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Category Archives: Tips and FAQ

Top wedding tips for better getting ready photos

I can’t count the amount of brides I’ve had who originally opted out of having the getting ready photos only to reconsider having them the night before the wedding, and it ALWAYS makes me happy when they ask me to come and photograph it. I find documenting the getting ready photos or the bridal prep to be a really important part of the day. It not only leaves you with fab photos of you and your bridesmaids before the day gets super hectic, but it also gives me a chance to get to know the bridal party better. As I’m able to get to know your wedding party better and possibly your parents too, I’m then able to get way more candid and natural photos of them later in the day.

While photographers like myself try to keep all of your photographs as natural as possible, there are still some steps you can take to ensure you get the most out of your getting ready photos:

How to get better getting ready photos

The Space

The room you get ready in will make a lot of difference to the photos. Consider the amount of space you’ll have with the amount of people getting ready + the make-up and hair team + your photographer. There are few things more stressful on the morning of the wedding than people tripping over each other, no space to breath and clutter everywhere. Give yourself some room.

The lighting also makes a huge impact not only because it’s very difficult to get good photos of you having your make-up done in dim light but it’s also difficult on your make-up artist. Opt for lots of natural light and try having your make-up done by a nice big window.

Documentary Wedding Photographer in Somerset Documentary Wedding Photographer in Somerset

 

Dress & Details

Have your dress, bouquet, shoes etc. ready all in one place so that your photographer is able to go and photograph them without interrupting your make-up/hair being done.  Having your dress readily hung on a nice hanger will save lots of time and your photographer can then find a great spot to photograph it.

Wedding Shoes - Bridal Prep Photography Documentary Wedding Photographer in Somerset Wedding in the rain - Somerset Wedding Photographer

Mood & Atmosphere

Turn on some music, get the champagne on the go – It’s always nice to start the day as you mean to go on, and as it’s a celebration why not start the celebration early? Make a morning playlist that boosts everyone’s energy and excitement. Pop the champagne. Crack open some nibbles so you and your bridesmaids don’t get hungry. Anything that creates a good vibe will read well in your photographs.

Wedding in the rain - Somerset Wedding Photographer Tips for better getting ready photos Tips for better getting ready photos

Getting ready schedule

You’ll be surprised at how fast you will run out of time in the morning, especially if there are quite a few of you getting hair and make-up done. Make sure you have enough time for everyone; You’re make-up artist and hair stylist will be able to guide you on how long you need per person but try and budget in more time than that. If you’re ready early this is always a fab opportunity to have some lovely photos of you and your bridesmaids freshly done up.

Wedding in the rain - Somerset Wedding Photographer Wedding in the rain - Somerset Wedding Photographer Forest Wedding in Somerset - Reportage Wedding Photography

Special Moments & Details

Be sure to let your photographer know about any special moments you want photographing, such as your Dad seeing you in your dress for the first time, any details that are especially important etc. Not every wedding is the same so it’s vital to let us know if you have something specific in mind.

Better getting ready photos: wedding tips

Last of all try and forget we’re even there, just enjoy the morning and all the excitement of the day and we’ll capture all of it! If you have any more tips for future couples regarding their getting ready photos please pop them in the comments.

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How To Pose Couples Naturally

How to pose couples naturally? When I first started photographing couples, a lot of my pictures turned out really stiff and the only directions I could think of were “look at the camera / just be yourself / be natural” – umm, no wonder the pictures didn’t turn out at all natural. It’s one thing to find a handful of really great poses on Pinterest but another thing actually directing your couple so that the pose comes out naturally.

 

So let’s get started..

 

Getting your couple to relax.

Before the shoot even begins it’s so important to talk to your couple. Tell them what to expect from the session, ask them what their plans are for the evening, ask them questions about themselves. It’s all about making that connection so that they feel comfortable with you. I always find some things in common with my clients to begin with and that helps us work together well.

How To Pose Couples Naturally

Engagement Photos with Dog
 

Start with a basic pose.

To begin the session, give them a super basic instruction. We don’t want to start with a really complicated pose, instead we start off with something small and once you have a few photographs at different angles of the first pose we move them on to the next phase of that particular pose.

You could start with a few poses like; stand side by side and hold hands / touch foreheads / put your arms around his shoulders / face each other and hold her waist etc

How To Pose Couples Naturally

 

Make adjustments.

While you’re shooting, give them small directions to add more variety and movement into each pose. Let’s say we started off with “Put your hand on his shoulder”, once you’ve got a few shots of her hand on his shoulder, ask her to slowly move her hand down his arm until they’re both holding hands. Keep taking pictures the ENTIRE time! We want to capture the process, not just the end result of the pose. It’s the process that we really want because that’s where you will get the most natural looking reactions.

You could try adjusting the basic poses we talked about into the next phase; stand by side and hold hands, then look at each other / touch foreheads, then have one of them look slightly off-camera / put your arms round his shoulders, then move your hands towards his collar / face each other and hold her waist, then lean in for a kiss.. etc.

Making these slight adjustments will give you lots of movement to capture.

How To Pose Couples Naturally

 

Reassure them.

Let them know that they look great, that they’re doing well and the lighting is really pretty where they’re standing and “oh wow, I love that, hold that pose if you can”.  Your couples can’t see what’s going on at the back of the camera so it’s really important to keep them informed that everything is going really well.

 

Weston-Super-Mare Pre-Wedding Shoot

 

Move your camera and change lenses for variety.

You can get a lot of various images out of just one pose if you move around the couple or change your lens for a different view. Let’s say I’m doing an engagement session and the bride-to-be has her arms around her future groom, I like to move around them so I have both an angle from her point of view AND his, I also like to change my lens so I have a wide shot as well as a close up shot. Right there I’ve gotten 3 or 4 different shots from one pose.

How To Pose Couples Naturally

 

Show them what to do.

One of the best ways to get your couples into the pose if you can’t quite explain it, is to show them what to do by acting it out yourself. Simple.

How To Pose Couples Naturally

 What are your fool-proof ways to getting your couples to look natural on camera?

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As I’m regularly asked “How do I build my portrait portfolio from scratch/if I have no clients?”, I thought I would write an easy guide to get you started. Of course, some of these tips may help you if you already have clients yet you’re looking to open new doors, like if you want to shoot children instead of couples for example.

It doesn’t have to cost you the earth to gather a decent portfolio together, but it would really helpful to have a nice website to showcase your new work. I recommend ProPhoto or Squarespace if you have little to no web design knowledge, or like me you would rather spend more time on your work than designing your website.

Okay, let’s get to it…

 

how to build a portrait portfolio from scratch

Decide who you want your clients to be.

Before you even begin to start a portfolio, think about what kind of clients you want to be booking in the future. Do you want to shoot fashion, lifestyle, maternity, newborns, families? Think about which type of photography you would like to shoot and what your ideal client would be. Then stick to shooting that style! It will streamline your portfolio nicely and will keep it consistent.

If there’s one thing I would change about starting my business portfolio, it would be to stick to one style early on instead of shooting so many different things. It’s easier to market one consistently good style, than it is to market lots of different things. Of course you should practice new styles and types of photography all the time, but only show the kind of work you want to be booking on your website.

 

Ask friends and family.

It’s really hard to build a portrait portfolio when you have absolutely zero pictures of people in your library. I started off taking pictures of friends and family members just to practice my skills but when I had finally decided to photograph families and children for a career, I needed something to start building that portfolio with.

I asked a friend if she wanted a free shoot for her son because I needed some kid shots for my portfolio. I’ve gotten a lot better since then, but hey, it was a start!

Try asking friends if they want a free or discounted session while you are “revamping your portfolio”, just let them know beforehand if they have to cover the cost of any prints they might want!

 

 

Work with models.

You could pay a few professional models to work with you – this is a great way of letting their experience help you at the same time.
Alternatively you can work with models who are at the same level as you on a trade basis. You provide the photographs, they provide their modelling skills. Put out a casting call on your facebook, blog, twitter etc. and be descriptive about the kind of project it’s for and what kind of model you would like to shoot.

You could also try out PurplePort or ModelMayhem and browse for models local to you and reply to other casting calls.

 

How To Build A Portrait Portfolio

 

Attend a workshop.

Find a workshop or course that caters to the kind of portfolio you want to build. Not only will get new pictures for your website, you will receive valuable information from  other photographers, as well as meeting new contacts.

Try Aspire Photography Training for different kinds of workshops and courses.

 

 

 

Diversify but be consistent.

Always look for new locations, try new poses, make every image stand alone as a great image, but keep the images you want to show on your website consistent. Do they have a similar atmosphere about them? Are they of similar quality? Are they recognisable to your brand? That’s what you’re aiming for.

If you don’t know what your style is yet, choose some words that you want people to describe you work with, then keep that in mind every time you shoot!

 

Work on giving directions.

How good are you at getting your subjects into the poses in your head? How are you at getting natural reactions out of people? Time to start working on it! “Just be natural” or “Be serious” just doesn’t cut it. You have to be more precise.

By giving direction and putting your own ideas into every session you do, you will create your own recognisable style and that is something you can’t afford to brush over. This is something you can really focus on during your portfolio building stage as there is a little less pressure and you can ask your subjects for feedback after every session.

How To Build A Portrait Portfolio

Some other stuff to remember..

  • Not only should you show your very best work on your website but you should also only give your clients/models/friends the very best from their session too! Don’t be sending them 200+ pictures of their kid picking their nose! If they post it out there on the webisphere it’s forever attached to your name. Just don’t do it.
  • Ask for critique on your photographs, what do you people like and dislike about them? How do they make people feel? It’s always good to have other peoples views on your work so you know exactly what prospective clients will think when they check out your website.
  • Try and master one or two types of portraits instead of doing it all. Make it clear who your work is targeting.
  • Remove older images as you get better and keep your portfolio fresh.
  • Be picky about who and what you shoot to make sure you are only shooting the kind of work you want your brand to be associated with.

What has your experience been so far? I would love for you to leave a comment.

 

 

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6 TIPS FOR TAKING A GREAT SELF PORTRAIT

Forget about “selfies” for a minute (the amazing Jen Brook has a fab article about selfies here), let’s talk about the Self Portrait.

As a photographer who shoots people on a regular basis, both as a paid professional and as a hobbyist creating images from my own ideas; Taking self portraits has been an invaluable tool for me along the way. There are a few reasons why self portraits can help you further your photography, such as:

  • Giving you complete control over your image
  • Practicing a new technique on yourself before you use it on another subject
  • Conveying a message in your image that is personal to you
  • Helping your audience connect with you on a different level
  • Showing prospective clients who you are in a bio or on social media
  • Having an idea for a great shot and knowing you always have a model at hand.

Here are a few tips to get you started with your self portraits..

 

1. Use a tripod and a remote shutter release

This is a rather obvious step, but you will need something to prop up your camera if you’re taking pictures of yourself. I once had to use a chair and two cardboard boxes stacked on top of each other to prop up my camera, because I’d left my tripod in the boot of someones car! While it did work, it still really limited me, so I’d definitely suggest using a tripod, it will make your life much easier.

Another great tool to have is a remote shutter release. It’s really annoying jogging back and forth between every picture to press the shutter and set the self timer, screw that.

A remote shutter release will allow you to press the shutter from where you’re positioned, meaning you can take several shots without having to stop the creativity process every 500th of a second.

I currently use the Canon Remote Control RC-06 with my camera. It’s a wireless transmitter that works in conjunction with the infrared receiver built into my camera. It’s a nifty little tool that doesn’t cost much. The only trouble you will have with this remote is that it needs to be facing the receiver to work (front of the camera) so to get around that I usually set my self timer to a 2 second delay, press the remote, then quickly hide it if it’s in view.

Alternatively you can try a two stage release which gives you a bit more freedom, I like the Hama Remote Control Release Ca-1.

Self portrait tips

 

2 – Nail the focus

If you don’t want to rely on your remote shutter getting the auto-focus right, or you’re doing a composite and need the focus to be spot on, you will need to manually focus your camera. To get the focus correct, simply place an object where you’re going to be in the frame and focus on it.

You don’t want to focus on the chair you will be sitting on or the wall for example if you are going to be using a shallow depth of field.

 

3 – Get out of your comfort zone

The best thing about taking self portraits is being able to shoot something different. When you’re with clients or models you can sometimes get stuck in the routine of directing the same poses, or using the same lighting because it’s safe. Your self portrait session is a time to experiment and push the envelope a little, so you can take those new ideas and techniques to your other photoshoots.

6 TIPS FOR TAKING A GREAT SELF PORTRAIT

 

 

4 – Don’t be afraid to be yourself

It’s good to express your personality through your images. Your heartbreak, you happiness, anger, vulnerability.. it makes your images human. If your photography contains emotion, your audience are going to connect with it on a much deeper level.

It’s a self portrait. It should reflect who you are.

6 TIPS FOR TAKING A GREAT SELF PORTRAIT

 

 

5 – Start a personal project

Having yourself as the model makes starting a project soo much easier. You can capture your ideas as soon as they creep in to your head and it gives you the chance to do a photography project that means a lot to you. Pick a topic or an idea that you have some connection with and your golden. I use a little notebook to write down all of my image ideas, and on my days off I will generally shoot through a few of them. My latest self portrait project is based on Social Anxiety.

Better Self portraits Better Self portraits Better Self portraits

 

 

6 – Use a field monitor

Being in front of the camera means you can’t really see what’s going on, so you can either shoot a bunch of frames to make sure you get at least a few good shots or you can take more control over your composition using a field monitor. If you have a tablet or a decently sized compatible phone, give the DSLR Controller App a go. It will turn your tablet or phone into a field monitor, meaning you can control your camera from your tablet.

Or, if you’re really high tech like me, you can use a big full sized mirror behind your camera to see what you’re doing.

Creative Self Portraits 6 TIPS FOR TAKING A GREAT SELF PORTRAIT

Some other things to consider:

  • If you’re shooting a self portrait for your bio or business social media pages make sure it represents your business as well as your own personality. I stick to natural light and soft focus when it comes to my marketing self portraits, because it’s part of my brand.
  • If you’re anxious photographing yourself in front of passers by, but want to use a public location, consider getting a friend to help you take the pictures.
  • Use self portraits to document change or milestones. It’s nice for me to look back and see how much I have changed over the years (including all my different hairstyles) as well as seeing my photography style progress through my images.
  • Take pictures of you with your loved ones. Often as photographers we are always behind the camera and we’re never IN any of the family pictures. Get your family together, along with your tripod and remote shutter and take some nice family photographs that include you!
  • This is the best time to try out a new photoshop tutorial that you can’t try with your usual business photography. Perfect excuse to brush up on some new editing skills. I recommend Phlearn.com for some great editing tutorials.

Have a fab self portrait you want to show off? Link to it in the comments below :)

 

6 TIPS FOR TAKING A GREAT SELF PORTRAIT

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