Old Works

On Portraits, Poses and Expressions

Should I consider this as a part two of my first hobby post? I’d really like to talk about the joys of shooting people and their expressions.

Ever since I was surrounded by my buddies and around the time I had my first digital camera back sixth grade, I realized I like shooting people together. Or individually. Or just framing anyone up in an artistic way behind the lens. My buddies were more than willing to let me shoot them most of the time. When I finally got my own DSLR (ah.. no actually it was a Prosumer camera that I got first), it was roughly around during high school and with no knowledge about Manual Mode at all.

Honey and Dark, with Sharmaine-Sheng P.; April 2011

I just enjoyed photographing people in general. It continued to develop around the years when I began attending conventions and events, especially anime and gaming based ones and cosplay was starting to flourish then too. One thing I belatedly realized that directing my subjects unconsciously felt second nature to me. I didn’t understand the concept of photography then but I knew what looked pleasant for me based on creative judgement (or at least I believe it looked pleasant if those thanks and gratitude from my models didn’t assure me).

Then came college (plus the arrival of Fuji-san!) and with formal sessions of Photography, I embraced with willing arms the Manual mode. And then with understanding the harmony between the subject, its relevant elements and backgrounds, I’ve gotten more and more excited at the thought of “the things I could pull off” in photography.

The many stuffies I’ve learned through the years of capturing portraits is to always achieve a “lighted,” and “viewable” faces. And its expression. Nothing pleases me more to capture expressions — especially the happiest ones. To try and harmonize the subject and the background is another lesson I learned too: no to clutter-y outputs or frame the subject “in center” with little to no negative space (or as I find out just now — literally — called the Headroom in Composition). Rule of Thirds was (and still is!) my best friend and the sun always granted me the light I was comfortable with. And before I knew it, more and more people especially came to me just to let me shoot them.

By default I’m very OC to just about anything. Armed with a pocket tissue, brush and fan, during shoots I tend to my model a lot. Fixing their clothes, their strands of hair, the way their dresses drape or the positions of their arms, heads, hands, body — I tend to all of these. Basically everything. And to make them at ease, I converse with them while we shoot or that I commend their poses to encourage them more to inhibit themselves to me. (But after a while, I’d apologize if there were any overbearing orders and discomfort I unconsciously made them feel since my OCness truly gets ahead of me!)

Tough ‘N Rough, with Jovie D. & Kristin L.; March 2012

(For the record, let me remind my co-photography enthusiasts that even when your subject relies on you to direct them at any circumstance, it is only polite to ask them if it’s okay to pose this and that. Ask them. Even if it’s just making them sit or kneel, ask them.)

After a quick session of shooting, I’d let them see their photos next and it makes me happy to see them delighted with the raw output. More so that they even use it as their display pictures, avatar, profile pictures once I uploaded them online. *bliss* Thank you very much for posing for me!

During free time, I study magazines, blogs and posts online to get new ideas how to shoot portraits, gather interesting poses, background and props ideas and expressions of individuals, in pair or in groups for the next shoot (and future ones at that!) I’ll be doing. In my bucket list, the shoots I want to pull off with people are my subjects are:

  • Subjects in slow-motion (or high-speed) or simply freezing them up in a very creative and dynamic action. Panning too!
  • Subjects in a dark, gloomy mood under the rain or snow; a scenic shot with persons in it.
  • Subjects with lots of props. And I mean a roomful of interesting but relevant props.
  • To accurately replicate 2D images like from mangas to 3D ones with my subjects — namely the angles, expressions and clothing.
  • To make my subject pose for the settings I previously mentioned. *laughs*
  • To pull off Cinematographic technique like this or this ooor this (hnnngh.)

I get my doses of “frozen moments” with shooting toys and figures… to which I’ll talk about another time. Hee! Thanks fer reading!


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