Wednesday, March 21, 2012

What's Your #1 Priority When You Take A Portrait?

Portraits by Rick Sammon
Someone recently sent me a picture of yours truly that he wanted me to post on my web site. The photographer caught me with a very silly-looking (actually stupid) expression. Hey, that's not the first or last time that will happen. :-)

I told that photographer that I looked silly in the picture and did not want to share the photo. He blew his top, as my dad used to say.

I can't tell you what he wrote in the nasty series of emails late last night, but he blasted me for not helping him further his career.

I can tell you that my mother washed out my mouth with a bar of Ivory soap for using that word.

He asked for a list of the folks I have helped. I did not answer any more of his emails, but the Comments at the bottom of my Tough Love post list a few folks that I have helped with my honesty. The post and comments also illustrates that some folks actually want a honest critique of their work. This cranky photographer did not want to hear of it.

When I take a portrait, I feel my #1 priority is to the subject. I want the subject to be pleased with the picture.

I would like to hear your thoughts. What is your #1 priority when you take a portrait?

Please leave your comment in the Comments section here - rather than on facebook, Google+ and twitter.

Thank you,

Explore the light,
Rick

30 comments:

Michel Guindon said...

That the light is perfect for the subject and the intent of the portrait.

Dennis Stevens said...

My Number One Priority is taking a portrait is incorporating a piece of myself and my style into the portrait.

Chris Bagley said...

Get the eyes in focus... after I've found some really nice light.

cornicello said...

Bring out the best in my subject. Show them in the most flattering way that I can. Bring out the eyes. Make them happy. Not embarrass them.

Jeter Photography said...

If the subject is paying you for their portrait(s), then it should be ALL about the subject and their satisfaction.

Emiliano Leonardi said...

Connect with subject. Make them feel at ease. Because I know that if I don't I won't manage to freeze the heart of their soul

Michael P. Randazzo said...

Well if the person in the image doesn't like the image why would anyone want to post it?

I have only been shooting portraits since 2006 and have had a few I loved but the person didn't. I try to steer them to the images I think work best but in the end the customer is always right. So your "Friend" who got all pissed off is wrong. Simple and to the point.

Jeffrey Shaw said...

Wow, what a story. Of course the first responsibility is to the subject. I'm challenged by your request to name the MOST important thing. It's all important- that the subject is comfortable, that you have an understanding of the essence of the subject, that you've connected emotionally and of course, that he/she loves the way they look. And preferably even before being 'photoshopped'! If a subject is not happy with what I've produced it's not because they have a problem. I take responsibility for not having understood 'who' they are.

Brendan Maunder said...

To capture the moment and the personality of the subject.

Roman Tripler said...

to catch a part of the persons real character by pushing the button at the right moment. the enviorement help strengthen it. everything else i feel it's not the truth.

Maritoni Herrera said...

To capture the personality of the subject

Ginger Grant said...

if you are being paid for portrait work, the most important thing is to connect with the client and give them an image of who they are in the most flattering way possible... if I'm doing a photoshoot for my own creative endevor..then the most important to me is the mood that I am trying to convey...

Aaron K said...

For me it varies. When photographing my young nephews, I always tried to capture the candid moments that very often reflected their energy, true character and zest for life. To me, this is far more important than having a child posing under controlled lighting conditions. One of my nephews in particular, just personified energy and I couldn't help but smile as I observed this little being explore their world with awe and excitment, where everyday was filled with laughter and play. Beautiful moments I will remember always.

Since moving more into studio portraiture, my main priority is to do the subject justice. Very often laypeople are just impressed with the image quality a DSRL produces, oblivious to composition and lighting and would go away happy with what I'd consider cringe-worthy shots. I'm extremely critical of my own images and so I aim to make myself happy. If I feel I have given it my all and have produced an image that shows my subject at their best, then I'm happy and they walk away over the moon.

Ricky said...

Lighting is everything so that would be my number one priority.

John Farnan said...

In focus :-) nice and simple
John

Samantha said...

My number one priority when capturing a portrait is to make sure that my subject is having fun and feels comfortable. I find that when these two things are happening, they look very natural in the photographs, and they enjoy them as much as I do. I can work with the light and focus easily as they are just my tools. But to truly capture the essence of a person, bring it out and share it with them, that takes practice. And that's what I try for first and foremost using the method above.

Terrie said...

Connection between the subject and the photographer.

Kevin Halliburton said...

I want to capture a story about my subject that they would be proud to share with the audience they have hired me to portray them to and I want to visually express that story in the most flattering way possible.

It sounds like the photographer you referred to wanted to use your face to tell your audience a story about themselves at your expense.

Kelvin Dickenson said...

Accurate focus on the eyes, capturing the expression and getting a flattering angle (most people look better when they are lower than the camera and looking up slightly. Most people are also not 100% symetricall and are more photogenic on one side compared with the other)

Jim Pruitt said...

The type of light I need to use to do the subject justice.

Rick Sammon said...

Thank you all. Good ideas.

bnelsonphoto said...

My portrait goal is always to represent the subject honestly. It should be "real" - flattering, without gimicks or tricks to portray something that isn't there. Well lit, badly lit, in focus, or out, often the best portraits just capture a passing moment when the subject looks natural and human.

lori fuller photography said...

Authenticity.

Kev said...

My aim is to bring out their personality and or their emotion of the moment..... especially in the eyes

Anonymous said...

Priority: capture the character of the personality.
Method: framing and lighting.

Phoenix said...

When shooting portraits of people or nature my innate and No. 1 priority is to capture the inner beauty, the soul, the authentic self.

[z]en said...

To me the #1 priorty is capturing and bring out the beauty of the subjects

Debbi_in_California said...

Shooting food is what I do, so when I do a portraits I struggle with getting the pattern of light perfect on their face.

By the way, you have helped me! Loved the CreativeLive workshop! And it was free (even though I bought it)

Anonymous said...

Seeing into the subject's soul, feeling a human to human connection.

Anonymous said...

Capture the person's essence!