and so beautifully – he is modest. What struck me most was how he described his thought process during a wedding, which paralleled mine. Now granted, I am NO Buissink, but hey, it did make we want to buy his book. Additionally, he also added approaches to fine-tune ways to get your couples to emote.

Cliff Mautner

I loved hearing his discussion on light. Not just on shooting, but his differing observations on television as well. After bringing up the topic of Lighting used in “Mad Men,” I was hooked. As he spoke about lighting for weddings, he discussed embracing lighting and not shying away, and I have done this ever since.

Jasmine Star

I will admit it, I was a little skeptical of listening to her speak, but honestly, I am glad I had the opportunity. She had so much to share and I was able to take a great bit away.

There were other great speakers regarding business management, marketing and shooting portraits, a limited collection of outstanding vendors, and a lighting lab – an opportunity between breaks to work with Tony Corbell in hands-on demonstrations with lighting setups. I was also able to meet photographers from all over the country, which was a nice way to make contacts. This experience for me was priceless and I highly recommend it.

Interested in attending? Skip’s Summer School 2011 is set for July 31- August 3, 2011 at the MGM in Las Vegas. There is a great line up of speakers with even more hands-on training this year. So, take the time off this summer and head to the desert. You are worth the investment and your business will thank you!

Here’s a promo to give you a taste:

Skip’s Summer School from Clay Blackmore on Vimeo.

Tech Tuesday: Try before you buy

15 Mar

How often do you hear photogs say that the number one thing on their “wish list” (ok, after the destination wedding in Tuscany) is a shiny new piece of glass? I’m thinking pretty often. In fact, if I think about my own wish list, there are at least one or two lenses on that list that I’m currently lusting after. But investing in the right lens takes time and…well, MONEY.  That goes for any fine piece of camera gear. But there is another option – renting – the opportunity to try before you buy.

Now, there are a number of places you can go to rent awesome gear. And there are pros and cons associated with each. For instance, rent from a place such as Calumet and you  can rest assured that you’re getting gear from a well-established and highly reputed retailer. You make the reservation, pick the gear up yourself, inspect it, put it confidently in your bag and you’re on your way. But, you also have to carry a hefty deposit hold on your credit card (worth the cost of the lens) in order to take it out the door. Let’s face it – sometimes, a big fat hold of $2500 for that 70-200mm f/2.8 isn’t exactly in the budget for the weekend.

So, for those of us who would rather try before you buy with another pay-to-play philosophy, there’s BorrowLenses.com.


 

 

Borrow Lenses is a California-based company devoted entirely to renting lenses and other essential camera gear. Their schtick: Enjoy the convenience of sweet camera gear delivered to your door, shoot as you please and when you’re done? Ship it on back – with a deposit (in most cases) equivalent to the rental fee – NOT the msrp of the gear. Sound too good be true? I thought so too.

But, as it turns out, Borrow Lenses gets RAVE reviews. Additionally, I spoke with several photogs at WPPI who have used their services and swear by them. So, I plan to take them for a spin myself for my next wedding and hopefully find a affordable way to bridge the gap between my current arsenal and the future one I’m lusting after.

Have a firsthand experience with Borrow Lenses you’d like to share? Or, have you rented from another company that kicks ass and you want to recommend? Comment below!