Lifestyle Portraits - Social not Sloppy
I recently had the honor of photographing Elisa Fisher and her two beautiful daughters in my Benicia studio. These are the two giggly little girls I mentioned in my earlier blog post. By keeping the lighting simple, using just a blank wall next to the large windows, the magic skills of my business partner Michael Van Auken I was able to make some very sweet images. My thought process is simple as well. Keep it simple and focus on the eyes, expression and nuances of each child. As you can tell, these two girls had very distinct personalities. I found by allowing them the chance to shhhhh.. scream in the studio.. yes scream, I could not only initiate some great smiles, but also capture some very fun expressions as well. I believe it is important to move quickly, and not “work a location to death.” After just a few minutes we moved into the halls of the studio and then I put the 70-200 lenses on and had the kids just tear off running down the hall with the dog. This experience does two things. First it gets the pent up energy out for a moment, and second, it makes the kids really enjoy the experience. (not to mention that I get great stuff while they are doing it) It has been my experience in front and behind the camera, that if your subject enjoys the session they will give it up as it were, and give me precious smiles and more. In working the file of the girls and the dog running down the hall, I used a bit of diffused glow, followed by high pass at about 50%
To make them pop away from the background. Afterwards, I used one of my own textures to give the photo a bit of old world charm. A word of caution, use filters, and textures very selectively and don’t overdo it. It is very easy to go from 0-60 on the “cheesy” meter by overdoing the Photoshop.
Thanks Elisa and Lauren and Madison!
Flat Light is Flattering
I have been needing to have a new headshot done for some time. Well yesterday that day finally came and I had my friend and fellow photographer James Fidelibus of James Brian Studios shoot it. First of all, many of you will ask why didn't I ask my partner, and amazing photographer, Michael Van Auken (who works for me) to do it.. simply, I know his "shtick" in otherwords, I know all of his lines to make someone laugh.. so they don't work on me.
Can I just say for the record, I absolutely HATE to have my portrait done, and usually complain for about a week when I have to have one done. Are any of you like me? At least you know if I take your portrait or your families, I have walked a mile in your shoes.
Now onto the how it was done part: Jim used a very large light source, a 4 ft softbox VERY close to my face with an equally large reflector on the side to make the light a bit flat. Why flat light? Simply to fill in all of my "cracks." :) Flat light is very flattering on a mature face. Once the lighting was set up, then he got out his very tall ladder.. yes, giggle giggle, higher camera angles are AWSOME on mature faces. Why? because that camera angle hides any double chin activity. (not that I have one) Now onto the hard part, making me relax in front of the lense. That is no easy task. All of those lights, camera's, really long lenses, etc.. just make me crazy! Jim's answer? Simply talk "shop" with me and redirect my mind elsewhere. I actually found myself relaxing and almost enjoying the experience, and when it was all said and done, I actually found a few images I like! Thanks so much Jim!
All of this highlights another aspect of photography and that is the importance of understanding an "fstop from a bus stop." What I mean is that many younger photographers, or should I say less experienced ones, just seem to think the only thing necessary to become a "professional photographer," is take lots and lots of pictures and maybe you will get lucky, and then once the job is done, to retouch the heck out of them or "fix them in Photoshop." A great portrait starts with a very experienced photographer who understands the anatomy of the face, the direction and use of light on that face. I've included the before and after shots on my portraits to show the foundation of great photography.
I did retouch my images, but only slightly. I used the burn and dodge tool a bit to give my left cheek a bit of shade, in one of the images you will see that my hair got a bit messy, so I took a small segment of hair from another spot and blended it to the existing hair to basicly fill in the bald spot. In one of the images I used one of my Photoshop actions to add a bit more eyeshadow to my face (found in Cantrell Couture Actions Volume I) and then I converted a couple of the photos to BW using Marcus Bell #22 action and Cantrell Couture Actions Vol II. You will see I took out my spots and blemishes, and smoothed the tone on the skin of my neck. Lastly, I used just a touch of G blur to just soften my skin a bit. Most of the retouching was done in the camera, using great light, a great camera angle and a photographer with a personality!
So, the next time you think to ask a photographer you are interviewing, "What kind of camera are you using," maybe you should reconsider the question. Camera's don't take pictures, People do. Hopefully, very skilled, professional photographers that know an "fstop from a bus stop."
Little Giggly Girls make me Giggle!
Last weekend, I had the honor of photographing a couple of 8 year old twins. Can I say what a blast! All we did the entire session was giggle and laugh. 8 is such a terrific age! Old enough to know how to behave, but young enough to still enjoy the innocence of youth. Both of these girls had braces but were unconcerned, both got a teency weency bit dirty, nope, didn't phase them. I've learned a couple of things from giggly little girls that I think I will apply to my own photo session tomorrow with fellow photographer, James Fidelibus. You see Jim is going to take my portrait. Something I really hate to do.. but it has to be done. I am going to relax, have fun, and pretend for just a moment, that I am an 8 year old with braces who is not afraid to get a bit dirty. :)
(Photos will follow tomorrow of my session, and I hope a few from this one..I must get my
clients permission first.)
It is Spoofin Time
As has become my custom, I have created another funny spoof for your enjoyment. Here is the Youtube link. Let me know your thoughts. It was created by an amazing young videographer, Brandon Goodwin from Springfield Mo.
The WPPI convention
I've just returned from the WPPI convention where I was inspired and educated! What an amazing educational experience. I had the honor of being Chairman of one of the competition rooms. Wow I have been flooded with creative ideas like never before!
One of the photographers I was so impressed with was a young artist by the name of Jennifer Hudson. Jennifer blends fine art and photography like no one I've seen before. Her artistic style was more fine art than photographic.