Andrew Macpherson

The Party Photoshoot

by on Jun.25, 2009, under On Site, Workflow

I was really lucky last weekend to be asked to do a photo-shoot for a teen party on the back of photos I had been doing of the Little Hadham Charity Fun Run the previous weekend.  Well what I was asked to do was “Take some photos of my daughter’s party” but on discussing the job it became clear that the daughter had asked for a photo-shoot as part of her present.

First job was therefore to adjust the parent’s expectations.

I must say it’s much more satisfying to take photographs where the models want to be photographed, and set out to look good, rather than flinching, squirming and making screwed up faces.   Some of the kids pose beautifully and naturally, some needed a few of the cliche directions.

Cliche directions for looking good in photographs

  • Look at the camera, preferably sideways, slightly  over your shoulder
  • Keep your head up, even in a group photo, don’t ever lean forward to get your head in shot, doing that makes you look round shouldered.
  • Don’t let your arms block yourself or other people, If you are going to grip others in the photo, do it from behind — if you’re putting your hand on another’s shoulder use the hand furthest from the camera
  • Smile, a smile which reaches your eyes brings you alive in the picture
  • Likewise a smile which shows your teeth is even better, even if you have braces.  In the extreme case dental appliances can be photoshopped, but usually they really don’t matter
  • Don’t close your teeth together, this is tense, and shortens and squares your face; tense is usually a mistake
  • Don’t worry too much about spots, you should expect them to have been photoshopped before you see the result
  • If you can, try to stand with your weight on the leg furthest from the camera, and bring the other leg in front, often this is more elegant and slimming.

— All a long form of the general advice

“Look and smile for any camera pointing towards you; you may not want to be photographed, but at least you’ll come out looking better if you do.”

Anyway I’ve learned a couple of things too:

  • Participants want to know where they can see the photos, so have a card with the preview website and password to give to those who join in, rather than assuming that the main client will publicise it for you.
  • Be  prepared to sacrifice 2 metres of background paper roll for the models to stand on.  This both constrains where they stand, and improves the full length shots.
  • Neither black nor white background is ideal for a mixed set of revelers
  • 9′ wide background is preferable to 6′ if it will fit in your transport

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