Tips on Shooting People

As some of you will know over the last year I have been shooting a lot of models. Now I do not claim to be an expert in this regard, and we have members with way more experience than I have, but I thought I would share some tips that I have gathered both from reading articles as well as practical experience that I hope you will find useful. While the tips are specific to shooting people, many of them apply to other subjects.

Get to know your subject

It pays to plan to spend at least the first 10-15 minutes of a session not actually taking any photos. During this time you actually talk to the subject about either what they want from the shoot or what you want from the shoot (or both).

If you are shoot full or half body shots of women (and they are the client), it is important to ask them what parts of their body they like and what they do not like. Now this will be very subjective and quite often the person will come up with things that you cannot see (or necessarily agree with).

The reason that this step is important is that if you present someone with an image that has an area they do not like prominently displayed, the odds are that they will not like the image (unless you are an incredible good photographer). People are also much more comfortable having their image taken when they believe you will be emphasising their good points.

Have a close look at your subject

Again you do this without the camera because the second you pick that up you are likely to miss things and you should do this each time you significantly change a pose.

Now if you are a married man you will know that your wife probably doesn’t like you staring at beautiful young women who may or may not be wearing many clothes. However in name of art this has to be done.

Basically you are not actually looking at the subject but rather the individual elements that will eventually form part of the image. You are looking for two different types of issues

  1. Body Shape
    Supposedly the ideal of beauty is that the body has perfect symmetry running in a vertical line across the nose. The reality is that few people have this and one side of their body will be a slightly different shape to the other. The old adage that a person has a “best side” is actually true in fact.

    For example noses very rarely run straight but often curve towards one side of the face. If you shoot the nose with the curve running towards then you end up with a nose looking larger that the same shot with the face turned the other way.

    If you examine the images below you will see what I mean. Bruce through Karate and Rugby has broken his nose several times so that it angles off to one side. Notice how the nose appears larger from one direction than the other.

  2. Wardrobe issues

    By this I means the likes of labels, tags, hanger strings, bra straps hanging, and loose threads. Before taking the shot you should also ensuring that clothing that should not be in shot is not.

    While you can fix a lot of these issues in Photoshop, if you can eliminate these issues at the time of the shoot you will save so much time. Obviously there are times when you simply can’t avoid an issue but at least you are pre warned that you will need to fix in post.

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