In need of general Portrait techniques

Started Dec 17, 2012 | Discussions
Pasmia
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In need of general Portrait techniques
Dec 17, 2012

I have a makeshift studio at home and not really trying to upgrade just quite yet.  I have been able to get some nice portraits with what I have but I am far from being consistent.  This leads me to believe that I still have quite a bit more to learn and grow with what I already have.

I think what I'm lacking right now is knowledge of how to pose people as well as how to use light correctly.  So far I've used Rembrandt lighting quite a bit, simply because it was easy to find 'how to' articles.

So what I'm asking is what books should I be looking for that'll cover general poses and lighting diagrams?  I search the internet quite a bit, but only find bits and pieces here and there.  I need something that has it all in one place.

My latest shoot was with my preteen niece.  It's kind of hard to find a decent pose for her because she's too old to be posed as a child (innocent/with toys/playful) and too young to pose an adult (glamour/sexy).  I'm sure she would want some glamour type pictures, but I'm just not sure how to go about it with her age.  She's also very self-conscious about her teeth (they're rather big) so I try my best to stick to 'serious' poses or with just a slight grin.

I am open to any suggestions. Thanks in advance.

vander
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Re: In need of general Portrait techniques
In reply to Pasmia, Dec 18, 2012

I'm not sure if this might help you and it certainly isn't going to be found in one place, at least I don't know of anything, but if you use an iphone there is a good app called "posing app" that has quite a few poses you might find helpful.

I personally scour 500px and Flickr, also magazines have tons of different types of poses you can find.

Of course there are a ton of different ways one can poses someone, if you look around the most successful poses are the ones being used most often, time and time again.

What changes though is the lighting, the props and the location. Since you have a family member willing to pose for you, experiment as much as you can.

Sign up for Model Mayhem as well. Maybe you could benefit with finding a couple of models willing to do Time For Print (TFP) who have previous experience and take note how they pose.

Just a few ideas, hope that helps a little.

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Sailor Blue
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Re: In need of general Portrait techniques
In reply to Pasmia, Dec 18, 2012

You didn't tell us what equipment you have, which would have made a reply easier but basically what you need to do is start with one or two lights and learn how to use them with one pose. Once you learn how to see the light with one pose so that it is easy to move the lights to keep the same lighting as the subject moves then you add a second pose, then a third, etc.

Here are some general articles to help you build your library.

Portrait Lighting - Names for different portrait lighting set-ups in photography

Benji's Studio Lighting and Posing Tutorial

Benji - The Rules Of Good Portraiture in PDF Format for Printing

Benji - PS Technique For Checking Exposure (Portraits)

Benji - Photographing The Big Beautiful Teen

Ed Shapiro - The fabulous fill light...an article

Ed Shapiro - Facial Analysis in Fine Portraiture- Corrective Techniques

Ed Shapiro - Background Usages and Manaement

How to Handle HANDS

Thomas Park - The One-Light Studio: Digital Photography Review

Posing Guide 1.pdf

Posing Guide 2.pdf

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Pasmia
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Re: In need of general Portrait techniques
In reply to vander, Dec 18, 2012

vander wrote:

I'm not sure if this might help you and it certainly isn't going to be found in one place, at least I don't know of anything, but if you use an iphone there is a good app called "posing app" that has quite a few poses you might find helpful.

I always feel funny paying for apps... I did download a couple of free ones though, thanks for the heads up.

I personally scour 500px and Flickr, also magazines have tons of different types of poses you can find.

I love 500px!  Good idea!

Of course there are a ton of different ways one can poses someone, if you look around the most successful poses are the ones being used most often, time and time again.

What changes though is the lighting, the props and the location. Since you have a family member willing to pose for you, experiment as much as you can.

Sign up for Model Mayhem as well. Maybe you could benefit with finding a couple of models willing to do Time For Print (TFP) who have previous experience and take note how they pose.

Just a few ideas, hope that helps a little.

Thanks!

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Pasmia
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Re: In need of general Portrait techniques
In reply to Sailor Blue, Dec 18, 2012

Sailor Blue wrote:

You didn't tell us what equipment you have, which would have made a reply easier but basically what you need to do is start with one or two lights and learn how to use them with one pose. Once you learn how to see the light with one pose so that it is easy to move the lights to keep the same lighting as the subject moves then you add a second pose, then a third, etc.

Funny, I just read the same thing in a article i just found. Thanks!

BTW I'm shooting with a Lumix G3 with the 25/1.4 and 45/1.8 for portraits.  For lighting, I have a Cowboy studio kit with 3 CFL softboxes (2 on stands, 1 on a boom).  I also have an old Minolta flash that I use with a wireless trigger (so I don't blow up my camera!) as well as a small Metz flash that  I use quite a bit.

I usually find myself shooting wide open with the CFLs because they're so dim.  I use the Minolta flash to light the background, but sometimes I use it as my only light source mixed with a 5in1 reflector.  The Metz with an off camera flash chord provides for creative options as well.

Here are some general articles to help you build your library.

Portrait Lighting - Names for different portrait lighting set-ups in photography

Benji's Studio Lighting and Posing Tutorial

Benji - The Rules Of Good Portraiture in PDF Format for Printing

Benji - PS Technique For Checking Exposure (Portraits)

Benji - Photographing The Big Beautiful Teen

Ed Shapiro - The fabulous fill light...an article

Ed Shapiro - Facial Analysis in Fine Portraiture- Corrective Techniques

Ed Shapiro - Background Usages and Manaement

How to Handle HANDS

Thomas Park - The One-Light Studio: Digital Photography Review

Posing Guide 1.pdf

Posing Guide 2.pdf

Thanks a lot for taking time to post this list, I will definitely check them out!

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Lawrence Keeney
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Re: In need of general Portrait techniques
In reply to Pasmia, Dec 18, 2012

I just did a search on pre-teen girl portrait and came up with a lot of stock photo websites. Here is one of them: http://www.superstock.com/stock-photography/preteen+girls|portrait

I'm not saying these are the best poses for young girls, but you may find some you like that you could emulate. You may want to do the same search I did to see more of this type of image.

Note: Just a caution. Be careful how you word the search. I had the search worded a little differently at first, and it brought up a lot of sites that were apparently porn websites.

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nelsonal
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Re: In need of general Portrait techniques
In reply to Pasmia, Dec 18, 2012

You might want to look at the stars of the media she likes especially their photos from earlier in their careers (because I'm old, the only one that enters my mind is Taylor Swift) would probalby give you some ideas.  An off the wall idea might be to find some old hollywood promotional shots and try out butterfly/paramount lighting (smiles weren't always common in those styles as well).  Finally, she's young enough to have probably excellent skin, so could also try a single beauty dish above the camera (and perhaps a reflector below) probably enhanced with a lens that has a little uncorrected spherical abberation.

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Quantum Help
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Nix the pre-teen portrait site.
In reply to nelsonal, Dec 18, 2012

They are not traditional portraits but stock action shots.

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Sailor Blue
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Re: In need of general Portrait techniques
In reply to Pasmia, Dec 19, 2012

Pasmia wrote:

Funny, I just read the same thing in a article i just found. Thanks!

BTW I'm shooting with a Lumix G3 with the 25/1.4 and 45/1.8 for portraits. For lighting, I have a Cowboy studio kit with 3 CFL softboxes (2 on stands, 1 on a boom). I also have an old Minolta flash that I use with a wireless trigger (so I don't blow up my camera!) as well as a small Metz flash that I use quite a bit.

I usually find myself shooting wide open with the CFLs because they're so dim. I use the Minolta flash to light the background, but sometimes I use it as my only light source mixed with a 5in1 reflector. The Metz with an off camera flash chord provides for creative options as well.


As you have discovered, continuous lighting isn't very useful for animate subjects - they move too often so you get blurry images.  If you want to move up to studio strobes please read my equipment guide.  I wasted money on buying cheap low quality studio strobes the first time so I wrote the guide to help others avoid my expensive mistake.

Sailorblue - Digital Photography Review - Equipment Guide for Setting up a Small Home Portrait/Glamor Studio

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