When clients tell me that not all of their family photos are professional, I reply with "Neither are mine." I firmly believe that snapshots are an important part of documenting our lives and memories. Unfortunately, I see a LOT of horrible photos on Facebook and other social media -- very blurry, dark -- some I really can't even see what is going on. So I've put together a few tips on how you can make the most of your everyday photos. You may have seen the segment on The Hampton Roads Show on WAVY TV 10 where I was in action while explaining some of what I wrote in this post. I have two scenarios, and you'll see some common points between the two:
Holiday card photos
Every photographer will tell you that lighting is everything, so finding good light is the most important thing to do. Good light will generally come from behind the camera onto the people being photographed, just like you see when a photographer uses studio lights. Outside, you’ll want to pay attention to the direction the sun is shining, but be sure you don’t have any harsh shadows (lines) on the people. Standing at the very edge of a shady area works wonderfully well. Be sure to choose an area that doesn’t have anything distracting in it. This is a photo of me and my family. I used a tripod and chose a location in my neighborhood. I did not use Photoshop to alter this photo so that you could get an idea of what to expect.
Be realistic about how many photos small children will tolerate. I speak from experience when I say that the most difficult people to photograph are your own children. To minimize the resistance, get all adults into place first, then add in the kids just before hitting the timer button. As incentive, you could try balancing a piece of candy on top of the camera as a reward for anybody who looks at it. An alternative would be to intentionally have everyone interact with each other. Remember to have that tripod at about eye level.
(This is when it's good to be a photographer's kid: I set up a "fake Christmas" for my kids so I could get these photos for all of you.) Just like with the holiday card photos, lighting is crucial. I advise you to open all the blinds and drapes and then as a last resort, turn on all the lamps. Choose a location where you can have a large window right behind you. Clear out all clutter and furniture both behind and next to the tree. In the photo below, there was a window to my right and also directly behind me. Yes, I choose the location of my Christmas tree based on the best light :)
Get down to kid level and have the camera just a foot or two off the ground so you can really get those smiles as they look down and see their new toys. Remember that a mix of look-at-the-camera and candid moments really tell the story better!
Potential pitfalls: Those bright, airy photos with light pouring in through the window behind the person require some knowledge on how to use the settings on your camera, so my advice is to not take your shots directly into a window.
Do you want to learn more about how to use your camera? Join me in January when I start my mission to Save the World from Bad Photos... sign up for a class!
“I feel like I’m supposed to love this, but I don’t.”
Do you ever say that about a photo? Recently, a local business owner showed me the family portrait on her desk and said that. “I feel like I’m supposed to love this, but I don’t.” As soon as I saw the picture, I knew why.
It was an image of her, her husband and their three children. It was a photograph of those she loved, but not a photograph she loved. They were dressed nicely. It had the proper settings, good light, proper positioning, etc., but there was no LIFE in the image. No personality, nothing to remember, or fall in love with. Their eyes seemed glassed over and their smiles forced. It was more of a mug shot than an image of a loving family.
Art vs. Technical
Photographers have to balance doing enough of the things we are SUPPOSED to do with enough of the things we SHOULD do. We have to do both art and technical.
Experience, skill and personal style determine how much is art and how much is technical. Sometimes we focus on one too much over the other. In the example above, the photo was too technical. The family wasn’t engaged in the moment. It lacked real emotion. It was technically right, but felt rushed.
On the other hand, these days, digital technology has put quality cameras in the hands of the public. Inexperienced, yet passionate, people take up photography. Artistic taste drives their work, even at the expense of technical proficiency. They get genuine smiles and emotions, but they can lack the benefits of good lighting (natural or artificial), good color in the skin and focus. The decent shots they get are lucky, and they aren't able to duplicate them for other clients.
When you choose someone to photograph your family, you need to decide for yourself what is important to you. Are you concerned about your weight or complexion? Do you want to highlight your best features? Then go with the technical photographer who understands how lighting, posing and choice of lens can help. Do you want to remember sweet moments and laughter? Do you want to smile every time you see the photo? The artistic photographer is the way to go.
But why not have it all? Carefully choosing a skilled and experienced photographer who carefully balances both technical and art is the best choice of all. Someone who understands both will be able to create photos from the client's list of needs and desires. Technical expertise is almost always needed to execute an artistic vision.
Take a look at your most recent family photo. Does it show what you look like or who you really are? Can you actually see the color of your eyes? Is your skin the right tone? Is your smile natural? Are your kids comfortable? Do you all look like yourselves? Do you love it? If not, it’s time to find a new photographer.
As the old saying goes, you only get one chance to make a first impression. I remember the first time a headshot made a bad impression on me. It was a realtor, whom I had met in person. A few days later, as I was referring her to someone else, I pulled up her company’s website. When I saw her head shot, I was confused. I had to double-check to make sure it was her. There was nothing technically wrong with the photo. She had a pleasant smile and was professionally dressed. The problem was that the photo was obviously very old. It looked nothing like her. Maybe she kept it because she liked that photo of herself, but as a potential client, it made me feel like she was lying, like she was hiding something. If she couldn’t even be honest with a photo of herself, what else was she hiding? How else would she deceive me? I couldn’t shake that feeling. I did not end up hiring her.
We are visual creatures and learn a lot about people by what we can observe.
Not every headshot is right for every person. The image should tell the viewer something about the person with whom they will be doing business. Is this person professional? Casual? Friendly? Trustworthy? What will your headshot tell people? How will your photo make you stand out? Consider the following example:
This woman is an event planner. Her headshot is on the job and in action. Potential clients can tell she is professional, calm and friendly and pays attention to details. These images help them feel more confident about how she does her job.
Here’s another example:
This team wanted to highlight their differences and what they each bring to the company. He is the creative thinker and she is the number cruncher. Together they get everything done. They need their clients to trust them completely and that starts with getting to know a little bit about them through their photos.
There is a place for the more traditional headshots. Some professionals need to be known as someone who is pulled together and poised. Others can be a bit more creative. Professional doesn't have to be boring or stuffy. Either way, having a professional headshot will show that you are truly dedicated to your career and that you have attained a certain level of success. There are many more tips for making the best of a head shot, and I would be happy to discuss your particular needs.
Just a quick post today, inspired by this video. When I am talking to clients, before I ever take the first photo, I often ask "What do you not like about yourself in photos?" I do this because I've learned over and over that people see themselves differently than the rest of the world does. The responses range from bumps on noses to large foreheads to "everything." I'm almost always surprised by what they say. I ask so that I know what I need to do to minimize something with lighting, posing or editing. If I don't ask, and I make my own assumptions, I'm almost always wrong. Most people ask me to "use a lot of Photoshop" to make them look their best. It makes me sad, but then I realize I do the same thing to myself. We get so caught up in our perceived flaws that we fail to see how beautifully it all comes together. I believe that expression and "the smile in your eyes" (my head shot clients know this phrase!) are what makes the true beauty shine through. My ultimate goal is to take the best photo of someone so that they truly look like themselves, but the best version of themselves.
Also, don't forget my grand opening party next weekend! Details and RSVP HERE.
(Oh, and in my dream world, I would build a studio that would look a lot like that amazing space in the video! But in the meantime, the one I have is pretty awesome.)
My Valentine baby, almost four years later.
Ahhhh, the pressure of coming up with something meaningful to give on Valentine's Day. My husband and I decided years ago not to celebrate. It's only a week after my birthday, so it seemed silly. Turns out, my son ended up being born on Feb 14 so that sealed the deal! Before he was born, I did sort of secretly wish my husband would do something sweet for me. It didn't need to be anything elaborate, just something he knew I would like. One of my favorite gifts from him was completely unexpected -- he bought me a leather-bound journal with my name on the front because he knew my current one was almost full. I never even asked him. It was classy and thoughtful and perfect.
As the years go on, we often forget to surprise and delight the people we care about most. It doesn't have to just be our spouses. Meaningful acts and words can have dramatic effects on anybody -- significant others, our children of ANY age, sisters, brothers, parents, close friends and neighbors. I have one good friend who is amazing at this. Every so often, I'll get a small gift in the mail with a note that says "I saw this, and thought of you." It's the sweetest thing!
This year, consider Valentine's Day gifts for anyone... or everyone! We could all use a reminder that we are loved and appreciated. I'll probably bring some baked goods to a neighbor, send a card to my sister, and take my kids to Great Wolf Lodge for my son's birthday (wait... does that still count?) Of course, I would be remiss if I didn't remind you of the emotional impact of a photograph. Whether you give to your mother that family photo she has been begging for, or you surprise your wife by splurging on newborn photos for the baby you'll soon have together, or you reward your best friend for all of the hard work she's put into her weight loss with a session just for the two of you. Women LOVE photos. The gift of photography lasts forever. (Which is far longer than overpriced roses, by the way.)
Happy Valentine's Day to you all! <3 Timorah
Many people have a tough time planning ahead for how they will arrange photos on their walls. They buy a few prints now, not paying much attention to the size other than what 'feels' right. What often ends up happening is that over the years they have a pile of prints or a series of haphazard-looking displays on their walls.
Recently, one of my returning clients had their second child. By evaluating what they currently have on the wall and how much space they have, I was able to provide them several options for what to do now, and then how to expand that in the future. The image below on the left show how we are incorporating the first and second child's photos together. The image on the right shows how we will expand that to aesthetically fill the space over the time using images from each session along the way. (Please keep in mind that spacing is not precise and this is meant to give them a visual representation of what is possible. Exact spacing will depend on frame/mat selection.)
The funny part about all of this is that I find it MUCH easier to do for someone else than to do it for myself! I think sometimes we just need reassurance from an objective party.
Would you like to see more of these? Leave me a comment or a note in my Contact Form.
This is such a beautiful and moving reminder of why our photos are important. Please read this post by the talented photographer Heather Rivlin.
Hello everyone! The busy fall season is upon us and I, unfortunately, have been neglecting my blog. I have so many new sessions to share with you and hope to have some photos up within a week. In the meantime, I want to quickly remind everyone to please plan early for any products you need for the holidays. Fall session dates are quickly filling up and orders must be placed by a certain date in order for me to deliver them to you in time.
To receive holiday cards by Dec 1 and all other products by Dec 20:
Session must take place by Nov 13
Order must be placed by Nov 21
I will continue to schedule sessions until Dec 19. Any sessions scheduled after Nov 13 I will do my very best to get you your final products on time but cannot guarantee it as it is highly dependent on the professional printers I use.
Please contact me if you have any questions or to schedule your session. Enjoy the fall!
All of my blog and Facebook images have a watermark. I've even started watermarking some of my personal photos I post online. I don't like to do it because it often takes away from the image itself, however, there is a good reason for doing so. I truly believe the vast majority of people are good and honest. Unfortunately, there are enough out there who steal that I must do everything I can to protect my clients and myself.
Just this week, a very talented and well-known photographer discovered her photos in the portfolio of someone else. The thief photographer not only stole property that didn't belong to her, but she misrepresented her work to her clients, who were undoubtedly disappointed when their photos did not look like the ones in her portfolio.
It doesn't stop there. I have heard of people stealing photos of adorable children and posting them to online forums, pretending to be the proud parent. Lastly, unscrupulous companies have stolen photos, rather than paying for commercial use, to be used in their advertisements. Is this what you want for your children?
There is nothing we can do to completely prevent this. A watermark placed in a location that makes it difficult to crop out will deter most thieves who will just move on to one of the many non-protected photos on the internet.
Do you want to look fabulous in any photo? Find out here.