Shoot from different angles and positions. Sometimes it is better for you to move than to ask your subject to move.
Often people stand in front of their subject and only photograph from that position. Explore your subject from different heights and locations. If photographing a child you might miss a lot if you don’t shoot from a lower angle. Get down on the same level as the child. If shooting a group of people stand on a stool or ladder so that you see everyone including the people in the back rows. You can make a person look taller or shorter from the hieght that you are shooting.
If you shoot from different angles and compose your images from different locations you will find your pictures to be more interesting.
Often people take one picture and walk away. Take enough to make sure you have a good image. When you download your pictures or get them back from the lab, take time to edit them and decide which ones to keep or to show.
Consider the people who are going to view the images. Think about what would interest them. Nobody wants to look at a bunch of pictures that are repetitive or not interesting (except for grandmothers and not all of them). Each picture should say or show something interesting. Only keep and show your best. Also put them in an interesting order before you show them.
A picture that is weaker than another one takes away from the first one. If you aren’t proud of it or it makes someone look bad DESTROY it! Only show your best work. Don’t show all your pictures just to be showing them. Every photographer takes pictures that don’t turn out as expected but the smart ones don’t show them all. Good photographers only show their good pictures. Practice this and you will have stronger pictures to show.
Mrs. Gertie Brooks, a wonderful Christian lady and civil servant was laid to rest yesterday in grand style. I have been to many funerals but hers was truly unique and as beautiful as the life that she lived. The church was packed with friends and love ones who were there to show their respect. What was truly exceptional was the tribute paid to her at her graveside services.
A horse drawn carriage led the procession for the last mile or so. People along the street stopped what they were doing and pulled out cell phone cameras to capture the sight. At the conclusion of the graveside services 7 beautiful white doves were released. What a great lady! I had never seen this before.
(This was an occasion when I did not have any of my “serious” cameras with me but I had to get a picture so I used my iPhone. I was surprised that they came out as well as they did.)
Lonnie Dawkins is a Maryland Portrait Photographer
Many times I have heard individuals say “Don’t take my picture, I don’t look good in pictures.” Some are nervous just being in the same room as a camera. Are you one of them? Sadly, if you don’t take pictures you and your love ones won’t have pictures of you to share. Everyone wants to have photographs and be able to say “This is my grandma!, This is Auntie when she……, Look at Papa when he was…..” Also you need pictures to put on business cards and pictures that you feel properly represent you. Sadly, many people leave this planet and their loved ones have no images to remember of them. Don’t let your prior experiences keep you from having pictures taken. You should proudly look at pictures and be able to say “yes, that’s me!”
I know some people have had some justifiably bad experiences in front of the camera. Maybe the person taking the picture did not know how or didn’t care. There are some people who want to catch you in a bad light or doing something crazy. Then they have the audacity to show them to people who don’t need to see them. Certain people need to be photographed in a particular way. There are ways to pose, angles to shoot from, and lighting setups to make people look taller, shorter, thinner, etc. For professional portraits good makeup is a must for adults. It is flattering and it evens out skintones while covering some blemishes. Other blemishes often can be removed while still keeping a natural look.
I too am very particular about who takes my picture and what they are going to do with it. I feel that I should control where my pictures should be seen. When I am behind the camera, I realize that at first I need to take the time to build a rapport and trust with the person sitting. I take several pictures just to “warm up”. After a while there is a connection and the time is ripe for some great photography. Sometimes even the warm up pictures are wonderful. Pictures that aren’t good are immediately discarded.
As a photographer one of the things I love best is engaging with someone who hates to be photographed and show them how wonderful they look in pictures. It has happened time and time again. I am highly honored that an aunt who truely disliked having her picture taken now gladly sits still, smiles and allows me to photograph her. Her pictures are beautiful.
So forget about the past. Get in front of the camera and allow your friends and family to photograph you. Also have some professional pictures taken and have them printed large. Frame them and show them off in that special place in your home. You will be surprised how wonderful you will look! Plus, your family will have the beautiful images of you that they deserve.
I hope you will contact me and allow me to photograph soon. Don’t put it off.
I was thinking about people who consider the Washington DC metro area home and their relationship with DC as an important world city.
Years ago when I was in sales with a major corporation a colleague came to the city on business. I picked him up at the airport and as we passed within sight of one of the monuments he asked which monument it was. I said it was either the Lincoln or Jefferson Memorial. He seemed to be in shock that I didn’t know specifically which one. Hey, I was driving and not looking that closely. Honestly, at that time I hadn’t really thought about it. I was born here and had been here so long that at that point monuments were just monuments and I had other priorities. Most of my relatives who had visited the city had been here lots of times and were no longer interested in touring the city. When my wife and I took our young son to the Washington Monument years ago, he didn’t have the patience to wait in line to get inside so we left. That was the last time I had been close to that or any of the other monuments.
I do currently have a much stronger appreciation for the city. I love it here. I am a volunteer usher at several theatres such as the Shakespeare and Ford’s. I go on tours, attend lectures, and am even a Smithsonian Resident Member. DC is my hometown and I am fascinated by its history especially Howard University and the Black migration from the south. I often see it as more of a small town than a “Big City” like New York and Chicago. I see a whole different world from just the nation’s capital and a major tourist destination. I am very curious about how the town folks from DC see the city and the relationship to the nation’s capital.
Surely, there are many of us who have lived in the area for 20 or more years and have never been or thought about visiting the Smithsonian, the White House, the Capitol, the Kennedy Center, Arlington National Cemetary, or the hometown landmarks. I know someone personally who was born here, lived here all her life (50+ years) and has never been to Ben’s Chili Bowl!!
Does it matter? I am really curious about how the homefolks feel about visiting the “official” Washington, DC. When you have visitors come to the city, where do you take them? What is the real DC to you?
Today I finally had the opportunity to see the The Scurlock Studio and Black Washington: Picturing the Promise Exhibit. It’s at the National Museum of African History and Culture , Smithsonian Institution. The museum is located at 14th and Constitution in NW DC. It is well worth the visit.
Have you heard of Addison Scurlock and his sons George and Robert? Very few people have and that is a shame! In my opionion the Scurlocks are among the greatest American photographers PERIOD!! The Scurlocks photographed EVERYONE during their time which spanned the early 1900s to around 1994. Addison Scurlock would put pictures of the famous and not so famous on display in the windows of his studio. Having your picture taken by Scurlock was status! In the exhibit you will see pictures of almost every famous African American of the time but also will equally enjoy the images of everyday people. The thing about Scurlock and his sons were that they truly took wonderful images that stand out. For example, I have seen lots of pictures of Mary Mcleod Bethune but the picture that I saw taken by Mr. Scurlock is truly beautiful and well done. It’s a good picture of her!!!
Addison Scurlock was also the official photographer for Howard University and that great institution’s history is well recorded thanks to him.
If you want to see beautiful black and white images of Washington society, businesses, families, celebrities, and much more please visit this exhibit before it closes and take your children.
In addition to getting to enjoy the photography I also learned more about Washington history. Previously, I had never heard of Suburban Gardens which was an amusement park once located in the Deanwood section of DC or what a “Negro spotter” was. (You’ll have to go to the exhibit to find out). Also I had never heard of the Bison Bus Line.
Also did you know that if your family has been in the DC area for some time it is very likely that you own some photography by the Scurlocks? You need to get that photography out and enjoy it. The Scurlocks didn’t just photograph the rich and famous. Everyday people had the opportunity to sit for portraits and the same dignity and beauty was brought to each sitter’s image. Above is a picture of my father-in-law Alexander Davis taken by the Scurlock Studio. It was taken in 1945 when he was 23 years old.
Hey, you must go and see this exhibit! Go see the pictures and go learn some more history. Even while I was writing this note I just learned that the Addison Studio building is the same one that now houses Nellie’s Sports Bar at 9th and U Streets. Hmmm.
Do you have some Scurlock experiences? Maybe you or someone in your family was photographed by the Scurlocks or you remember going by the studio on 9th and U. Please leave a comment and share it.