These days, I feel like I'm always hearing, "everyone's a photographer." I get it, to some extent, because we live in this technological age where cell phones have some pretty amazing camera features and decent lenses, which makes "everyone" a photographer. I thought I'd use this post to give you all a little insight on what actually goes into a session to deliver a beautiful gallery to a client. I had a recent session that I felt was my best yet, but the reason it went so well is because I was so well prepared! I have taken several photography classes, both about using my camera and about how to capture specific styles of photography during a session. I spend most of my free time reading about photography or connecting with other photogs to discuss different techniques and critique each others work.
While some people may think it, I don't actually just click a button and my work starts the minute I'm contacted for a potential session. Part of my job is just getting to know my clients, so they are as comfortable as possible during our time together. I became friends with Shannon through a mutual friend, and have done pictures for her family before, so there wasn't as much "getting to know the clients" that needed to be done. That doesn't automatically mean I don't have to prepare for the session. In addition to scheduling and finding a location (this one was easy, it was at her house), I also have to prepare ideas for posing, lighting, how to encourage her and Mark, her husband, to open up during the session and how to connect with Diva, nickname for their daughter, so she will open up in pictures too!
This little Diva is so sweet and is (err... was) so excited to become a big sister! She gave me some big smiles in some pictures, but she was also willing to snuggle up with her parents for some more intimate shots. (this post is a little late, baby sister was born last week and everyone is home and settling in <3... stay tuned for some adorable newborn pics!!)
I'm constantly in contact with clients before their session. I'm messaging them with questions about what they're hoping to come out of the session with, in terms of specific styles of session or specific poses. Because we're in New England, I also get to keep constant watch on the weather, since most of my sessions are outdoors, and keep my clients updated of any potential weather events that may impact our session. There is a lot of work that goes into a session, but at least some of it's fun :-).
One of my favorite things to do before a session is scour Pinterest for ideas and share ideas with my client. I love clients like Shannon, because she loves to do that too! We sent a few ideas back and forth, which gave me an idea of what she was looking for and really helps me prepare better. When I arrived at their house, we both had phones out with screenshots of all of the ideas we liked! I never expect to get a perfect duplicate of a picture that I see. Even if I come close, my artistic style will be different from another photographer.
Depending on the length of the session, there are a lot of images to be reviewed after a session. I'm still working on getting a good workflow down (I sometimes get distracted by a picture that I love and want to immediately edit). This process is called culling, first I narrow it down by eliminating the terrible ones (out of focus, too dark, too bright/over exposed, peoples face cut out of the frame... that type of stuff). From there I compare all similar images and decide which are worth keeping and including in a gallery. Usually this is easy, if I take 5 similar shots, usually 3 aren't great. With this session, I had SO many great photos to choose from, it was difficult to narrow them down.
While photographers may seem cool, calm and collected during a session, there is a lot happening that the clients don't realize. Especially being an outdoor photographer, I'm dealing with constant changes in my lighting. This makes it difficult to get consistent with my style. Shooting in manual mode is how we deal with that, but that can sometimes be difficult when the light frequently changes. While I'm working my camera settings, I'm also constantly chatting with my clients. I ask questions that may get them to laugh, or just think about something. I encourage them to interact with each other like I'm not there, but then interrupt with suggestions like do a family group hug and try to capture an intimate moment. I truly love the connections I've made with my clients since I started on this journey.
Once I decide what will be included in the gallery, I start editing. Sometimes it's easy, sometimes it's not. When I get really into my editing, I tell myself I'll just do "one more picture" and then find myself with either an extremely difficult edit or doing more than one picture, and staying up way longer than I planned! Editing is my peaceful place, I find it so strangely calming, maybe it's because I do a lot of it after my little one goes to bed. Usually, I go through an edit an entire session (while sending lots of sneak peeks to the client) and then I go through every picture again to make sure I didn't miss anything. I'm not huge on editing, I change things like colors, lighting, clean up blemishes on things. Instead of having to edit things out of the background, I try not to include things that I don't want in the frame. Occasionally, something is caught in the background and if I'm able to get rid of it without disrupting the image, I will.
When a full gallery is finished, I then have to create a gallery link using a website and make some tweaks to that before sending that out to the client. I am always a ball of nerves when waiting for a client to view their gallery, even though I know I don't need to be. When I hear from clients about how much they love their galleries, it brings me such a sense of pride! Sometimes, after I've already delivered a gallery to a client, I'll decide that I like a photo in black & white and I'll send that copy over to the client too :-) I can't help myself, I love a good black and white photo!
I hope you enjoyed hearing a little more about my creative process... and I hope you enjoyed these gorgeous pictures!