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« The value of image stabilization | Main | Analysis of a shoot part I-Concept and Scout »

Analysis of a shoot part II-The shoot day

Having done the scout, I called the actor and asked him to meet me at the location at 7:30 AM, a little bit before the time when I think the light will be the most dramatic. When he arrives, we look at wardrobe, and we select something that feels casual, but elegant. Once he changes, we are in the window for light, and ready to go.

I start the shoot with him standing next to the edge of the building. Giving him a solid physical reference point is an easy way to get him warmed up since he has something he can lean against, and work off of.

The beginning of the session is, in my opinion, the most interesting part of the whole shoot because it’s when you establish the way you will work together. Not unlike meeting someone socially for the first time, it takes a little bit of time to get comfortable with each other, and understand how you will communicate. To get great images, it’s important to create a positive, encouraging environment where the subject is willing to relax, open up to the camera, and be creative.

I’ll generally start with things that don’t require a lot of the person, but are more about light and form. As we progress, I’ll encourage the subject, and compliment them on how they are performing. This invariably makes them more responsive, and as they soften, I’ll ask a bit more of them. “Smile. Make the expression more tender. Grit your teeth and make me feel like you are looking right through me.”

Giving good direction makes your subject feel confident that they are good hands, so even if you are not sure of what you want, make a suggestion with confidence. And if it doesn’t work, go on to the next idea. The key is to keep moving, and create a rhythm that propels you forward. All the while, look for the lighting, expressions and camera angles that will fulfill the concept you started with.

In the end, we worked for about two hours, feeling like we had explored all the possibilities the locations provided, and had a lot of fun along the way.

Reader Comments (1)

Allen, thanks for this series. Portraiture is one of my weak points in part because I have trouble eliciting the responses I want and making the subject comfortable while I work with the light and my equipment. Your tips are very helpful. Thanks again.

February 13, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterwheremytruthlives

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