I haven't spent much time behind my camera so far this week, but have every intention to remedy this very soon.
Not that I haven't been doing photography related things in the meantime. Been watching some instructional videos from Lindsay Adler on lighting and posing techniques, as well as diving into another of her great books - Fashion Flair for Portrait and Wedding Photography. And another great source for lighting techniques is any of Joe McNally's books - and great reads too!
Oddly enough, I observed (by chance) a couple of photographers taking portraits at a local park over this past weekend; while I was there exercising my dog and letting him get excited with all the squirrels. Anyway, back to the "photographers" and my impressions of watching their work. My number one thought was how they need to read "Shooting in Sh*tty Light" by Lindsay Adler because I'm seriously thinking that their photos are not going to be very great.
One photog was working with a young couple and all she had for light modifiers was an on camera flash (no diffuser dome or other modifier in use, other than the built-in bounce card was extended) that was set to 90° straight at the subjects - the most unflattering option. They would have done a lot better to have had an assistant with a 5in1 reflector/diffuser to work with the wonderful afternoon sun (for natural light) or to help in getting the flash off-camera to provide a more pleasing fill light. What made this one worse for me was a little while later I overheard the photog and subjects talking about the shoot and the photog commented about looking forward to receiving their $400 fee! Wow classy; talking loudly about that kind of thing in a public place.
Then a little while later I saw what must have been a wedding party of some sort - big stretch limo, about a dozen people streaming out and being herded into a group for some photos. The photog in this scenario had nothing more than a single body and (what looked like) a short zoom lens. He proceeded to line everyone up, facing into the afternoon sun which meant they would all be squinting heavily and scrunching up their faces. Most unflattering!
Now it's not like I'm (currently) any top portrait photographer but I'm educating myself on good practices. I'm also very well aware of mistakes I've made in the past with a lot of my portrait work...not least of which is producing boring, stiff portraits. Add into that poor lighting choices (don't light a male and female subject the same - one will not like the look) and general errors.
I am currently planning my "first" portrait session since all my video classes and reading and will incorporate as much of what I've learnt as I can into the photos. I'm even following Lindsay's prep work suggestions to identify location and photo style. And of course, I will post updates and photos here after they are finished.