Wednesday, July 22, 2009

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16 inspiration portrait photography technique

I’m learning that portrait photography can be tough in more than one way thanks to my participation in the December Challenge. I’m already getting bored with taking the standard cookie-cutter portrait, so I started digging around Flickr for some inspiration. Here’s what I turned up:

And yes, I realize that the accompanying text is much shorter than I would usually supply, but the idea of this post isn’t to teach these techniques — it’s to introduce you to them and hopefully give you some inspiration with your own photography. I feel that these photos are strong enough to stand on their own without lengthy descriptions.


If you’re good with post-processing and manipulations, use it to your advantage. Get crazy with the adjustments, try some new Photoshop techniques, and maybe even a composite image.


If texture is a big part of your subject, make it stand out and make it obvious. Match up the textures between your subject and your background. You might even try texturizing the entire photo for additional impact.


Blowing out the highlights or making a high-key image makes a nice soft portrait with kind of a light airy feeling. Another advantage of high-key photos is that the smaller details and defects are blown away, making the image look much smoother.


A dominantly dark or low-key image will naturally draw your eyes to the lighter parts. These tend to have a grittier and harder look to them than the high-key images.


Hair lights up like crazy when it’s back-lit, so if hair is a big part of your subject make it stand out by placing your subject between you and a light source. You could also take this a little further and push the image to a silhouette.


Get crazy with the pose and positioning — extra points if it looks uncomfortable. Not only with the poses, but also with your own positioning — shoot from different angles to achieve different impacts.


Capture the local culture — what’s mundane to you is exotic to us. Culture is everywhere, even in your own town. Just image you’re visiting from a different country — what things would then seem more interesting to you?


Make use of different surfaces to add that extra dimension — windows, mirrors, and water are all very good reflective surfaces that give a different result and texture.


Make the shadow an important part of the image. Sometimes the shadow can even be more prominent than the actual subject casting the shadow.


There’s no rule against cropping out most of the subject’s face. This draws more attention to the parts that are left in the frame.


Out-of-focus subjects can be more interesting than the in-focus subjects. It kind of adds some mystery to the image because you can’t quite make out who that person is.


Use movement to show action, even if it blurs out the subject entirely. In cases like this, think of the person as a means of creating the subject rather than being the actual subject.


Catch somebody doing something they love, even if it’s not staged. Street photography is one of my favorite genres because it captures life as it happens — unstaged and unposed.


Use vibrant and contrasting colors to draw attention to parts of your subject. This could be makeup, clothing, accessories, or whatever else you can get your hands on.


Not all portraits need to have a smile, capture the serious emotions too. Some of my favorite portraits have no hint of a smile in them, and they’re highly emotional.


Use the props and tools around you to make the setting more interesting. Find things to place your subject in, on, under, around, etc.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Fashion photography

Everywhere we look we see images of beautiful women wearing the latest fashion, dressed from head to toe in the hottest looks from the catwalks of the world. These are the fashion models of today and tomorrow. These slick images surround us, but who creates these lasting impressions of cool? Who takes the time to study the art of capturing style and depth to produce a completely unique look with every image? Who else, but the fashion photographer.

In the fashion world names like David LaChapelle and Jill Greenberg are just as in-demand as the top fashion models that dominate the visual media. Fashion photographers are a subtle brand of celebrity, walking a delicate line between artist and industry professional.

The glamorous lifestyle may be the outsider's perception of fashion photography, but reaching success is a truly testing process. This profession is ruthless, and without the focus of strength to persist, the competition will throw you to the side. With every famous photographer there are thousands of others earning nothing from their trade.

You have to study your subject every day. Read, learn and think about everything you encounter. Everything you experience will contribute to how you perceive the world and consequently your art. Read fashion magazines whenever you can and invest in some quality fashion photography books. You can get some off easily. If you're serious about fashion photography then you need to have at least one professional-grade camera, some basic lighting equipment and a tripod. Look into the different types of camera as they will affect the photos you take.

Your portfolio is your most important asset when you are establishing yourself in the business. It represents what you can do, so spend time making sure it represents you perfectly. Fashion editors are going to want to see examples of your work before they hire you so spend time on that portfolio. It should have at least 20 photos to give sufficient space to show the different styles you can do. 4x5" format is recommended, but 8x10" will do if you're in a rush. Any publications featuring your work can be part of your portfolio too. Make sure to vary the style in your photographs, capturing figures from different perspectives.

When you apply for a job, you can expect to leave your portfolio there for a few weeks, so make sure you make copies of your portfolio so you don't have to be idle while hearing back from employers. For a different look try taking partial body shots, for instance photographing watches on wrists. They make a great contrast to the rest of your work.

Today it is becoming necessary to upload your work online. Make sure you website has a great look- you are an artist after all and presentation is everything. You can promote you work for free by entering it into online contests. The internet is a great place to network for professionals, so make sure you use it.