For every single photo I snap, I go through these 5 steps in my head before I hit the shutter. It is important that all of these aspects come together for each photo, or things will not be right. It might seem like a lot to go through before each and every photo, but it all happens within a few seconds. If you can get used to asking yourself these 5 questions before you shoot, it will turn into magic!
“Will this photo portray my style?”
It is extremely important to keep your style consistent, so that people can see what to expect from you. You want to make sure there are key elements captured in the photograph that represent your style. For instance, I always make sure I try to have some creaminess in the background and some yummy bokeh light. I usually get pretty close shots so I can capture those sweet emotions that tell a story. I try and find place that will allow for the sun to be behind my subject and filtered through trees so I can get that nice glowy light that comes over the tops of there heads. These types of things are important to think about before even shooting, so you can make sure things are consistent.
2. “Am I in nice soft light?”
Light is what makes an entire photograph. You could have a crappy location and dull background, but if you have super pretty flattering light…it’ll bring the photograph to life. Pay attention to how the light falls on your subjects face and body, harsh light and shadows can look super unpleasant, and not professional at all. I am always searching out places that have nice clean soft light. And if I’m in a place where all I have is harsh light to work with, turning my subjects back to the sun will keep all of that under control. Working in filtered shadows, or an hour before the sun goes down is best.
3. “Are my camera settings correct?”
After I have decided my light and style are in check, I will make sure I put my camera settings to expose the photograph correctly. Shutter speed, aperture, ISO, and white balance are all things I control separately to make sure they work together in creating the look I want. I check my shutter first to make sure it’s fast enough to capture the movement in the photo and expose the photo correctly. I glance over at my f-stop and make sure it’s the lowest it’ll go because I always shoot with my aperture wide open. The only exception to that would be with groups of course so I can get them all in correct focus. Next I check the ISO, this is the camera’s sensitivity to the light the camera takes in from the shutter and aperture setting. I always want to try and keep this as close to 100 as I can. The higher the number, the more noise comes through into the photograph. This greatly depends on what camera body you are working with though. In darker spaces I will lower my shutter a few stops and raise my ISO to at least 800. I want to make sure that the exposure triangle is going to work with how I’m thinking about composing the photograph, and how bright the setting is.
4. “How do I want to compose this photograph?”
Wouldn’t the composition come before light and settings? And my answer is no, because you can compose an amazing photograph, but without nice light…it won’t look good. You always need to find the correct light to shoot in, and then compose how you will shoot in that light. There are many ways to compose an interesting and beautiful photo. The four things I always automatically search for are: leading lines to carry the eye, the rule of thirds, natural framing, and most importantly depth of field.
5. “How will my model be posed?”
The pose or movement you put your subject in is very important and the last piece of the puzzle to creating the image! This is where you decide how the subject is placed and how that affects the composition of the image. My favorite way to get emotion and natural poses is to prompt the model by telling them to do something or by asking a question. For example, I could tell them to walk towards me like they just came out of the bar at 3am laughing and stumbling. I could ask a couple to close their eyes and sync their breaths while they think about their first date. I could ask a 5 year old to tell me what the funniest thing her mom does, and that usually gets a lot of genuine smiles. The movement and emotion I put into the images is all thought of ahead of time, and really ties it all together.
After those 5 steps are completed and I have taken my photo, the one thing you have to remember is to always just double check exposure and focus on the back of your camera to make sure everything went as planned!
Then comes the best part…post process editing! I’ll share my process for that in the next blog!
I hope this information will come to mind the next time you go snap a cute photo!