Friday, September 03, 2010

Friday: The One That Got Away: Episode 2

Friday: The One That Got Away: Episode 2

Good Afternoon Everybody,

Today is the last day at Photoshop World Las Vegas and it has been one one solid, jam packed, brain frying, educational experienced week. I think most of the instructors and staff as well as students are pretty well spent around here, but in a good way. I can't wait till next Spring's program.

For LaDawn and I, it's off to Phoenix, our kick off city of our "Captured By The Light 2010" tour. I've been "test driving" some of the content at my presentations while here at Photoshop World and everybody has loved it. I'll polish the program up a bit more over the long weekend and we should be rockin' and rollin' by Tuesday - I can't wait.

We've got to get rolling early today so let's get right to today's post - here we go...

The One That Got Away: Episode 2

I had such a positive response to this new series last week [link], I plan to continue it over the next several weeks.

Got Away 2 - big hands

This week's photo was sooooo close, but it still barely got away. Look at the image, it is downright beautiful. Let's first look at what was done very well.

1- The photographer has positioned the bride in the scene in the center of the composition. Centered composition works for me too in many of my images.

2- Next the maker used the fireplace behind the bride to frame her up nicely. The fireplace is what we call an "interior framing element". Framing up your subjects with interiors frames within the scene is one more way to direct viewers' attention to your main compositional interest - well done here.

3- The pose is easy, flattering, and believable. To many times the photographer will pose his/her subject into a position that is neither comfortable or believable. The pose works very well in this example.

4- The photographer did a nice job turning the bride’s head to the window light camera left to create a nice loop lighting pattern on the bride’s face.

OK, so what's wrong with this shot? Where did it miss it's mark? Take a look at the bride's hands. The bride's right hand is directly under her chin. That's not a problem - the real problem is the fact that the hand is turned broadside to the camera. Look how big it looks compared the the bride's face. The hand is almost as large as the face.

The secret to improving this shot is to turn the hand so that we are shooting into the side of the hand, not the front or back of the hand. That minimizes it's presence in the shot, it still looks believable, and it's more narrow size let's the viewers' attention focus on the bride's beautiful face.

The other hand is not so bad but I would still like to see the fingers closer together and draped more gracefully over the bride's knee. The photographer made it to third base with this image as it is presented. With these subtle little "hand" details attended to, the maker would had a home run.

One of the best "hand posers" of recent years was the legendary Don Blair. Don visited the top museums in both London and throughout America studying how the portrait artists of years past painted their subject's graceful hands. Look at the work of Thomas Gainesborough or John Singer Sargent. Their hands were painted impeccably. That's what Don strive to capture in his photographs too.

Sadly, Don passed away a few years ago. He was one of the most optimistic, talented, generous, giving persons in our profession.  Skip Cohen, also a mutual friend of Don Blair, did a tribute to Don right here. Don Blair hands His post shows a few of Don's instructional images. Check out how Don posed the bride's hands always showing the sides of the hands, never the front or the back.

Let me re-iterate that I am NOT suggesting "straight jacket" hokey posing rules. I'm trying to point out subtle, small, quickly made improvements that can make a big difference in how your client looks in their photographs. You know, people want to look good in front of the camera. This is just one more subtle way to make that happen.


Hey gang, that's it for me today. I hope you enjoyed today's post. We’ve got to head out to the Tech Expo in just a few minutes so I’ve got to get moving. Have a great weekend and I'll plan to see you on the flip side in Phoenix next week.

Adios everybody,



  1. Robin from the UK, You are so right its the little things that count, I have made leaps and bounds in my posing techniques learned from you, its made such a difference and the clients love that you go the extra mile to make sure all is perfect.
    Thanks too for taking the time out to post durind such a busy schedule, can't wait to learn about your new reflector and huge umbrella.

  2. David,
    This series is great! Please keep it up!

  3. The chair back is somewhat distracting IMO. Also, I would prefer if she was sitting taller and then lean over her waist.

  4. Wish Don Blair's 'body parts' book would be reprinted! Love your blog (and your book). Looking forward to your DC stop!