portrait photography

Aperture



With the right Aperture setting, the bokeh effect can be very powerful in portraiture. Bokeh is the technical term for the skill in portrait photography that is usually used to separate the subject from the background.  The bokeh effect is achieved by manually changing the aperture.  Aperture is the size of the hole that allows light in.  Aperture settings enable you to take little details out of the background, and sometimes even wash the entire background out, depending on all of your settings. 

The dramatic impact of this photographic technique draws the eye toward the feature or features the photographer wants the viewer to focus on.  The technique is also useful in documentary photography as it gives perspective to situations with many variables.  Documentary photography usually specializes in capturing a ray of environments or it focuses on telling a story during an event. 

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Annuals

Why you should get your photo taken every year

Families are often associated with the “yearly family photo,” but yearly photos are something everyone should partake in. It doesn’t matter if you’re single or married with a family; you should get your photo taken every year.

Every now and then, there are stories about people who took a photo of themselves for years. One of those stories was about Noah Kalina. For 12-and-a-half years, Kalina took a picture of himself every day, and in 2012, he posted a compilation of those photos as a YouTube video.

The video is striking and, a bit, eerie—due in part to the soundtrack that accompanies the video. It lets you view how this man, Kalina, lived his life for 12 years. You see how his appearance changes, and you view some of the different life stages he passes through as the background changes and he ages.

In another similar case, Zed Nelson, a photographer, documents the life of a family in his project, The Family. Nelson photographs a family on the same day for 24 years. It’s a lovely project that shows the way members of a family change over time.

Both projects act as a record of the lives of the people photographed, and they carry flavors of the yearly school pictures you took in school as a kid. At the moment, school pictures seem bothersome and annoying, but looking back at the school photos, it’s hard not to smile. Yearly photos—whether school-themed or not—are a fun and easy way to document the changes you go through as time passes.

Yearly photos have the obvious benefit of acting as a way to record memories, but there’s more. Have you ever looked at photos and felt nostalgic? According to John Tierney, a columnist at The New York Times, feelings of nostalgia have psychological benefits.

“Nostalgia has been shown to counteract loneliness, boredom and anxiety. It makes people more generous to strangers and more tolerant of outsiders. Couples feel closer and look happier when they’re sharing nostalgic memories. On cold days, or in cold rooms, people use nostalgia to literally feel warmer,” writes Tierney.

What about that bittersweet feeling you get when you hear an old song on the radio, and it reminds you of the good times you’ve had in the past? That feeling is also nostalgia, and you can get it by reminiscing over yearly photos of you and your pals. You could make it a tradition, like the five guys who took the same photo every year, for 30 years.

Taking your picture every year is the kind of thing that doesn’t seem useful until 20 or 50 years have passed. You’ll thank yourself for getting those pictures taken when years down the line you have plenty of photos to get nostalgic over. You’ll also get to see how you and your family have changed.

It’s not easy to see the use of this until years have passed. 20 or 50 years from now it will be nice to be able to look back at your life and reminisce about the changes you’ve experienced. You and your family will experience many positive changes, and it’ll be nice to look back and remember those times.

Styling

Styling your photo session

When you schedule a photo shoot, your outfit may be the last thing on your mind, but they are a decisive part of your photos. 

There are many factors to consider when choosing the right clothes for your photo shoot, including theme, location, colors, comfort, and accessories.

Theme

Does your photo shoot have a theme? If there’s a theme, your clothes will make or break the photo shoot. Outfits that don’t fit the theme will create photos that are jarring. Unless that’s the purpose of your photo shoot, you’ll want to pick clothes that align with your theme. It’s important to not, sometimes a shoot’s location can turn into a theme.

Location

Consider the location of your photo shoot. Will it take place indoors or outdoors? If it’s an indoor shoot, you’ll have more outfit options. If your photo shoot is going to take place outdoors, you should choose outfits that prepare you for the weather. Otherwise, you may end up red and sweaty, or your shoot may have to end early.

Additionally, your location can set up a type of theme. For example, Paint the Moon gives the example of a couple dressed in vintage-style clothing with a retro amusement park background. Draw inspiration from your location for your outfits. If the shoot takes place on a boat, wear nautical-themed clothing.

Don’t forget to wear the right shoes. If your shoot takes place in a grassy, sandy, or muddy area, stick to flats, boots, or sneakers. If you decide to bring heels anyway, bring a change of shoes, just in case.

Colors

Stick to solid colors and clothes, and think about your surrounding. Choose colors that are complemented by your surroundings; avoid choosing colors or prints that clash with the environment. You don’t want your outfits to draw attention away from the subject: you.

For group pictures, Paint the Moon advises you to “coordinate colors but don’t match.” It’s easier if you start with one main outfit, and build the other outfits based on the colors from that outfit.

Darlene Hildebrandt, the managing editor at Digital Photography School, suggests choosing colors that are more subtle or subdued. Hildebrandt also suggests wearing like colors. If you choose to wear a dark-colored shirt, wear dark-colored pants. If you choose to wear a light-colored shirt, wear light-colored pants.  

Comfort

Comfort is essential. If you’re not comfortable in your outfit, it will show in the final photos. Choose outfits you feel comfortable in, so you’ll feel confident during the photo shoot.  

Accessories

The right accessories can draw attention to your favorite features. Paint the Moon recommends choosing accessories that can act as accent colors for the color scheme of your photos. The right accessories—hats, scarves, etc.—also become fun, interactive props.

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Props

The use of props in portrait photography can complement the subject and the set, help portray a certain message, and they may even help the subject relax and enjoy the session more.

Props include things that are and aren’t meant to be seen in the final product.  Props may be things the subject sits on, holds, or is surrounded by without making physical contact.  It is with our experience at the studio, props help take away the pressure of finding the right pose.  Whether the subject is experienced or inexperienced in posing for photography, props either give the subject something to focus on, or the props act as a distraction.  In either case, props almost always end in successful photo shoots whether we are photographing an adult or a child.

Some of our favorite props at the studio are balloons, confetti, specific chairs and stools, sunglasses, and even reading glasses.

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Single?

Why One Should Get Annual Photos Even If They’re Single

Annual photo sessions are traditionally associated with family portraits including married couples and children. They are a tradition dating back over 150 years to the onset of photography and have served purposes of recording family history, pride, and at times prominence, especially in its earliest forms when the process was time consuming and expensive.

As a single person people will probably tell you, unless required for professional purposes, an annual photo may seem unnecessary and downright silly. There tends to be a stigma surrounding an individual, especially a single one, having their portrait taken: a stigma similar to eating dinner by one’s self or screening a movie alone. As in these cases, such apprehension towards having one’s portrait taken on an annual basis is nonsense, and when overcome can provide a sense of freedom and confidence in one’s self and position in life, while serving as a valuable asset and keepsake.

If there is uncertainty in having annual portraits taken, consider these reasons why it is beneficial to do so despite uncertainty, embarrassment, or stigmas:

1.      Portraits taken annually can be used to keep professional and social media profiles fresh and updated. Unlike others who keep the same photo year upon year, be the individual who takes pride in their image and others will notice.

2.      Updated annual portraits can provide the individual, their family, and friends a record of life. Just because one is single doesn’t mean the progression of their lives is unworthy of capture in a portrait. Give yourself and others in the future a record of your strength and happiness in the life you lead.

3.      Annual photos for the individual can be used in much the same as others for holiday cards and messages. They are guaranteed to raise a smile and show your love towards your family, friends, and co-workers.

4.      Photos can be taken with a close friend or even a beloved pet. Such relationships are important in many people’s lives and are just as worthy of being documented.

5.      The photo session itself can be a fun, exciting, and empowering experience, inclusive of whatever you want it to be. Enjoy the time with the photographer whose focus and intent will be to make you feel and look good. Who doesn’t enjoy that?

Most people have taken part at some point in their lives in traditional family photos: those taken by a professional studio photographer, utilized to preserve memories and project a presence in life. As outlined above, such use of annual photos need not only be exclusive to individual’s belonging to a group or relationship, and they can have valuable significance and benefits even for the single person. So do a little research, maybe ask friends for a recommendation, and find that photographer you can enjoy working with to capture the best and present you. 

Posing

Posing can present a myriad of opportunities and challenges during a photo shoot, but with proper preparation and an initial consultation, you can capture the subject in their element beautifully.

Poses may include side views, aeriel views, lower angles from the ground, and partial angles depending on the light source and the desired effect. 

First and foremost it is ideal to be on the same page in managing the clients expectations during the execution of the photo shoot.  This may entail showing the client example images from other photo sessions and or asking the client what they have seen.  Reviewing the photographer's images or the clients examples from Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram can alleviate anxiety in the actual posing and expedite the communication process during the photography session.  

Second, an initial consultation about the posing and what's to be expected during the session, also helps the client prepare for the shoot. Clients begin to think about photo session preparation in terms of hygiene and also styling and clothing selection.  

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