Troubleshooting on Your Camera
There’s nothing worse than getting to a shoot and everything that could go wrong, goes wrong. Here are 4 things that have happened to me during a shoot that I have learned from. Hopefully this list will save you the few seconds of panic and a little bit of time.
1. MY CAMERA ISN'T FOCUSING: The very first things to do in this situation is to make sure you are in auto focus. If you don’t want to be in auto focus, (because apparently autofocus is for novice photographers *eye roll) then rotate your lens a little bit and try focusing again.
//side note// There is nothing wrong with using auto focus. I have been doing photography as a career for about a year now and not once have I used manual focus.
If this doesn’t work, your next move could be to use a different lens. Over the fall I was a second at a wedding and my 50mm decided not to take pictures anymore. Luckily, I was not the main photographer so I switched to my 200mm and it worked out fine.
2. THESE PHOTOS ARE WAYYYYY TO BRIGHT: When you notice this, your first move should be to look at your shutter speed. Speed it up for darker images, and slow it down for brighter images. If this doesn’t work, check your ISO and adjust your sensitivity as needed.
3. THERE'S A GREEN OR BROWN TINT ON EVERY PHOTO: The first step I would take is check my white balance. Make sure your white balance matches your environment. Many people work in "auto white balance", but my favorite setting is "cloudy". This chart can be very helpful in determining the desired look for your photos. If this does not work (but in theory, it should), then keep snapping away and edit your white balance in your editing software afterwards. You can do this by using the eye-dropper tool in Lightroom. Inexpensive software like Polarr does not have this feature.
4. I DON'T WANT THE FLASH TO GO OFF!!!!: This can be a very stressful moment for many photographers especially when time is of the essence. First of all, be sure your camera is set to "flash off" on the dial. Also make sure your flash is down. Keeping it up could cause it to go off. Lastly, if all else fails, you may have to literally cover the flash with your hand or black piece of paper. Do not use white paper otherwise the light will scatter, creating a larger light source. This is especially important when shooting performances. I learned this the hard way when I was in charge of getting photos for the school newspaper of the spring play. Since I was sitting in the front row, I quickly realized that the actors/actresses were more focused on the small flash on the corner of my lens, and not the audience. Needless to say, I had to spend the two hours with my finger over the flash to prevent them from getting distracted.
//side note// Another thing to keep in mind when shooting performances is to turn all the sounds off on your camera. This can be changed in settings. Also, if you are sitting or standing within a crowd, turn your brightness down on your LCD screen. Another solution is to always keep your screen covered with your shirt or hand.
Planning a Photo Shoot
When planning a photo shoot, most photographers will follow a similar schedule for consistency. Although everyone has a different way of doing this, we all have the same goal; to have satisfied customers and clients. Here is my process for model photo shoots...
1. Ask someone if they would want to be a model. Look at my article about picking models for more information.
2. Give him/her a model release. As you know from the past it is very important to get a model release back otherwise you cannot use the pictures you take.
3. Discuss a date. After getting docs back, I try to figure out a date that works for both of you. This can sometimes be the most difficult part. Also at this time, I will tell them what I would like for them to wear and the location of the shoot.
4. Prep for the shoot. This is one of my favorite parts of setting up a shoot. This is the point where I whip out my big photography binder and plan out layouts and locations. I also do some color schemes and sketches of poses. I like to have a plan.
5. Arrive at the location earlier than your models. This is mainly so you can figure out lighting issues and angles without them having to wait for you.
6. Take those pics.
7. Edit and share. This is one of the most important parts of the shoot. Without making the shots look nice and distributing, there would be no marketing and publicity.
Keep in mind that these steps are not rules that everyone needs to follow. You can revise and edit them, or make your own process. This is just a template you can use if you have no idea where to start.
What's the Big Deal About Props?
I realize that not all portrait photographers are as obsessed with props as I am, but there could be. Bear with me.
Props are very helpful for a number of reasons. They make models more comfortable, fill space, transfer color, add personality, and they're just fun.
Often times it is hard to tell if a prop will look decent and fit the theme of your photos. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Does it show continuity in color? You wouldn't want to have a wood prop in front of a wood house. Unless that is the look you are going for, then it's perfect.
- Does it represent the right belief? This part is mainly for props with words. If your model doesn't believe what it says, then it is best you don't use it.
- Does it have small details? If your prop has small zig-zags on it, it could mess with the final product and make it look more like an optical illusion.
- Is it easy to see? Unless you are doing close-up shots, it may be hard to see a small ring or necklace.
- What does it add to the portrait? Every prop should have a reason it is in the picture. It could make it more happy, cozy, light, cute, and anything else you think should change about the portrait.
- Does it mess with the shadows? One time I tried to use a frame as a prop. My plan was that my model would hold it over her face and it would just be cool. But, I forgot to consider the lighting that day and I ended up only using one of the pictures. This is because the frame covered up most of her face from the light coming in at just the wrong angle.
Here are some prop ideas I have used in the past. They either worked really well or not so much. That is where I was hoping you could use them and figure out my mistake and use it as your own.
- Light bulbs
- Photos in frames
Props are really fun to experiment with (well, they are to me). I hope you get the opportunity to use them and make them your own.
The Do's and Don'ts of Portrait Photography
As you know, KLP specializes in portrait photography. We've been in business for a little over a month, but in that short time we have learned some helpful tips in making your photos turn out awesome.
Understand your audience. Each model or client has a style that they are most comfortable with and might specialize in. Don't make them do anything that they don't know how to do, or feel comfortable doing.
Make your model comfortable. There is nothing worse than a model that just stands and smiles. If you give them a prop they are almost guaranteed to warm up. This doesn't mean you need to use that picture, but it's worth it.
Prepare ahead of time. I have a binder that I take with me to every shoot. It has layouts, color schemes, model releases, and poses. It helps very much when I forget what to do after arriving to a location.
Delete of the LCD screen. Most of the photos at KLP are candids, these ALWAYS make for cute, funny, and weird pictures.
Take too much control. As I've said before, try to make your model more comfortable.If they are able to make some decisions, they are guaranteed to.
Things to Remember When Hiring Models
KLP is hired by clients as well as hiring models. There is a certain type of person that is able to be a model.
Most modeling companies look for people that are thin, experienced, and pretty. At KLP we look for anyone that is willing to do the job. Everyone deserves to be in the spotlight.
1. Do they live in the are of your shoot? You always want your model to be able to get to the location of your shoot without having to drive a long distance. This makes it easier to contact them face to face if need be.
2. Are they willing to BE a model? Some people just like the idea of being a model but aren't too fond of the work that goes with it. This may include going to places you have never been and talking to people they have never met. A true model will do all these appropriate things to gain the new experience.
3. Are they awkward in front of the camera? Models need to look comfortable in front of the camera and not look like they are being held against their will. Other people are just shy and scared. For these type of people, you may need to take some additional measures to make them more excited and comfortable.
4. Are they reliable? Some models are trustworthy in a way that you don't have to worry about them coming to a shoot with clothes that don't work with the scenery and caked on make-up. Others may not listen to what you are saying and show up looking the complete opposite.
5. Are they a control freak? One thing to remember is that YOU ARE THE PHOTOGRAPHER. If your model has an idea, let them express it, give them feedback, and decide whether to do it or not. But don't let them control the entire shoot with all of their ideas. Your name is going on the image.
Photographer of the Month:
Here is another article on troubleshooting you may enjoy!
Great video for posing!
This article is for the more advanced photographers out there.
I read this article about a year ago and it has really helped me! I suggest you do the same!