It is a Perspective Thing!

Just like in life perspective can be make the difference between a portrait worth buying and something that looks like a college student or mall photographer created it.  We have to face the facts, junior high and high school students can create a decent looking outdoor portrait.  The department store photographer can photograph a person or group and the lighting isn’t bad.  New photographers tend to start want to work with clients when then are not better than the fore mentions groups, but professional photography isn’t about mastering one or two essential elements in the creation of a professional portrait, but when you have mastered all of them.

Perspective, or the way you see the world or in this case the way you interpret the way the camera will create an image, is a huge part of a professional photograph.  Unlike lighting and posing, learning perspective is a process of self teaching.  The photographer with average intelligence can read two or three books on lighting and posing and with a great deal of practice can produce photographs that give inspiration to learn more and push them  further down the path to becoming a professional photographer.  Perspective in a portrait is a much harder topic to teach and learn.  It about the connection you make with the way the camera see`s the world and the unique way you view the camera`s world.

This is why so many photographers that are very good at lighting and posing stink at perspective.  They take things literally. Vertical lines are always vertical, horizontal lines horizontal and the camera`s view is always at the same height of the photographers view of the world.  This creates photographs that are boring.  This doesn’t mean that you need to swing from the chandeliers like many photography students do, believing that an interesting angle can make up for their lack of knowledge in the other areas of photography.  It simply means that once you have mastered lighting and while you are mastering posing, you have to learn how to control perspective and composition.

While lighting is easy to adjust when you change perspective or composition, you have to consider perspective and composition while you are deciding on your posing choices.  Posing works with composition and perspective.  The right pose builds a base for the composition and producing lines and curves that create the overall look of the image.  It is part of the creation process and needs to be decided on before you ever pick up a camera.

Perspective not only changes the look of a pose, but the look of and the area showing in a background.  Outdoors I shoot in the middle of the day (during business hours).  Controlling perspective is a must for salable portraits.  Once a general scene and area to pose the subject is selected I am looking at all the background areas behind the subject to isolate the perfect area behind the subject that offers the right tone and texture for the portrait I am creating.  I might be on a ladder or laying on the ground to isolate the

perfect background area, especially in the middle of the day.

Inside the studio, perspective can make people look taller and thinner (lowering the camera angle and shooting upward to a standing subject)  or more child like (shoot from a higher perspective downward on the subject).  Perspective can also isolate portions of a background or set to achieve the desired result.  The problem with learning perspective and composition is that it takes practice to master.  You must teach yourself to move the camera from side to side and higher and lower around the subject.  You must practice tilting the camera to change the perspective to learn when it can add to an image and when it shouldn`t be used.


~ by jeffsmithbooks on March 28, 2011.

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