Saturday, March 31, 2007

Getting comfortable with portraits

Portrait photography is a very complicating and challenging subject. The photographer has to look into every details of the model’s body ranging from the head, shoulders, arms, waist and legs. On top of that, he has to ensure that the lighting is perfect for the style he is aiming for.

You may notice that some posed shots are rather stiff and may make you look like, God forbid, a mannequin. This is why some wedding photographers these days try to explore the unexpected; away from the rigid and conventional method while maintaining some posing principles and techniques in portrait photography.

We all know that portrait photography is a long and tiring process. To make the entire process more efficient, I would like to share a few general pointers to maximize the potential from your portrait photography session.

1) Be comfortable with your photographer
A friend of mine once shared with me on how he manages his subject. He first takes them out for breakfast – yes, breakfast. Having a meal together breaks the ice between the photographer and the client. By gaining the trust from the clients, the photographer is able to capture moments when their clients are at their most blissful state.

2) Have fun and express yourself
Who says portrait photography is boring? Do what you like. Run at the beach, lift the bride up, dance, kiss.. just play and don’t hold it back! The photographer will usually keep a distance and photograph the both of you having fun. When you’re pre-occupied, you will forget the camera is ever there.

3) Positioning your head, shoulders, hands and legs
When it comes to formal portrait, you will usually have to strike a pose for the camera. Unless you’re a natural, it is normal for you to become uncomfortable and stiff. I would like to share some general rules that may help you pose comfortably.

Head: Tilt your head slightly to the left or right towards your shoulders. Also, try to avoid having your entire face facing heads-on towards the camera. A symmetrical face is usually less flattering.

Shoulders: Allow one of your shoulders to slightly turn and face the camera. Try to avoid having both shoulders facing head-on towards the camera. This make your shoulders appear larger.

Hands: Try to keep them occupied. Hold the flowers, the dress, the veil, rest it on a pillar, put it in the pocket and so on.

Legs: Have one leg positioned comfortably in front of the other and rest your entire weight on the back leg.

If you were to follow through these few principles as you pose, it is likely you will appear better in the photo. Bear in mind that these are merely rules of portrait photography and we are not suggesting that portrait photography is confined within this area. After all, rules are meant to be broken.

4) Communicate with your photographer
Some photographers will talk to you while he is photographing you. This is one of the techniques some photographers apply. If there is a certain pose you would like to be included, communicate it with your photographer and if you feel uncomfortable, tell him. Finally, don’t feel intimidated by the camera and stop worrying how you would look like.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Maximising the potential of your wedding photos

So you've engaged your wedding photographer for your wedding day. What's next?

One thing for sure is that you've gotten one load off your shoulders, which is looking for the perfect photographer that is available on your date. Here are some tips that may help you maximize the potential of your photos during your wedding day.

1) Pass a copy of your itinerary to your photographer
You should hand over a copy at least 2 weeks before your wedding day. Through our experience, most plans change until the very last minute; so there is no need for you to hand it over too early. The itinerary allows the photographer to plan ahead and anticipate what may happen during your wedding day. Take this opportunity to communicate what you want to your photographer such as a list of people you want to be photographed, type of group shots and so on.

2) Allow the photographer to have some control
Although most wedding photojournalists work in a candid manner that is usually un-obstructive, it would be wise to allow the photographer to have some control over the situation. If you have hired more than one photographer for your wedding (from another party), it is vital that you determine the official photographer for the day. If you have other friends or relatives who are eagerly waiting to take your photo for you, give way and prioritize the official photographer. After all, you're paying the photographer to do his job.

3) Let the photographer express himself
If you noticed your photographer positioning himself oddly with his camera, don't worry! He's probably trying to be creative in his shots. Try to help him in any possible ways. Let him guide you when you're taking a portrait, even if it may feel odd or different. Have confidence in his work and after all, a good photographer is always doing something at your best interests.

4) Ignore the camera!
Not to stare at the camera and have your photo taken may sound weird, but believe me, most photos turn out better when you're not looking directly at the camera. A qualified wedding photojournalists knows when to press the shutter to optimize that particular moment, so don't worry! Also, you don't need to smile every time you see the camera. If he needs you to smile, he'll gladly tell you and smile with you.

5) Be yourself and have fun!
Trust the photographer you have just hired. After days or weeks of intensive screening, I am confident that you have selected the right photographer for the job, based on his skills and capability. Don't worry about him and have fun! Be yourself and express yourself - it is your wedding! A qualified wedding photojournalist will know what shots to take and what not to because we operate ethically.

6) Allow your photographer some time to process the photos
Processing your wedding photos is not as easy at it seems. In fact, 70% of the job is done here. It takes long hours at the computer to ensure your photos have the right colours, contrast and effects. If the photographer is editing the photos himself, he'll probably need more time and rushing him will only increase the chances of a slipshod work. One more thing, don't forget to give him a pat on the back and refer him to your friends if he has done a good job. An honest compliment is among the best reward a photographer can ever get.

Other photographers may have other tips but I hope this brief write-up will help prepare yourself for your wedding day. Oh yea, one more thing. Don't be afraid to communicate with your photographer because he will be your best friend during that day.

My next post will contain some tips on how to pose yourself comfortably during pre-wedding or portrait photo sessions.

Till then, cheers!

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Saturday, November 25, 2006

Dear, let the relatives do it.

Unless your relatives or friends are professional photographers, don’t rely entirely on them!

Although most weddings were documented by volunteering relatives or friends, ever so often the moments are not properly captured and easily forgotten. I would like to ask you a few questions before you consider ‘hiring’ your volunteering friends or relatives.

Can they capture important moments like the kiss that seals your vow?
These types of moments require high-end DSLR cameras with minimal lag whenever you press the shutter button. This is a feature that most point and shoot cameras don’t have. Things happen in split seconds and we, professional photographers can’t afford to have this lag. Can you afford to miss that kiss from being captured? We can’t.

Are they constantly on standby if anything interesting happens?
When relatives and friends meet, it becomes natural to welcome each other and be polite by talking to them. Who would you trust to be constantly on standby whenever something interesting happens – like the mother of the bride who sheds a tear of joy? Although sometimes we may look idle, but we are actually scouting around for interesting shots that may be useful for you.

Do they have the right equipment to do the job?
Point and shoot cameras often give you a very dull atmosphere. This happens when you use the built in flash on the camera. Our fully equipped cameras and gadgets are able to capture quality photos along with its ‘natural’ atmosphere at most cases. These equipments are expensive and it requires heavy investment. Are your relatives prepared to invest into such equipment to capture your wedding? We did.

Can they post process the photos professionally and provide you other services?
Most cases, your relative might just give you the photos as it is – unedited, dull and simple. Don’t expect them to give you quality work because it takes days and weeks to do it! I am sure they don’t have the time and neither do you. We spend hours on the computer daily just to ensure the colours are right, cropped and adjusted to its best potential. Also, we can further provide you other services like photo album, thank you postcards, slideshows and others with the same photos we took.

Finally, are they qualified?
“I can do that too!” Sure, we all have a pair of eyes, hands and legs to take a photo. But do they have the theories and knowledge to manage a complicating camera? Taking a photo is not as simple as just aiming and pressing the shutter. You have to take into consideration the exposure value, framing of the subject, the depth of field you want to capture, the timing of your shots to capture the important moments and so on.

If that friend or relative of yours whom you’re going to trust to handle the photography for your once in a lifetime occasion can answer all the questions above, then go ahead and let him or her do the job. If not, why don’t you pay a thousand or two in return for priceless memories? After all, you’re paying a professional to do the job.

A wedding occurs once a lifetime. Cherish it and don’t let these moments be captured in the hands of unqualified individuals.

Dear, let the professionals handle it.

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