Wednesday, August 29, 2012


We had another successful meeting last Monday. Thank you to all those who came. Below is a copy of our notes and illustrations for those who want to refresh and for those who couldn't attend. Looking forward to seeing you all at the next meeting on the 10 Sept.

 Your Challenge is to send us three photos of people/children. One close up, one whole or part of the body and one free choice. Try to get the photo to tell something about the person. (The challenge is not compulsory)

Tips for Photographing People Especially Children

When I hear the term Portrait Photography it conjures up the image of a head and shoulders, however Portrait Photography is more than that. It can be of the whole person set in their environment to make the photo tell a story, which is what we should be aiming for in most of our photos.  On the other hand it can be a photo of parts of the body like hands or you can fill the whole frame with the face or part of it. So I prefer to call it Photographing People rather than Portrait Photography.
using a flash: It is best to turn off your flash to create ambiance. Flash creates harsh, flat lighting.  When indoors you can turn on lights or use natural lighting. You can set your camera for different light by using the white balance settings: sun, cloud, tungsten, fluorescent, flash, or automatic.
If your subject is backlit it can create a nice portrait with highlights in the hair. 
Photo from DPS (Digital Photo School)

However the face may be too dark so use a flash but try to diffuse the flash or bounce it off a wall or a ceiling. Some cameras have a flash setting for keeping the subject and background evenly lit. Check yours.
When using a flash, do not have the subject too close to a wall or else you will get harsh shadows. In fact it always better to move the subject away from the background.

natural light: When indoors use light from an open window or door. Side lighting is more flattering than front on. Don’t have the subject too close to the lighting source.

When outside it is best to use early morning or late afternoon light. This will give soft shadows and create a 3D effect of the subject. 
Never ask people to look into the sun they will only squint. Learn to read the light. Where is it coming from, are the shadows hard edged or soft edged? A bright day gives hard shadows. A dull day gives no shadows and a flat photo. An overcast day gives soft shadows and definition to the face. The sky acts as a diffuser. When there is a harsh light move the subject into the shade or diffuse the light. You can buy a diffuser or use a plastic bag or shower curtain. You can get rid of harsh shadows by bouncing the light off a reflector. You can buy one or use aluminium foil over a board, a car sun reflector or a white foam board.
camera shake: If you turn off the flash or you are in low light your camera will automatically increase the aperture. If you are using semi manual settings then use F4 to F5.6. This will let more light in and give a short depth of field, which will make the background soft and blurry. However in low light, when the aperture is wide open, the shutter speed slows down too so it is very easy to get camera shake and a blurry photo. 
To avoid camera shake, steady your elbows on a table, a fence etc. If the shutter speed goes below 1/60 sec you need to use a tripod. Increasing the ISO will increase the camera’s sensitivity to light but it will also give your picture more grain, which can be used as a special effect or corrected with post processing.
grain or noise
composition: There is a temptation with portraits to place them in the middle but you will get a more dynamic shot if you don’t. A portrait doesn’t always need to be head and shoulders it can be the whole body. 
Photo from Currys
The whole person placed in their environment tells a story about that person. e.g. on holidays, in the garden, shed, den, kitchen, sports field, park, playroom.

Photo David Pickvance
 For something different, fill the whole frame with the face from the eyes to the mouth. Shoot hands or feet.
Photo from DPS
Try to take candid shots. To put people at ease mingle with your camera around your neck they will get used to you and relax. With children interact with them, play with them, and build up a bond with them. “Let’s throw up the leaves,” “Lets play with the blocks.” etc. Be yourself and relax, kids are perceptive. Sell your personality. Treat them with respect. Give them space; use a zoom lens at first.
Let them play
Talk to them and SNAP many times and you will get one good one.
Some kids like an audience and others are painfully shy. Work out what the child prefers.  Use familiar surroundings like where they usually play. Give them something to do: use paint and paper, balloons, bubble machine, dress up clothes, go to the park, or play with a pet. If they remain shy and introverted capture them hiding behind mum. Parents can be in the shot reacting with the child. Take chidren when they fall.
Photo Bernie Curry
Let them have a comfort object. They don’t always have to be smiling or laughing, take them serious, curious, grumpy, silly or sad.

This will lead to more natural expressions. Use continuous or burst setting and you are sure to get some good shots.

more tips:
Eyes: The eyes are the most important feature to highlight. The focus point must cover the eyes; they must be in sharp focus and lit well. (Use post processing to sharpen eyes and soften skin.) Try to capture catchlights. Get the subject to look straight down the lens. This connects the subject with those viewing and it is very important to engage the viewer to the photo. Sometimes break the rules and place the subject in the middle.
If a child is engrossed in playing you can call him/her and capture them when they are looking at you.  

On the other hand the subject can look out of the shot, pointing, laughing or surprised this creates interest out of the shot

Or the subject can look at something or someone within the shot.

Photo from DPS
When taking a profile, which is not completely side on the nose should not stick out beyond the cheek. Also remember to give the person active space to look into.

Get down to a child’s level; level with the eyes otherwise they will look like they have big heads. Hover at their level and take loads of shots. With babies lay on the floor with them or set the camera on the table with them. Look directly into their big, beautiful eyes engage them with the viewer.
Photo from DPS

Change perspective, even get lower and look up 
Photo from DPS
Stand over them and look down be careful not to get your feet in the shot, or hold the camera at an angle. 
Photo Carol-Ann Pickvance
Use both landscape and.......                                                                                          portrait views.

Vary the distance you are away from the subject. Step back a long way and it accentuates their smallness. 
Photo Bernie Curry
Change the focal length; use both wide angle and zoom. With Point and Shoot cameras use macro and no zoom. A wide angle can distort the foreground for an interesting effect.
Photo from DPS
Experiment with expressions. With children play the expression game. Call out a word and they have to show you: happy, sad, surprised, shocked, and smelly. Or “What is your favourite thing to eat?” “What is your least favourite food?” Get them to shout.
Photo from DPS
Experiment with lighting. Get patterns of shadows across the face or only one side of the face lit.
Photo from Currys
Give the subject a prop, like blowing bubbles with soap or bubble gum. Give them a football, hockey stick, doll, car. Get them to wear a cap or a scarf covering part of their face. It is better for subjects to wear plain, dark clothing unless they are very dark or white.

Focus on one part of the body like hands........                                                or feet.

Frame the subject looking out of a window, 
or through a fence or an overhanging tree, or through Dad’s legs or through people.
Photo from DPS

Show Movement: Get the subject to move (jump, run, swing, cycle) and use a fast shutter speed to freeze the action

 or slow the shutter speed to blur the action.
Photo from DPS
Pan the camera to blur the background to show movement. 
Photo from DPS
Get the subject in focus standing still but others are moving around.
Photo from DPS
Be careful when using a fast shutter speed inside it will trigger the flash or it will be underexposed so bump up the ISO if you don’t use the flash.
Use reflections: A child’s expression can change when they think you are not looking. Capture their reflection in a tap, mirror, pond, or window.
Unfocused shots: Focus on an element in front or behind the subject, like a bubble or a flower. This makes the subject look dreamy.
photo from DPS
Backgrounds: Keep it simple and uncluttered and with natural light. 
Photo  Pru Upton
Use a plain wall or fence but don’t have the subject too close to the background. If you can’t get a plain background get the subject out in the open and give yourself room to zoom and blur the background. Use macro setting or a large aperture to get a narrow depth of field. Try different coloured and textured backgrounds.
photo  Pru Upton
Break the rules of composition: Put the subject dead centre or right on the edge with part of the face missing. 
photo from DPS
Shoot over the subject’s shoulder to show what they are doing like playing a game, drawing, using an iPad or watching a grader.
In the words of photographer Natalie Norton, “We don’t want to impose limitations on creativity. Take what you have learned here and modify it in a way that fits within the realm of your unique style. There is no wrong way. The right way is what you choose.”
Now Get Started
Use candid shots and get natural expressions when the subject has his/her interest elsewhere. Cut the “cheese” and camera face. 
This is my camera face
Go for authenticity. Let kids do their own thing. Shooting people how they really are makes photography editorial or photo journalistic. These images will tell a story or show emotion.
For formal family group shots try copying the old fashioned way of sitting grandparents in the middle in front and others standing around. Us a self-timer so that everyone is in the shot and a remote control to avoid fixed smiles.

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