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<strong>Honorable Mention:</strong> Fun portrait (Matt)

Honorable Mention: Fun portrait (Matt)

This was done for my sister-in-law with the intent of getting some "fun" shots of her 5 year old son. We had finished the more formal looks, so we were trying different poses.
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I really wish I had been using my black backdrop at this moment, I think this image would make a much better low-key portrait, but with kids, sometimes you have to take what you can get.

The shadow across the face caused by the hat is a little distracting to me, but I think it plays into the mood.

The lighting is a single flash shot through a 32" diffuser camera left approximately 5 feet high. I didn't use any fill here because I wanted a more dramatic feel.

I think I got lucky with the nose shadow, it falls right along his cheek line in a closed loop style (at least that is what I think I learned from Christopher Grey's book).

I'm fairly new to the portrait photography and especially setting up my own lights; been doing it for a few months.

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magazine20-Dec-2005 22:27
From Chuck Gardner:

Human interaction an reaction hinges on eye contact. The eyes and mouth more than anything else telegraph emotion and intent more than anything else. Therefore a "portrait" were it is difficult to make eye contract with the subject will have less visual and emotional impact than one which does.

On white backgrounds the eye will get pulled to the largest, darkest object which is the hat in this photo. That works here because the eyes are just below the hat.

What is causing the problem is that dark table under the arms. Recrop the shot in the middle of the brightly lit arms and compare the difference. You and do that on the browser by scrolling the window. But please crop and repost if you can.

Absent the dark distracting table which pulls the viewer quickly from dark hat to table (or vis a versa) the veiwer's eye will now go from hat to the next darkest area, the eyes! Everthing else in the photo is bright and relatively uninteresting, and so is the hat which has been seen, so the viewer stays locked on the eyes. Very visually effective!

So here is a case where a minor crop (in terms of dimension) has a major impact on the overall tonal balance of the photo and how the eye moves in it. That's why I stress the importance of understanding what will attract the eye in a photo and eliminating distractions which pull the eye away from the intended COI.

The dark hat, which caused the shadow problem, is what makes the cropped shot work because it and the eyes are together forming one unified center of interest.

I'd crop higher along the middle of the elbows so that bit of the hand showing on the bottom isn't a distraction.

I don't generally recommend limbs hanging out of the frame, but in this case the arms are the frame for the face. They and the upper arms leading to the face form a triangle (i.e. composition 101) which lead the eye upward. That dark bit of wrist is a distraction which pulls the eye back down.

Cropping to eliminate distractions, especially those at the edges, will always make a photo more visually effective.