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Portraits Take Time : For Katie

Just hung out with my friend Alan Brusky of Fireleaf Design at the studio. He had asked me if I would help make an image of his sister in law, Katie while she was visiting here in Tampa. I figured this could be pretty cool, and to help a friend.. double bonus!

One of the things that got me excited about this was that Katie had never been into a “photo shoot” before. This would mean that this gives me the option to be able to practice something I love with someone who has had no experience being “talked to” by a photographer. I believe that every photographer out there has a bedside manner. Depending on how that bedside manner is – you’ll survive or fail a portrait session. We’ll talk about that one another time. So.. this would be her first time modeling.. with a stranger. Neat!

So, why am I writing this post? Well its about time, you see. Above you see the very first shot that I made with Katie. To the right – its the very last. When i work with a person in front of a camera I am very quick to explain to them that in order to get a picture thats wonderful, time is involved.

When you tell someone “I suck in front of a camera” – you are usually basing it on a very limited amount of times having your picture taken. Think of it like this: Think Thanksgiving – how many pictures could you have of yourself. Now add Easter.. prob not that many more. July 4.. couple here or there. So, in a smattering of pictures- lets say you get to 100.. you find that most suck, and you take horrible pictures.

Now, compare this to a model. A model can go into a shoot and take several hundred pictures. Do you know how many will be “The One?” Prob a handful – if that. As you get better as a model (and as a Photographer) those numbers get better.. but it takes time to do this.

Now, where Time comes into play. When you start working with someone, it takes time for that person to get used to you. It gets time for that person to find their footing in what they are doing. It takes time for them to figure out what you mean when you say “turn this way”. It takes time for them to relax every time you hit the shutter. However – if your Bedside manner is right.. and you know your gear.. the trust level increases, the person warms up.. and you get to make some good shots.

The next time you shoot with someone, go through the list of images – from start to finish. It’s as if there was a flipbook of comfort in front of you. The best shots more than likely are towards the tail end.

So.. make sure you convey this. Make sure you convey that this is something that will take a little time. When you show the result.. they’ll know it was a great trip.

5 comments

  1. You know, I think what I most admire about your blogging and your work, be it teaching, D-Town, whatever, is how human you make photography.
    So many people are cold, calculating, looking at the technical aspects of the camera, of light and it’s temperatures, mixing light like the paint department of the local hardware store, always to a formula. But you are a true artist, RC, seeing the people on the other side of the lens, and shooting the person, not just the portrait.
    I see the same characteristics in Joe McNally’s work, but he’s less overt about it. Maybe he’s a little “smoother” about it, but you both have the same heart to your work. You do it by being you, not with a “schtick”.
    Probably why I follow you both so closely… keep blazing a path for me to follow, Dude.
    And thanks.

  2. Thanks for this post RC…I started following you the first time I saw you on the grid, then I purchased your HDR app for the iPad and have your HDR book coming. You seem like a real down to earth guy and you explain things well, so even a hobbyist like me, can understand. Thanks again!

  3. Where is the third part on Fuji X100?

  4. I’ve been wanting to tell you something for the last week or so, and I think that David H. said it for me, only better — “you are a true artist, RC, seeing the people on the other side of the lens, and shooting the person, not just the portrait.” The person and artist that you are comes across in your photography, your TV work, and your blog. I enjoy listening and learning from you.

  5. I have just started to take photos of people in a studio setting, and this is so right on the money, RC thanks for everything you do for us.
    I too have found it takes time, and trust, and that only a handful of the photos you take will really be good…I am happy that I have started to do this type of work and have so enjoyed meeting wonderful young people in the process. I will keep on learning, and trying…..each time, things get easier, and my results keep stepping up a notch.

    Looking for the home server project by the way….and found this….

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