Portraiture: What To Wear

A question that invariably comes up at pre-shoot consultations is that of what to wear.

My advice would be to avoid strongly patterned or distracting clothing. Bright colours and short sleeves are also best left in the wardrobe. Dark tops with light bottoms are also discouraged as the eye is initially attracted to the lighter parts of a photo and we don’t really want the focus to be on the lower body.

Families or other groups might want to think about co-ordinated colours. Choosing clothes with same or similar colours unifies a picture and keeps the focus on the people in the picture. As an example, a group could all wear a simple white tops and jeans, although some people might regard this as clichéd, whilst other would describe it as “classic”. Another suggestion would be for everyone to wear black and white. Pastel colours also work well.

If you’re being photographed as an individual, think about what your clothes say about you. Classic styles are often recommended as they don’t date, so if the photograph is going to be around for a while, don’t wear something that will go out of fashion over time. Alternatively, if you want to express yourself du jour, or of the moment, go ahead and flaunt your personality. Also think about accessories – belts, hats, jewellery, glasses etc. You might also consider props – a favourite book, toy or other object – something that speaks about who or what you are.

Other items to avoid: bulky sweaters, turtlenecks, thick scarves. If you’re having your hair cut for a photo session, do it about a week before, allowing the cut to settle in.

Product Photography: Ariana

I recently added this Ariana canvas daysack to my product photography portfolio.

The main shot shows the product on a plain white background with drop shadow added in Photoshop. The rest of the images are more or less out of the camera and show closer-up detail.

The bags are available in khaki or sand, but I had just the one colour to photograph.

If you’d like to find out more about the product photography services I offer please visit my website at www.stevebeeston.co.uk.

Cricket v Motor Racing

Whilst driving through Essex I was lucky enough to capture this interesting image at Hatfield Heath.

The village cricket pitch is unusual in that it has a public highway running through it!

Having stopped to admire the spectacle of this unconventional confrontation of man vs. machine, I was presented with this scene of a rather racy vehicle dodging the cricket balls.

I’m not sure if the onus is on motorists to time their dash across the pitch appropriately. or on the batsmen to pitch the ball skyward to avoid any broken glass or dented bodywork.

Wilkestock 2011

I spent last weekend covering Wilkestock, a two-day boutique festival that takes place deep in the Hertfordshire countryside. The event features a main stage with live music, a dance tent, chill-out teepees, the Wilkestock Lodge bar area and a campsite.

Having attended the festival last least I was pretty clear about what I wanted to achieve in covering the event and the challenges. It’s about capturing the performances, the audience and the setting, both on and around the stage as well as the wider environment.

Weatherwise the festival was gifted with warm sunny weather and with a southwesterly facing stage, lighting during the day was not going to be a problem. The layout of the stage area also makes it easy to get near the front, so a 55-200mm zoom lens was perfectly adequate.

Having once been a drummer in a couple of bands I always try and get a few shots of the man (or woman) at the back. Whilst angles can always be a bit tricky here but I was happy with what was able to achieve.

The audience at Wilkestock is predominantly young and more than happy to demonstarte how much of a good time they’re having. I frequently had people coming up to me asking if I would take their photos.

As daylight fell the lighting conditions on stage changed of course, as daylight was replaced by stage lighting. The strong colours can sometimes be hard to catch and it’s best at this point to disable AWB (Auto White Balance) and choose a suitable setting. I find that either tungsten or cloudy setting works just fine.

As well as shots close to the stage I also got some very good pictures further back, showing the audience and wider stage environment.

For many of the evening shots I used a fast f1.8 lens, although this is only suitable for front-on shots. Given the narrow depth of field at the wider aperture it’s not suitable for shots from the side of the stage unless you can closely crop the image, which of course depends on the suitability of the composition.

I took over 1500 images at Wilkestock and posted over 200 on my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/stevebeestonphotography. There are two galleries – Gallery 1 and Gallery 2.

EmmaH Lingerie

It’s always a pleasure to help out a new business, so I was delighted to shoot some material for the launch of a new lingerie shop in Hertford.

With retail businesses (and others) I like to focus on the three Ps – Product, Premises and Proprietor, creating a narrative that not only features the product but also the people behind the business and the physical services offered.

I was lucky that the product here was something that trades on visual appeal, so it was just a case of showing the product in an appropriate setting for the business.

In a retail business the premises are also an important factor as it’s the principle point of contact for the customer. In this case I thought it important to show what the premises have to offer the customer, and this was to reflect the thought that had gone into the changing rooms.

And the finally, there’s the proprietor, the person who you’re doing business with – in this case Emma Hares, who prides herself on a personal service.

Here I’ve made a point of showing Emma with the product, rather than making her the sole focus of the shot.

EmmaH Lingerie is now open in Fore Street, Hertford. Her website is at www.emmah.co.uk.

If you’d like to know more about the product photography services I offer please visit my website at www.stevebeeston.co.uk.