Romantic Portraits

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by Nathan King, Sep 18, 2013.

  1. Nathan King

    Nathan King Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 19, 2013
    Omaha, NE
    I have an acquaintance who just celebrated her 40th anniversary. She would like some informal and romantic outdoor portraits taken of them in late October when the fall colors peak. Since I am not a professional I will not be charging her. I've shown her some of my portraits that I have made with my E-M5/75mm/45mm and Canon AE-1/85mm cameras and lenses, and she's happy with what I can do, but I would really like to make these the best portraits I've done.

    I plan to scout a few locations in the morning and evening to find colorful backgrounds with areas of shade/diffused lighting. I've also purchased a few books on portrait photography posing. Does anybody have any tips or foolproof poses that they could share for this type of photography?
  2. briloop

    briloop Mu-43 Regular

    May 23, 2012
    Mount Juliet, TN
    Three suggestions: 1) have an off-camera flash mounted in a softbox with remote trigger; 2) search online for some sample poses; and 3) get somebody to model for you and practice before you photograph your acquaintance.
    • Like Like x 1
  3. seanho

    seanho New to Mu-43

    Nov 4, 2012
    Langley, BC
    Heartily agree with briloop's suggestions, especially (3) -- getting some practice with a live model is well worth it! First time I did that (just with a willing friend) it ironed out so many rookie mistakes I was making, that no amount of book reading would have helped with.

    For outdoor portraits, if you can get a patient assistant to hold it for you, I'd also recommend trying a reflector. Use the golden late afternoon sun as a hair light coming from behind the model (watch for flare in your lens), then use the reflector as your key light. You can even add a second reflector for some fill. You can use anything large and shiny for a reflector; the California Sunbounce is a little pricey but lightweight, durable, and frequently recommended.

    When the sun is strong, trying to compete with it using artificial light means either lugging hefty monoblocs or using your speedlights without softboxes or umbrellas. So why not instead just use and redirect that great natural light you have all around you during the golden hour?

    You can also combine flashes and reflectors; as the light gets low you'll be relying on the flashes more. It's good to have a lighting plan that adapts as the sun sets so you can keep on shooting while the light changes through different beautiful colors.

    Having said all this, I'll add that Neil Turner has made a career out of doing *amazing* environmental portraits using natural light and one monobloc with a radio trigger. He has very detailed tutorials and BTS as well; terrific site:
    • Like Like x 1
  4. 0dBm

    0dBm Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 30, 2011
    Western United States
    Never, EVER photograph a woman with her nostrils facing the lens.
    Capture the image of ANY woman over 35 with her looking up at the lens so that it forces her to stretch her neck muscles and flatten the wrinkles and age lines.
    Avoid white garments. They blow out the image.
    Use soft, earthy, textured garments to help hide any, uhm, love handles.
    Minimize the sheer amount of large diameter jewelry or else the image becomes about the jewelry.
    Avoid too much primary color in the subject's make-up. Vivid blues WITH strong reds will make the subject look like a two-bit whore.:eek:
    Back off on the sharpness of the image.
    AVOID horizontal lines on the garment. Will make the subject look, umm, larger.
    Compliment her often.
    No vivid-colored undies showing through sheer garments. NO sheer garments.
    No 20-something model poses unless she looks like what Morgan Fairchild looked like AT 40.
    No tan lines showing.
    Back off on the sharpness of the image.
    No GINORMOUS purses.
    No plastic jewelry lighter in color than medium brown.
    If using a flash unit, use it with a diffuser, softbox, or bounce card OFF-camera.
    If using gels to correct color, stay within 3000-4000 Kelvin. Higher color temperatures will make her look like the Jeremy Irons. Lower color temperatures will make her look older by darkening the crows feet and liver spots.
    No broad-shouldered garments. Let 80s fashion DIE!
    No garments in plaid or she will look like Mel Gibson in Braveheart.
    Back off on the sharpness of the image.
    • Like Like x 10
  5. RobWatson

    RobWatson Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Can we sticky this in the lighting forum?

    Also,for the men ... whatever the lady wants.
  6. Pecos

    Pecos Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jan 20, 2013
    The Natural State
    My only suggestion... to reduce sharpness somewhat.
  7. arch stanton

    arch stanton Mu-43 Veteran

    Feb 25, 2012
    Real Name:
    Second for a sticky, this is some of the best, funniest and most succinct advice I've seen in a while - thanks OdBm!

    Also, what does your name mean? :smile:
  8. ean10775

    ean10775 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 31, 2011
    Cleveland, Ohio
    Real Name:
    Especially if you're shooting with the 75mm...
  9. jloden

    jloden Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2012
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    Real Name:
    Some pretty good advice so far. I think you're on the right track by scouting some good locations ahead of time, and getting some poses in mind also.

    I'm not an expert by any stretch but a few things I've picked up from my experience and from doing some assisting:

    * Think ahead for weather, logistics etc. You don't want them freezing and shivering in the photos, sweating through their clothes, having their hair blown completely sideways by wind in every shot, getting rained on, muddy, etc.

    * If you haven't worked with off-camera lighting before it may be a bad idea to try and incorporate it (too many variables to worry about). If you're comfortable with it then even just one off camera flash in a softbox can open up lots of options for you since you'll be assured of good light wherever you want it.

    * A reflector can be really helpful also even if just to lift shadows and add fill. Works best if you have an assistant though.

    * For women especially, watch body spacing during posing. For example, keep her arms from touching her torso when posing because it will make them spread out and look larger. Likewise if you have her sitting you'll want to avoid having her legs pressing down hard on the edge of a surface for the same reason.

    * If possible, shoot around sunset for some great golden light.

    * If you're planning to do a lot of wide open shooting at f/1.8, you may need an ND filter or two. I did some engagement photos and didn't think that through, and had to shoot everything stopped down because it was too bright to shoot wide open and I didn't have filters.

    * Mirror poses for people with your body, and use your own body & movements to indicate when you need them to adjust. Don't try to direct with "move left" etc. (whose left? Mine? Yours? Wait, this way?)

    * Don't forget to shake things up. Shoot wide, shoot long, change backdrops, poses, expressions, etc. Give yourself lots of options.
    • Like Like x 1
  10. Nathan King

    Nathan King Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 19, 2013
    Omaha, NE
    Wow, I'm blown away by both the quality and quantity of advice here. I have a friend of similar age that is willing to let me take photographs of her every weekend until the shoot, so that will allow me to get some quality practice.

    Thank you all! :2thumbs: