SVA’s Joe Sinnott Captivates in Howcast Portrait Photo Series

December 5, 2013

Some people teach. Others captivate. For 22 years, BFA Photography Department faculty member and alumnus Joe Sinnott (1988 BFA Photography) has delivered the goods with a generous side of deadpan humor to undergrads.

joe425That proclivity for serious fun—and an encyclopedic understanding of All Things Photography—brought Sinnott to a suburban New Jersey yard early one morning last August for a marathon teaching day. But this time he was in front of the camera, shooting a series of informative videos about basic portrait photography. It was his debut as a Howcast expert.

Howcast is an online source for how-to guides on pretty much anything imaginable. Whether you want to learn Mandarin, stop smoking or understand what your cat is trying to tell you, Howcast has a tutorial for you. And now, with Howcast’s new “How to Take Portraits” series, anyone with an Internet connection can learn photography tips from a seasoned SVA pro.

Sinnott, assisted by current BFA Photography student Mary Ann Guglietta, worked with the Howcast crew from daybreak to twilight that hot suburban day. He posed individuals and couples, families with squirming children and one intrepid dog. Shooting indoors and out in both natural and artificial light, he addressed scenarios that beginning portrait photographers might face, from picking a location and posing groups to choosing a lens and shooting at sunset.

The team turned out a mind-boggling series of 27 mini-tutorials—most of them single takes— in slightly more than a day. Titles cover a variety of topics: Portrait Photography Ideas (“Smiling people look good. Duck-face doesn’t look good.”), How to Shoot Family Portraits Inside (“When you’re photographing small children, the best advice is this: surrender the illusion of control.”) and How to Pose Couples (“It’s better when they look really happy. That’s kind of why they’re a couple in the first place.”), to name a few.

“How to Take Portraits” recently went live on Howcast and YouTube and quickly became popular. It’s not hard to see why. Each video is packed with valuable information and brought to life with the same entertaining and no-nonsense delivery that makes Sinnott’s SVA classes so popular—and prepares his students for successful careers . As they know, it’s one thing to be taught; it’s another to be captivated.

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