Capturing the Amazing: Chapel Hill Photographer

I am often amazed at the shots I get when I don’t stop shooting.  It’s those moments of captures that so many times are my absolute favorite shots.

When working with other photographers, and coaching them, my goal is not to make them be a better photographer, it’s to be a better “see-er” what does that mean?  It means to see things that others don’t.  It truly is the reasons we make ordinary images, extraordinary.  It’s what takes something from a snapshot to a true piece of art.

I think the gift of seeing things in a way that is different than others is what will truly help your work stand out among others.  So how do you do this?

I will be honest, I think some people are just born with it.  There are people who train their eye and their knowledge and are awesome technical shooters, they work hard at composition and making something work.  Of working the “rules” of design, but often, it’s truly that some just see the world differently!

Does that mean that you can’t work at creating and capturing the moment?  No, not at all…here are 5 tips for shooting through the moment to capturing that amazing shot.

Shoot through the moment!  What does that mean?  It means, set up the shot, have your clients interact, shoot what you set up, but keep shooting.  When you shoot past what is the expected, you get something extraordinary!  This doesn’t mean over shoot, or just keep clicking, it means to be intentional about what you are shooting and knowing that the real creation comes in the magic of waiting and then shooting through!

Train your eye to see difference.  What I mean from this is that you have to see things differently than the every day eye, sometimes this means experimenting, but often its before the session to have ideas for things and then train your eye to see it in your frame.  I think we often get nervous when we have a client in front of us, we just snap away, we capture what is comfortable.  I will often set things up so that I can see it and then I squint..and I look and see what my composition looks like, I see colors, I see distractions etc.

Pay attention to distractions.  There are so many that come to mind, and when someone asks me to look at their portfolio, I immediately see things that are distracting.  Some of the ones that seem to pop up often are:

  • cut off body parts in a frame
  • hands that cause a distraction (meaning if you have people gather together, have them put their hands around waists and backs, not shoulders otherwise it looks like a hand is coming out of some ones shoulder)
  • placement of the subject in conjunction with surroundings.  Say there’s a beautiful tree and you not only want to use the shade from that tree, but also the composition.  You place your clients in front, have this great shot…but in post, you look at it and it seems funny…why because the tree is coming out of the dad’s head.  You gotta start seeing these things in frame.
  • Hot spots or shadows that cast harsh lines

I can go on, but the point is that distractions can take a way from the amazingness!

Create connection. I cant’ stress this enough.  Some of this comes from your client feeling comfortable with you and that all comes before the session and for another post, but explain to your clients, that they will be touching and close and that will make their images extra special.  So when you go and set up a shot, and they look at you and smile or look at each other, get them to interact.  I hate to say it, but this is where bathroom humor plays a huge part!  I will often say something to get giggles, or I will ask dad to tell me his favorite moments about one of his daughters and then I shoot.  It’s magic!

Be Patient:  I think we often get so excited or so nervous that we are not patient enough to wait for the shots.  I know for me this is something that I have to work at every single session.  Because I work with so many kids, I want to capture the shot and get nervous that I won’t get it again, but if I am patient, and wait, that is usually when I get the best shot of all.  True Story!  I had a shot that I wanted to get for years with a newborn and mom wanted it too.  For those who don’t know, newborn photography is long and exhausting.  Often waiting out a crying baby, so lots of times, we try and if it doesn’t work, we move on to another pose.   I was determined to get this specific shot, it meant waiting, soothing, posing and reposing.  Then lighting wasn’t right, so I had to pose and re-pose.  Mom said “maybe it just wasn’t meant to be”  My response was I think we’ll get it, but we just have to be patient. What do you know….we got it and to date it is my favorite newborn shot to date.  As a professional, we have to be in control enough that we can assure our clients to wait.  So many beautiful shots are missed because we are too anxious.

Tell a Story:  I have worked really hard with each of the images that I present to clients.  I want them to tell a story.  I typically only present 25 images and I want each of those to have not only their own story, but a story all together.  What are you trying to convey with the shot you are taking?  Because I am a child and family photographer, often the stories are:

  • faces they make at that age (I recently did a senior session, and there was one shot that mom said, I love that shot (it was serious) because that is the look I get when….”  I was able to tell a story with that one shot.  Mom will always share that with friends and say, “this is so him”
  • eyes, what their eyes do and look like
  • how they interact with each other
  • expressions

When you pull your camera to your eye…and look at your client to shoot, ask yourself, what story am I telling with this shot.  If you don’t have it, don’t take it!

I know all of this can be overwhelming and as they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day, so be patient with yourself and tackle one at a time.

I couldn’t wait to share this sweet session.  Little miss Justyn is two and has the biggest eyes, the most adorable cheeks and loves her big sis who hopped in for a few shots.  We had to keep the jelly beans coming and the bees away, but then she was all smiles.  And just for the record, after seeing her little Chucks, I had to get myself a pair!  Too Cute!


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