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Old 05-07-2004, 08:38 PM
Laura Shelley Laura Shelley is offline
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Re: Taking reference photos

I think this thread should be rated, so I just rated it. And I'm going to print it out. Took a bunch of pics today and dropped them off at the store to develop, so we'll see if I've absorbed any of this good advice yet.
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Old 05-09-2004, 05:08 PM
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Kent Kent is offline
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Re: Taking reference photos

One technique that I've found useful with children (and some adults) is to take pictures without looking through the viewfinder. You can use a tripod and have the subject already framed, or you can hold the camera at chest level and estimate the correct angle for the shot (this takes practice).

This works well with subjects who freeze up or put on the phoney smile described by Rosic when they see you looking through the viewfinder; it helps in capturing an 'unposed' look.

Cheers,
Kent
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Old 05-10-2004, 02:13 AM
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Re: Taking reference photos

Well, I've made some photos of the kids for a new commission, and I found it difficult. The three year old did not sit still so I just kept on clicking away, while she was moving about on her chair, on her hobby horse etc. The 9 year old boy did not like his photo taken, so was obviously looking uncomfortable. Again, I just kept on shooting with my digi cam and will have to see what I've got later. I do find it the most difficult part of portrait commissions.
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Old 05-10-2004, 08:57 AM
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Re: Taking reference photos

Sophie... sorry to hear about the sitting. Makes me not miss portrait photography ... brings back memories of the same treatment. Do you have a program on your PC where you can lay down several photos in a slide show format and lay down a song track then burn to a video CD? If you do I thought you may be able to make some extra $$$ by making a slide-show of all the photos you took or maybe a slide-show of a WIP of their portrait. Just an idea to generate two sources of income from one customer.
Bern
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Old 05-10-2004, 09:40 AM
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Re: Taking reference photos

Sophie, sounds like a rough crowd! Next time you're preparing to take photos for a commission you might try asking the parents if you could show up a little early and just hang out with the family... find out what the kids like to do and engage them in it. Maybe a video game or a favorite toy or activity.

I know this sounds like going above and beyond the call of duty, but it will save you so much time later when you have to deal with fixing references of kids who were not really into you and couldn't care less. Most parents will understand this approach and welcome it.

I used to photograph children on a daily basis. When time allowed, I always started the sessions without my camera... just being friendly.

I hope you captured something you can use.
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Old 05-10-2004, 10:27 AM
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Re: Taking reference photos

Quote:
Originally Posted by JCoop
if you could show up a little early and just hang out with the family... find out what the kids like to do and engage them in it. Maybe a video game or a favorite toy or activity.
Joel... this is excellent advice.
We used to have a consultation first where we meet the kids and parents (most cases mom only) and talked over clothing/prop choices... most importantly, it got the kids used to us.

This thread is just snowballing with great ideas from everyone!

Bernie
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Old 05-11-2004, 01:17 PM
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Allen Carter Allen Carter is offline
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Re: Taking reference photos

Hello there,

I have to put in my 2 cents. Never give children Oreos or red punch before taking photos. Oreos will blacken their teeth and red punch ends up on their pretty white dress. Talk to babies. No one really talks to them and they want to know what you are doing. If you explain to them, they will pay attention to you. Make some photos before you use props. Ask them to hold something for you. They will beam if you think they are big enough. Small children are fun to work with. Teenagers can be tough. I usualy say "If you smile for a nice picture for Mom, then I'll make a few just for you with your sunglasses".

Allen
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Old 05-13-2004, 01:18 PM
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Re: Taking reference photos

This piece of advice comes from directing (stage), but I think it should translate: Give the child some "business." The plain-English translation is something to do; it makes actors less self-conscious to be they're focused on doing something.

So, perhaps take along something like a chess set, and once everyone is introduced, ask child or children to set it up? That should result in natural interactions at an angle conducive to taking a few candid shots. If they need help (or even if they don't!), explain which square the queen goes on -- they're likely to look up at you as you explain it.
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Old 05-13-2004, 02:45 PM
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Re: Taking reference photos

Thank you for starting this thread. Lots of great info here for portrait artists who work from their own reference images.
Bernie, thank you so much for adding some great info based on your experience and background!
I won't add anythign as I don't have much technical info to add.
Just, wanted to add, digital cameras (mine anyway) are much easier to use and way more sensitive in natural or lower lighting conditions than my slr is. I have a Nikon FE1 or 2 (I think, cannot recall) and a Pentax Optio 330GS digital 3.1 megapix. My Nikkor portrait lense is fantastic but the digital seems to be excellent for use without the flash and I don't get blurry pictures as much when holding it by hand in lower lighting conditions.
I tend to prefer no flash. I will work from a crappier No Flash photo before I will work from a really clear Flash photo. I can generally add to or fix the natural lighting crappier photo to my liking in my portraits.
Jocelyn
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Old 05-15-2004, 06:42 PM
Laura Shelley Laura Shelley is offline
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Re: Taking reference photos

I've done my photo session, and the advice on this thread was invaluable. I took three 24-exposure rolls in about an hour while chasing two kids around a park. I brought an army blanket to put on the ground for sitting poses, and mostly shot in the shade or in filtered sunlight. Then I put them on the play equipment for standing shots with their heads on the same level.

I had my sheet of white foamcore for a reflector, and I wore a lot of jewelry so I could give it to the little girl to play with while I took pictures. Her older brother was much more cooperative than she was, but is a stiff smiler, unfortunately. I got him unawares several times, so I have some better material than the "posed" shots.

I am going to do some things differently next time: use 400 ASA film rather than 200 when I am shooting fast-moving kids, and try some backlit situations as well as frontally lit ones. I also felt the lack of automatic focus, but that's going to have to wait until I get a new camera. Mom was rather in the way and issuing orders to the kids--"Smile! I told you to smile!" But I'm not sure how you get her out of the picture, so to speak. I made her hold the foamcore, though.

After looking at the developed rolls, about a dozen of the photos are possibles, and about six of those are good enough to show to the parents, though I certainly have a way to go before I'm proficient at this. I'm very glad I asked some questions first!
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