– Posted by Mark
You may have seen in previous blog entries where go on and on about how we shoot many different things. We don’t just photograph weddings, or babies, or family portraits. Our reasoning (and excuse) is that we think it helps to keep things fresh, and to make sure that we don’t get stuck making the same photos, over and over again.
So after a series of weddings like the one we just had (California. Maine. New York. North Carolina. Florida.) – I like to shoot other things. Luckily I have the Intern Army and they’re always setting up shoots, or they’re always willing to come along with me and try out new things. We’re in Season SiX right now and honestly, I’ve just been on a dead body kick.
So I ran them through my dead body exercise.
It’s essentially a still life portrait – except you know, with a dead body. If you’ve ever photographed ‘products’ for practice, then you know what it’s like to shoot the subject from every angle imaginable. For some reason, many photographers don’t think to do this when they’re working with people. That’s how so many engagement sessions end up being a series of ‘Stand in front of this and pose, now stand in front of this and pose – oh let’s move over there so that you can stand in front of something else, and pose.’
You end up with a series of only front facing couple portraits. So we use the dead body exercise to remind us that we can and should move around our subjects.
Yes of course you must get those beautifully standard front facing ‘portrait’ photos of your subjects, but if that’s all you’ve got then you’re missing small details. Once you get the obvious ‘portrait’ shot, you can work on actually directing the viewer towards what you want them to see. In the three shots above, the couple is sitting together but the repeating focal point is Katie’s hand on Jamie’s arm. When the three shots are viewed together, her hand on his arm becomes a stabilizing focal point within all of the diagonal lines created by their leaning bodies and the various angles from which the photos were taken – and it becomes a connecting thread between the three photos.
Dead body exercises allow you to get away from focusing on posing the models/subjects/clients over and over again, as if you need to go through your cheat sheet of ‘couples poses’ just so that you have enough shots to deliver.
The idea is to be able to show more than just what’s obviously right in front of your camera. Those are the photos that tourists and amateurs make.
– Posted by Mark