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03-12-2015, 11:51 AM   #1
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My first photoshoot, Need tips!

I'm excited about my first photoshoot. I offered a family friend that I'll have a family photoshoot for them. They have 4 kids, so it'll be a bit challenging! I'm going to have one camera on a manual lens and another on AF. I need suggestions on which lens to use and any tips that will get great pictures.

I'm planning to use mostly the manual lens, I'll give the other camera with an autofocus lens to my wife so she can shoot pics of the kids while they're active. So the lenses from which I need to choose are

Manual Lenses

Pentax A-50mm 1.4 or the Takumar 50 mm 1.4
Soligor 100mm F2.8
Takumar 200 F4 or Mamiya Sekor 200 3.5

AF lenses

Pentax 50mm f2.8 DFA Macro
Pentax 16-45 f4
Takumar-F 70-200mm F4-5.6

I think I'll mostly use the 50mm 1.4 and the Soligor 100 2.8 and have the takumar 200 with me. I'll use the 70-200 as the AF lens for portrait shots for my wife's camera. Please let me know your suggestions!

03-12-2015, 12:17 PM   #2
dms
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You don't say the location but I gather it includes outdoors in a situation where more distant shots are present. I think you need to limit the number of lenses--I suggest the 50mm f/1.4 or the 2.8 macro, and the 70-200 and 16-45 zooms. As the photoshoot develops you likely will find one of the lenses is what you use. Lens quality is secondary to FL and handling. Unless it is indoors and dark you need to figure out whether AF is better for your style--and whether you really need below f/5.6--and thus if it is the f/1.4 or f/2.8 50mm. Either lens should be fast enough for everything except evening candid shots.

I presume your wife gets the 16-45 zoom--if it was just yourself I think I would have suggested just the 16-45, and possibly (if outdoors) the 70-200.
03-12-2015, 12:24 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by dms Quote
You don't say the location but I gather it includes outdoors in a situation where more distant shots are present
yes, sorry, I didn't make that clear. It does involve outdoor shots, We're planning to go to a Park for that. And Thanks for the tips, don't you think the lower f stop value on the 50mm 1.4 and the 100 2.8 will give better bokeh than the 50mm 2.8 Macro?
03-12-2015, 12:48 PM   #4
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I'd actually use the 50mm Macro as a primary lens. Or at the very least use the A-50mm f1.7 but stop down to 2.8/3.5. The reasoning is to get a bit more depth to capture a group. For a solo portrait/headshot shooting 2.8/2.0 is going to be fine as long as you get the eyes locked perfecly. For a group of 4, you are going to have to be a decent step back to get full bodies at that focal range however. The 16-45 would be better suited to a group shot, zoomed to about 30-35mm will give you the best balance of compression. (The wider you go, the wider the distortion which will make your subjects look...wider)

The lower F-stop is a double edged sword because you may get smoother "better" bokeh, but you will also loose focus sharpness on your subjects.

How I would do it is

16-45 for group shots, zoomed to 35-40mm and using an fstop of about f8-f11 to maximize depth of field.
100mm f2.8 for headshots/portraits, f3.5 so that more of the face is in focus while still giving great bokeh.

Remember, you can shoot at 16mm and f4 and still get great bokeh if your right up against your subject at minimum focal distance. So the same would be said at 50mm f2.8 when your right at your minimum focus distance.

Pay attention to your background. I like to actually throw the lens right out of focus and take a shot before I setup my clients/subjects to see how the background will look. For headshots I like to do them horizontal and place them to the left or right of the frame and get some nice interesting bokeh on the side.

If your shooting outside, I highly recommend getting a reflector dish (they are cheap!) and use it to help illuminate the face and get rid of monster face shadows. Your wife can help with that. Also, if your subjects are squinting a lot, get them to close their eyes and then count down, get them to open, and snap. That way you won't have eye slits.

I also like to ask them to look into the lens as if they were reading an eye chart. Especially doing headshots. It gives a deep focused look to them which I think looks interesting.

If shooting outside, and someone has those transition glasses that go from clear to tint. Get them to take the glasses off and throw them in a pocket or something so they can go clear. Right before you take the shot get them to put the glasses back on. That way they will be clear and you can still see the eyes. you'll only have a few seconds. I like doing this instead of the two alternatives (putting the glasses away which is not how people are used to seeing the subject, or having them on and tinted which makes it look cheasy)

Good luck! Have fun, and don't worry so much about the technical side. Just enjoy shooting.

03-12-2015, 12:51 PM   #5
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Remember DOF with multiple targets all at varying distances from the camera. As long as they are far enough it should not matter.

50mm, f1.4 at 12ft would give you less then a foot of DOF and the distance from you to the centre person won't be the same as the distance from you the outer people. I don't think this should be a challenge as long as you remember this.....
03-12-2015, 01:24 PM - 1 Like   #6
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Children are hard to shoot. You need to act fast when posing children, they get bored quickly and are ready to run and play especially if you are in a nice park.

Suggestions:

- Take your formals as quickly as possible.
- Its easier to take the photos of the whole family on the ground first and poseing (on a picknick blanket or park bench) NOTE: this will likely be the only formal picture you get if the kids can't behave so try to make it count.
- After the formals, try to get one formal of everyone standing and parents hold the kids (that they can)
- then move on to fun shots of the family being crazy. NOTE: Let the kids go wild parents shold be chasing them and so on.

You will really impress your client to give them the formals and the fun stuff too.

A few more notes......

The current WOW pictures found anywhere on the web are back lit photos. Try to find ways to keep the sun out of their eyes and use the sun or a flash to be a rim/kicker light.

Also, While you have a large aperature lenses, you need to be stopped down to about f4 or f8 when shooting a group. While this limits your blur you need it to keep faces in focus. Also remember you need a faster shutter speed to stop the moving children.
03-12-2015, 01:32 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Blacknight659 Quote
The current WOW pictures found anywhere on the web are back lit photos. Try to find ways to keep the sun out of their eyes and use the sun or a flash to be a rim/kicker light.
.
put the sun behind the client for a rim light, use a reflector (a fair sized one can be had for under $40) to help illuminate the face. Or if it's a multi-use reflector with a difuser disc in it, use that to shade the client using the sun as your "key" light

03-12-2015, 01:43 PM - 1 Like   #8
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I took a portrait photography course with Neal Slavin last fall and he specializes in group photography, so I picked up a few tips from that experience. Plus I'm adding a few things I can think of that generally are relevant to photo shoots:

1) Make a shot list and sketch out some ideas. Talk to your friend about what he/she hopes for - are there any particular moments or combinations of people that they hope to capture in the photo shoot?

2) Speak to them in advance about what they plan to wear and as tactfully as possible explain what's good and bad when it comes to clothes and make-up. For example: long pants and long sleeves are preferable; solid colours are strongly preferred (avoid stripes or checks); limit distracting jewellery etc; avoid solid black or white); think about harmonious colours (for the family as a whole) but not obviously matched up; matte make-up applied with a light hand is better than glossy foundations, shadows or lipstick. Put it in writing in an email.

3) Bring a comb and some wetwipes to clean people up if necessary.

4) For the group shots, let people assemble themselves naturally without direction from you first. Watch the dynamics and how they communicate (or don't communicate with each other). Let what you see unfolding naturally influence the poses you arrange. Once they've arranged themselves, then you can step in and adjust their chosen arrangement to make things look better photographically.

5) If it's a fairly large group (e.g., two parents and more than two kids), you might start by having one parent and one child get into position and then have others join them. This reduces the amount of time that people spend fidgeting in position and that helps you get a more natural look.

6) Think about bringing a stepstool or even a short step ladder. You can sometimes get a better photo (and deal with depth of field problems) by shooting from above down at a group that is looking up at you slightly.

7) While you shoot, stop periodically and to check for clothing, jewellery, and hair that has gone askew. I once did a whole series of photos of my sister that I thought would turn out well, until I realized after the fact that the neckline on her top was off center.

8) Let them use props, if it seems natural. One of the best photos we did in Neal's course featured four rabbinical students. As we were setting up the shots, we noticed that most of them were playing with their phones. The stereotypical image would have been to have serious students reading a religious text - instead we had them lean in to look at something on someone's iPhone, with some people in the group pointing and laughing. In your shoot, watch for behaviors that seem to characterize individuals and the family, and then play those up in a fun way. Is there a kid who is always fidgeting or making funny faces? Is someone always looking away from the camera? Is someone trying to wiggle away? Let him or her do that in an extreme way while others react in an extreme way. It won't necessarily be the keeper shot for the family album, but everyone will probably have fun hamming it up and it likely will relax them.

9) Don't forget to check your settings before you start shooting - it's easy to get more distracted than usual when you're working with a group.

10) Have fun!
03-12-2015, 01:44 PM   #9
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I'll add to @frogoutofwater, bring hair spray for stray hairs. it works great in addition to the comb!
03-12-2015, 01:47 PM   #10
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Thank you so much for the tips, They are really helpful, I think i will start with the 50mm 2.8 macro and see how the shots come out. I'll have the 100 2.8 for the head shots, but I will also consider the 200 f4 see why below .. And use the 16-45 for group portraits.. I don't have a reflector and its too short a time to buy it now, however I have an external flash with a diffuser and the wireless adaptors, so I guess i can use that instead of the reflectors. I will definitely post pics from the shoot and my experience and how it goes!

The last time I shot a random pic with the Mamiya 200 f 3.5, I was impressed with the result.. look below..



The 100 f 2.8 does take good pictures, but the contrast is low as it does not have coatings.. see below.



I really was impressed with the bokeh of the 70-200 at f8. See the below shot.

03-12-2015, 01:51 PM   #11
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yes, that 200 f4 looks very purdy! even the tripod has such a strong 3D look to it.

I like my Pentax M 200 f4 for the same reasons!
03-12-2015, 01:52 PM   #12
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@frogoutofwater @wired and @Blacknight659 Thanks for your tips and info on what you learnt, That'll definitely help. I like the idea of a step stool and about natural poses that you mentioned. I'm talking to them about dressing tonight..Let me read more in depth and try to formulate a plan
03-12-2015, 02:07 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by frogoutofwater Quote
I took a portrait photography course with Neal Slavin last fall and he specializes in group photography, so I picked up a few tips from that experience. Plus I'm adding a few things I can think of that generally are relevant to photo shoots:

1) Make a shot list and sketch out some ideas. Talk to your friend about what he/she hopes for - are there any particular moments or combinations of people that they hope to capture in the photo shoot?

2) Speak to them in advance about what they plan to wear and as tactfully as possible explain what's good and bad when it comes to clothes and make-up. For example: long pants and long sleeves are preferable; solid colours are strongly preferred (avoid stripes or checks); limit distracting jewellery etc; avoid solid black or white); think about harmonious colours (for the family as a whole) but not obviously matched up; matte make-up applied with a light hand is better than glossy foundations, shadows or lipstick. Put it in writing in an email.

3) Bring a comb and some wetwipes to clean people up if necessary.

4) For the group shots, let people assemble themselves naturally without direction from you first. Watch the dynamics and how they communicate (or don't communicate with each other). Let what you see unfolding naturally influence the poses you arrange. Once they've arranged themselves, then you can step in and adjust their chosen arrangement to make things look better photographically.

5) If it's a fairly large group (e.g., two parents and more than two kids), you might start by having one parent and one child get into position and then have others join them. This reduces the amount of time that people spend fidgeting in position and that helps you get a more natural look.

6) Think about bringing a stepstool or even a short step ladder. You can sometimes get a better photo (and deal with depth of field problems) by shooting from above down at a group that is looking up at you slightly.

7) While you shoot, stop periodically and to check for clothing, jewellery, and hair that has gone askew. I once did a whole series of photos of my sister that I thought would turn out well, until I realized after the fact that the neckline on her top was off center.

8) Let them use props, if it seems natural. One of the best photos we did in Neal's course featured four rabbinical students. As we were setting up the shots, we noticed that most of them were playing with their phones. The stereotypical image would have been to have serious students reading a religious text - instead we had them lean in to look at something on someone's iPhone, with some people in the group pointing and laughing. In your shoot, watch for behaviors that seem to characterize individuals and the family, and then play those up in a fun way. Is there a kid who is always fidgeting or making funny faces? Is someone always looking away from the camera? Is someone trying to wiggle away? Let him or her do that in an extreme way while others react in an extreme way. It won't necessarily be the keeper shot for the family album, but everyone will probably have fun hamming it up and it likely will relax them.

9) Don't forget to check your settings before you start shooting - it's easy to get more distracted than usual when you're working with a group.

10) Have fun!

Great Post! Especially the part about letting the group position themselves and correct afterwards.
03-12-2015, 02:25 PM   #14
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I should add, regarding point number 4, that it's ok to give them some general direction before letting them arrange themselves. For example, you can say, let's have you gather here near this bench, with some of you sitting and some of you standing behind it. Then see what they do and then move them around a bit. Here's a link to a classic Slavin portrait (shot with a 20x24 Polaroid Camera)

BLACK DYCKE MILLS BRASS BAND; BRADFORD, YORKSHIRE | NEAL SLAVIN PHOTOGRAPHY
03-12-2015, 08:58 PM   #15
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Just take the lenses that work most often under most circumstances .. ( That would be me )
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