Entries in Kiki (17)
There are not many chances to get a portrait made with me and Kiki. When I try self-portraits, Kiki looks like she is being tortured. Otherwise, I have to resort to composite photo gimmicks. So I was glad that photo student Stacy was able to make one of Kiki and I using the same lighting setup I had just used to photograph her daughters in her house for their Christmas Card photo. Kiki still looks a bit tortured, but at least she is looking at the camera this time!
Long time DSLR photography student Stacy invited me to her home to photograph her daughters for their family Christmas card. She said I could bring Kiki along as well (more about this below). This was an unusual shoot as Stacy worked with me to learn how to make portraits and I used much of her own photography gear (note the use of a Nikon D4 for all these shots!). I had shown her my wedding couple wrapped in Christmas lights shot before, which we did with the three sisters for the above image.
When editing this black & white image I wanted mainly the lights of the tree to be visible in the background framing the girls.
Using the new 2x teleconverter Stacy recently got, I took advantage of an effective 400mm focal length to create extreme bokeh in the background of the above shot of the same Christmas tree lights used in the B&W shot.
A more formal shot before the lit fireplace, which made things pretty hot for the girls, but throughout our shoot they were great and knew how to get into proper positions unprompted! It was like working with professional models!
Now when I try to photograph Kiki she is never happy about it and ends up looking like a sad puppy (see here). However, she was all too willing to get into every photo with the girls and smile! For the piano shot we let a sleeping dog lie and framed the portrait around her. She just wanted to participate and be involved!
It was a fun shoot and a chance for me to try a few new things shooting inside someone's home, as I most often shoot outside on location. I look forward to seeing the photos in print on Stacy's family Christmas card!
Getting in close to your subject is one way to immediately add more impact to the photograph. Once you think you have gotten in as close as you should, try going in even closer. This is especially true for portraits, as seen above in the portrait of Kiki seemingly in deep thought. The framing only reveals her right eye and some of her head leaving all else a mystery to the viewer.
It helps to use a macro lens to make this kind of shot. Another good way is to use a long focal length (200mm+).
The get close, and then get closer composition style also works for group portraits, not just single subject portraits. In the above example showing the groom and groomsmen head to toe is a fine shot, but the viewer feels distant from the subject. Zooming in and composing a much tighter shot reveals each person's individual character more and makes for a much more personal experience for the viewer.
Try getting much closer than you normally do in composing your shots and let me know in the comments below what the results were.
After making a headshot for a client in my home photography studio, while I had all the lights setup, I tried to coerce Kiki into letting me make a photograph of her. She is very, very reluctant to do so for some reason being very resistant to the whole idea. So this time I put her favorite chair in frotn of a white background (though later digitally edited for a pure white background) and had her curl up into it in her usual manner. She spends a lot of time lying down like this staring out the sliding glass door beside my work desk.
She was actually facing into the living room and not out the window, her distant look is just her trying to avoid looking at me and into the lens!
How can you make a unique photograph? How can you push the bounds of what a photograph can be? A single exposure, a single shot, that can create a great pet photograph no doubt. However, it is limiting in just how unique a shot can be. I am always thinking of ways to make unique and interesting pet photography shots, and photographs in general. In the above composite photograph of me and my beloved puppy Kiki, I took a shot I made of Kiki over a year ago and combined it with a self-portrait I just made this afternoon. Below is how I did it:
I already had the shot of Kiki edited onto a white background. The original photo was mostly white in the background, but I still used the Quick Select Tool in Photoshop to cut Kiki out of it and then paint in a digital background. I have that photo printed out and on a shelf in my bedroom so I see it every day. It popped into my head recently to put myself into that image to make it appear that Kiki was about to swallow me. There was not enough space under her upper jaw for me to really be seen, so instead I used a flipped self-portrait in a perspective showing me to be actually smaller than Kiki, adding to the uniqueness and strangeness of the final composite image.