Disclaimer: This is a personal observation based on years of practice and perfection. Any discrepancies, please let me know. This guide is only meant for newbies, wanabes, and amateur professionals. This article is made in association with Project: EDUCATE.
The ABCs of STREET Photography
The ABCs of PHOTOJOURNALISM
A - Artistic Nudes
Aaahh... what better to start off our ABCs with some nekkid photos... Artistic Nude's popularity has somewhat increased in the past 7 years of deviantArt's history. Photos of flesh not only excites, turns on, and make us get off (depending on how pervy one gets), it also shows the intricacies of how much details we see in each different human body with no strings attached. Artistic nudity does not reflect on porn at all, and should never be, but is always a good way to increase your pageviews if you have your gallery plastered with such.
B - Body Landscapes
Almost similar to Artistic Nudes, this category is commonly used to showcase more of figure studies rather than the entire human body as a whole. For instance, picture this: If you take a shot of your butt as you lay down on the grass, and take it in black and white, then title it as Sand Dunes, it gives the photograph something to reflect on. Or find some small tiny Lego toys and make them go skiing off a side of breast. You can get inspired by this: Allan Teger's BodyScapes.com [Warning: Mature Content]. A more tasteful form of course would be any kinds of close up of a human body, be it hands, toes, knees, elbows, heck even the curves of your wattle (think Richard Fish; Ally McBeal).
C - Classic Portraits
Classic means old. Old means common. Common means cliche. Cliche means same o'l same o'l. Look this way, smile that way, tilt down abit, turn left some more, put your hands on your lap, no don't smile too much I can see celery in your teeth. Basically classic portraits refer to what we often do when we sit down and take passport photos. This form of pose has been done thru centuries of portrait taking, all the way during the days of Lincoln showing the profiles of his famous nose or your typical college yearbook. As a photographer, you just worry about lighting. As a model, you just worry that your photographer makes you look good and not add an exact 10 pounds of weight to your features. ...or more, especially if the photographer takes your photograph from ground level upwards.
Candid classic portraits belong in Spontaneous or Photojournalism > People, depending on the situation, location, and pose.
D - Deviousness
Be deviant. Get out of the cliche and try something new. Do some research of what's being overdone. Try out weird poses and makeups. Make us wonder, ponder, drool. Think of a way to make your viewers sit longer and stare deeper into the screen wondering what you're trying to express. Make us feel, emote, and relate to your works. But if my erogenous zones start to tingle, watch out.
E - Emotive
That famous line "make love to the camera" has made the porn photography industry more lucrative, but enough of porns. Human beings are made of complex emotions that no other beings can produce (animals ready to get slaughtered cry in ear splitting decibels). This category should be reserved for any kinds of emotionally charged portraits of young adults and beyond, as we already have our own Infants & Children category on deviantArt. However, a Mona Lisa smile belongs to Classic Portrait, a jubilant young lady being proposed goes to a series of Photojournalism > Weddings, a soldier returning from Iraq hugging his wife and 7 children belongs to Photojournalism > Military, or a voyeuristic perv drooling over a friend's foot belongs in Fetish if not Scrap.
Another subcategory in the Portraits genre is Expressive Portraits, which is almost the same as Emotives. Expressiveness is about conceptualizing an emotion, so there's quite a fine line between the two and is often miscategorized. Take for instance a photograph of a very very old woman sitting down puffing away on a long filtered cigarette while reading Cosmopolitan as the smoke from the cigarette fills up the room, or a man crouching in fear in a corner of a room while 50 small televisions stared back at him... Basically the idea isn't just jumping out at you from the model's point of view, but at the same time it shows the idea and hard work given by the photographer to frame the shot, like a love triangle from Viewers to Models to Photographer and back again. Emotives are just a one-way street between viewers and the model, so you get the idea...
F - Fashion Portraits
Open up Vogue, GQ, or any other fashion-related magazines and you'll see the latest designs for either spring, summer, winter or even monsoon collections from various leading couture brands. Depending on your kinks, FHM or even Playboy depicting the latest thong wear also falls under Fashion, unless if it shows 90% skin and 10% thong, that's more likely going to be artistic nude. Fashion is about clothes. It doesn't matter who's wearing them, how they pose, how they stand or sit or squat or whatnot... it all falls back to what they're wearing. Be mindful though that Fashion tends to fall into the likes of the model showcasing a particular brand of clothes, but if the shot was taken during a catwalk at a fashion show or a kid wearing an Optimus Prime costume during BotCon, that falls under Photojournalism, whereas a close-up of bling-blings such as a diamond studded watch worn by a drop dead gorgeous bombshell belongs to Commercial Photography > Fashion.
G - Glamour Portraits
Slap on layers of makeups like the way you'd gloss the icings on a heavily creamed up cheese cake, and call yourself Sarah Jessica Parker and voila! Think of those romance novel covers, movies, or CD covers. Those are the types of portraits that befit this category. Funky Japanese anime hairstyles of a friend flashing a V sign taken in the comforts of your living room belongs to myspace. Funky Japanese anime hairstyles of a friend taken in the comforts of a studio for a newly opened hair salon belongs to deviantArt. Photographs of celebrities on the red carpet at a movie premier, even as glamorous as it can be, belongs to Photojournalism > Public Gatherings & Events. Photographs of a model wearing ONE particular brand of fashion wear belongs to Fashion, whereas photographs of a model wearing one brand per body part belongs in Glamour.
Goth, macabre, or photos of your models wearing stuffs only the Village People would care for belongs to Fetish Portraits. Even if it's supposedly artistic nudes but the focal point is the feet for instance... coz you'd never know the types of viewers here in deviantArt and their kinks.
H - Hyperfocals
Understanding hyperfocal distance helps you decide what depth would work out well with your model, especially when there may be lots of details in the background that would distract us from the main subject. Bokeh and focal depths can help us fixated on what exactly were you trying to convey as an artist. Need help understanding this more? Check out the Online Depth of Field Calculator, and Understanding the Hyperfocal Distance.
I - Infants & Children
Short and simple: if your model is under the age of 12, you're in the right category even though he or she is wearing the latest and heaviest of blings. Photographs of midgets don't belong here, even if one wears a baby's hood and sits in a stroller. Closeups of a newborn, or any form of portraiture of a child belongs in this category, and no, a naked baby does not belong in Artistic Nude. Be mindful of various laws regarding photographs of naked kids. A child between a day's old to a year or two is still fine, but when they start to learn to stand up, that's where you draw the line. Consider the emotional repercussion from psychological trauma when these kids grow up and seeing themselves before posting. (omg I was THAT fat when i was a kid???)
J - Journals
Keep tab on what works best for you and your setups especially if you've just started out in this line. If you're using a professional studio, outdoors, etc, check your meterings, and light sources. Each setup differs from each other, most importantly when you're only relying on natural lights. How much shadow will be casted and where will it fall on are also key factors to look out for. One example is direct lighting from the top of the model may cause shadows casted on his/her mouth making him/her looking like he/she's sporting a thick mustache. When is the use of a reflector needed? What kind of reflector can be used? (got none? try using those reflective thingy you'd use on your car's windshield, or even a white polyester or styrofoam board). If you're using a digital camera, there's very limited information you can dig out of the EXIF data. If you're on film, trial and error's the way to go.
K - Key Lighting
[ Thanks, !LazyGunn for the help. ]
If you own some studio lights, or even a high-end flash, placements of such is highly important in bringing out the details you want on your subjects. Positioning things wrongly can result in unwanted silhouettes, overexposure, or a burnt out frame. Key lighting done right can bring out certain features such as your model's cheekbones, eyes, even a mole. Wearing a brand? Focus on how to make the words GUCCI stand out from a metal cuff worn by the model without bursting a flare off the material. Spraying a perfume? Watch your shutterspeed and how much details from the mist sprayed onto the model's neck you'd wanna show from which light source. Lots of considerations to make, but ultimately, go ahead and read thru Key Lighting for more information.
L - Latitude
[ Thanks, !LazyGunn for the help. ]
The range of camera exposures from underexposure to overexposure that will produce acceptable pictures from a specific film, Exposure Latitude works well for portraits so you'll learn about your meterings rather than depending on those P modes that most of us seem to lose faith on after awhile. I'm seriously suffering from writer's block for L, so gimme a break.
M - Macro
While most of us would use the standard kits of either a prime fixed lens or a wide angle and even a fisheye for distortion, watch out when you decide on using Macro lenses. It may seem cool if you're doing stuffs for Figure Studies, but using macro on a face can open the doors to hell if you've forgotten how difficult it is to stamp out fine details of acnes, pores, and blackheads. Supple youthfulness taken on camera up close and personal on faces can show out flaws of nature that a typical mirror may not see, so be mindful about what your model may say once he/she sees the shot. Good for use on old flappy skin, or for the eyes, but heluva nightmare on smoother skins ironically.
N - Night
Night time portraitures are common but not widely explored due to the many concerns of shadows and glare. Lower shutterspeed may help providing that the model has huge lungs to hold his breath and stand still like a mannequin. Usage of streetlamps or fluorescence light help too but imagine what kind of exposure you'd use to make the best out of the scene. Determine how much flash to use, where it should be directed either directly or bouncing off somewhere, etc etc... So, you can imagine how much considerations there are to put into a portraiture done at night. Take for instance those movie scenes where we see the actors in a car talking to each other while driving at night. In real world, you won't be able to see who's talking in a car passing you by unless you shine a floodlight onto them. What movie makers do is clever placements of warm dim lights above, below, in front, and behind the actors to simulate real-time situation so we can read their lips even if we mute the TV. Similarly you should consider the placement of your lightsource when you conduct a night-time shoot of your models. And practice on your bracketing and metering as much as possible.
O - Operatives
[ Thanks, !LazyGunn for the help. ]
You control the entire environment you're in unless you're shooting outdoors. Never let the camera or even the flash strobes control you. So know your inside outs of everything needed to make that shot work for not just you, but for the model as well. Your job is to make him/her look good no matter how fugly your model is. This isn't one of those genres where you can take a quick focus, aim, and shoot technique within 3 seconds like photojournalism. Portraitures require so much knowledge on composition and ultimately if not most importantly lighting.
P - Pin-Up
Think of big sunglasses, striped lollypop tanktops, a Marilyn Monroe hairdo, and a bright yellow umbrella. Even a Wild Wild West-ish or a Jackie Onassis look-a-like can fit in this category nicely. A sailor man with another lady in polkadot bikinis work too. Basically this category follows the retro styles of the past, bringing back those thickly greased hairstyles and icings of makeups used in the 50s. For instance that promo grab of Nicole Kidman for the movie Bewitched, or the uber-cheesy portrait of Ben Affleck and Kate Beckinsale in the movie Pearl Harbour.
Q - Quarantined Works
Any photographs of another person should receive prior permission from the said person(s) before being uploaded to the internet, including DeviantArt. Even if you've taken the best portrait that day in the entirety of your work, you still have to hold off the urge of posting it up, particularly nudes. Even if you asked permission to shoot a person's portrait, it is still not permissible for you to use it to your own choice. Of course, you may have covered the details of the "Why" when you talk things through with your model, be it for show or for sale. For your own protection as well as the model's, read FAQ #252: Model release forms? Do I need it? What is it?
R - Red Eyes
Aaarrgghhh!! Those devils!! Those evil eyes!!! You just made your beloved mother into a vampire raccoon! Thank god those teeth aren't untraviolet! Red eye effects happen mostly from a direct flash that's too close to the lens, and the light of the flash occurs too fast for the iris of the eye to close the pupil. Happens alot on un-programed digital or analog cameras. If you're using a camera designed in the past decade, there's bound to be a setting somewhere that you can toggle with to remove such effect. Otherwise, use a bounce flash so it won't burst directly into your model's eyes. If you still have no choice but to use your in-built flash, that is if you really really really neeeeeed to use a flash, then take your shot angled in a way that the flash does not hit directly on the eyes. For instance ask your model to look to your shoulder or shutter finger, but as long as he/she still seemed to be looking directly into the camera. Otherwise, use natural light with lower shutterspeed and higher apertures, and play about with your ISO. Besides, using flash tends to make the scene looking unnaturally bright and washed out and damn those shadows that you'd need to worry thenafter.
S - Self Portraits
Please, for the love of ART, don't put up a photo of you holding a camera in front of a mirror, or a grab from a webcam and put it as Self Portraits. Those belong in deviantID or scraps respectively... or myspace (blergh). Self portraits are similar to that of any other Emotive or Expressive portraits whereby you are both the photographer and model, commonly with the use of a timer on your camera or a remote. Again, if you're the model, the camera is yours, but the photographer is a friend, it falls under other subcategories depending on the composition and not self portraits. This site is about Art, not merely of personal profiles that is only befitting in Facebook, Friendster, MySpace, Gaydar, or YouPorn.
T - Tripods
Photographer's best friend. You don't want those sugar or caffeine rush to shake your shots too much so use a tripod. Using low shutterspeed? Use a remote control, coz when you hit the shutter, it tends to shake the camera especially on a cheap rickety plastic tripod.
U - Uniqueness
Rules of Thirds are common in portraitures unless you work with immigration. Those spaces you add on away from the model gives it more depth. But of course, 99% of all artistic portraitures have used such technique. Try out something new. Make the style your own. Research as many portraits as possible and deviate away from the norm. Who knows, you might even created a new subcategory for the staffs of deviantArt to consider rather than submitting to the Miscellaneous subcategory.
V - Vernacular Portraitures
Another term for this is "accidental art" or "found photographs" where a certain pose or technique used wasn't planned but turned out great to your own good. Watch out though, as this often tend to end up as a snapshot instead. But picture this: You're taking a portrait of a monk, and suddenly in the background another monk passes by holding a cellphone to his ear and reading the day's lottery numbers. Or when you turn and see a baby sitting in a bicycle's basket while his grandfather cycles away. Or on an outdoor family portrait you see a dog taking a crap on the sidewalks in the background. Humor us, but keep it artsy.
W - Work It
You're the photographer and most importantly the choreographer. You have to know the poses, the stance, the mood, feel, and most importantly the theme of how you want your portraits and model to stand out. You are your own movie director except you're shooting stills. So you should learn to master the art of commanding your talents to look this way, pose that way, and how much teeth to glare back at us. However, if your model is shy, and it's his/her first time, break the ice. Be social and strike up a conversation by asking key questions but watch out for things that's too personal. Tell the model to hold a certain pose when you see fits. For instance if you wanna take a shot of your model laughing, strike up a joke but for the love of god, don't do those cheesy "Knock knocks". You can also just rest your finger on the shutter and when you see something you wanna take, just take that shot. Remote control helps alot too.
X - XXX
Erotica is one thing you have to watch out for when it comes to artistic nudity. How much skin can we show and how much we shouldn't. Of course, fine line between merely a photograph of a bare breast, and of someone cupping them and making a facial expression that's worth $20 off the street. This category is erotica in its finest as we explore the beauty of a human body through lighting and composition. But with kids as young as 12 being new members of deviantArt, keep it clean and tasteful. Photographs of hard ons that can cut glass isn't art, it's porn, and does not belong to deviantArt. Please Note that this is not the right category to place your everyday nude snap shots - please remember this is an art site. Portraits of any genders kissing or hugging or anything that shows an immaculate display of affection should be considered strongly before submitting, so check with a gallery director or put a ticket to the Help Desk if you're unsure.
Y - Yellow
[ Thanks, !LazyGunn for the help. ]
Go tungsten only when you really really need to. It's good for direct lighting with that warm yellow glow, but it's just dangerously hot after awhile. Commonly used are those clip-on types where you can clip to anywhere that it can grab on. It's a nifty light source and makes quite an interesting stuff to carry around that costs cheap and mimics the basics of studio lighting. However, with new advances in digital photography, there's also a setting on your White Balance that you can switch to emulate Tungsten, (i think, since i'm generally a film photographer) but that doesn't give the tonal effect as good as the real thing, so another setup option is to use Custom and then use the actual lamp. Get your funds up and about and go buy some actual strobes once you're serious enough to start your own li'l studio photography.
Z - Zone System
I can write the whole shebang but that's just gonna bore you all to death, so to find out what's this, click here: Zone System. Basically, the Zone System is a method of understanding and controlling the exposure and development of the negative, and how to vary that exposure to get the results you want. Putting this into portraitures is common when it comes to metering your subject versus the back or foreground details and lighting in order for your model to stand out more. The process isn't just on camera, as it continues its cycle to developing, and even printing. The more precise your calculation is, the lesser time you'd use for post-processing after a shoot. So read up, as it also affects how you use your zones for other genres besides portraits such as commercial photography, photojournalism, and even street.
In collaboration (in parts) with !LazyGunn, for Project:EDUCATE