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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 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 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 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 differences…
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 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.

In this picture, I made this recent portrait of another ZugaPhoto.TV staffer--the legendary photographer Monte Zucker. We shot it for a magazine editorial shortly before deadline. My unlikely studio was an open garage. By opening the garage door-we created one of the world’s largest softboxes--a huge light source that was positioned to camera right. Monte is seated on a posing stool with his arms relaxed a folded on a table. I used a large white seamless paper behind the subject to draw attention to his face and minimize any distractions. The image was made with a Canon 1D digital SLR and the 28-70mm lens.

For this picture we were working underneath a tree and found a direct shaft of sunlight filtering through the leaves from a back 45 degree position. Using portrait techniques outside, we position the subject to harness the light on the mask of his face. The busy background was unacceptable so we placed a translucent scrim between his face and the leaves to give us a modeled and less distracting background.

For Picture #3 We used one of my favorite high key lighting set-ups. The subject needed a portrait for the cover of his latest music CD. We used the white seamless paper and gave him a comfortable looking pose by laying him on the paper. In all of our pictures the lighting is consistent with light in both eyes and a small shadow under the nose. The main light on his face is at f/11, while the paper is slightly brighter at f/16 to create the bright clean background--once again, drawing the eye to subject.

I captured a young man's dream to become a baseball player. Using his glove, ball and bat, we added elements to give the portrait a theme. The lighting is our standard profile position achieved by placing the light behind the subject.

This is a standard portrait of a man, with all of the elements of posing and lighting that we have discussed. I used a 35mm Canon EOS1N, black and white film and fast lens wide open to create a very shallow depth of field, thus bring the attention to the face. This portrait is made without electronic strobe. With the fast lens wide open we were shooting handheld at 250 second at f1.2 using the existing modeling lights from the strobe. The clothing is dark and the background is dramatic, and it all works for a very pleasing portrait.

This is a portrait of an artist friend of mine. The dramatic background and hat that he is wearing all combine for the strength of great portrait.

This is a fun portrait for two buddies that own and operate a business together. This is a rare time that I would turn a man away from the light as I have with the larger man. However, it works beautifully and gives the viewer an very inviting glimpse of the partners.
This is a very strong image created in a large part by the kicker light that is creating the mirrored highlight on the man's right cheek. This light is very delicate and can easily be too strong as it skims right back toward your lens. This was a standard technique in the golden era of Hollywood portraiture and is said to create the chrome on the Cadillac.

This portrait is the same technique as the previous one with added drama from the piercing expression and strength of the man's hand.

Using identical techniques gives me the ability to concentrate more on rapport and expression. This is the standard portrait of man with head and body to the light and the kicker light is certainly in place for the mirrored highlight. For eyeglasses we can do one of three things. Raise the light a dash, lower the chin a bit, or tip the glasses forward by lifting them off of the ear slightly. We do a little of all three to keep the natural look of wearing eyeglasses.
This is the SAME exact lighting set up. You are just looking at the portrait from a different camera position. Using the 1, 2, 3..we can create a variety of portraits from simple, repeatable set-ups
This is a little bit different for me. I shot the portrait using a large portrait lighting modifier as the background. I still kept all the other principals the same, just changed the background for a more graphic look.
Easy portrait for me..I just let a professional dancer do his thing. The image that I have chosen here has a strong pose with head and body in the same direction. For black skin, I have used double kickers,.one on each side to give the subject complete separation from the background.
Do you see the pattern developing? We are keeping the head and body to the light, and creating a simple portrait of photographer with his camera. The hat is the perfect prop for an image on his website.
Why not lay the professional business man on the paper too? This is very inviting portrait that he using for his book cover titled, "Just Be Honest."

Thanks for taking a look. I hope these tips help. I’ll see you back here soon and at www.ZugaPhoto.TV!

This is Gary again...
You can see more of Clay and a dozen other great pro shooters at our home website, and be sure to catch Clay’s show on our new DVD How to Take Great Pictures. Clay’s show on the DVD is all about how to take sports photographs of your kids. Now hear this: In the very near future, we will be serving up Free shows on ZugaPhoto.TV (just like television but better). Thanks for reading. See you in the next issue of the newsletter.

Show off Dad's photos here!



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