June 11, 2009

Engagement Shoot Tips #4

There are cliches everywhere: Life is like a bowl of cherries. The grass is always greener on the other side. You get the idea. In photography, there is one such saying. And that, folks, brings me to…

Engagement Shoot Tip #4: Make pictures, don’t take pictures.

90% of my job involes me TAKING photographs. I consider myself–mostly–a photojournalistic photographer. However, I do love the part of my job that requires me to MAKE photographs. This usually happens at portrait sessions (engagement, boudoir, etc.) and for a small part of the wedding day.

As I’ve mentioned before, engagement sessions are unique because they allow us (me and you) to have complete control. With that control often comes “posing.” Though I make every effort to let the photos I take capture the couples in them, some direction is needed. Generally, I like to make suggestions with body positions and then give my couples enough time within that position to allow their personalities to shine through. Though there are some tried and true “poses” that I keep coming back to, every engagement session is a little different. The differences depend on a few things: the couple’s personality, the location they chose and what they are wearing when they show up. All of those things give me a good indication of how to make their photos.

I can’t make a photo by myself, though. This is where you come in. You beautiful and shy and oh-so-nervous clients. You should prepare for your session by having a stash of smiles and poses in your back pocket. Practice in the mirror. Have a runway show in your kitchen. Do whatever it takes to make you feel comfortable and–more importantly–LOOK comfortable in the photos.

First, think about your face. What expressions do you like in other photos? You don’t want to have the exact same smile in every picture. Tyra Banks says to, “smile with your eyes.”

And while some of those faces are pretty ridiculous, you get the idea. Don’t be afraid to take a photo where you aren’t grinning ear-to-ear.

At the same time, you don’t want to be standing the same way in every picture. This is where magazines come in handy! Check out this spread:

Though the body positions here only vary slightly, the little details can change the whole feel of the picture.

So, when you are preparing for your shoot, do your homework. Do I expect to be working with seasoned models? Of course not! I just want to help you get the best photographs possible. I want you to look at your pictures and be proud.