Father's Day Photo Tips from the Experts
by Gary Bernstein and Clay Blackmore
It's good be with you again. This month, I'll do the lead-in, showing you some of my photographs, to be followed by one of the most-talented and sought-after portrait and wedding photographers in the country--Clay Blackmore out of the Washington, D.C. area. Clay is one of the professional photographers who is a ZugaPhoto.TV star--meaning that you can read Clay's words, check out his photographs...and most-importantly...watch his shows on our 24-7 show channel.
About the title of this month's column... Sort of sounds like reverse sexism, doesn't it? It is really a reference to lighting, posing, camera angles and attitude. Here is the reality: While men are every bit as egotistical, insecure, and absolutely as concerned about how they look on film (or digital) as the female of the species--and maybe more so, they are also significantly easier to photograph. I can already hear the guys grumbling. But it gets better.
So the photography phrase of the day is double standard--the pictorial physical differences between men and women. The idea of feminine beauty --particularly photographic beauty--is imprinted on our minds every day on television, in print and in the movies. Face it--we live In a world that sees a new Victoria's Secret catalog appear at our door every half hour (or so it seems)! It becomes increasingly difficult for women to "keep up" with the standard being set out their. And photographically, capturing beauty in our ladies--not the "real" inward beauty--but the surface beauty that is the basis for photography, requires a lot of know-how on the part of the photographer. We've talked about some of those things in past RitzCamera.com columns.
On the flip side--the counter to the pristine perfect female--is the rough, character-driven image of today’s male. Again, this rugged, realistic look--now complete with a “goat” or stubble, weathered skin, lines, wrinkles and razor burn--is simply reflected as “character.” Again, it’s the double standard as promoted by Madison Avenue, Hollywood, the magazines and the public at large.
So when it comes to photography--believe me--guys are easy. The male revels in overt camera angles, harsh, contrasty lighting--you name it. The choices are limitless when it comes to selection of lenses and lighting balances when shooting guys. There are no rules when photographing men.
Now that I’ve said that...here are some “suggestions,”...
To start with, get a quality image "in the can" before you start playing around with variations on a theme. Let’s look at the similarities and differences in the four images here:
The images capture a young Mr. Universe (A.D. Mujic) shirtless; a mature fashion designer dressed formally (the legendary Donald Brooks); a famous comic actor (David Allen Grier) dressed like “the bomb,” and a headshot you have seen in a previous RitzCamera.com column--a shot of actor Jack Scalia.
The similarities? Each one is lit the same way--with extreme angular lighting coming in from high and to the side. Why? Because it brings out character and texture in the face. It brings out depth in the face. In the case of our bodybuilder, the light is so high that we don't even get light into the eyes. Does it matter? Probably not to the women out there--because that angular high light cutting across his body is what brings out all those "cuts." Obviously the subject did have something to do with it. I just helped.
Differences? In this column, we have headshots, full lengths and half lengths. We have color. We have black and white.
Bottom line--capture the character. Do it with lighting and do it with subject control.
Other things to think about when you look at the four images I have here:
Look at the composition. In each case the eyes are in the upper third of the picture. In each the guys are being "real." Scalia confronts you. Donald is truly laughing, as is David. And A.D. forces you to look
Now, for more on photographing men, here’s the incomparable Clay Blackmore:
Keep it simple
Photographing Men is one of the most popular requests in our studio. We often are required to capture portraits for business use such as, corporate proposals, websites, and magazine print. The rules are simple: keep the head and body facing the light, and keep the top of the head slightly tilted towards the lower back shoulder, and try to create a relaxed natural portrait with a moment of alertness in the eyes. One thing that you will notice about our portraits is that they are consistent.
Give ‘em the 1, 2, 3
1 is lighting pattern, 2 is posing, and 3 is the angles, (meaning camera positions) of the face. In other words, there are three basic views of the face--full face, or the 2/3 view (where the face is turned to and angled and both eyes are still visible from camera position), and the third angle is the profile view of the face. Applying these few variables and rules, you can create a plethora of portraits. For men we are only using one of the two poses: The basic, or masculine pose which means that the head and body are facing in the same direction.