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Showing 10 posts tagged resource

How To Make A Homemade Image Slicer (Splitzer) : Photo Tutorial

Guest Post by Jill Auville. Jill is a Swedish-born experimental photographer, wife, cat-dog-bird trio mediator and lover of the rain. Follow her work on DeviantArt or Flickr.

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{Holga CFN, Kodak Portra 160NC, homemade image-slicer}

An image-slicer (often referred to using Lomography’s product name “Splitzer”) is a multiple exposure masking filter, that allows you to shoot multiple exposures within one frame, only exposing some part of the frame each time. A clear soft-surround filter causes a soft blur vignette to your images.

Items You’ll Need:

  • A pair of scissors
  • Tape measure
  • Black mat board paper or soft cardboard paper 
  • Clear plastic, like a sheet protector (for the clear soft-surround filter)
  • Black electrical tape
  • Clear tape (for the clear soft surround filter)
  • Pen

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(Note: For the examples below I used a lighter colored cardboard paper for easier viewing)

STEP 1: Measure the length around your lens, and the width of it. For this example I’m using my Holga, but you can do these filters on any cameras with a similar lens:

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Yashica-Mat 124G: Medium Format TLR Camera Review

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Guest Post by Daniel Sawyer Schaefer. Daniel is a photographer and filmmaker based out of New York City and Los Angeles, currently spending time abroad in Florence, Italy. Find more of his work at his online portfolio, and connect with him on Flickr, Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr.

OVERVIEW   

    My beloved tank of a camera and constant companion for the past few years is my beloved Yashicamat 124G. She is by no means shiny - her last owner left her in the bottom of a closet for nearly a decade before she met my palm - but the moment I blew the dust from her eyes, I knew I was holding something truly solid.  

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(Photo: Daniel Schaefer)

    The Yashicamat 124G is medium format at its most effective, with an 80mm f/3.5 lens fixed to the body and a 6x6 setup. The 80mm is phenomenal as a portrait lens but still has enough breadth in frame to rock some street photography or even landscapes.

    The 124G also offers the convenience of 120 and 220 compatibility in-body with a simple sliding of the pressure plate, so the few of us left using Kodak Portra 220 can shoot without worry. Make sure to load the rolls tightly because a loose load can lead to light leaks, especially with 220.

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(Photo: Nick Parker)

ADAPTING TO THE TLR


    For those who are not familiar with the TLR (Twin Lens Reflex) the viewfinder can take some getting used to; images flip right to left and, as you pan, the mirror effect can be a bit disconcerting. Luckily it takes only a day or two to get used to the drift.

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(Photo: Daniel Schaefer)

    The focus pull on the throw wheel is very smooth, making accurate focus a breeze. If you happen to pick up a model with a sticky throw wheel, you can easily loosen it up by applying some alcohol with an eye-dropper.  Minimum focus is a tad more sensitive than the typical SLR user might be used to, but this will be true of any TLR system.

STREET & PORTRAIT SHOOTING


    For the portrait shooter, the square format is well worth exploring. Resolving the subject in a square frame offers both benefits and challenges; for inspiration on square framing and composition, check out the work of Richard Avedon - a master of the TLR portrait.

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(Photo: Daniel Schaefer)

    For the street shooter, the TLR setup will be a revelation. Between the waist-level finder and near-silent shutter which syncs effectively with flash through the whole range, you can get close enough for your subjects to fog the lens with their breath and not have them notice you shooting. Vivian Maier made phenomenal use of her TLR on the streets of Chicago and New York.

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(Photo: Aldo Altamirano)


    For the casual shooter, the large but lightweight body allows for a setup that is incredibly solid in-hand. The shutter speed and aperture dials fall comfortably under the fingers, making shooting with this camera a real pleasure.

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(Photo: Daniel Schaefer)

PURCHASING & POSSIBLE CONCERNS


    Selling used for between $125 - $250, this camera is a great candidate for a reasonably-priced medium format starting kit. The most common problem with the Yashicamat 124G is an inoperative light-meter, which, even when operable isn’t the most accurate option. Personally, I use my forever-trusted Sekonic L-308s pocket meter, which at $200 is well worth the charge for any photographer. I purchased mine three years ago, and it has literally not left my pocket since.

    Another problem which can occur frequently in either under-used or neglected models of the Yashicamat 124G is a lagging shutter. I’ve noticed this in three out of the ten models I’ve handled (my own and those of my friends) and in all cases, 1/8th of a second acts more like a full second. All other shutter speeds were unaffected on all tested models.

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(Photo Patrick Joust)
    

    All in all, the Yashicamat 124G is phenomenal camera for nearly any use. Paired with any medium format film, the camera offers a fantastic shooting experience for anyone who is lucky enough to have one slung over their shoulder.

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(Photo: Xavier Aragonès)


Pros

  • Good price
  • Solid build
  • Sharp lens
  • 120 and 220 compatible

Cons

  • Difficult to clean
  • Potentially Gummy setting dials
  • Inoperative meter

Base statistics:

  • 6x6 Twin Lens Reflex, Medium format film camera
  • Viewing lens -  80mm f/2.8 tessar
  • Taking lens -  80mm f/3.5 yashinon tessar
  • F-stop range -  f/3.5 — f/32
  • Shutter Speed range - 1 second — 1/500th & bulb
  • Shots per roll - 120 = 12, 220 = 24

See more photos shot with Yashica cameras

Zenit-E: Camera Review

Guest post written by Stephen Dowling. A New Zealander based in London, he is devoted to film photography. He also writes about music, current affairs and anything else that takes his fancy, and he’s never happer than when he has a film camera in his hands. See more of his work on his website, Flickr stream and Facebook Page.

History

One advantage for film photographers since the majority of the photo-taking world has gone digital is that there are some unbelievable film camera bargains to be had - with one of the biggest bargains being the Zenit E.

The Zenit E is a no-frills SLR, manufactured in the Soviet Union from 1965 to 1982. Millions of models were made and widely exported, giving the USSR much-needed hard cash while at the same time giving a new generation of photographers a cost-effective way to get into 35mm SLR photography.

In Europe, you’d be hard pressed to find a flea market or second-hand camera store that doesn’t have one of these on its shelves. Many photographers ditched their dirt-cheap Zenits as soon as they could afford something more sophisticated, making them surprisingly easy to find. When you bear in mind up to eight million of these sturdy beasts were made, that’s a lot of spare Zenits to go around.

Using the Zenit-E
 
Bells and whistles won’t be found on this heavy, roughly-finished camera. With a body made from a one-piece block of aluminium, the Zenit is much heaver than its contemporary counterparts. At the front is the meter window - the Zenit E doesn’t need batteries, instead taking its light readings using a selenium cell. Selenium cells die over time, and are very difficult to replace once they do. The shutter and advance are all mechanical, which means you’ll never have to worry about running out of batteries with one of these.

So how easy is it to use? Pretty easy, though to someone raised in a digital world, a few of the features might appear a little mysterious.

Opening the back is simple; pull up a latch on the back-left of the camera (from behind), and it swings open. Put the film into the left hand side chamber and pull the film leader out until the film sprocket holes catch on the teeth of the film transport on the right hand side (one on top, and one on the bottom), and tuck the end of the film leader under the metal strip which wraps around the take-up spool. Wind on, and if the film is loaded properly you’ll see the film start wrapping around the take up spool. Don’t worry if it takes a few goes. Practice is practice.

Once the film is loaded and wound (don’t forget to close the back!), you’re ready to shoot. Looking at the top plate from above, the meter readout is on the left hand side . Point the Zenit towards a light source and a needle will move in a little readout window - if your selenium cell is working. Next to it is a dial which allows you to set the film speed and turn the dial – this moves another needle with a circular head. When the two needles meet, they will then match a range of shutter/aperture combinations. There’s no exposure info in the viewfinder, which has the feel of an old TV screen – if the light changes drastically you have to recheck the meter and change the lens/shutter settings if need be. If your selenium meter is dead, consider purchasing an external light meter (always a good investment) or trying out the Sunny 16 Rule.

The shutter speeds on the right hand side of the top plate are pretty basic – 1/30th to 1/500th of a second, plus B – and you have to pull the speed selector up before you can select a different speed. The shutter button sits on the right hand side, inside the frame counter/wind on dial. When you’ve finished the film the camera won’t advance anymore. Pop the rewind knob up (it’s inside the exposure calculating dial) and press the button in between the shutter speed selector and frame counter. Turn the rewind knob in the direction of the helpful black arrow, and you should feel the film being returned to the cassette. There’s a definite “bite” when you reach the end.

Lenses

Most Zenit Es came with a version of the Helio-44 58/2 lens – which is capable of truly excellent results. (link to this pic: http://www.flickr.com/photos/stephendowling/5289827285/). The earliest version are preset – meaning you have to open the aperture up to the maximum to focus, then stop down to expose correctly. This can take a lot of getting used to, so it’s best to go with a later version, which doesn’t close the aperture down until you take the pic. Most Zenit E’s take the M42 mount, which means other excellent lenses for the likes of Pentax, Praktica, Fujica and Chinon cameras can also be used.

When I mentioned at the start of the post that the Zenit was a bargain, I wasn’t joking. My model – inscribed with the logo of the 1980 Moscow Olympics – was picked up at London’s Greenwich Market nearly a decade ago, for only £4. Simply putting a roll of slide film in it doubled its value. The camera’s is great nick – no dents, dings or bits missing. Paired up with a lens like a Pentax Takumar 55/1.8, this is an inexpensive intro into film photography which can still deliver decent results. Even the selenium meter is working perfectly – check out the shot of the scooter, taken in Amalfi last year on Fuji Velvia. That’s four pounds well spent.

Check out Stephen’s blog, Zorki Photo!

Depth of Field for Beginners

Ahh depth of field… aka DOF. This term strikes fear into the hearts of young aspiring photographers everywhere, both film and digital. They know it deals with optics and math - two things that most creative people are not really into. My first instinct is to say that depth of field is not that complicated… but then again I had to take an optics class in college which made me want to stab my eyes out with metal darkroom tongs… and then pour stop bath in them. I believe this class had a very deceptive name, along the lines of “Principles of Photography” or something like that. It was, in fact, all math. Ewww.


But as usual I digress, so let us get back to the task at hand - which is understanding the glorious principles of depth of field and how they apply to your film photography. Let me just say right now that I am about to do a basic overview “for dummies” style, so please do not write to me claiming that I did not explain such and such complicated principle. You can grab a copy of Ansel Adams’ “The Camera” for that. Here we go:


In über-simple laymen’s terms, depth of field refers to the part of your photograph that is in focus. If all or most of your photograph is in focus, you have a deep depth of field (also called deep focus.) If only a part of your photograph is in focus, you have a shallow depth of field (also called shallow focus and selective focus.) And that’s what depth of field is. Seriously.


The tricky part is figuring out how your aperture relates to your depth of field, and your beloved (or hated) exposure triangle. What is an exposure triangle, you say? You best be reading my Exposure 101, I answer. Several factors affect depth of field, including your distance to your subject, the focal length of your lens, your selected aperture (f-stop) and the format you are shooting. This means that a photo taken with a 50mm lens at f/1.8 from the same distance will not have the same depth of field when taken with a 35mm camera and 4x5 field camera.


A general rule to guide you: the smaller the f/stop number (so the larger the opening), the shallower the depth of field. F/1.2 has a shallower depth of field than f/1.8, which has a shallower depth of field than f/2.8 and so on. F/5.6 and F/8 tend to give medium focus, depending on your distance from the subject (and the format you shoot, of course.) If this confuses you, have a look at What is aperture/f-stop?.

Side-by-side examples:

{Selective Focus: F/2.8 - This is pretty shallow, but not to the point where it creates a complete bokeh effect and the background is indistinguishable. Both of these were shot at F/2.8 with a 50mm lens in 35mm.}

{Deep Focus: F/16. -These two, on the other hand, have deep focus - meaning that the foreground and background are in focus. Both were shot at F/16, but the left image is medium format and the right is 35mm.}

{Shallow and medium side-by-side: The background in the left shot is completely blurry with zero detail. It was shot at f/1.8, approximately 12 feet from the subject with an 80mm portrait lens on 35mm film. The right shot has a blurry background, but you can still tell what it is. It was shot at f/8, approximately three feet from the subject with a 50mm lens on medium format film.}

F/32 is most commonly the highest number on lenses that don’t cost a bajillion dollars, but you can definitely come across field cameras with an f/64. In fact, in the early 1930s, a bunch of photographers (including Ansel Adams) got together to form Group F/64. Their principal belief was that photographs should be  perfectly exposed, profoundly sharp and completely in focus (in contrast to the Pictorialist era, for the History of Photo buffs.) An aperture of f/64 was the best way to achieve this, as far as they were concerned.


Some of you may be saying, “Hey, but f/32 really doesn’t let a lot of light in….” No, it doesn’t. This is where mastering your exposure knowledge truly helps you create the photograph you want. If you absolutely have to shoot 100 ISO and need a very deep DOF, you’ll have to lower your shutter speed. If you want to use a specific shutter speed at f/32, you’ll have to pick a film with a high enough ISO.  For those who shoot digital, this doesn’t prove as much of a constraint, considering you can change the ISO. For my beloved kittens who shoot film, your ISO is your ISO and you can’t change it. Even if you decide to push or pull to fit the situation, you still have to shoot at that ISO for the entire roll. For more on that, please check out  What is ISO? in the Beginner’s Guide to Film Photography.

All of this information can seem confusing, but your lens actually tells you the depth of field if you really look at it:

See how it’s on F/2.8? And there’s a little white diamond on the middle ring? And more numbers on the third ring? Voila your DOF indicators. We can understand that the manufacturer says that this lens at F/2.8 has a DOF range of 1.5 to 2 meters, or 5 to 7 feet. Meaning that anything in between that range will be in focus. The manufacterer is most often, but not always, right. (Side Note: Mastery of using these numbers to focus without looking is known as “Zone Focusing” in fancy photographer talk.)

Many SLR film cameras have a depth of field preview button; it’s usually located on the front near the button to release the lens or the self-timer. When you hold the depth of field preview button and look through the viewfinder, you’ll notice it is significantly darker but accurately displays your complete depth of field. For a great explanation of this button, check out Ken Rockwell’s The Depth of Field Preview Button.

Let’s sum up the major points:

  • Depth of field refers to the areas of the photograph in focus.
  • Small f-stop numbers produce shallow depth of field, or selective focus. This is when the background is blurry. Great for portraits.
  • Medium f-stop numbers produce a medium depth of field, still with selective focus, but with significantly more definition in the out-of-focus areas. Good for portraits and specific landscapes. 
  • Large f-stop numbers produce a deep depth of field, meaning the foreground and background are in focus. Ideal for landscapes.

If you want to get more in depth on depth of field (sorry, couldn’t resist), I highly recommend Understanding Depth of Field in Photography from Cambridge in Color. They’ve got loads of fancy diagrams to confuse you ;)

Photographic Film Profile: Fujichrome Provia

  • What it’s for: landscapes, portraits, products, fashion… and just about anything
  • Type: slide film (E-6)
  • Available ISO: 100, 400
  • Available Formats: 35mm (135), 120, 4x5, 8x10
  • Notable characteristics: vivid colors, rich tones, medium contrast, fine grain
  • Web: Fuji Provia 100F, Fuji Provia 400X


Fujichrome Provia is a daylight-type color reversal (slide) film, and happens to be one of my primary go-to films for many different shooting situations. It boasts fine grain, poppy color, great contrast and - most importantly - high versatility, meaning you can use it to shoot people, picturesque moments or whatever strikes your mood. Colors are pretty true to life, but definitely more saturated in bright light situations. Meaning, if you shoot on a sunny day you’ll get insanely blue skies.

The 100F has an RMS of 8, while the 400X has an RMS of 11. What is this, you say? Film grain is made up of tiny, light-sensitive silver halide crystals (for more on this, see How Photographic Film Works) and the level of grain has a number value. RMS (which stands for “root-means-square) is the numerical quantification of film granularity. The lower the number, the finer the grain.

Both the Fuji Provia 100F and 400X cross-process well, tending to go on the greenish side (depending on your lighting conditions and camera, of course.) Personally, cross-processed Provia is my absolute favorite with plastic cameras like the Holga and Woca, as it creates bright and vibrant colors. They both work well with the push/pull process, but the 400X beats out the 100F on reciprocity failure if you like to shoot extended exposures.

This film has only 2 negative points: first is that if you do not live in a major city, processing slide film can be an issue… but that applies to all slide film, not just the FujiChrome Provia. The second is that the 100F really does not work well in low-light situations. If you’re not sure about the lighting, go with the 400X.

Here are some sample images:

Fujichrome Provia 100F (medium format, Kiev 88, normal process)

FujiChrome Provia 100F (medium format, plastic camera, regular process)

FujiChrome Provia 100F (35mm, Nikon FM2, cross-processed)

FujiChrome Provia 100F (medium format, Moskva 5, cross-processed)

FujiChrome Provia 100F ( (medium format, plastic camera, cross-processed)

FujiChrome Provia 400X (medium format, Moskva 5, cross-processed)


{This is a general overview for anyone who wants a little more information when choosing a film brand. For a hardcore profile, check out the tech specs directly at Fujifilm.com}

Where To Buy Photographic Film Online (as of 2012)

Voila: a (relatively) comprehensive list of websites which sell photographic film (35mm, 120, medium and large format.) It pains me that this list is so short… but at least we’ve still got options. Many of these websites also sell darkroom equipment, photographic paper and bulk loading supplies. If you’ve got one that’s not on the list, please feel free to add in the comments.

Looking for more info on film photography? Check out I Still Shoot Film’s Links & Resources, Photography Help & How-To’s or the Beginner’s Guide to Film Photography!

How To Take Good Care of Your Film

It suddenly occurred to me that I’ve never done a post on one of the most essential elements of film photography, which is: how to treat your film right. Imagine you’re dating your film, and you must therefore succumb to all of its whims and desires regardless of what you really want. Treating your film properly can significantly extend its life and helps you get the best results possible. So, without further ado, the most important steps to taking good care of your film:

1. KEEP YOUR FILM IN THE FRIDGE. I cannot stress this enough. In fact, it’s so very, very important that I’m going to repeat it 10 times:

  1. KEEP YOUR FILM IN THE FRIDGE
  2. KEEP YOUR FILM IN THE FRIDGE
  3. KEEP YOUR FILM IN THE FRIDGE
  4. KEEP YOUR FILM IN THE FRIDGE
  5. KEEP YOUR FILM IN THE FRIDGE
  6. KEEP YOUR FILM IN THE FRIDGE
  7. KEEP YOUR FILM IN THE FRIDGE
  8. KEEP YOUR FILM IN THE FRIDGE
  9. KEEP YOUR FILM IN THE FRIDGE
  10. KEEP YOUR FILM IN THE FRIDGE

Good. Now get up off your ass and put your film in your fridge RIGHT NOW. Have you ever noticed that professional shops keep the film in big refrigerators like soda vending machines? Yeah, there’s a reason why they do that. It keeps film fresh. Personally, I have an entire shelf and crisper drawer dedicated to film. My husband knows better than to argue with me about this. But that’s nothing. Check this guy out:

This was apparently in preparation for a trip… but I know many photographers who, like this guy,  do not have actual food in their refrigerators.

Now, sadly, the fridge does not fix all film woes when it comes to the cruel hand of time. Here’s an excerpt from Kodak’s official page on Storage and Handling of Unprocessed Film:

Refrigerating camera films reduces the photographic effects of long-term storage, but refrigeration cannot reduce the effects of ambient gamma radiation. Naturally occurring gamma radiation increases the D-min and toe densities and also increases grain. Higher speed films are affected more by gamma radiation than lower speed films. A camera film with an EI (Exposure Index) of 800 has a much greater change than an EI 200 film. Exposed and unprocessed film that has been properly refrigerated retains the speed and contrast of the exposure conditions, but the overall D-min, toe and grain will continue to increase.

For those of you who don’t speak fancy photography, it means your Ilford Delta 3200 won’t keep as long as your Ilford Pan F 50.

2. DO NOT EXPOSE YOUR FILM TO HEAT

Considering #1, this is not that surprising. Film doesn’t like heat. Or too much humidity. Obviously sometimes this is unavoidable, for example if you’re shooting in the middle of July and have film on you for the day. That’s okay. However, if you’re traveling to a tropical climate and have a mini-fridge in your room… you know where this is going. Like people, film does need some humidity and complete dryness isn’t a good thing either (hence the fridge.)

In general you should not leave your film in the car when it’s hot, laying in the sun even if it’s inside your home, or out in places that regularly get warm and humid. Heat and humidity promote mold growth and ferrotyping, which is a fancy way of saying it makes the gelatin base of the film swell, changing the overall surface structure. Basically, it’s not good.

A ferrotyped negative looks like this:

EWWWW.

3. FREEZE FOR LONG-TERM STORAGE

If you stockpile film (I do and if you don’t you should think about it) and intend on storing it for a period of 6 months or longer, the ideal temperature is freezing - actually below freezing, at 0 degrees Fahrenheit and -18 degrees Celsius.

When freezing film, it is essential to let it warm up by 25 degrees (F). That’s approximately three hours for 35mm. If you don’t let it warm up, it will crack and break - because frozen film is brittle film.

4. ACTUALLY LOAD YOUR 120 FILM IN SUBDUED LIGHT

Anyone who has shot 120 film has noticed the “Load in Subdued Light” message printed on the backing paper. Anyone who has shot 120 film will also admit that at some point they have completely and blatantly ignored this instruction. Why? So many reasons, but primarily laziness… which I myself have also been guilty of on occasion.

Sure, there’s a good chance your photos will turn out okay even if you reload in broad daylight, but do you really want to risk it? Fogging sucks, so find a shady corner or shut yourself in a bathroom.

5. WHEN YOU LOAD A ROLL, FINISH IT

Lots of people want to get the most out of a roll of film… in fact, one time my grandfather accidentally wound a roll of film after shooting only 7 frames and asked me to pull it out and reload it in a darkbag so he could finish the roll. But I digress…

Leaving a roll of partially-exposed film in your camera for weeks or months pretty much guarantees your film will be partially degraded. For those of you looking for a quicker solution than waiting for a decade to get “expired film effects,” may like the results. But if you have a variety of cherish photos, some of them will be blown out, faded, have light leaks or have color changes. I’ll quote Kodak again:

Do not keep film in the camera or magazine longer than necessary.

Simple. Besides, if you shoot film, at some point or another you’ll open up a camera back thinking it’s empty only to have your eyes fall upon the silver glossy surface of exposed, undeveloped film, at which point you will probably shriek to yourself and try to close the back as quickly as possible. This doesn’t happen when you finish rolls you start on the same day.

By following these simple steps, you can often extend the life of your film by years without seeing any difference in image quality.

How To Take Natural-Looking (Posed) Portraits

As a professional photographer, people will ask you to shoot all sorts of things… and it won’t always be gorgeous models or extremely interesting street scenes. One of the biggest sources of revenue for me personally is in shooting portraits of regular people who need photos for all sorts of things. I also get asked by magazines to shoot regular people for lifestyle stories, so it’s important to get a final image that looks natural and not contrived. The problem is that most people are not very comfortable being photographed, which makes getting a natural looking portrait somewhat of a challenge.

Personally, I am not a big fan of portraits that look stiff or posed. Sometimes it can work in the right context, but more often than not it looks awkward. There are several things that I do to avoid this while keeping my subject feeling comfortable:

1. Get to know your subject.

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(Emeline Piot, Fashion Stylist) 

I always, always, always talk to the person I’m photographing. About life. About music. About the weather. Whatever. I like to get a conversation going because it gets a rapport going - and a photographer must have a rapport with the subject. Talking helps people relax and frequently helps you learn something about them which can in turn  help you make a stronger portrait. I would say I chat with subjects for at least 15 minutes before I even take out my camera. That way the ice is broken before we start shooting.

The above image is of Emeline Piot, a very talented (and adorable) fashion stylist based here in Paris, who I was photographing for Marie Claire. It turns out that Emeline hates to have her picture taken, so I wanted to make her as comfortable as possible. We joked and talked about life while I photographed her for a couple of hours, and at the end of the shoot I had her sit down at a cafe and that’s how I got this shot. After she felt comfortable.

2. Allow some prep and warm-up time.

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(Alexandra Guerre-Joly, Photo Editor, BE Magazine)

The worst thing you can possibly do on a portrait shoot is to show up and whip out your camera. One key to shooting a “natural” looking portrait is evaluating the space you are shooting in, whether it be outside, at the subject’s home, or at the subject’s office. If you don’t take the time to choose a good setting for your subject and analyze available light in relation to that setting, your portraits will look rushed and awkward. It may actually even take you longer to shoot rather than if you had just spent 20 minutes looking around in the first place. 

For the above shot, the story was on successful women who are addicted to shoes. After touring Alexandra’s gorgeous Parisian apartment, I decided that in front of her shoes was quite fitting.

3. Movement is a good thing.

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(Isabel Marant, Fashion Designer)

As photographers, we often want our images to be as crisp and sharp as possible. But alas, straying from the scholarly path can actually make for a great portrait. I had the pleasure of shooting Isabel Marant a few years back and, while I have many other shots of her, this one is my favorite. For me, the movement and motion blur are what makes it a “real moment.”Try walking around with your subject and photographing them at the same time. Sometimes, mid-action makes a far better portrait than if the subject were still.

4. It’s OK to smile.

Many portrait photographers have a profound belief that asking your subject to smile makes for a cheeeeeeeezy portrait - which is not technically untrue. Except for the fact that 9 times out of 10, if you send a client a smiley photo within the selection they take it. Take the previous photo of Isabel Marant for example: the fact that she’s laughing makes it happy. And fun.

Instead of going for dead-on cheese, ask your subject to fake laugh. It sounds stupid, but it really works. You can also tell jokes if you think you’re funny enough to make the subject laugh naturally. Not all photographers are funny. Keep this in mind.

5. Provide direction.

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(Valerie Laderriere, Creative Director, L’Oreal China)

Most people don’t know which is their good side, bad side or best angle. They also don’t know if they have a weird mouth or eye twitch every time you press the shutter. Providing your subject with ample direction helps you get the shot while helping your subject feel reassured. I usually tell my subjects to follow my finger with their nose, chin or eyes to get the exact position I want. For portraits, it’s important to pay attention to details such as hand position (claw hands are the worst), slouchy shoulders or bulging fabric. It’s the type of thing that can ruin your portrait when you think it’s great, and you only realize when it’s too late.

For more photography help and how-to’s, check out I Still Shoot Film’s Help & How-To page.