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DPChallenge Forums >> Individual Photograph Discussion >> My First Female Senior Photo Shoot - C&C?
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08/17/2004 08:30:55 AM · #1
In April 2004, I had the opportunity to do my first "senior photo shoot" with Ryan. (My brother-in-law mentioned to a guy at his work that I was "into photography", and that is how that whole thing came about.) On Sunday August 15, 2004, I had an opportunity to do my first female "senior photo" shoot with 17-year-old Gina. (Which came about as a result of the mom from the first photo shoot showing around the senior pictures of Ryan at her work.) I went through all the photos last night and picked out about 80 shots. They've basically just been resized - no NeatImage, no sharpening, etc. other than the shots with the black/white background, where I had do some cleanup to get them nice and solid.

I'm fairly happy with the results, although I got lax with taking readings with my light meter, and as she moved around and went in to different poses, she got too close to my key light (which was to camera-right) and there is blowout in many of the shots. (Will this be a big issue for Gina and her mom? We'll find out after they see the proofs...) The lighting was definitely the hardest thing to have to deal with, especially with a dynamic subject who wasn't afraid to move around and "strike a pose".

Anyway, here is one shot from Sunday's shoot:
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[outdated link to proofs removed] I'd appreciate any comments or critiques on things I could do to improve things next time. I told her that I'd welcome the opportunity to do another shoot... and since there were a couple "looks" that we didn't have time to try (she wanted to try a few with wet hair, for example), I'm hoping her and her mom will come back for another session. (If you want to reference any specific image, there is a 5-digit frame ID under each photo).

Thanks a bunch!

P.S. I shot the entire session with the 70-200/2.8L IS. We started off doing some tight head-shots, and I didn't want to be too "in her face". We got going, and I never thought about changing to something like the 24-70. There's just so much to think about!

Message edited by author 2005-05-24 23:42:49.
08/17/2004 08:34:53 AM · #2
Looks like excellent work, Eddy. I only had a brief look through the gallery, but I bet the models and families will be very pleased with the shots.
08/17/2004 08:41:50 AM · #3
Great shots! How on earth did she manage to keep that smile so long? My mouth would be acheing and ready to fall off my the end of that shoot! Hehe :)

The five I like the best are:

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Definately a very attractive model, and excellent photos :)

Message edited by langdon - img.
08/17/2004 08:50:11 AM · #4
that's definately some nice work - although some of the sport themed shots see a bit cheesy ( the baseball shirt being the least )- unless she is planning to be a catalogue model in the future.

curious who's idea that was - yours or hers.

the photos themselves are good - just the theme seems weird to me.

keep it up.
08/17/2004 09:01:01 AM · #5
Very nice. Even made a Lions' jersey look good - something professional athletes and millions of dollars have failed to do for decades....

Only negative comment is that the the catchlights in her eyes seem very big in many of the shots (like big softboxes).
08/17/2004 09:05:10 AM · #6
Abolutely outstanding Eddy. The clarity is phenomenal and it's not even the Mark II, it is obvious that it is your skill.

The strongest images were these to me:

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I was thinking about what you said about some of the shots being blown out. Although I agree it did take away from some images, it actually seemed to be effective on at least one image:
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It makes Gina seem to glow. Even though her shirt is a little blown out, I think it worked.

Well once again, absolutely outstanding. It would be great if you could explain your lighting process/studio set-up as I am looking to get into studio photography but don't know a thing about it.

Wonderful. Thanks for Sharing,

Message edited by langdon - thumbs.
08/17/2004 09:14:51 AM · #7
Great work Eddy.

With your title, I was sure I was going to be looking at old lady pictures... imagine my pleasant surprise :)
08/17/2004 09:26:23 AM · #8
What a beautiful young woman... she certainly seems at home in front of a camera! Great work. I'm sure the girl and the family will be most pleased with the results. Wow! ;o)
08/17/2004 09:27:45 AM · #9
Those were very nice! All ya have to do is throw in some outdoor, or location shots, and you'll have them lining up! train tracks, urban themes, tree swings, they all work well!
08/17/2004 09:36:19 AM · #10
Wow .. those look so professional, like you scanned them out of a magazine. The model (who is absolutely stunning ... she wont have a problem get asked out to the senior prom)seem to be having a lot of fun. All the poses look so natural .. and you've done a great job capturing them.

I hope that if I ever get good enough to do a photo shoot it comes out like yours.

There are too many I like to list.

08/17/2004 10:18:32 AM · #11
Absolutely Stunning shots Eddy. I couldn't find a single one I didn't like. I was watching for blow outs, but it's not as bad as I expected from your post. I would be proud to show these to the model/family. They should be tremendously pleased, I would be :-)

I would also be curious about your studio set up...

Thanks for sharing the photos.
08/17/2004 01:20:42 PM · #12
all: Thanks for the feedback so far! I hope maybe KevinRiggs will stumble across this topic and provide some "constructive criticism". =]

soup: The sports jersey's were her idea; I told her to bring along a bunch of outfits, whatever she wanted. (I found out she is a big fan of Joey Harrington of the Lions and Tayshaun Prince of the Pistons.) She does have asperations of becoming a model. She's only 5'2", but I hope somebody gives her a chance because she definitely seems to have what it takes. (Not that I have any experience, but working with her was so easy, she definitely seemed like a "natural".)

patents4u: The catchlights are indeed from a large soft box that was 3 or 4 feet from Gina. The closer the light source is, the softer the light and the more it "wraps around" the subject. Maybe I should look through some magazines and see if this type of catchlight is considered a "no-no". Anybody else have any thoughts on the catchlights?

parrothead: I did mention that it would be great to do a "location shoot" outdoors somewhere. I'd love to gain some experience in that area, and working with somebody who enjoys being in front of the camera, all the better.

In terms of my studio lighting... it is all quite recent, and I have only just started down the long road of learning how to use the equipment. About two months ago, I decided to take the money that I had made this year doing some on-the-side graphic design work and make the leap into studio lighting. So I ordered four White Lightning strobes (the big brother to the oft-recommended Alien Bees) and their wireless kit (which allows you to control all aspects of the strobes from a hand-held remote). I already had a couple backdrops and a backdrop stand that I bought off eBay (which I previously used with my 550EX's and some Photek SoftLighter umbrellas). I bought a boom stand (for the "hair light") and a generic "large softbox" (also off eBay). I haven't had a lot of time to "practice", but it is definitely something I need to do a lot more of. The problem is finding somebody willing to sit there while I "experiment" and see the effect of dinking with the lighting! I've bought and read a couple books, but actually doing it is the only way for me personally to really "learn".

Thanks again for looking and commenting!
08/17/2004 01:35:52 PM · #13
First of all. WOW!!!! You didn't take one bad shot - the lighting is incredible.

Second, for a senior photo, I would choose 10, 11 or 15. The main reason is that she seems to be herself and not modeling. Also, I don't think showing a bare midriff is appropriate for a senior portrait. This is something that gets sent to aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc. and the more modest, the better. The rest of the shots are great for her modeling portfolio. She is great. Finally, I love the photo with the two dogs. :)

08/17/2004 02:04:11 PM · #14
This girl has been given a phenomenal gift with your photographic treatment of her. 05330 is something I would expect to see in a department store ad. She should buy every print possible and create a portfolio to take to modeling agencies. Fantastic work. You humble me.
08/17/2004 02:12:04 PM · #15
Originally posted by EddyG:

The problem is finding somebody willing to sit there while I "experiment" and see the effect of dinking with the lighting! I've bought and read a couple books, but actually doing it is the only way for me personally to really "learn".

Thanks again for looking and commenting!

Very nice Eddy. Of course it helps to have such an attractive and eager model.

Sometimes it helps to "map" out the lighting with the flashmeter when you're getting set up so that you know where in space the exposure changes. There were only a couple of shots where I thought the exposure looked too blown out anyway.

You might try getting a mannequin for use as a test subject. Inanimate objects are notorious for being patient as you dink around with lighting setups. While they don't respond well to verbal commands, they are easy to pose and will hold a pose as long as you like.

It also helps to start with just a one light setup and add the different lights as you go while you're learning this stuff. Just a suggestion for how to approach learing this stuff. Though it seems you jumped right in the deep end and didn't sink.

08/18/2004 11:17:06 PM · #16

The first set of comments is on the way. Hope its helpful. I've been kinda busy lately and, as funny as this sounds, when you're busy chasing down bugs and coding all day it really can take it out of you mentally. Hopefully things will get back closer to normal over the next week.
I'll be doing some commenting from time-to-time on these by group and just e-mail that to. Perhaps if you find any of the comments helpful I'll package them up and post 'em here and others can pick and choose what they think would be useful.

Ooops. Sorry. I forgot to say:



Message edited by author 2004-08-18 23:17:55.
08/19/2004 05:20:03 PM · #17
I just got done reading Kevin's email (for the second time!) that he sent to me discussing the first few groups of shots from this session.

All I can say is that I hope he does decide to package up his comments and post them here (and embeds a thumbnail to the photographs he is talking about in each paragraph) because there is a lot to be learned from this man! Wow. I don't think I could possibly remember a small fraction of all the things I need to seemingly be aware of during a photo shoot! Kevin pointed out a wide variety of things that I did not notice, some seemingly obvious (such as distracting "folds" in the clothing) to things I might have never noticed (dilated pupils from dim modeling lights). I'll probably re-read his email 3 or 4 more times while studying the photos he references to try and understand all the little nuances that he refers to.

So yes, Kevin, I definitely found your comments extremely helpful, and I thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule. I hope that you'll continue providing your valuable insight on some of the other groups of shots, not only to me personally in email, but also packaging them up here for posting here in the forum for the potential benefit of other folks who might be interested.

Thanks again!
08/19/2004 05:45:44 PM · #18
I just wanted to encourage Kevin to post his comments!
It is amazing how many details you need to worry about once you get past the basics of focus, exposure, and composition. I know that twisted clothing got me on my first, and only, senior photo session.
08/19/2004 06:09:50 PM · #19
i don't think the catchlights are an issue personally. if you look through books or magazines you will see that they come in all shapes and sizes, in some of the pics you can even see more than one light source. they add depth to the eye and artistry to the shot as far as i am concerned. i look at a lot of fashion photographs and i didn't even notice them until it was brought up. i feel like i would have been more inclined to think something odd if they were missing, to be honest.
08/19/2004 06:51:07 PM · #20
Originally posted by laurielblack:

What a beautiful young woman... she certainly seems at home in front of a camera! Great work. I'm sure the girl and the family will be most pleased with the results. Wow! ;o)

i agree.
It's cool when someone has already said exactly what you want to say.
And it helps a LOT when they seem to be at home/relaxed in front of the camera
Great Photos
08/24/2004 01:59:26 PM · #21
Originally posted by EddyG:

I just got done reading Kevin's email (for the second time!) that he sent to me discussing the first few groups of shots from this session.

All I can say is that I hope he does decide to package up his comments and post them here (and embeds a thumbnail to the photographs he is talking about in each paragraph) because there is a lot to be learned from this man! Wow. I don't think I could possibly remember a small fraction of all the things I need to seemingly be aware of during a photo shoot! Kevin pointed out a wide variety of things that I did not notice, some seemingly obvious (such as distracting "folds" in the clothing) to things I might have never noticed (dilated pupils from dim modeling lights). I'll probably re-read his email 3 or 4 more times while studying the photos he references to try and understand all the little nuances that he refers to.

So yes, Kevin, I definitely found your comments extremely helpful, and I thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule. I hope that you'll continue providing your valuable insight on some of the other groups of shots, not only to me personally in email, but also packaging them up here for posting here in the forum for the potential benefit of other folks who might be interested.

Thanks again!

Maybe you could package them up for us all, Eddy ?
08/24/2004 04:56:08 PM · #22
Originally posted by Gordon:

Maybe you could package them up for us all, Eddy ?

I'd be happy to do it if Kevin is too busy. I would've done it straight away, but Kev said he was probably going to do it, and I didn't want to step on his toes...
08/24/2004 05:55:59 PM · #23
I do have some more to add. I'll try to get it together tonight with some thumbnails for readability and post it.

08/24/2004 07:28:51 PM · #24
I think you did a fantastic job Eddy. I bet the young lady has a hard time picking out her favorites. I know I did. I pretty much liked them all. The shots of her standing with the big floppy jersey weren't my favorites, but they were still good photos.

This past weekend my niece's daughter asked me if I would take her senior photos for her. I made sure that she knows that I've never done senior photos for anyone before, but she still wanted me to do it, so I agreed. We plan to do the shoot over the Labor Day weekend.

Yesterday I bought two 9' rolls of seamless paper for background material--one black and one white. Is that what you used for your background? Should I be looking for something else to use?

If it isnít too much trouble, would you share your lighting setup? I have two AlienBees B400 strobes, two 13í boom stands, and two medium Octaboxes. Do you think I can get by with these, or should I consider buying another light or two?

Iíd also love to see Kevinís comments on your photos.

08/24/2004 08:13:22 PM · #25
WARNING: Save yourself! Run! Do not continue to read!

My lawyers have warned me that I must notify any potential readers that they will may alternately be bored, dumbstruck or offended at my comments. Consider yourself warned.


Hey there, CatDaddy! Nice set. You really did a number on these shots. Overall these are top notch. Very high quality work. I'll probably alternate between commenting on batches (due to similarity and for time) and individuals (as some of these really catch just about everything right).

First off, great looking model. She's a lovely young lady with an infectuous smile that invites the viewer to look at her in an unembarrassed way. For someone with a smile that covers a lot of her face (she doesn't just smile with her mouth) she has bright, visible eyes throughout her smile. That's a strong point. IMO her hair really creates a context for her face but I'll discuss that more as I cover one of the sets you got.

1. Everything I say is based on my opinion; please take it as such.
2. I'm basically an idiot who is commenting on what I see.
3. Your work is for you and I wasn't at the shoot so if you're happy with it and you know what it took to get it, then grab a pinch of salt and read on.

The first 5 photos (05217-05221) go together to me due to the angle of approach you took as well as the stance of the model and the tilt of her head. Out of this set I think I like the closeups better. There are a lot of different things you can emphasize in portrait photography and with any given model you might get good full lengths, busts (as in shots the end just below the chest) or head shots. With this particular set I feel most connected to the model and perceive that she is most natural in 05220.
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It is a closeup that frames her face well. Some approaches to closeups can benefit from the effect you shot in 05219 where you crop into the subject's outline but with this subject's facial structure, open smile, coloration and, IMO, forthcoming look I think that you did well giving just a slight border around the frame of her head and hair.
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The lighting in this shot is very good. I like the catchlights although I would like to see them moved just a little to your right so that (A) they didn't cut across the delineation between her iris and pupils so much and (B) so that the "sun-kissed" reflection on her nose and lips didn't seem so straight on. It's a very minor nit but one that you might just want to take a minute next time you have a subject in the studio and just play with moving the light a little off to the side and see how you like it. I'm not sure how many lights you used here but I see some directional light that looks like it came in close to being over your shoulder (catchlight) and some light on top of her hair. The background must have been well-lit or you must have had her a good distance away (I'm assuming) as it's perfectly white with no distractions. I think that on the lighting front you might be able to get a little more light on the model's right cheek with a reflector but again, that's a matter of taste. In post shot production work I think a minor touch of a red spot in the subject's left nostril (photo-right) and a slight lightening of a horizontal line on her neck might be worth the time to just touch out of the shot.

In photo 05228 I like something about this shot.
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Perhaps the angular illusion that the cut of the top gives to the body; perhaps the way that the top's soft texture seems to compliment what looks like smooth, young skin tones. Either way, I think the subject's face is both a little dark (her face is angled downwards and the light seems to be falling from above) and shifted into red tones (could be from any number of reasons. This is a shot I'd like to see you duplicate with the hair pulled over one side (preferably the subject's left shoulder) to offset the angle of the shoulders and provide some horizontal element against which to play the curved white stripe of the top. The texture and lines of the top seem, IMO, to give a semi-innocent, cherubic-sexual tension that I often relate to teens. With that element of the shot (again that could totally be something I bring to the photo) I think that the straight hair hanging over the far shoulder would give enhance a juxtaposition between the hair brushed back innocently over the subject's right shoulder and a more direct style hanging down.
Regardless, I think a little bounced light from below would have lightened up the face and given you a slightly better shot on this one.

The next set 05239 through 05313 are horrible. OK. I'm just jealous. I like them, some more than others but the subject looked like she was more relaxed in a few of these shots. I like that you chose to shoot the model from a slightly different angle of approach. Most people have well delineated "good sides" and not so "good sides". This model appears to have solid looks that are good from either side. I like 05239, 05266, 05285 and 05303 best. 05239 is a solid shot.
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It has some issues with a shadow cast by the subject's nose but overall I like the lighting setup you used here. Just a little fill light (either from a dialed down flash or a reflector) would have knocked that shadow out and really allowed the strength of this shot to show through better. I think you might be able to achieve some fill by simply holding a 3x5 white index card or maybe a 5x7 piece of bright white paper at an angle to try and catch some of the reflected flash on the model's right cheek (photo-left). You would have to be careful though to not get it too close to the model or it would make a major bright area when all you need is to fill in the shadows just a little. This shot gets a lot of light without losing the finer details both in the hair and in the face. That's a nice trick as the amount of light you got can make an image seem open to the viewer; it can be inviting and overshadow other elements (please forgive the pun). The darker side of the face brings that down just a little but it doesn't take away from how well you lit the subject's blonde hair, fair-skinned cheek and mouth/nose (especially with that little bright, wet look on the lips). I don't think the next element is noticible but I do think that if someone looks for it they can see another area where darkness downplays your good frontal lighting: the hair. Starting around the top of the head and following down the subject's right side (photo-left) the details of the hair get lost in the brightly exposed white background. I think this shot where the light is so directional and strong that it creates dark outlines is a good place to try a kicker light. Placing a flash unit or light slightly below the subject almost opposite the main front light and then dialing down that back light can give a glow or halo effect to the subject. It will give a quality that is similar to standing a model between you and the sun and then dialing up your flash unit so that you fill in the face. The environment details will end up being lost while the subject will REALLY be separated from his/her background with the halo or rim lighting. The front lighting (which should be the stronger of the two) will still allow you to capture the details of the subject. In this shot I also like the catchlights in the eyes. I think that's more due to the difference in size between the catchlights in the subject's left eye and the subject's right eye.

I also wonder how you set this shot up. It looks like you shot it almost eye level but that the light you had was at the same level as the camera but perhaps extended down below the camera. I'm saying that because the catchlight looks about even to the camera angle but the shadows from the nose seem to extend slightly upwards. I think this shot might have had a little more "Ummphh" if you'd used the light from above or below and moved the camera opposite the light (light up just a little; camera down or light down like it appears to be and camera up above the subject's eyeline). Just my $0.02 worth like I said. I like the shot. It's a good capture of a lovely subject from a different angle. I bet that if you move that camera and lighting just a hair next time you'll get dramatically different results.

05266 is a great example of what I mentioned before about the frame cutting across the boundaries of the subject.
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Here you've gotten so close in on the subject that it almost seems natural that she's "larger than life" and can't be constrained by the frame. The shallow Depth of Field (DoF) helps to reinforce this idea by being deep enough to capture details in her nose and chin all the way back to her cheek and past her eyes. Her lats in her shoulder begin to lose detail to focus and by the time you get back to the subject's right shoulder and hair you can tell a marked loss of focus. All this contrives to lead the viewer into the subconcious area that you defined with light and DoF; namely, the subject's smile and eyes. This is one of the few times I find it useful to comment on the subject outside of the initial paragraph regarding her but this is a great example of a subject who's eyes stay open during good, strong lighting even when the subject is smiling. Notice the level of eye liner and mascara. If this model didn't have bright, clear eyes and you hadn't lit her face as you have with the softbox (and it looks like something off to the model's right as a reflector) then the makeup could overpower her eyes. When you shot this set did you have all the lights besides the modeling lights turned off? I note that the model's eyes seem fairly dialated and this could be caused by a dark set that flares into bright light with the firing of the flash heads and then subsides back to darkern than normal conditions. I'm not commenting that its bad; just asking what the lighting conditions were when the flash units weren't firing. To move to another element in this shot its the first example out of the bunch where I like the unseen element of the wind. Did you use a regular fan or a larger "wind machine" (which is a large fan but you have to pay more for the impressive name and the power that goes with it)? This gives just enough motion, enough activity to strands of the subject's hair so that she looks alive here. It looks like you shot this one pretty much at eye level again but this composition takes on a little more liveliness in that the model has tilted her head to her left and offsets her eyes. Just a little note: when photographing a group of people its good to intentionally break up the height of the people as it makes the shot look more dynamic. The differences in horizontal heights from the perceived bottom of the photo helps viewers to "feel" that this photo is more than just a straight on 2-D shot. Here, you've utilized the same technique to generate an organic feeling in the model. She seems more alive and "real" than if you'd just had the same smile but her mouth and eyes were parallel to the bottom of the photo. I very much like this shot.

In 05285 you have some good elements and you have some well-hidden less than good elements. ;)
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The lighting in this shot is much more even. You seemed to have gotten the light a little more around to your right and the model's left. The catchlight on her lips and eyes is more to the right of the frame and that helps give a more depth to the composition. I'm betting you know this but if your experience is similar to mine its easy to forget during a shoot that people don't normally see each other as though the sun was directly over the viewer and the subject was bathed in a "straight ahead" kind of lighting. Most times people are lit from the top down with ambient light reflecting off surfaces to help light them. I very much light the way the hair frames the face in this shot. I like the angle you selected to approach this composition. I'm a little . . . not put off . . . the composition has just a touch of something to it that is difficult to put into words but here's an attempt. She almost (almost) looks awkward in how she seems to be turning her face to give you a view of her right side. Perhaps she feels more comfortable with the right side of her face; perhaps it was just part of a series of progressions that you all worked through. Either way this slight feeling is enhanced IMO by the break in the continuity of her hair over her right shoulder. That doesn't mean that this shot feels "wrong" or "bad". This is the kind of feeling that I get when I look at something like the Mona Lisa and it has a certain je ne sait quoi that works (I hope I remember French from 2 decades ago). What saves this, IMO, is the body language. You did a good job cropping this where you did as it leaves enough so that the viewer can continue down the subject's form and understand that she's sitting back on one hip. In the end of the evaluation about this particular interaction of elements what I think it does it draw the viewer in by giving them an unusual image of a body with the back (right) shoulder down, the face turned perhaps a little more than you might expect but then as you continue into the photo you realize that she's putting he weight back on that hip and now you suddenly can see a young woman almost taking a stance where she, with hand set on her waist, leans back into her hip, whips her head around and gives someone a playful "I'm appalled that you'd say that." kind of flirty fun look. I think this shot can intimate this kind of feeling. I had to look at it a little before I could put some words to it but I could see this young lady standing with a couple of girl friends when some guys come by and make some joke (as young guys sometimes do) and she might playfully turn as though to appear shocked but in reality like joking right back with the guys. Don't know what the context of the shot is but I think you got some body language in this composition. Now as for some of the not so good elements that are hidden. When you're shooting a woman to show her personality, a happy side of her, I don't know what. I'd call it her femininity but I fear that people will think I'm just totally hung up on that concept. Aww, the heck with it. When you shoot with a woman, you normally don't want to see the hands in such a pose as you have captured here. Normally you want to see them edge on with the pinky finger closest to the camera and the thumb away from the camera. This tends to emphasize how dainty and feminine they are. Showing a woman's hands clutched around something tends to make the knuckles stand out and gives a view of the woman as less than dainty (and we all know that all women are dainty at all times, aren't they?). Here, you happened to have cast the largest set of knuckles on both hands into shadow. It may have been happenstance or it may have been by design but either way, it afforded you the opportunity to get a pose that would tend to not be as flattering to the subject but you captured it in a way that was flattering (or at least not distracting). Another element is the wrinkles in the shirt. This is a "real life" versus "studio" kind of issue. In "real life" people get wrinkles. In the studio no one gets wrinkles unless it contributes to the composition, right? Well, sometimes having an extra pair of eyes can make all the difference. It doesn't matter how accomplished you become at photographing models, you will never get 100% of the little nits out of a shot just because you cannot consistently notice all those little things and still keep the model "in the moment". In this composition the wrinkles and shadows in the shirt would detract from it but you have "hidden" them by breaking them up by the solid, vertical lines of the chair back. Now its not to say that they don't show up but with the exception of the one long wrinkle running down from the subject's left shoulder towards her navel you have done a fantastic job giving the viewer something to bisect the wrinkles and take his/her eyes back up to the subject's face.

This shot may or may not be what I think of it but to me it leads me to ask, "Who can see this and not imagine being 20 years old again and trying to get the attention of a person so apparently full of life and joy?"


Sorry for the lack of continuity but I was just pooped out tired when I ended the first set of comments. I'm going to pickup with the same 2nd group of photos (electric pink top and blue jeans that is on the bottom half of the first page). I told you about most of the images I liked out of that set but I hadn't covered 05303 yet or told you what just didn't exactly work for me in some of the others.

What you read hereinafter is simply my opinion of what I like as it is and what I like but think you could improve or maybe just change to get different outcomes.
I'm often an idiot (just ask my wife) but I'm an idiot who knows pretty much how he feels about something and has no innate compunction about sharing that knowledge.

I hope you can get some ideas of what to keep on doing and what you might try differently just to cater to different perceptions but overall I hope that you are proud of what you've produced and realize that I like this set just as it sits. It's your work and your work will evolve (not "grow and mature") but just change to express what you decide to emphasize from one time to the next. The cool part IMO is when you get to the place where you can look at a setup and decide exactly what you want to do because of the effect you want to produce and then actually get that shot.

Beginning with 05303 (model sitting with knees bent and arms around knees).
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This is a good pose. You've now captured the hands pretty much on edge, you can see more of the subject's legs which tends to lengthen the form (especially when you pose the legs more horizontally in the photo rather than straight at the camera). You have a fairly straight back. I think there are a couple of little things you could do next time that would be noticeable though. The carpet, while I'm sure it was more comfy than the floor, detracts because it has a clear outline in the shot. It doesn't extend beyond the frame and it does pickup a shadow from the subject. Getting a white background with no shadow creates an illusion for the viewer. That illusion is one of separation much like a shallow DoF that can be achieved with those fast f-stops. I think just a piece of white foam-core board (fcb) or a reflector off to the side of the composition (just past the subject's feet) could have reflected a little light back down onto the carpet to keep it from getting such a shadow. I think you probably wouldn't want it to be angled up at the face but rather down into the carpet. I also miss the toes being in this composition. I'm betting that you cropped the photo in the way that you did to keep from having the edge of the carpet in the front of the shot. Here's one other thing I've found. A model's feet can come across as disproportionate in a photograph depending on how she is positioned. Obviously not everyone has the "right" proportions (that's a tongue-in-cheek joke 'cause I know that there are no "right" proportions). The problem is that no matter the subject's proportions, putting feet (or even hands) as much as 12-18 inchces closer in the frame to the camera and then using a wide angle lens can really change the viewers perspective. In this composition you looked to have gotten a good approach to your subject so I don't think that would have been the case at all here but because the subject's toes are cropped out of the frame, she takes on an abbreviated look. In my experience with a studio shoot, this is often dictated to the photographer due to the geometry of the height/length of the model, width of the seamless white paper and shortest focal length the photog has in his/her bag. For a comparison on how this can affect a shot just look back to 05266 to see my comments on how the frame can make a subject look "larger than life" by cutting into his/her outline. Here, since you are already pulled back and trying to get her completely into the shot, you've put yourself at a disadvantage in giving her the "larger than life" feeling. I'd say, get rid of the carpet for this wide angle shot and then you can give it back for those closeups. Finally (and remember I do like this shot, I'm just picking out things you might want to think about on the next go around in your studio), this shot works for the senior portrait pose but just having the subject raise her left should a little would have imparted slightly different posture and given more of a straight edge to her back. In the shot you can put the straight edge of a piece of paper up to the screen and let the edge of the paper (or whatever) intersect the back edge of her pink top at the shoulder seam. As my vision travels down the edge of the paper I begin to see back and hips. Just looking at the photo without some straight edge gives me the impression that her back is pretty straight up and just her shoulder is rolled a little forward. Putting a straight edge to it shows that there is a subtle curve there. To me, moving the subject's hands up closer to her knees and asking her to pull that left shoulder back just an inch or so would give a different feeling to the back and would open her to the camera more. Her face is already opened up but that would open her shoulders.

Rabbit-trail: In my parlance I refer to "opening up" and "closing up". By those terms I mean that if a subject were to face me so that his eyes, shoulders, hips, knees and toes were all parallel to the plane of the imaging chip (or film) he would be "opened up" to me. He wouldn't be creating any little secret places on his body that were hidden. Now as a model begins to turn one of those sections away from me and more perpendicular to the plane of the sensor/film, he is closing that section of his body to me. It is possible for a model to close his lower body to me by turning his feet so that the toes point out of the frame's corner at the bottom left (as in this photo, except you'd probably want to just have them point out rather than extend out), and at the same time he can square his shoulders up to me and keep his upper body opened up to me. Mixing and matching what is opened up to the camera and what is closed can yield subtle psychological changes both in the subject's own expression as the poses may mean something to him and it can also affect the viewers who fail to notice conciously but take subconcious note of the stance of the subject. It is also of note that while knees and feet/toes can be opened or closed, I don't see hands the same way. Hands are much more personal to viewers. Why, who the hell knows but viewers associate hands in a personal way just like eyes and expressions with the mouth. Feet and toes, on the other hand, change the whole body dynamic. Hands just affect personal attachment of the viewer IMO.

Back on the main trail:
I like the pose and I like the way the model is leaning her head in just a little because that seems to imply some measure of intimacy like she's smiling with the viewer rather than just at the camera. Opening up her leading shoulder could be the difference in making a good portrait that Mom will have at her desk at work and making a great portrait that will bring Mom's friends over to your studio with their little darlings so that you can capture their youthful exuberence.

You got the lighting right but the carpet is a slight nuisance; you got the angle of approach very good, but the cropped toes don't add to the composition; you highlighted that lovely face and smile but the shoulder stance is a little closed up. In my book this is a very good shot and easily worth buying if this was my daughter.

In both 05245 and 05262, the subject's smile looks a little flat.
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I'm not sure that its the smile but I do notice that in both shots the hair looks flat. Now if you see these shots outside the context of the rest of this set, they may look fantastic. As they sit in the middle of other portraits of this subject, they lack some of the verve, some of the life that seems to inhabit the compositions that surround them. 05245 seems to have been shot from eye level and it seems that there is a darker shadow on the subject's right cheek than we see in others of this series. The straight hair coming down on both sides of the face and framing the face while the smile seems just a fraction less complete all contrive to make this shot just appear flat to me. I don't think that you should not take this photo next time as often when I work with a model I look through the viewfinder and don't get the full impact of a composition and when I see it on-screen I can see that it works better than I thought at the time of capture. I think this is one of those poses that is an intermediate pose, its a transitional shot in the sense that when you pull it out of context it looks OK but within the context of all the photos it is the ones before it and after it where you seem to connect with the subject and get more active expressions and you may find that you also had a better angle of approach in the shots before or after. Doesn't make it bad, just not as lively as those surrounding it.


I'm not looking through the third set of your shots from 05321 through 05417. I see a difference between the first 11 shots and last five photos. The first 11 seem to have more of the catalog feel. In my opinion, this is generated by the lighting the composition and the models expression. I make that assessment based on things such as 05330
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where the approach is from the oblique, the models chin is turned out towards her chest and her eyes are turned off camera, in 05346 and 05351
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you zoomed out to give a full-length shot of the model. The subject pose in 05351 yields itself more to a modeling stance. 05346 would benefit from different arm placement.

I would like to mention that from this set 05333 is well lit, well composed, displays some personal attitude on the subject part and affords the viewer some opportunity to interact with the subject through the photo.
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One thing I noticed you might want to watch in future sessions: when working with a model who is wearing light colored garments, extreme bright lights can cause the undergarments to bleed through. In a curse reviewing of this photo. The bra on underneath the subjects left all arm probably wouldn't be so noticeable, however, if this were going to a model's portfolio or catalog this image would be scrutinized more heavily in the bra line might be a distraction. It could be that that is a lining inside the sure and as such impossible to completely removed from the shot. You may find it difficult to ask a model tour move abroad fits becoming obvious in the photo (I have often found that simply mentioning the visibility of undergarments gives the model the opportunity to decide for his or herself how to handle the situation). In a situation like this, where the element is definitely part of the picture and must be handled in post shot production, I would consider using a lasso tool to select the brighter white area under the subjects left arm, and selectively line that area. It helps that the brightness does not extend past color lines, meaning you don't have to worry about matching any color other than the white. In this shot the subjects trailing arm is in shadow, but that is not a negative that merely serves to enhance a slight separation between the model and her background. You have selected a moderately large f-stop here, yielding a larger depth of field. With a busy background that could be a problem, but with the bright white seamless paper background you have your choice in f-stop allows the viewer a sharp clear view of the subject.

05368 through 05388 seem to have a different lighting. It appears as though the key light is pointing up from below the models shoulder, this casts heavy shadows on the model face at an angle. In 05368
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I like how you zoomed into the model to fill the frame. This composition to me exhibits an attempt at expressing some artistic vision. Your lighting is more direct, you've broken the outline of the subject with your frame, you've applied a higher f-stop for greater depth of field. And you've placed a very organic element (this subjects left arm) close to a thirds line. This is the type of experimentation that can lead to a personal style; a visual signature that is your own. If I have anything to offer in this experimentation, it would probably be to note that your models eyes are usually the key elements in a portrait and placing them on a thirds intersection might give more gravitas to the image. If this composition were move slightly to the left so that the subject's right eye landed on the thirds intersection in the top left corner it would also give you the benefit of having the models by which appears to be blown out as an implied visual element running down the righthanded thirds line. The lighting the shot has a dramatic effect and does draw the attention to the subject's hair and left cheek. I think this is deftly and area in which you should try different elements to explore how you see this composition.

In photos like 05372 and 5376
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one thing to be careful of is one of model tries to play off a shy view, and she turns her chin in towards her chest. She can produce the effects angular effects by her smile and a pointed chin regardless of her actual facial features. Sometimes, I found myself allowing models to explore looks that don't work to me even through the viewfinder. A preferred method of handling this is to allow a model to express how she wants the shot to look at she assumes poses and expressions and after a few I may say something along the lines of this pose or this series just isn’t working for me. Let's take a break, take a breath and reconsider what we want from this series of shots.

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begins to depart from the catalog modeling feeling. In this two thirds portrait you've captured a more organic curvy feel of the subject. The strand of hair casting a shadow on the subject space and the curves in the subjects back tend to imbue this picture with a feeling of the photo that a young girl would give to some of the boys in her high school; this shot shows a shy, playful intimacy in the model stance and expression. This does appear to be one of the shots where some details were blown out, especially in the chest. I think that has to do with the placement of a light to camera right. I wonder, did that light have a soft box. I feel it should have been diffused or dialed down to generate a nice, soft effect to enhance the curves of the models front.

Congratulations again on the shoot on your artistic expression and high quality of work. It appears to meet you gave the beautiful young lady a level of expertise that allows her to shine as the central subject in these photos.

I understand what you're saying about some things feeling like just dumb luck. It is very difficult to keep in mind, many elements and "rules" while trying to interact with someone and still paying attention to the technical aspects of your photography. You did a very good job and some of the things that you think you lucked into our evidence of the fact that you took the frames based on what you liked at the time and you selected from those these 80 to edit and post. While you may not consciously have composed some of these images from scratch, you did see the same elements that I noticed (and probably several I haven't noted) and that caused you to take the shots that you now have. My benefit to you here might be in being able to articulate what you noted subconsciously, and help you to bring that to a conscious level so you can consistently reproduce the quality of images that you shot here.


EDIT: Changed links to redirect to Eddy's original photos instead of my thumbnailed versions.

Told ya not to read it.

Message edited by langdon - htumbs.
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