while i am on vacation the lovely kaylan from kaylan buteyn photography has some wonderful photography techniques and advice that she is going to share. i love her work (be sure to check out her blog) and i know that you will love these four photography tips that she gives. thank you kaylan, for sharing these!
1. Posing helps, but it’s not for everyone!
Knowing great poses for couples and families and mimicking shots you’ve seen before works really well most of the time, but not everyone is comfortable in front of the camera- in fact, many people are entirely uncomfortable! So what do you do when you have people who might not be able to hold a straight face or won’t hold a pose? I try my best to get people to interact as naturally as possible without having them feel like I’m even there. Often I will tell a couple “go stand over there and chat while I set up the shot” and I might snap a few pictures of them talking and laughing while they aren’t noticing. Setting a couple up in a good light source and having them walk or lightly run towards you also guarantees some more natural expressions than straightly posed shots. Having good lenses is important for more documentary style shots, allowing you to be more of an “onlooker” while still capturing sharp images.
2. Look for light
Light is literally what composes your images. It’s a huge element and should always be the first thing you notice and look for when shooting. Knowing how light works changes how you expose your shots, too! When evaluating your light source, notice what you like about the light and try to expose for that effect. Is it the way the light is shining behind your subjects illuminating them? Make sure you over expose a stop or two so their skin tones and faces aren’t too dark. Is the light low and warm casting a glowing blanket across the field you’re standing in? Expose to get the rich colors and tones from the sun. Practice observing the effect light has on different subjects at different times of the day. A good way to do this is to place an object near a spot in your home that gets a lot of sunlight on a nice day and photograph it at different stages. Notice the way the sun moves across the object, how the light changes the coloring, how the shadows move and change, etc. Knowing how light works and paying attention to its effects makes a huge difference in the quality of photographs you take!
3. Eyes on environment
While great portraiture should express the best of the subjects you’re shooting, the environment surrounding your portraits adds so much. The environment sets the backdrop for the story you’re trying to tell. Is this an urban couple? A family who lives in and loves the country side? Don’t be afraid to embrace the environment surrounding people’s every day life but be mindful of unique places in their area too. It’s totally worth your time to travel to a photo shoot early and scout out places that might be unique to the area that no one else noticed- a dilapidated brick wall tucked into the alley of a small town, a gorgeous hillside that gets great soft evening light, a draping willow tree… also remember the environment can be used in many ways! Shoot against, through, and around the unique textures and backdrops you find.
3. Be attentive.
Mary Oliver, an inspiring poet and woman wrote, “To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.” The art of taking a photograph, particularly the kind of photography I find inspiring and interesting, involves a lot of attentiveness. Concentrating and observing what’s going on around you, not only looking for the elements that make up a great photograph (location of light, composition, clear view), but what small gestures are happening that help express what you’re trying to capture? Did you notice the kindness of a stranger who walked by a crowded street and stopped to help a homeless man? Did you see the tenderness in the way a mother cleaned food of her baby’s face? Practicing attentiveness can be a difficult thing but is so valuable when attempting to take expressive and meaningful photographs.