This past weekend, I had the rare opportunity of hosting my best friend and her fiance out here in Pittsburgh. Recently engaged, I was able to seize the moment and
fake it try my hand at some engagement photography. There are no plans in my future to pursue anything other than recreational photography, but I do love it and so enjoy capturing special moments for friends and family.
Here are ten tips I try and keep in mind when doing an informal photo session with adults:
1. Make your subjects laugh! Nothing loosens people up more than laughing. You are capturing intimate moments here- kissing, talking, hand holding- it could get serious. But keeping the atmosphere lighthearted and fun will make for better, more natural looking pictures.
2. Work with your skills, not against them. I know I am not yet able to “properly” control the light settings on my camera. But instead of panicking, I go with the mood of the pictures and forget about the rest. I do know, however, that I am good at seeing interesting compositions. It’s much easier to go with your gut instinct and trust your own aesthetic opinion when you are not obsessing about iso, fstop, white balance, histograms and a whole host of other “camera-savvy” vocabularly that I, at least, can’t even begin to fully understand yet.
3. Keep moving around. Taking the same picture 100 times isn’t going to give you a better photograph. Keep moving. Stand up, kneel down, lay down if you have to- but don’t stop moving.
4. Keep your subjects moving around. I’ve learned that people like options, because, well… I like options! 100 shots of the same thing is boring but 100 different shots is great!
5. Pose cautiously. If you have poses in mind (or your subjects do) give them a try. If they don’t work, move on. Sometimes various posing can make people look stiff, awkward, or uncomfortable. That being said, as the photographer, you are the only one that can tell (on your viewfinder if need be!) when something needs to change. A hand placement, the tilt of a chin, the way fingers are gripping something. Posture, slouching, leaning etc. If your subject’s hair is out of whack- fix it! Shirts bunched up- fix it! No one wants an unflattering picture.
6. Keep changing your camera settings and LEAVE YOUR CAMERA IN MANUAL. The best part about these photo sessions for me is the practice I get actually using my camera. Keep changing the settings. Figure out what you can control. There is no “right answer” here. A way overexposed photo can have a certain mood that you love. A slightly out of focus shot can work with a set of other photos very nicely. This is art, people, not science.
7. Listen to your subjects. If they say something that moves you, include it in the edited pictures. Maybe in a quote, maybe in a way you crop or highlight various pictures. These are their photos, their moments. Make them special!
8. Never over-edit, but still have fun. These days, so many pictures live on the internet. Not every photo will be blown up and framed on a formal living room wall. Play with the color or contrast, antique a photo to support a certain mood, boost or fade the color. You can present a hundred options here. Playing with photos is fun!
9. Sometimes, there is a straight-outta-the-camera-money-shot that need not be touched. Leave it alone! This is probably the hardest tip for me, personally, to follow. I always think my photos aren’t sharp enough, or balanced enough, or something enough but this is simply not always the case.
10. Don’t give up before you even start. I almost didn’t even take my camera out of the car today because it was so sunny outside and I usually can’t get even one good photo in bright sunshine. But Meredith wouldn’t be here forever so I thought what the hell and gave it a try.
… and I’m so glad I did! Happy engagement, you two, and cheers to many many more years of silliness.
The riverfront of our beautiful city.
Playing with Lilly’s crazy hair.
And seeing my daughter enjoy my best friend as much as I do!
What are you loving right now?
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