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October 28th, 2013

PDN Video: Gregory Heisler on How to Relate to Portrait Subjects (Even If You Are Shy and Bumbling)

Portrait photographer Gregory Heisler says people constantly ask him, “How do you get people to pose?” In our latest clip from our video interview with Heisler, he explains the importance of putting yourself in the shoes of your subjects, and figuring out how to interact with them in ways that suit your own personality. He also explains how he learned to relate to subjects despite his early handicap as “the shyest kid ever.”

Heisler recently released 50 Portraits, his first book, which is a retrospective of his career, as well as a tutorial in the art and craft of portraiture. An excerpt of the book appears in this month’s issue of PDN.

Portrait Master Gregory Heisler on How to Relate to Subjects from PDNOnline on Vimeo.

Related:
Gregory Heisler Shares the Techniques That Go Into His Portraiture
PDN Video: Gregory Heisler on His New Book and Best Portraits
PDN Video Pick: Gregory Heisler’s Tips on Lighting Portraits
How Top Photographers Shoot Great Portraits

October 23rd, 2013

PDN Video Pick: Gregory Heisler’s Tips on Lighting Portraits

Photographer Gregory Heisler’s new book, 50 Portraits, is a tutorial in the art and craft of portraiture, as well as a retrospective of Heisler’s career. An excerpt of the book appears in this month’s issue of PDN, and Heisler sat down for a video interview about his techniques, his approach to subjects, and his thoughts on working with clients. In this clip, he talks about the pitfalls of lighting subjects using formulaic lighting set-ups, and explains how he customizes the lighting for every shoot to create a mood that the subject or situation calls for.

Heisler will hold a seminar called The Evocative Portrait at Photo Plus Expo this Friday, October 25, from 8:45 to 11:45 a.m.

Lighting Tips from Portrait Master Gregory Heisler from PDNOnline on Vimeo.

Related:
Gregory Heisler Shares the Techniques That Go Into His Portraiture
PDN Video: Gregory Heisler on His New Book and Best Portraits
How Top Photographers Shoot Great Portraits

October 22nd, 2013

PDN Video: Gregory Heisler on His New Book and Best Portraits

Master portrait photographer Gregory Heisler has just released a book that is both a retrospective of his work, and a guidebook on the art and craft of portraiture. Heisler says it is the kind of book he always wanted to buy as an up-and-coming photographer. “What I wanted to know about was sort of the creative process, what went into each picture. Not how you took it, particularly, but why you made the decisions you made.”

In an excerpt of the book published this month in PDN, Heisler describes how he photographed Hugh Grant, Muhammed Ali and other subjects. He also sat down for a video interview to talk about his work and career. In this clip, he explains how he thought through an assignment to photograph former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani for the TIME Person of the Year cover in 2001. Later this week, we will post clips of Heisler discussing his lighting technique, how to connect with subjects, and how clients choose photographers.

Heisler will hold a seminar called The Evocative Portrait at Photo Plus Expo this Friday, October 25, from 8:45 to 11:45 a.m.

Creative Tips from Portrait Photographer Gregory Heisler from PDNOnline on Vimeo.

Related:Gregory Heisler Shares the Techniques That Go Into His Portraiture

October 2nd, 2013

Video Pick: “He Doesn’t Love You Any More”

When the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University announced the winner of the 2013 Dorothea Lange-Paul Taylor Prize last week, the selection committee also awarded a “special recognition” to Bianca Giaever. The committee recognized her innovative approach to using images and words to tell a funny, touching and very personal story in her video “Holy Cow Lisa,” which she produced for a college class.

The video is based on an actual conversation she had with her college advisor—he provides the voice over for the video—during what was evidently not an easy time in Giaever’s college career. She seems to have a hard time confronting those tough words, “He doesn’t love you anymore.” Her advisor encourages her to “revel in these emotions,” and shares his own story of a sad break-up. In fact, he shares a lot about it.

If you’ve been to college, broken up with someone, or marveled at grown-ups and the advice they give, you’ll probably find something to like in “Holy Cow Lisa.” It’s on view on Vimeo at vimeo.com/54700919

Holy Cow Lisa from Bianca Giaever on Vimeo.

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August 13th, 2013

PDN Video Pick: Monkeys in a Minute

Cary and Yari Wolinsky, a father and son video production team based in Massachusetts, have produced a series of genuinely heartwarming videos for an NGO called Helping Hands: Monkey Helpers for the Disabled. The organization provides its clients with companion monkeys that help with simple everyday tasks. But more importantly, the monkeys give their owners a renewed sense of purpose as caregivers to adorable, affectionate pets. The Wolinskys explain in a PDN feature story how they gained the trust of the NGO, which is extremely protective of its clients and their monkeys. They also share a lot of instructive details about how they produced the videos.

This video, called Michael and Kathy, is one of a series called Monkeys in a Minute. Other videos in that series are posted on the Helping Hands Web site. Several longer videos about Helping Hands are also available on the Wolinskys’ Web site.

Michael & Kathy from Helping Hands Monkey Helpers on Vimeo.

August 12th, 2013

PDN Video Pick: The Art of Portrait Photography

“The Art of Portrait Photography” is the latest episode for the PBS online video series Off Book, which focuses on people who contribute to different artistic mediums as well as Internet culture. In the eight-minute episode, four photographers talk about different aspects of shooting portrait photography: Matt Hoyle discusses The History of Portraiture; Bex Finch discusses Personal Storytelling; Jamie Diamond discusses Challenging the Language of Portraits; and Ethan Levitas discusses the Relationship of Photographer and Subject.

July 1st, 2013

PDN Video Pick: Scott Strazzante on iPhone Street Photography

Chicago Tribune staff photographer Scott Strazzante has built an Instagram following of more than 18,000, and is also author of a popular blog called Shooting from the Hip. He sat down for a video interview with PDN at the Look3 Festival of the Photograph in Charlottesville, Virginia last month to explain the tools and techniques he uses to capture unguarded moments of everyday people on the streets of Chicago, New York and other cities he visits while covering news and sports assignments for the Tribune.

Scott Strazzante on iPhone Street Photography from PDNOnline on Vimeo.

June 27th, 2013

PDN Video Pick: Mark Moffett Gets Up Close and Personal with Pollinators

Among a number of noteworthy photo projects screened at the 2013 Look3 Festival of the Photograph in Charlottesville, Virginia earlier this month was “Pollinators,” a four-minute video featuring stunning macro images of insects and animals in the act of pollinating plants, by National Geographic contributor Mark Moffett. Part of the charm of the video is Moffett’s narration, which evokes the plodding soberness of nature documentaries of yore, and then takes a series of wry, tongue-in-cheek turns after about 90 seconds. (This video was provided courtesy of Look3 organizers, with Mark Moffett’s permission.)

June 10th, 2013

PDN Video Pick: Open Lanes

In his short video “Open Lanes,” photographer Stephen M. Keller captures an honest, revealing portrait of a bowling alley owner struggling to keep his business alive. The video, with audio and visuals that are equally compelling, was one of several noteworthy projects by participants at the 2013 NPPA Multimedia Immersion workshop at Syracuse University last month. The five-day workshop was a hands-on course in multimedia story telling and production. Participants were given names of subjects and contact information, then turned loose to figure out the subject’s story, and gather the audio and video required to tell it. Coaches with experience in multimedia production helped the workshop participants shape and edit their stories. (PDN editor David Walker participated in the workshop at the invitation of organizers).

 

Stephen Keller – Open Lanes – NPPA Immersion 2013 from Multimedia Immersion on Vimeo.

PDN: What was the assignment you got at the workshop?
Stephen Keller: It wasn’t detailed at all. It just said, Solvay Recreation Alleys and it gave a phone number. I called and talked to the [owner] for 20 or 30 minutes about the bowling alley, and what was going on with it. He seemed like a good guy who loved bowling, and the bowling industry, but he was also in tough times and I thought [the bowling alley] might be in some financial trouble. But he was a normal guy who you want to see succeed.

PDN: How in-depth was your pre-production interview?
SK: I was trying to get as much information as I could, to get an idea where I wanted to go with the story. I wanted to have idea what I might want to look for, what I might want to shoot, what I might want to ask in the interview. I like to preview [stories], to see if they will be worthwhile. It’s also a way to build rapport and get [the subject] familiar with me, even before the camera is there.

PDN: Were you concerned he might tell you the whole story in the pre-production interview, and then be less enthusiastic about telling it on tape because he’d already told you his story?
SK: Not really, because he was a guy who seemed like he liked to talk. I think pre-production interviews are a good thing. I usually do the regular [recorded] interview after all the footage is shot. So I’m familiar with the subject and the story, and I’m going to ask the same questions multiple times in different parts of the interview so I get it clean.

PDN: Did you have a clear idea of the story narrative in your head before you got there, and if so, what was it?
SK: A little bit–it was kind of like an economy story. I wanted to go in that direction because everyone can kind of relate to that. When I got there, it looked pretty much the way I imagined, but I was wondering: how do I shoot an empty bowling alley? That’s boring, so how do I make it visually interesting?

During the pre-production interview I got information about when there were likely to be customers, but when I arrived there was just nobody there. For the three hours that I was there, there has nothing happening, so I went back the next day to [film] some actual customers. I ended up shooting with people there, and without people there, and I tried to get the same angles, somewhat. I should have put marks on the floor to put the tripod in the same spot, to make jump cuts between those shots [with and without people]. I [also] showed that the clientele is [disappearing] by filming the senior citizens who bowl there.

PDN: Did you do the interview after all the shooting was finished?
SK: We did the interview at the end of the first day [after] nobody came in. We were in the same room together for three or four hours, just us. [Your subject] kind of gets familiar with the camera that way.

PDN: What were the biggest challenges you had?
SK: With this piece, because I’m more experienced shooter, I wanted to focus on the parts of my skill set that aren’t the best. My main thing was to focus on getting best interview I’ve ever gotten.

PDN: Your subject’s struggle and sense of resignation comes across so well in the interview. How did you get him to let his guard down?
SK: It was just being around each other. It was being up front, and building that rapport. He opened up, and was the kind of guy who wouldn’t hide anything [anyway]. I also noted his responses to the questions, and returned to some of them to get him to elaborate more.
[Workshop coach] Evan [Vucci's] “dumb dog” technique really helped. When the subject finished up a sentence, I would give him the “dumb dog” look and he would keep going, and elaborate further without [my] even having to [ask a follow-up question]. [Editor’s note: With the “dumb dog” technique, an interviewer tilts his head and raises his eyebrows inquisitively as soon as the subject finishes responding to a question. The key is to make the gesture without saying a word. The purpose is to prompt the subject to continue talking, and it often leads the subject to give an unguarded response to the question at hand.]

PDN: Was it a challenge to edit the story?
SK:  There were so may great quotes. The hardest part was cutting [them]. As Evan said to me, “You have to kill your babies” [i.e., the quotes that you love the most] to tell a great story about this guy. One thing [the subject] said that didn’t make it into the film was that he was an avid bowler, but he’s had a knee injury and hasn’t been able to bowl for a few years.

(See all the 2013 Multimedia Immersion videos here, and more videos by Keller here)

Related story:
PDN Video Pick: Our Own Little World

June 10th, 2013

PDN Video Pick: Miller Mobley’s Tips for Landing Clients

Photographer Miller Mobley: How to Build Relationships with Clients from PDNOnline on Vimeo.

Miller Mobley built a successful business as an editorial and commercial photographer in his native Alabama, then gave it up to start all over again in New York City. In this video produced by PDN, he discusses how he landed jobs in both places, and the importance of showing new work to potential clients every time he approaches them. To learn more about how Mobley launched and then re-launched his career, see our story, “Miller Mobley’s Transition,” at PDNonline.com.