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Making adjustments at a shoot to capture subjects at their best

From: Family and Group Portraiture

Video: Making adjustments at a shoot to capture subjects at their best

Almost everyone has concerns about their body. When I met with Sam the other day, he'd mentioned he was kind of self-conscious about his weight and also about his skin. Natalie Fobes: So it sounds like we might need to do a couple of different setups, maybe a three quarters shot for you and maybe a head shot. Sam: Okay. Great! Yeah, about the three quarters thing, like I was originally just thinking head and shoulders because I've got a little bit of a gut, but I don't know if there's any way you can help me out with that. Natalie Fobes: No problem. Yes, I can.

Making adjustments at a shoot to capture subjects at their best

Almost everyone has concerns about their body. When I met with Sam the other day, he'd mentioned he was kind of self-conscious about his weight and also about his skin. Natalie Fobes: So it sounds like we might need to do a couple of different setups, maybe a three quarters shot for you and maybe a head shot. Sam: Okay. Great! Yeah, about the three quarters thing, like I was originally just thinking head and shoulders because I've got a little bit of a gut, but I don't know if there's any way you can help me out with that. Natalie Fobes: No problem. Yes, I can.

You know, I'm asked all the time to take about ten pounds off. Sam: Oh, okay. Natalie Fobes: If I could do it on myself, I would too. But there're some things that I'll be able to do with lighting and with posing that will kind of minimize that. Now, is there anything else you're concerned about? Sam: Uhm. Natalie Fobes: Do you have any physical traits that you think you're worried about? Sam: I mean, you mentioned lighting and I don't have the greatest skin in the world, like skin tone, but I don't know if that's something that could be helped, on camera or not. Natalie Fobes: Yeah, definitely there's some things I can do with the lighting, again, and the camera angle and the lens, but I think what I'll do if it's okay with you, it's a little bit more expensive, but I'd like to have a makeup artist come in and just do a very light foundation for you -- Sam: Yeah.

Natalie Fobes: to just kind of even out your skin tones a little bit. Sam: Yeah. Natalie Fobes: And then anything else I'll be able to do in post. I started planning the photo session. I thought about the lights, his clothing and the poses that would minimize those issues for him. You'll have to decide which one is the most important and which one you can possibly fix a little bit in post. Natalie Fobes: So this is where you're going to be for the next couple of hours. Sam: Excellent Natalie Fobes: You think you can handle it? Sam: Yeah, I think so. Natalie Fobes: Okay cool. Sam: Does this work okay? Natalie Fobes: It looks great! I'm glad that we went with the black. Sam: Okay.

I think that's going to give us a lot of options. Sam: Okay, great! Natalie Fobes: So go ahead and stand there. I'm going to take a quick shot here. I always like to get the first one out of the way. Sam: Okay. Natalie Fobes: Yeah, there you go. Just right on. So the first thing I want you to do; this is a three-quarter shot, remember, so from about mid thighs up. Sam: Right. Okay, thighs up. Natalie Fobes: Go ahead and stick your bellybutton right that way. Sam: Okay. Natalie Fobes: Okay. Sam: Yeah. Natalie Fobes: Very good. Sam: Staying like pretty much where I am though. Natalie Fobes: Pretty much where you are, yeah. Sam: Okay. Natalie Fobes: Now go ahead and let's have all your weight on your back foot.

Sam: Okay. Natalie Fobes: Just really stick out that hip. Sam: Okay Natalie Fobes: Yeah, and that will take pressure off of your front foot. Now go ahead and let's see what your hands -- let's just go ahead and put one in your pocket. Yeah, there you go, and I think the other one too. Okay now that you're pointing that way, go ahead and twist your body toward me. Sam: Okay. I'm like -- Natalie Fobes: That's a little too much. Sam: Oh, okay. Natalie Fobes: Just a little bit. And go ahead and lean forward just a little bit, a little bit more. There you go. Perfect! Let me take a couple of shots here.

I knew that I didn't want to use a telephoto with Sam because telephotos tend to flatten whatever they're photographing. It would make his face appear broader. And so I used an 80 to 90 focal length and I think that worked out just fine. It gave me the space away from him and yet you could really concentrate on his eyes and his features. Sam: It feels kind of awkward. Does it look all right then to the camera? Natalie Fobes: It looks great! It actually looks great and there again, if at any time, I have you do something that you just can't do physically, let me know that because I'm really notorious for having people do all sorts of funny little poses.

So go ahead and lean forward just a little bit more and really have a straight back -- shoulder back just a little. There you go, but lean forward and lift up your face just a little. There you go. Turn a little toward the light, even a little bit more and down just a little now. Very good! Nice! Just having Sam turn with his back to the light and his belly in the shadow slenderized him amazingly and it made a dramatic difference. Natalie Fobes: I want to do a lot of different options for you.

Sam: Okay. Natalie Fobes: So I'm going to pull in a chair right here in the middle. Yeah, little bit more that way. All right! So go ahead and sit and get comfy there. I'm going to adjust here a little bit. Go ahead and assume the position down. Sam: Okay. Natalie Fobes: I'm going to have you swing around with your leg the other way too. Sam: Like this? Natalie Fobes: Yeah, very good and then lean. Go ahead and lean. Nice! Sam: Okay. Natalie Fobes: That looks good. Let's see what we've got.

Sam: I should look right in the center of the lens, right? Natalie Fobes: Yeah, yeah. Sam: Like right into the camera? Okay. Natalie Fobes: And if you look hard enough, you'll see my eye. Sam: (laughing) Natalie Fobes: and really lean forward a little bit. That's nice! Do you mind if I fuss with your clothing? Sam: No, not at all. Natalie Fobes: Okay. Some people really have a personal space that I don't get close to but -- Sam: Oh no, it doesn't bother me at all. Natalie Fobes: Oh, and I see a little bit of lint. So hang on. Anything I can do to cut the post-production time, I like to do it.

Sam: Well, I didn't plan on wearing the whole dog with me today, but sometimes things happen. Natalie Fobes: (laughing) I know. I have a dog too and a cat. There we go. Great! So go ahead and I'm going to have you come out a little bit more over this, again, that nice line coming through there. Sam: Okay. Natalie Fobes: Let me take a look at it. And turn your head a little bit this way, even a little bit more, even a little bit more. I'm getting a beautiful triangle of light on your eye. Okay, and lower your chin just a little.

Nice! Now go ahead and cock your head backwards. There you go. It feels really posed, but it looks great. Okay and let's swing it around the other way. Sam: Back this way? Natalie Fobes: Yeah, go ahead and lean forward this way. There you go. Okay, great! When I was photographing him with the contrasting light, I really liked the way it was making his face a little longer and a little narrower, but I didn't like what was happening with his skin.

And so I added a fill light that evened out that light and evened out the skin. Natalie Fobes: That's looking good. Okay, so we'll do it with the same pose. Sam: Okay. Natalie Fobes: Just go ahead and lean forward a little bit. There you go. Okay, and this time, I want you to just kind jut your chin out just a little bit. It's more of a lift than it is a lunge. Oops! That's a little too high, down just a little, just kind of extend. Is that fun? I love that technique.

Lower your chin a little bit more but jut it out a little bit. Now twist your body a little bit more this way, even more. Turn your head this way and chin down. Good shot! Nice! Do you want to have a toothy smile at all or -- Sam: If you think I should. Natalie Fobes: Yeah, you have a beautiful smile. Sam: (laughs) Natalie Fobes: There you go. Excellent! Sam: Are my sleeves okay the way they are? I didn't know if I needed to roll them up or keep them down or anything.

Natalie Fobes: You know, for this, I think I'm going to keep them rolled down. Sam: Okay, great! Natalie Fobes: I like them down because it takes the focus off of your hands and your arms. I want it on your face. So go ahead and this time I think I'm going to have your hand up. Sam: Okay. Natalie Fobes: Like that. But don't push because you'll smush your face all around. I don't want that. Okay. So go ahead and -- let's see. I'm going to move you, if that's okay? Sam: Sure! Yeah, go ahead.

Natalie Fobes: Okay, so I'm just going to put that there. Okay, so go ahead and just kind of -- yep, perfect! There you go. Nice! Now, if you can, jut. There you go. I had him put his hand on his face just to add a little bit more interest. After a few shots, I noticed though that it was getting to be a little bit more distracting than I wanted.

So I had him move his hand a little bit further back on his head. Natalie Fobes: Even more. There you go. Oh, I like that. All right! And how about a big smile? In this one I want you to look off that way. Sam: Just like at the corner over here or -- Natalie Fobes: I need to see your eyes. So go ahead and you can turn your face toward the corner, but then you'll bring your eyes slightly back this way. Sam: Okay, should I keep my hand back here? Natalie Fobes: Yeah.

Now bring your eyes back to me even more. Sam: (laughs) Natalie Fobes: You can swing around too. There you go. Okay. This time let's just put your hands right like this. Sam: You want hand on top? Natalie Fobes: I'm going to put your far hand on top, and go ahead and tuck this one away. Sam: All right! Natalie Fobes: Now I'm going to play with your hand a little bit if that's okay. Sam: Yeah, go for it. Natalie Fobes: Okay, just relax. Okay. There we go.

And what that does is it just kind of naturally loosens your hand up a little bit. Sam: So it's not like I'm clenching onto my arm or anything. Natalie Fobes: Exactly! Exactly! Okay. All right. And lower your chin a little bit. Even more, do a little jut. Got it! Sam: I'm like a professional! Natalie Fobes: (laughs) That's fantastic. Because my camera was on a tripod and I had it on Burst mode, I just reached right out and took a series of photographs that show his laughter in a natural way.

Be ready for those spontaneous moments. Those often make the best photos. Natalie Fobes: Well, I think we've got some really great shots. Sam: Great! It feels great! It was painless. Natalie Fobes: Yeah? Oh, good! Good! I like to hear that. I like to hear that. And before we go, is there anything else you'd like us to try, or like me to try? Sam: I don't think so. I mean if you think we've good shots I trust your judgment. Natalie Fobes: I think we do. Yeah, I think it's looking great. Sam: Well, I appreciate it, I mean between the make up and everything -- Natalie Fobes: Wasn't that cool? Sam: I mean you made me feel really important today.

Natalie Fobes: That's great!

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Family and Group Portraiture

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Natalie Fobes
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