Why did we forget how to take good portraits?
/forum/topic/1161222/0

1
       2       3       4       end

DmitriM
Registered: May 19, 2005
Total Posts: 1978
Country: Canada

Lately I've been noticing family photos on my clients' walls from their grand parents and beyond.
They all are posed very well and look very good.

Then you look at the stuff most photographers produce now... All modern photos usually have peole standing in 1 line. I have to ask myself, why do we take such horrible photographs? Even 1920s photographers were taking better family portraits?

Yes, because it's easy to get in, most of us just bought a camera and started shooting photos,inspired by images from neighbors. Why not advance yourself? Why not take a few hours(It's all you actually need) and learn the art of posing and lighting.

Example







I can see how most photographers will not want to involve themselves in this convo...but I still hope to hear from perhaps a few.


TRReichman
Registered: Jan 22, 2009
Total Posts: 3001
Country: United States

While the "epic portrait" or off-camera lighting seems to be the thing photographers are chasing these days we've been perfecting our formals work over the last 2 years. We're getting hired for how we shoot formals these days. It can clearly be different for everyone, but we find that clients and families still care about this and in an era where many wedding photographers act like formals are beneath them or an affront to their creativity there is a real need in the market for good formal work.

- trr



D. Diggler
Registered: Dec 27, 2011
Total Posts: 5640
Country: United States

TRReichman wrote:
we've been perfecting our formals work over the last 2 years


What has helped you to improve?



Ryan Britton
Registered: May 04, 2006
Total Posts: 1997
Country: United States

We do and have always done family formals, but like anything on the wedding day it is tough to get overly creative when the couple springs on you more family member combinations than will realistically fit in the time provided. We do try and try to get all of this information up front so we can give them a realistic expectation of what can be done in the timeframe provided, but there are always some who try to fit 20 different groupings in a ten-minute span with random people wandering off in every direction.

That said, I am probably not going to place adults on the ground like in the sample photo above. It's a wedding, they wore relatively nice clothing, and most of our weddings are at outdoor venues. They don't need to get dirty. This doesn't leave many posing options beyond the standard line, but we try to do even that the best we can. We thoroughly light everyone so eyes look like eyes and not black pits from the shadow of the brow. A large number of our online print orders are family formals.



TRReichman
Registered: Jan 22, 2009
Total Posts: 3001
Country: United States

Well, we put an enormous effort into preparation so that we know exactly what setups need to be taken and who each person is by name. Then we've established a system so those people have the proper communication to be where they need to be on time. We've significantly eliminated the "cat wrangling" aspect of formals. From there we've gotten the posing down to a science using depth, levels and posing to knock out great looking group shots quickly and efficiently. Basically, extensive planning, understanding what the brain/eye finds interesting, and learning how to arrange bodies to look their best.

I'll also mention that many people place their formals for the background and we've started picking the location for the light and simplifying/minimizing the background has been a huge help. That and just being able to know the best place to take the images (a combination of light, furniture, accessibility) helps a bunch.

I'm working on some way to teach this stuff, so if anyone has suggestions let me know.

- trr



amonline
Registered: Jul 16, 2006
Total Posts: 6840
Country: United States

Portraits today are usually shot to include a lot more than just the people in the image. Additionally, we have a lot more focal lengths and speeds to work with that allow us to creatively achieve the results our clients want. Personally, I would never want to deliver such an image as the above to a client. It's flat, uninteresting and boring in my opinion. Well, maybe I'd deliver that if I was shooting the high school debate club.

Edit: iPad auto-correct sucks donkey.



coreymatthew
Registered: Jul 21, 2009
Total Posts: 111
Country: United States

People still shoot portraits that way... if they are doing team pictures at the high school.



alohadave
Registered: Jul 26, 2005
Total Posts: 843
Country: United States

DmitriM wrote:
Lately I've been noticing family photos on my clients' walls from their grand parents and beyond.
They all are posed very well and look very good.


Example







I can see how most photographers will not want to involve themselves in this convo...but I still hope to hear from perhaps a few.


Do you do portraits this way? If not, why not?


deeno
Registered: Aug 04, 2009
Total Posts: 268
Country: United States

I can't tell which one's the bride....



DmitriM
Registered: May 19, 2005
Total Posts: 1978
Country: Canada

alohadave wrote:
DmitriM wrote:
Lately I've been noticing family photos on my clients' walls from their grand parents and beyond.
They all are posed very well and look very good.


Example







I can see how most photographers will not want to involve themselves in this convo...but I still hope to hear from perhaps a few.


Do you do portraits this way? If not, why not?

I do, unless clients don't want it.
Here's an example of what I try to do.








Here's an image I took yesterday at my client's place. All pictures were taken by typical local photographers.
You can see how beautiful the first photo is from 1922










DmitriM
Registered: May 19, 2005
Total Posts: 1978
Country: Canada

deeno wrote:
I can't tell which one's the bride....

Bride can be any of them....that's the thing!



DmitriM
Registered: May 19, 2005
Total Posts: 1978
Country: Canada

Ryan Britton wrote:
We do and have always done family formals, but like anything on the wedding day it is tough to get overly creative when the couple springs on you more family member combinations than will realistically fit in the time provided. We do try and try to get all of this information up front so we can give them a realistic expectation of what can be done in the timeframe provided, but there are always some who try to fit 20 different groupings in a ten-minute span with random people wandering off in every direction.

That said, I am probably not going to place adults on the ground like in the sample photo above. It's a wedding, they wore relatively nice clothing, and most of our weddings are at outdoor venues. They don't need to get dirty. This doesn't leave many posing options beyond the standard line, but we try to do even that the best we can. We thoroughly light everyone so eyes look like eyes and not black pits from the shadow of the brow. A large number of our online print orders are family formals.


You'd be surprised how willing people are when they trust it's needed for a good photo. When I started doing it, I was surprised how many "yah, no problem" I was getting. Yes, not everyone will want to do that, but a lot of folks will still be happy to be sitting on chairs or doing SOMETHING OTHER THAN STANDING IN LINE.



cordellwillis
Registered: Aug 24, 2004
Total Posts: 5080
Country: United States

For weddings time is limited and valuable. For a portrait shoot we spend more time posing.

I never really have a problem with sitting people on the floor. There are those who will not and those who will. When you have people who cooperate and are willing to sit on the floor we will have them do that and have the other (complainer) stand.



joelconner
Registered: Jan 23, 2009
Total Posts: 3774
Country: United States

I am one of the people that suck at this...but desperately want to improve it.



louloulou
Registered: Aug 01, 2008
Total Posts: 1133
Country: Australia

If I can find a chair or two to create some depth I will, but like last Saturday, it can be like herding cats and suddenly we're running late. Anyway, I'll do what I can in the time frame I'm given.



mjoshi
Registered: Apr 17, 2005
Total Posts: 1034
Country: United States

DmitriM wrote:
Lately I've been noticing family photos on my clients' walls from their grand parents and beyond.
They all are posed very well and look very good.

Then you look at the stuff most photographers produce now... All modern photos usually have peole standing in 1 line. I have to ask myself, why do we take such horrible photographs? Even 1920s photographers were taking better family portraits?

Yes, because it's easy to get in, most of us just bought a camera and started shooting photos,inspired by images from neighbors. Why not advance yourself? Why not take a few hours(It's all you actually need) and learn the art of posing and lighting.

Example







I can see how most photographers will not want to involve themselves in this convo...but I still hope to hear from perhaps a few.


Interesting thread thanks for bringing up - I'm still work in progress so wont comment on others work but here is one I did from my last wedding - just the "women power" and bride and her family loved it especially as it reflects 4 generations in one frame.





.

Is it perfect ? Nope, I think this could still be improved. But one important aspect is bride loved this one for the meaning it conveys for herself and her family. Was this planned shot, nope it wasnt planned. It was more of improvisation upon what was available at that moment.





Marcus Watts
Registered: Oct 05, 2007
Total Posts: 3087
Country: United States

Clients started asking for no posed images. What they meant was they did not want a line up, or a poorly posed image.

Photographers took this literally and moved toward a more pj style which seemed to fit the request.

But here is the pinch. By moving to what they thought the clients wanted they never developed the skills to pose. Now because there are always some posed group shots in most weddings these unskilled shooters do what? they do a line up thinking that by not being too controlled the shot is more unposed.

Therefore giving clients the very thing they didn't want.



D. Diggler
Registered: Dec 27, 2011
Total Posts: 5640
Country: United States

mjoshi wrote:







That's nice, mjoshi!


DmitriM
Registered: May 19, 2005
Total Posts: 1978
Country: Canada

D. Diggler wrote:
mjoshi wrote:







That's nice, mjoshi!

+1. It's simple yet great. If it was from my wedding, I would've been happy


katiedis
Registered: Jan 01, 2006
Total Posts: 1015
Country: United States

I am going to venture a guess that WEDDINGS themselves were quite different in the 1920s. Less activities to compete with portrait time. More time to set up a studio light and take the portraits (or travel to a studio to get the portrait done). Far fewer people in attendance, far fewer family members present. Hemlines were longer (women could sit). Chairs were beautiful and plentiful.

Today's weddings are so packed with activities and transportation and timing and schedule, that very little time can be allocated to a true "portrait" session for family photos. My clients prefer that the photos are a minimal time impact on the overall day. Finding chairs and props is time consuming. Crowd control is difficult now that weddings have over 200 guests milling about in the background of many areas during portraits. Lots has changed since the 1920s.

It's photos about a day...not a day about photos. With rare exception, weddings themselves are different enough from the 1920s that those style of heavily posed photos are unrealistic for the vast majority of my clients. And, I see little value in them myself in a wedding context. However, as a portrait session separately...absolutely.



1
       2       3       4       end