Event photography is a complex and stressful genre for a novice photographer. It doesn’t matter whether it is a concert, birthday or wedding banquet.

Any event is unique in some way and cannot be replicated. That is why a great responsibility falls on a photographer to capture a memory, the exceptional moments, to convey the atmosphere of the event, and to show a crowd full of emotions. 

Event photographer’s essential checklist

I have prepared a checklist that will help you to prepare for an event photoshoot. How to properly organize your duties during the shoot, and I will highlight important things in post-production.

Essential things to have in your photo bag

Memory cards

One memory card may not be enough, especially if you shoot a wedding that lasts all day. Even if the memory card has enough space, it is better to be safe, so put in a bag at least a few more. I use Nikon D750, raw files have decent size on this one, so I have 2 32 GB cards in my camera, and 2 16GB cards in a bag, just in case.

Ideally, you’d want to use smaller storage cards, but not too small. It depends, how big are RAW files that your camera produces. Change a memory card 2-4 times during an all-day shoot. Because if something happens with one card, then you’ll have the rest of the shoot on other cards, at the very least. 

To quickly capture the desired moment, you need a high-speed card. You don’t want to find yourself shooting in Ch-mode (Continuous high) and waiting for the camera to process it for a long time. It is the time when you can’t shoot anymore, the camera won’t allow it until it processes everything it has in its buffer.

Choosing A Card

Choose a card with a maximum recording speed of 90 megabytes per second and more. It is UHS-I Class 10 cards if you use SD cards. If your camera is capable of UHS-II cards – it is the best choice, but the price is steep on these ones. The same goes for CF cards which can be pricey, but it is essential to have them. 

Some guide advises you to shoot in Raw-format and JPEGs simultaneously. Don’t do that until you already feel like you are a pro at this genre. At the start, you need to learn and experience all types of lighting during different kinds of events. Process at least a hundred photoshoots and only then try to have jpegs alongside RAW files. Only then you’ll have expertise and knowledge whether you need to work that way or not.

After hundreds of photoshoots I still don’t use JPEGs, other professionals I know use both formats. It’s everybody’s personal professional choice. One might say it is good to post on social media the same day. It is a lack of experience in my view because you can choose the one to post from RAW files and edit it very fast. In my humble opinion, this is how professionals work 

Extra light 

Use one external flash on camera’s mount for parties like birthdays or anniversaries. If you can afford an assistant to hold a flash, you can get the best light for portraits because you can ask the assistant to flash from the “right” angle (which is usually 15-30 degrees from your POV).

Make sure that your flash has a diffuser on. Without it, your model will have extremely bright spots on the forehead, cheeks, and nose that will require you to do extensive retouch. Some photographers attach a folded sheet of white paper to the flash. This way, you’ll get a soft reflected light that minimizes harsh shadows on a person or a group of people. 

A wedding banquet is an example of a place where you can use from two to four flashlights on tripods to provide you magnificent lighting. Flashes on tripods are usually placed around the perimeter of the banquet hall. Flashes are triggered simultaneously with the help of a synchronizer that you put on camera’s hot shoe and will illuminate the entire space. You can capture exceptional pictures with a backlight using this scheme.

Lenses

If you work on concerts, theatrical performances, or with people performing on stage, then, as a rule, flashes cannot be used, so you would not distract and blind the artists. 

The lack of additional light can be compensated by fast lenses (the ones with a wide-open aperture with a value of f2.8 or less). It will allow you to shoot in low light conditions without losing quality, and you will have no excessive luminance noise in your pictures. 

Fast zoom lenses are very (very!) expensive, but you can manage with a set of prime lenses. For example, 24mm for establishing shots, 50mm for medium shots, and 85mm for portraits of artists on stage.

Shooting with primes is a great exercise to develop a sense of composition. The main question here is whether you’re ready to constantly change lenses. If you’re not yet confident in picking up the vibe of the surroundings, and you’re constantly afraid that you will miss a good shot, because you were changing lenses at an unfortunate time, well, it is better to start with a good zoom lens and gain experience with it first. Especially, if it is your first-ever event photoshoot! Such experience may be too extreme for beginners. 

Batteries

Take a pair of additional batteries. Be sure to charge them before the shoot, even if the battery isn’t depleted completely. If you take a flash, make sure that it also has several sets of additional batteries. Flash batteries tend to wear out much faster than camera’s battery. 

Preparation time

Find out what exactly is expected of you

Some clients want emotional shots from a wedding banquet with an emphasis on capturing as many pictures with relatives as possible. if it is a conference, your client expects to get photos of all speakers. Other clients might ask you to work in a photo zone and capture all arriving guests and stars because event organizers need to report to the sponsors after the show.

As you see, this is a big responsibility for a photographer. It is necessary to talk directly to a person who is responsible for your endeavors and payment. Find out as much as possible about your goals for the shoot. In some cases, I’d advise you to record the agreement in writing, just in case.

Ask for an event’s timetable

For example, you work at a conference. To make sure that the event is covered completely, find out when the speakers change each other. Another example – a wedding, ask the host when’s the bride’s bouquet throwing is planned to happen. And final example – a kid’s birthday party, make sure to ask when the cake is taken out so that you’d capture how the child blows out the candles. As you see, knowing when stuff is happening beforehand helps you to be in the right place at the right time, and choose the best angle for the key moment of the event.

Make a route

If you are photographing an event with many zones scattered around a large area, plan your route. Evaluate where and when the performance starts, so you won’t waste any time running chaotically in different directions.

Make sandwiches

It’s a simple one, but oh boy, sometimes a good break with a ready-made sandwich can save a life. Save your life – make a sandwich. 

Tricks and rules of event photography

Come in advance

This will help you look around, evaluate the light, choose points of view. I assure you, that you will feel more confident by doing that. In addition, you will make a good impression on your client.

Watch the shutter speed

Yes, the longer the shutter speed, the brighter the frame is, but in events where people move fast, you must have shutter speed of at least 1/160 to 1/320 (for a faster movement like a dance). Otherwise, you can get blurry movement in your pictures. You want crispy lines and detailed action in your pictures unless your client gave you a free pass to experiment.

Turn on the burst shooting mode

Cl-mode for three shots in a row or Ch-mode for non-stop continuous shooting. Your camera will take a lot of shots quickly. When you’ll cull pictures, there will be a good amount of choice and a higher chance to get the result you want. If in a group portrait someone blinked – it does not matter. It will be possible to replace the section of the photo with a piece from another one.

Take different shots 

The alternation of establishing, medium and close-up shots makes the series of your pictures look professional and sets a desired tone of the shoot. You convey emotions with the help of close-up portraits and reactions of people. Show the atmosphere of an event with the details of the surrounding. Therefore, do not forget to include shots of interior, décor, and various items. Classic examples are rings of newlyweds, close-ups of a birthday cake.

Shoot people on the move

Shots with static elements or people are always welcome, but the action in the picture creates a dynamic! It makes your photos lively and engaging.

Keep an eye on the background

There may be an unwanted object that carries no value and distracts viewer’s attention. To avoid this, it is enough to change the angle or the focal length.

Do not photograph a person if he refuses

Some people don’t like to be photographed. Handle the situation with care and be sensitive, even if the picture you got was amazing. It can break a photographer’s heart sometimes, but it is better for your karma and reputation if there’s no conflict. Usually, it can happen at closed events like weddings. If it is vital for the host of the event to get a shot with a person who refused to be photographed, then you should inform the host, so that he or she could talk to this guest. 

Record the shoot on two memory cards simultaneously

If your camera allows this, do not hesitate to do it. This is necessary for safety if one card suddenly fails. CF cards tend to be the more secure type of memory card. In my practice, this happened a lot with cheap SD cards. If there is no such feature available for you, change the memory cards more often

Post-production

Avoid repetition

Sometimes it is difficult to choose the best one from two similar pictures. But you have to. The client will be bored to look at dozens of identical pictures in the series. Get rid of bad shots first like objects out of focus, blurred people, distorted faces shot at an unfortunate moment, closed eyes, overexposed or underexposed frames that cannot be “saved” in the editing application.

Build a report from beginning to end

The bride will be horrified if she opens the folder with photos and immediately sees the finale of the celebration. What if you forgot to send everything else? Arrange pictures in order, chronologically. You may deviate from this order a bit if it really makes sense in a series. 

Find out which kind of editing the client needs

As a rule, people want either natural or warm and saturated colors. The whole series should be the same in terms of white balance and exposure. If you’re free to experiment, then you might try something different, for example, there is a great range of profiles from VSCO that can provide an atmospheric feel to a photoshoot.

Final advice

You shouldn’t spend a day without a camera. One of my teachers back in the day said: “If you go to bed, put your camera under your pillow.” Sometimes you just have to go to a grocery store to find an interesting story.

If you take a camera from time to time, it’s not a job. In addition, now it is extremely difficult to capture something new. If you do this job every day, unusual situations and amazing emotions of the people will appear in your pictures more frequently. If it’s constantly in your work, no one can beat you.

posing for photographers

Posing For Photographers

Portrait photography is all about the personality and attitude of a person. Achieving that is quite a task! So I made this checklist for myself a while ago to make my workflow even faster. There are several conditions to bear in mind:

  • make your model feel relaxed
  • find poses that suit the style
  • feel of the photoshoot
  • choose the best angle.

I made this checklist for studio shoots, but you can easily apply it for an outdoor shoot. Let’s go through each condition thoroughly and imagine we have a gorgeous model in front of us. What should we do?

Make Your Model Feel Comfortable

It all starts with a conversation. Take it simple and talk about past or upcoming vacations or go through favorite hobbies. You might find something in common and go from there. This will get you acquainted with the model, and if there is any tension, it will be gone in 10 minutes or so.

Also, you will have a better understanding of the model’s character, view of life, preferences in photography. All of that will surely help you get the result both of you want from the photoshoot.

Use Music

Turn on the music. Get rid of the awkward silence and set the mood for the shoot. Usually, I pick a tune I can dance to – I can even dance a bit in front of the model! Catchy music and cool dance moves always work like a charm! When you start to have fun, the model usually picks up the vibe. You can ask the model to make a playlist in advance.

Just make sure to hint that the music should reflect the idea of the photoshoot. If you’re trying to do something dramatic, dance music just won’t do. If you can’t decide what tune to pick, just choose a chillout station on YouTube, and you’re good to go.

If you rent a studio, there’s usually an option to get portable speakers from the staff. As for a plain-air photoshoot, music from the phone will do just fine.

Don’t Hide

Don’t hide behind the camera. The model won’t like to be face-to-face with a soulless silent lens aimed at her. Put the camera down or lift your face out of it and keep on the conversation going.

This is especially important for clients who are rarely engaged in any form of photoshoot – they cannot show genuine emotions straight away, so you have to work for it. You can use the Live View option on your camera for the first 30 minutes of the shoot.

If the model ends up in a good-looking pose, even if you did not manage to catch it, note it and praise the effort. Expressing positive emotions will set the client on the right track and instill confidence. You’ll get inspired yourself, I assure you.

Direct Your Model

Direct your model, make bold suggestions on how to move, where to turn the face, how to bend the body, and what to do with hands and feet. It happens that excitement or inexperience forces the model to place arms or legs awkwardly. It will make them look stiff and tense.

To solve this problem, ask the model to shake the limbs. This is what professional models do. You can also ask the client to stretch the body for a few seconds and relax for a minute. The feeling of stiffness happens with the legs, sometimes with the jaw too.

The model can unconsciously clench the teeth or make the poor jaw very tense. In this case, ask the model to breathe through the mouth, or the simplest way is to engage the model with a fun conversation.

Secrets Of Posing And Angles

Photography Poses

To make the model visually taller and legs longer, sit down (or you can even lie down) and take pictures from the ground angle. Not the easiest pose for a photographer to be in, but the result can be worth it.

Female Portraits

Make the model slim in the picture by choosing the shooting angle that is higher than the model’s face. So, you have to take a higher ground, but please remember that you should never include the model’s legs. This angle requires you to crop around the waist the lowest.

To make the waist seem thinner, ask the model to put hands on it with thumbs on the back, and the rest – forward-facing the camera. Hands help to form a lovely shape of an hourglass with your model’s body.

To highlight all the beautiful curves of the body, you can use a backlight to capture the beautiful silhouette of your model! Just place a reflector or stripbox behind the model, if you are in the studio space. Another option would be an external DSLR flashlight, or the cheapest way is just to buy a simple working flashlight at any hardware store.

Ask the model to stand on toes, if you want to emphasize the structure of her calf muscles and make her legs visually longer and thinner.

Use Things

If you plan to make a model to pose on a chair, then do not allow her or him to sit deep or lean on the chair’s back (unless if that is the idea). The best way is to ask to sit on the edge, the model will be able to straighten up, arrange her legs beautifully. Professional models often sit on one hip, lifting their legs so that they won’t press their body against surfaces too much.

Ask the model not to press his or her hands close to the body, even if he or she is standing with arms crossed. It will also make arms visually slimmer.

To create a gentle female portrait, it is better to use fill light. You can use softboxes and photo umbrellas with a flash. The main thing to remember is that the larger the size of the softbox and the closer the light source is to the model, the softer and more accurate is the light. In general, if the picture is bright with a lot of light, all the small skin imperfections and wrinkles won’t be noticeable.

Male Portraits

When shooting male portraits, the goal is exactly the opposite – you need to show the volume, muscles, form, and structure of a male’s face and body.

To emphasize brutality, use hard light. If you plan to shoot in a studio, there are special portrait mountable for studio flashes. You can always use external flash on a stand with a wireless trigger (in fact I advise you to use them in any situation when you need additional lighting). Set your flash to work either from the side or 45-degree angle, and you’ll get your male portrait as brutal as it can be!

If you want the model to touch the face with the hands, or you shoot the model in a specific pose where she or he presses the head against any surface (own hand, pillow, etc.), make sure that the model barely touches that surface or a hand.

This way the face will remain neat, and you won’t have to use liquify tool in Photoshop in post-production. Correcting all mistakes during the shoot will save you time afterward!

Face Distortions

To negate any face distortions, use portrait lenses. These are lenses with a focal length that is equal to or higher than 85mm. For example, Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L, Nikon 85mm f/1.8G, Fujifilm XF 90mm f/2, or Sony FE 85mm f/1.8. 85 to 135 mm focal range is perfect for this job.

Make sure that the hands, elbows, and feet are not facing into the camera directly. For example, a classic pose with bent arms at the face, hands behind the head. The model’s elbows should be directed to the left and right, and not forward, towards the photographer’s camera.

Back Shots

If you’re shooting a model from the back or if the model looks to the side (three-quarters turn of a head), be sure to watch how the neck looks like. Some people have many folds on them that look unaesthetic, you can always ask the model to stretch the chin a bit up and forward and push that shoulder under the chin down. If this one won’t help, move on to another pose.

When you work in a studio with inexperienced models, sometimes, they are moving too much and move out of the light spot. It may happen if the model worries too much because she thinks that she’s doing something wrong. Pros work, standing strictly on one designated spot. This helps the photographer not to shift the light scheme after each shot.

There is a way to make this working spot larger. Just ask the studio administrator to give you the largest octobox on the crane there is (a special stand that allows you to twist and turn the light source at any angle and even raise it high above the head of the model). The larger the box, the softer the light. It will help you to remove ugly, rough shadows from the model’s face, and widen the area in which the model can move.

If you work with a very directional narrow hard light, where even a couple of centimeters of movement is critical, use a strip of tape and stick it on the floor, and ask the model not to get off it. But, keep in mind that the model can forget about the request, so as a photographer you should monitor this at all times.

Posing For Photographers Post

I hope my list helps you out! I always keep it near me or read it before shoots just to refresh my memory! Even after a hundred photoshoots, it is good to have this list nearby.

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One bad picture can spoil the impression of even the coolest interior design. At the same time, a professional picture is quite capable of transforming a modest room into a model of style. I will share some tips that helped me to improve my interior photography skill. And I hope these tips will help you to photograph the interiors so that they will look on your pics as delightful as the creations of the world’s best designers. 

Decor 

To make any room look cozy and inviting, it should give the impression of a living place. Even if it is a showroom, you still have to add a few elements of everyday life, not just décor. When you take pictures of a dining room or a kitchen, be sure to add a few familiar items for these interiors. You can even use colorful vegetables or fruits to emphasize the interior’s color palette, but be sure to ask the designer about it. Each living room can be rejuvenated with bouquets and houseplants. Assorted books in the master bedroom give this room a character. Another example, the lit fireplace and lamps make the viewer think that the owner came out for a moment and is about to return. Bathrooms are best decorated with textiles and hygiene items, such as hand cream or shampoos in stylish vials. All these little things create a natural feel for any apartment or a house. Usually, you have a designer being present in the room during the photoshoot. So, he or she can prepare specific items beforehand to make all rooms look extra chic. 

Accessories for shooting 

Camera and lenses are not the only things you need for an interior photoshoot. A tripod is a must-have to shoot with a long exposure. You can try to use your hands in some situations, but it is rare when you need to do that. Often enough, there won’t be enough light in the room. You’ll find yourself using f8 with a low ISO setting most of the time, and even when it’s a sunny day, you’ll need slow shutter speeds like 1/15 to 1/2 or even slower. Also, some spaces, such as bathrooms or pantries, do not have windows, and studio flashlights are not suitable for these locations, they’re too bulky. Therefore, it does not hurt to have an external flash ready. And picking up additional batteries for the camera is always a good idea.  As in landscape photography, polarizing filters are often used for interiors to fight glares. This is especially important for rooms with furniture that has many shiny surfaces.

Use wide-angle lenses 

From time to time, you’ll be tasked to take pictures of apartments or houses with spacious rooms. Wide-angle lenses (14-24 mm) will help you in this task. Remember that only premium lenses are sharp on the edges, but these lenses are awfully pricey. So, it is always a good idea just to rent these. Otherwise, if you have a cheaper lens, try to shoot as wide as you can, so you could crop the picture a bit in post-production to hide the soft edges the lens produces. You also don’t need to capture every detail. Our wonderous brain will fill in the gaps, so half a piece of furniture will work fine in a picture.

Shoot from medium height 

The picture of the room is always affected by a point of view. If you shoot a room from the top, the size of almost any item will be distorted. Therefore, professional interior photographers usually set their camera’s shooting height around 4 to 5 feet, it’s about the level of the waist or chest. The majority of furniture items on the picture will have visually proper proportions. Think of it like this, your pictures should resemble how an artist would sketch a room. A wider viewing angle helps to see how the interior objects interact with each other.

Sometimes you can deviate from this recommendation to intentionally show the height or scale of things. However, this is more suitable for a batch of photos for creative use. Remember, the primary purpose of interior photos is to sell or rent the place successfully, or pictures should showcase the designer’s work. Creative pictures can be used for social media, usually, your client will tell you to shoot something unique or fun, then you’ll be able to experiment.  

Geometry

Interior photography’s heart of the composition is the lines, both straight and curved. If you divide the frame into 9 squares (remember the rule of thirds), you can match the main lines of the object to the lines of the 3×3 grid. For example, you have the table and the cupboard behind it. Match the bottom line of the grid with the table’s horizontal lines, and the cupboard’s vertical lines to the vertical lines of the grid. This is the easiest way to that is to use Live-View on your camera. I’d say to have straight vertical lines on the edge of a picture is necessary. It gives every picture a sense of balance.

Light and color

In the interior photography it is very important to convey the color correctly. Every object’s color and placement in a room, from ceiling to rug is the result of the designer’s meticulous work. Any additional lighting may cast different colors on objects, so that’s why natural light is mostly used during the photosession. You can ask the designer for the exact color palette used to cross-reference it during post-production. You can use different lamps to create some atmospheric or evening pictures, if that is required of you.

HDR

Using HDR is the best tool for interior photography to avoid overexposed areas in the picture. I usually use bracketing mode to create 7 pictures with 0.5 exposure correction. It means you take one picture with normal exposure, three underexposed pictures, and three overexposed. Photoshop and Lightroom have built-in tools to merge these 7 pictures into one. It is a fairly easy, but powerful tool.

Shoot general plans and details

The overall impression of a room is created not only by wide-angle shots but also with the help of the details. Like in any genre of photography, it is necessary to focus on different characteristics, where it is a person or an object. When we work with a designer, we can get the info on what inspired the whole work, what elements make any particular room exclusive. Ask a designer you work with what piece of furniture or décor should be included in the picture set.

Always choose the central element 

Generally speaking, this is the task of the designer: entering the room, you should immediately notice one of the most outstanding details. Your duty as a photographer is to show it to the viewer. Make this element the center of the composition of your picture. It should immediately grab any viewer’s attention, and then the viewer will be engrossed to inspect other details and the project as a whole. 

Beginner’s Guide to Interior Photography

Thanks for reading our post on the Beginner’s Guide to Interior Photography! Everyone can learn how to shoot like a professional. Share in the comments: what techniques and tips you want us to share in the next article?

The Photographer has many tools to make memorable pictures: point of view, light, sense of moment, composition.

Any of these tools deserve a deep dive article, but I want to share something about my favorite tool of all – creating stories.

Tricks To Create Stories With Photography

There are many ways create stories with photography. Countless ways to add more layers to the story.

It can be an unusual place, where you can gently push your models out of their comfort zones, make them feel excited about the photoshoot adventure! You can propose some ideas or activities for the whole family.

For example, you can ask family members to launch paper boats in freshly grown puddles after the rain or fly a kite. You can go on the mission to repair the bike in dad’s garage.

The secret is to get your family involved in some activity they would enjoy immensely. Activities you propose should be straightforward and enjoyable. This will make the viewer believe that this family does what it does because they have the time of their lives.

Start With A Conversation

It all starts with a conversation with a family about the photoshoot before the actual photoshoot.

I am often asked:

“What photostudio should we choose for the shoot?”

And I always get this surprised reaction at the proposal to organize the shoot at their home. And often enough, it turns out that the place where family lives have more advantages compared to any photostudio.

Families that are really into doing photoshoots from time to time usually don’t realize that most of them live in really cool or unusual places and they are fascinating people themselves. And you as a photographer can help these families to gain a new perspective about their lives.

That’s why creating stories within the frame is crucial for me, and to make the magic happen you need to invest most of your time into preparation for the shoot and not into actual shooting process or post-production.

Create different activities and little adventures from the hobbies of each family member. Ask questions and listen carefully. Make a list of pictures you want to make for each activity. You can even use storyboard apps that are available free on the Internet. That will take a lot of time, but If you feel the need to create something very distinct and memorable, do not hesitate to do it, go on and be a creator!

Use Your Home

When I talk about photoshoot with families, I always use this metaphor I thought of: “The inner walls of your home are always going to help”. Sometimes families are so concentrated on a photoshoot that they forget about the comfort that their homes can bring. And my thought about walls reminds them of that. 

When the photoshoot is over, even if it was your own creative project (TFP photoshoot), everyone has a sense that the mandatory program of the photoshoot is completed. And there is a feeling of satisfaction in the air, after all, we made the pictures we wanted.

But here’s the thing, even the most open-minded people still wear this subconscious mask that hides some of their feelings. And what’s interesting, the family never truly relaxed during the shoot, maybe 95-98 but not 100 percent. I’ve encountered this many times on my photoshoots and thought of one genuine technique.

I call it “photoshoot after photoshoot.” And it helps me to get this completely relaxed state out of everyone. 

Photoshoot After Photoshoot

This is how it works. When I understand that I made a good amount of material, I say a few words that the shoot is over and thank everyone. Be sure to make several compliments to all the participants of the shoot. I start to pack my photographic tools in my bag in silence. And then I say:

“Oh, snap! I just remembered that I had this one majestic new lens that I totally forgot about. I got it for eBay and am dying to try it out!”

Or there’s a change of lighting in the house and I say:

“What a beautiful light in this room, man, maybe we should take one more picture. It will be amazing!”

So, the idea is that you make up any excuse or reason to continue the shoot for a little while, but this time it’s not just a photoshoot, it’s like a sudden burst of creativity and it will be a crime not to seize the moment! And it will be just a couple more shots! This is the psychological trick that tells participants that the photographer did the mandatory program, earned his pay, but now he will create something truly amazing! This is the time when the “Wow” factor comes into play. 

Time To Relax

There is also a positive moment for the photographer. You’re already relaxed, and now you can screw up, do something wrong, and it won’t matter, because you already know for sure that you made many excellent shots. Also, during the shoot, I already know about the light conditions, where to find good backgrounds, and I already know the best points of view. And the family has a feeling that now real magic will begin and they are ready to do anything.

Due to this psychological approach, I can capture honest and candid shots, because people are completely relaxed, not wearing any psychological masks. I always consider myself lucky, when I make these kinds of shots because without this trick, I would not be able to make them.

The Result

You can see the result of this trick in the picture in this article. These are my newlywed clients.

They have a small child who behaved wonderfully during the shoot.

He smiled and wasn’t capricious. But like all the little kids, he got tired quickly. His mom put him to bed. And as this couple was ready to see me to the door, I asked whether they would want to fall asleep like their child, they laughed and answered “Yes, we sure do!”.

Basically, I told them it would be an amazing ending to the series. This idea inspired them, so we created an imitation that they fell asleep in bed.

Parents were really tired, so it looked very natural. After all, photoshoot with their kid took up a lot of energy. If I had left right after the shoot, this shot might not have been made.

A perfect portfolio means a perfectly prepared photoshoot, where you take impressive film-like shots. You want your potential client to see the quality of pictures you make. This will motivate your client to prepare better. It’s simple, this client wants to get photos of the same quality as in your portfolio online.

Your main task is to make your clients follow your photography. This will inspire them to work with you as a team. It will help you build incredible trust and loyalty. When your work involves heart, friendship, and trust, it will help you grow as a lifestyle photographer immensely. 

How To Communicate And Prepare Family Photoshoot

Let’s say we found a family, and we begin to communicate. The first thing I do is send price packages to resolve the financial side of it all. If we spend a lot of time discussing and preparing for the shoot, but you won’t agree on the price, it will mean that you just wasted each other time. You really want to avoid that. 

I’m always interested in what my clients enjoy, what hobbies do they have. This helps me generate ideas for a photoshoot. Usually, clients get inspired by your ideas and generate ideas of their own. These back-and-forth discussions are very important. Any idea that comes from a client is going to be the coolest thing ever because it will always be the concentrated essence of their family. 

For example, if a family likes to cook, it will be cool to make a fun pasta cooking session in the kitchen. All family members will be busy with something they enjoy, and in the end, they’ll just eat a delicious meal they made themselves. 

Another example, I may ask family members whether they like to go to the movies. Right as the conversation is happening, I can go to Pinterest and write keywords like “film,” “movie”, “movie theater”, then I just download awesome pictures that pop up on the screen. You can find pictures that can be so catchy, that they can inspire the whole photoshoot. I will describe how this happened to me at the end of this article.

Use Pinterest

The Pinterest app is a godsend, so I implore you to use it constantly.

This is where I create mood boards for my clients. I add everything that relates to this photoshoot: items, scenery pictures, clothes, print screens from street views on Google, some photographer’s pictures that will show the atmosphere we imagine to have on a shooting day. Usually, families get excited with an idea at once. After all, they see this idea beautifully arranged in online documents.

Clients feel how much you care, and they respond with a willingness to do everything in their power to make the photoshoot happen exactly as you planned. Essentially, it’s not your idea, it’s their idea! You just put together a stream of thoughts and visualized it all online, and presented it in a cool-looking way. 

How To Choose A Location

What should you pay attention to when you choose a location? I pay attention to how many curious textured surfaces I can find in the streets.

I ask myself, is there an amusing perspective anywhere? Where the sun comes out at the time of the shoot, just in case I want to take a picture where my model’s hair is illuminated. And, I want to find points of view, where the background will be darker, so I’d have perfect exposure for the foreground, where my models would enjoy themselves. 

I love to have my photoshoots on city streets because there is always an opportunity to hide from direct sunlight. It is important to pay attention to some reflective surfaces of buildings and use them as natural reflectors. There are a lot of glass surfaces in the city too. It’s funny to shoot through the glass. You can find these surfaces in cafes or summer terraces. These places are perfect for a family to drink tea and cheer up a dad, who won’t mind having a snack. While this family is perfectly relaxed within the café, you can catch delightful moments of their life.

How To Choose Clothes

I also help families to choose clothes for a photoshoot. I would like to point out that this is not a decisive moment of the preparation. I recommend to choose basic clothing. It is all about straight lines and simplicity. It should be easy to combine with other clothes, and should fit any type of body.

Clothes of neutral color will make your clients look stylish without unnecessary elements like prints, they’re just distracting.

This lengthy discussion about family hobbies, shooting location, clothing makes this family feel that I care immensely about the result of the photoshoot. They will remember this conversation and will be fully prepared and tuned to work on a shooting day.

What To Do After The Shoot

After the shoot, it is necessary to remind your clients about the time that is needed to edit pictures and how many of them will be edited.

Don’t be shy to praise your models, be sure to express that you are delighted with the photoshoot, and you can’t wait to edit the material. It is cool to show some pictures on the camera screen. And surprise them with a nice bonus – send two or three photos in the first few days after the shoot!

My Family Photoshoot

The picture you see in this article was inspired by a simple line that the client said to me,

“we love to watch popular music videos in our house”.

I found out that they have a projector that creates a big screen on the white wall of the living room. I made a mood board where I added pictures where some big family was dancing in the living room. We combined this idea with this family’s favorite pastime.

This photoshoot was a blast. Nowadays, when I visit this family on occasion, the kids always ask me to turn on this projector and dance with them again. It is an incredible feeling to be able to create these memories for children. I think this is the most inspiring part of being a photographer for me

We are constantly learning new ways to see this world and the people that live in it.

As a photographer, I try to find something delicate and charming in everyone around me. It has helped me to create stories throughout my photography experience. My stories help the viewer to discover a significant part of the life of my clients. I don’t really like the word – clients, because all my clients are heroes to me.

It’s not easy for them to loosen up and be themselves on a photoshoot, but the preparation process and my attention to detail help my heroes to find the courage and go on an adventure with me! I have been on a long journey to discover my photography style, so I hope this article will save you time and effort and inspire you to find your own way. 

Changing Photography Style

Five years ago, I realized that I absolutely wanted to change my style.

I wanted to create family stories where I could capture life as it is with all its small human moments of connection that we all have. You can use the popular term lifestyle photography to describe this style of photography. But my definition for this is a proactive reportage about the life of each individual family. This is the style I wanted to develop for myself. 

I made a plan to spend a few months online looking at pictures of professional family photographers. This was a fascinating experience and a very effective one. I took many notes about pictures I liked. I was constantly asking myself, what would I do differently? What techniques would I use? For example, I fell in love with black and white editing. It helps the viewer to concentrate more on emotions rather than to be distracted by colorful textures of the world. But that is how my vision for family photography was formed. Then I was able to take the next step forward.

How to take the first step in family photography

So, if you’re just starting out as a photographer or you’re the experienced one, and you want to explore family photography, you have to know what style is the closest to your heart. This article is about how to take the first step to become a family photographer. The path I took is universal and may apply to any photographer’s journey.

Decide On Style

Once you decide on the style, you need to share your new creative vision online. It will generate new opportunities to reach a bigger audience! Your work needs to appear on social media, you need to show the world that you are a photographer whose strong passion is story-telling. To make this happen, you must find families that will trust you with their stories. And by that I mean that you need to do Time For Print photoshoots (TFP/TFCD photoshoots). Your friends may help you or you can try to find an opportunity to work with bloggers. 

By the way, don’t expect that if you share your old portfolio, you will be able to find families that will be up for photoshoots in your new style. If you want people to trust you, you need to show the result first. That is why it is vastly important to do TFP photoshoots first.

You may ask, why should I shoot for free? Because when you shoot for money, you feel obligated, and you will try to please your customers. It will be a barrier to fully reveal your creative potential. You have to use one hundred percent of your internal resources. Remember, that your job is to create the perfect portfolio that will reveal the entirety of your artistic vision.

If you are an aspiring photographer, I recommend doing about ten TFP photoshoots. If you are an advanced photographer, you may need just three. The most important thing for you is to make photoshoots until you will achieve the perfect result! Believe me, it works! 

Achieve “Your” Perfect Photos

I know, perfection is a very subjective word, each person has a different standard for that. But, if you know your style, and you know the success stories of other photographers, and you know how your pictures may look like, and you have a feeling how they should look, then you will achieve this perfection in your photography. 

Your potential clients will guess that you are a successful photographer and your photos about family life come from the heart once you update your portfolio. It’s not an easy path, but it’s worth it. People will be drawn to you and they will want to be a part of your creativity on commercial terms. You will quickly cover your expenses for TFP photoshoot.

It is vital to understand what type of family you would like to shoot? You need to create an image of this family to the smallest detail! How many family members are there? What do mom and dad look like? How many children do they have? You will be surprised, but this thorough read on your imaginary family will work like magic! In a few months, you’ll notice families that are similar to the ones in your portfolio will start following you on social media. It’s funny how things can turn out. I bet you’ll catch yourself thinking that you’ve been working with the same dad with the same beard over and over again for a few months now.

TFP Photoshoot Purpose

TFP Photoshoot
TFP Photoshoot

Your potential clients were inspired by your TFP photoshoots. They already see the pictures they will get by working with you, that’s why they are already confident in the result. It means they believe in you, and that means that you will have complete self-confidence! You just create and don’t worry about a thing! When that relaxation and focus comes to you, then you always create excellent photos for your clients.

The photo you see above is the result of my first TFP photoshoot. I had this picture stuck in my head.

It was about a family in a café in Spring, and I am a kind of a silent observer of their life. I was lucky enough to find such family that shared my enthusiasm. What I did was I just let them have a usual coffee break at the cafe. Dad was busy with the toddler, the eldest child was drawing something, and the mother was just enjoying herself on a breezy afternoon.

There was nothing fake about their experience. I was shooting them from a great distance and let them be themselves.

They practically forgot I was there.

That is how I was able to catch this shot. And because it was not a commercial shoot, guys wanted to help me out on every scene and did everything I asked for. It helped me find families that shared the joy of life with me, and families that could have fun with me for a few hours.

Probably 90 percent of people who know at least something about the history of photography have heard the famous quote from Henri Cartier-Bresson about the decisive moment: 

“To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as of a precise organization of forms which gave that event its proper expression.”

Everyone is sure that the decisive moment is the main feature of the great Henri. Let’s say it is true. Then, if it is appropriate to compare photographers with hunters, Bresson is not the type of a hunter who would rush into the woods, sticking his tongue out. And for him catching the prey is not the decisive moment. The concept of “decisive moment” involves a lot of patience instead: to sit in ambush and wait until the very moment of the desired prey neatly appearing in the right place for the precise shot. 

Composition In Photography

Let us return to the photography language. To capture the “decisive moment” you need to accurately build the frame of the shot, then to make a prediction where the main subject would perfectly fit, patiently wait until it is there, and press the release button. If you look closely at Cartier-Bresson’s pictures, you will find that most of them were actually taken using this exact algorithm. The only difference is that in some cases the photographer probably had to wait  several hours, but in other cases – a few seconds.

Composition in photography - we learn from the masters. Henri Cartier-Bresson.

Before we continue, here’s a quote from Bresson himself: 

“Sometimes it happens that you stall, delay, wait for something to happen. Sometimes you have the feeling that here are all the makings of a picture– except for just one thing that seems to be missing. But what one thing? Perhaps someone suddenly walks into your range of view. You follow his progress through the viewfinder. You wait and wait, and then finally you press the button– and you depart with the feeling (though you don’t know why) that you’ve really got something. Later, to substantiate this, you can take a print of this picture, trace it on the geometric figures which come up under analysis, and you’ll observe that, if the shutter was released at the decisive moment, you have instinctively fixed a geometric pattern without which the photograph would have been both formless and lifeless.” 

Let’s try to analyze not the most famous picture of Cartier-Bresson for example.

Photo Balance

At first glance, it is obvious that the image has a balance of light and dark areas, but the position of the two small figures crossing the yard might seem to be rather arbitrary. However, if you draw a few imaginary lines, it turns out that these figures fit perfectly into the geometry of the picture. It is easy to notice that the lower figure is on the line that can be drawn from the corner of the roof’s shadow (see pic below).

If you look closely, you can see that the lower figure and its shadow form a right angle, and as you notice there are many right angles in this picture. Try to count how many right angles there are! Also, try to visually remove that lower figure from the picture, how does it make you feel? Doesn’t it feel like these shadows are going to fall off the frame? It is as if this person magically holding these right-angle shadows aloft. 

The other figure fits into the geometry of the picture not as strictly as the lower one, but this figure is a direct extension of other lines you see in the picture. These lines form a harmony of sorts within the frame. For example, if you look closely (yet again!), you can see that the lines of on the roof form triangles, you can see a similar triangle that is formed by the duet of two figures and shadows of the buildings. Undoubtedly, this photo has many other interesting lines and combinations. I urge you to discover the patterns by yourself. 

Analysis Photos

Analyzing photos of Cartier-Bresson, both successful and not, is a good practice in order to start doing it with your own pictures. Just keep in mind that you analyze successful or famous pictures to understand how a picture was taken and what patterns saw the photographer. And you need to analyze unsuccessful pictures to figure out how to do better next time. 

Among other things, remember that Bresson, like any other photographer, did not produce a masterpiece just by pressing shutter-release button. Surely, he made a lot of bad shots, but he did not show them to anyone, all of the best pictures were carefully culled by him. That is why we know Henri as the great master. 

Let’s carefully examine perhaps the most famous picture “Paris. Square of Europe. St. Lazar Station.”

This picture is a treasure trove of all sorts of similarities. When you first look at it, you are affected by the energy of the moment: a man jumping over a puddle is caught in a truly magnificent pose! But this was not enough for the master! Look closely and you’ll discover a small figure of a ballerina on a circus poster. Her pose is almost identical to the jumping figure. But that’s not all! Both figures of the man and the ballerina are reflected in the water. The legs of the jumping man with their reflection form almost the correct pentagon, which is visually equal to another pentagon that is formed by the reflection of the fence. Let’s draw some lines over the picture to understand the geometry of this masterpiece.

Geometrical Comparisons

The ladder in the puddle visually rhymes with the fence behind the jumping man and with a fence on the roof. The geometry of reflections rhyme with the geometry of the roofs. All these geometry comparisons may sound cumbersome and quite silly at first, but if you look long enough, all these lines become clearly visible.

It is no secret that Cartier-Bresson came into photography with classical art education. He knew composition techniques of classical fine art. One of the main rules concerns the relationship between a figure and a background. It’s a very simple technique, the image is easier to understand and it is pleasant to the eye if dark objects are placed in front of the light background or vice versa. A very typical example is the portrait of a prostitute from the street Cuauhtemoctzin.

The white door serves as a background for black hair and women’s black shirt. Black hair and t-shirt, in turn, serve as a frame for the white face and the chest, then the white face makes the black eyes stand out. But Bresson would not be himself, if he would not include in the picture the dark strip of space of the room – it perfectly balances the entire frame. Masterful!

The following photograph of the master is equally interesting. It is taken on the island of Sardinia in 1962.

Bresson managed to squeeze a few figures into one photo: a dark figure of a woman on a white area in the foreground and a light figure of a sailor on a dark wall in the background.

Rhythm

This constant change of light and dark areas, as in the previous picture, hints the next important concept of the composition – the rhythm (check St. Lazar Station again!). This topic is so big and important that it would be a crime to tell you about it in just one paragraph. Therefore, I will devote another article to this intriguing topic.

Let’s sum up what we learned today from Henri Cartier-Bresson.

First, the decisive moment is not only the climax of the action, but it is also all the elements and factors that came together only to fall apart in a split second. It is important to build the frame carefully, then wait until the missing object to appear. Analyze the geometry of the images, both successful and unsuccessful.

Second, the main subject must be separated from the background. If the object is light-colored, it should be placed on a dark background, and vice versa.

In conclusion, I would like to note the thing that might seem obvious – a well-thought composition is not enough to make a good photo. Visual language with all its beauty and geometry is only a sweet half of a masterpiece. The other important half of the picture is its content, at least in the documentary or contemporary photography. The substance is usually more important than the form, meaning that, photographer should have “something to say.” And I insist that this “something” should be personal because true art has to come from the heart.

Photography is one of the youngest visual arts, it is not even 200 years old. According to archeologists, the oldest rock paintings found in Spanish caves are more than 40,000 years old, that’s how young photography is!

Photography is like a curious kid in the world of grown-ups of visual arts, but kids grow fast, don’t they? It is quite logical that for about first hundred years, photography was the “younger brother” of painting in the sense of composition. I mean, photographers used exactly the same compositional principles that had been developed by generations of painters. It was as if photography imitated the painting, trying to reach its expressiveness. Only in the 1920s, the photographers began to use purely photographic techniques – experimenting with the layout of the image by using the concept of unusual point of view.

Before we explore how point of view changed the photography, I want to touch on the concept of foreshortening which was used in fine arts long before the first photo was made. Foreshortening means perspective shortening of the shape, that change the usual outline of the object. Sounds difficult, but it’s simple really, you’ve seen it many times in different photos! For example, a man with huge feet and a small head in the distance, or vice versa. 

The first cameras were bulky and resembled the canvas on the easel in many ways. Therefore, all photos of that time are taken from the same eye-level point of view. Only with the release of compact cameras photographers began to experiment with other points of shooting but not immediately, many continued to shoot traditionally, even compact “leicas”, as if they still had a giant clumsy tripod in their hands.

First Unusual Photos

It is fair to point out that the first pictures from an unusual point of view were taken at the beginning of the 19th century exactly by bulky tripod large-format cameras, not the compact ones. These photos of Paris and Boston were taken from a bird’s-eye view, respectively by the Frenchman Nadar and the American James Blake.

Nadar was mocked by contemporaries, with “witty” notes saying “he raised the photo to the height of true art”. However, true pioneers of point of view photography should be considered the people that were born a half-century later. This is the Soviet photographer and artist Alexander Rodchenko and the Hungarian (who lived in Paris) Andre Kertesz.

There is a huge difference and at the same time a significant similarity between these two photographers. The difference is that Kertesz was not interested only in documentary photography and he was not captivated by the search of unusual points of view. To say something similar about Rodchenko would be a big simplification, but his legacy is defined by the photos that are taken from very unusual points of view.

Kertesz also liked to see the world from above (though not as high as Nadar):

What can we say about this point of view? First, you can see more from the above. Much more than from the bottom or eye level. This was very popular among the photographers in the ‘20s. Photographers were eager to make their pictures filled with extremely rich information. That was the time when everyone wanted their pictures to be accompanied by the inscription “For the first time in the world!”

Historic Point Of View

By the way, photos with the point of view “strictly perpendicular to the top”, in which people turn into optional companions to their own shadows, were also taken in that time of “for the first time in the world.” Funny thing, sometimes modern photographers find it difficult to resist the temptation to repeat this angle, despite the fact that when this type of photo appeared in media, it almost immediately became a cliché. Let’s compare, for example, a photo of Rodchenko and Kertesz:

It is obvious that in the 1920s it was new and fresh, and these two great people reached the peak of this type of point of view fast. 

The lower angle is used in photography for very different purposes. It was pioneered by Alexander Rodchenko, let us remember his work “Pioneer”.

“Pioneer” is a special case; this photo does not fall under the general rule of using the lower angle (I’ll explain this a bit later). Rather, it is quite a successful attempt to find new means of artistic expression for the depiction of a “new” person, a messenger of a new era. Rodchenko managed to create an expressive and memorable image. However, more often than not, the use of such a perspective is risky and can transform the character into a caricature of him- or herself.

The general rule of thumb is that the point of view from the bottom level is commonly used to show that the subject is of great significance. This way anyone will look much more monumental and impressive than if the same person was shot in a “normal” way, that is, from the level of eyes or chest. A next example can be found in the work of Rodchenko:

Show Significance

Robert Capa was very fond of photographing his characters from this point of view: 

The same technique is also used in his famous picture “Death of a Republican”. You can doubt the documentary part of this picture, but it is difficult to argue that the author managed to create an absolutely monumental image, conveying the pathos of this tragic moment impeccably.

And here’s another picture of Robert Capa. The moment it shows is not so tragic: no one is dying (at least in the picture), there’s just a little crying girl. From the captions, we can find out that the scene is shot in the transit camp for refugees, but it does not explain why the girl is crying. Maybe she doesn’t have her parents around, or maybe she wasn’t given candy, or she’s just tired. But the question does not matter, the point of view, which is below the face of the girl, turns this moment into a symbol of the camp for immigrants – disorder, fear of the future, empty hopes…

If the camera would have been slightly higher – just above the level of the child’s face, the picture would not become either monumental or metaphorical. It would turn out to be just human. In everyday life, we look down on children and treat them in a condescending manner. If we take pictures at the eye level of the child, it gives the viewer a special feeling: a look at the world through his or her eyes.

More Perspectives

In the same way, it is possible to show to the audience the world through the eyes of a dog. I think the general principle is very clear (the world through the dog’s eyes of Elliott Erwitt). 

мир глазами собаки на снимке Элиотта Эрвитта

So, do I use classic techniques now? Every time! The hunt for an unusual point of view is exhilarating, but fun. I always try to find spots to shoot from below or from the top, especially when shooting an event. To leave you wanting to start experimenting with different angles, I’ll show you some pictures from the fashion show I shot not so long ago. I had a chance to partake in raw backstage action where young models were all in a hurry to get ready for the show.

It was a real opportunity to shoot from many interesting points of view and experiment because every time I’d come by to take a picture, all models (even though they had to prepare for the stage) were helping me out by posing for the camera. And since all the girls are basically upcoming professionals, they knew how to show their best self at any angle I was shooting from. I hope you’ll like B&W editing I did for these pictures using Rockshutter presets that help me a lot these days. I hope these pictures will encourage you to do something new and exciting! 

Simple and not-so-simple tips that will help you buy a working camera

I remember when I was choosing my first camera. It was a bit overwhelming; I tell you that. I was drowning in information. In the end, I chose Canon 60D, which at the time was a very decent “crop” camera to start your way in professional photography. I did a few mistakes though. When I started, I got a lens that wasn’t so good for crop cameras and I had a little trouble with focusing: I was constantly getting my images out of focus and I didn’t understand why. I wish I had some list I could follow. 

So, if you’re going to buy a new camera, these tips will show you how to properly check the camera and how to identify a defective one. 

Getting ready

To make a successful purchase, it is better to gather some information at home. I can write a whole article about differences between camera manufacturers, but there are universal notes that you can take into account.

Information To Gather

– Make sure the chosen model is not out of date, and it’s still relevant. Check out the information on the manufacturer’s website: have newer models of the same class come out with better characteristics? New models tend to have new image processors built-in, which make your life easier: faster processing, less noise, and overall quality of life improvements. 

– Check out customers’ feedback on the Internet. Finding reviews is very easy. It is enough to open any search engine and type in the search line: “Camera model name” reviews.

– To minimize the risk, it is best to buy a camera in stores with a good reputation. It seems like an obvious choice, but I remember how I was constantly tempted to buy the camera in some unknown stores with a suspiciously low price. Most likely, they sell the goods from “grey” batches, that have no official warranty.

Things To Expect

– Do not expect that a regular store consultant will help you to choose something. It is important to understand that their task is not to pick up the best camera for you but to make the best deal. It is not always the case, but I advise you to gather and filter all the information you’ll get and only then decide what is best for you. 

– If you are new to photography and photo technology is not your strong suit, do not buy used cameras. It is quite difficult to check them, there can be many hidden defects in them. If you do decide to buy a used camera, you need to check its shutter counter: how many pictures the previous owner has taken. I’ll talk about it later.

– When you’re checking the camera, you have to have an idea about its controls. Download the manual from the manufacturer’s website and study it. Examine how shooting modes are selected, how exposure, aperture, and light sensitivity are configured, how to change release modes, how autofocus is turned on and off, how the quality of the images is configured, how the focus points are chosen.

– Keep in mind that cameras are almost always sold without a memory card in the kit. Make sure you have a memory card with you and a good one. I’ll just recommend buying UHS-I Class 10 card straight away, buy the fastest possible, it’ll serve you good in the long run.

Check the camera

We’re in the store. In front of us is a box with a camera. How to check the camera if you’re on your own? Let’s get to the bottom of this.

Visual inspection

Examine the box: it should not have damage of any kind. Find a warranty card in the box. Check that this is the official warranty card of the manufacturer, and it is not from a third-party service center. Check out the serial numbers on the packaging, camera, and warranty card. Some manufacturers allow us to check the serial number on the official website. 

There should be no traces of previous use. Everything has to be wrapped in bags. If any traces of use are found, don’t listen to the seller’s comments, but simply demand another box without any trace of use.

If you buy a camera kit, check the lens for scratches or dust, then set it on the camera. The lens should be fixed tightly.

Testing camera mechanics

After a visual inspection, we move on to testing the camera.

Install battery and memory card, turn on the camera. If the battery is discharged to zero ask for a charged one. Set the mode to Auto and make a few test shots. Check to see if the built-in flash is working (if the camera has one).

Check the work when you’re filming. Change shooting speed mode, usually, it is marked as Cl and Ch on a camera, then press the shutter-release button: the camera will continuously take a few shots while the button is held by you. This way we will check the performance of the camera shutter.

Check the camera for defective pixels

It is important to check the camera’s sensor for broken pixels. You may have heard about it in the context of computer monitors before. A broken pixel is a non-working element of the camera sensor. In photos, it will look like a bright spot. 

How do I check my camera for broken pixels? Here’s a detailed algorithm of actions:

– Cover the lens with a cap. The idea is to get your picture to be completely black. On a black background, you’ll see all the defective pixels perfectly.

– Turn on camera the shutter priority mode (S).

– Set up the image to JPEG in maximum quality.

– Turn off the autofocus.

– Set up the exposure in 1/25 s and minimal ISO. Usually, it’s ISO 100.

– Take the picture. Explore it on a 100% scale (this is important: otherwise, you won’t see possible broken pixels straight away). If you see visible points on the black field of the picture, refuse to buy this copy of the camera.

Back focus and front focus. What’s it?

This is an autofocus error when the lens is not focusing at the specified point, but either behind it (back focus) or in front of it (front focus). As a result, pictures will lack sharpness at the desired spot. Back and front focus problem is specific to SLR cameras only. Compact and mirrorless cameras do not suffer from this defect, because their focus system is works differently. Back and front focus is not so scary for owners of top models of SLRs. In these cameras, you can precisely adjust autofocus through the menu.

How do I check the camera and lens for back and front focus?

Things To Keep In Mind

– If you want to be 100% sure, ask for help at a specialized service center. By the way, the manufacturer does not consider this as a defect. Service center specialists can adjust autofocus easily.

– It is important to understand that in practice any problem with focusing is photographer fault. Therefore, if you get blurred frames too often, ask yourself, are you using the camera the way you suppose to?

There is a way to check the focusing system by yourself. To do this, we just need to picture some objects with small details at a 45-degree angle. The test is best conducted in natural daylight.

– Let’s set up the camera: choose “A” mode, then choose the widest-open aperture. Set ISO at “auto”.

– Autofocus should be turned on.

– Let’s choose the central focus point.

– We will select an object for shooting: it can be a piece of paper or a box with letters on it, a newspaper, or a simple ruler.

– Let’s focus on the central point on a predetermined location. It’s important to remember exactly where you will focus. 

– Let’s make some shots, about a dozen. Please note that you must take pictures from the same position and angle (45 degrees). 

Review The Images

Study the images: if the focus (sharpness) is exactly where you were focusing, then everything is fine. If the sharpest part of the image has shifted from the focusing point, then there’s an obvious problem with the autofocusing system.

So, if the camera has passed all these checks, then I’m sure you can buy such a camera safely! I know this can be overwhelming at first but remember this. It is safe to say that it takes about three years for every newcomer to learn all the technical and creative parts of photography. In addition, It is important just to put your heart and enthusiasm into it. 

It is important to remember that if you decide to become a photographer, you should be prepared to edit raw pictures to achieve the best result. The easiest way to find your style is to use presets like Rockshutter, which will save your time in editing and will help you to spend more time learning the creative side of photography. I hope you like this article, if you have any additional questions, I’d be happy to answer them below. Good luck!

Outdoor Portrait Photography
Outdoor Portrait Photography

Summer is the season of the photoshoot fiesta in the open air. Every photographer in the city goes for photo walks to make authentic and original portraits. And I bet that every single one pondered the question: how to improve my photography and create something memorable and exciting? 

Outdoor Portrait Photography

This article is more about posing and staging the scene, but many advice’s can be used in lifestyle and reportage photography too. Also, this article is aimed at those who begin their journey as professional photographer

Where to start

It’s best to start with planning the photoshoot.

Let’s take a look at what is better to discuss with your model in advance:

  • The concept.

What image suits your model best? For example, romantic or fabulous, mysterious or daring. The chosen character affects the shooting style directly, for example, if your model is a romantic girl, you probably want to find pastel tones as the background and use wide aperture to blur large details of the foreground.

  • The location.

The chosen place is very important, it dictates the mood and the pace of the photoshoot. If it is a vast outdoor area like a national park, you’d have to expect a lot of walking, meaning that the pace of the shoot will be slow and you’ll visit only known shooting spots. On the other hand, if it is a city centre, you may improvise more with your route and choose shooting spots as you go. Don’t forget to check if you’re allowed to film in this place. It is a good idea to check the place some days before the shoot, it will help you feel more confident when you go there with your model.

  • The story.

This aspect can be interpreted in many ways. But the idea is simple, write on paper everything you can on a character your model will play. What this character is like, what is her job, what she likes to do when she goes for a walk etc. This will help you guide your model through the shoot and you will have more the sense of the beginning, the culmination and the end. 

Things To Remember

Set the timing of the photoshoot, it will be easier to feel the pace of it when you know that everything goes as planned. 

Also, explain to your model when he or she will receive photos (even if the model is your close friend). It is difficult to predict the number of finished photos. It all depends on the circumstances: how lucky you are with the place and the weather or how easy it will be to work with the model. The common mistake beginners do, they give all the raw pictures from the shoot if the model asks. Don’t do that, culling pictures is one of the most complex skills a photographer must-have. This skill should be polished the same way as you improve your other skills like taking pictures.

When discussing future photoshoot, the most important thing is to become friends with the model, even if that is just for a day. Psychological aspect is the key to make exciting pictures, because your model will likely generate many inspiring ideas during the shoot if you understand and support each other.

What Time Of Day Is It Better To Take Pictures 

We are very limited in controlling the lighting outdoors, but with the help of flashes and reflector, we can avoid some nuisances.

It is best to take pictures during morning or evening hours when the sun is low above the horizon and gives a spectacular, voluminous look to your photographs.

 A sunny afternoon is not the best time to shoot. The model will squint, her face will have deep shadows, and the overall lighting will look boring and flat. If there is no way to hide from the sun, try to find some light-colored buildings or walls and use its reflective properties to highlight the model. 

Cloudy days are perfect for portrait photography. When the sky is covered with clouds, which serve as the biggest softbox there is and you can take pictures all day.

What Kind Of Photo Equipment Is Needed

Portrait photography requires a bare minimum of photographic equipment. It is enough to have SLR camera and a light-powered lens.

All SLR cameras have interchangeable lenses. It is important to find the right one for portraits. You can always start with the universal lens, but remember that these lenses are heavy in general. I use 24-120 lens because I tend to shoot dynamic scenes with my models, but when I need to capture close-up, I have 120mm focal length which gives a nice bokeh. Besides, this lens has VR so I always get sharp images. Nevertheless, I advise to start with lenses with fixed focal length. A classic choice for portraits is a 50mm lens (e.g. Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.8G Nikkor). It is relatively inexpensive and convenient to use both on crop and full-frame cameras. If you want to shoot your model in full growth and include a part of the landscape, it is better to choose a wide-angle lens 28mm (for crop cameras) or 35 mm (for the full-frame).

Note that when shooting at close range, wide-angle lenses will distort the proportions of the person’s face and body, you can fix this later in post-production.

Classic portrait lenses are lenses with a focal length of 85 mm (e.g. Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.8G Nikkor). But this one is more suitable for full-frame cameras.

Advice On The Technical Side Of Portrait Photoshoot

Use Wide Apertures

  • Take pictures using wide apertures, so it is possible to blur the background, separating your model from it. Also, you’ll get better quality pictures in low lighting situations. Don’t use the widest aperture on inexpensive lenses though, because you won’t get a sharp image. For example, if your 50mm lens is widest at f 1.4, then it is better to use aperture starting at 2.0. 

Quick Focus

  • Learn to focus accurately.  This is extremely important when using fast lenses. When your aperture is set from 1.4 to 2.8, it is very easy to miss or to get smeared image.

Shutter Speed

  • You need to monitor the shutter speed of your camera. The slower it is, the bigger chance to capture “smears” from model movements. It is best to take pictures with the shutter speed no shorter than 1/125. Remember this simple rule to get sharper images: multiply your focal length by 2, the result is the shutter speed you need (85mm lens = minimum 1/200 shutter speed).

Use Raw Format

  • Many beginners think that they can start taking pictures in JPEG to save time and to focus more on photography techniques. Don’t do that! It is very important to start learning to edit early.  Use the full power of RAW format to provide yourself with more creative freedom. It can be a simple correction of the white balance, removal of blemishes and other color correction. Start simple, try to achieve clean colors and only then you may learn about film filters and toning.

Use Your Model

  • Many photographers fanatically chase beautifully blurred backgrounds (bokeh) with unique lens pattern. You need to remember that your model is the main character, so pay less attention to technical aspects and leave more time to work with the model and the plot of the photoshoot. No bokeh or gorgeous background will ever work unless you put your soul in your work. 

Advice On The Creative Side Of Portrait Photoshoot

Common Idea

  • Try not to create one awesome picture but instead try to achieve a common idea and style in the series of pictures. Top photographers in the world got their first recognition through a series that was united by one idea. Hold this in your head during every photoshoot. 

Posing

  • Posing does not negate life and emotions in pictures. It only determines the plot in which our hero lives. Talk to the model all the time, try to cause the right emotions. Use strictly defined poses as a starting point of action and then try to capture the most significant moments of that action. 

Use Details

  • Any details will only enhance the feel of the series, so don’t be shy to take close-ups of model hands, eyes, smile, etc. 

Give Feedback

  • Praise your model! Point out what you like: action, look, or emotion. This will open up your model and make her more engaging. If she does something wrong, it is better not to criticize, but to explain what is your vision and how you see the picture.

Rule Of Thirds

  • Use the basic rule of thirds, do not “cut” the limbs of your model on the joints, leave more space at the side where the model is looking. 

Position The Shot

  • It is believed that it is most profitable to photograph a person at the level of his eyes. Let this be a starting point for you in choosing a point of view. It is important to take into account that people’s faces are different, so in each case, the point of shooting can be taken below or above. 

Communicate Ideas

  • Try to explain the essence of your idea. Tell your model what you want to see in the photo. If your words are not enough, show it yourself. I do this all the time, it may look a bit silly, but the model will do exactly what you want from her. Sometimes I even prepare sketches on paper or in Photoshop and show it on my phone. The ability to explain your idea is an important skill of the photographer. To improve this skill, you will have to create the layout of the idea beforehand. 

Conclusion

Outdoor portrait photographer should be able to inspire people he works with. I try to involve my clients in the process as much as I can. It can be helpful in choosing the shooting spot, also I can ask to generate some ideas, everything that pops into the model’s head. 

I have a wedding photo where newlyweds walk on the promenade, the bride was already super excited about the whole shooting process, so I just asked her if she was willing to take it up a notch and surprise me. So as they were walking, she suddenly decided to jump in the air to the groom’s surprise. Thankfully, I was ready and the result was perfect. This couple has this picture printed and they hung it on the wall.

My final advice is a common one, but it always works. Do not to be afraid to experiment, if you’re trying constantly (even if you’re failing) you’re going to achieve great results! All good photographers did not immediately find their style of photography. Think creatively, but don’t forget the theory! And you’re going to make it to the top.

Thanks for reading our post on Outdoor Portrait Photography! We hope this helps you become the best photograph you can be.