photographing primates is very much like photographing humans.

Canon 5d Mark II, 300mm F2.8L  IS  @F4  1/250th  ISO 640

 

How many of you looked to see if a picture of your MIL was here?  Just joking, but photographing primates is very much like photographing humans.  The differences are few, but the number of similarities are startling.

Last week I had a client who wanted to learn more about photographing humans, using models, lighting, and basically learning to turn out something better than average.  The first place I took him was the zoo!

 

Khon Keow Open Zoo Siracha

Canon 5d Mark II, 300mm F2.8L  IS  @F2.8  1/80th  ISO 200

 

It probably felt a bit weird to him at first but the reasons quickly because apparent.  Some primates have the expressions, habits, and body language of adult humans, and some of children.  The good part about primates is that they model for free and the resulting pictures are usually a lot more interesting.

 

I never kid about such things, photography is a serious business.. ;o)

Canon 5d Mark II, 300mm F2.8L  IS  @F4  1/320th  ISO 200

 

I never kid about such things, photography is a serious business.. ;o)  Let's go through some of the images I captured that day and talk a bit about what I was looking for that would help us learn to photography humans.

 

Primates can be shy and interestingly enough the same techniques used to hold the interest of humans works with primates

Canon 5d Mark II, 300mm F2.8L  IS  @F5.6  1/320th  ISO 1250

 

Primates can be shy and interestingly enough the same techniques used to hold the interest of humans works with primates.  Simply talking to them, holding their eye, and even smiling helps them relax and loosen up a bit.

 

Getting a primate to pose is easy, they do it themselves.

Canon 5d Mark II, 300mm F2.8L  IS  @F5.6  1/250th  ISO 1000

 

Getting a primate to pose is easy, they do it themselves.  So does an experienced model.  You simply make the captures you want of the most interesting poses.  I've tried directing primates into a pose and it works about as well as using an inexperienced human model.

 

Bankok Images, Photography Workshops

Canon 5d Mark II, 300mm F2.8L  IS  @F4  1/250th  ISO 200

 

Watch their eyes and facial expressions.  When you see an expression that captures you interest, then you capture the image.  Place the Autofocus (AF) indicator over their closest eye and choose the DOF (depth of field) most appropriate for the scene.

 

 The 'deer in the headlights' look doesn't work well for anything but showing off those big bright eyes.

Canon 5d Mark II, 300mm F2.8L  IS  @F2.8  1/160th  ISO 200

 

It's never good to have the model stare at the camera.  The 'deer in the headlights' look doesn't work well for anything but showing off those big bright eyes.

 

It works a lot better if you can get them to look away from the camera, yet still find an angle that captures the eyes and interesting facial features.

Canon 5d Mark II, 300mm F2.8L  IS  @F4  1/200th  ISO 200

 

It works a lot better if you can get them to look away from the camera, yet still find an angle that captures the eyes and interesting facial features.

 

Photography workshops, Canon 5d Mark II, 300mm F2.8L IS

Canon 5d Mark II, 300mm F2.8L  IS  @F2.8  1/100th  ISO 200

 

See, isn't that much better.  Notice the hands and feet?  They should always be doing something natural with them or they'll stand out as unusual, or worse lead the viewers eye when you're rather they didn't.

 

It's always nice when you catch them thinking about something else with that deep thoughtful expression that shows their true intelligence.

Canon 5d Mark II, 300mm F2.8L  IS  @F4  1/320th  ISO 1000

 

It's always nice when you catch them thinking about something else with that deep thoughtful expression that shows their true intelligence.

 

Many poses are just plain unflattering and your job as the photographer is to make them look their best.  Ladies should generally have their legs crossed or together and it's always best if they're wearing appropriate support garments.

Canon 5d Mark II, 300mm F2.8L  IS  @F4  1/250th  ISO 200

 

Many poses are just plain unflattering and your job as the photographer is to make them look their best.  Ladies should generally have their legs crossed or together and it's always best if they're wearing appropriate support garments.

 

Everyone has a sport or hobby, and if we can capture them engaged in a sport such as spying on the ladies below it often makes for an interesting capture

Canon 5d Mark II, 300mm F2.8L  IS  @F2.8  1/250th  ISO 200

 

Everyone has a sport or hobby, and if we can capture them engaged in a sport such as spying on the ladies below it often makes for an interesting capture.

 

Sometimes the model gets agitated for no apparent reason and will express her displeasure with unseemly body movements.  I try to avoid such incidents, but if they must take place I do my best to make the most of them.

Canon 5d Mark II, 300mm F2.8L  IS  @F4  1/320th  ISO 400

 

Sometimes the model gets agitated for no apparent reason and will express her displeasure with unseemly body movements.  I try to avoid such incidents, but if they must take place I do my best to make the most of them.

 

Emotional moments make great captures!

Canon 5d Mark II, 300mm F2.8L  IS  @F4  1/250th  ISO 200

 

Emotional moments make great captures!  In this image she's in quiet thought while watching the Jone's next door.  She's watching them on their new porch and is wondering how she'll ever keep up.

 

Watch their thoughts, often they'll go from one thought to another.

Canon 5d Mark II, 300mm F2.8L  IS  @F4  1/250th  ISO 200

 

 Watch their thoughts, often they'll go from one thought to another. A food delivery truck just pulled up and she's wondering if there's enough cash left in her account to buy some of the nice fruit she sees.

 

Those bananas and kiwi fruits are looking awfully tasty and would go well with dinner tonight!  Isn't in interesting when an entire neighborhood is on the same wavelength?

Canon 5d Mark II, 300mm F2.8L  IS  @F2.8  1/80th  ISO 200

 

The Jone's next door are wondering the same thing.  Those bananas and kiwi fruits are looking awfully tasty and would go well with dinner tonight!  Isn't in interesting when an entire neighborhood is on the same wavelength?

 

No matter which neighborhood you're in, there will always be one or two enjoying retirement and sitting around in their hammock or easy chair.  This doesn't mean they've lost interest in life, they see the food delivery truck too.

Canon 5d Mark II, 300mm F2.8L  IS  @F4  1/250th  ISO 800

 

No matter which neighborhood you're in, there will always be one or two enjoying retirement and sitting around in their hammock or easy chair.  This doesn't mean they've lost interest in life, they see the food delivery truck too.

 

 Like Pavlov's dogs, the food delivery truck prompts certain responses from nearly everyone.  If I told you, you could capture happy or sad you'd have agreed, but hunger?

Canon 5d Mark II, 300mm F2.8L  IS  @F5.6  1/320th  ISO 1250

 

Hunger has its own expression.  Like Pavlov's dogs, the food delivery truck prompts certain responses from nearly everyone.  If I told you, you could capture happy or sad you'd have agreed, but hunger?  Yes, hunger is an expression you can't miss.  I've grown used to seeing it in many parts of SEA.

 

The guy who looks like he just stepped out of GQ magazine with  his perfectly combed hair, attractive sweater, and perfectly groomed facial hair.  Are their metrosexual primates?  I'm not sure I want to know..

Canon 5d Mark II, 300mm F2.8L  IS  @F4  1/320th  ISO 200

 

There's a handsome devil in every crowd.  The guy who looks like he just stepped out of GQ magazine with  his perfectly combed hair, attractive sweater, and perfectly groomed facial hair.  Are their metrosexual primates?  I'm not sure I want to know..

 

Remember to get them to look away from the camera, but not so far so that you can't get both their eyes.  Remember, eyes are the windows into their soul.

Canon 5d Mark II, 300mm F2.8L  IS  @F4  1/250th  ISO 800

 

Standard head shots for portfolios are a photographers mainstay.  Don't hesitate to practice these.  Show off their face on their best side, make sure the focus on the eyes is sharp, and their hair is properly combed.  Remember to get them to look away from the camera, but not so far so that you can't get both their eyes.  Remember, eyes are the windows into their soul.

 

Remember the movie Dirty Dancing when 'Baby' had hungry eyes looking at Johnny?

Canon 5d Mark II, 300mm F2.8L  IS  @F4  1/250th  ISO 200

 

Remember the movie Dirty Dancing when 'Baby' had hungry eyes looking at Johnny?  Lust makes for a powerful expression, use it to your advantage.  Try to get both their eyes, an interesting angle, and that unmistakable look of lust.  It's magic!

 

Rejection is a valid facial expression and very powerful in its own right.  Shame is often confused for rejection so be careful with this one.

Canon 5d Mark II, 300mm F2.8L  IS  @F4  1/250th  ISO 200

 

Wherever you have lust and the battle of the sexes you'll also have rejection.  Rejection is a valid facial expression and very powerful in its own right.  Shame is often confused for rejection so be careful with this one.

 

We had a great time at the Khao Kheow Open Zoo and the models work for peanuts.  Literally.  Seriously, primates are great models for learning portraiture, everything from camera settings to poses to facial expressions

Canon 5d Mark II, 300mm F2.8L  IS  @F4  1/100th  ISO 200

 

A perfect family portrait to hang above the fireplace!  If you work hard with your clients you'll soon capture that perfect portrait which will be timeless.  A perfect moment and a great feeling of satisfaction when you put all the pieces together.

We had a great time at the Khao Kheow Open Zoo and the models work for peanuts.  Literally.  Seriously, primates are great models for learning portraiture, everything from camera settings to poses to facial expressions.

When you actually have a living breathing female human model you'll want to already be up to speed on the basics so you can concentrate on bringing out the best of your model.

 

When you actually have a living breathing female human model you'll want to already be up to speed on the basics so you can concentrate on bringing out the best of your model.

Canon 5d Mark II, 24-70mm F2.8L  @F2.8  1/50th  ISO 100

Check back with us next week to see how the real live model shoot went!