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The Practicing Photographer
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The Practicing Photographer

with Ben Long

Video: Taking a quick portrait and directing a subject

- One of the scariest things that you might face as a photographer is going and taking a picture of a stranger. You've probably encountered this already. You're on the street and you see someone really interesting or someone doing something that is really interesting and you wanna take their picture, you're afraid to go up to them. And with good reason, walking up with a big camera and getting in someone's face can be intimidating, maybe you don't want to offend them. You might think, well, I'll take the picture and ask them later. You can try that, that sometimes works. One of the things I notice with student who go out to shoot people on the street is they get up their nerve, they ask for the favor of taking a picture of someone, and then they get all timid because they think, "Oh, this person's doing me a favor.
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  1. 5m 50s
    1. Taking a quick portrait and directing a subject NEW
      5m 50s
  2. 1m 35s
    1. Introducing The Practicing Photographer
      1m 35s
  3. 8h 18m
    1. Choosing a camera
      5m 27s
    2. Looking at light as a subject
      2m 22s
    3. Using a small reflector to add fill light
      5m 45s
    4. Editing photo metadata with PhotosInfo Pro for iPad
      6m 30s
    5. Let your lens reshape you
      7m 26s
    6. Compositing street photography images with Photoshop
      7m 44s
    7. Expand your filter options with step-up and step-down rings
      3m 56s
    8. Shooting without a memory card
      3m 6s
    9. Give yourself a year-long assignment
      5m 28s
    10. Working with reflections
      1m 26s
    11. Exploring mirrorless cameras
      7m 25s
    12. Batch processing photos with the Adobe Image Processor
      7m 30s
    13. Limiting yourself to a fixed-focal-length lens
      2m 13s
    14. Creating tiny worlds: Shooting technique
      4m 15s
    15. Creating tiny worlds: Post-processing techniques
      11m 41s
    16. Shooting macro shots on an iPhone
      3m 18s
    17. Using a tripod
      3m 33s
    18. Wildlife and staying present
      5m 58s
    19. Batch exposure adjustments on raw files
      6m 52s
    20. Why Shoot Polaroid
      11m 12s
    21. Seizing an opportunity
      4m 4s
    22. Four photographers do a light-as-subject exercise
      12m 24s
    23. Shooting macro bug photos with a reversed lens
      4m 54s
    24. Varnishing a photo for a painterly effect
      13m 36s
    25. Shooting wildlife
      7m 24s
    26. Discussion on how to shoot architecture
      12m 27s
    27. Using a lens hood
      4m 48s
    28. Working with themes
      2m 48s
    29. Setting up an HDR time lapse
      7m 55s
    30. Processing an HDR time lapse
      7m 55s
    31. Two perspectives on travel photography
      12m 28s
    32. Scanning Photos
      5m 37s
    33. Photo assignment: shooting an egg
      3m 13s
    34. Reviewing the egg shot images
      6m 47s
    35. Shooting in your own backyard
      4m 38s
    36. Jpeg iPad import process
      3m 17s
    37. Shooting a product shot in open shade
      9m 34s
    38. Reviewing the product shot images
      4m 5s
    39. Warming up
      3m 26s
    40. Taking a panning action shot
      10m 17s
    41. Scanning polaroid negatives and processing in Photoshop
      8m 17s
    42. Shooting a silhouette
      3m 9s
    43. Going with an ultra-light gear configuration
      5m 29s
    44. Working with masks and calculations in Photoshop
      12m 38s
    45. Working with flash for macro photography
      4m 55s
    46. Colorizing a black and white photo in Photoshop
      5m 10s
    47. Using duct tape and zip ties in the field
      4m 14s
    48. When the on camera flash is casting a shadow
      3m 4s
    49. Using Lightroom on the road
      6m 28s
    50. Listening to your camera to get good exposure
      2m 20s
    51. Shooting a successful self portrait with a phone
      7m 18s
    52. Switching to Lightroom from another application
      9m 48s
    53. Photographing animals in wildlife refuges
      6m 41s
    54. Shooting level
      2m 42s
    55. Photoshop and Automator
      8m 54s
    56. Shooting when the light is flat
      3m 23s
    57. Discussing the business of stock photography
      9m 48s
    58. Shooting tethered to a monitor
      3m 21s
    59. Making a 360 degree panorama on the iPhone
      4m 45s
    60. Understanding the three flash setup
      3m 34s
    61. Shooting a three flash portrait
      4m 6s
    62. Understanding the differences with third party lenses
      4m 43s
    63. Understanding why files look different on depending on device
      5m 25s
    64. Working with a geotagging app on the iPhone
      4m 43s
    65. Using high speed flash sync to dim ambient light
      7m 29s
    66. Using your iPad as a second monitor
      5m 46s
    67. Understanding exposure with a leaf shutter camera
      3m 28s
    68. Photography practice through mimicry
      8m 8s
    69. Canon wireless flash with built in radio control
      5m 59s
    70. Posing and shooting pairs of people
      5m 35s
    71. Shooting with a shape in mind
      3m 15s
    72. Shooting tethered to a laptop
      4m 40s
    73. Softboxes vs. umbrellas
      2m 55s
    74. Getting your project out into the world
      6m 25s
    75. Exploring how to think about shooting a new environment
      3m 56s
    76. Discussing the book "The Passionate Photographer" with Steve Simon
      6m 4s
    77. Highlighting iOS 8 updates on the iPhone5S
      10m 46s
    78. Exploring manual controls with iOS 8 and ProCamera
      5m 30s
    79. Understanding how to compose with an empty sky
      4m 54s
    80. Using an iPhone to make a print in the darkroom
      7m 16s
    81. How to use glycerin as a photography tool
      2m 16s
    82. Understanding micro focus adjustment and Lens Align
      11m 19s
    83. Working with hair in post
      3m 28s

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Watch the Online Video Course The Practicing Photographer
8h 26m Appropriate for all May 16, 2013 Updated Nov 20, 2014

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

In The Practicing Photographer, photographer and teacher Ben Long shares a weekly serving of photographic instruction and inspiration. Each installment focuses on a photographic shooting scenario, a piece of gear, or a software technique. Each installment concludes with a call to action designed to inspire you to pick up your camera (or your mouse or smartphone) to try the technique for yourself.

Subject:
Photography
Author:
Ben Long

Taking a quick portrait and directing a subject

- One of the scariest things that you might face as a photographer is going and taking a picture of a stranger. You've probably encountered this already. You're on the street and you see someone really interesting or someone doing something that is really interesting and you wanna take their picture, you're afraid to go up to them. And with good reason, walking up with a big camera and getting in someone's face can be intimidating, maybe you don't want to offend them. You might think, well, I'll take the picture and ask them later. You can try that, that sometimes works. One of the things I notice with student who go out to shoot people on the street is they get up their nerve, they ask for the favor of taking a picture of someone, and then they get all timid because they think, "Oh, this person's doing me a favor.

"So, oh, I just have to take a couple of shots "and work quickly and be nice and get out." That's not quite the right approach. If they're doing you the favor of offering themselves as your subject, the best thing you can do is everything that you need to do to make the most use of their time. You want to come out with a good picture whether they see it or not and that means that maybe timid is not gonna get you that picture. You've got to do that work that you legitimately have to do which means you might need to take some control. This is kind of the situation I'm in right now and its a shame that I'm talking so much because the fact is Brett needs to get out of here and I'm supposed to be taking his picture.

So, the best thing I can do right now is to get very serious about the process of taking a picture and really try to work it. Now, what can become weird about this is if he were a total stranger I would find myself bossing him around and that can feel very uncomfortable but the fact is it very often makes your subject feel more secure because they go, "This guy really knows what I'm doing." If you think about it, if someone came up to you and said, "Hey, can I take your picture?" and you say, "Oh, yeah, okay." and you stand there, and they start telling you things and acting like a real photographer, you're gonna go, "Oh, this is cool, this real photographer's taking my picture." So, even if you're not a real photographer just act like one, that's what I'm gonna do.

Hey, Brett, I'm wanna take your picture. Trust me, I mostly know what I'm doing, and so, in this case, we don't have a particular goal. It's not like, I mean, we're in a studio. It's not like I thought, oh, here's Brett working at a blacksmith forage, how interesting, or something like that, and so I wanna take his picture. It's more just he's got a really striking face. I think there's a very good portrait to be had here somewhere. I don't know if we've got enough time to do it but that's how it often is on the street. I'm gonna start by picking a more flattering focal length. I'm gonna go at around the equivalent of seventy five or eighty millimeters.

This is at seventy so it's a cropped sensor and... (click) And, and what I really need is some light. So, I happen to have some lighting here and I'm gonna tell him that, Brett, I'm setting up some lights now and the reason I'm doing that is because the light on you right now is just kind of flat and I think that we can bring out your eyes and some other things. I'm doing anything I can to make him believe that I know what I'm doing and in the process I'm gonna keep him relaxed and it's gonna make me feel less worried that he thinks I'm wasting his time.

(click) And that's gonna make me more likely to do the things I'm supposed to do like turn on the flash when I'm shooting. Now, normally you're not trying to talk to someone else, talk to a camera at the same time. I have to work quickly here because the fact is he was supposed to leave a while ago but I just keep talking. Okay, that's a good start. So, now I've got some basic lights in place, I'm ready to work here. Brett, could you turn this shoulder more towards me, yeah, and look, I'm looking for more of a, looking to, yeah, there we go, yeah, that's a stronger position that, yeah, good.

Now, the problem is you're taller than I am. Can you put your chin do-- (laughs) Yeah, go ahead, thank you, this is great. He's offering his own suggestions now because he thinks I know what I'm doing. And that's good, good, nice smile. I think the batteries in my flash are dying because they're not recycling that quick. That's making me look less professional but that's okay and that's pretty good. Now, we've got some good things here. I'm gonna go a little more out there. You have really great eyes and I wanna just really do something with that.

So, I'm gonna zoom in real close here. So, I know I'm right in your face and that may feel weird but I'm getting just a nice crop here. Like that... Yeah, I'm liking that a lot. Now, comes the difficult part, I feel like I've got what I want and I'm ready to let him go back to whatever it was he was doing. Do I show him the images or not? He's dying to see them, I know he's dying to see them but I haven't really looked at them that closely yet. I don't know if maybe they're actually lousy.

I also don't know if maybe they don't need some editing. No, they're actually pretty good. So, in this case I think I am gonna show him. This is where I ended up, I really like that shot, yeah. Flash didn't fire but when it did we got some good stuff. There's another way around this though which is to say I'd love to show you these once I get them ready, do you have an email address? Or if I have a card that has my Flickr account or something like that I can give it to him and say: these'll be up in a week, take a look at 'em, and thank you very much. This is the important part, right here. (laughs) It's important not just because you might wanna go back and shoot him again sometime and when you really open to someone and letting them know that you really know what you're doing, you'll be surprised what happens.

A lot of times, particularly I notice in small towns, people will go, "You know, I collect small horses, "would you like to come see them?" and suddenly you've got access to this whole thing that you didn't have access to before which is really great and that's what happens when they believe they can trust you and they see that you can do good work. So, I feel much better about this having pretended that I knew what I was doing and I think Brett seems pretty relaxed here. So, I think this went pretty well. So, remember when you're out, they're not the only one doing you a favor, you're doing them a favor by doing the best work that you possibly can.

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