How to make your portraits different ?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Shacklebolt, Aug 1, 2013.

  1. Shacklebolt macrumors 6502a


    Sep 2, 2004
    To clarify:

    I'll be in a situation in a few days where several different photographers, including myself, will be rotating in for a few minutes to take pictures of the same 4-person group (bunch of random artists) in the exact same setting with the exact same backdrop.

    I'll only have a few minutes, but there's room for creativity, as I see it. In fact, creativity is a must. I have some ideas, but I'd love some other input:

    When everyone is taking pictures of the same subject, what is the thought process (or equipment) you use to differentiate your work from theirs?
  2. macrumors 6502

    Aug 29, 2011
    I've been in these situations before (taking classes actually). Don't worry about gear, worry about composition, angles, lighting, directing your subject (directing is SUPER important). That's what will set your work apart. There's a good chance that there are certain styles of lighting, compositions, posses that you like. Play into those. Don't worry about what everybody else is doing. You'd be surprised how different an image can look from one photographer to the next when everything is equal. If you are allowed to adjust the lighting then change it to what you like. Maybe bring some gels and try some funky mixed lighting. Use your favorite focal length. Take the photos that YOU want to see. That's how your work stands out. Gear is nothing, vision is everything.
  3. DUCKofD3ATH Suspended


    Jun 6, 2005
    Universe 0 Timeline
    Bring a four-foot stepladder. You'll be amazed at how much flexibility in composing people shots that gives you.
  4. acearchie macrumors 68040


    Jan 15, 2006
  5. AlaskaMoose macrumors 65816

    Apr 26, 2008
    Maybe you can get some ideas from looking at Daniel Stoychev's photos. This guy is nothing but amazing:
  6. blanka macrumors 68000

    Jul 30, 2012
    You can start with doing the opposite:
    F11 rules! Forget about all those creamy bokeh battles and who has the largest Willie. Just grab a small macro, 60-100mm, and get a little closer than the rest (the focal plane is closer, the actual lens front will me on similar distance probably. Ditch composing, just make straight shots, and make good contact with the person.
    Oh, that's close to what's Ruff is doing.
  7. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    How did it go? What did you end up doing?

    If I had seen your question earlier I would have pointed you at Philippe Halsman. Most of what he did would not apply... as they required some control over the setup.

    However, he had two techniques that you might have tried.

    1) Direction of your subjects. This does not necessarily mean you tell them what you want them to do, you can also set the whole emotional scene to evoke a look. In one case (Edward and Wallis Simpson) Halsman started the photo session by talking about a dog that had just got hit by a car (a lie, btw) - because he knew they were huge dog lovers and he wanted to capture them in a particular emotional state.

    2) Getting your subjects out of the 'rut'. After several sessions prior to you getting into the act, your subjects are likely going to be bored. Halsman is the photographer who made a habit of getting his subjects to jump during their final couple of shots of a 'normal' session. It is worth looking at the 'before' and 'jumping' shots of these celebrities as they totally transform in many cases.

    If anyone reading this is old enough to remember Jackie Gleason, Google Halsman's shot of Jackie jumping. Truly amazing.

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