13 : Faces

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"It is the common wonder of all men, how among so many million faces, there should be none alike."
-- Sir Thomas Browne

This week, we turn our attention to the wonderful myriad of possibilities offered when photographing the human face. Rich in texture, color, variation and emotion, faces help us as to connect with our subjects, either as viewer or photographer. The smallest variation in shadow or expression can completely change the dynamic of an image. It is through faces that photography becomes a magical way to capture the human spirit. We think it is worth spending a whole week exploring this very specific topic.

For this week's lesson, we have provided plenty of tips, tricks and ideas but the execution of this assignment is completely up to you. In the past, some Shoot Along members have tried to carefully capture each member of their family in a consistent and controlled style. Some members aim for a documentary approach. Some members use this lesson to try new techniques with their camera equipment. Regardless of how you approach the lesson, hold on to the thought that this is a fun way to capture the people you hold most dear.

   Photographing closeups is a great way to practice many skills at once. You can try this style with any age --- Heidi photographed members of her family : a 10-year-old, two teenagers and a grandma. Each person took a turn in the same location so that the light was consistent.

Photographing closeups is a great way to practice many skills at once. You can try this style with any age --- Heidi photographed members of her family : a 10-year-old, two teenagers and a grandma. Each person took a turn in the same location so that the light was consistent.


TIPS

  • To start, try shooting in the shade outside on a sunny day. This will prevent your subject from squinting but still allow you as the photographer to experiment with different angles.
  • Move yourself or your subject around and observe how the direction of the light hitting the face changes the shadows and textures. Even in the shade, you should find that the light is coming from one direction more strongly than other directions.
     
  • Play with your shooting angle. Typically, skin that is illuminated from the side will show more pores, hairs and wrinkles. Skin that is illuminated from above or directly in front will show fewer textures and will give "sparkly" eyes.
     
  • Regardless of light direction, it is standard practice to focus on the near eye of your subject. (Unless your are specifically photographing a feature such as lips or eyelashes.)
     
  • Photograph the whole face and crop later on the computer. It's easier to have too much to work with rather than not enough.
  • Avoid using a very low f-stop such as 1.8. Try shooting at 2.8 or higher to keep a majority of the features in focus.
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  Michelle Matthieu

Michelle Matthieu


Creative Prompts

  • Photograph the same face from several angles without having your subject move. Next, photograph the same face by staying in the same place and having the subject rotate. Observe different light and shadow combinations across the person's features.
     
  • Try to capture details like eyelashes or lips - zoom in or use a macro lens. 
     
  • Seek out faces with features that you are not used to capturing: wrinkles, freckles, beards, glasses and scars can be fun and challenging to photograph while sharing a lot about your subjects personality.
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Share your images!

Wondering how to approach this week's lesson? Looking for motivation? Jump on the Facebook group for inspiration!