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08/06/2002 03:05:31 PM · #1
Today I had a different sort of photographic opportunity. Despite the fact that I did very little, I actually learned quite a bit on what NOT to do when working with "models".

I have a friend of a friend who is taking an intro photography course. He's doing his final project, and needed a few people to pose for him. Of course, being interested in almost everything photographic, I agreed. Him being a rank amateur photographer and me being a rank amateur model, the session was exceedingly informal. However, being on the other end of the camera certainly taught me a thing or two about preparation, expectations, and the like.

Preparation
I wasn't told what type of photos he was interested in taking beforehand. I didn't learn until I got to the site that his idea was "lonely in a crowd". He didn't seem to have a really strong idea of the photo he wanted either. He knew he wanted a lot of people in the shot, but wasn't really sure where to go to achieve that. He wanted someone to look 'depressed' or 'lonely' but had no ideas of poses that could convey that.

Compensation
It was good that he worked out what the compensation would be beforehand (free lunch!).

Direction
His direction was very vague...basically it was "stand over there near that pole and look lonely". I could have benefitted from knowing if he wanted me to look at the camera, away from the camera, up, down, etc. As it was, it was mostly left up to me. Which might have been okay had I been a more experienced model. But I felt slightly uncomfortable knowing I could be ruining his shot by not doing exactly what he wanted.

Lessons
From all this I learned that it's best to have a really good idea of what you want before you bring the model in. You should scout the locations and have a firm concept of the end product in mind, as you only will have a limited amount of time to work with the model. You should share the concept with the model so that he/she understands also what the final photo is going to look like. Technical details aren't as important, but it would have been helpful for me to know what effect he was aiming for.

Maybe this is all obvious to the rest of you all. And I'm sure I would have been somewhat aware of it before, but this experience sure reminded me of what to do and what not to do when working with live people :-)
08/06/2002 03:13:33 PM · #2
... as supposed to dead people? j/k. thanks for the info, that will definitely come in handy when i finally get my courage up and ask someone to pose for some photos ...

Originally posted by Kimbly:
And I'm sure I would have been somewhat aware of it before, but this experience sure reminded me of what to do and what not to do when working with live people :-)


08/06/2002 03:23:16 PM · #3
Originally posted by gr8photos:
... as supposed to dead people?

Dead people are easy.
08/06/2002 03:26:52 PM · #4
Originally posted by Kimbly:
Originally posted by gr8photos:
[i]... as supposed to dead people?


Dead people are easy.[/i]

It's hard to get them to loosen up though.
08/06/2002 03:28:51 PM · #5
This was amusing, Kimbly.
I have another question. At times I like to take pictures of people when I see an interesting face, character, etc. I always ask whether it is okay to take their picture (Don't have tele-lenses so I better ask). What happens often then that the "model" immediately features a phony smile and you almost don't feel anymore wanting to take the picture. Any suggestions?
I now walk around more on places like farmers markets where there are lots of people and quite a few with cameras, so it is not such a big deal there to make pictures of people.
08/06/2002 03:30:55 PM · #6
I use stealth mode a lot. Pretend you're shooting something else, and get them. :-D Easier still if you use the lcd screen, it's hard for people to tell what you're aiming at.
08/06/2002 03:38:59 PM · #7
Originally posted by kathleenm:
Originally posted by Kimbly:
[i]Originally posted by gr8photos:
[i]... as supposed to dead people?


Dead people are easy.[/i]

It's hard to get them to loosen up though. [/i]

Yeah, but they can hold a pose for a long time so you can play around with different angles, etc.
Gosh, we are awful :) And PLEASE, don't anyone suggest this as a challenge.

08/06/2002 03:48:06 PM · #8
Originally posted by kathleenm:
I use stealth mode a lot.

Boy, I need to go out and buy a new camera. Mine hasn't got that fancy-shmancy "stealth mode" ;-)
08/06/2002 03:57:55 PM · #9
Originally posted by kathleenm:
I use stealth mode a lot. Pretend you're shooting something else, and get them. :-D Easier still if you use the lcd screen, it's hard for people to tell what you're aiming at.

hahahaha... stealth mode. I'm definitely a stealth mode-r, too. :D Swivel LCD is key for that.

Drew
08/06/2002 04:02:48 PM · #10
Originally posted by Kimbly:
Originally posted by kathleenm:
[i]I use stealth mode a lot.


Boy, I need to go out and buy a new camera. Mine hasn't got that fancy-shmancy "stealth mode" ;-)
[/i]

Hmmm...Kathleen = fancy shmancy camera - no ribbons
Kimbly = non fancy shmancy camera - ribbon

I don't think you need it. ;-)
08/06/2002 04:13:09 PM · #11
Well, now that I actually do have a fancy schmancy camera with a swivel LCD that would be perfect for stealth mode-ing, I haven't had as much luck with it. I think I was just more used to my old Fuji so that I could literally shoot from the hip and sometimes get a decent shot. Now I'm trying to make sure I have the aperture and focus set correctly and look at the LCD and swivel it around and I end up getting all confused :-)
08/07/2002 01:12:43 AM · #12
Kathleenm, I loved how you said "and get them" :) lol

So, what's the verdict on stealth mode/swivel LCD: a must have feature to look for in a new camera or just something gimmicky? (Perhaps it is a standard feature on any decent camera nowadays but I just don't know. I'll be slowly developing a list of must have features over the next few months for a new camera).
08/07/2002 12:09:06 PM · #13
I was just having this conversation with a fairly accomplished people photographer going by the name CJMorgan. He doesn't have a website but has posted several of his (very well done) portraits on

Yahoo G2 site

He suggests engaging the person in friendly & casual conversation, putting them at ease. Walking with them in a park or wherever. He sets his G2 to full optical zoom and then backs off the subject about 5 feet or so. This way he is not in the person's face with the camera.

Personally, I also am still too nervous and shy to ask strangers if I can photograph them. I have only done it once.
08/07/2002 12:56:20 PM · #14
i would say it's a very nice to have and not just for 'stealthing' strangers. comes in handy when shooting unusual angles. talking about snapping strangers ... this is the one time i've done it ==> lone reader.

Originally posted by Journey:
So, what's the verdict on stealth mode/swivel LCD: a must have feature to look for in a new camera or just something gimmicky? (Perhaps it is a standard feature on any decent camera nowadays but I just don't know. I'll be slowly developing a list of must have features over the next few months for a new camera).


08/07/2002 12:59:27 PM · #15
Originally posted by focus:
He suggests engaging the person in friendly & casual conversation, putting them at ease. Walking with them in a park or wherever. He sets his G2 to full optical zoom and then backs off the subject about 5 feet or so. This way he is not in the person's face with the camera.


I think the G2 might be particularly good for this since it's more rangefinder- or P&S-looking than the SLR-type E10/E20 or the weird-looking F707. People are probably less intimidated by that than if you stuck a big zoom lens in their face and asked them to act naturally.

Anyway, the swivel LCD is quite useful. Even without making it less easy for people to determine what you're taking a picture of, I've been working a lot lately on a tripod at waist-level, and it's so much easier to be able to tilt the screen up and adjust things rather than having to kneel down to do it.

08/10/2002 04:00:14 PM · #16
Originally posted by Journey:
I always ask whether it is okay to take their picture. What happens often then that the "model" immediately features a phony smile and you almost don't feel anymore wanting to take the picture. Any suggestions?

Yep, I get this a lot... and the solution is often quite easy...
Take thier photo, cheesy smile and all, then back off like your moving on to other subjects, then they will usually revert to the look you want and you can shoot some more pics of them... If they are a really interesting subject and you have the time, taking lots of photo's often puts people at ease ... in markets also waiting for a customer to come along or some other distraction from you maybe useful.

Also you don't always have to ask verbally.. ie if you point the camera in thier direction and they look at you, just nod or shrug at them (what-ever is most natural for you) often they will nod etc back .. and off you go.... obviously there is a bit of distance between you and your subject here... ;)

This technique was taught to me by a photography lecturer... I must try it a bit more often... I'm a bit shy myself... to much time in front of the computer screen I think.

08/11/2002 09:02:25 AM · #17
I have been working recently on capturing people and have had some interesting results BUT they are all taken on film. Would it be appropriate to include a link to show you and then make my comments here about how I approached them or would you prefer to keep non digital photographs completely out of the equation? I figure on this topic the approach is the same which is why I thought this could be a discussion I could get involved in (as a non digital amateur photographer)
08/11/2002 10:41:09 AM · #18
Originally posted by Journey:
This was amusing, Kimbly.
I have another question. At times I like to take pictures of people when I see an interesting face, character, etc. I always ask whether it is okay to take their picture (Don't have tele-lenses so I better ask). What happens often then that the "model" immediately features a phony smile and you almost don't feel anymore wanting to take the picture. Any suggestions?
I now walk around more on places like farmers markets where there are lots of people and quite a few with cameras, so it is not such a big deal there to make pictures of people.


When you ask for permission, do you ask them to sign a release?

The reason I ask is that from what I've read, we really should have a release to use the photo. But, if you ask someone to sign a release, first, you miss the moment you want to capture and second, you will probably get resistance from them. Going up to a stranger and asking them to sign a release would seem to be intimidating.

Mark
08/11/2002 11:04:44 AM · #19
I too am a bit confused about the releases. But with a digital camera, can't a person take the photo then ask the person if it is alright to keep and use it?? If he says no, then it can be deleted off the camera.
08/11/2002 12:02:32 PM · #20
Actually, this week I took a lot of pictures of people. For some I took them on the sly and had to do some stalking :) With others, I asked and did a little chat to make them feel relaxed. And I did get them without them freezing up into a phony pose! No one delved anywhere into the "release thing" but from now on I will make some effort to let them know that I can email them the picture if it comes out all right. Seems fair.
Discovered that I really enjoy making these people shots and had a lot of fun to boot!
08/11/2002 12:11:49 PM · #21
The lack of releases for many of the photos here is going to become a very interesting issue should DPC ever start offering to make prints or other items and split the profits with the artist.

Kavey, I think you should go ahead and post links to your stuff. The kind of things you are talking about apply to digital photography as well as film.
08/11/2002 01:21:10 PM · #22
Talk about Stealth mode, I asked my wife to expose herself while holding my camera. She wouldn't so I sat the camera down and asked again and she did. I wish I had taken a second picture of her shock when I hit the cameras remote button.

Tim
08/11/2002 02:38:53 PM · #23
Well OK here is the link to an album I store on Ofoto.

Unfortunately you do need to register with ofoto to access it (sorry) but it's a free hosting service and is handy when I want to share my photos on internet forums (the other one is a travel forum) and don't want to give out my personal website URL.

A Day In London - May 2002

Anyway, these were all taken on one day, May 27 2002, my husband's birthday. We both grew up in London and have lived here together since we were married in 1994 yet have done very little of the tourist scene.

As we had recently seen a photo competition with the theme of people (which neither of us entered in the end) we decided to spend the day as tourists and focus on people photos.

These are my results.

For the photos of Eddie, I did ask him for permission to take a few, and took a couple there and then. Then we wandered off to Buck Palace for the other shots before returning to the park. I sat talking to Eddie for almost an hour, in between which I took some more photos, by this time he didn't pay any attention to my snapping away.

I also asked the smiling bobbie infront of Buck Palace and the fact that he is obligingly smiling really makes the shot for me. I also asked the short policewoman all in black, and feel that in this shot the opposite is true - it's too posed and her expression too stiff. But as I was standing right next to her, and had been chatting to her for a while, I did feel asking was the polite thing.

The other photos are all candid shots - no permission. That said the policemen in this area are all no doubt well used to tourist photographers and take it in their stride.

I have a few sneak photos which I took in Madeira, one of these in particular I really adore (not scanned in, sorry) and I know it would NEVER have worked had he known I was taking it. I may have got an interesting enough shot anyway, but not the one I got.

Phew!

Kavey
08/11/2002 02:44:06 PM · #24
Some ideas,

Journey, a lot of times when I take pictures of people and ask beforehand, they start posing all over the place. I've found that if I start just taking pictures (or pretending to) they soon loose interest and go back to being themselves. That's one of the great things with digital, you can delete the 'practice' shots later.

iggy386, et.al, on the subject of model releases, if you plan to sell your picture, you better have a release signed (and if the subject is a minor, a signature from an appropiate adult). What works for me is to promise them a print, so I send them a 8 x 10 and they seem to be happy. That also includes this site if we ever publish a book of photos. D & L must require copies of releases with people shots to protect themselves. By the way, as I understand it, releases are only required from 'subject' people, so you don't have to get one from every face in the crowd in your New York street pict.
08/11/2002 10:39:04 PM · #25
As far as I understand releases, it basicly is a way to stop me taking photo's of you and selling them to company for advertising etc. etc. I mean how would you like it if you sat down to breakfast only to find a full page spread in the local newspaper advertising ..hmmmm Tampons, acne cream or weight loss pills... featuring a picture of you!
Not what

Now a model release is a way of a) getting permision to comercially use a picture b) proving the subject has been compensated..
It is not required if the person is part of a crowd (and is not the subject)

This is the way I operate when taking peoples photograph's in public is to carry business card sized forms that have the following fields
Name:
Adress:
E-mail:
Phone:
Shot No.: Date:

I plan to do the following, if a take a photo of a person regardless if I ask them first etc I will go up and talk to them, and ask them if they would like me to email them a copy or send them a print (offered after offering email,, yeah, I'm stingy :-P ) Then I whip out the form and write the date and shot number on the card and ask them to fill in the rest.. they don't have to fill in all the fields, just enough to contact them.
That way I can send them thier complimentary photo and if I want to use the shot for a compition, self promotition or even sell it I can contact them to get a model release.

I also use the card when photographing pets etc. because people will often want to see the pics.. even some will want prints ... easy way to make a few dollars on the side... often a print is sufficiant compensation for compitition and self promotional use of a photo.. comercial use should generally involve money..

Then again, there is a business card sized model release form avalible on the net.. somewhere.. I found it so google.com should put it up..

Note the DPC rules state:
"model releases if necessary. "
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