Taking Portraits

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by davewheeler1@ntlworld.com, Aug 16, 2005.

  1. Guest

    I have the task of taking semi-formal portraits of key managers in my
    company to be included in a 'gallery' of key personnel in our company
    magazine. I'm not a photographer! What is the best way to go about it?
    We have a meeting room that I can set up as a temporary photographer's
    studio, but what's the best way to illuminate the subject, what are
    'reflectors' and how are they used? As a backdrop, could I simply use a
    sheet?
    , Aug 16, 2005
    #1
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  2. BJ in Texas Guest

    wrote:
    || I have the task of taking semi-formal portraits of key
    || managers in my company to be included in a 'gallery' of key
    || personnel in our company magazine. I'm not a photographer!
    || What is the best way to go about it? We have a meeting room
    || that I can set up as a temporary photographer's studio, but
    || what's the best way to illuminate the subject, what are
    || 'reflectors' and how are they used? As a backdrop, could I
    || simply use a sheet?

    Hire a pro.

    --
    --
    "If you push something hard enough, it will fall over." --
    Fudd's first law of opposition
    BJ in Texas, Aug 16, 2005
    #2
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  3. Brian Baird Guest

    In article <5tlMe.1187$>,
    says...
    > wrote:
    > || I have the task of taking semi-formal portraits of key
    > || managers in my company to be included in a 'gallery' of key
    > || personnel in our company magazine. I'm not a photographer!
    > || What is the best way to go about it? We have a meeting room
    > || that I can set up as a temporary photographer's studio, but
    > || what's the best way to illuminate the subject, what are
    > || 'reflectors' and how are they used? As a backdrop, could I
    > || simply use a sheet?
    >
    > Hire a pro.


    Or rope someone's photography-student kid into doing it for a project.
    --
    http://www.pbase.com/bcbaird
    Brian Baird, Aug 16, 2005
    #3
  4. Guest

    >I have the task of taking semi-formal portraits of key managers in my
    >company to be included in a 'gallery' of key personnel in our company
    >magazine. I'm not a photographer! What is the best way to go about it?
    >We have a meeting room that I can set up as a temporary photographer's
    >studio, but what's the best way to illuminate the subject, what are
    >'reflectors' and how are they used? As a backdrop, could I simply use a
    >sheet?


    I'm not expert by a long shot, but I purchased two tripod mounted 500W
    halogen lamps with soft boxes (do a search on eBay: JTL 500 Watt).
    They've made a world of difference in my photos. I put them slightly
    above the subject, and off to the sides about 45 degrees). They
    provide really nice shadowless lighting, without any weird specular
    "hot spots" or glare. I might buy a third, just for overhead lighting,
    or to illuminate my backdrop better.

    You can try using a sheet...but you don't want the result to look like
    "hey, is that a sheet?" An alternative would be to get the subject in
    focus, but leave the background blurry.

    -Chris
    , Aug 16, 2005
    #4
  5. Mark² Guest

    <> wrote in message
    news:...
    >I have the task of taking semi-formal portraits of key managers in my
    > company to be included in a 'gallery' of key personnel in our company
    > magazine. I'm not a photographer! What is the best way to go about it?
    > We have a meeting room that I can set up as a temporary photographer's
    > studio, but what's the best way to illuminate the subject, what are
    > 'reflectors' and how are they used? As a backdrop, could I simply use a
    > sheet?


    First suggestion:
    Strongly insist that your boss hire a photographer!!
    This is NOT the time to dink around.
    Your company will make their impression based on these photos, and it's
    worth your company's money to do it right--even if not using the most expert
    of pros.

    Failing that...
    Here are some general suggestions:

    DON'T use a sheet. -At least not a white one, and not close behind them.
    You don't mention what sort of camera you have. Suggestions will hinge on
    this.

    In general:
    Better off positioning them well away from the background, so that it falls
    into blur, and you avoid harsh shadows. Find some indoor plants, or some
    other nicely toned backdrop that is large enough to create a non-distracting
    context of tone/tones. The typicall novice lines people up against a wall,
    think that is somehow beneficial. It isn't.

    If they are simple single-person portraits, don't have them stand facing
    you.
    Stand them with their body angled slightly away toward one side, looking
    toward you.

    If your camera has a zoom, zoom it to about 80-100mm (35mm camera
    equivalent).
    If you're shooting with a little digital camera (assuming it's not a long
    zoom lens model), zoom it about 3/4 of the way out to tele, but don't let it
    use "digital zoom" if it has that capability (see your manual).

    Reflectors only help if you have strong light to reflect (sunlight or flash
    that's not already directed at your subject). If you're outside in later
    afternoon, you could use a reflector to bounce warm sunlight up from the low
    side of them to fill in the shadows on their faces cast by the sun.

    Whatever you do, do NOT go out under mid-day sunlight.
    Their wriknkes wil show badly, their eyes will be squinting and in shadow,
    and the lighting will be harsh and overly contrasty. Better early morning,
    or later afternoon if outside (as state above).

    If the only flash you have is the itty bitty one on a point-and-shoot
    camera, go outside, or use a very brightly lit room...or a bright window to
    stand near.

    Set the right white balance on your camera for the lighting conditions.
    If you're not familiar with this, and don't have a manual...find it and
    read.
    If all else fails, set it to auto...but you should be able to find white
    balance settings easily by going through the camera's menu.

    If you're
    Mark², Aug 16, 2005
    #5
  6. Mark² Guest

    "Mark²" <mjmorgan(lowest even number here)@cox..net> wrote in message
    news:tElMe.2429$ct5.1002@fed1read04...
    >
    > <> wrote in message
    > news:...
    >>I have the task of taking semi-formal portraits of key managers in my
    >> company to be included in a 'gallery' of key personnel in our company
    >> magazine. I'm not a photographer! What is the best way to go about it?
    >> We have a meeting room that I can set up as a temporary photographer's
    >> studio, but what's the best way to illuminate the subject, what are
    >> 'reflectors' and how are they used? As a backdrop, could I simply use a
    >> sheet?

    >
    > First suggestion:
    > Strongly insist that your boss hire a photographer!!
    > This is NOT the time to dink around.
    > Your company will make their impression based on these photos, and it's
    > worth your company's money to do it right--even if not using the most
    > expert of pros.
    >
    > Failing that...
    > Here are some general suggestions:
    >
    > DON'T use a sheet. -At least not a white one, and not close behind them.
    > You don't mention what sort of camera you have. Suggestions will hinge on
    > this.
    >
    > In general:
    > Better off positioning them well away from the background, so that it
    > falls into blur, and you avoid harsh shadows. Find some indoor plants, or
    > some other nicely toned backdrop that is large enough to create a
    > non-distracting context of tone/tones. The typicall novice lines people
    > up against a wall, think that is somehow beneficial. It isn't.
    >
    > If they are simple single-person portraits, don't have them stand facing
    > you.
    > Stand them with their body angled slightly away toward one side, looking
    > toward you.
    >
    > If your camera has a zoom, zoom it to about 80-100mm (35mm camera
    > equivalent).
    > If you're shooting with a little digital camera (assuming it's not a long
    > zoom lens model), zoom it about 3/4 of the way out to tele, but don't let
    > it use "digital zoom" if it has that capability (see your manual).
    >
    > Reflectors only help if you have strong light to reflect (sunlight or
    > flash that's not already directed at your subject). If you're outside in
    > later afternoon, you could use a reflector to bounce warm sunlight up from
    > the low side of them to fill in the shadows on their faces cast by the
    > sun.
    >
    > Whatever you do, do NOT go out under mid-day sunlight.
    > Their wriknkes wil show badly, their eyes will be squinting and in shadow,
    > and the lighting will be harsh and overly contrasty. Better early
    > morning, or later afternoon if outside (as state above).
    >
    > If the only flash you have is the itty bitty one on a point-and-shoot
    > camera, go outside, or use a very brightly lit room...or a bright window
    > to stand near.
    >
    > Set the right white balance on your camera for the lighting conditions.
    > If you're not familiar with this, and don't have a manual...find it and
    > read.
    > If all else fails, set it to auto...but you should be able to find white
    > balance settings easily by going through the camera's menu.
    >
    > If you're


    Oops.
    If you're using room lighting, still use the flash. This will give you
    decent fill-flash, and a catchlight in the eyes.

    With all of the above... Practice several times with a volunteer several
    days before the shoot, and then check them at home...figure out what worked
    and what didn't. This is key. Otherwise, you just go for it and end up
    irritating people when you need to re-do the whole thing the next day.

    But again...
    **Hire a photog!!**
    :)
    Mark², Aug 16, 2005
    #6
  7. wrote:
    >I have the task of taking semi-formal portraits of key managers in my
    > company to be included in a 'gallery' of key personnel in our company
    > magazine. I'm not a photographer! What is the best way to go about it?
    > We have a meeting room that I can set up as a temporary photographer's
    > studio, but what's the best way to illuminate the subject, what are
    > 'reflectors' and how are they used? As a backdrop, could I simply use
    > a sheet?


    Bad idea. Portraits require knowledge of lighting, posing, lighting,
    people skills, lighting, exposure, lighting, posing, lighting etc.

    In short it not something that is learned without a lot of experience
    with many things, not the least of which is lighting. The professionals
    make it look easy because they have done it many many times. You are likely
    to end up looking like a fool trying to do it. I would run from this idea
    as fast as possible.


    --
    Joseph Meehan

    Dia duit
    Joseph Meehan, Aug 16, 2005
    #7
  8. Mark² Guest

    "Joseph Meehan" <> wrote in message
    news:yOlMe.90214$...
    > wrote:
    >>I have the task of taking semi-formal portraits of key managers in my
    >> company to be included in a 'gallery' of key personnel in our company
    >> magazine. I'm not a photographer! What is the best way to go about it?
    >> We have a meeting room that I can set up as a temporary photographer's
    >> studio, but what's the best way to illuminate the subject, what are
    >> 'reflectors' and how are they used? As a backdrop, could I simply use
    >> a sheet?


    <snip>

    >I would run from this idea as fast as possible.


    Good advice.
    :)
    Mark², Aug 16, 2005
    #8
  9. In article <>,
    <> wrote:

    > I'm not expert by a long shot, but I purchased two tripod mounted 500W
    > halogen lamps with soft boxes (do a search on eBay: JTL 500 Watt).
    > They've made a world of difference in my photos. I put them slightly
    > above the subject, and off to the sides about 45 degrees). They
    > provide really nice shadowless lighting, without any weird specular
    > "hot spots" or glare. I might buy a third, just for overhead lighting,
    > or to illuminate my backdrop better.


    I worked in the studio for many years using Soffboxes. They're even
    more wonderful when you learn how to control them.
    Randall Ainsworth, Aug 16, 2005
    #9
  10. Guest

    Mark² (lowest even number here) wrote:

    > >I would run from this idea as fast as possible.


    Thanks one and all for these swift responses. Although I have time to
    practise with a volunteer, I'm really leaning towards the "Hire a
    photographer" advice!! I was hoping to do it on the cheap but you're
    right, I don't want to balls it up and look a fool!
    , Aug 16, 2005
    #10
  11. Proteus Guest

    wrote:

    >
    > Mark² (lowest even number here) wrote:
    >
    >> >I would run from this idea as fast as possible.

    >
    > Thanks one and all for these swift responses. Although I have time to
    > practise with a volunteer, I'm really leaning towards the "Hire a
    > photographer" advice!! I was hoping to do it on the cheap but you're
    > right, I don't want to balls it up and look a fool!



    Good decision. I do lots of portrait and artistic nude and fashion
    photography of models, I can tell you I really messed it up when first
    learning, although now my stuff is quite nice IMHO
    http://onemodelplace.com/photographer_list.cfm?P_ID=116296
    You really do not want your first portrait photo attempts to be done on your
    superiors-- make them look bad and that might affect you in ways you do not
    want.
    Proteus, Aug 16, 2005
    #11
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