Portrait ideas – Free Posing

Free posing is one of the difficult things to do in front of camera.

Most of my clients are not professional models, usually I give a lot of instructions to help them to pose. Where to put the hands, the way they look, chin, neck and shoulder, I pose them to the most flattering position to compliment their features. Of course, I use posing and lighting to thin them down and to create the most attractive shape of their body.

But it’s a wonderful feeling to have free posing images. It’s natural, casual and fun.

So normally I use the dancing method, I ask them to dance in front of camera. And the dance I teach them to do is super simple, basically I just ask them to swing, swing to the left and swing to the right.

The way I dance here is a bit more like free style dance. I love dancing and I love to see the movement in the images, freeze the beautiful moments.

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Behind the scene.

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Me, being in front of camera

Recently I was being photographed by another photographer.

Photograph people and being photographed is totally different thing.

When I got the invitation for a small photo shoot session, I must admit that I really just wanted to refuse it. It’s kind of nervous, unknown, panic and it’s worse than going to a dentist. :crying:  At that moment if there was a choice between go to dentist or photo shoot, I would definitely go to dentist. Really, no kidding, I was as scared as that. :fear:  But another voice in my head, I have to try this, even I was afraid of being in front of camera and even I knew I would feel extremely uncomfortable.

I had to try this for all my clients.

Last time I was being photographed was like…..what?…10 years ago? That was with someone I trusted. In between this 10 years time, I only have self-portraits which I am quite happy about the results. I know how to photograph people and I am comfortable with myself. So self-portratis has been an on going fun project. :run:  Through this project, I also become a better photographer but I didn’t realize how people can be so nervous about a photo shoot until I had my photo taken by other photographer.

The good thing is I have always got positive feedback from my clients. They had good time and felt relaxed with me. And very happy with the result.

It’s a blessing to be able to make people happy, through the way I work.  :happy:

Facing the camera, photogenic or not?

Many people are shy or some even have the fear when facing the camera. Many of my clients told me that they think they’re not photogenic or they just don’t look good in front of camera. But I alway found the problem is not what they think is it.

They just simply don’t know how to express themselves in front of the camera and sometimes lack of confidence.

It’s like everything, for example, like playing valley ball or any other sport. If you have a good coach and you practice a lot, then you get better and eventually be good at it.

It’s the same with facing a camera and being photographed.

I like to talk to my client when I’m shooting. Sometimes I talk too much or I tell jokes to my client then I got the shots with lots of laughter. Well, that’s me, I always like a bit of girly talk and I love to see the beautiful smiles. Just because I love the smiles and the beautiful gaze so much that I try all sort of ways to get the natural look and smile. That’s how I get people to be relaxed when they meet me the first time.

Everyone is so different, through the chat and the pre shoot consultation, we communicate and my client and I get to know each other better. The first time I met Antonella, it was the shooting day, before that we only use emails to communicate. Like many people come to the shoot, she was nerves when she arrived.  We chatted and get to know each other, then slowly, she started to trust me, followed my instructions. Not only that we had many great shots also we had fun and a great time together.

That’s what I like about photographing people, I guide them throughout the shoot, they gain confident and they show the most amazing beauty of themselves to me. It’s like a magic when I get those beautiful shots, it’s rewarding. And they have those beautiful images of their portrait, become a life time treasure, can be pass on generation to generation.

I believe everyone has beauty in them.

Life has all kinds of possibilities and the beauty is not what it is, is how you make it.

Tutorial: Fixing discolouration – sweat on the shirt and suntanned bikini tan lines

Level: Intermediate

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One day a friend of mine in Taiwan sent me this photographs to me and crying for help. The story of this photograph starts with his sister was getting married and they had some pre wedding photos taken, my friend was one of his sister’s photographers and he got this nice shot of the happy couple. The problem was the weather was hot and humid and the groom couldn’t stop sweating. The sweat cause the discolouration on the groom’s shirt as the photo showed. My friend told me that the couple were going to have this photograph printed and framed as large as 50 inches, the stain on the shirt would look quite nasty. So he sent me this photo and ask for help.
It only took 5 minutes for me to fix this problem.

First,examining the photo to find out the problem of the discolouration. The groom is wearing a striped shirt with all the creases, so the first thing is forget about healing and clone stamp tool, they wouldn’t work well in this situation. Looking at the colour of stain and compare to the correct shirt colour surrounding it, the stain is darker and purplish, that means too much red. All we have to do is brighten it up and take off the redness.
Because it’s the “colour” differences causing the problem, so I use “color range” to select the area. It makes sense, isn’t it?

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Step 1) Select the stain area
Go to Select->Color Range, a window would pop up. Click on the stain area on the photo, you will see the area has been selected in the small window. For getting more accurate selection, you can hold on the Shift key and click a few more times to sample the stain area, especially the edges. Be careful not to add the “correct” colour of the shirt in. I set the fuzziness about 14, it depends on the image, higher number will select bigger area.
Then click o.k. You’ll see the selection on the photo.


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Step 2) Use Curve adjustment layer.
Add and new adjustment layer “Curve” to correct the colour.
In the RGB channel, pull the brightness up.
In the Red channel, bring the red down by dragging the curve down.
In the Blue channel, it’s too much blue so I drag the curve down to bring down the bluish colour.
In the Green channel, I pull a bit green in it, drag the curve slightly up.

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What I am doing in this step is actually tweet the colour tone to match the shirt colour which “surrounding by the stain”, so the stain blend in and become less noticeable.


Step 3) Grab the good old brush tool, work on the layer mask, use soft brush 0% hardness to blend the colour in. Presumably you are familiar with the layer mask method, so you know what to do. (Maybe I make a tutorial video to demonstrate this?!!)  :shawming:

Because we use colour range to select the stain area, so you can see not only the stain on the chest is corrected, also with the underarm and the sleeve.

There you are. Correcting colour just as easy as that. See the before and the after.

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Another sample of fixing discolouration, the suntanned bikini lines.
We girls all experience that when we had our new and nice triangle bikini showing off on the beach, the next day it tends to leave some lines and suntanned mark on our skin. We are girls, we like to change, play with different outfit. The next day we would change to a strapless top or a bandeau bikini, so the different colour of tan lines show as the photo I showed you below. Actually with this particular photograph, we used triangle bikini for the bikini shoot earlier on, so when we change to bandeau bikini the model had the tan lines. (The model was good and professional, she didn’t come with a suntan like that originally.)

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The method is similar to the sweat stain and there is a couple of ways doing it. Here I’ll show you what I think it’s most efficient.
Examining the discolouration problem: The colour is brighter and less saturated then the surrounding area. So what I’m going to do is darken and bring more redness to the area.

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Step 1) Use the Lasso tool to select the discolouration area and select the area slightly bigger.


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Step 2) Add a new adjustment layer “Curve”.
Bring the brightness down in the RGB channel, add a bit of redness by drag the curve up a little of the curve in the Red channel. Tweet around these two curves until the discolouration area match the correct skin tone.


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Step 3) Use the brush tool, hardness 0%, on the layer mask, blend the area in. I used 90% opacity of the brush for blending the sharp edges, then change to 10% ~ 20% opacity for blending the rest of the area.


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Step 4) Use the patch tool to even out the skin tone.


Then it’s done!

Let’s see the before and after.

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This example is slightly more tricky than the one above, it requires more blending technique. All you have to do is keep practicing then you’re get better.

Hope you learn something from this tutorial. If you have any question, please don’t hesitate to leave it in the comment.
Happy Photoshopping!!

Tutorial: Using ISSUU to make and publish your photography magazine

I use ISSUU to make a collection of my work to become a photo magazine. ISSUU is very simple to use, just sign up and upload your file, the website will convert your pdf file to have the magazine flipping effect, it’s really cool!

At first, I don’t know how to design a magazine cover or edit the magazine content. I searched on google see if there is tutorial about making an online magazine or a free template to use. But the source is not much, although there are good softwares that you can purchase for making an professional looking online magazine. But if you are like me, just want to try out this new cool thing then purchasing an $400 software is no a good idea.

Guess what is my solution?! I have a few magazine lay on my shelf, I had a glance of them. I thought it wouldn’t be difficult to “manual” making one. I’m good at Photoshop, so why not do in photoshop? There is an function to convert the images to a PDF file, so I make every page of the magazine in Photoshop and then convert them to PDF files. You can use illustrator or any other software you feel easy and comfortable with to edit your magazine content. There are also some professional software like Adobe Indesign for this purpose.

Then I use a very cool free and open source “pdfSam” (For MacOS, Linus and Windows) to merge all the pages of pdf to one single pdf file. After that, you’re ready to upload the pdf file to ISSUU.

It’s just a simple way to make a photography magazine, as you see my sample, I’m very “new” to the magazine layout. And I’m sure you can do it better than me. 🙂

Note:If you can’t open my online magazine APHRODITE, you can download the pdf file here.

Classic Portrait shoot set in outdoor – easy and simple set up!

This is a simple outdoor shoot set up for a classic black and white portrait shoot with a black background.

How simple?
You only need 3 things for the studio set up.
1 light stand
1 flash
1 softbox

Location: Anywhere without strong wind. (So the softbox will stay put!) I set the studio by a small fishing port. The street lamp can help with the camera focusing.

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Behind the scene with the classic look B&W portrait set up


Lighting by the flash, no ambient light.

When the day is getting dark, in the late afternoon, choose a place where is in the shade.
Set your camera at the highest shutter speed sync with the flash, adjust you aperture until the exposure goes right down, lower than Ev -2. So you won’t pull any street light into the shot.

My camera setting:

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With this shot, I added another flash to lit up the back of her hair.


Any thought or question you can leave it in the comment. 🙂

Portrait Session with Pam

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The portrait session with Pam was very nice. She’s lovely, beautiful and in perfect good shape. She told me that she goes to the gym often. Pam is in her 60s, it’s amazing how she keeps her body in good shape.
Here is some questions I asked her during the shoot, a short interview with Pam.

Amanda:Why do you want to have your portrait done?

Pam:It’s for my family.

A:What is your experience of the portrait with Amanda?

P: Brilliant, very relaxing.

A:How do your feel when you see the photos?


A:Do you like the photos?
P:Very much.

A:How do you look after yourself so well?

P:I use serum by L’oreal and boots No7.

A:What pass time activity make you fee relaxing?
P:Go to the gym and sailing.

A:You look very fit, do you go on special diet?
P:Not really, just no smoking, moderate alcohol  and an a health diet.

More photo of Pam.

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