Portrait Photography: an open question on end result vs equipment's $$$


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#1
Just an open question for those who are expert in outdoor or indoor portrait, and of course also from the beginner whom has better experience than me.

Wanted to start learning portrait photography, I have a ton of question in my mind about the (most) important aspect of taking a good picture: the lighting techniques.

I read some photography course syllabus on the internet, and I found out that ALL of them highlight the important of lighting and, of course, the choice of lenses and model's pose. There are a lot of courses related to lighting for portrait photography, whether it is studio or outdoor, where they provide all lighting equipment you need.

Also in all the books I read, they always use heavy equipment for photography. So far I have read around 5 books I borrow from the library, and all of them are those portrait with a lot of lighting equipment such as flash diffuser, reflector, lighting stand, strobe, spotlight, light meter, background, and tons of more equipment.

However, let's face the reality. Most of us do not have such equipment. For me myself, I only have a DSLR, some lenses, 2 old flashes, an old tripod, some filters, and a PC flash cable.

Some of you might, or even would, tell me to rent lighting equipments, rent a studio, pay an assistant, etc. But hey, I am just an ordinary guy whom most money earned goes toward my household. I don't have such a luxury of spending money only for my spare time hobby.

To be honest, I believe that one should be able to produce a good quality photography even with only a camera and a lens. But so far no courses or books highlight this.

My questions are:

1. Does it mean that I will not be able to take a good portrait with a limited equipment?
2. Was my question no 1 the reason that there is no courses or books highlights this problem?
3. Is there any course that can help me to achive maximum result based only on the equipment I have?
4. Is there any of you out there who was just like me, but finally find an answer to this problem?

Well, thanks guys for your time reading some concern I have inside my tiny brain... and even smaller pocket ;)
 

catchlights

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#2
photography is all about light, be it portraiture or landscape.

lets talk about portraiture only.
first, you need learn about how to see the "light", as in quality, eg, hard or soft.
second, you need learn how to use the "light", as in making the right exposure,
third, you need learn how to manipulate the light, as set the flash for how it light a person, using reflector, or place a person at a location to let the natural light light the person the way you want it..

so you can still can use the minimum equipment to shoot portraits, as long you know how to see, how to use and how to manipulate the lights.

for now, you can shoot outdoor only, learn to see the light.
 

May 1, 2007
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#3
From my short time here, I realise that when members talked about "portrait", they actually meant a very narrow type of "portrait" - those of pretty girls nicely decked up in pretty clothes and make up.

There are of course many different kinds of portraits, and a trip to the bookstore will show the wide spectrum of "portraits". And many of these pictures do not even need anything fancy!

Just simple understanding of "light", as pointed out by catchlights.
 

dscans

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Sep 10, 2007
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That would depend what kind of "portraiture" you're going for. This genre covers a wide variety. Start simple and develop your technique....you don't need a lot of fancy equipment. Some books I read say all you need is a nice big window, and a big white board (or styrofoam) as a reflector! And having a good model definitely helps!
 

ZDragon

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#5
well... Portraits photography doesn't need anything fantastic. Some take wondeful portraits with simple kitlens and the inbuild flash using only tissue paper as diffusers and end up taking wonderful pictures. Some uses the most expensive equipment and end up as good as not having them at all.

Understand your system and make full use of them to maximise the effects. :D
 

varf

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#7
However, let's face the reality. Most of us do not have such equipment. For me myself, I only have a DSLR, some lenses, 2 old flashes, an old tripod, some filters, and a PC flash cable.

Some of you might, or even would, tell me to rent lighting equipments, rent a studio, pay an assistant, etc. But hey, I am just an ordinary guy whom most money earned goes toward my household. I don't have such a luxury of spending money only for my spare time hobby.
you sound like the type of photographer who'd want to read strobist.blogspot.com. try it; i think you'll like it.
 

zac08

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Feb 21, 2005
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Start with one of the cheapest lens, a 50mm f1.8

You'll learn composition, lighting and more if you just experiment. Use available light and flash(es) to add on if needed.
 

Dream Merchant

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#10
Also in all the books I read, they always use heavy equipment for photography. So far I have read around 5 books I borrow from the library, and all of them are those portrait with a lot of lighting equipment such as flash diffuser, reflector, lighting stand, strobe, spotlight, light meter, background, and tons of more equipment.
Most basic you can get by is a camera, a lens, one light source (can be any kind), one large reflector (can be white cardboard or styrofoam people throw away), one willing model and a great vision.

However, let's face the reality. Most of us do not have such equipment. For me myself, I only have a DSLR, some lenses, 2 old flashes, an old tripod, some filters, and a PC flash cable.
You have more equipment than some photographers. Just throw in a large reflector and you're good to go. The most important thing is understanding the properties of light, and knowing how to control it for what you want to shoot.

Some of you might, or even would, tell me to rent lighting equipments, rent a studio, pay an assistant, etc. But hey, I am just an ordinary guy whom most money earned goes toward my household. I don't have such a luxury of spending money only for my spare time hobby.
THE most important thing is to learn to 'see' light in tonal values and then learn how to control it with what equipment you already have. A good basic book on understanding the basics of light for photography, and portraiture lighting from the public library is probably the most important 'equipment' you can find right now.

To be honest, I believe that one should be able to produce a good quality photography even with only a camera and a lens. But so far no courses or books highlight this.
That's probably because photography as we know it cannot exist without light and some kind if way to retain the captured light.

1. Does it mean that I will not be able to take a good portrait with a limited equipment?
No.

2. Was my question no 1 the reason that there is no courses or books highlights this problem?
Sorry, what was the real problem?

3. Is there any course that can help me to achive maximum result based only on the equipment I have?
I would think there is. Look for courses in Basic portraiture techniques and lighting. Cheapest course would be books from public library. Internet at home also got to pay for electricity. :bsmilie:

4. Is there any of you out there who was just like me, but finally find an answer to this problem?
Definitely!
 

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