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Occasional Contributor
Posts: 5
Registered: ‎10-01-2014

Tips Wanted for First Shoot -

[ Edited ]

After 30 years of actively shooting I've decided to take the plunge and put together a portfolio by shooting friends and their families. I'm doing most of these for free to quickly put a portfolio together. I'll be shooting Maternity, Children and Family portraits to get my feet wet and I feel really good about finally doing this. I would appreciate any and all advice regarding the trade in general, suggestions on any particular equipment I should use and techniques that help workflow and final production presentation. I thank you in advance for your generosity in taking some time out of your day to help me move forward. My first shoot is a maternity this Saturday!

60D, 40D - 50mm 1.2L, 85mm 1.8, 124-105mm 4.0L
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Posts: 13,066
Registered: ‎12-07-2012

Re: Tips Wanted for First Shoot -

A photographer's worth is judged by their photography.  A professional-looking portfolio and an online site display will show off your best work.  Include what you do, what you have to offer, etc.  You also need to keep this on-going and keep updating it as you progress.

This does not generally happen overnight.  It is not likely to happen by Saturday.

EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!
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Re: Tips Wanted for First Shoot -

Find a mentor.  Smiley Happy

EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!
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Respected Contributor
Posts: 1,735
Registered: ‎02-28-2013

Re: Tips Wanted for First Shoot -

[ Edited ]

I’m a little confused by this. If you’ve been shooting for 30 plus years, wouldn’t you already have the photos you need to start a portfolio? Wouldn’t you also know what equipment and post processing techniques you need? It sounds like you’re new to portraiture? If that’s the case, I’m not sure what you expecting out of this maternity shoot, or what the subject is expecting, for that matter. Portraiture, in my opinion, is one of the most technique intensive and time intensive types of photography. If you’re just shooting natural light you probably already have that skill set, but if you’re using lighting then that is a learned skill. Almost more important are post processing skills, when it comes to portraiture. Post processing can make or break a portrait. You need to start with a good, well lit, well posed photo. But then you have to have the PP skills to really make the image stand out. This is just my take on portraiture. A quick look at online forums and portfolios shows there are plenty of people out there churning out poorly lit and/or post processing portraits by the hundreds. But I urge you not to walk down that path.

 

A portfolio shouldn’t be put together quickly.  It should represent your best work, not what you can do in a day. I think spending a day shooting and spending the next several days processing is a great learning experience, but I don’t know that it’s a great idea to put together a port that way.

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Occasional Contributor
Posts: 5
Registered: ‎10-01-2014

Re: Tips Wanted for First Shoot -

[ Edited ]

Thanks to all that have responded thus far. Let me be more clear and elaborate a bit more on my skill set and experience.
My first real exposure to photography was my first year of high school where I took a photo class as an elective both in 9th and 10th grades. Our jntructer had us get the Pentax K-1000 back then in 1983 which as some of you may know was 100% manual with absolutely no automatic settings. Mr. Parker felt that was the best camera for a new student so as to be forced to learn how a camera operates. He was right. I built my own darkroom in my basement at 16. Since then I have actively shot everything I could possibly shoot for the last 30 years but never any particular niche type. I have many photographs I have collected through the years that are on hard drives and also in hardcopies that I could use in my portfolio. I don't think however any of them include the subject matter that I am considering and talking about now. I'm referring to portraiture as I have very little experience in artificial lighting. I currently own a 430EX flash, two umbrellas, two lights and two strobes. I've only had them a few weeks and have very little practice with them. I prefer natural light and have experience in everything from astrophotography to night photography -- simply pushing the camera as far as it will go with low light sources. Photoshop is no problem as I have used it for years and am fluid with it. The business side of it would be helpful as well. Thanks again.

60D, 40D - 50mm 1.2L, 85mm 1.8, 124-105mm 4.0L
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Occasional Contributor
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Registered: ‎10-01-2014

Re: Tips Wanted for First Shoot -

ebiggs1, I already have the url purchased and have experience putting a website together. I agree that it's an absolute must in this business. A ,mentor would be great. You happen to know one you could send my way? ;-)

60D, 40D - 50mm 1.2L, 85mm 1.8, 124-105mm 4.0L
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Posts: 1,735
Registered: ‎02-28-2013

Re: Tips Wanted for First Shoot -

Got it. Well, you certainly have everything you need to make a good portrait. There are plenty of photographers that can do wonders with a 60D, that 50mm 1.2, and some good natural light. I can’t comment on whether or not you have that skill. I’m making a generalization, but I’d say that natural light portrait photographers use less post processing than those that use lighting. And those that do use post processing seem to focus more on colors, tones, and third party filters to give old film looks and whatnot (e.g. the VSCO filters). Again, this is just a generalization.

 

Off-camera lighting is a different beast entirely. Most glamour, beauty, studio portrait, boudoir, etc. uses lighting. And most of these styles traditionally have a lot of retouch. Again, a generalization. This is the stuff I prefer, so my comments lean towards this style. A natural light portrait photographer might weigh in and disagree with everything I say. Off-camera lighting takes a bit of practice to get the hang of, but just getting the basics down and getting a well exposed studio portrait isn’t all that difficult. That decent shot can become a good portrait if you know what you’re doing in post. I’m not advocating not learning off-camera lighting well, just that many portraits are nothing more than a well exposed shot in-camera. Great portraiture, on the other hand, takes great lighting, models, vision, and post processing, but that’s above the level of this discussion.

 

If you want to get into portrait retouching I recommend you learn the art of frequency separation and dodge and burn, if you haven’t already. Those are a high end retouchers tools (and a tablet, gotta have a tablet). Many photographers gravitate towards third party plugins like Imagenomic’s Portraiture or the Topaz Labs stuff. It’s ok, but they look like an automated filter, IMHO. If you do use them, use them lightly. There’s plenty of stuff on the web on frequency separation. D&B can be more difficult to find a good tutorial. There’s lots of macro stuff, which is pretty much just shading. Good portraiture retouchers use D&B on the pixel level. The results, when done well, are far better than any automated process will get you. But it takes practice, and even then, it takes a lot of time in post on just a single image.

If you want to get into lighting I can recommend a setup. If that’s not your cup of tea, then I’d say you have everything you need. The 50mm and the 85 should suffice for most uses. For outdoor I like to use a 135+ focal length, but it’s not necessary. You can use your 430ex, on camera, in TTL for a simple fill flash, if properly modified.

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Registered: ‎02-28-2013

Re: Tips Wanted for First Shoot -


@shotbyclaudio wrote:

ebiggs1, I already have the url purchased and have experience putting a website together. I agree that it's an absolute must in this business. A ,mentor would be great. You happen to know one you could send my way? ;-)


If you already have the website purchased, then go with it.  But many of the "build-a-port" websites are quite good.  Stuff like Portfolio Lounge, Zenfolio, Photoshelter, Behance, Square Space, Wix etc. make it quick and easy.  You can literally build a portfolio in an hour if you have the photos lined up (Wix and Squarespace are a little more involved, but produce more custom results). 

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Registered: ‎10-01-2014

Re: Tips Wanted for First Shoot -

[ Edited ]

Thank you Skirball for that wonderful feedback. That's the type of advice I'm looking for. "Doge & Burn. Yes, brings me back to my darkroom days. Gotta say I miss the chemicals wafting through the air....

P.S. Saving for the 5D III... :-)

60D, 40D - 50mm 1.2L, 85mm 1.8, 124-105mm 4.0L
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Re: Tips Wanted for First Shoot -

If you have a web site in the making you probably don't need an official portfolio.  Clients will not be impressed in work thay they are not interested in.

But samples of what you are offering is necessary.  Here is one of mine.

 

IMG_8063x.jpg

 

It has all the specifics in what I am offering with some samples.  It has the contract.  It has what I expect from the client.

It also has what is not going to happen.  It has a copyright release included, too.

 

A portfolio is more intended to show your ability for employment by a company or free lance job.  Concentrate on your web site and than advertise it.

 

I currently mentor two young ladies that want this type of career.  One is going to make it, the other has found out how much work it is and is showing signs of quiting.  Plus they find how much time a real working photographer spends without a camera in his hands.  There is a big difference between, yeah, man, I made some bucks with my camera so now I am a pro.

And, a guy who actually puts groecies on the table with his camera.  Pays the utilities and so on and so on.

 

The list of equipment you have,"60D, 40D - 50mm 1.2L, 85mm 1.8, 124-105mm 4.0L" except maybe the 40D is a pretty good starting' point.  A 5D Mk III is a wonderful camera but can you pay for a $3000+ dollar camera?  You see this is the first question a real working photographer asks himself.  Not, gee a 5D Mk III is a great camera, I think I will go buy one.

 

Perhaps you should decide what you really want out of photography, first.  Smiley Frustrated

EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!
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