I was at the park the other day with my kids. I saw a photographer there with a couple. I was right to assume that it was an engagement session because they were looking really lovey-dovey and holding up a sign that said, "Save the date."
I love it when I see a photographer at the park. I watch how they work. Excuse me for geeking out- but I check out their gear, their position, the way that they speak to the clients. I want to learn if there is anything that I am doing right or wrong.
It was a beautiful day- it was the "Golden Hour" or the magic part of the day-one hour before sunset where the light is so soft and there is little flecks of the sunset coming through the trees.
But as I watched the photographer work, I realized that they were definitely not aware of the beauty of the evening or the waning flecks of light. What I saw literally made me sick to my stomach, and so of course, I had to write about what I saw.
First of all, the photographer had their client in a very dark part of the forest. It was so dark that any camera- no matter how professional would not get a wonderful photo. I have no idea why she did this- maybe because I've seen over 10 other photographer use that spot in the past- I don't know. but 15 feet from it was a beautiful field drenched in light. And 50 feet to the left was the lake with a sunset behind it. Did she not see those things?
And then the worst thing happened- she used her pop-up flash on her camera!!!! I almost throw up in my mouth!
NEVER, NEVER use your pop-up flash unless you are stuck in the middle of the night with no external flash and no ambient natural light coming into the room and you desperately need to catch a life or death moment!
If you have to use flash- get a cheap external flash (neweer makes a good one for 50 bucks or less). Aim it into the ceiling or the wall next to you to get the look you want if you are in the dark. Don't aim it directly at a person, unless you absolutely have to!
Show little curls, eyelashes, hands making playdough, feet running in the mud... these snapshots will make your portfolio look more diverse!
People think that a good photo means a really cool background! I don't think so! sometimes the best photo is a simple background so your eye can focus on what is happening!
Don't always do the same angle all the time. Spice it up with shooting down on your subject or up or the side!
After I take the "safe shot," I always have my client looks away, to the side or even at eachother to get a more casual- fun look! Looking straight on is boring sometimes!
Another photography foul that I saw the other day was at a graduation party. They had a cousin taking photos with a decent canon DSLR. But one: he used pop-up flash outside. Two: he faced us squinting in the sun (big no-no!!!). Three: he was shooting AUTO (if you can, learn how to at least do the "A" function or use one of the presets). And Four: he was using a kit lens!! (I can not tell you how many times that I have recommended at least getting a 50mm 1.8 (for less than $200!), you will NOT regret it!
Use the sun in the right way. Don't have your family or friends squint into the sun. Have their backs to it if possible! Better yet- have their backs facing the sun and have some of the sun on the top of their heads- it will really make them shine!
Using natural reflectors is a great way to light up their faces. Find a patch of the sun in front of them by way of the concrete or any other lighter surface! It will make their faces really pop!
I talk behind my camera ALOT. I shoot through several laughs and stories. That way, I am always ready for a moment to have at any time! I know it might sound or look silly, talking behind your camera, but you will be surprised how many candid moments you get before you even take the picture!
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