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Thread: Priceless Smile

  1. #1
    Senior Member scud's Avatar
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    Default Priceless Smile

    Revisited some of my B&W shots taken recently.
    The original uncropped, scanned from neg is here.

    The below is the cropped version.
    IMO, the orig photo looks lifeless, it does not speaks nor sparks any interest except for his priceless smile (fyi, he seldom smiles when we were there shooting, only occasionally). Other reasons were the subject was placed at the center of the composition and has no eye contact. Therefore, I was trying to capture his priceless expression by doing a tighter crop.



    Does it works? Appreciate yr comments.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Priceless Smile

    Quote Originally Posted by scud
    IMO, the orig photo looks lifeless, it does not speaks nor sparks any interest except for his priceless smile (fyi, he seldom smiles when we were there shooting, only occasionally). Other reasons were the subject was placed at the center of the composition and has no eye contact. Therefore, I was trying to capture his priceless expression by doing a tighter crop.
    I share your sentiments about the lack of eye contact. If the gentleman had his eyes open, it would probably be a wonderful portrait. But the urge to look the subject in the eyes is just very strong, so the picture loses a lot. This is about the only drawback I find, but it is a very significant one. Nothing wrong with your skills, just bad luck I guess.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Priceless Smile

    I agree. This photo seems to have been taken just before or after the decisive moment (when the eyelids are open). That would most likely be a very nice portrait.

    I also find the hand at the bottom of the frame slightly disturbing.

  4. #4
    Senior Member scud's Avatar
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    Default Re: Priceless Smile

    LittleWolf & DeltaOmega, thanks for sharing yr comments.

    IMO, to be able to shoot a nice, good photo of ppl in the street, esp potraiture, one need a lot of determination, courages and patience. Coupled with luck, it will bring the best moment out of the split second. Anyway, I have not reached that level yet for my street photography, but of course I would be happy if I can get a significant usabe photos out of 36 frames that can speak to viewers. Well, I'm still learning & trying.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Priceless Smile

    I am afraid that I have to disagree with the comments above.

    Where did this obsession with "eye contact" arise?

    Where was it stated by any competent portrait photographer that there must be eye contact?

    Such comments are made by those who only echo and regurgitate what was brandished around by those who echo and regurgitate what others echo and regurgitate....................................... .................................................. .................................................. .................................................. ......................................

  6. #6

    Default Re: Priceless Smile

    I love the lack of eye contact right here. Nice grain and texture too.

  7. #7
    Senior Member scud's Avatar
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    Default Re: Priceless Smile

    thanks to student and shinken for your thought and comments.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Priceless Smile

    Quote Originally Posted by student
    I am afraid that I have to disagree with the comments above.

    Where did this obsession with "eye contact" arise?

    Where was it stated by any competent portrait photographer that there must be eye contact?

    Such comments are made by those who only echo and regurgitate what was brandished around by those who echo and regurgitate what others echo and regurgitate....................................... .................................................. .................................................. .................................................. ......................................
    I fully agree with Student, the comment (made by me) is a result of decades of conforming to society and I also agree that I am regurgitating others. And as he insinuated, I am certainly not a competent portrait photographer by any stretch of the imagination.

    Nevertheless, I personally still wish that I could see the subject's eyes

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    Thumbs up Re: Priceless Smile

    i thought with the eyes shut it convey a different story. Seems like the old man was remembering a pleasant past.
    btw.. wat camera and len were you using for this crisp and sharp shot?
    Take a shot, freeze the moment.

  10. #10
    Senior Member scud's Avatar
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    Default Re: Priceless Smile

    itoshii, i was using eos50 with 70-200f2.8

  11. #11

    Default Re: Priceless Smile

    Heh, I recognise the man as someone playing chinese chess at Chinatown...

    Took shots of him myself too! : ) In fact, he was wearing the exact same shirt. If the Thread Originator doesn't mind, here's my shot:

    Last edited by merkava74; 25th March 2006 at 11:46 PM.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Priceless Smile

    cant shoot portrait for nuts but my 2cts =)

    nice DOF & capture on the texture/wrinkles on his face & his little smile but he looks like he's got some gold teeth in there, so the title "priceless smile" would be stronger if his gold teeth were more prominently seen.

    As for the cropping, feel it's too tight. Like he's got a headache with the cropped head. A looser crop, maybe with a landscape orientation and the smoke in right hand corner looks like he's dreaming. So maybe it's "Smoky Dreams" instead?

    2 cts =)

  13. #13

    Default Re: Priceless Smile

    When I shoot posed portraits, such as glamour shots and family portraits, my subjects and myself would expect the eyes to be open. I don't know why, but that's how the world functions, so I conform.

    When I shoot street candids and adopt reportage/photojournalism style, I am no longer confined by the eyes. The moments I try to capture can be with or without the eye contact. As itoshii mentioned, they simply tell different stories.

    If the photographer had managed to establish a direct eye contact with the subject, then the chances are, the subject is aware of the presence of a photographer. The subject's response will be geared by this awareness. The subject would either pose for the camera in some way, or show some unwillingness to be photographed. Either way, the flow of my style is broken. I meant to capture the world pass by with me as a bystander, not in it.

    If the eyes are merely opened, and the eye contact is established with someone/something else, that's all it is. They're opened. Whether I want to shoot them open depends on what I want my photo to show. If they're merely opened, as in, not blinking, they play no role in my photo. But if their eyes show emotions, like sorrow, weariness, joy, pain; or if they're looking at something else that's of interest in my photo, then I would want to capture their eyes opened.

    The moment that I want to capture can be resting on whether we have open eyes. In candids, it's harder to shoot closed eyes than opened ones. If they're opened, but tell nothing, is there a point to wait for this very long moment? But the expression in this photo, I don't know him, but I classify such an expression as a very hard to come by one. With his head tilted, body angled; changing from one expression to another. This capture is priceless. The eyes shut tells you his expression is changing. It tells you that you had successfully captured a unique moment of his life.

    I use how the society behaves to help me understand myself and what I want. I don't use them as chains on my hands when I conform, but as food for thought when I create. I also think whether this society's notion is a sub group, a super ordinate group, or merely a confining narrow perimeter.

    One thing for sure, when shooting and viewing candids, the first thing that comes to my mind, is not whether their eyes are opened.

    So I'm an outcast and non-conformist. The rest of this society sub-group might see this view as worthless, because it's not representative of the majority. But I hope to raise it anyway, as I don't wish for a future of this subgroup having another set of chains on their hands when they create, but understand the inhibitions that are posed by the notions and perceptions of the larger society.
    Last edited by shinken; 26th March 2006 at 09:25 AM.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Priceless Smile

    I understand the reasons why people wanted "Eye Contact".

    This idea had been passed on and on and on........

    Good images/portraits are biographies of the subjects from the perspective of the photographer. And what makes for a good portrait is the ability of the photographer to write a biography in the pictorial/photographic form. Whether there is eye contact of not is secondary to the issue of writing that biography. If eye contact is necessary for that story, get it! If not, why bother?

    To illustrate, I attach two images scanned fom books.

    1 "The Italian"

    This image was made by Julia M Cameron. I scanned this image from a book titled "The Making of Great Photographs-Approaches and Techniques of the Masters" . This portrait is in the collection of the National Museum of Photography Film and Television, in Bradford.








    2 "Hepburn"

    This image of Audrey Hepburn was made by the legendary Yousuf Karsh. The image was scanned from a book titled "Portraits - The World's Top Photographers and the stories behind their greatest images"

    Last edited by student; 26th March 2006 at 10:38 AM.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Priceless Smile

    heh. shouldnt we all blame leonardo and mona for eye-contact preference? =)

  16. #16

    Default Re: Priceless Smile

    This discussion does not have to be framed in terms of right/wrong, important/unimportant.

    Eye contact produces an instinctive reaction in people (and most animals with binocular vision). Depending on situation and culture it can mean many different things, but it is always direct and personal. Hence, the famous "Uncle Sam Wants You!" poster stares you in the face. Conversely, when there is no eye contact the viewer of the image is placed in the postion of an observer and not a direct participant.

    Even in pornography there is a category called (amongst other things) Point of View (POV). The (usually female) actor keeps her eyes locked on the camera even when engaged in sex with someone else. In a way this mentally makes the viewer part of the scene because one of the participants "recognizes" the viewer's (not the camera operator's) existence through eye contact.

    The presence or absence of eye contact in a portrait will certainly create a different effect on the viewer but neither is more valid than the other. It is just another tool in the photographer's box of tricks to be used as required.

  17. #17

    Default Re: Priceless Smile

    Quote Originally Posted by Verywierd
    The presence or absence of eye contact in a portrait will certainly create a different effect on the viewer but neither is more valid than the other. It is just another tool in the photographer's box of tricks to be used as required.

    This is exactly what I said "If eye contact is necessary for that story, get it! If not why bother?"

    What I was referring to were comments by the first few posts that the lack of eye contact was something regrettable.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Priceless Smile

    Quote Originally Posted by Rev
    heh. shouldnt we all blame leonardo and mona for eye-contact preference? =)
    No, it is the hordes of unthinking parrots and monkeys who did not understand why Leonardo et al did what they did.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Priceless Smile

    Quote Originally Posted by student
    What I was referring to were comments by the first few posts that the lack of eye contact was something regrettable.
    I still think it is regrettable. To me, it looks like the gentleman just blinked at the very moment the picture was taken.

  20. #20

    Default Re: Priceless Smile

    Quote Originally Posted by LittleWolf
    I still think it is regrettable. To me, it looks like the gentleman just blinked at the very moment the picture was taken.

    Fair enough. I have no problem with your preference. The image will have different impact with the eyes opened or closed.

    It is the general attitude that portraits should have eye contact that I am referring to.

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