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Capturing personality #29616
05/25/10 08:32 PM
05/25/10 08:32 PM
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TN
Julie Offline OP
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Julie  Offline OP
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A spin off on James thread, which interestingly got into a topic that is worth talking about. We all see and feel things differently and I think that is reflected in how we portray our subjects. We take what we see at that moment and put our own personal spin on it. Finding what the owners see and what they want to see of their family member

Here are a few I have done recently.




























Re: Capturing personality [Re: Julie] #29617
05/26/10 06:38 AM
05/26/10 06:38 AM
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Florida
Jim Garvie Offline
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Jim Garvie  Offline
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Florida
Julie,
these are all great but the mouse is amazing! And, yes, I agree that it's important to understand what the owners are looking for in their portrait. How they see their pet.

When you go to the homes of the animals and can watch the interaction within the family, I think that helps a lot. You don't always get to see that when they come into the studio. But, I agree that our job is to capture the essential personality of the animal we are photographing. Bringing people into the portrait helps, I think. The image of the Dobe and the little girl is outstanding in that regard. This Xmas portrait really brought out the personality of the dogs and their owners.



As did this one of the Boston Terrier and his owners.



BTW, I love your use of props. Great stuff.

Jim


Jim Garvie
www.jagphoto.biz
Re: Capturing personality [Re: Jim Garvie] #29618
05/27/10 01:54 PM
05/27/10 01:54 PM
Joined: Feb 2005
Manhattan, New York, New York
James Morrissey Offline
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James Morrissey  Offline
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Hey Guys,

First things first - great photos...from both Julie and Jim. I think that this has the potential to be a great thread. When we talk about 'capturing personality,' I think that we need to be careful. Capturing personality is just that - it is photographing what is unique to a subject and bringing it out.

I can say that when I look at these photographs that they are animated, but unless I actually KNOW the subject, I have no idea what the personality is. It may be that the personality of the mouse coming out the heart shaped box was captured...but is it really? Do we really know the unique subject enough to determine that the personality was brought out?

James

Re: Capturing personality [Re: James Morrissey] #29619
05/27/10 02:57 PM
05/27/10 02:57 PM
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TN
Julie Offline OP
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Julie  Offline OP
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James, do the photos make you feel something toward the animal? That is the goal. If they don't make you imagine the animal doing something, then they don't have personality. Its a photo of a dog, or a photo of a cat.

That's what moves it into a new level. All photos of ANY subject should make you feel *something* toward what is pictured. If it doesn't, it is just a photo.

Re: Capturing personality [Re: James Morrissey] #29620
05/27/10 03:01 PM
05/27/10 03:01 PM
Joined: May 2010
Florida
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Holly Offline
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Florida
I personally find that it's not so much that we are necessarily capturing the "personality" of the pet, but rather the mannerisms and facial expressions that are easily attributable to the pet and recognizable to the pet parent. I love it when someone says something to the affect of "My dog makes that funny expression with her ears perked up whenever we're about to go on a walk - I love that you got a photo of that!"

I always strive to get as many natural expressions and actions/postures shots as possible. I personally will not know which exact expression/mannerism will bring out that gut reaction from the client, but hopefully with enough variety, I'll hit the mark.

Re: Capturing personality [Re: James Morrissey] #29621
05/27/10 05:40 PM
05/27/10 05:40 PM
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Florida
Jim Garvie Offline
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Jim Garvie  Offline
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Florida
James,
I come at portraits from the position of shooting show formals where you don't really get to see any personality of either the dogs or the handlers. They are soooo boooooring . But, that's the genre and that's what you have to shoot for.

With portraits, we really work to get some reaction from our subjects -- whether pets or people actually. So, using props, food, squeekys, toys, etc. anything that will get a reaction from the subject is fair game. Is it "cheating" to coax expression out of the animals? I don't think so. Their reactions are true to themselves. For example, a dog with very little play personality, won't cock it's head for a squeeky. A cat with the lights on, will give you the type of pose you see in so many of Preston's images.

Julie points out that the image should produce some type of emotional reaction. The mouse made me literally go "wow"; your shots of Yoshi, the stray kitten, made me say "great kitten". Those images conveyed something that made me react to them. I believe that's the objective.

Now, I'll admit that you can't always get what you want (was that a Rolling Stones song?). Some animals won't react in a particular situation; some will only react to their owners; some won't react at all. But, I think beyond getting it right technically, that's the challenge in pet photography. Getting them to show us themselves. Isn't that the same as with people portraits? Why should animals be any different?

Jim


Jim Garvie
www.jagphoto.biz
Re: Capturing personality [Re: Jim Garvie] #29622
05/28/10 09:41 AM
05/28/10 09:41 AM
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Virginia, USA
Jim Poor Offline
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Jim Poor  Offline
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Virginia, USA
I think what James is talking about is; Capturing personality is one thing, but capturing the correct personality is another all together.

We might like to see a happy, bubbly mastiff, but what if there is nothing happy or bubbly about that dog in reality?

I capture the "wrong" personality quite often when doing rescue photos. I make the shrinking violet look outgoing and happy, I make the scared to death puppy look thrilled to be in front of the camera. My goal in this case, is to get folks to meet the dogs, then they can decide if the personality is a fit for them.

When doing portraits, I don't think it would serve us very well to capture a "personality" in the image that has nothing to do with a dog.

On the head cocking, I haven't met a dog yet that I couldn't get that out of if I tried hard enough, but then what's the point if that isn't a "normal" behavior?

Re: Capturing personality [Re: Jim Poor] #29623
05/28/10 11:57 AM
05/28/10 11:57 AM
Joined: Mar 2005
Florida
Jim Garvie Offline
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Jim Garvie  Offline
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Florida
Jim,
capturing the "correct" personality assumes that you know what it is. Often, a one or two-hour photo session isn't enough time to get to know an animal so well that you can tell a "false" personality from the "correct" one. So I pretty much assume that what the animal shows me is what he/she is. And, when it comes to dogs at least, I have magic hands so I get good interaction from them. I've also shot my fair share of rescues and, generally speaking, if I can get them to show some personality -- which is the objective since we're trying to get them adopted -- it is in fact a true representation of what the dog is really like.

While I do agree that it's easier to find the right expression when you really know the animals well, I don't think that getting animals to be animated in a portrait session forces them to show an "incorrect" personality. Under those circumstances, that's how they behaved. There's nothing incorrect about that. However, I think you are more likely to capture the true essence of a particular animal if you reduce the stress of the situation by shooting them in their home environment, with available light, with things and people they love, etc. Unfortunately, we can't always do that. So what we get in our studios with strobes flashing away is what they are in that environment at that moment in time. Which is also part of their personalities.

Jim


Jim Garvie
www.jagphoto.biz
Re: Capturing personality [Re: Jim Garvie] #29624
05/28/10 01:46 PM
05/28/10 01:46 PM
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TN
Julie Offline OP
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Julie  Offline OP
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This is where the thinking stops and the feeling start. You don't THINK about it, you feel it. Its not a tangible and if you just let things sorta happen, you WILL get the essence of a dog or a person. Light them well, interact with them and where they are will not make a difference.

Its a comment I get a lot, that I capture the essence of the subject. I am sure I miss sometimes. I would say that is reflected in my sales how well I did

Re: Capturing personality [Re: Julie] #29625
05/28/10 04:16 PM
05/28/10 04:16 PM
Joined: Jun 2005
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Julie Offline OP
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Julie  Offline OP
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OK, I think this album will illustrate what I mean by capturing personality or emotion. I am linking it because of the comments. I had less than 1 minute with each person. It was chaotic, it was crazy and it was important.

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=429611&id=84868100230

The photos make ME cry. So, they do what they are supposed to. They tell a story and make you feel.

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