Monday, June 25, 2012

Posing Pretty

To learn more about photography,
sign up to receive my NEW Newsletter.
The sign-up form is on the upper right of this blog.
When I first started exploring portrait photography,
I thought POSING was confusing and difficult.

I remember taking my daughter to a park and bringing along a small
chest for her to sit on.
We couldn't think of even ONE dang pose!

Here's one of the photos from that early shoot:

I didn't know how to edit either...which is another couple hundred blog posts.

I figured my lack of posing ideas would destroy
any visions of a portrait photography career...ha ha!

I started watching YouTube videos on how to pose and place hands,
but when I tried with my daughter again...I couldn't remember
one darn thing!

I kept practicing and it finally clicked that my goal with posing is
to fill up the frame in an interesting way.  So rather than try
to remember or copy poses...I work to fill the frame.

This means...instead of having them stand there with their arms
down at their sides taking up very little space in the frame...
I need to bend their limbs to stretch them out.
Bent limbs make for better poses than straight limbs.

Now, when I look through my viewfinder...I can instantly
see how to fill up the frame using their body.

I take full control and move them into interesting positions.
So, if I'm going for a close-up like this next photo,
I only need to bend and stretch the body parts that are in the frame.

Then I look at the tiny how their hair is placed...and
the hair flower.

When they are standing...I start by having them bend body below I had beautiful Lindsay jut her hip out and place
her hand on her hip.

Most people are uncomfortable doing this, but I make them
exaggerate the bending so it really shows in the photo.

I'm constantly telling clients to bend even further!

(I absolutely LOVE that sign in the window which punctuates this portrait!)

In fact, my location often becomes a part of the pose.
I look for interesting details in the surroundings to add to the pose.

Turning my subject sideways usually helps to stretch out the
body and fill the frame.  Adding props, like that hat box
stretches the pose even further.

Beautiful scenery also stretches a pose.  If the scenery is
amazing, a simpler pose often works best.

I always study the surroundings in my portraits...eliminating
distracting buildings, wires, etc.
I LOVE to include a foreground like the pretty flowers below.
Lindsay is framed from behind and in front by beautiful scenery.

Note how I spread out her dress to stretch out the pose!

Changing the angle can also add visual interest.

A simple tilt of the camera will change the photo entirely.

A little kick of the foot really shows off her flippy skirt and is
much more interesting than just standing there. 

Which brings up WARDROBE.
You know I buy clothing at thrift stores for my portraits.

I look for clothing that is full and can create MOVEMENT like
the burgundy dress Lindsay is wearing above and Mackenzie's
flowy white skirt.

I actually hold up clothing to the light in the thrift store
to see how it will photogaph.

When I brought home the burgundy dress, my daughter told
me it was so ugly nobody would wear it.
But I knew that full, netted skirt would photograph beautifully.
In the thrift store, I envisioned it piled up around a lovely gal just as
it played out in the portraits above.

The full white skirt was a wonderful find also and is perfect for posing.
It's sheer, so I can play with the sun shining through it.

Clothing also gives the model something to do with
their hands.

Props add dimension, too, and this shot with the umbrella is nice...

But, as I said above,
 I like to add movement and activity...and this photo of
Mackenzie twirling the umbrella is even better.
A slower shutter speed captured the movement.

The skirt flowing down the wall in the portrait below creates the movement:

Clothing can become a wonderful prop so really look
at the clothing your models wear and consider how to add it to the pose.

Back to "what do they do with their hands??"
I often give my clients something to hold
or interact with.

Find something that matches the outfit, mood or setting.

This works especially well with children.

I think about these props before the client arrives.
I actually made that pinwheel to match the little outfit in the next photo
before the one year old came for his portrait sitting.

I'm especially fond of that little blue romper because
my 20 year old son wore it in HIS one-year-old portrait
nineteen years ago!

Placing toddlers in interesting containers
keeps them from toddling away!

Add props and fill up that frame!

Once you have the idea of filling the frame with interest in mind...the posing ideas will flow
and you will start LOVING your portraits!


Monday, June 18, 2012

The Eyes Have it

To learn more about photography,
sign up to receive my NEW Newsletter.
The sign-up form is on the upper right of this blog.
Today I want to share what I have learned about
focus in portraits.

EYES should be the main focus. 
Once I get the eyes in focus, I let the rest go to ART.
Art means blurred in some way.

Notice in the above photo that my daughter Lindsay's eyes
are pretty much the only thing in focus.  The rest is just blurred ART.
I LOVE that dreamy look and that is my personal STYLE of portrait photography.

To create this look, I use my Canon 50mm 1.4 lens.
Yep, I LOVE to use it at 1.4...a wide open aperature with a
very shallow depth of field......
so it is crucial to get at least one eye in clear focus.

When I first started photographing people, I used the
stand-by rule...focus on the eye with the center point, then
hold down the button while I recomposed the shot.

I was perplexed when many of the eyes in my photos
were out of focus.  I mean MANY!

That method does NOT work for me in professional portrait photography.

I had to learn to use the focus points on my camera.

My camera has only nine focus points like this:

Some of the newer cameras have up to 45 and I heard
about one that has 65! 

Rather than explain this for every camera, pull out your camera manual
and look up Focus Points. Read how to use them on your particular camera.
That's what I did and it was awkward to use at first.

The idea is to select a focus point that is directly over the eye
closest to the camera as seen below:

Because my camera has only nine choices, I often have
to tilt the camera to accomodate the focus point over
the eye and compose with the rest of the shot.

See how the shot is tilted?

But that creates interesting composition!

When I have more than one person, I change my
aperature and ALWAYS focus on the eye
closest to the camera.

I can't tell you how many times, in haste, I have focused on
the most prominent face and the closest one to the camera was
out of focus!

Here's a technique that works for me. 
Figure your f-stop by how many planes are in your photo.
Notice in the photo below
that I have two planes.  The gal in front is one plane.
The two gals in back are on the same plane.

I figure one f-stop per plane....thus 2.2 or so.
Add a bit if you really want to make sure everyone is in focus.
The higher the f-stop number (smaller aperature) the deeper the
depth of field and thus more in focus. (Less ART!)

In this family photo, I had three planes.
The gal in front, the the gal to the far left is on a second plane,
 and the parents and boy are on a third plane.

I shot this at about f4 or 5 so everybody would be in focus.
F3 would have created more art, but when I'm shooting
for a paying customer, I usually go for better focus.

Play around with this to test your camera in group situations.

I set the focus point on the eyes of the gal in front.

This photo has two planes..
But with families I always want everyone
in focus, so I set it at f4 or 5...thus I had good depth of field.
But I sacrifice the ART...notice the daisies in the foreground are in focus, yet
I wish they were blurry ART! 

Since they are on the same plane in the photo below, I can
shoot at 1.4...LOVE a wide aperature!

It takes LOTS of practice to get fast setting the focus points.
It does slow me down and I sometimes miss
precious expressions especially with young children,
but I ALWAYS use focus points with portraits.

Getting a clear focus on the eyes and the
beauty of the background ART is worth learning this method!

I LOVE the dreamy look! 
Dang, that background is ART!!!

My portrait photography improved dramatically with
this method.

Good luck and have fun with this!


Monday, June 11, 2012

June is Wildflower Month

To learn more about photography,
sign up to receive my NEW Newsletter.
The sign-up form is on the upper right of this blog.
I am beholding JUNE....wildflower month!

Actually, June kicks off summer wildflowers with daisies
that are in full bloom right NOW.

High school senior pictures are wonderful in wildflowers...
so I"ve been BUSY!

This is lovely Chelsea with the daisies.

We have a municipal walking path by my house and the fields
are loaded with daisies.

I style my photos and it's fun to match up shawls, blankets,
pillows and props with the outfit.

Alyssa is so pretty in turquoise...yep, the dress is another
one of my thrift store finds.

The purple thistle are out now, I dressed
Abby in purple to match the flowers.

Ahhhh....youth is so PRETTY!  So are wildflowers!!

I hope you find some near you and take lots of photos.