30 June 2017

Animating Street Portraits with Props

Originally, a prop, fka (theatrical) property, is an object used on stage or on screen by actors during a performance or screen production. In practical terms, a prop is considered to be anything movable or portable on a stage or a set, distinct from the actors, scenery, costumes, and electrical equipment. The term comes from live-performance practice, especially theatrical methods, but its modern use extends to film, television, and photography.

A simple yet highly effective way to animate and spice up an interactive aka posed street portrait is to use impromptu props in the scene. An impromptu prop for interactive portrait photography would be anything that the subject holds or touches and/or something near the subject that adds to the story and dimension of the image. Using props that mean a great deal and are highly personal to the subject, such as below the Buddhist prayer wheel, Mao’s Little Red Book, or the Sadhu’s walking stick, can make the portrait more unique and tell a story about that person.

Matt Hahnewald Photography; Facing the World; photo; image; closeup; street portrait; outdoor; world; cultures; cultural; one person; character; people; male; adult; ethnic; horizontal format; human; face; eyes; eye contact; photography; consent; empathy; rapport; portrait; portraiture; environmental portrait; ethnic portrait; travel portrait; travel destination; colour; 4 : 3 aspect ratio; posed; Khangsar; Manang District; Asia; South Asia; Nepal; Himalayas; Annapurna Circuit; Nikon D3100; Nikkor AF-S 50mm f/1.8G; trekking; colourful; en face; front view; Gurung man; old man; villager; hand prayer wheel; mani wheel; clockwise; wrinkles; lived-in face

people; Chinese people; Chinese man; portrait; street portrait; headshot; South China; Yunnan province; Kunming; Mao's little red book; close up

Matt Hahnewald Photography; Facing the World; photography; photo; image; psychological; amazing; spectacular; outstanding; fantastic; favourite; superior; excellent; magnificent; interesting; inspirational; Nikon D3100; Nikkor AF-S 50mm f/1.8G; prime lens; 50mm lens; 4 : 3 aspect ratio; horizontal format; street; portraiture; closeup; headshot; full-face view; outdoor; sunshine; high noon sun; colour; colourful; cultures; cultural; character; personality; real people; human head; human face; human eyes; facial expression; eye contact; full beard; tied beard; turban; red-checkered headwrap; consent; empathy; rapport; encounter; travel; travel portrait; Indian man; beggar; Puri; Orissa; East India; one person; male; adult; posing; authentic; focused; rugged; manly; seriousUsing props in portrait photography is a simple way to create a strong point of interest in the image. Props can complement the subject and make the picture more visually appealing. Props help to tell a story, producing a more intriguing photo for the viewer to look at. Cell phones, flowers, umbrellas/parasols, cigarettes/cigars, books/newspapers, food/drinks, musical instruments, cameras and pretty much anything else that the subject can lay her/his hands on will make a good impromptu prop for interactive aka posed street portraits.

Examples of street portraits with cell phones:

Matt Hahnewald Photography; Facing the World; photography; photo; image; face perception; physiognomy; dynamic; lively; outstanding; favourite; superior; Nikon D3100; Nikkor AF-S 50mm f/1.8G; prime lens; 50mm lens; 4 : 3 aspect ratio; horizontal format; street; portraiture; half-length portrait; closeup; three-quarter view; purple; outdoor; colour; world cultures; character; personality; real people; human head; forehead; human face; bindi; human eyes; gold nose jewellery; gold nose ring; teeth; facial expression; eye contact; right hand; making a phone call; calling; cell phone; blanket over head; covered head; body language; consent; empathy; rapport; respect; encounter; emotion; dignity; environmental portrait; ethnic portrait; tribal; Hinduism; Rayagada; Orissa; East India; ethnic; one person; Adivasi; old woman; authentic; smiling absent-mindedly; soulful; dignified

Gypsy woman; young woman; Matt Hahnewald Photography; Facing the World; photography; photo; image; outstanding; fantastic; favourite; superior; excellent; vibrant; Nikon D3100; Nikkor AF-S 50mm f/1.8G; prime lens; 50mm; 4 : 3 aspect ratio; horizontal format; closeup; portrait; street portrait; headshot; outdoor; colourful; world cultures; character; personality; real people; human head; human face; human eyes; facial expression; eye contact; headscarf; consent; rapport; respect; encounter; ethnic portrait; travel; ethnic; tribal portrait; tradition; India; one person; female; authentic; fascinating; emotion; adorable; right hand; henna hands; henna tattoo; cell phone; sunset; warm light; Jaisalmer; Rajasthan; lips; sensual; almond eyes; teeth; smiling; colourful veil; attractive; exotic; charming; incredible; colourful headscarf; posing; fabulous; beautiful; gorgeous; breathtaking

mature woman; Hindu woman; beautiful; bindi; tradition; saree; smiling; friendly; posing; incredible; female; gorgeous; fabulous; attractive; cheerful; happy; attitude; joyous; Matt Hahnewald Photography; Facing the World; photography; photo; image; Nikon D3100; Nikkor AF-S 50mm f/1.8G; 50mm; prime lens; 4 : 3 aspect ratio; horizontal format; closeup; portrait; street portrait; portraiture; headshot; en face; front view; colour; colourful; sunshine; harsh noon sun; world cultures; cultural; character; personality; real people; human; human head; human face; facial expression; bareheaded; consent; empathy; rapport; encounter; emotion; mood; ethnic portrait; travel; travel destination; city dweller; Hinduism; eye contact; eyes; nose stud; big woman; cell phone; right hand

Examples of street portraits with flowers:

Matt Hahnewald Photography; Facing the World; closeup; street portrait; headshot; outdoor; world; cultures; cultural; character; people; adult; ethnic; local; human; face; eyes; eye contact; front view; en face; photography; portrait; portraiture; ethnic portrait; travel portrait; travel destination; colour; colourful; 4 : 3 aspect ratio; horizontal; smiling; posed; incredible; Asia; Southeast Asia; Malaysia; one person; Langkawi; Kuah; Nikon D3100; Nikkor AF-S 50mm f/1.8G; beautiful; Malay woman; beauty; adorable; beautiful eyes; traditional; Malay bride; white hijab; white wedding dress; female; happy; teeth; bridal bouquet; yellow roses; Malay wedding
Facing the World; Matt Hahnewald; people; closeup; street portrait; Thailand; Bangkok; flower market; flowers; saleslady; flash; 50 mm prime lens

Matt Hahnewald Photography; Facing the World; photography; photo; image; outstanding; favourite; superior; excellent; interesting; Nikon D3100; Nikkor AF-S 50mm f/1.8G; prime lens; 50mm; 4 : 3 aspect ratio; horizontal format; closeup; portrait; street; headshot; en face; front view; natural frame; orange; outside; colour; colourful; world cultures; cultural; character; personality; real people; human; human head; human face; human eyes; facial expression; eye contact; symmetrical; eyeglasses; bouquet of flowers; floral bouquet; Buddhist robe; consent; empathy; rapport; respect; encounter; environmental portrait; tourism; travel; religion; Buddhism; Buddhist monk; orange robe; saffron robe; Theravada Buddhism; tradition; market; Bangkok; Thailand; one person; male; adult; old man; posing; attitude; authentic; smiling; Pak Khlong Talat; Flower Market
Examples of street portraits with cigars, cigarettes, chillums:

Matt Hahnewald Photography; Facing the World; photography; photo; image; Nikon D3100; Nikkor AF-S 50mm f/1.8G; prime lens; 50 mm; 4 : 3 aspect ratio; horizontal format; closeup; portrait; portraiture; street portrait; headshot; en face; front view; outdoor; colour; character; colourful; real people; human; human head; human face; eyes; cap; facial expression; consent; rapport; encounter; emotion; environmental portrait; ethnic portrait; travel portrait; travel destination; Bhaktapur; Nepal; Newari man; old man; Asia; city dweller; Hinduism; traditional; Asian; one person; male; adult; posing; incredible; stubbly; tilaka mark; dhaka topi; Nepali traditional hat; smoking; cigarette; right hand; flowers; eye contact

Matt Hahnewald Photography; Facing the World; photo; image; closeup; street portrait; headshot; outdoor; world cultures; cultural; one person; character; people; male; adult; ethnic; horizontal format; human; face; eyes; eye contact; photography; consent; empathy; rapport; portrait; portraiture; environmental portrait; ethnic portrait; travel portrait; travel destination; colour; 4 : 3 aspect ratio; posing; Asia; Southeast Asia; Kalimantan; West Kalimantan; Muslim man; Nikon D3100; Nikkor AF-S 50mm f/1.8G; travel; tourism; colourful; en face; front view; tradition; teeth; object; depth of field; right hand; gesture; holding cigarette; facial expression; Indonesian man; smoking; cigarette; small goatee; Muslim goatee; relaxing; bare-chested; Pasir Panjang; Indonesia; Islam

Matt Hahnewald Photography; Facing the World; photo; image; closeup; street portrait; outdoor; world; cultures; one person; character; people; male; adult; horizontal format; human; face; eyes; eye contact; photography; empathy; rapport; portrait; portraiture; environmental portrait; ethnic portrait; travel portrait; travel destination; colour; 4 : 3 aspect ratio; posing; Muktinath; Manang District; Asia; South Asia; Muktinath Temple; shakti peetha; Nepal; Hinduism; sadhu; Himalayas; Annapurna Circuit; Nikon D3100; Nikkor AF-S 50mm f/1.8G; trekking; en face; holy man; religious ascetic; gesture; spirituality; one man only; looking at camera; incredible; baba; headshot; ethnicity; sunshine; bokeh; orange turban; smoking; chillum; chillum pipe; ganja; charas; hashish; cannabis; early morning; both hands
Including a prop adds another level for the eye to the process, therefore it is imperative to clean up everything else as much as possible: a tight frame/crop, a clean background/backdrop, and minimal distractions in general. Any prop should always be used to the advantage of portraying the subject. The objects used in the picture should be very convincing for the viewer in understanding the subject; there has to be a reason for the object to appear in the image. This can be done with the help of (i) person-related props, (ii) context-related props, and (iii) time-related props. Of course, the transition from one prop category to the other is gradual.

(i) Person-related props help the viewer to understand the character, personality, mood, attitude and role of the photographed subject:

Matt Hahnewald Photography; Facing the World; photo; image; closeup; street portrait; outdoor; world cultures; cultural; one person; character; people; male; child; boy; ethnic; human; face; eyes; eye contact; photography; consent; empathy; rapport; portrait; portraiture; teeth; smiling; book; reading; environmental portrait; ethnic portrait; travel portrait; travel destination; colour; 4 : 3 aspect ratio; posing; Pokhara; Lakeside; Asia; South Asia; Basundhara Park; Central Nepal; Newari temple; Kedareshwar Mahadev Mani Temple; Hinduism; Sanskrit student; devotee; Nikon D3100; Nikkor AF-S 50mm f/1.8G; colourful; en face; front view; young philosopher; Hindu; religion; tripundra; Shiva; looking at camera; horizontal format; headshot; ethnicity; vibhuti; Brahmin boy; sikha haircut; hairstyle; shorn; scalplock
(ii) Context-related props help the viewer to learn about the subject’s environment, culture, religion, nationality, and/or occupation:

Matt Hahnewald Photography; Facing the World; photo; image; closeup; street portrait; outdoor; cultural; one person; character; people; male; adult; ethnic; horizontal format; human; face; eyes; eye contact; photography; consent; empathy; rapport; portrait; portraiture; environmental portrait; ethnic portrait; travel portrait; travel destination; colour; 4 : 3 aspect ratio; Muktinath; posing; Manang Region; Asia; South Asia; Nepal; young man; Himalayas; Annapurna Circuit; Nikon D3100; Nikkor AF-S 50mm f/1.8G; trekking; colourful; en face; front view; Gurung man; villager; traditional costume; archery; Mehta Festival; handsome; headshot; hunter; marksman; crack shot; bow and arrow; competition; master shooter; world cultures
(iii) Time-related props help the viewer to fantasize about the subject’s past or future:

Matt Hahnewald Photography; Facing the World; photo; image; closeup; grinning; smiling; street portrait; outdoor; world cultures; cultural; one person; character; people; male; child; boy; ethnic; human; face; eyes; eye contact; bowl; fun; photography; consent; empathy; rapport; portrait; portraiture; environmental portrait; ethnic portrait; travel portrait; travel destination; colour; 4 : 3 aspect ratio; posing; Pokhara; Lakeside; Asia; South Asia; Basundhara Park; Central Nepal; Newari temple; Kedareshwar Mahadev Mani Temple; Hinduism; Sanskrit student; devotee; Nikon D3100; Nikkor AF-S 50mm f/1.8G; colourful; en face; front view; young philosopher; Hindu; religion; tripundra; Shiva; looking at camera; horizontal format; incredible; headshot; ethnicity; depth of field; gesture; both hands; holding head in both hands; body language; laughing; vibhuti; Brahmin boy; sikha haircut; hairstyle; shorn; scalplock; pranking; behaving mischievously; codding; kidding around
More blog entries depicting props for street portrait photographs: