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Why portrait photographers point down the camera between shots?

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by Vivalo, Oct 30, 2014.

  1. Vivalo

    Vivalo Olympus loser

    Nov 16, 2010
    I have seen some photographers pointing their camera down while looking through the viewfinder and then pointing back to the model. Why do they do that? Is it just for getting a fresh compose or something else? I know here are pro portrait photographers so I thought I might get at least more educated quess. Thanks in advance.
  2. b_rubenstein

    b_rubenstein Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 20, 2012
    Melbourne, FL
    Depending on the color of the ground and the light falling on it, they may be taking a meter reading.
  3. Vivalo

    Vivalo Olympus loser

    Nov 16, 2010
    But then, why don't they take the reading with a light meter before the session?
  4. dogs100

    dogs100 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 12, 2011
    N Devon UK
    I thought it was to relax their muscles ... or chimping
    • Like Like x 1
  5. usayit

    usayit Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Keep in mind that ISO value on digital cameras(and thus explicit exposure Tv/Av combinations) are only an approximation of an ISO value that dates back to the film days. For the most part its easy to know that the camera will over or under expose given a reading from a light meter... or simply adjust the meter. Definitely still useful when using strobes. Maybe some photographers no longer rely on a meter.... the TTL meters in our cameras are fairly accurate and tuned to the sensor within.

    I haven't noticed that many photographers pointing downward between shots.... I"d be interested to know why.
  6. T N Args

    T N Args Agent Photocateur

    Dec 3, 2013
    Adelaide, Australia
    call me Arg
    So the model knows a photo is not imminent and can relax a moment, while they adjust settings, chimp, etc.
    • Like Like x 2
  7. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    If they're using a longer than standard focal length lens and the centre of gravity of the camera/lens combination is in front of the camera body, pointing the lens down when not shooting will actually make it a little easier to keep holding the camera because the hand muscles no longer have to counteract the gravitational torque force acting through the camera/lens centre of gravity. Instead that centre of gravity will be aligned in the vertical plane with their hands and the torque force is eliminated.

    In other words, as dogs100 said above, they're relaxing their muscles.
    • Like Like x 1
  8. Promit

    Promit Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 6, 2011
    Baltimore, MD
    Promit Roy
    Maybe it's like a gun - you don't aim until you're ready to shoot ;) 
    • Like Like x 1
  9. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    If they're using a camera with an EVF, then they're probably chimping and can't get out of the habit of lowering the camera as they do with a regular DSLR LCD screen. I was once attending a presentation and there was another photographer, from whatever organisation, and after every shot he chimped. It was up, down, up, down, up down for at least half a dozen shots before he changed position, and then repeat.
  10. Itchybiscuit

    Itchybiscuit Photon Mangler

    Dec 10, 2013
    Glasgow, Scotland
    I think you may have the right of it there. :thumbup:
  11. fortwodriver

    fortwodriver Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Nov 15, 2013
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    In the film days I took a course at a local university. The instructor told us o do that when taking pictures in public places to prevent people from becoming uncomfortable with a camera lens being aimed at them constantly. By flipping the camera down between shots, you look a bit like a bumbling fellow fumbling with his camera and people don't get as nervous.

    Apparently Gary Winowgrand used to do it all the time!

    I don't really do it anymore - but I also don't take pictures of random people on the street like that anymore.
  12. m43happy

    m43happy Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Feb 18, 2012
    I do it just as a pause/slight break, so whoever I'm shooting doesn't feel so static trying to hold a pose. Usually I'll say something quick to the model in between that time to keep the flow going. That's just me though.
  13. usayit

    usayit Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Well.. yes... to take a breather... to not point the camera at the subject all the time.

    But that's a bit different from what the OP is describing.

  14. spatulaboy

    spatulaboy I'm not really here Subscribing Member

    Jul 13, 2011
    North Carolina
    To take pictures of their feet. :) 
  15. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Mar 13, 2014
    Central Ohio, USA
    I can't speak for all portrait photographers, but I put the camera down when I go to interact with the model. That way they can relax for a second and pay attention to me instead of finding the light and posing.

    Once the light is setup and nailed, there really is no need for me to chimp all the time, as I know everything is nailed down. I'll double check a few here or there or if I move lights just to make sure everything is still satisfactory.
  16. Vivalo

    Vivalo Olympus loser

    Nov 16, 2010
    Okay, thanks for all the replies. This is a thing I have seen only on couple of occations. I mean really looking through optical VF and pointing away the model (not necessarily downwards) and then back to the model. Maybe it is for metering from some known point as some of you pointed out and also for the model a time to blink and breathe. I couldn't find any video to demonstrate my question. First time I saw this was like ten years ago when the photographer was taking fotos of me in studio with some early Nikon DSLR. His studio is still there so I might stop by some day and ask it directly from him.
  17. jrsilva

    jrsilva Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 1, 2012
    I do that often when I'm shooting portraits using spot metering and AE Lock button combination.
    As I'm looking thorough the EVF I point the camera to different parts of the model or surrounding background until I'm satisfied with the reading (good balance between skin tones and background), then I press AE Lock button and start shooting without worry about exposure changing.
    If I press play to review the photos the AE Lock returns to it's Off state and I have to repeat the reading/Lock process again.
  18. dwig

    dwig Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 26, 2010
    Key West FL
    If it's a long "look down" this is the most likely reason, either to allow a model to relax or because the position is more comfortable for chimping and/or adjustments. If it is a very quick down-and-back-up it's likely that are doing the classic reduce-the-sky-and-trap-the-exposure.

    I often do the latter and sometimes a second reframe to trap focus before returning to the desired framing for the shot.
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