Photo Shoot Notes
Model: Posing (Physical)
Model: Posing (Phychological)
- Photography is capturing something interesting in the moment...
- Photography is capturing a moment in history that will never happen again...
- Just because the photography studio claims to be professional doesn't necessarily mean they know what they are doing (or someone could be having a bad day). A true professional will be obsessed with the smallest of details and will give a lot of guidance. For the model, don't take this as nit-picking but as tuning the picture to optimum. This should cause the model to relax and fall into the groove of things.
- Average photographic ratios: 1 picture out of 100 will be exceptional. A dozen will be excellent. Another dozen or so will be good/decent. The rest will be from tolarable/mediocre to bad. This is just how it all works and doesn't necessarily reflect negatively on the photographer or model/subject. For a good picture to truly be good, a lot of things have to come together in absolute perfection (an insane amount of details). The day can be a good one or an entirely bad one.
- What is that extra spark that takes a good picture to excellent and outstanding? Why can a supermodel have a mediocre picture and an amater have a spectacular one? There are many little subtle and unconscious things coming together to make it. The level of detail in the picture can go to an insane level. It is generally way too hard to define in absolute terms.
- With a good picture, you will want to look at it more than once. It will stand out among other pictures.
- When taking multiple shots of an event, it needs to be done in some way that it can tell a story once put into an album. Otherwise, the pictures just become a bunch of shots that may or may not be interesting.
- Most of the photographic "rules" are more general guide lines. They can be broken for a specific or desired effect. This takes more skill and planning to pull off. The rules should not be broken for general shots.
- Computer monitors are landscape mode and should be accounted for. Large picture frames are often portrait mode.
- Subject/model needs to be "tuned" for best angles and lines. Basic poses are not enough. What works for one may not for another.
- Appropriate music in the background can help the model stay in the correct psychological mood. Inappropriate music will break it. If the model is nervous, a slow mix and a few minutes recovery can help quite a bit.
- Distractions. Other people, watchers, friends, pets, phones, certain objects, and even the photo crew can be a distraction and break the model's psychological concentration. Likewise, these can also break the photographer's concentration.
- The room needs to be warm enough to not give goose bumps on the skin.
- Pictures must have a certain balance in them. Something too big will look awkward (proportion).
- Models: Hair, wardrobe, makeup, shoes, and background envirnoment all need to have a certain balance.
- Pictures will have a certain symmetry and combinations of geometric lines, curves, and triangles. If these are "off" then the picture won't look right. The right lines with the wrong orientation will look "off".
- Framing using local objects can be used to draw focus to the subject. These objects should not be so complex and distracting as to take away from the subject.
- Something overly complex may look good close up, but may turn into a splotchy blob far away or in low image resolution (carpet patterns, complex logos, vegetation).
- Shooting through obstacles or vegetation (framing) can create an interesting shot, but these are difficult to pull off and tend to look more sloppy.
- A run down location for a classy shoot doesn't make good pictures.
- Lake/beach/river shots should have the water sapphire blue or emerald green. Toilet brown is not pretty.
- Shooting water at a close to parallel angle will have a high amount of reflection. This is good if the bottom needs to be hidden.
- Watch head room and horizontal positioning.
- Watch lead room and don't make the subject feel cramped (unless that is the desired effect).
- Rule of Thirds (guideline). Divide the picture into thirds both horizontally and vertically for 9 equal squares. The major subject elements should be placed along these lines or intersections for visual interest.
- Exact bisections of the picture should be avoided (bad rule of halves?). Keep the main subject off center.
- Rule of Odds (guideline). Framing the object of interest with an even number of surrounding objects on its sides. This creates a feeling of comfort in humans (a form of balance?). This also allows the desired subject to be near the center of the picture. An even number of objects can produce symmetry and may appear unnatural.
- Rule of Space (guideline). Implies movement by leaving dead space. Adding space behind a runner to imply movement.
- Close shots with narrow depth of field can give a very wide impression on the picture. Watch out for fish-eyeing, though.
- A close up of an object makes that object seem more dramatic than if far away. Be careful to not make the object seem larger than life (unless desired effect).
- Regular sheets and blankets don't always make good back drops. Watch for wrinkling and folds. They are often too thin. They are often frayed with holes. They often need a lot of attention during the shoot.
- Low angles show submission and make the subject look tall. High angles make the subject look submissive and shorter.
- Watch what the eye is drawn to after the picture has been taken. This may or may not be the desired object/subect of the picture.
- Lake and ocean shots need to be very careful about keeping the water level in the frame. This can be true even for purposed diagonals.
- Keep the horizon line from being equally half. Show more sky for sunsire or sunsets. Show more ground for landscapes.
- Mirrors can ofter 2 shots for one at twice the complexity. Watch for background reflection trash.
- Close in with wide angle will make close objects look much bigger than normal (exaggeration). This can be good for desired effect but bad if undesired. Watch out for fish-eyeing, though.
- Watch for background clutter. Seemingly less will look like more once on film. A barren background may look really clean once in the picture. Narrow depth of field can also be used to put the background clutter out of focus. Small, high contrast background elements can have just as much impact as large dull ones.
- Black and white images can take a dirty/gaudy background and turn it into a nice grayscale pattern.
- Watch for background tree branches and flowers coming out of people's heads.
- The model should not be facing out of the image unless composition directly calls for it. Portrays uninterest in the model (maybe arrogance).
- Wide angle (with minimal fish eye) and long focal length give the picture a very deep sense of depth. Telephoto with narrow depth of field will give a very flat picture.
- Be warey of up the nose shots from low angles.
- Slower shutter speed with a moving object will give a motion blur and the impression of movement. A high shutter speed with the same object may appear to stop it and may look unnatural. Ultra high shutter speeds and sports usually isn't a very good idea (stop motion unnatural, can also look like a fixed pose instead of actual action).
- Alternative portrait: Try shooting at odd angles or through something.
- Alternative portrait: Have the subject looking out of frame and reacting to something funny, interesting, sad, or scary. Create a story element with this. Maybe do multiples of these back to back. Looking at something or someone in frame can also help create a story element.
- Alternative portrait: Use a prop or something for the person to interact with or hide behind.
- Alternative portrait: A full face shot is not mandatory. A partial face shot can be just as engaging.
- Alternative portrait: The background doesn't have to be static and boring.
- Alternative portrait: Using 85-100mm lens allows for the camera to be far enough away for the person to be comfortable, but not too distant.
- Close your eyes. Imagine the scene. What makes it so special? What draws the attention? What generates the emotion? Capture it. Consider the characteristics of the subject, foreground, and background.
- Timing anticipation. Watch the action and anticipate what's next.
- Other meanings can be created by leaving details out.
- When taking pictures of groups of people, turn off the flash. It is less intrusive and will give more natural results from the people.
- When taking pictures of people at night, use a flash diffuser (tissue paper over it) or a bounce card so that the light is not so harsh and unnatural looking.
- For movement shots (like dancing), pan with the subject to keep them in sharp focus but smearing the background. This will give a sense of movement. Increasing the shutter open time and adding a flash can exaggerate this more.
- If shooting a full length portrait, try positioning the camera at waist height for a more flattering angle.
- For a head and shoulders portrait, have the camera level just at or above eye level.
- When framing portraits, don't cut people off at the joints.
- Picture depth can be exagerated by having a narrow depth of field and something in front that's out of focus and the background out of focus. This can also minimize the clutter of a background.
- When shooting an event, sometimes the event itself isn't the most interesting but the people reacting to the event.
- When shooting people, be careful with framing. It can make them look closer or further away than they actually are.
- Travel: It is the relationship between people and the background object that makes the picture interesting. Observe the quirks and it becomes more interesting.
- Engage the people. When shooting someone, always keep talking. Acknowledges that you're there.
- Focal points. The eye will always be drawn to a particular point or along a line in a picture. The focal point will need to be framed accordingly.
- Landscapes. Shoot at different times of day to compare the different lighting.
- Landscapes. Direct and bright sunlight can wash out colors. Cloudy and dimmer lighting can bring colors out better.
- Landscapes. If the contrast is too high, use a multiple exposure bracket and combine them after.
- Landscapes. Neutral density filters (some graduated from top to bottom) can help bring down sky over exposure. These kinda act like sunglasses for the camera.
- Action. Anticipate where the shot will be and move to that location. Reacting to action during/after it happens usually doesn't work very well.
- todo: Read "Composition_(visual_arts)" in wikipedia and assimilate relevance.
Same for Tamron site.
- Watch light/dark balance and white balance.
- Higher shutter speeds need more light and create grainier pictures.
- Watch for background lighting being higher than foreground.
- Brunettes on a black background is bad for hair. Same for blondes on white.
- Watch for photographer/equipment reflection off of glossy objects.
- Watch for camera return flash off of bright objects.
- Watch for flash shadows on nearby walls and objects. Multiple chained flash shadows are even worse. Move the subject further from the wall to help reduce these. A back light can also help reduce these.
- Watch for sunlight and shadows when outdoors. (tree and leaf shadows on faces)
- Watch shadows, especially when using multiple lights. If a subject has multiple shadows when there is only one light source shown in the picture, it will look abnormal.
- Watch for red-eye when using an inline flash.
- Harsh lighting can create variations and shadows to accentuate muscle tone. It can also be somewhat unfavorable for the subject. Soft lighting can help hide wringles and such. Harsh lighting can also bring out certain parts of the body that are undesired for that composition (perkies). Too soft of lighting (or too much from a flash) can make a face look flat and 2 dimensional.
- Watch for over/under exposure when shooting daylight near windows.
- An overly bright window can be used for silhouettes.
- Sparkly clothing and objects can reflect back into the camera lens and cause spots and unnatural looking light spots on skin.
- A flash can be used in fill mode if ambient lighting is just under insufficient. A bounce flash is usually appropriate here.
- It's all about the angles, curves, and shapes. This is far more complicated than it sounds.
- Most poses will look and feel unnatural but will look natural in the picture. (smashing 4-D space into 2-D)
- Posing is lots of slow and repetitive movements and lots of holding still uncomfortably. Some is repetetive action to help catch the essence of movement. This usually looks more natural than a stopped movement (moving hair and clothing).
- Not every model is cut out for every kind of genre. Putting a debutant in a fight ring rarely works. Same for a goth girl as a fairy princess. Pick your best styles and run with them.
- Females have a certain set of lines and curves and males have another. The same rules will not work for both. Femininity and masculinity forms will only be brought out with the proper lines, curves, angles, and shapes.
- Standing there bored with a hand out is not posing.
- Over exaggerated poses will produce weird looking pictures.
- 99% of the time: shoulders and back arched forward (shows confidence).
- 99% of the time: feet together. Sometimes one in front of the other or angled (forms of curve shaping).
- For a general standing photograph, lean slightly back with the weight on the back foot and one hip slightly forward.
- Standing legs sometimes in bipod stance, but almost always together. One behind the other accentuates curves. Standing legs crossed too far looks unnatural.
- The camera will add 10-20 pounds no matter what you do.
- Avoid squatting stances that look like potty stances. These are difficult to pull off and often do not work.
- Tilting the head too much in a pose looks unnatural.
- Making funny or aggressive faces at the time of the picture will look very abnormal and not as intended when that picture gets printed (4-D space to 2-D).
- Standing flat on feet doesn't shape the legs very well.
- Posing with props can sometimes backfire. Make sure the prop should be there in terms of background content.
- Lean slightly forward for the look of confidence. Leaning slightly back shows insecurity.
- Front torso straight on to the camera looks unnatural. Even a slight angle makes a big difference.
- If bare feet are in the shot, toes pointed in line with rest of leg.
- Twisted spines (usually in the horizontal plane) look abnormal.
- Just because a shot is "slutty" doesn't make it pretty. These are often some of the worst.
- No sticking your nose up at the camera. It looks very snobbish.
- Posing is all about body language. Since time gets frozen, the camera can be very vicious with this subject. Confident body language needs to come across.
- Look into the camera and own it. Make it take good pictures without exception.
- Try to stay "in the moment" for the type of desired expression. Getting "out of the moment" may still produce a technically good picture, but it will still look contrived (missing micro facial expressions). This borderlines on acting. Keep focused and stay in the situation.
- Any uncertainty or uncomfort will show through on body language and facial expressions.
- An extroverted personality can make up for lack of posing, but it can only go so far. Combine an extroverted personality with proper posing and the picture can become very vibrant.
- If the model is nervous/uncomfortable, a slow mix on the stereo and a few minutes recovery time can make quite a bit of difference. Doing this before the shoot can also calm nerves and relax.
- Models showing too much skin may try to pose well, but this is often shown by uncomfortable body language producing mediocre pictures.
- Lack of "connection" or trust with the photographer will produce mediocre pictures. Dislike of the photographer/crew will produce worse pictures.
- Much of the emotional aspect forced for the shot will be lost once it is converted to a picture. (but over acting can still be bad)
- The Brain. The subconscious will play a big role in how the model looks in the end photo. If the model isn't into it but still posing good, the photo will never be on the excellent level. Try using visualization and such to get into model's head for the right attitude for the location/type for a given shoot. Example: Hyper is bad for a sad or sultry look, don't wind up the model for that but relax first.
- If things start going bad, remember to close your eyes and go to your "happy place" for a moment. Most of these fears are just irrational nerves. Taking a moment and stepping out of the situation to realize this can make a big difference. Also remember this list. If the photographer has difficulties, you can still come through very nicely (it's hard to screw up if you follow the list).
- Dirty feet are not pretty.
- Shave/wax hair off under arms. Tends to show up easily on camera. Repeat for other areas as needed. Men often have "5 O'Clock shadow" problems.
- Too much makeup will make the face look like a racoon and/or plastic. The skin has a natural translucence.
- The camera cannot smell but others nearby may be able to and make funny faces. (as in, take a shower and wear deoderant)
- The camera will flatten your hair no matter what you do. Add a little extra fluff (but don't go overboard).
- Wear something that adequately complements the background color scheme. (no shiny electric blue out in the forest)
- Hair, wardrobe, makeup, shoes, and background envirnoment all need to have a certain balance.
- Some apparel may look great in the real world but awful on film (and vice versa). There's no real way of knowing what will work without some test shots. What works for one model may not for another.
- If the model is unconfortable with the clothing (like too tight or too much skin showing), that will show up and produce mediocre pictures.
- Watch lines and curves caused by apparel. Many good models are trashed by mediocre clothing. Some of these lines and curves may look good in real life but not so much in the picture.
- When posing with loose clothing, adjust the lines and curves by pulling on it. Flapping and inflated cloth in the wind makes the model look fat and flabby.
- Watch out for under garmet lines caused by overly tight outer garmets or semi-shear garmets.
- Watch out for under garmets when doing dress/skirt shoots. Thicker is safer.
- Watch out for garmets that show outlines of the human anatomy that are undesired for that composition.
- Watch out for some garmets that become partially transparent to the camera.
- The camera tends to catch things not initially noticed. Wear appropriately thick and colored undergarmets.
- Super high heel stilettoes don't have good leg curves, force the leg into an unnatural position, bend the toes at right angles, and bend the top of the foot outward. This is not pretty. High heels should accentuate, not deform.
- Cut tags off clothing. These are distracting and tacky. These will sometimes show through clothing in the picture even if tucked in.
- Layers of clothing gives something to play with.
- A long and somewhat sheer long scarf/sash thing can be used to hide skin folds (esp around the abdomen, avoid skin folds if possible). If used correctly, it can also create some nice lines, curves, and spirals. Longer ones can be wrapped from head to toe.
- Overly bright apparel can be a distraction from the rest of the picture.
- Wearing more (correctly) can be more sexy than wearing less. Showing lots of skin doesn't necessarily make a shot sexy by default.
- Black colors reduce apparent size, light tend to emphasize.
- Red's and yellow's tend to draw attention towards them.
- Bright and dark alternating patterns tend to draw the eye to them.
- Folded fat over tight clothing does not look good.
- Horizontal stripes make a person look fat/wider. Vertical stripes make a person look slimmer/taller.
- Sparkly clothing can reflect light directly back into the camera lens and cause bright spots.
- Sparkly clothing can reflect light onto face and skin and make it look like there are abnormal spots.