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Author Topic: Looking for Advice, I think  (Read 2399 times)
juscowland
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« on: January 08, 2008, 05:21:37 AM »
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Hiya, I'm new and didn't really know where to post this.  But I saw this was the Beginner's area, and while I'm not completely new to photography, I'm not exactly a pro.

I went out on a limb last night and emailed a ton of my friends and contacts and explained to them that I wanted to build up my portfolio.  Since I don't have the luxury of going back to school or becoming an assistant I need a way to build my experience and my portfolio.  I asked them if they wouldn't mind letting me take their pictures obviously at no charge.  My goal is to do this for a year, testing out new lenses that I haven't worked with before.  Getting my feet wet in new environments, and so on.

I've got two of my dear friends interested and now I'm a little freaked out.  Maybe I thought I would be off the hook for something like this because all the emails would say something to the effect of oh thanks but we don't have time, blah blah blah.  So I'm nervous, I don't want to come off as a complete amateur.  I just want to take great photos and build a portfolio.

Maybe I'm not really looking for advice, just some sort of support and a pat on the back or advice as far as where to look for inspiration or information.  I really enjoy the Luminous Landscape website for all it's valuable information.

Thanks!
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situgrrl
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« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2008, 08:49:55 AM »
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I'm slightly lost:  You wan to build up your portfolio by taking portraits of friends?  Is this with a view to turning pro or just because you want a nice portfolio?  Are you wanting to shoot on location or in a studio?  Do you want to use natural/ambient light, go the Strobist route or use big ass strobes?

You seem to have got yourself into a pickle; it's no bad thing!  You have two options - you bottle it and lose face or you go and do it and achieve something.  I hope I know which you are going to do...

If you want to shoot using ambient light - all you have to do it make an appointment.  If you are going down the route of controlled lighting, I suggest you practice some still lifes to start with - fruit/basket balls/lego figures won't get impatient or laugh at you whilst you learn the kit.

I promise you though, the hardest part of what you are doing is this bit, now....Once you have your finger on the shutter - everything is easier - you are doing what you set out to do.  Don't expect it to go perfectly smoothly - don't be afraid to admit your shortcomings and develop a really good sense of humour - putting your models at ease will have a far greater effect on the quality of the photograph than the type of lens, lighting gear or camera that you use.  Of course, to do this, your camera needs to become transparent - how can you concentrate on what your model is saying if you have to look at your camera to adjust exposure?  Knowing your own equipment is far more useful than coveting that which you cannot afford.
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tgphoto
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« Reply #2 on: January 08, 2008, 09:56:30 AM »
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You'll never achieve your desired goal (a portfolio) if you don't shoot, right?  

It's much better to start with friends, relatives, etc. who will be more eager to help you out, forgive any mistakes you make, and allow you to do things like, for example, shoot their "bad" side that a future paying client might not.

Start with natural light, since, well, natural light is free.  All you need is a well-placed window and a semi-sunny day.  Once you get comfortable shooting in natural light, try a one light setup, then a two.  It's about learning to see visually, and learning to see, move, and respond to the light.  Start small then build up as you see fit.

One more thing. They say sharks smell fear, and the same thing can be said for your willing subjects.  If your model senses your apprehension. nervousness, fear, whatever you want to call it, they too will become uncomfortable which will result in less than optimal shots.  So take a deep breath, relax, and make your model, be they friend or stranger, feel at ease.

Good Luck!
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juscowland
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« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2008, 10:34:06 PM »
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Thanks situgrrl and tgphoto.  I appreciate the words of encouragement.  I've never liked studio work, I'm not into fake poses.  I'm into real life.  I've been shooting for personal enjoyment for a while and have started to reacquaint myself with process again.

It is just a huge step when you put yourself out on the fence and solicit your services.  I know my friends will be a huge help.

Anyways, thanks for the words, I appreciate them
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TMcCulley
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« Reply #4 on: January 09, 2008, 01:31:56 AM »
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I think you will have more sucess if for every time you go out to shoot with one or more of your friends have some sort of plan for your shots.  In effect for every shoot plan on telling a story.  Once on site involve your models by telling them the story you want to tell with the shot(s).  They could have some good suggestions.

The day or week before the planned shoot go to the site alone and look for the shots you want to take and get a feel for the setting (like where is the sun at the time of the shoot or big glass building reflecting light back onto your set).  You could even preshoot without models.  You might find that some of your preshoot shots are better without models.  This also gives you practice handling your kit.  They may not even notice but you feel pretty silly fumbling when mounting a new lens or a tripod leg collapses.

Having a plan and being familiar with the site will remove some of the nervousness and make you appear more professional.  You will not be stumbling around trying to figure out what to do next.

Good luck and have fun.

Tom

PS Even though pet shots are somewhat of cliche and sometimes they will not be cooperative but they will not make fun of you either.
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