all for the love of taking photos

Posts tagged “Portraits

How to capture the best candid moment.


Capture those rare candid moments

Photo tip of the day: Shoot between poses to capture the most honest candid moments.

Whenever I take portraits I would always remind myself to be mindful and ready in capturing those candid reactions of my subjects. I would rarely put the camera down as I find that the most honest and sincerest photos I come up with on every portrait session, I get between poses or directions. Those unguarded moments will always reflect more personality and tell more of a story.

Of course making sure your subject is relaxed and comfortable is key and a good sense of humour or pleasing personality would go a long way too.

How to make the most out of your holiday

Boomerang Beach

Boomerang Beach

Took the family out on a short holiday just for some quality time with the wife and kids.  The destination was Pacific Palms beach near Forster NSW around 300 kms north, north east of Sydney.  A beautiful town surrounded by water, Wallis lake and and the Tasman sea which meant a lot of places to see and of course a good reason to go on a holiday ,of course like any other family we were so excited to go on this trip but apart from building new memories with my wife and kids I was looking forward to take some scenic shots knowing that the place we were going to was surrounded by water. As a photographer I already had a shot in mind, but with scenic or landscape shots the biggest factor is being at the right place at the right time.

Day 1: ETA 30 mins, I was already busy scanning the nearby scenery as a drove past them for some photo opportunities. We got to the resort around 6pm unloaded all our stuff and prepared for dinner. Played with my kids tucked them in bed and sat down with my wife and watched TV.  Initially planned to leave and drive around to scout for locations but was too tired and decided to sleep. Day 1 0 shots.

Day 2: Aimed to get up around 5:30 am for some dawn shots, great morning for twilight shots. The moment my alarm went off pushed the snooze button and when I did get up it was already 7:30 missed it! Took the family out and went to visit as many beaches as we can. There were at least 8 beaches to visit so we aimed to see at least 3. We spent most of the day at Forster, family picnic, family photos and we got to see dolphins! We got back to the villa around 5:30pm and by this time dark clouds loomed over us, weather forecast…thunderstorms. Nice! to me it meant lighting strikes, long exposure with rocks water and lightning, dream shot.  9pm after spending time with the kids drove off to the nearest beach, no lightning, no moon, will have to shoot in pitch black darkness and rain my only option was to drive back and hope for better weather the next day. Day 2 15 family shots, 0 scenic.

Day 3: We had friends come over to join us the night before, after breakfast it was pool time with the kids, good thing there was a hot tub next to the pool (swimming in winter time) and by the time we finished it was almost lunch time and we had planned to have a picnic at a nearby park in Booti Booti (20 mins from the resort), more family time! played catch and threw some frisbees with my kids, strolled on the beach and we got to see more dolphins. We spent the rest of the afternoon at Wallis lake and did some fishing, dusk arrived and the sky was filled with colours, orange, purple and blue. Finally a chance for my first scenic shot on the trip but I was holding a fishing rod with my hands tainted with bait.  Day 3 0 shots.

Day 4: Our last day, this time I was determined not to leave empty handed.  Got up at 5:30 went to Boomerang beach, which was about 5mins drive from the resort (by day 4 I knew my way around).  Waited at the parking lot for dawn.  Felt braver that morning since there were also some surfers getting their boards ready, got my gear, carried them and walked to the left edge of Boomerang beach and got started. Took a few long exposure shots that resulted in the image you see above. The morning of our last day, finally I get one! Just one , and it was worth the wait, I was happy with the exposure and composition and found it useless to take more shots as they would just have been the same, I sat there and admired the view some quiet time for me.

When I got home to process the images I took, I immediately started on the scenic shot from Boomerang beach, took me no longer than 20 mins to finish it and it was already  up on Facebook in less than an hour, 4 days and one scenic shot.  Then I moved on to editing the family shots I took on day 2, then I realised and remembered that the 1 scenic shot did not make the trip more special nor did it make the trip more worthwhile but I have already taken the most important photo of the trip on Day 2.

…capturing memories with my family that lasts a lifetime.

my family

my family

when was the last time you went on a holiday with the people that matters the most?

A family portrait, your family and your story.

To me one of the most rewarding aspects in photography is the opportunity to witness and take part in a special moment which I hope to share with my subject/s or clients, whether it would be for a wedding, an event, a portrait, or a family photo. Although to most, family portraits would be a priority of less significance or importance , taken for granted and often gets pushed back and postponed. Priorities, schedule, work, more important tasks, momentarily separation by time or distance are among more popular excuses to postpone what could be the most important investment one should make…

An investment on lasting memories captured in the best light and frozen in time.

Why should it be so important?

Photos showcase your family, images of your history, the individual personalities of each member of the family, the bond, the love and the stories which can be handed down through the next generation as part of your family legacy. A reminder of good times or of lessons learned from the bad, of breakthroughs and victories. A good family photo is always the best topic of any conversation, the centerpiece of your home, a focal point of adoration which always brings a smile or a stimulus purely out of a conveyed emotion. A photo printed and on display and an image file kept safe will always give you a visual reference of gratefulness, of accomplishments, blessings, family milestones, events, changes, maturity, growth and of course riches.

Invest in memories and spend a special moment with the people who matters the most.
When was the last time you’ve had your family photos taken?

As a family man with a loving and supporting wife and 3 wonderful kids, I always make it a point to document and capture everything. Have the best photos printed, framed and displayed in a feature wall at our home.

As a photographer I always strive to create the best visual memories. Knowing how special and important these memories are, would be more than enough reason to always give the best effort in capturing these moments and with no compromises.
Following my simple formula: ASK, LISTEN, OBSERVE, and then CAPTURE. Outdoor, indoor, or at the comfort of one’s home, candid, environmental or creative, it will always be a pleasure capturing the story, taking family photos and of course building and nurturing new relationships. Extending the family!

To think that for most people when asked what object would they first save from their home in a time of calamity or catastrophe, their family photos.

Spend a few minutes and sit down with your family and look at old family photos. What comes to mind after you have viewed them?

Treasure what you have today, for yesterday is past. Appreciate the love of family and friends, for the time they are here.
Author Unknown

A colourful world – using colours creatively

use colours to enhance your subject, and tell a story

What is colour? Objects absorb and reflect different wavelength of light, and how each object absorbs and reflects the different wavelengths is how they form colour. A red rose, well in this case its petals absorb all wavelengths of light except red. Some objects will reflect more than one colour in such cases when an object reflects yellow and red then it becomes orange.

In photography the colours we choose or capture impacts the overall emotion, mood or roles in an image. Knowing how to use or capture the colours around us is an important technique one can use and creative photography. Using a a single tone or many, combinations of different colours or the right composition or placement of colours will most definitely improve the way you tell a story or ‘the story’ in your images.

Let’s start with some general colours:

Red – in photography this colour is the most powerful or dominating colour. It represents passion, love, danger and yes stop. Stop because this colour grabs immediate attention. Personally I treat this colour with great respect, if you’re not careful it can be a distraction.

Green – the colour of nature, colour of health and life. Green is very soothing and calming but can easily be dominated by other colours. That is why in a landscape photo you tend to easily overlook this colour and search for other much vibrant colours such as colourful flowers.

Yellow – colour of nature and autumn. Yellow is also a strong colour such as the colour of the sun and of course all drivers will know that yellow means ‘caution’, feel free to use it but with a bit of restraint.

Blue – is a colour that can portray both positive and negative emotions. Coldness, sadness and loneliness are well portrayed in blue but can also represent serenity, peace, sereneness and tranquility.

loneliness, coldness is portrayed by the colour blue

Another important part of using colours as a technique in creative photography is understanding how to combine colours. It is crucial to know which colours clash and work well together. Clashing colours can either provide drama or just create confusion while using the right harmony of colours enhances an overall theme and a sense of completeness. Have a look at a colour wheel, the primary colours sit equidistant to each other, and flows from the closest shade to the next. Contrasting or complimentary colours would then be the opposite colour where it sits on the colour wheel.

It is also important to know how different colours behave in a 2D environment. Warm colours such as red and yellow would seem to pop-out or advance while cooler colours like blue and green tend to recede.

The next technique you can apply is knowing and experimenting when to mute colours or when to make them bolder or harsh. It will all depend on the story you would want to portray.

Remember, use colours to enhance your subject, as part your composition and to tell a much better story. No! Selective colouring when finishing your images is not a technique, to be honest Im not really fond of seeing them.

“ Beauty can be seen in all things, seeing and composing the beauty is what separates the snapshot from the photograph.” – Matt Hardy

A story to tell workshop, August 2012

nino estrada photography workshop, model shoot

A group of people giving up a day, sharing the same passion, honing their craft, a day of camaraderie and fun.

Spent a day sharing what I know in photography last Saturday (August 12, 2012) with a group of great people. I can definitely say I’ve learned more from them that they did from me, from the conversations and the behind the scenes moment of the workshop.

The workshop was a fast track to artistic and creative photography, from the basics of proper shooting posture, operating their cameras to exposure and composition. Applying all these knowledge in being creative in artistic in their story telling. Knowing the basics gave them the freedom to experiment and of course creatively ‘break’ the rules.

artistic and creative portraits by Nino Estrada

To all the participants, our photographic journey continues, it’s just more fun now as we have all built good relationships sharing the same passion…taking fantastic images.

courtesy of Noel Gosiengfiao

Watch out for the next one and of course the next series.

The camera is your tool…

it's about you and not what camera you are using

The photo above was taken with an entry level dslr with a mounted kit lens…

As most of you might have heard in one form or another it’s not the tool it’s how you use it.

The purpose of this post is to encourage most people to express creativity in taking photos regardless of what camera they are using.

Thanks to modern technology It is safe to assume that most people nowadays have an access to a camera in any shape or form.  From mobile phones, compact point and shoot, and professional cameras. The camera is your tool when taking photos, like a carpenter who uses a hammer, as long as that hammer is purpose built to drive nail into wood so is any camera purpose built to take photos.

Dont be discouraged if you don’t have the latest gigapixel camera with a ‘Hubble’ like digital zoom functions or the newest pro consumer camera with cool ‘Red Rings’ or named with a ‘VR’. Focus on telling a story with your photos, experiment with angles and vantage points, take time to look around and of course have fun, it’s all about making that one single moment last a lifetime regardless of camera brand or make.

Taken with a 6megapixel compact camera

Now, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with having the latest gears and professional equipment they are just better tools, as long as you can afford it and would take time to train yourself to fully use an expensive gear and maximize  its features.  Learn, learning is the best way to develop the need for better equipment, with more knowledge and experience it establishes the need to find better tools. Read, always read the manual that comes with the gear. Plan, plan to purchase these types of gears based on need and upgrade to improve your photography and not purchase them on impulse and thinking that they will make you a better photographer,  you are the photographer and the camera is your tool…

Remember if you need professioal quality photos now, you could always hire a pro or learn from a pro.

A reason to go on a holiday…

Use all the elements

Another reason to go on a holiday.

Here’s one more reason to book a holiday soon…to practice your photography. Spending time with the people that matter most is all about building memories.  Taking pictures may be an afterthought to some or to most, taken for granted with snapshots by simply documenting the event only to be reminisced long after the experience has past.

Make most out of the moment by telling a story within the story.  Use all the elements available to you in an image to show more about the holiday experience.  Don’t be afraid to use your camera flash when you have no choice but to shoot under harsh lighting conditions, when at a beach at high noon. Make sure there’s something to look at when you compose for that shot, use your foreground, the subject and the background to convey a story, experiment with your exposure settings to show movement, drama or action and most important of all take your time. Allow some time to look around, slow things down, look for angles and absorb the view or the experience. Don’t rush it!

show action

A holiday picture can be more than just an image of your family standing in front of a landmark or a view.  You can use it to practice telling your story within a story.

Parent warning:  children may suffer from posing exhaustion while taking a good picture.

slow things down and look around

Native Colours

character in a story

Character in a story

A straightforward composition, slight colour tweaking, her favourite past time, her native garments, her favourite spot, her eyes, her experiences, her mannerisms, her personality, her character and her story.

A portrait does not only show an image but a good portrait will also show the subject’s personality, attitude, state of mind, their mannerisms and most of all reveal and showcase their character to tell a story.

Offer more than the subject’s face, challenge yourself in paying more attention on the smallest detail and sometimes you don’t need to be fancy.

All you need is an interesting subject and a character in the story…

The story starts with the eyes

The story within a story

Under the soaring afternoon heat, doing some initial prep work for a group shoot in a small barn I noticed that a small crowd had gathered to checkout what was going on. It wasn’t often that a group of creative people with cameras, reflectors and make-up kits venture into a small farming bario without attracting some attention.

I stood by the barn door and saw a peeping eye right next to a small partition on the wall. Checked my camera settings, aimed my lens, composed the image, made sure I had the right focus and pushed the shutter button. Soon after I took the shot, the kid noticed me and shyly tried to walk away, I caught him just before he left and asked him if he wanted to see the photo I just took, he obliged, we sat down and he asked me what was going on. His curiosity instantly turned into a deeper need to learn and to ask more questions and as far as I remember I might have spent an hour just sharing the passion of taking photos, the discipline of slowing things down to look for moments such as this and the joy of dissecting every mental image.

He ended up staying with us for the rest of the shoot and afterwards said our goodbyes, packed up and left. I will never know if this kid ever tried to pick up a camera and fiddled with it, one thing I know, every time I see this image I will always remember that this curious eye turned into a moment for me to share the passion of taking snapshots such as this.

The story in a portrait starts with a well focus eye…

Deeper side of your subject

portraits of Iloilo

This photo was taken at a photo assignment I did a few  years back.  I saw this gentleman outside a Catholic church asking passers-by for some extra change.  I approached him hoping to start a conversation.  He ended up sharing his story of losing everything, his livelihood, his love ones and according to him his dignity.  I stood there and listened to him thinking of ways to encourage him (keeping the story of Job in mind), I decided to just listen and hear more, as a father myself I can only imagine the pain and hurt he’s been through.

It would have been very easy for me to take a portrait of this gentleman in his current state, sitting right next to this picturesque building door with crowds walking past him with only him noticing me and looking straight at my lens but I have come to know the man, I have heard his story and I felt it was more satisfying to show him in a different light, a smile.  To  him, his smile might have lasted for a second a mere reaction to whatever I said, maybe it was because he found someone who listened to him or maybe I had something on my forehead he found amusing I wouldn’t know, for that moment he forgot the hurt he forgot the pain…he smiled. For me his smile will surely last for more than a second, the conversation etched in my mind and the image printed and framed will always remind me of the deeper meaning of the photo and the story behind it.

A deeper meaning, a story within a story…

Nino E.

photography by Nino Estrada

Hi everyone,

Here’s my first entry into my weekly photography blog.  Sydney based professional photographer, I aim to freely share some practical knowledge and techniques when it comes to creative photography although I must admit I still have a lot to learn and I only have my works to speak for themselves and 14 years experience in both film and digital photography, I only hope that readers would see the passion and love I have for this craft and hopefully one day have the same appreciation and interest in photography.

For the people I have collaborated with in the past and/or  currently working with, this blog is also to acknowledge my appreciation for the creative input and hard work.

For all our clients, past or current whom we have established great relationships with, you have all become my dearest friends and I am deeply grateful for the opportunity and trust you’have given me in doing these assignments.

For our future clients, at the end of the day or at the end of each assignment what matters to me the most is your friendship. Not only do I make sure that I give you images that are creative, elegant, artistic and professionally done we are also in the business of building relationships.

Read the blog, check my website, join us on facebook or  follow me at twitter, I am always just a few clicks away.