Monday, December 04, 2006

ON PORTRAITURE






















I was going through a sort of quiet desperation in my photography workshop during the past two weeks; particularly with our weekly portrait assignment. For the most part, no one was interested to become my subject of study, except for my mother who did it because she probably felt bad for me. However, she proved to be a difficult model; I don’t blame her, the bright sun hurt her eyes.

On the other hand, I do all right with our other assignment — still life. I immensely enjoy its entire process, including hunting for objects in the house and out in the yard to use in my composition. And in the past two sessions, those I had submitted generated valuable critiques and recommendations on alternative points of view from our instructor, Ador Pamintuan. Where I was having major problems with, undoubtedly, were in portraiture.

Everyone else in my workshop seems to be having a wonderful time with both the portrait and still life assignments as evidenced by the photos they have been submitting. There is even this one guy in class, Sloane, whose submissions are consistently evocative; not to mention that he only uses a point and shoot digital camera. And last week, he topped off his past submissions with photos using an alluring model whom I immediately suspected as a professional; however, she turned out to be a regular person, but the way Sloane composed his photographs made her look like a seasoned print model.

As I drove home last Saturday, it dawned upon me that perhaps, I might have been approaching the subjects of my portraiture with the same demeanor as with the inanimate objects of my still lifes; that to succeed in capturing a good shot involves developing the rapport with the subjects or models.

And as luck would have it, I was given that opportunity. My college age niece was at the house visiting my mother with her entire family when I got home. And when she told me that she is still going out with her boyfriend for more than a year now — he subsidizes his college expenses as a runway model — an idea suddenly struck me. I told her that if she weren’t doing anything the next day to come back and bring her boyfriend so I could use them as my models for my final assignment submission due this coming Saturday. She was excited to do it. I guess, it was her way to realize a secret longing she shares with many teenage girls; that is to lead a glamorous life of a model.

She returned early the following day with her boyfriend in tow. I purposely took my time in setting up a makeshift studio area. I wanted them to lose any jitters and acclimate totally to the environment. When I announced that we were ready to start our shoot, they were both feeling comfortably relaxed and raring to go.

My niece knew nothing about modeling, but her boyfriend was able to coach her with ways to project certain emotions or attitudes. Although she proved to be a quick study, her younger sister (in the second photo) seemed more comfortable and a natural in front of the camera.

It took many shots before I was finally able to draw out from them certain moods I wanted them to convey; one of which was reflected in the photo above. When I was framing this shot, I used as inspiration one of my favorite songs recorded by Shirley Horn entitled, Estate (summer in Italian). If somehow you can get a hold of this recording (or the version of Joao Gilberto’s), you will agree that this song would make an ideal soundtrack for this portrait.

For this Saturday, the photograph I will be submitting was inspired by a song written by Antonio Carlos Jobim, Like a Lover, but the version recorded by Sarah Vaughn; not by Sergio Mendez and Brasil 66.

posted by Señor Enrique at 1:03 PM


25 Comments:

Blogger carlotta said...

i remember that my cousins and i used to pose for each other in the wackiest/funniest/most dramatic mood we could--on the motorcycle, bathroom, stairs, sampayan, etc. you should have asked me to be your model hehehe.

December 04, 2006 1:36 PM  

Anonymous niceheart said...

Wow, eric. Malapit ka nang maging professional photographer. You have lovely models.

December 04, 2006 1:50 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Aha! Okay, Carla ... I'll take you up on that one. I have another workshop to attend early next year and I will definitely call you ... hehehe!




You wouldn't believe this, Irene ... I have been taking pictures for many many years, but never learned the fundamental manual settings of an SLR camera; now I am!

I expect a photograper's pass from Reggie when he visits Manila to do a concert!!! :)

December 04, 2006 2:44 PM  

Anonymous tito said...

you'll soon have a new career Eric :)

i've yet to attend a formal photography workshop and i seldom find the time to practice. :(

btw, watch out for my blog and Ferdz about our unplanned trip last saturday-- a whirlwind tour of Manila!
backpack and unplanned as i always wanted it with lots of pictures

December 04, 2006 6:23 PM  

Blogger Sidney said...

I really like both pictures. The first one is great. Almost a picture for a magazine or a frame out of a movie. Two beautiful models. Excellent.
The second one is probably more candid and my first choice. There is something special in her expression.

Well Eric, what do you think? Is shooting people not more fun than shooting a bowl of ponkan? ;-)

And you chose to do it the hard way.
Not many people feel at ease in front of a camera.(I hate to be photographed). A formal photo shoot is in my opinion much more difficult than candid shots where people don't think about the camera.

And what about a self-portrait ! :-)

December 04, 2006 7:52 PM  

Anonymous kyels said...

Shooting people is fun because you get to capture their most intriguing expressions most of the time. I love portraitures because it gives you the opportunity to expand your creative thinking skills on how you want to manipulate the natural light and also the pose that the models can pose for the picture.

Nice pictures Eric! Ang galing!

(:

December 04, 2006 9:40 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Spontaneity is one of the keys to a fun-filled existence, Tito, and I'm sure you and Ferdz had a great time. I can't wait to see the pictures that you took

I know you are busy with your business but you have got to take some time off and enjoy your camera!

December 04, 2006 10:11 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

That little girl, Sidney, is a true natural. It was also fun to observe her mother having a ball as well while we were doing the shoot (she is our adopted sister). She took care of doing their make-up.


Shooting people is fun but the problem I had was no one wanted to do portraiture (most seemed embarrassed). A nephew did it for five shots and then weaseled 20 bucks off me so he could run to the computer game shop.

Candid shots are most fun for both photographer and subjects, studio-type shoots are challenging mainly because you need someone who knows what to do in front of the camera. I had a successful shoot last Sunday only because my niece's boyfriend knew what he was doing and my niece was able to follow his lead.

When I first dabbled in photography, almost half of my shots were self-portraits, but through the years I focused more on my subjects and less of me. But I do intend to go back to doing self-portraits when I get much older.

December 04, 2006 10:25 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Thanks, Kyels.

Once I learn more about lighting, I will do more portraits. And by that time I can work out a deal with up and coming models who would give their time in exchange for a CD of the photos from the shoot.

There is one photographer I most admire in this field -- Annie Leibowitz. She does most of the covers of Vanity Fair. Once I ran into her, of all places, in a subway when I was heading downtown. She is a very nice and friendly person.

BTW, you seem to be enjoying your camera club there, too!

December 04, 2006 10:31 PM  

Anonymous cruise said...

pahusay na ng pahusay, ganda ngmga portraits. susunod nyan may studio ka na.

December 05, 2006 12:32 AM  

Anonymous iskoo said...

yung kasamahan ko sa ofc nag-aaral din ng pagkuha ng portrait, may mga model siya willing mag posing kapalit ng kopya ng picture.

try mo rin self portrait tapos post mo dito :)

December 05, 2006 12:34 AM  

Blogger Senorito<- Ako said...

Nice shots... It just occured to me how much psychology is needed to have your models at ease. :)

Shoot several pics in succession so you don't miss out on "the shot" I think D80 has a very decent buffer for such demands. AF-C (shutter priority) I think is what they call it in nikonland.

December 05, 2006 4:38 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

I think ang isa sa mga sekreto dito, Cruise, ay ang pag-master ng pag-basa ng existing light at pag-gawa o pag-ayos ng artificial lighting on the subject. Pag itong bagay na ito ay naintindihan ko na ng mabuti, lalakas na loob ko gumawa pa ng maraming portrait shots. Sa ngayon, dapat practice lagi.

December 05, 2006 5:37 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Alam mo, Iskoo, laking tulong ng pagaaral o pag-attend ng mga seminar sa photography lalo na sa pag-meet ng iba-ibang tao. Dito sa school ko sa FPPF sa Intramuros makaka-meet ako ng mga mga make-up artist, hair stylist, food stylist at mga assistant kasi big production din ang mga photo shoot, eh. Mas maganda kung may backup ka.

December 05, 2006 5:41 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Another excellent tip from you, S.A.! I will defnitely use this. I have been practicing with aperture priority, but now that you told me, I should explore shutter priority mode.

I had already set my camera for the Adobe RGB as you had adviced, as for the RAW, not yet, but soon I'm sure.

There's so much to know and do with a D80 that it can get overwhelming at times. Hopefully soon everything will just gel and I'll become a productive master of this fine camera.

Thanks for the tips!

December 05, 2006 5:46 AM  

Blogger Sidney said...

Wow Eric, you met Annie Leibowitz?
She is indeed one of the best.

"And by that time I can work out a deal with up and coming models who would give their time in exchange for a CD of the photos from the shoot."

I have a friend who just do that. Many girls want to become a model but they need a portefolio to show to model agencies first. A small add in the newspaper is enough.
Probably it is the same in the Philippines.

Do your best so that I can tell my grandchildren later on that I was a friend of the famous Filipino portraitist Señor Enrique when I was young... ;-)

December 05, 2006 6:03 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Yes, I did, Sidney! Very nice person she is. I buy/read Vanity Fair not only for its great articles -- from politics to music -- but most of all to check out Annie's portrait and glamour shots. Outstanding!

Black and white (monochrome)is still an area I have to explore besides lighting -- great for models' or actors' headshots. Might be better if I were to hook up with a local modelling or acting school once I'm ready.

December 05, 2006 7:17 AM  

Anonymous kyels said...

Eric, seems like we share the same idol in photography. 'Cause I love Annie Leibowitz too! Also do check out Eolo Perfido, he's good too.

(:

I love taking photographs. When I've the chance, I'll share with you portraits of models that I've taken.

You'd do good!

December 05, 2006 8:50 PM  

Anonymous bw said...

That's exciting indeed. I hope I can get to the kind of class you are into. Very educational :)

December 05, 2006 10:27 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

It is really very informative, BW, and I'm glad I listened to my intuition -- that by expanding my horizon, I will enjoy this hobby even more.

Incidentally, I must admit that I was partly inspired by our brief discussion about your entry on the merit of "continued education." I am the oldest geezer in this class (older than the instructors, in fact) but definitely younger than everyone in terms of spirit and enthusiasm to learn (I'm always the first to arrive in school) ... hehehe.

Check out the various continuing school programs in your area, BW. I'm sure one will offer a class in photography. And then "make" the time to attend it :)

December 06, 2006 5:24 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

There's indeed many masters in portraiture, Kyels, but somehow I am in awe of Annie's style and technique.

Yes ... please share some of your portraiture :) I plan to do more of it and in monochrome as well.

I had just googled Eolo Perfido and so far impressed by the first series of photographs in his online portfolio.

Thanks!

December 06, 2006 5:37 AM  

Anonymous manilenya said...

nice naman ang gagaling ng mga model mo, naiinggit tuloy ako :)
saan ka po nag-aaral diyan? at magkano naman :)

December 06, 2006 4:52 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Hi Nalen! Sa PhotoWorld Manila sa Intramuros. P2500 lang (4 sessions). Suggest ko kung talaga hilig mo photography, attend ka ng workshop kasi dami mo matututunan!

December 06, 2006 6:11 PM  

Blogger Lemuel Ragasa said...

hi senor,

mas madali mag papose pagka yung model ang nagrequest sa yo na magpakuha ng litrato. kung ikaw ang magrequest, yung pressure e nasa kanya kaya hindi natural ang kuha ayon sa iyong panlasa.

gusto ko rin sana makapag seminar ng photography kaso yung dalawang problema ko ay lagi na lang hindi tugma. kung me panahon ako wala naman pera; at kung me pera naman walang panahon. :(

sana maging dalubhasa ka sa pagpicture. gusto ko subaybayan kagaya ng pagsubaybay ko sa mga sulat mo.

lemuel

December 07, 2006 5:41 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Hello Lemuel ... tama ka nga. Dapat gusto nila makunan para mas cooperative sila at di nahihiya lagi.

Sa darating na January, ang binibalak kong kunin na workshop naman ay basic photography at hindi ang advanced photography. Ang dahilan ko ay ito: the more I master the basic and fundamental elements, the easier it will be for me to develop advance skills.

Iba din ang makihalo-bilo sa mga ibang photo enthusiasts pag nag photo taking trip kasi madami ka ding matututunan. Ang napansin ko ay ang mga mahihilig sa isang bagay ay mahilig ding mag-share ng kanilang mga kaalaman. Malay mo, baka dumating din panahon mag-organize tayo ng photoshooting trip na tayong lahat! Ang gusto ko nga, eh, sa Avilon Zoo sa Montalban.

Salamat sa pagbisita ... dalaw ka uli!

December 07, 2006 7:06 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Life in Manila as observed by a former New Yorker who with a laptop and camera has reinvented himself as a storyteller. Winner of the PHILIPPINE BLOG AWARDS: Best Photo Blog in 2007 and three Best Single Post awards in 2008.

 
 

About Me

Name: Señor Enrique
Location: Manila, Philippines

View my complete profile

Links


www.flickr.com
This is a Flickr badge showing photos in a set called Flickr Badge. Make your own badge here.
 
 
Señor Enrique Home
Designed by The Dubai Chronicles.
All rights and lefts reserved.