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Thread: First 'official' photo shoot

  1. #1
    DH59's Avatar
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    First 'official' photo shoot

    Well, I finally bit the bullet and offered some free sessions to members of a networking group I recently joined. I have offered free sessions for a limited time only in order to build a portfolio. My first session was last week, and I have another one next week.

    My first subject was a very confident 3-year-old, who was quite eager to pose for the camera. She was also very quick to get bored! The mother wanted the images in their garden, but it turned out to be a very tiny cottage garden, and the sun was out for the first time in days, with little shade available, making the light very harsh. There was also a slight breeze and her fine hair was blowing all over the place.

    I did take my reflectors/diffuser, but stupidly did not take them out, despite having my voice activated light stand, AKA my husband as my assistant! Also, the back garden had chickens running loose, so lots of chicken poo all over - not good.

    The session lasted about 30-40 mins, by which time the girl had had enough. I managed to get about 12 images that were OK, in my humble opinion. Here are some for your expert critique.

    First 'official' photo shoot

    First 'official' photo shoot

    First 'official' photo shoot

  2. #2

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    Re: First 'official' photo shoot

    Nice attempt Diane. I like the shy pose in the first photo. The right hand side of that shot doesn't add anything, in my opinion and would be better cropped. The black and white comes out very well in the second shot and I think its a nice tight composition. I'm not so struck with her eyes though, gazing out of the photo. In shot one the eyes are great as I think they keep the view inside the shot. Again in photo three the eyes take my attention out of the photo. On all three shots I think you've coped really well with lighting the little girl, with focus and exposure spot on. Laughed at your description of your husband as a voice activated light stand.

  3. #3
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    Re: First 'official' photo shoot

    Nice shots . . they would've all worked in B&W (imho) I dont think the background works in pic two . its fighting for attention best to keep the classic out of focus backdrop for shots like these . .all the pics have great expressions and its a shame the conditions wernt better . liked to have seen more . i did a first "pro-shoot" earlier this month and you can see my results in a thread entitled "my first photoshoot" link to my flickr page

    nice job

  4. #4
    DH59's Avatar
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    Re: First 'official' photo shoot

    Thanks David. Looking at them again I agree with what you say. Quite a difficult situation, with the girl being very active and.. well, like a three-year-old! Every shot she came running up to have a look, and she even sussed out which button to press to get the preview if I didn't hit it quick enough!

    Thanks Mike. I didn't want to have the background in focus so much, but part of the brief was that they were proud of their veg patch, and wanted the photos taking in the garden rather than going to the local park, which I knew would be a better place to have the session. So I included some element of the garden in the images. This was impossible in the back due to the chicken poo and lack of any feature (nothing in great light, anyway). I'll take a look at your thread.

    Oh, and my session next week is another three-year-old and an 18-month-old! Joy!!

    Some more.

    First 'official' photo shoot

    First 'official' photo shoot
    Last edited by DH59; 29th October 2011 at 10:13 PM.

  5. #5
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    Re: First 'official' photo shoot

    Looks like you cracked it with the top one. But it could be better if the background is a little further away. The look on the girls face is worth a million dollars.

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    Re: First 'official' photo shoot

    Hi Diane,

    Possibly a "comforting thought" may be the knowledge that this kind of photography is actually VERY demanding. As you've found out, children have short attention spans (often measured in a few minutes) - you often have difficult surroundings to work with/in and hard light makes life even harder.

    Some thoughts that might help ...

    1. A picture is comprised of two things - a foreground and a background. If you can combine the two successfully then you'll have a keeper. For kids (foreground) it's not actually too difficult - just try to get some kind of interaction with their environment (props are often a god-send here). For backgrounds, think "colour / texture".

    2. In terms of shooting technique, if you have a long lens, try shooting at about F4; it'll throw the background out of focus, thus, isolating the foreground - but - be sure to nail your focus on an eye. Remember to get down to their level.

    3. In terms of lighting, personally, I'd suggest trying to avoid shooting in hard light, but regardless, you need to look (and manipulate) how the light falls on the face. If you're shooting wide open with a long lens then you'll have a narrow field of view, and this is well suited to a diffuser being held by a VAL to kill any direct or dappled light falling on the subject.

    4. Reflectors are great (and cheap), but at the end of the day, they're hard wirk if you're shooting professionally - you REALLY need to invest in an off-camera flash that's firing into a shoot-through umbrella - that's also capable of maintaining ETTL communication with the camera (I use 4x 580EX II firing into a softbox, all with connected PocketWizard TT5 trancievers).

    Take a look at my portraits gallery to get an idea as to how I put all of the above into practice.

    Here's some shots showing the diffuser and my (older) lighting rig in action ...

    First 'official' photo shoot

    First 'official' photo shoot

    First 'official' photo shoot

    Hope this helps.

    PS: If you're serious, you NEED to pop along to www.kelbytraining.com - sign up ($24.95 a month or $199.00 per year) (USD) and go through the videos from James Schmelzer and Cliff Mauntner)
    Last edited by Colin Southern; 29th October 2011 at 11:44 PM.

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    Re: First 'official' photo shoot

    The expression in the first one is priceless!
    I would like to see it in a potrait crop, as I agree that the wide space to the right only detracts from her priceless expression!

  8. #8
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    Re: First 'official' photo shoot

    Brian: just for you, a portrait crop. I think I quite like it.

    First 'official' photo shoot

    Colin: I have seen your portraits gallery and that is certainly what I would like to achieve. I do need more practice, and I should have been doing this with more conviction for some time - I've wasted a lot of time trying to get 'more information' and more confidence in my abilities instead of just getting out there and doing it. Offering these free shoots was a way of getting me out of my comfort zone and into the real world of professional photography. I certainly learned what I should and shouldn't have done, and will take that to the next shoot.

    Regarding your point 2: I used my 24-105mm at f/4 on my Canon 40D for all these shots. I have a 70-200mm (f/4 with IS) but the garden was too small to use this lens, I think. I did try to get the focus point on her eyes, but this is obviously a skill I need to work on, especially with wriggly three-year-olds.

    I know I should have used my reflector and/or diffuser, but I know for next time. There was very little shade in either the back or front gardens, so I did struggle to get the light, background and pose all in tandem. I will certainly be taking my VAL on the next shoot.

    I have a couple of flashguns - a Canon 580EX II and a cheap ebay Yongnuo 467. I also have some ebay triggers which work with either flash, and I recently invested in a shoot-through/reflective umbrella (which I haven't used yet). I just didn't think that this would be practical when chasing a young child around. I suppose I could find a way to attach the flash and brolly to a monopod so that my VAL could follow me round. I also wanted to keep it simple by trying to use the natural light, but maybe that's not always the right thing.

    The Kelby Training certainly looks interesting, but I don't have the finances to be able to invest in that at the moment, as I have been unemployed for almost two years now (hence why I'm trying to get a photography business going) and I have very little money to spare. I did sign up to a UK-based online training programme a little while ago, which was 99 for the year, and I have been watching many of their videos, which have been very helpful.

  9. #9

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    Re: First 'official' photo shoot

    Quote Originally Posted by DH59 View Post
    Colin: I have seen your portraits gallery and that is certainly what I would like to achieve. I do need more practice, and I should have been doing this with more conviction for some time - I've wasted a lot of time trying to get 'more information' and more confidence in my abilities instead of just getting out there and doing it. Offering these free shoots was a way of getting me out of my comfort zone and into the real world of professional photography. I certainly learned what I should and shouldn't have done, and will take that to the next shoot.
    Yep - you'll never learn so many new things as on your first few shoots

    Regarding your point 2: I used my 24-105mm at f/4 on my Canon 40D for all these shots. I have a 70-200mm (f/4 with IS) but the garden was too small to use this lens, I think. I did try to get the focus point on her eyes, but this is obviously a skill I need to work on, especially with wriggly three-year-olds.
    The 24-105 at the 105 end (ish) would probably be OK. I use the 70-200 almost excludively for these kinds of shoots, but on a 1Ds3, which of course is full frame.

    I know I should have used my reflector and/or diffuser, but I know for next time. There was very little shade in either the back or front gardens, so I did struggle to get the light, background and pose all in tandem. I will certainly be taking my VAL on the next shoot.
    VAL and a diffuser will make a BIG difference. Even a couple of VALs (parents are good for that). Also - if there aren't good locations around the parents homes, take them to a local park; getting some colourful foliage in the background will make the job a lot easier.

    I have a couple of flashguns - a Canon 580EX II and a cheap ebay Yongnuo 467. I also have some ebay triggers which work with either flash, and I recently invested in a shoot-through/reflective umbrella (which I haven't used yet). I just didn't think that this would be practical when chasing a young child around. I suppose I could find a way to attach the flash and brolly to a monopod so that my VAL could follow me round. I also wanted to keep it simple by trying to use the natural light, but maybe that's not always the right thing.
    You need triggers that will enable HSS mode on the 580EX II, otherwise you'll be limited to X-Sync speed of around 1/250th - and you won't be able to get open apertures for better bokeh. Flashes + brolly/softbox attached to a monopod (or tripod) work well (that's what I use). Natural light sucks - especially if you're shooting in the open in the middle of the day

    The Kelby Training certainly looks interesting, but I don't have the finances to be able to invest in that at the moment, as I have been unemployed for almost two years now (hence why I'm trying to get a photography business going) and I have very little money to spare. I did sign up to a UK-based online training programme a little while ago, which was 99 for the year, and I have been watching many of their videos, which have been very helpful.
    It'll cost you a lot more not to sign up in the long run - it's hands-down the best video training out there. It's only USD $24.95 for a month (you can cancel after that) - so I'd suggest signing up for a month and really really really getting stuck into those videos I mentioned. STRONGLY recommended.
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 30th October 2011 at 06:59 PM.

  10. #10
    DH59's Avatar
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    Re: First 'official' photo shoot

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Yep - you'll never learn so many new things as on your first few shoots

    The 24-105 at the 105 end (ish) would probably be OK. I use the 70-200 almost excludively for these kinds of shoots, but on a 1Ds3, which of course is full frame.

    VAL and a diffuser will make a BIG difference. Even a couple of VALs (parents are good for that). Also - if there aren't good locations around the parents homes, take them to a local park; getting some colourful foliage in the background will make the job a lot easier.

    You need triggers that will enable HSS mode on the 580EX II, otherwise you'll be limited to X-Sync speed of around 1/250th - and you won't be able to get open apertures for better bokeh. Flashes + brolly/softbox attached to a monopod (or tripod) work well (that's what I use). Natural light sucks - especially if you're shooting in the open in the middle of the day

    It'll cost you a lot more not to sign up in the long run - it's hands-down the best video training out there. It's only USD $24.95 for a month (you can cancel after that) - so I'd suggest signing up for a month and really really really getting stuck into those videos I mentioned. STRONGLY recommended.
    Thanks, Colin.

    I will try the 70-200 next time, but I think the 24-105 gave me enough options on this occasion, being a very small space. And I will also try and rope in the parent on the next shoot. I have suggested a local park for next week's session, but this last one wanted the shoot in the garden, for some strange reason.

    I'm not sure about my triggers - but I don't think they will be able to exceed the sync speed.

    I know that training will be worth it, but I am having to be very careful where the money is going at the moment. I will look into the one month option, though. I've certainly got a lot of free time to be able to sit and watch them, housework permitting, of course, but I try not to do too much of that!!

  11. #11

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    Re: First 'official' photo shoot

    Quote Originally Posted by DH59 View Post
    Thanks, Colin.

    I will try the 70-200 next time, but I think the 24-105 gave me enough options on this occasion, being a very small space. And I will also try and rope in the parent on the next shoot. I have suggested a local park for next week's session, but this last one wanted the shoot in the garden, for some strange reason.

    I'm not sure about my triggers - but I don't think they will be able to exceed the sync speed.

    I know that training will be worth it, but I am having to be very careful where the money is going at the moment. I will look into the one month option, though. I've certainly got a lot of free time to be able to sit and watch them, housework permitting, of course, but I try not to do too much of that!!
    No worries Diane,

    Keep us informed of your progress

    Just a final quick thought for the day; don't be too quick to shoot vertically - it's important to give your subjects some room to "look into" - having someones eyes and nose towards the edge of the frame generally isn's a good look (even my "AJ is a rock star" is a bad example of that). Think for a moment how these would have looked if shot / cropped vertically ...

    First 'official' photo shoot

    First 'official' photo shoot

    First 'official' photo shoot

  12. #12
    DH59's Avatar
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    Re: First 'official' photo shoot

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post

    PS: If you're serious, you NEED to pop along to www.kelbytraining.com - sign up ($24.95 a month or $199.00 per year) (USD) and go through the videos from James Schmelzer and Cliff Mauntner)
    I've just discovered that you can have a 24-hour free trial, so I am currently signed in and watching some excellent videos!

  13. #13

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    Re: First 'official' photo shoot

    No HSS (high speed sync) but want wide aperture and the light is too strong? ND filters is another option. Apart from adding extra stuff in front of the lens (which can cause extra flare - big problem is you don't want it, can also degrade the image - but you may need to pixel peep to see any real difference 8"x10" and below).

    Just to add a tiny little extra piece to the much vaster amount of good advice already given.

    Graham H

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