I finally got up the nerve, this year, to start offering local Mom’s inexpensive photo sessions for their kids, their families- anything they wanted “non studio” photographs of. To be quite honest, I was pretty terrified. What if I did a terrible job? Didn’t get good pictures? Walked away with nothing better than amateur snap shots?
Well, I sucked it up and went to shoot my first client today. Sweet little G is celebrating her first birthday soon and her parents wanted some Pink Giraffe themed pictures to celebrate. After getting over some initial nerves, I had a great time with this first photo session and am so excited for more to come. Take a peek at our session then read my top 10 tips for Newbie Photographers 1st photo sessions.
Here are my top 10 tips for newbie photographers straight from the mouth of, well, a newbie (non)photographer; A.K.A. ME!
- Be honest. If you are learning, if you are just starting out, if you’ve just purchased new equipment- tell your clients! I presented these mini photo sessions as learning tools for me; a way to get some experience under my belt. In my case, I DON’T have dreams to be a professional photographer, but spending some time learning to use my camera and it’s equipment and teaching myself how to take better photos is part of my long term professional goals. As long as your clients know you are learning, they will most likely be open and excited to be a part of the process- and hopefully get great photos too!
- Ask for what you need. Chances are, if you are just starting out, you won’t want to have/don’t need to have a fully stocked arsenal of props and backdrops. Maybe your sessions will be widely varying or few and far between. But even if your schedule is packed and your headed for a crash course in professional photography 101- it will be easier for you to have your clients bring any accessories they want included in their pictures with them to your location. If you didn’t request this small favor, you could end up buying (read spending money on) new props and backdrops for every single shoot. That would do you no good and certainly not be cost (or space) effective.
- Follow The Light. At the moment, I am most comfortable shooting outdoors, or in a beautifully lit, daytime environment. That’s exactly what I told my clients. Outside- or in a bright, open, window filled room. Unfortunately for all of us, Pittsburgh’s weather is unpredictable. Little miss G isn’t quite walking yet so we settled on meeting in the atrium of a college campus building that had big windows and was pretty much vacant on the weekends. Thank goodness, because it ended up being one of windiest days of the year. If you don’t have fancy flash and reflector equipment- it’s a good idea to follow the beautiful light. Your shoot will require less fuss with flash and reflectors and you will have a few less things to worry about.
- Speak Up! I know from personal experience that I am far more comfortable when I know things are going well. Tell your clients that you are loving this angle/that outfit/this scene. If they know you are getting great shots, they will most likely loosen up, relax and enjoy the process. Nothing is worse than getting your picture taken and wondering/worrying if you look good. In the same regard, don’t be afraid to fix hair or clothes, or suggest changing things up. You have the creative eye; use it to adjust your composition and details as best you can.
- Wear Comfortable Clothes. My first inclination when dressing for a shoot is to look “professional”. But I can tell you from recent experience that I’ll go with comfortable-and-can-get-dirty clothes from now on. You want the freedom to move around (like, lay on the ground) if you need to without worrying about, god forbid, getting a good pair of slacks dirty or stained.
- Give Yourself Time. If you are shooting kids, give yourself enough time. There will be boogers that need to be wiped. Diapers that need to be changed. Meltdowns that will come and go. Running. Chasing. General chaos. You might even encounter a boo boo or two (kids fall down alot, didn’t you know?) Leave enough free time to allow these things to take place and settle without feeling rushed.
- Capture An Interesting Angle. Try laying down underneath your subjects gaze. Try standing over a baby so they are inclined to look up. Tilt your camera a little to get more of a prop in the frame. This is your chance to play and try various focal angles to yield a great shot. Definitely get those head on smiling shots, but try to capture the essence of your subject too. Babies are so deliciously little. Do something with your camera to portray that in your photos.
- Keep Shooting Through Candid Moments. Posed shots are great, of course. But I love catching a glance or a stare, a gesture, even a sweet little moment that’s not really part of the “scene”. Mommy comforting her baby in between tutu changes, Daddy making baby laugh with her Giraffe. A curious eyebrow wrinkle at the sight of a pink balloon. These are precious and special memories that are so wonderful for parents later on. You don’t have to wait for everyone to be “ready”. Keep shooting. You’ll be glad you did.
- Shoot In Manual and Change Your Settings Frequently. You may originally be happy with a shot on your camera’s view finder. You might even be tempted to leave the settings completely alone for the duration of the shoot. If it’s not broke don’t fix it, right? But chances are, when you are home and staring at your photos again on the computer screen, you will wish you had over or underexposed a little here and there- just to see how much better the photo would have been. You will wish your aperture was wider or wish you had messed with the white balance a little bit. Take a few moments to do these things while you are shooting so you have a variety of images to work with later on. Don’t be scared of changing the settings on your camera even if you don’t yet know exactly what they mean and exactly what they do. You’re learning. It’s ok.
- Listen To Your Client! More often than not, people come to a shoot with an idea of what they want already in their head. They’ve seen a picture on pinterest that they love (check out this photo inspiration board!) or they saw a friends picture of their newborn that they can’t stop obsessing over. Make SURE you get those shots. You are being paid for a service and artistic or not, you need to deliver!
I’ll be back with more tips on first time photo sessions. I hope you continue to learn with me as I delve deeper into a world of portrait photography where I’ve only really begun to scratch the surface.
Thanks for reading!