Photographing the head

Photographing the head

A head’s a head.

A head’s a head whether it’s the head of a person or the head of a flower. What they all have in  common is their uniqueness. 

There are definitive steps to photographing their uniqueness.

Knowing your subject

In determining their uniqueness you  discover their negative and positive features. With this information, you determine your camera angle and what you will highlight and deemphasize with your lighting.

What positive features do you want to see and which are you going to hide? This sets the side you will photograph from, or the direction you will have the subject face. How high or low should your camera angle be?

Seeing what this does to the way the subject looks is relatively easy, but an artist goes beyond this. There’s an emotional impact resulting from the decisions you have made.What feelings do you have about the subject with this view? Are you looking down on the subject or up to it? Does this composition stop your eyes at the subject or take your eyes past the subject to the surrounding environment? Do you want the viewer to notice the surroundings or stay focused on the subject? Have you been successful in achieving your objective?

Lighting for impact and mood

Choosing the camera angle of view isn’t enough. Lighting will finesse and enhance the mood of the image. A master of lighting will literally paint the subject with light. With the light you can adjust the colour temperature and add coloured gels to all or some of the lights. Positioning the light will determine where there are highlights and where the shadows fall. 

You can change the atmosphere by making the surface of the subject look smooth or bringing out the texture. 

Lighting decisions are many and complex. Will you light the subject with one light or will there be many? What direction will the light come from? Will it be a hard or soft light? None of those decisions can be made until you have decided on the feeling and mood of the image you are creating. Only then can you make an informed decision on what quality and type of lighting you will use. 

In the case of working with natural light you often have to use what is known as “subtractive lighting” by taking light away from where you don’t want it. 

Photography is both art and science. First you need to decide on the art so you can then use the science to create your artistic statement.

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