Archive for April 3rd, 2008

Beautiful, Natural, Genuine Portraits

April 3, 2008

Natalie Norton is a busy mother of three young boys. She is also a professional photographer, sought out by families and brides-to-be for her exquisitely natural-looking portraits and light, human touch. Her theory on shooting is as simple as it is true: You can have the best equipment in the world, perfect lighting, and a strong creative vision, but it won’t mean a thing if you’ve got a subject who refuses to cooperate.

Interestingly enough, it was Natalie’s own uncomfortable experience in front of the camera that finally led her toward a new way of working with people to create, in her words, “beautiful, natural, genuine portraits that make our hearts sing.” Well said.

In her article, “The Human Side of Photography…”, she offers the following four tips for budding photographers interested in getting more naturalistic portraiture:

1. Handle the Hands. Give your subjects something to hold. If their hands are busy, it can offer a “cognitive distraction” to curb their camera anxiety.
2. Pull up a Chair. When people sit, they’ll often lose their nervousness and rigidity. The setting instantly feels less formal and the resulting photographs will feel more casual.
3. The Attraction of Distraction. Distract your subject by getting them to talk about something they’re interested in. Ask them questions about their family, pets, or favorite superhero.
4. A tip from Aretha: R.E.S.P.E.C.T. Your subjects deserve your respect. Seek out privacy. If a setting isn’t working, drop it and try something else. The picture above is of Natalie’s four-year-old son, taken after he started coming to her to ask to have his photograph taken.

Check out the article for more great pictures and advice from Natalie.

If you liked this article, you may also be interested in “Simple Tips for Photographing Your Children”.

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Hot on the Campaign Trail

April 3, 2008

Photo Credit: Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

If the presidential primary season has taught us anything, it’s certainly reinforced our notion that it’s a long, strange trip to the White House. This primary season is especially peculiar because it’s the first dust-up since the 1928 election when both Democrats and Republicans have had neither an incumbent President nor Vice President in the running. Not only has the campaign season been long but it’s also certainly been the most expensive to date as well. And it has been laden with enough twists and turns along the way to rival even the most mind-baffling episode of Lost.

It’s been interesting to watch how each candidate’s fortunes have either risen or fallen, with some rising again, in this uniquely American way of vetting a politician for the highest office in the land. And yet, imagine yourself for a moment as a photographer assigned to one of these candidates’ press pool. How do you find novel ways to visually tell the story of your assigned candidate when each whistle stop and stump speech is practically indistinguishable from the last?

Take a look at this slide show on The New York Times website, which shows how some press photographers rose to meet the challenge, creating interesting and artful compositions, many of which may be remembered long after the dust on the campaign trail has finally settled and the mud has stopped being flung and we finally know, at long last, who will be our forty-fourth president.

Make Your Sunset Photos Stand Out

April 3, 2008

Photo © Copyright Matthew G. Monroe

Looking for helpful advice on how to make your sunset photos stand out? According to Matthew Monroe, the answer is simple: Don’t shoot the sunset. In an article for the Digital Photography School, Matthew advises readers to wait about fifteen or twenty minutes after the sun has dropped below the horizon before snapping pictures.

Take a look at the picture Matthew shot above for the article of St. John’s Bridge near his hometown of Portland, Oregon. With the camera in full manual mode, autofocus off, ISO at 100, and the f-stop somewhere between f8 and f13 (with an exposure time between 15-30 seconds), he played around with his camera’s white balance until it was down to about 2800 degrees Kelvin, to increase the saturation of his blue tones. Then he kept snapping pictures.

What he was waiting for was what he describes as a one-minute window during which truly jaw-dropping images can be created. And once you’ve captured the moment, you’ll know it right away but, even then, Matthew advises to keep shooting, especially if you’re in the path of a rising full moon.

Be sure to read the complete post for more interesting photographs and further details.

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