Sunday, December 6, 2009

Photoshoot Bonanza!

At the end of this week, I will have completed six photoshoots in one month, which is a new record for me! I'm sure it was all because of a $99 Christmas Special I was running, in which I gave everyone a CD of all the images (but no prints included). Everytime I have a photoshoot, I get nervous - hoping that I remembered all my equipment, that it works okay, that nothing happens to my memory cards, that the lighting is good, that nobody else is using the spot we want, etc. I know my nervousness is due to a time, about 2 years ago, when I brought all my backdrops to a woman's home, photographed her for over an hour (where she did 3 outfit changes), and when I got home, realized that all of the files in the camera were corrupted. I had lost ALL of the pictures. My worst nightmare had come true. After a frantic call to my brother, he walked me through a file recovery program that (after a long time), actually got almost all of the pictures back, and everything turned out fine (and she never knew what had happened). Ever since then, I have been a little nervous!!

Today I had a great shoot of a family I just met, and was really bummed to find out that the shots with the BEST background had blurry faces in them. That is because of the lens I was using and I could not notice the blurryness on the small screen. But thankfully there are many others to choose from, and again, they will never know. This job can be stressful at times!

I thought I would give you some general photography tips, for those who might want to learn how take better pictures. So here goes:

-If you are taking a picture of a group smaller than five people, it might be best to take a picture vertically (rather than horizontally), because so much of the picture will be taken up by "space." If you are going to take a picture horizontally, zoom in so there is not so much "space" taking up the sides of the picture. The exception to this rule is if you have an amazing background and you want to focus on the background.

-Use the "rule of thirds" when taking pictures. Read here for more on that.

-If you are the photographer, always have the sun behind you.  Taking pictures into the sun will cause a glare and the pictures will not turn out good.

-The best times of day to take outdoor pictures is either 10:00am, before the sun has fully risen, or 3:00-5:00pm, after the sun has started to go down a bit.  You don't want to shoot in direct sun because of problems with shadows, squinting, etc...  If you have to take pictures when it's really sunny out, then take a picture in full shade.

-Place your subjects as close together as possible.  Here is an example of our recent family shoot.  This is my own fault, because I placed us and then had my sister take the picture. But see the big space between our heads?

Here's another one - notice the before and after:

-Invest in a good lens. Get a digital camera, even the Rebel XTi, which I use all the time, and slap a great lens on it (like a Canon 50mm). This will make your shots look professional and amazing!

-Get Photoshop or Lightroom. You can take any mundane photo and make it amazing with a good editing software. Take this photo for instance:



-Take photos from a little above the subject, and have them look up towards the camera. This is always more flattering for the face and makes it look thinner. When you take a photo straight-on, or if you're shorter than the subject, it can make them look bigger than they are and show flaws (like a double chin).

-To stay away from "stale smiles", have your subjects close their eyes. Count to 3, and tell them to open their eyes and smile. You'll get fresh, open eyes and a bright, new smile. (This is a tip I learned from my brother & sister). (It also sounds more professional if you say "one, two AND three") :) (Just another tip from my sister).

Photographers today are a dime a dozen. Everyone is doing it. Everyone wants to make a living doing it. I do not claim to be any better or more professional than anyone else; my only advantage is that my brother has been doing it for over 8 years and is amazing, so I leech off of him all the time. These tips won't make you a "professional", but they might get you some great compliments! If you are trying to get started, one of the most important things you can do is work on how you pose your subjects. Look online for ideas, and write down your ideas before you go to a shoot. Be creative (which I have trouble with), and try to think of new ways to pose people for each session. I almost always have my clients climbing things (like trees) or in rocks and bushes somewhere. At the beach, they almost always end up in the water. This makes it fun and exciting! Good luck!!