Blog: Photo Sessions
Life is Beautiful. I love serving the world by capturing beautiful family memories, encouraging others to believe in life’s greatest possibilities, and inspiring others to realize their full potential. Everyone has a story... make it a beautiful one.
I have to be honest with this one, I was torn how to use my photography and social media when I started getting more on social media platforms. Social media scared the crap out of me and it was a whole new world I just didn’t get. I was posting a session photo like any other photographer would. Then I would scroll like any other person in this world and I see how some people, not necessarily photographers, where posting about their daily lives with pretty pictures. I researched social media platforms and took a social media course from a well known social media influencer/photographer. I loved how she focused on her daily life but still gave hints of her photography as well.
I decided to make that change into showcasing more of lifestyle photography rather than session photography on my social media platforms. I was scared and would be lying if I said that I feared a little about making the change but as uncomfortable it was, I was excited to try something new. Over the last year social media, photography, developing my brand and voice has been a huge overwhelm but an incredible journey all wrapped up together. in honesty, I feared clients and future clients would think I no longer do photography or worse dislike me for the direction I decided to go in. There have been times I have compared myself to other photographers because I felt maybe I was doing something bad. This new outlook on photography has made me even more passionate about my photography, I still have a passion for family photography (and still booking sessions) but this new outlook on photography has really opened my eyes to a new world of curiosity and creativity.
If I am being completely honest, sharing more of a lifestyle photography format on social media has helped me in so many ways. It has helped me to take more photos for me and use my camera more instead of just at my sessions, and to tap into my inner muse. I’ve created memories with my kids. I realized that through this change, I am more than just a photographer, but a mom finding purpose and inspiring others to become better version of themselves. I have been able to connect with other moms through groups on social media where we post weekly challenge photos. I’ve been learning new things from these weekly challenges on how I can elevate and create a better story through photographs.
This transition was a huge and scary thing for me, but I have fell in love with lifestyle photography. I am able to tell the story of my perfectly imperfect life through photographs and to learn I have more to offer than just photography. I have heard many times over about how in today’s digital age, people want to know and connect with who you are as person doesn’t matter what you have to offer. I could have chosen to have several different accounts for each of the things I love to share, photography, life, empowerment, or health and fitness but I chose to focus on one account. It’s me. Its all apart of MY story.
I am in love with the direction I have decided to go in and how I use my photography in social media. It’s different, but its real and in the moment and makes me happy and that what being creative is about if finding what makes you happy.
I often get asked what lens I recommend and why. Lenses have different purposes and effects and really depends on the style and look your going for. Before I get into my personal favorite lens and why, lets start by talking about a prime lens vs. zoom lens. A prime lens is a lens that has a fixed focal length. Essentially with a prime lens, you are in control how far or how close you are to your subject. A zoom lens is a lens that you are able to zoom in on your subject.
If your just starting out, getting your feet wet into photography, borrow or rent different lenses so you can get a feel of the different lenses there are out there.
When I started out, I researched some of the photographers I followed to see what their favorite lenses were and what they were using. I rented a zoom lens a 70-100mm 1.4 and it was one of the heaviest lenses I ever use. I realized that even though it took some really tack sharp, with the perfect blurred background, I learned it just wasn’t for me and I wouldn’t have known if I didn’t try it out and glad I didn’t waste the money on it.
After trial and error, I realized I was a prime lens kind of girl. I loved how light the lenses were and loved the fact I was in control on how close and how far I was to my subject. I have tried the 85mm 1.4 for both Nikon and Canon and the 50mm for both Nikon and Canon. Both fabulous lenses for close up portrait photography. This leads me into my all time favorite lens.
The 35mm 1.4 does not leave my camera. It is wide angle lens perfect for wider angle photographs. But I have a secret… I use it for close ups too. Everything I take is with me 35. To be honest, I maybe breaking so many rules in the photography world, but I just have fallen in love with the look this lens gives and it has become part of my style for the last 4 years. My favorite things about it is the fact its wide angle. I love I can use it for wider close ups and wider pull backs. I love how it brings beautiful sun flare into my photos and is great in almost any lighting situation.
Most photographers I have shown my work to are amazed that I have used this lens for everything because with close ups, a wider angle can give a distorted look to a subject, but I haven’t really had a big issue with that and most the time they tell me if it is working for me, then go for it!
Picking your lenses doesn’t have be overwhelming and the truth is, you don’t have to have a bag filled with lenses that you most likely wont use anyways. Pick the style you want and the lens type that works for you (prime or zoom). You only need two lenses… heck I only use one for everything! And sometimes you just have to break the rules to get to the style you want and in my eyes… go for it.
If you are just starting out on your photography journey, navigating the world of indoor lighting can seem overwhelming… at least it was for me. I thought you had to have all the special lighting equipment to be able to do photography indoors, but over the years I realized that all I needed was my camera and natural light coming through some windows.
These are some steps you can take to help get you started with learning how to navigate indoor lighting.
1. Learn the light: Learn the light in the room are wanting to photograph in. If you are going to someone else’s house for a photoshoot, I almost always either go before hand to look at the rooms we are using so I can get a sense of how the lighting is or I ask the client lots of questions like time of day the best lighting is in their house or room, can they send me a photo of the room(s), etc. If its your own home, you will . have the flexibility to learn what works and what doesn’t and the time of day is best. Also note that soft light will give you a soft glow and harsh light will give a more dramatic moody look. You’ll want to experiment with back light, side lite, and full light in a room which depends on where the light and subject is located. Most of my photos at home are side lit photos with the light coming from the side.
2. Turn artificial light: I try to avoid artificial light as much as possible. My home gives ample natural light so I will turn off the lights. Natural and artificial light compete with each other and can effect the color balance of the photo. There might be a point in time that artificial light is used like if you take a photo in a public space or if your experimenting with nighttime photography (I used flashlights to create the lighting in this dark room). If you have the option to work with natural light, that is the best lighting. It’s all about experimenting with the light in your space until you find the right look your going for.
3. Using manual mode: I always use manual mode in my camera so I have the flexibility to navigate the look I am going for. I use a 1.4mm lens so I usually set my f stop at a 1.4 or 1.6 and the iso depends on how much light I am getting in the room… it can be anywhere from 200 and up, it just really depends on the light that is already in the room. Some days in my house I can be at an iso 200 and if it’s a cloudy day, I’ll have to use a higher iso number. There isn’t one specific number to use. Again its all about the light source coming in and the look your going for.
4. Use curtains or blinds: to help filter the light through the room to help create the lighting and look you are wanting to go for. Also this will help filter with direct sun light that is too “harsh” or light that is spotty throughout the room.
5. Get creative: the best thing about indoor photography is you can really get creative with different things like light/shadow, bright/moody, the possibilities are endless. Indoor light does take some practice to learn but once you get into a place you can work with it, you’ll start to feel comfortable in almost all indoor situations.
On another note, I avoid using a flash as much as possible. If I am photographing in a darker room, I just crank up my ISO. I always felt flashes were bulky and really didn’t ever care for the look it gave so I just use my manual settings as much as possible. I might be breaking the rules here, but I say its your photography and your style.
Have fun experimenting with indoor lighting! You can create so much when you are indoors especially with kids at home!
Looking at photography today, you might say to yourself if your starting your new venture as a photographer that the industry is so saturated and how will you ever be able to stand out in all the noise of photographers.
When I first started I thought the same thing and still think it sometimes, BUT the truth is, there is only one YOU. Do the style that makes YOU happy. I am guilty of trying to be the copy cat photog who tries to be like everyone else, use the same equipment, use the same settings, try to replicate the same images, and use the same presets and actions. I may use the same presets as some, but I tweek them to make them my very own.
As a photographer, it can be easy to loose sight of your creativity in todays high demand social media world and start loosing yourself in the comparison game… GUILTY. Recently I got so caught up in the comparison game it made me anxious to think about what others where doing to the point I was asking what the point because I am not like so and so.
I decided to OWN my style because its me. Its who I am. I have taken a different hold on it, I am the subject along with my kids. I decided to get creative this year and tell my story through my own photography. I might as well if I have the skills right? Being able to get into my clients shoes go out and take photos of my life in locations I would take a client has really created something more for me.
It is sparked a flame within to want to create more and to discover more of what I can do with my camera. I have felt it has really helped me to focus on my photography rather than focusing on what others are doing. I think this could be that I am focusing on how I want to tell my whole story on life (not just photography) rather than focusing on how many clients or sessions I have or other photographers have. Being able to do this has really allowed me spark some creative genius within.
Another decision I made this year to help my creativity is I joined a group of like minded moms in a IG photo group where each week we have a theme and we post our photo on our feed on Tuesday os every week. Joining this group has really allowed me to dig deep into my creative mind and discover some new techniques I’ve never done before.
For example, this week was themed “RED”, perfect for Valentines week. I put myself in my clients shoes, got all dressed up and even got a pretty bouquet made up to add some texture to the photo, and went to a snowy location. I danced and twirled doing the things I would tell a client to do. I felt beautiful dancing around in the snow with the pretty bouquet and red skirt.
It may sound silly to put yourself in front of the camera like this ( I would have a year ago) but it helps so much to put yourself in the frame and see what will create from it. You might come up with new ideas for creating poses at your next session or a great way to tweak your editing skills before you do it on an actual session. So many possibilities can come from you being your own subject. As side note, telling your story through your lens not only helps with creativity but gains trust with your future clien
One last thought is photograph often for YOURSELF. I think this can go full circle with what I already mentioned but it such truthful advice. As mentioned, I have gotten so caught up worrying about getting clients, trying to stick out in the crowd, and be like everyone else… I lost sight of me and who I am as an artist and created so much burn out. When your burnt out, the creativity isn’t there. Photographing for YOU is so refreshing to the soul and you can interpret it in which ever way feels right for you.
I am growing with photography and using it to tell a different story. This is who I am as a photographer, wife, mom, individual. This for me has created a new happy place. Your art should be you. There wasn’t two Da Vinci’s or two Van Gogh’s. There is only one you. So put on your red skirt, grab some pretty flowers, and go twirl in a pretty place because you are worth your own investment.
It was only fitting that today’s Friday Photo tip would be about capturing motherhood because this beautiful mama gave birth to her precious little Hazel!
Capturing motherhood is such a beautiful thing to photograph wether you photograph your own life or you photograph clients motherhood moments. For me, its about capturing the intimate moment. A special moment of a mother with her child, a family laughing and playing together, or a moment of snuggles.
Capturing the raw special moments speak volumes and tend to tell a story of moments that were captured to be remembered for a life time.
I will tell a family to pretend like I am not even here at the beginning of a session. I want them to feel like they can be themselves because that is when the best beautiful moments take place.
And for a motherhood tip for you, I ask this beautiful mama what she valued about motherhood:
“I think the privilege of watching these little people that I created become their own person with personalities and preferences that they get to pick. And that I get to eat all of their leftover chicken nuggets.”- Courtney