December 14, 2017

Lifestyle Pictures Of Senior Citizens

Making Life Images Fun

At times lifestyle pictures of senior citizens can be fun and playful. Hence the case in this photo. The assignment was a road trip. Spend a few days on a bus with a group of senior citizens from a retirement resort touring a few tourists spot in south Florida. Check out the alligator farm and pirate ship boat ride to name just two. As part of their advertising campaign, the home wanted to show in their brochures that their elderly residents know how to have a good time. And party they did. More so on the bus. But try to borrow a newspaper from any one these spry creatures with the thought of taking away their precious crossword puzzle and you got cold stares and grunts. You'd think you were taking away their Lobster Pot special. Fierce bunch they were I must say.

So you can see spending hours on the bus still brings up fond memories. This photograph of two male buddies tooting on their kazoos and I'll be honest here, took some bribing. The women were more eager to put away their crossword puzzles although guarded and safely secured out of my reach. I think their enthusiasm just made the men more annoyed. To combat the female charge, the men resorted to loud, vigorous playing of assorted ballads that overlapped causing just plain noise. But once I became band leader I righted the ship a sing-a-long erupted to my delight.

Why am I telling you all this? A lifestyle photographer needs to direct the action or at least get the ball rolling. If I had left it up to my new pals chances were they'd go back to their puzzles or nap. Once off the bus and boarded the pirate ship they group were good sports and partook in most of the ship's activity director's plans although once again I had to take the lead. When the dance music started it was like watching a elementary school dance where men and women sat opposite each other. So I asked a lady to dance and along the way I started to take her pictures. Well, that started the stampede. More women ventured out on the deck and joined the dancing with a few men who quickly saw an opening.

And then one of the sweethearts pinched me!


kazoos ©Frank Marchese

The right personality of a lifestyle photographer is so important. Without being so outgoing, a photographer can miss the shots. It's good for a photographer to have more energy than the subjects he's shooting. Obviously in the case of this shoot it wasn't too far stretch.

Shooting Kids In Advertising Campaigns

Advertising Strategies That Work

One of the joys of being an advertising photographer is to work shooting kids in advertising campaigns. This photo was done for a furniture company. It's obvious that your eye goes to the little painter and that the furniture is an after thought. This type of passive advertising works because of the bold yellow colored shape that frames the boy. Using a strong graphic in a composition sets the mood of the picture. This photo would have been less successful if I had chosen to shoot without the color paint leaving just a monochromatic field of off-white.


© Frank Marchese Photography

At the top of the photo is room for a headline or if the art director chose to run a spread ad this photo could take up one full page leaving the other page for the client's message. All of what I just said has to be worked out before hand. Knowing graphic design helps photo composition. How important is it to place our little painter in the center of the the chairs? Take a look at the ladder. It sits in the center of the frame like a rocket pointed toward the sky. The composition works because with the help of the ladder, your eye is drawn upward at the boy. That's where the action is.

The boy is doing something in the photo. He's believable. It's as if a moment in time has been captured. And it has. A parent of young children might be thinking the worst is yet to come. When will the boy spill paint on the chairs? There's already a paint can on one of the chairs. Horrors indeed! In advertising you want the consumer to react to your visual. How long can you hold the consumer's attention? Keep them there looking at the picture long enough and it will be remembered.

Good graphics, color and creativity holds good composition together. Shooting kids in advertising campaigns can be memorable. It just starts with a simple idea. Then you need to execute that idea.




How To Photograph People Of Different Color

Studio Lighting And The Effects On Skin Tone

Many amateur photographers can get hung up on how to photograph people of different color when taking a portrait using studio lighting. If you know how to control your lighting then it really isn't that hard. If you just think about the problem you will come to realize that for dark skin people you will need to use more light since the skin will absorb it more than let's say a person with light skin. When you find yourself in a position where this issue may be problematic, the best way to handle it is to be prepared.

Let's say you are doing some individual corporate shots where you created one set-up where you expect people will be walking onto the set throughout the day. You do a lighting test with your pasty white skin assistant, correct your exposure and declare to the powers-at-be that you're ready to go - so send them in one at a time. Everything is going smoothly until people of various colored skin stand posed under the lights. Well if you're not paying attention, your next exposure for the face is going to be dark. Maybe a half stop, maybe a full stop. In any case you need to pay attention.

Sure you can make corrections with your digital file, but that isn't the point. You want to become a master of your lighting regardless if its in a studio or out on location. If you simply rely on the easy way out, you're won't improve your skill level. Now let's say you'll be shooting men with suit jackets on and men without suit jacks on. All men are wearing crisp, starched white shirts. Do you see a potential problem here? A Caucasian male wearing just a white dress shirt shouldn't be too much of a problem in your exposure settings. You might have to scrim the light on the shirt a bit without blowing the shirt out. But the real problem lies when you shoot an Afro-American wearing a white dress shirt. If you expose for the face, the shirt will blow out. If you expose for the shirt, the face becomes to dark. Yes, you're probably reading this and thinking there is always Photoshop. Don't rely on that fix. Improve your craft as a photographer. Be a master of your lighting.

So what do you do when faced the the problem I just mentioned above? Find a way to reduce the light on the shirt without sacrificing your light on the face. If you're shooting studio strobes, use one small diffused light on the face, and use another just for the shirt. Either adjust the power of your lights or adjust the distance of the lights to the target area. Or use additional diffusion material to cut down the power on the shirt.

One final note on how to photograph people of different color. If the client doesn't want to pony up for a make-up artist, pay attention to the shine on the faces. And it doesn't matter what color the person's skin is. Bring along a small make-up kit with some powder and pads. Use enough just to kill the shine. Some men might get squirmy but most will go with the flow. It all depends how you approach the issue of shine. Yes, we all shine under the lights.


Black-White-Portraits ©Frank Marchese

Senior Photography – Making Your Ethnic Representation Honest

I get tired of the same senior photography I always see of couples walking hand and hand along pristine beaches or sitting snuggled, perched upon expensive yachts in advertising ads. Or those painful faces portrayed by this same group in pharmaceutical print ads. Come on. One is a tired stock photography cliche and the other doesn't pull at my heart strings. I'm for keeping things real. I'd like to see other slices of life that doesn't revolve around Caucasian couple too. Those ads are out there but there should be more.

Lifestyle Photography Made Real


family wedding @Frank Marchese

This photo was taken for a pharmaceutical company.

What went into this shoot: I used a continuous lighting set-up inside and outside the room. The emphasis was obviously on the dad and not on the bride. The daughter's attention were solely on their father. Dad is happy. It's a joyous time for him because - and here is where the meds come into play - dad has taken his "pain medication" which looking a the photo appears to be working. Just keeping it real folks! Wink. Wink.

Here is another example of keeping it real. Going from a wedding set-up to birthday party set-up. The idea behind this was having the grandfather wake up from a nap only to be surprised by his lovely grandchildren who have placed their presents on his lap. What I did - I told the grandfather to close his eyes as if he was taking a nap. Off to the side I told the children to carefully place the gifts on his lap without trying to wake him. To the kids surprise, grandfather played along, woke up and I tried to capture the moment of surprise. This only worked a few times. Once the children knew what to expect, the surprise element faded. Since I knew this was going to be the case, I did a pre-light with my portable flashes with the grandfather without the children. I didn't want them to sense what I was planning for them. Anytime you have seniors move in your photograph it's worth doing.


Grandparent With Kids © Frank Marchese

Pushing a young boy on a swing by the grandfather shows a connection of family. It shows an active senior helping his young grandchild doing what his father might have done for him years ago. A simple playful act performed without thought any parent would have done if a swing set happened to be near by. The photo shows a happy and pride grandfather full of energy. To add some drama, again I tilted my camera to emphasis the angle of the senior, pushing the senior toward the camera instead of standing him upright. Although the photo isn't blurry, one gets the sense of movement just by the angle of the grandparent. Because the shot was taken in the shadows of the trees, I lit the subjects with a portable strobe and also balanced in the natural sunlight.


Boy On Swing © Frank Marchese

How To Photograph Children

In Child Photography Patience Is A Virtue

For a photographer knowing how to photograph children is an advantage to those that are patient. And when a child loses focus you can pretty much kiss the session goodbye. On the other hand when you have children you can direct, than good results usually occur. Parents looking to hire a professional child photographer have in the past chose to go the route of the classic family portrait studio. An alternative would be to take the picture outside. These black and white photographs were literally shot in the family's backyard. Familiar territory, realistic, honest - all true. Finding comfort in their own surroundings helps children relax and brings a personal element to the photo.

If you have children then you know first hand that they can be pretty active. What I enjoy in a child's portrait is bringing out the quietness that these children have inside them. No more, no less. Look at me through the camera lens I tell them. These photos were lit only by the sun using no fill light. Very little direction was given other than sit here and stand there. The children did the rest. Sat down how he wanted to sit. Leaned against the wall how she wanted to stand. All that was left to do was tell them to stare back at me through my lens.

Brother and Sister

Brother and Sister ©Frank Marchese

How To Create Dramatic Studio Lighting

Portrait Lighting With An Attitude

Model With Wooden Clamp

Model With Wooden Clamp © Frank Marchese

If you are shooting a portrait, using one strong light source will help you create dramatic studio lighting if you know how to control it. That and maybe a wooden clamp. Introducing the clamp as a prop may be a bit gratuitous but what if it was a diamond necklace draped around the topless model? To me it's all the same except I find the clamp more interesting. Along with the model's attitude I found the clamp worked for me.

I positioned my light to point downward onto her head. Letting the residual light fall on the clamp. With arms crossed, her curved naked body, and with chin lifted in defiance, it was the exact expression I was looking for. Without it the clamp wouldn't work. And what if I lit it with another light pointed at her body instead of her face? It may have opened up the shot more in detail but I would have lost something in the process.

Take a look at the shadow areas. The neck framed by the clamp is lost in darkness. Her torso dark, slightly defined by the light falling off onto the backdrop. If these areas were lit more I would lose my dramatic lighting. Knowing how to master your lighting even if you are using just one source will help the overall photo composition whether you realize it or not.

Why Advertising Photographers Like To Test

One of the reasons why advertising photographers like to test is that they are always working on their book. Testing is a safe way to work out new techniques or maybe a new style of shooting. No fears. No worries. Come up with a game plan and create a shoot for yourself. If you are a still life photographer but are itching to move into portrait photography, making yourself available to shoot people is what you'll be looking to do. Maybe your idea is to shoot people "real people" not professional models, or maybe you want to create a portfolio of street portraits. Start with an idea and go for it.


Las Vegas Cowgirl ©Frank Marchese

Once I was out in Las Vegas shooting corporate executives for an ad campaign. This corporation rented out the entire hotel reserving one suite for me to set up my make shift studio. Since these executives would be in meetings all day, the only available times to shoot their portraits were before or after their meetings. Which left me the entire day to do whatever. I now had options - hang by the pool, gamble, do some sightseeing or test. And guess what I did? I rounded up my crew and set off to do some portfolio testing.

My hair/make up artist was a local resident and since I had her day booked, it was easy for us to pull out a test shoot. I told her what I wanted to do and we went to work. So don't be afraid of being spontaneous. You never know what you'll end up with if you don't put yourself out there.

Having Fun With The Self Portrait


Self Portrait ©Frank Marchese

One of the main reasons photographers like shooting a self portrait is because it's fun. You get to ham it up for the camera, sort of a reversal of roles. And somehow seeing yourself in the mirror every morning and seeing yourself in a photograph are different just like night and day. It's also a time to be creative, not take the shoot so serious. Granted professional photographers have more tools to work with. They are masters of their lighting which can add creativity to the shot. But even if you're not a professional it shouldn't stop you from shooting a self portrait. Today you have easy access with iPhones, small point and shoot cameras, or Apple's Photo Booth to capture your likeness and show yourself off to friends. Isn't that the fun of Facebook?

The Fine Art Of Nude Photography

Believe it or not shooting nudes are difficult. Having a pre-conceived idea going into the shoot is a great way to start but don't be too disappointed that what you had in mind turns out completely different and unexpected. In fact most of the times the journey getting there is the most fun. Let your creativity loose. Often the case keeping it simple works best. Here the stool acts as a pedestal, the boots a prop and the hand on the shoelace the anchor to the pose.


©Frank Marchese Photography

Street Photography – Who Does Your Hair?

Sometimes when your out shooting a little street photography you catch a rare sighting. Once you see it you can’t help but stare a little. And stare I did. When I shoot a portrait I look for two things. What are the eyes saying and what is the body language telling me? And Mohawk wasn’t hiding anything. I quickly saw this from the gaze in his eyes and the attitude that struck his face, but oh that hair. How to deal with all that real estate on top of this head. A perfect fan-like shape, comfortable, as if it had always belonged there. I shot him broad side and slightly on an up angle. The backdrop was this space between two buildings protected by a black wire mesh fence that closed off nothing of value accept the area between these large brick structures.

The day was overcast. Shot it flat just with available light. I’d punch up the contrast later. I kept staring. I kept shooting. And as time continued to eat up the day, I kept on thinking one thing – who does your hair?


mohawk man ©frank marchese photo