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Thread: Amateur Portrait Photography Help!

  1. #1

    Default Amateur Portrait Photography Help!

    Hi! I'm new to photography (recently got an A6500 as a birthday present) and I would like to begin my journey learning portraits. I tried asking my friends to model for me but most either declined or are awkward in front of the camera.. May I ask how do the more seasoned/professional photographers start out? Or are there any like-minded groups that I can join? Thank you!

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  2. #2

    Default Re: Amateur Portrait Photography Help!

    I got a good reaction from friends and friends of friends. The way I posed it was that they could use them for their resumes, cover letters, job applications and passports. I started by doing this for free and then word of mouth got out and it turned out everyone wanted professional yet quirky portraits. Now because I've filled up my portfolio, I've had to start charging and am still getting lots of requests!

  3. #3
    Senior Member Nikonzen's Avatar
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    Default Re: Amateur Portrait Photography Help!

    Study this so you will have some idea of what you are doing. When you are confident your friends will notice and they in turn will be more confident in having you make their picture.

    http://blog.kitfphoto.com/Zeltsman/
    Last edited by Nikonzen; 19th April 2017 at 09:00 AM.
    Expand your mind or get left behind

  4. #4

    Default Re: Amateur Portrait Photography Help!

    Quote Originally Posted by loper View Post
    I got a good reaction from friends and friends of friends. The way I posed it was that they could use them for their resumes, cover letters, job applications and passports. I started by doing this for free and then word of mouth got out and it turned out everyone wanted professional yet quirky portraits. Now because I've filled up my portfolio, I've had to start charging and am still getting lots of requests!
    I want to do it for free too, but i find it hard to find people willing to model for me as well... But im not giving up!

    Sent from my LG-H990 using Tapatalk

  5. #5

    Default Re: Amateur Portrait Photography Help!

    Quote Originally Posted by Nikonzen View Post
    Study this so you will have some idea of what you are doing. When you are confident your friends will notice and they in turn will be more confident in having you make their picture.

    http://blog.kitfphoto.com/Zeltsman/
    I'll take a look, thanks bro!

    Sent from my LG-H990 using Tapatalk

  6. #6

    Default Re: Amateur Portrait Photography Help!

    I am not sure of your skill level but if you are an absolute beginner, you may want to practice using some inanimate objects first so you will not appear to be so green when taking live models. That was what I did. It help me test out lighting configurations, balancing natural lights with flash etc. Watermelons and pineapples have infinite patience.
    Website: Curious

  7. #7
    Moderator catchlights's Avatar
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    Default Re: Amateur Portrait Photography Help!

    if you are not aware, you want to kill two birds with one stone.
    learning photography and learning photograph people at the same time.
    any one of these are very big subjects to learn.
    if you want to be good, learn ONE at A time, start with basic photography, master your exposure, composition.
    if you just want to have fun..... then it is better to pay somebody to pose for you, or at least buy them a lunch.
    Last edited by catchlights; 19th April 2017 at 11:22 PM.
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  8. #8

    Default Re: Amateur Portrait Photography Help!

    Quote Originally Posted by solaryzed View Post
    Hi! I'm new to photography (recently got an A6500 as a birthday present) and I would like to begin my journey learning portraits. I tried asking my friends to model for me but most either declined or are awkward in front of the camera.. May I ask how do the more seasoned/professional photographers start out? Or are there any like-minded groups that I can join? Thank you!

    Sent from my LG-H990 using Tapatalk
    Like Catchlights said you are trying to run before you learn to crawl so to speak. First thing first..welcome.

    It's amazing that a young person like you is so trusting of technology and yes the A6500 can produce relatively good results even if you know nothing about photography because it can auto everything from focusing to exposure.

    There are a few important things to learn about basic photography.

    1. Exposure... the control of the amount of light recieved by image sensor
    relative to the ISO ( light sensivity setting eg. 100-512000).There are 3 things controlling exposure or relationships namely by ISO setting, shutter speed and aperture ( size of opening through the lens barrel).What this simply means is how bright or dark the picture will turn out and whether
    it has contrast or not that will make the picture stand out.

    2. Composition...the arrangement of subjects spacially (people or inanimate objects) in the viewfinder frame that pleases the eye.The basic rule of thirds (imaginary lines that divide the frame into 3 parts horizontally and vertically). If you put your subject (main point of interest) in dead centre of the picture it will look boring or uninteresting. Lines and shape matter too.

    3. White balance or colour balance...the colour of light changes throughout the day.Early moring tend towards blue and late afternoon towards sunset looks reddish or orange.So are artificial light in homes and buildings.Florescent lighting tend towards green.Incandescent and spotlights
    looks orangey.Although setting to AWB (auto white balance) is convenient but you don't learn or understand why the light has a colour cast that impact on the human skin or mood of the picture.Humans reference the colour they see in daytime hence white balance...how white is white the colour during daylight hours. Actually can use grey colour too.

    4. Metering... how the camera measures and determine an exposure referenced
    to a shade of grey or middle grey or 18% grey as it's also termed.In extreme lighting conditions like very bright or dark scenes the meter can be fooled and expose incorrectly.You must learn to adjust shutter speed or aperture to compensate to get correct or accurate exposure which in turn means correct colour and contrast/details in shadow areas.These 4 things alone will take time to learn and understand.

    You say you want to start your journey by doing portraits...this in itself is another big hurdle as in basic photography there are also things to learn and understand. Namely posing and lighting.There are a few basic lighting setups that is commonly used ( the direction of light illuminating the subject). Even professional photographers will say they need to refresh and learn the latest trends to stay on top of their game because it is a competitive and bitchy environment. In reality it's not that difficult either. A matter of practice, practice and practice.You will not get much help or tips here too.

    The best way is to self learn/teach...read a few good books that you can download foc or websites. See youtube tutorials, there are no secrets just willingness to find info and learn.

    With only a A6500 I assume you will be shooting with natural or existing sunlight.There is hard and soft lighting. Hard means hard/sharp shadows and soft means gradual tones of contrast.Both have their uses to make dramatic or dreamy/soft photos. The most pleasing look is soft light under shade or cloudy sky.For indoors window light is beautiful. Learn to see the different lighting.

    Undoubtedtly you need to learn to shoot with natural as well as artificial light.Until you buy your off camera flash and wireless trigger that is another step forward.Start with your family members I'm sure they will be sympathetic.Another pool of talent will be old folks below your void decks.
    Just befriend them and you have interesting characters to shoot.Worst senario buy a mannequin (commonly female)and use it..no complaints,patience or shyness. Always available.
    Good luck.

    Edit: Forgot to mention in portrait photography you are try to give the illusion of depth 3D on essentially a 2D medium. You do this by using light and shadow. Light illuminates the body/face and shadows give shape/form and define the body/face. Much to learn.
    Most amateurs (includes myself) take a snapshot but the pros make/create a photo by skillful use of light and shadow among other things that's the difference.
    Last edited by one eye jack; 20th April 2017 at 11:52 AM.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Amateur Portrait Photography Help!

    Thank you for taking your time to write out your comments! Really appreciate it. I guess I am asking too much to do both at the same time, huh. No such thing as killing 2 birds with 1 stone.

    I am currently learning about the exposure triangle and as far as possible I've tried to only shoot in manual. Maybe I should be practicing more on the streets!

    I love natural light so I make it a point to shoot either early in the morning or before/just right after the sun sets, when the light isn't harsh. What I find difficult is composition beyond the rule of thirds, like symmetry and golden spiral.

    Please enlighten me on one last thing: are the white balance profiles on the camera good, or do people usually use custom settings?

    Sent from my LG-H990 using Tapatalk

  10. #10
    Senior Member Nikonzen's Avatar
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    Default Re: Amateur Portrait Photography Help!

    Sunny 16. In your head. Automatically. Be careful out there in the streets bro.

    It is all about the light.

    Experiment with white balance. Learn about it. Know how to use all settings.

    Few years back someone put me onto this concerning composition. At the end of the essay there are more links. Great stuff.

    http://www.adammarelliphoto.com/2011/06/robert-capa/
    Last edited by Nikonzen; 20th April 2017 at 07:15 AM.
    Expand your mind or get left behind

  11. #11

    Default Re: Amateur Portrait Photography Help!

    Quote Originally Posted by solaryzed View Post
    Thank you for taking your time to write out your comments! Really appreciate it. I guess I am asking too much to do both at the same time, huh. No such thing as killing 2 birds with 1 stone.

    I am currently learning about the exposure triangle and as far as possible I've tried to only shoot in manual. Maybe I should be practicing more on the streets!

    I love natural light so I make it a point to shoot either early in the morning or before/just right after the sun sets, when the light isn't harsh. What I find difficult is composition beyond the rule of thirds, like symmetry and golden spiral.

    Please enlighten me on one last thing: are the white balance profiles on the camera good, or do people usually use custom settings?

    Sent from my LG-H990 using Tapatalk
    In general the white balance profiles of even point n shoot cameras are good
    so with a mid to highend camera like A6500 there's no need to fret or doubt.
    But there is one thing you need to know about AWB setting which essentially adjusts white balance on the fly (real time) eg. if you take a series of photos within a span of minutes each photo's white balance can vary a bit. Now all this is not that critical when you are learning to expose and compose a picture in jpeg format as this frees you to concentrate on making pictures.It only becomes a problem when you post process or digital enhance for the sake of efficiency you can not make global adjustments say to a batch of photos taken at a particular time but only individually each photo.

    So it pays at pro level to be consistant about white balance like choosing daylight,cloudy/shade or sunset etc. or set a kelvin degree format equivalent to the various mode setting. This is known as colour temperature setting.

    It is only for special lighting setups that may need a custom setting as you can switch back to normal quickly. Only for pros or advanced amateurs..haha.

    But there are pros who use AWB all the way..go figure.

    With regards to rule of thirds, symmetry is just a mirror image.The golden spiral or actually the golden mean is a rectangular ratio between length and breath that is a multiple of 0.618 also known as god ratio as it is used in ancient greek architecture or japanese buddhist temples and gardens for a pleasing proportion visually. It is also used in art paintings and drawings.
    One example is Leonardo Davinci's drawing of a human male circumscbribed
    by a circle.

    Trust me if you can master rule of thirds especially putting subjects at the intersection of the lines it is pretty powerful compositionally is good enough.

    About shooting streets..be mindful of people's right to privacy. As this is a timing issue pressing the shutter button at the right time to capture the peak emotion is the difference between an ordinary snapshot and a great photo. So need to practice your reaction response.Go to places where tourists visit and you won't look out of place as everyone is using a camera.

  12. #12
    Member dennisc's Avatar
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    Default Re: Amateur Portrait Photography Help!

    I no pro, but from my first click, I didn't sux lah luckily, heck today I used a Canon setup of 5d3 (Canon 50 f1.2, Sigma 20 f1.4 ART, Sigma 35 f1.4 ART but my Olympus EM5 still beats the crap off my canon setup today in terms of artsy - light leak, etc...) sigh...
    Camera doesn't matter lah, but then what do I know, I'm always a learner...
    Last edited by dennisc; 23rd April 2017 at 06:59 PM.

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