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Old 09-08-2011   #1
HLing
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Discretion - I have none

I don't know if anyone else have this problem, but it's a problem and is putting a damper on the photographing experience. I'm wondering if you all can help?

It's been good practice taking pictures at events. It's especially nice to capture joyful moments and special light, and sometimes BOTH. More and more though, I'll get feedback that someone doesn't like how he/she looks in the picture, and how could I post a picture when it "clearly" isn't a good picture of so and so. It still takes me several times looking at said picture to realize that maybe this person thinks it makes him or her... "look fat", or "like I have a big nose"...etc. And then suddenly, the joy of the capture is deflated, and I just feel like such a terrible person.

Am I insensitive? Is there a way for me to know better what people might find offensive?
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Old 09-08-2011   #2
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No, people are just insecure. There must be a fulcrum between subject and photographer.
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Old 09-08-2011   #3
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Old 09-08-2011   #4
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are they paying you to take their portrait/make them look good?

if not then maybe they should be quiet....
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Old 09-08-2011   #5
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I think Harry S. Said it well. Many people are insecure. One of my better portaits was acknowledged by the person as a good photo but she still asked me not to publish it. I didn't. I also suppose that there are so many Photoshopped images of people out there that some people may consider them to be how they should look: glamorous. There are people who are so unself conscious that it is easy to take a really good phot oof them. Other people seem to shrivel in front of the camera. Insecurity as Harry S. said.
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Old 09-08-2011   #6
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This might seem a little obvious but you're not shooting a wide angle lens are you? They aren't that flattering for portraits. Big noses, fat heads, fat arms at the edge of the frame all sounds a bit like a sub 50mm lens. If not then I'm with others, people are generally insecure and have little experience looking at and appreciating themselves in photographs.
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Old 09-08-2011   #7
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it's a combination of insecurity and a preconceived notion of what someone should look like in a photograph (some people will think any photograph of them not staring directly at the camera and putting on a cheesy grin is terrible simply because they don't think any thing else classifies as a portrait) When photographing for clients these days, I show them EVERYTHING, because you simply can not know what their taste is...if i'm photographing for myself, i send them a photograph they like, then scrap it out of my own edit.
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Old 09-09-2011   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by redisburning View Post
are they paying you to take their portrait/make them look good?

if not then maybe they should be quiet....
for me, the more important question is:
Do you want them to look "good"?

more:
Do you like how they look in your pictures?
is it how you see them as they are?

Do you take pictures to please them? or please yourself?

And, finally:
Are you pleased with your pictures?
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Old 09-09-2011   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HLing View Post
I don't know if anyone else have this problem, but it's a problem and is putting a damper on the photographing experience. I'm wondering if you all can help?

It's been good practice taking pictures at events. It's especially nice to capture joyful moments and special light, and sometimes BOTH. More and more though, I'll get feedback that someone doesn't like how he/she looks in the picture, and how could I post a picture when it "clearly" isn't a good picture of so and so. It still takes me several times looking at said picture to realize that maybe this person thinks it makes him or her... "look fat", or "like I have a big nose"...etc. And then suddenly, the joy of the capture is deflated, and I just feel like such a terrible person.

Am I insensitive? Is there a way for me to know better what people might find offensive?
I get the same thing, from my female friends. I don't get it:

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Old 09-09-2011   #10
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Gallery pic of the week. Absolute gold.
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Old 09-09-2011   #11
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Could it be they don't want their faces out there for strangers to see? Do you ask for your friend's permission before posting?
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Old 09-09-2011   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rayt View Post
Could it be they don't want their faces out there for strangers to see? Do you ask for your friend's permission before posting?
Sharing the picture is not the issue Ray. It's that you took it at all: "Why would you take a picture of me looking like that?"

I can't answer for HLing, but in my case, I can offer no excuse.
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Old 09-09-2011   #13
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I put a picture of a friend of mine in the gallery and she hated it when she saw it ... seriously hated it and tore strips of me for taking it!

She's a person I would never point a camera at again in a social situation.
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Old 09-09-2011   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HLing View Post
I don't know if anyone else have this problem, but it's a problem and is putting a damper on the photographing experience. I'm wondering if you all can help?

It's been good practice taking pictures at events. It's especially nice to capture joyful moments and special light, and sometimes BOTH. More and more though, I'll get feedback that someone doesn't like how he/she looks in the picture, and how could I post a picture when it "clearly" isn't a good picture of so and so. It still takes me several times looking at said picture to realize that maybe this person thinks it makes him or her... "look fat", or "like I have a big nose"...etc. And then suddenly, the joy of the capture is deflated, and I just feel like such a terrible person.

Am I insensitive? Is there a way for me to know better what people might find offensive?
Such a common problem. Whilst often I don't like how I look in photos, some people have such a reaction that it makes you not want to photograph them at all.

I'd say, if it's not too much trouble, and you care about these people's opinions, perhaps ask them to select a photo out of what you took, and you're absolved of blame.

If you have problems with particular people, simply stop using pictures of them. Their vanity may mean they don't want imperfect photos of themselves to be posted, but it will also probably make them not want to be left out either, and they may come to be a little more reasonable about what photos may be used.
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Old 09-09-2011   #15
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The problem is that everyone wants to look like the celebs in Hello magazine, or similar. Such magazines depict endless C list celebs who used to be nobodies but became famous because they started dating a footballer or sitcom actor. They removed the gulf between the average person and 'celebrity photos.' People have become obsessed with their own image, esp when in the public domain. Hell, look at some people's facebook habits: some create shrines to themselves.

Unless you are taking the photos to make people feel less insecure, then stop caring what they think. After all, are you not taking photos to give feel for the events? If you allow your activities to become all about them you are on a very slippery slope and your photography will become much more difficult. Be sympathetic when you can (and obviously don't publicly use anything humiliating), but don't worry about it otherwise.

Can you imagine if Henri Cartier Bresson tried to do what he did while working in the caveat "I must make everyone look truly beautiful"? He'd have a portfolio of about ten photos.
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Old 09-09-2011   #16
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I don't take photographs of how people would like to see themselves, but of how given forms look from a certain perspective in a precise moment. really, you don't need to worry so much. also, Turtle makes a good point.
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Old 09-09-2011   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith View Post
I put a picture of a friend of mine in the gallery and she hated it when she saw it ... seriously hated it and tore strips of me for taking it!

She's a person I would never point a camera at again in a social situation.
Or you could do her a favour and point a camera at her EVERY time you see her! Send prints to her in Christmas cards every year.
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Old 09-09-2011   #18
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If they are family or friends, you really can't stop caring what they think. Find their comfort level and go with it. Maybe they don't mind being photographed, but don't want their picture posted. Maybe they want veto power. Maybe they'll just say don't take my picture.

A few people have good reasons, other than insecurity, for wanting to keep their pictures off the net. They probably aren't going to tell you those reasons. Otherwise, for strangers you won't see again, I say have at it.
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Old 09-09-2011   #19
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Only photograph strangers.

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Old 09-09-2011   #20
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I get the same thing, from my female friends. I don't get it:

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Old 09-09-2011   #21
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I really don't mean to be anything other than constructive, but as you say 'events', I'm assuming it's party or wedding photography, be it paid or doing it as a favour, there will be an expectation that the photographs will hopefully flatter, or at least not be unflattering. If your getting a lot of negative comments maybe you should assess your work critically and see if they have a point.
I haven't seen your work and it may be as said that they're just a being a bit paranoid about how others see them but my experience, and I photograph and put on line thousands of photographs every year of guests at weddings, and it's very rarely that I get asked to remove any, and then it's usually just a couple. I try not to take unflattering shots, and you learn things along the way, like people don't usually look there best with a smile at full tilt, don't photograph people when they're just looking blank, always look for the best light, never when they're eating etc etc.
Think Mario Testino and less Martin Parr, I love both there work, but who would you want to cover your wedding. Actually this forum would probably vote for Martin Parr, but you get the idea.

Last edited by bobbyrab : 09-09-2011 at 07:01. Reason: typo
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Old 09-09-2011   #22
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What and who are you taking the pictures for?

There's plenty of advice here to say "stop worrying about it," which is true enough; the whole celeb photoshopping for magazines thing has had its affect on peoples perceptions as mentioned. I know portrait photographers who use only knowledge and lighting to get the most flattering results yet have had sitters come back disappointed because the last photographer to take their portrait used software such as Portrait Pro to radically adjust the structure of their faces, skin tones etc etc. Also, when people look in the mirror they tend to look straight on at themselves, when they view a picture of themselves they see how they look to others, the slight double chin is more obvious, the back of their head appears slightly flatter than they imagined or they see the 'muffin-tops' poking over their jeans that they subconciously avoid looking at normally. Images may be all around us these days but an image of yourself always gets more scrutiny from yourself than any other....'tis only human nature.

If you want to be able to shoot in a more flattering manner then its worth reading up on the effects different lenses have, how different lighting will sculpt the face/body in different ways. Personally I'd suggest more knowledge, regardless of whether you use it specifically for its original purpose, is a good and very useful thing.

If you're photographing events over people and the people themselves aren't there to be flattered by you, concentrate on the event and how you want to show it.

As for people complaining that you haven't shown them in their best light, all I can say is get used to it - it won't happen all the time but it does happen and it happens to everyone. Enjoy your photography more and worry less
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Old 09-09-2011   #23
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Actually this forum would probably vote for Martin Parr, but you get the idea.


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Old 09-09-2011   #24
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Quote:
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This might seem a little obvious but you're not shooting a wide angle lens are you? They aren't that flattering for portraits. Big noses, fat heads, fat arms at the edge of the frame all sounds a bit like a sub 50mm lens. If not then I'm with others, people are generally insecure and have little experience looking at and appreciating themselves in photographs.
100% agreed, I only shoot portraits with 75mm or more for the 'compression' effect it gives. I had a lady that always complained that the pictures of her daughter made her look fat.... because she was, you cannot change that fact. If you're charging for the photos, you may look into a small telephoto lens, it'll do wonders for your sales.

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Old 09-09-2011   #25
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Quote:
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Am I insensitive? Is there a way for me to know better what people might find offensive?
Too sensitive.
If you have talent, earlier or later you will reach a point you must choose: would you be a nice guy or a successful photographer who [ignores] the thoughts of models or other people.

I would stay a nice guy... or not?
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Last edited by Doug : 09-18-2011 at 17:28. Reason: language
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Old 09-09-2011   #26
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discretion? like this?
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Old 09-09-2011   #27
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Two shot 28 years apart. She's okay with the early one on the left but said she'd kill me if I posted the one on the right (shot a month ago).... I still leave and breath (for now; she doesn't visit this site -- so lips sealed, you guys).

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you guys are the best!
Old 09-09-2011   #28
HLing
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you guys are the best!

It's nice to wake up to a wealth of support and guidance in your replies! Thank you all!

I've been in a "Forgo Food for Film" mode and just try to do as many sports event as I can. It's not for pay. It's for to capture moments on film, for maybe someday looking back to find in a drawer instead of on a hard drive. I didn't want to just shoot, but wanted to go through the process of reviewing at the end and be able to learn from what i'd seen at the moment and what actually came out in print.

The shot in this case was actually one of my favorite as it had the person receiving an award looking like the Spanish artist Juan Ferrandiz's "Boy with a hat full of stars" (in both the reflecting light and the delighted expression), what's more, all the people around were smiling and cheering on alone together, all their focus was on this person at this moment.

(I can't remember whether I used the 135 mm or 50 mm for this shot, but thanks, Paolo and Todd, for the tip on the "compress" look of the longer lens!)

I think that maybe at this moment this picture will not be liked, but in 10 years the person's focus will be shifted to the things I saw and liked, hopefully.

Chris101 and robklurfield you guys sure are living dangerously

p.s. Mario Testino and Martin Parr...I think a hybrid will be cool!

Last edited by HLing : 09-09-2011 at 09:41.
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Old 09-09-2011   #29
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The skaters were strangers and not particularly modest or self-conscious, so no worries there. The gal on the bed is my missus, so plenty to worry about in the diptych. On the other hand, she hasn't killed me yet (28 years and counting of marriage plus a couple of years courting), so maybe I'll be okay.

But seriously for a moment: I tend to be shy in life and in photography. Knowing that, I often force myself outside of my comfort zone socially and photographically. I also have moments when I surprise myself with something gregarious. Life is too short to always be worried about what others think of us, but if we never paid heed to the rest of the world everything would chaos. So, the trick, in my mind, is to find a happy medium. Not an easy balancing act, especially when the metaphoric ground regularly shifts beneath one's feet.
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Old 09-09-2011   #30
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......................... More and more though, I'll get feedback that someone doesn't like how he/she looks in the picture, and how could I post a picture when it "clearly" isn't a good picture of so and so. ................................. Am I insensitive? Is there a way for me to know better what people might find offensive?
I love my friends and family.

I really enjoy the photos I make, some are exhibited, other posted on-line or on my website.

Things go best when I keep the two totally separate. No one but friends and family ever see photos of friends and family.
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Old 09-09-2011   #31
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Bob gives good advice. Assume pix of friends and family won't be posted. If you have an extraordinary photo that demands publication, explain it to them and let them make the decision. No matter what, you have the picture. Don't trade a friend for a spot in a web gallery.
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Old 09-09-2011   #32
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I get the same thing, from my female friends. I don't get it:

Absolutely hilarious!

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Old 09-11-2011   #33
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I really enjoy taking "ugly" photos of my close friends and family. We only seem to take photos of ourselves on special occasions and what are those? Everybody crunched together forcing a smile. They're efficient but not very interesting. I take photos of my family and friends when we're all sitting at the dinner table talking, half asleep watching tv, or just hanging around in our down time. My dad always throws me a goofy face and my grandmother jokingly scolds me but thats our life and so it's worth photographing.

My grandmother after dinner.

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My good friend having a staring contest with my dog.

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