The Genesis Connection
A Newsletter for Through the Lens Photography Club
November 2013 Edition
This Month's Meeting: November 12th at 7:00 PM Gateway Church of the Nazarene
Tis the Season for Learning
Photographer of the Month
Shari originally joined Through The Lens Photography Club at its inception, but unexpected circumstances took her away from us for a while. I'm glad that she is back with us now though! She takes her camera with her to all the events that keep her young family busy. I love seeing the photos she takes of the birds in her backyard, of her son at his scouting events, and her family at picnics and reunions. She has a great eye for the original and isn't afraid to try new things to capture that perfect photo. Why, she has even steeled herself away on a cold day in a ground blind just to shoot that elusive bird at a feeder. Be sure to check out her work on her Flickr page.
Ideas to Inspire You
Lens Lessons: Photography Tips & Tricks
Portrait Photography # 1
In last month's newsletter, I introduced you to Jeanne Clark and mentioned that she prefers to shoot portraits in lieu of landscapes or other forms of photography. In that article, I mentioned that I am constantly challenging her to step out of her comfort zone and try her hand at other types of photography. Well, the same challenge applies to me as well. Since I started out shooting landscapes, it has become my challenge to do more with portraits. And you know what? It is working! I'm finding great joy in shooting portraits AND I'm learning more and more about being creative with my photography. As a result of stretching myself, I've uncovered the desire to do more that just shoot beautiful pictures and am now looking toward expanding my photography from being just a hobby into a business that will hopefully yield some additional income. So, why am I telling you this? Because I want to learn as much as you do, I've chosen to do a series of articles over portrait photography. It is my hope that you will gain from these articles, too. Allow me to share an article I found on the Light Stalking website that lists five mistakes to avoid when shooting portraits.
"5 Deadly Mistakes to Avoid When Shooting Portraits" by Tiffany Meuller
Portrait photography is one of the most popular varieties of photography in part because it allows the photographer to be diverse, creative, and tell a story. Keeping that in mind, portrait photography can also go wrong rather quickly. By keeping the tips you’ll find below in mind, you can help bring your portraiture to the next level.
- Busy Backgrounds and Distracting Elements: This one really seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at how often photographers forget to pay attention to the background when taking a photo. The idea of a portrait, as we all know, is to showcase the subject. How is the viewers eye supposed to stay focused on the subject when there is something distracting them and pulling their interest elsewhere? Pay attention to everything that is going on in the frame, making sure there are no distracting elements within it. This happens most often when shooting outdoors, but studio photographers are also guilty. When choosing a backdrop cloth, try to avoid ones that have a bold print or pattern. They might have been stylish in the past, but this is one trend we should be happy to see end. In this case, less is more! A couple quick ways to fix this would be to adjust the depth of field so the distractions blur away naturally, or simply move in close to your subject and fill the frame with them, eliminating the background altogether.
- Misplaced Focus: It’s almost an unspoken rule that the focus of a portrait should be on a subjects eyes. If you don’t have sharp eyes, you don’t have a portrait. Now, I’m all about bending the rule every once of while, but this is one I like to adhere to pretty religiously, especially when using a shallow depth of field. As humans, we can tell a lot about a person just by looking at their eyes which is why the eyes are always our focal point when we are engaging with another person. While we can’t exactly converse with a portrait, the photo should not inhibit our natural gravitation to focus on the eye. It should also be noted that if only one of the eyes can be in focus, it should always be the eye that is closest to the camera.
- Posing Techniques: Most of us don’t really know how to pose in front of a camera and the experience can be very intimidating and uncomfortable. As a photographer, it’s up to you to make your subject feel at ease in front of the camera and ensure they are standing–or sitting–in a manner which lends itself to a natural and attractive look. Without them looking too rigid, ask them to stretch their body upwards and maintain good posture for the shots. Look for their good angles and shoot from a direction that flatters their features. Pay attention to where they are placing their hands and feet. Make suggestions rather than using a bossy tone of voice to help keep them at ease. Even when shooting candid shots, when you don’t particularly have control of the subjects body, you should still be looking for moments and angles that best show off your subject.
- Using The Wrong Lens: The majority of the time you will probably want to avoid shooting with a wide angle lens because it will distort the subjects features in unflattering ways. For example, with a 20mm lens, the face will be stretched out and your subject’s face will start to appear to be alien like. Alternatively, too long of a focal length will also create odd looking distortions. It’s best to stick within the 70-135mm range, my personal preference being a solid 85mm prime. That being said, there is a time and place for lens lengths outside that range, but if you are just getting started in portrait photography, you could consider it a safe zone.
- Using The Same Old Stuff: It’s easy to find something that works and run with it, but in an increasingly competitive photography world you really have to make sure you don’t become stagnant. Mix up your style occasionally and try new techniques. The top portrait and headshot photographers got to the top by breaking free from the norm and inventing new styles. Additionally, since your customer base will inevitably be so different as a portrait photographer, it’s important your portfolio reflects a bit of diversity so there is something that will appeal to all different types of people.
Hopefully these tips will help you avoid some common portrait photography mistakes. Of course, this is just a condensed list of problems.
For this month's Go-To-Source, I took a little different route. Most of us have heard of National Geographic and many of us have probably looked at their website, but how many of us have thought of National Geographic as a Go-To-Source for photography tips? I know I never thought of their site in that way. But that is silly of me. Who better to give tips than those who shoot for one of the icons in photographic excellence? The National Geographic website has a wealth of information and tips for photographers, and even includes a section with video tips. Even if you don't read any of the tip articles, this site is packed full of some of the most phenomenal photos ever taken.