Q + A: Learning About Photography


This morning I was completing a photo album for a client. This particular photoshoot was a maternity photoshoot with a wonderful couple. As I became giddy compiling their photos, my partner takes a moment to ask me two questions:

  • What did you learn that you’ll try to do at your next photoshoot?
  • What did you learn that you will try not to do at your next photoshoot?

While looking through the photos on my computer, I took a moment to think about my answers. After a couple of minutes I began to speak but suddenly he said, “Hang on!” Just then he rushed around the office to grab his phone and gimbal. I knew immediately what he was about to do: film me answering his questions. He sets it up, aims the camera at me and asks the first question again. So, I gave him my answers, smiled, then turned around to complete my work. He smiles too and said, “Okay, I’m sending this video to you now. You should blog about this when you have the time.” And he’s right. I’ve been meaning to get more blog posts uploaded as well as create posts about the subject of photography, specifically what I’m learning as a newbie. Thus, ten hours and some change later, here I am ready to share my answers with you.

Before I do, I just want to take a moment to humblebrag about my partner. He is one of my biggest cheerleaders and empowers me each day. He helps me show up as the best version of myself and he never lets me forget what I’m capable of doing.

Alright, back to those questions… I don’t plan on sharing the video, instead you’ll get the written version. This is doing you a favor because you will not have to be distracted by my morning hair (which looks like a pink bird’s nest) or my awkward sitting position, looking like I was going to be interviewed by Oprah.

*What did you learn that you’ll try to do at your next photoshoot?*

What I learned working with the expecting couple is how to make two people feel more comfortable with me, each other and the camera. Sure, I can get to know them ahead of time and provide encouraging feedback during a session and this time I asked each person questions that required an answer about their partner. This type of technique would work really well for couples, specifically. For example, there was a trail at the location we were at and I wanted them to walk towards the camera but focus on each other. Now, if I told them, “Don’t look at me, just look at each other and walk,” they might stare directly at one another and smile every other step. After the fact, the photos end up looking less genuine, in my opinion. Instead, I told them, “Okay, start walking towards me and [insert one partner’s name here] tell [other partner’s name] about your absolute favorite dish they cook for you!” Of course, I had to ask them this because I'm a big foodie but it worked! Immediately I could see the compliment-or grin and begin talking while the compliment-ee blushes and smiles at the same time.

A few more to consider telling your subject:

  • Whisper in their ear about your favorite physical of that person.
  • Tell each other what you remember most from your first date.
  • The classic--share your best joke.
  • Where do you want to go on vacation next?

I believe questions and storytelling between your subjects brings out a more natural side of them. This helps them become more comfortable with the photographer and in front of the camera.

*What did you learn that you will try not to do at your next photoshoot?*

This time around, I learned not to take too many photos. In this case, I’m working with two adults that are not running around very much. When I’m in a session that involves children, which can be unpredictable in their movement, then I don’t mind holding my finger down on the shutter button when the moment seems right. But with a maternity photoshoot, I’m usually telling each person where to stand and what to do. Once I take the right photo, the best thing to do is to have them change into a new position or move on to a new spot with a different background.

At this point in the video recording, when I had changed my position to sitting back in my computer chair and was holding onto a Harry Potter mug filled with cold coffee, my partner asked, “How will you be conscious of this at your next photoshoot?” I pondered and responded with:

Next time, I’ll take it slower. Usually we have at least an hour in a session. I’ll pause after a few clicks of the camera and take a few seconds to scroll back a photo or two on my display screen to see if I captured the shot.

Overall, this will not only save on time and SD card space but I’m able to come home and choose from a wide variety photos with with different poses and backdrops.