Natural Light Portraits with Ann

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No Flash?

We thought it a little cheeky setting up lots of lights in the Doubletree Hilton’s cafe bar – so we did a few shots with natural light, well a mix of light from outside and the halogen bulbs inside.

Fast Lens

Most of these are taken with the Canon 85mm F1.8 lens, which is great in low light as it’s a very “bright” lens, but also allows decent working distance (so you’re no in your sitter’s face) and blurs the background out like a dream.

A Different Look

Pretty much all of my portraits use flash in one way or another – mainly to make them a little more dramatic and distinctive. But this natural look is pretty effective too.

Top Tip to Keep Your Portrait Sitters Happy….

This may seem a bit obvious, but having taught many people flash/portraits, it’s the number one reason why you get bored looks on your photos….

Don’t look at the back of your camera all the time

You need get the lights right and checking this on camera is fine.

But once you’ve got the lights right, try to take, say, 20 shots before you look at the camera again.

The reason for this is “rapport”. It’s a term used in NLP which basically means you are both “in the zone”, communicating on higher level.

This happens in Photography when you start to shoot – talking, saying “wow that looks amazing”, moving around, looking through the lens… building their confidence, making them laugh, get them saying “prunes…. whatever you do….

THEN BANG….

You look at the back of the camera, and the rapport balloon bursts…

Only do it when a natural end comes to that phase of the shoot. You hit rate will sky-rocket

For 4 more great top tips – CLICK HERE NOW

 

5 Portrait Tips…

I teach and demonstrate flash and portraiture so see a lot of different approaches, good and bad, from the delegates.

The main thing to remember about portraits is that the thing you are photographing is alive and can be “manipulated” by your actions.

So these 5 tips are not technical – but are about how to interact with the sitter. You can apply them to all people you photograph, though if you’re paying a model, it may be less important – but you will definitely get better results and have a great time if you follow these.

 

Talk to them – a lot!

Ever had an uncomfortable silence on a date?

Imagine how bad that silence is if you’re nervous and being photographed…

If you talk, talk about anything, you are taking their mind of the situation – you’re helping them relax.

 

Don’t look at the back of your camera all the time

You need get the lights right and checking this on camera is fine.

But once you’ve got the lights right, try to take, say, 20 shots before you look at the camera again.

The reason for this is “rapport”. It’s a term used in NLP which basically means you are both “in the zone”, communicating on different level.

This happens in Photography when you start to shoot – talking, saying “wow that looks amazing”, moving around, looking through the lens… building their confidence, making them laugh, get them saying “prunes…. whatever you do….

THEN BANG….

You look at the back of the camera, and the rapport baloon bursts…

Only do it when a natural end comes to that phase of the shoot. You hit rate will sky-rocket

 

Give/Get feedback constantly

You can plan outfits, locations, lights and everything else meticulously, I recommend you do, but if it’s not working you need to give feedback on how to change things. It maybe their seating position, stance etc.

That’s all part of “posing” and is on page 1 of  “how to take portraits”

You can get a great 2-way feedback going if you show the sitter shots on camera – usually at the start of each “set up”, it’s good to follow this

  1. Set the lights up and test
  2. Take 2-3 test shots
  3. Show the sitter – get feedback and change
  4. Show sitter – thumbs up
  5. Shoot and don’t look at the camera back for a while

I’ve struggled to explain what’s wrong many times.

If you “show” them on camera what’s wrong, the message is 1000 times clearer.

So go over, say how amazing they are, then point out what’s wrong – maybe those shades look wrong, or their hair is out of place… showing them helps explain.

BUT

Even better, they can see themselves and tell you what they don’t like.

The answer is “Ah yeah, great point, what would you change?”

It takes the guess work out of it – get them to tell you, then you can get it right for them.

 

Ask open questions

Another soft skill to get people talking is the “open question”

Put simply, it’s any question without and “yes” or “no” answer.

Few examples

  • “What do you do?”
  • What’s your role in the company?
  • What’s your favourite shade of grey? – bit left field, but see the reaction 😉
  • What’s your dream holiday location?

It’s a little like the things barbers ask you…

But asking questions can cause different facial expressions… and that’s what we’re capturing in a portrait session. If you want a serious face, then as something serious… sad, ask something sad… (not often you want that really).

When you ask the question, have the camera in position and focussed – you may only have 1/4 second to capture the reaction…

 

Read their body language

You get used to this after a while, looking for signs of what they are enjoying and what they are uncomfortable with is a make or break skill.

For example, I shoot on location a lot so get passers by looking in. With performers, dancers & musicians, you’ll see that they usually don’t really react negatively to this – but with a more shy person, you’ll see them tense up or even walk away.

Be mindful of this

You only get great shots when they relax… so move on if this happens.

Another thing with location is watching for when they’re getting bored. They’ll look down, not be so engaged and generally have a disconnected feel. What they’re telling you is that they’ve run out of ideas in that location, or are genuinely bored.

It signals that you either need to move to a new location to refuel their ideas tank, or it’s a wrap, and you pack up there and then – before they get really bored!

 

Conclusion

So there are a few tips to help you help your sitters relax and enjoy the experience

Photography is fun – and if your sitters are not enjoying it, then remember the 5 points above and get talking to them !

It’s All Good… Paul Dodd

The Ideas Man…

 

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Paul’s business card really does say The Ideas Man, and it’s true – you’ll go along way before you meet someone with more ideas – on branding, marketing, web, life, music… you name it! His Design Agency, All Good,  is a one-stop solution for people needing innovative branding and marketing solutions… sure he can explain it a lot better than me, check out the website.

 

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I’ve known Paul for a while as we’re both associates at the BiY business network, so I’d been looking forward to this shoot and we were treated to a great day for it. If anything, it was too hot and too bright. Extremely bright sunlight never helps the photographer, your subjects squint, it causes harsh shadows and if you’re using flash, you need to have everything on full power to compete with the bright sunlight.

Shooting in Roundhay Park helped though –  we were able to use the shade of trees and a band stand to avoid a lot of the light issues. Unfortunately, we couldn’t do much about the heat…

 

 

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Paul’s a star at presenting, put him in a room of people and he’ll have them engaged from the moment he starts till the end of the talk… but in front of the camera, he was well out of his comfort zone to begin with. I don’t think the string of young mums and grannies walking by helped.

 

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So rather than dictating how stand and pose, I just chatted and got Paul talking as much as possible – I find this gradually takes people’s mind away from the fact they’re surrounded by lights and have me stood there with a huge camera and lens pointing at them. Also getting a “reaction” by saying daft things or asking strange questions creates unexpected expressions – though you have to be fast to catch them on camera.

 

 

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We picked 4 distinct “locations” to keep things moving and add a bit of variety. One didn’t really work due to sunlight… the other 3 all delivered some great images.

As ever, the best shots came towards the end of the shoot – by the Mansion House. As you progress, you work out what “works” and the kind of thing your sitter likes, so your “hit rate” rises dramatically. This is why I usually suggest a 2-hour shoot – often the first hour is all about getting into the zone, the second is where the great shots come from. Everyone is different though – you get those who are amazing to begin with, which is an unusual bonus.
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Raise the Flag for Britain

We’ve been supporting One Britain One Nation (OBON) for a while now, a campaign started by former police inspector Kash Singh, to bring people from ALL communities together in celebration of being British.

This event at the Aagrar Midpoint centre at Thornbury saw giants of the local restaurant business unite behind Kash by the ceremonial raising of the OBON flag. This is the start of a busy month culminating a series of events on August 11th where churches, mosques and temples throughout the UK will join restaurants and businesses in flying the flag.

We went along to get a few shots and meet everyone.

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Business Profile Shoot with Gayle Partridge

Gayle is director of Boroughbridge’s IRYS Ltd, providing a wide range of services including training, coaching and mystery shopping.

When we were planning the shoot, we quickly discounted the typical “corporate office style” shots  in favour of using Leeds’ Victoria Quarter – a place Gayle knows VERY well and is very at home in!

Along with being a cool location, showing shops and boutiques is also appropriate for her mystery shopping business – it’s all about telling a story.

We then popped into the luxury office complex, Broadgate, on the Headrow, to get a few more formal “meeting” style shots; lucky we had Emilio along to pose as a client.

Here are a few of the shots, you can see the huge variety you can create by walking 100 meters in a city!

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Business Profile Shoot with Claire Turner

Had a great shoot with Claire Turner, who’s tax partner at WGN accountants in Leeds.

As anyone will who knows her will tell you, Claire’s the polar opposite of the stereotypical tax accountant – but her current photos were not really getting this message across.

So we decided to make the most of the area around York Road in Leeds to create a mix of fun, creative, friendly, and the odd “very serious” looking shot too.

Here’s a few shots from the day – had a great time.

If you need your tax sorting this year, drop Claire a line at claire.turner@wgn.co.uk

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