The San Francisco SMUG meeting saw a changing of the guard. Our leader of 3 years, Joey Chandler, has stepped down and handed the reins over to Tess Pierson Kefalonitis and Regas Chefas Kefalonitis. Bonnie, the representative from Bay Photo, remarked on how much she enjoyed Joey’s meet ups and presented him with a generous gift from the company.
Hanson Fong, a San Francisco wedding and portrait photographer and a Canon Explorer of Light, spoke to our meeting. His talk, entitled “The Art of Lighting and Posing”, illustrated his portrait style which also utilized a few interesting props that he markets.
His top 2 tips seem logical, but he could not emphasize them enough:
- make the women look good
- make the person paying the bills look important.
Fong’s posing techniques involve:
- positioning people so that exaggerated differences are minimized
- people of similar stature are differentiated
- helping larger folks appear smaller
Fong offers several unusual products that most photographers do not offer. He sells tinted flash reflectors to help cool or warm a scene. His EZ-Step product was a clean way to easily add a few inches to a subject’s height, either sitting or standing, and helps create triangle- and W-style group portraits.
You can read extended notes from this meeting and others by joining the San Francisco SMUG on Facebook.
The San Francisco SMUG welcomed their speaker of the month, Emilio Banuelos, as he discussed the aspects of documentary and street photography. Street photography requires a unique level of interaction with the subject.
Banuelos relates with those he photographs by sharing their experience. Rather than snapping a picture and walking away, he speaks with them and carefully takes the time to get the right picture. He structures his work in projects with an overlying theme about the rituals of life and the pursuit of happiness. He goes into the community and returns his work to the community.
He showed us pictures from his Greyhound America project in which he traveled to the 4 corners of the country on Greyhound buses, getting to know and photographing his fellow passengers. These are not people on vacation. They are disconnected people, traveling to a new job and or escaping from an old one, starting a new life or needing to travel inexpensively for other circumstances. He spent days eating, sleeping and talking with them, learning their stories which he translates into pictures.
He offered a few tips on improving your street photos:
- When the subject looks directly at you, the photographer becomes invisible
- Always carry your camera with you. “If you have your camera, you don’t need to go out and photograph, you just need to go out.”
- Don’t hide your camera, and you become “the photographer”
- Until someone says no, it means yes
- Avoid conflict. If you defy the police, expect to be detained
- You typically do not need a model release for editorial and art photos, but you do for commercial work
- Print out your top 15 pictures and look at them every day. Your new pictures must be that good or better
You can read the extended article on his Facebook page.
The San Francisco SMUG had a great turnout for their latest meeting at the Sports Basement with special guest, Jessica Quintal. Jessica Quintal offers portrait sessions for high school seniors and families, along with weddings and engagement shoots.
She began the meeting by outlining her techniques for posing clients, as she takes many cues from fashion magazines. The model poses in the magazines are often extreme and can be toned down for your clients but can still have the same exciting effects.
- Crossing the legs can create and/or enhance shape.
- Place a hand behind the neck and under the hair.
- A step to the side can create some motion or tension.
- Move the hair behind an ear, with or without a hand.
- Tilt the client’s head down and then look up with the eyes at the camera.
- If there is a wall, touch it.
- hold the wrists, pick at the nails or twirl the hair.
- Accessories can help, like hats, which is one of Jessica’s favorites props to use.
- Ask them to bring their hands up along their body and then hug themselves.
Jessica also gave us some great advice for our businesses:
- Confidence – Be confident and positive when working with the client. It will lighten the situation and put them at ease. Show them several poses at a time.
- Communication – Be as clear and up front as you can be.
- Creativity – Do anything you want. Get your client involved in the environment, touching things and using the surroundings. Use props and accessories like umbrellas, scarves and hats (and not just on their heads).
- Use your resources – Send your clients pictures of what styles you want them to wear or at least the color tones they should stick to. Pinterest is a good resource for clothing examples.
All in all, give your clients something they were not expecting. Make them a model for the day.
Jessica’s super power is that, when meeting the client for the session, she immediately creates a friendly relationship. She is always happy, very talkative, able to quickly size up the client, and put them at ease.
Gina, Jessica’s marketing correspondent, gave a few valuable marketing tips.
- Know your client base and how to communicate to them – High school seniors respond well to text messages, while older clients answer email or phone calls.
- Keep it simple – Jessica basically offers 2 packages- shoot you the way you show up or create a full-blown stylized session.
- Facebook may be their best marketing site.
Thank you to Jessica and Gina for a spirited talk, and a unique perspective on the portrait photography business!