People Pictures, viewpoint, etc.

Man, yesterdays post was long - too long. Sorry. Let's go with a short one today. I will share something that continues to amaze me when I do workshops that involve making pictures of people. As usual take this for what it's worth use it where it helps, chuck it out the window when ever you want. There is some important gear you are going to need to try this advice out, extra pants.

I wear out Levi's 501 jeans quicker than anyone else I know. Typically my knees go and sometimes the seat of them as well. I keep them and when I don't have to look like a grown up I use them to shoot rather than "good pairs". In fact I have two different drawers for them - ones with and without holes. This happens because I am constantly kneeling, sitting, laying down, getting up, stooping, etc. The pattern is that I wear them thin then I bend and squat and boom the knees blow out all at once.

I do this because when shooting anywhere near a normal focal length (read as 35mm to 100mm) you are going to want to shoot below your subjects eye level most of the time. Yea yea yea I know a matter of taste and what you are trying to achieve of course. As much as I hate rules I am going to state this as a rule - never ever ever ever shoot at or above eye level to your subject unless you say to yourself first "yes I am going to shoot at or above eye level because I want to make it look like I am looking down specifically".

Of course I shoot at or above eye level of my subjects but it's not my default - why? Ummm because it looks bad most of the time unless I absolutely think about it and do it on purpose to achieve a carefully thought out feel. This is especially true if you are a guy and shoot a lot of women. I am not a big guy - all of 5'10" and I am never standing strait up when I shoot. Never, unless I happen to be standing below my subject which happens almost never.

Take the shot above. To me it looks about "normal" whatever that is. It's probably shot lower than you think it was - about the subject's chest level. I would have shot at my normal slightly below waist level but for this framing I couldn't while keeping the verticals looking somewhat vertical with a 50mm.

Here's what a heck of a lot of people do that are not used to shooting people…

That's me standing strait up a minute earlier shooting one of two or three tests for my exposure while also doing the coffee break thing. Told you I work casually. I can drink coffee, chit-chat and shoot a lighting tests at the same time. I can't however also crawl all over the floor while doing so - tried that. Too much spilled coffee…

Now she looks diminutive in this shot. I am about 5'10" and she looks about 4' - too bad Fayette is actually a healthy 5'6" and she happens to be wearing heals here so a bit higher that even that.

Try a lower viewpoint as a "rule" - trust me. You'll like it.


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