Gulp! Did a real shoot! (Pic heavy) - EDITS ADDED post #10

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TracyF's picture
Joined: 08/14/06
Posts: 2404
Gulp! Did a real shoot! (Pic heavy) - EDITS ADDED post #10

Just starting out by saying that so far, I have officially done one newborn shoot and one 'real' shoot of my own kids, and that's it. So CC is appreciated... But given my inexperience at portraiture, please be gentle, because this was fun but very nerve-wracking for me, and I'm REALLY struggling with the editing. These were for a friend of mine and her two girls, just a freebie as I want to suck it up and start working on gaining some portraiture experience right now. That said, I would like a bit of feedback on the shots, and on the edits on these... we lost our nice cloud cover just before the shoot started, and so I did a lot of backlit stuff and seem not to be editing those well. And the girls have very different skin tones, so sometimes one looks good to me and the other doesn't... Just really not sure what I'm doing. :confused: No need to comment on them all, there's a lot, just any thoughts you have that would help me would be great! All taken with the 50mm prime. 1. f/2.8, ISO 200, SS 1/500 2. f/2.5, ISO 200, SS 1/500 3. f/2.5, ISO 200, SS 1/640 - Horizon through their heads Sad Too bright? 4. f/2.5, ISO 100, SS 1/320 5. The girls were very self-conscious about posing and it was hard to get them to stand or even sit without looking stiff as a board, but liked the on-the-tummy pose, so we did a few of those. f2.5, ISO 100, SS 1/250 6. f2.5, ISO 100, SS 1/250 7. I have one taken moments after this where she's looking at the camera and smiling, but I do like the dreamy look on her face here. f2.5, ISO 100, SS 1/250 8. f/2.2, ISO 100, SS 1/1600 9. I like this one too, but not sure if it's too dark. Brightening it seems a problem. f/3.2 (?!), ISO 100, SS 1/500 10. f/3.2 (?!), ISO 100, SS 1/500 11. f/2.8, ISO 200, SS 1/800 And I'm throwing these in not because I like them, but because the editing sucks and I have relatively few of the older sister, so I want to make something work here. 12. f/2.2, ISO 100, SS 1/800 13. f/1.8, ISO 100, SS 1/2000

Joined: 10/26/01
Posts: 3458

Good for you, Tracy! I know it's hard to put yourself out there like that, but I bet this family will ALWAYS treasure these images!

1. This looks a little cool to me, but I am at work and on a monitor that is far from calibrated, so take that w/ a grain of salt. I think you did a GREAT job of getting all 3 of them in focus w/ an aperture of f/2.8. Great connection between them as well.

2. I like this one a lot! Skin tones seem warmer here. Blanket might be blown just a little.

3. Horizon doesn't bother me, but the girls seem a little stiff to me. Again, skin seems a little cool. But see my comment about my monitor in #1. Wink

4. Love the pose here, but I wish they weren't on the blanket. Skin tones look warmer here (& it looks good to me).

5. They do look more relaxed here. The blanket doesn't bother me here.

6. The older sister looks more at ease in front of the camera. Love her hair. She looks a touch washed out to me here.

7. I like the dreamy look too, but again, I'm not digging the blanket. Is she really pale? Or is it just my monitor again?

8. Beautiful back light. Wish the girls had relaxed a bit for you here.

9. You might want to try some layer masks with this one. She does look a bit under exposed. But I can see how brightening over all would blow the background. I actually really love the softness of the background. It really makes her pop.

10. Mom looks really good! Her hands look a touch red though.

11. This may be my favorite of the 2 girls. Great job w/ the focus. Color looks really nice. Blanket may be a touch blown, but it doesn't bother me at all. I'd like to see this one in b&w.

12. The posing doesn't really work for me. I likely would not include this one. It is not a very flattering look for her and she is a very pretty young lady.

13. This one I like. Is there any way to crop it so she is not so centered? It's not a deal breaker. I like this one.

Great set, Tracy! I know they are going to love these!


TracyF's picture
Joined: 08/14/06
Posts: 2404

Thanks for the helpful and detailed feedback, GiGi -- and the encouragement! It all means a lot!

Re: the blanket, apparently it's a family heirloom and the mom wanted to use it for the shoot.

Ladybugsteph's picture
Joined: 06/21/06
Posts: 2977

I don't have time for detailed CC right now, but I did want to comment! Looks like the exact same scenario as what I had. Such a frustrating lighting situation. I would have much preferred to shoot later in the day. I was praying for cloud cover, but it was just going in and out (which made metering a pain in the butt!)

Anyway! I'm noticing that their skin is quite grey, and the overall scene is on the green side. You did a great job using the backlighting to avoid harsh shadows and light on their faces. They do look kind of stiff, but I think that some sort of connection between them could have helped that. For example, in #8, I would have had them hold hands while standing back to back. Or MAKE them go into a relaxed position, like one elbow up on another's shoulder. Who can't look relaxed in a position like that? Smile

I think you did a fantastic job. Seriously. I think that all that needs to be done is cleaning up the PP. If I get a chance, I will try to take one and see what I can do. It might have to be after I'm done with my set though Wink

AmberBella's picture
Joined: 02/15/07
Posts: 1831

I can see their stiffness. That's tough. It's really hard to get the clients looking natural if they are really feeling uncomfortable. I find it works best to get them laughing. Easier said than done, I know! Have them make goofy make goofy faces. Make jokes...have them say silly stuff. Some people work best when you don't pose them....tell them where to be, but not how to be.

Looks like you did a fine job technically. I wish you hadn't used the blanket...or if you had to use one perhaps use a green one that blended in better with the grass. As it is, the blanket pulls focus a lot.

EDIT: Too bad about the heirloom blanket. I understand why you used it, but it really does detract. Wonder if there was a better way it could have been incorporated. Hmmmmm....I dunno. Perhaps a straight overhead shot like you see so often done in grass, but on the blanket?

TracyF's picture
Joined: 08/14/06
Posts: 2404

"AmberBella" wrote:

I can see their stiffness. That's tough. It's really hard to get the clients looking natural if they are really feeling uncomfortable. I find it works best to get them laughing. Easier said than done, I know! Have them make goofy make goofy faces. Make jokes...have them say silly stuff. Some people work best when you don't pose them....tell them where to be, but not how to be.

They were laughing and I was trying to be goofy, but they just didn't loosen up. The oldest girl kept standing straight with her arms down and her legs about a foot apart in THE most awkward position ever, so I would suggest hands on the hip or leaning against the tree or whatever, and she would say, "Okaaaaay" in this doubtful way. I mean, they were good sports, but... The funny thing is, I've known the mom for 24 years and we're great friends, and the oldest girl sometimes babysits my kids now; but in spite of the prior relationship, they are VERY shy girls. Great girls, but unbelievably reserved! Steph, I like the idea of the hand-holding in #8, but before the shoot they were telling me about all the 'cheesy' things another photographer had tried to make them do, like holding hands, and I lost my confidence in suggesting such things to them. :-O Not very good, I know that one thing I will NEED to be a better portrait photographer is to become more assertive... definitely not one of my strong suits. Sad

TracyF's picture
Joined: 08/14/06
Posts: 2404

Did another edit actually with HDR of #9 and now I love that one! Just have to share:
Cindy & Girls

I'm not sure about their skin looking grey, and I know there's a green quality but I think it's just all of the surrounding green, because if I zoom in on their skin, it seems not to look green to me. But I do know what you mean about the grey, Steph. Just not sure what to do about that?!

Amy_&_Eva's picture
Joined: 08/23/07
Posts: 2378

You've gotten awesome CC already, I think these look technically beautiful, I just feel the first few would look sooo much better without the blanket. I understand why they wanted it though.

For color, I think 1 and 2 have the most beautiful tones. 4-5-6 look much greener/lighter. I also really love #10!

Joined: 10/26/01
Posts: 3458

The thing w/ the blanket makes me laugh. I don't mean that in a harsh way. I just mean - it's the same reason why we all get "mommy goggles" at pics of our kids. They may not be "text book perfect" but because the subject means so much, they are priceless all the same.

And while that means you may not want to ever include these in a portfolio, I'll bet the presence of that blanket will endear these photos EVEN MORE to the family.

And that is why we have to listen to what our "clients" want - to a point at least. I like Amber's suggestion of a possible use for the blanket. But even taking that aside. Having the blanket in the shot means something to the family. And in the end, the photos are for their enjoyment.


It's a balancing act - between getting the technical/aesthetics right while providing a meaningful image to the client.

I think you did good. Biggrin


TracyF's picture
Joined: 08/14/06
Posts: 2404

True enough, GiGi... the balancing act is tough, but in the end, it's what matters to them, I guess!

I have a bunch of edits here. If anyone has time to comment, I'd appreciate it, though you've already looked through so many and commented, so no worries if you can't! I'm just really trying to eliminate some green, not sure if I went too magenta. Also trying to maintain a more even level of brightness on their faces. The younger girl IS very fair, so she's a bit tough.

Edit #1.


#3. Very different from the original.

#4. Reduced redness in the hands.


tialee80's picture
Joined: 02/04/12
Posts: 394

I agree that the biggest thing here is them looking uncomfortable. One thing that helps me is music. I have tried it over and over and any shoot with music always has a better flow about it. I tell my clients to bring their ipod and I have a few of those pocket sized bass speakers. They fit right in your pocket and work really well. Plus they are only about 10 bucks at any walgreens. I also almost always bring starbucks. This is not necessary but I do it for a reason to not start right away. By the time people find what they are going to wear, do their hair, try to find your place, they are stressed. I bring coffee and tell them how I am also a mother and I know these things can be crazy hetic so lets take a break first and then we can get to shooting. Everytime I see a persons sholders go down and they breathe. I think just 5 or 10 minutes to unwind can make a huge difference. Once they are relaxed I turn on the music they like and we start shooting:) Overall I think it's a great start so keep at it and don't be afraid to be assertive just try to do it in a funny way Smile

sadieruth's picture
Joined: 06/09/05
Posts: 6213

Wow Tracy! You did great with this shoot!
1. Love this. I think the colors are almost spot on here. Great focus too!
2. I think blanket is blown. Great light in her eyes.
3. The last one you edited of this one looks better. I still think it's a tad bright though. You did a good job with this position. I feel like a lot of times they are looking funny, but you did good.
4. Edit #1 of the girls back to back is great! Probably one of my faves!
5. The tree is right above her head here and is throwing me off. I like the comp of #4 better.
6. She looks happy and relaxed here. I like the angle and think you nailed this one.
7. The comp is throwing me off. I want to know what she's looking at. I think if she was looking downward a bit more it would have worked. Maybe crop some of the left side off?
8. They look way too uncomfortable here. And it's really bright in the back.
9. This one isn't working for me. I think the background needs to be darkened. Have you tried burning it at all?
10. She looks really happy and relaxed for me here. I like this, just wish maybe she would have interacted with the tree some with her hands?
11. New edit looks great- maybe tone down the blanket some.
12. I just wish she looked more comfortable. It would have been cute to maybe do a serious one here with her hands on her knees or something rather than her just sitting...
13. I LOVE this one. Both your first edit and second!

TracyF's picture
Joined: 08/14/06
Posts: 2404

Thanks for the tips, Tia!

Thank you for the great CC, Sadie, really appreciated. Funny about #4 vs. #5 with the tree coming out of her head... because I had the exact same angle in #4 at first, realized the tree position wasn't good and moved... and then repeated the error with #5. :-O

#9 can't be burned... the light was so contrasty that it is simply very blown in the background, even when I edit the RAW file I can only get a little of it back.

Thanks for the feedback, so much appreciated!