Useful Photography Tip #167: Have Your Subject Face Your Key Artificial Light Source

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Expoimaging Rogue Flashbender soft silver portraits of Anna (1 of 12)ISO 1601-250 sec at f - 2.8

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Hey strobist photographers: if you’re shooting a portrait of someone, the best thing that I’ve learned over the years is to actually make them face your artificial key light source. Of course, you wouldn’t do this with a natural one light the sun–but you can surely create more flattering portraits with a strobe or flash in a light modifier like a softbox, umbrella, etc.

Having your subject face the light source:

  • Makes the light look softer
  • Makes the light more flattering
  • Eliminates shadows on their face and sometimes body that may otherwise be unflattering
  • Gives them what I like to call the flattering spotlight effect.

When they’re facing the light source and the light source is shining directly down onto them, they’re illuminated to a certain point where they’re clearly made to be the main point of the photo. However, the light source isn’t as harsh as a spotlight, so it’s naturally more flattering.

As an extra tip: place the modifier so that the actual source of light is slightly above eye-level of the subject.

Also note: It doesn’t need to be direct; the light source can be slightly off to the left or right too.

Useful Photography Tip #166: Keep Colors in a Portrait Very Simple

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer 85mm f1.4 G Master review portrait samples Fernando (2 of 3)ISO 1001-40 sec at f - 4.0

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One of the best things that you can do to make your portrait subject stand out more in a scene is to use color coordination. Backgrounds can always be some sort of stagnant-ish color, but then focus on the wardrobe and make it work accordingly with the person’s skin tones. But more or less, try to keep the scene to three primary colors.

To do this, what I generally say is look at the color scale: ROYGBIV. In the photo above:

  • Fernando’s skin is correlated with orange/red undertones
  • Green background with some white
  • Blue tones in his clothing.

See how each of those tones are different? An image that sticks to the BIV or the ROY can sometimes be tough to make a subject really stand out unless you’ve got very effective lighting. Now, to be fair, we see all this just fine, but cameras don’t necessarily do. Adjusting the HSL of the color tones individually can also help. Saturation can really help in the same ways that it did during the film days.

Useful Photography Tip #165: How to Make a Thick Chin Look More Flattering

Yes, that's me.

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I’ve got a major problem that I’m very self-conscious about: my chin. Sure, body positivity is a thing–except if you’re a business owner that has to look fleek most of the time is super young and is often known for being stylish *cough* *me*.

The beard often helps with the look of what I’m calling a thick chin/neck. It’s something lots of folks are conscious about and sometimes don’t want to be portrayed in a not flattering way. Peter Hurley tells us to stick the chin out a bit. Indeed it works–to a certain point.

The way that you can take this further is to also position yourself at either eye level or a bit above your portrait subject’s eye level. On top of that (no pun intended) tell them that after sticking their chin out a bit, to also bring the chin down just a bit by bringing down the entire head. Don’t just tilt the head–quite literally shift it down a tad. Imagine a turtle sticking its head out of its shell and then bringing its head down a bit.

Additionally, also try not to lower your jaw any bit because it can create more of a look that blends your jaw right into your neck.

Give it a try! You’ll end up with more flattering photos.

Useful Photography Tip #164: 5 Tips for Better Photos of FireWorks Using Your Phone

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Want more Useful Photography Tips? Click here. Image by Andy Karmy.

For everyone here in America, Happy July 4th! But if you’re not reading this on the 4th, then consider these quick tips on taking better photos of fireworks with your mobile phone.

  • Use a manual settings app: Use an app that lets you set at least the focus manually. This way your phone isn’t searching in the darkness for the fireworks to appear. You can also use said app to adjust settings like shutter speed, locking ISO, etc. Go for long shutter speeds and a lower ISO setting. In general, underexpose just a bit.
  • Stabilize your phone: I’m not expecting everyone to use a tripod with their phone so instead just remember to tuck your elbows in when you shoot. This will keep the cameraphone much more stable. Also be sure to hold it with both hands.
  • Use the burst shot ability: Using burst helps a whole ton when it comes to getting the exact photo you care about a lot.
  • Scope Out and Claim a Spot: By ensuring that you get a good spot to watch the fireworks, you don’t have to worry about issues like people getting in the way of your images. Of course, that is if you’re super serious. This tip especially goes out to those of us (like me) who are vertically challenged.
  • Turn Your Flash Off: It’s honestly rather useless at that far of a range. That little LED bulb isn’t going to light up the night sky.

Useful Photography Tip #163: Creating the Window Light Look Anywhere You Go

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Zeiss 25mm f2 Batis review sample photos (28 of 29)ISO 4001-200 sec at f - 5.0

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One of the ideas that we teach here often on the site is about how you can augment the look of natural light by putting a flash up against a window. But now it’s time to take that step just a bit further–and all you need is an off-camera flash and a large white/translucent reflector. How large? Figure around 42 inches.

Now it can be used in one of two ways:

  • Bouncing the light from the flash off the large surface to deliver more potent light

or

  • Configuring the reflector to be translucent (shoot-through) and putting the flash on one side of the reflector and your subject on the other side.

Either way, make sure that you set your hot shoe flash head to the widest setting using the wide angle diffuser. When you do this, it’s going to cover the most surface area and when bounced off (or shot through) the reflector, it’s going to give off coverage that’s going to look similar to what a window can do.

Shooting a portrait? Have the reflector to the side of your subject and a little bit above. Shooting food? Well have the reflector to the side and way above.

Go give it a shot and as always, have fun shooting!

 

 

Useful Photography Tip #162: The x2 And Difference Rule of Charging for Photos

Model: Justin Kirck

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Lots of photographers have absolutely no idea what to charge a client when they’re first starting out. So to help you out in some ways when considering pricing, keep these tips in mind. First off consider your expenses, time shooting, transportation, commute time, knowledge needed to actually create the images, post production time and effort on top of knowledge, etc. as a base. Then look at that and compare it to photographers that do similar work in your area and are of a similar skill level as you are. If you’re not as good as them or haven’t been shooting as long, then start bringing the price down.

Now whatever figure you had in mind, double it. Why? Taxes are a big reason for this, especially if you’re getting paid in checks.

Then consider a couple of differences: whether you can reasonably charge that much money, whether you can convince the client to pay you that, etc. Then also keep things in mind like if you’re working with a company, a person, and various things about them and who they are. The rest of it is way too much to honestly type out but getting these three videos and the worksheets that I created will help you immensely with this.

Just remember: it all starts with your identity as a photographer.

Useful Photography Tip #161: Flattening a Portrait Subject’s Mid-Section

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Tamron 85mm f1.8 Di VC extra sample images Jenn's portraits (2 of 4)ISO 4001-125 sec at f - 3.5

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When it comes to photographing a person from the direct side, there are loads of portrait subjects who get self-conscious about how they look and may not necessarily want to. But you can fix that in-camera without Photoshop pretty easily just by doing a bit of stretching while creating a pose that looks natural.

How do you do this?

  • Have the subject face to the side: either have them shift their weight to the leg/side further from the camera or have them perfectly straight
  • Pull the clothing back to be a bit more form fitting
  • Have them straighten up their back without sucking in their gut.
  • Have them lean back just a bit while pulling their stomach in a bit
  • Then make the portrait subject turn their shoulder closer to you just a bit back and to the side

Again, while there’s nothing wrong with embracing who you are (and I encourage it) it could be more important for others when it comes to social media portraits, headshots, etc.

Useful Photography Tip #160: Making Cheeks Look Less Puffy in a Portrait

Paige Owen Headhots 2016 by Chris Gampat (21 of 32)ISO 4001-125 sec at f - 2.5

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“That feels really weird.” said Paige to me this past weekend as I was doing headshots for her. She was referring to a tactic I told her to do in order to make her face look less puffy in a portrait. Besides using an 85mm lens to compress the scene, Peter Hurley will tell you that a good tactic is to stick the chin out a bit. For the most part, that works very well: but an even further step can be taken after that.

Try this:

  • Ask your portrait subject to open their mouth and drop their jaw. This will eliminate any immediate puffiness in the face and thin it out.
  • Then ask them to smile with the mouth open and the jaw still dropped.
  • Finally, have them close the mouth just enough so that if they wanted to, their tongue could still go in between the top and bottom front row of teeth. Their mouth can remain open or not.

Combine this with soft, flattering lighting and sticking the chin out and you’ll have a portrait that will look much better.