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.

There is nothing more precious than love. Each couple experience is different and unique, they have their own way showing shades of emotions. Moreover, every couple feels that this is the pinnacle of their lifetime. That’s what Love Story photoshoot tells you about. Reflect this individuality in your photos, immerse yourself in the lives of the couple and you will get an excellent portfolio and another happy customer. 

Unlike photoshoot outdoors, Love Story in studio doesn’t rely heavily on the plot. Your main goal is to catch the sincere feelings of lovers and to make them feel as though they were left alone with each other. This intimate space of the studio will help make your couple feel safe and they won’t be shy revealing their feelings in front of your lens. At first, the couple will joke and laugh, then they’ll feel a bit shy, but your continuous support will gently push them towards each other. And finally, at some point, between their touches and looks, there will be so much love that you will only have to hide and shoot, shoot, shoot.

Unlike many outdoor locations, you don’t have to worry about weather conditions or any bystanders in a photo studio. But photographer needs certain psychological skills to work in studio successfully. Think about it, you will need to communicate a lot with the couple before and during the shooting, to help them relax and to be themselves, so that they completely forget that they are on the photoshoot. Here are a few tips about how to shoot Love Stories in the studio – the place where you can make magic happen!

Acquaintance

Start with a meeting, I usually choose a cafe near city centre, where couples usually come by themselves, it will set a friendly mood for the conversation. If there is no opportunity to meet with the couple in person, be sure to call. Don’t leave it all to texting because you can’t sense emotions in messengers and that is an important thing to do. You will need to understand what exactly lovers want, what kind of photoshoot it is (a gift for the anniversary, just for fun, in honor of the engagement or it even might be a proposal).

This knowledge will help you understand how to apply your style. For example, if this photo shoot is a gift, then you can ask the one who ordered the photo shoot to prepare a pleasant surprise. When there is a gift inside a gift, it is a good recipe to capture a fountain of positive emotions. 

Be sure to find out what clothes the couple would like to be photographed in. You need to explain that it is important to have a combination in style between them and similar color scheme of clothes. You don’t want to photograph a man dressed in denim hugging a woman in long evening dress.

Pick the Studio

Next up, pick up the studio. I prefer to shoot a Love Story with natural light, because studio professional flashes kill the intimacy of the process, instead the couple would feel like this is the fashion magazine photo shoot. Use flashes when it is absolutely necessary! I tend to choose a studio with large windows, because you get more natural light, that’s obvious. Also, I try to rent a studio either for the time in the morning when the light is the softest or a bit later, depending on the season.

Usually, I offer my clients several studios to choose the one they like best, it has to fit their style (and color!) of clothes too. Be sure to tell them to take spare shoes, it is the usual requirement when renting a studio.

Shooting Day

Ask the couple to arrive 10-15 minutes before the start. Use this time to establish eye contact with them, get to know them, set the tone for your photo shoot, if there is some tension, you have to deal with it ASAP. Usually, it’s more difficult to take pictures of men: they are not as open as women and prefer not like to show their emotions. I tackle this problem by explaining that this is not fashion photoshoot. On the contrary, you’ll create a comfortable environment where the couple does not have to engage in continuous posing, and that your main goal is to show their true feelings. Be sure to clarify the nature of their relationship.

Some couples are more romantic, some like to laugh and fool around. Based on this, you’ll be able to plan your actions. I tend to make a small list of things that I’d like to do on a photoshoot. It doesn’t matter if you remember it all or not, but just doing it makes you more prepared than you might think. I always ask myself, should I be like an observer, peeking over objects, while couple gets cozy and does something romantic or should I be more active, always challenging a couple to do something fun? A nice balance of these two things is a key to an awesome experience for the couple! 

Studio

When you’re inside the studio, mentally divide the space into several locations where you will take pictures. Start where you think it will be the best place for a couple to relax. I know I’ve said many times about the emotional state, but this is so important so I won’t mind repeating myself. 

The first pictures are very important for how you set the tone of the shoot. At first, tell the couple that they don’t need to pose and just do something simple, for example, ask them to sit somewhere and just start talking, look at each other, joke or say something nice. Be positive! Usually I say that if I need to change something for them to look good in pictures, I will intervene myself and they don’t have to worry about it. 

When you start to feel that the couple somewhat forgot that they are on photoshoot, it is worth going into observer-reporter mode. This mode requires total concentration because emotions that are photogenic faint fast (gentle look, smiles, kiss on the nose). I might repeat myself again, but it is important that the lovers feel as if they are alone with each other, and your task is to catch sincere moments of couple’s life.

Camera Specs

A Love Story in the studio is characterized by close-up portraits. These are more sensual, intimate. They are personal. At the same time, you need to focus quickly.

That’s why I use Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24-120mm VR lens, it’s up to all these tasks. I also take with me the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm, which is necessary to get a nice bokeh at  135 to 200mm. Both of these lenses, in addition to their quick focus have wide aperture, that is very important for shooting when there is not enough natural light. And in combination with my Nikon D800 and Nikon D700 cameras, where I can set high ISO and get pictures without high amounts of noise. From the new line of cameras, I advise Nikon D780 or D850. The first is the middle-end camera, the second is the high-end, but both deliver great results for professionals.

Additional Tips and Final Thoughts

If you see that during the shoot someone from the pair is still tense and cannot relax, turn your attention to someone who enjoys posing. It’s usually girls. Give man a rest, make some female portraits, let him watch the shooting from the sidelines. Then bring him back into the process, offering some action, such as raising his loved one in his arms or hugging her tightly. Don’t forget to talk to the couple all this time in order to stay positive. To make your series of pictures more interesting, take close-up pictures of details like hands, touching, jewelry etc. This will emphasize the mood and atmosphere of the photoshoot.

Here are some ideas for Love Story photoshoot. I advise to find a way to capture love in the eyes, every couple should have this kind of picture. Ask if the couple have favorite pets and if they can take it along, every pet can make a photoshoot a really fun experience. Maybe it is a good idea to draw an invitation to the wedding on a blackboard and capture the process of them writing it. The main thing is to know your couple, use their character and their feelings to write their story, but with your style.

Event Shoots

If you have a photoshoot that is related to some event like Christmas, wedding anniversary, engagement, then it is necessary to have presents in your pictures, it’s a symbol after all. Metaphor is a very powerful tool, use it wisely! If it is an engagement, take the emphasis on the ring, you can make a close-up picture where a young man puts the ring on her finger. To capture this moment from different points of view, I ask the couple to redo this moment again. Usually, when I ask to do this again, I’m met with a ton of positive emotions! 

Make close-up portraits, shoot using reflections in the mirror and other reflective surfaces, climb on a ladder and take pictures from high point of view, lie down on the floor and shoot from below. Experiment, make your imagination run wild! If the pair is a bit conservative, then classic portraits will please them greatly.

For me personally, a Love Story photoshoot in studio is an ode to love. And showing this deep bond between two people is what I live for.

I strongly believe that pictures with layered composition always attract attention. I’m not talking about layers in Photoshop, lets leave our digital machines to rest for a while. Using background and foreground effectively, you can have a great impact on any viewer. Trust me, if your work will have depth and volume, you’ll be able to tell your story in unique and memorable way. I will give you a few simple tips how to effectively work with layered composition and how to make your photographs come alive.

Use layers In Composition

How To Use layers In Composition

When you understand the concept of background and foreground, you can start working with a central object or a model in your picture knowingly. Everything works if you can grab viewer’s attention. Some places like field or forest are not a complete layer in a picture. However, if we have a beautiful flower in this field or unusual curvy tree in that forest – these objects are easily recognizable and can be used as layer.

For example, a landscape where we see the mountain with the cross over it as our central piece of the photograph, also if we get in the frame some trees for the foreground and use the rising sun as the background, then we’ll get the picture we will be proud of. 

Keep an eye on the background

Every so often, amateur photographers don’t pay attention to the background. But you know that the devil is in the details: all unnecessary objects will likely steal viewer’s attention from the central idea of the picture. We don’t want any lamp posts or any vivid object from the background to “grow” out of our model’s head, don’t we? Any “photographic garbage” like cars, bystanders, bright signs and posts can be distracting. If you can’t hide it or change the point of view, it can be quite interesting if you use this “garbage” as the vital part of the composition.

It can be quite challenging, because it requires of photographer to find comparisons or metaphorical connections between your main object and the object in the background. But this is a very good training exercise for improving your skills. 

Lenses with wide aperture are really good to get a strong blur of the background. I use Nikon’s 50mm f/1.8G and 85mm f/1.8G for these purposes. Just remember that at widest aperture these lenses lack sharpness. 

How to make both foreground and background sharp 

Photographers often face the problem, when they do not need to blur the background, but need to make everything sharp. To do this, simply cover the aperture to the F11-F16 and shoot at a short focal range (at the minimum lens zoom). When you learn to work with the hyperfocal focus distance, sharpness will no longer be a problem for you.

Quick tip here, remember that if you’re working with people, widest focal range has pincushion distortion. It cannot be always fixed in post-production. So I’d advise for wide angle portraits to use at lease 35mm lens. 

If you want the viewer to see everything, the layers of the picture should not overlap

It is one of the biggest beginner’s error. If the foreground and background overlap in the photo, it is impossible to evaluate any. To prevent this from happening, you can simply use the rule of thirds by placing one layer at the upper left intersection of the lines, and the other at the lower right or vice versa.

By the way, if you are a Nikon user, you can enable the grid to help in the viewfinder in cameras and also show it on the screen in Live View mode.

What To Do When You Think Of An Interesting Subject For Shooting

How does a beginner photographer take pictures? After he finds an interesting object, he immediately points camera at it and makes the shot from the exact same spot where he got inspired. As a result, most likely, the picture will be boring and won’t meet his expectations.

The advanced photographer will ask himself: where the point of shooting should be? What is the layout of the future picture? Is it possible that there is an interesting foreground (or background) nearby? Answering these questions will help you to make any picture exciting and engaging. So just before you press the button on your camera, explore the area around your chosen subject!

By the way, the foreground doesn’t have to be sharp. There is a certain charm, when it is beautifully blurred.

In the case of landscape photography, the main object will be more or less obvious: a beautiful mountain with sunset sun, a wooden house, a tree. However, your viewer has seen many times beautiful mountains and houses in pictures and in life. It is important to show your own point of view – to craft your own story in the photo.

This is where you can use foreground to full extent. So, in the case of the landscape, you can show small objects of the landscape in the foreground, it can be flowers, stones, textures. This way the viewer will be completely impressed by the story of your work. It is as simple as that: a frame full of details is always more interesting to look at.

Working With Layered Composition Will Make You Think About The Point Of Shooting

Did you ever wonder why your pictures look imperfect? When you make a conscious choice of foreground or background for your story, you get better results. For example, the foreground for landscape photography will often require shooting from a low point: from the level of the knees or the ground. For portrait photography, if you find a natural frame for your model, for example, tree branches, tall grass or parts of architecture objects, it will enhance your photos for sure.

This works in any other direction of photography – the search for an interesting background will lead to constructing thoughtful composition for your photos.

A sign of the photographer’s skill is the ability to create a layered composition. Show more attention to your subject, to the area in which you live and photograph, to the places you visit abroad. And I believe that you’ll create exciting and unusual pictures!

Example Of Using layers In Composition

As the final example I want to tell you about how I made the photo of this post. It was a small wedding just the bride and the groom, they wanted to visit old town to capture memorable parts of the bride’s home town. It was really important because they were about to leave this place for good and move to another country. That was a busy day and a lot of cars around, so I decided to take it to my advantage. I noticed that cars had very interesting and bizarre reflections.

So I placed them between a very textured wall and a car. I used my old Nikon telelens 80-200 to get a very tender shot. The reflections with the help of my tele-lens blurred in the foreground to create a dreamy feeling. And the brick wall behind them symbolizing the strong bond between newlyweds. For editing I used my favorite presets from Rockshutter to make this picture look authentic and stylish.