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I know that I still haven’t answered everyone’s questions yet, sorry! Here are some answers to people’s questions about how I shoot. Thanks for all the great ideas, guys!

Wait asks:
I want to know… what is your favorite moment to shoot at a wedding?

At the end of the ceremony, I follow the couple after they walk down the aisle. After they walk around a corner out of sight of their guests, there is usually a moment of shock and elation as they realize that they just got married. All of a sudden the formalities are over and it becomes real. It’s usually a few seconds of raw emotion, and easily my favorite moment of the day. I feel especially grateful that I am often the only person to witness it.

 

sixpenny_book asks:
I would like to know how you get such crisp landscape photos. Mine always seem to be a bit washed out or “misty” looking and I’m wondering what setting I need to adjust to get a great landscape photo. Thanks! Love the blog!

The secret to great landscape photos (and photos of all other kinds, too) is the light. There are usually two times of day when I’m interested in taking landscape photos: just after sunrise, and just before sunset. Mid-day light creates that washed-out look. When the sun is low in the sky, colors are more vivid, shadows are more dimensional, and the contrast is higher.

Another point to consider is that digital photos tend to look a bit flat straight out of the camera. You might want to check your photos’ levels or curves in Photoshop, to see if you can add contrast in post-production.

 

Lolareina asks:
How many pictures total do you usually end up shooting for a portrait session? A wedding (including getting ready, ceremony and reception)?

I’ll typically take several hundred photos at a portrait session, and a couple thousand during a wedding day.

 

Michelle asks:
How many photos do you normally show to a couple? i know it can depend upon the wedding, but just an average?

My final set of proofs is typically 700 for a wedding, and 75 for a portrait session.

 

Lolareina asks:
What’s the most recent picture you’ve taken that, when chimping or going through them on your computer, you get that rush because it’s The Shot?

This one. Traci was holding her daughter for the first time. The moment was perfect. I was so happy that I captured it just right.

 

Lolareina asks:
Have you ever had any outrageous requests?

Not really, but I do try to present my style and personality clearly before someone chooses to hire me. I think most people that I work with have read my blog and know what to expect from me, so it works out great. The only times I’ve had difficulties have been rare occasions when brides have hired me because I’m just what they’re looking for, but their mothers have different ideas of what wedding photography should be. In situations like that, I smile, do what I’m asked, and then move on to something else. I’ve never been asked to do anything really weird, though! I have some funny stories, but you’ll have to buy me a latte to hear them. 😉

Dawntreader90 asks:
Do you try to frame your shots or do you take a hundred fast shots and some come out spectacularly? I’ve seen some photographers take pictures where they are snapping what sounds like a hundred shots or more a minute. Not that there’s no value in doing it that way, especially for fast-action shoots. but it seems like if a person always take pictures that way, something decent is bound to come of it sooner or later even if it was 1 shot in 10,000.

Both. I frame my shots very carefully, and I take hundreds of fast shots. You are assuming that it’s an either/or situation, but I very much disagree. Every picture I take involves thoughtful consideration of exposure, composition, and lighting. I am photographing real events that occur very quickly, and it’s my job not to miss important moments. I am also expected to make people look good in the process. I choose to take multiple frames of many moments, so that I can delete unflattering expressions and make sure that I don’t miss the crucial expression. I can always delete duplicates later, but if I miss an important moment, I can never recreate it.

 

oh_so_luscious asks:
Do you have any tutorials you recommend for picture tips and tricks?

I recommend Planet Neil for excellent tips about using flash.
I’ve learned a lot about Photoshop from Scott Kelby’s books.
Joe McNally’s blog is a great resource for photography in general.

 

Michelle asks:
Do you have any sort of timeline that you like to keep throughout the day?

Definitely! My husband jokes that I operate with military precision during a wedding day.

Several weeks before a wedding, I ask the couple for a detailed timeline of the wedding day, along with their photo request list. I combine that information to create my photography schedule. As I prepare this schedule, I advise the couple on the amount of posed group photos we can fit into the time they have allotted. If we won’t have enough time for everything they want, I help them choose additional times for pictures, or I give suggestions to help them cut down their photo request list. The couple approves the photography schedule before the wedding day, so they know what to expect from me with the timeline they have available.

When the wedding day arrives, I do not have to rely on the couple for any guidance. I know where I need to be, what pictures I need to take, and what will be happening next.

 

Michelle asks:
What is your take on first looks? yay, nay? a must?

This is a great question that couples ask all the time! I think it’s a tough decision for a lot of people. My short answer is that it entirely depends on the couple and their own priorities. I’m happy to work with any schedule that I am given, but I’ll make it clear to the couple what photos they can expect with the schedule they have chosen. I’m going to write a whole post on this topic, so stay tuned!

 

 

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COMMENTS

Oh yes, uncooperative people are difficult to shoot, but that’s when I have to pull out my psychology. Everyone reacts positively to something, so I make it my job to figure out what that is. That requires careful observation of that person and his or her interactions with other people. I frequently put my camera down and talk with the people I photograph, asking them questions and learning as much as I can about them.

With all people, the key is to make it fun. That’s often easier with kids than with adults, because I’ll get down on the ground and roll around with the kids until they are having a blast. Adults need a more subtle approach. 😉

Thanks for the post. It reminds of my own wedding. We had some really nice photos but the only video we had was ruined. The guy who shot the video had his finger pressed on the “record” button at all time. As a result there are several static lines on the screen that we couldn’t get rid of. Too bad. 🙁 I think we will retake wedding pictures next year at our 15th anniversary with our two boys. Should be fun!

Ohlord, Charlotte… where are you heavy, in your big toes? ;D You look great to me!

Oh, I guess unphotogenic was the wrong choice of words as that’s absolutely not what I meant. Though these tips are awesome thank you!

I guess I kind of meant uncooperative. Though, I assume at weddings there are tons of happy people so that won’t be an issue. So how do you deal with uncooperative people or kids at other shoots?

Oh, I guess unphotogenic was the wrong choice of words as that’s absolutely not what I meant. Though these tips are awesome thank you!

I guess I kind of meant uncooperative. Though, I assume at weddings there are tons of happy people so that won’t be an issue. So how do you deal with uncooperative people or kids at other shoots?

That sounds like a great success! It’s quite a compliment for them to drive across several states to get to you, and then to come back for a second trip this summer. 🙂

Personally I prefer to take control of a photo shoot, so the clients don’t feel that they have to decide what to do. That can be an uncomfortable burden for some people. During the shoot, though, I am observing them and photographing what comes naturally, and then trying to prompt (rather than pose) behaviors that reflect their natural state.

Fortunately my style of photography emphasizes emotions more than attractiveness. I genuinely believe that all happy people in love are beautiful. The only people that I find difficult to shoot are those who are in a bad mood. I just can’t make a grouchy bride look stunning and happy.

Of course everyone has angles that are more flattering than others. Heavy people (and most people in general) often look best when photographed from above, because that makes the lower body look smaller in relation to the head, and it conceals double chins. Short side lighting is also helpful to make a face look thinner. (Tutorial here: http://photo.net/photography-lighting-equipment-techniques-forum/007pax)

People who are self-conscious about their noses often look best when photographed straight on.

People with wide hips often look more slender when they turn 45 degrees to the side.

Big foreheads look smaller when photographed from a lower angle.

Pimples can be photoshopped out.

Of course every person is different, and no technique is fail-safe. For example, I am a heavy person, so it might make sense to photograph me from above, but I have a tall forehead that would look even bigger from that angle. In my opinion, I look best in photographs when I’m with people I love and I’m enjoying myself. So that’s exactly how I like to photograph other people, too.

I’m really glad my blog can be helpful for you! I hope you’ll enjoy weddings as much as I do. 🙂

Thanks for the wonderful post! A friend shared this link on Twitter, and I’m following you here so I can read more in the future. I’m a hobbyist portrait/offbeat photographer at this point, but hoping at some point to get skilled enough to do less-traditional weddings. It’s a terrifying prospect, being solely responsible for the images for one of the most important days of a person’s life. Eeep!

Gorgeous work. Thank you for sharing!

thank you for answering! i admit i had not thought of it quite that way before. i always feel awkward taking so many pictures if i haven’t lined it up “just so.” but what you said makes a lot of sense.

Thanks for the wonderful post! A friend shared this link on Twitter, and I’m following you here so I can read more in the future. I’m a hobbyist portrait/offbeat photographer at this point, but hoping at some point to get skilled enough to do less-traditional weddings. It’s a terrifying prospect, being solely responsible for the images for one of the most important days of a person’s life. Eeep!

Gorgeous work. Thank you for sharing!

thank you for answering! i admit i had not thought of it quite that way before. i always feel awkward taking so many pictures if i haven’t lined it up “just so.” but what you said makes a lot of sense.

I really appreciate these Charlotte.

Oh, good. 🙂
And that’s interesting, about the other ways you use black and white. It really does draw the viewer to the faces. Thanks for answering!

I don’t know where you are taking questions, so I hope you don’t mind that I ask you here.

How do you deal with unphotogenic people? I know they don’t mean to be unphotogenic, but are there certain poses or tips or tricks that you have?

Yeah, my last shoot, for example – the clients were driving up from FL [I’m in NC]. We’d talked for a couple of weeks beforehand about the photos she wanted with her fiance and her children, but I let her / them take the reigns for “posing” – I really dislike posing! But they had some great ideas and I ended up shooting over 300 photos in the hour we were together. She said she hadn’t had portraits done in several years [her, the fiance, 4 kids, and one of the teenager’s girlfriends… was quite the group!], and is already planning on coming back this summer and wants me to do some more. I love it when you end up feeling like a friend doing a favor for someone instead of the hired hand tagging along. I definitely slip my own ideas in there quite often and the clients are happy with that, too, but they definitely seem more relaxed the more input they have into the situation.

Oh, good. 🙂
And that’s interesting, about the other ways you use black and white. It really does draw the viewer to the faces. Thanks for answering!

I remember that at my own wedding, too! It was dizzying and wonderful.

I don’t think anyone took offense, don’t worry! At least I didn’t. 😉 But yes, that’s one of the main reasons I like to use b/w for birth photography. The main reason, though, is that there is a lot of blood involved, and b/w just looks less graphic.

In general, I use black and white for any photo in which the color distracts from my intended message. In the example of the birth photos, seeing red blood would distract people from the raw emotion of parents meeting their newborn daughter. In another example, b/w might help a photo emphasize the emotion involved in a bride’s preparation with her mom, instead of a cluttered hotel room surrounding them.

Portrait sessions are definitely more flexible than weddings, which is refreshing! I think it’s great that you’re paying attention to the body language of your clients and letting that influence your plan for the shoot.

At a wedding, there are so many guests and other vendors who need me to stay on time, so my written schedule is really helpful for me. It definitely helps prevent stress. Of course wedding days usually shift from their timeline, so I have to stay on my toes all day. At least my schedule enables me to relax a little, because I know what to expect from the wedding day, and the clients know what to expect from me.

And gosh, I’m sorry. Pregnancy and childbirth are totally normal, and often totally cool too. I meant that comment to be funny, but upon reading it, it looks kind of woman-hating/child-hating, which is horrible.

“At the end of the ceremony, I follow the couple after they walk down the aisle. After they walk around a corner out of sight of their guests, there is usually a moment of shock and elation as they realize that they just got married.” – I remember that at my own wedding!

Sorry if this is pestering, but I have a question. How do you choose what to make black and white, and what to make color? I noticed there were no color pics in that baby’s birth set that you did a while back. (And a very irreverent thought just occurred to me: maybe newborns look better in black and white because of their, um, harrowing recent experience and alien environment which they’ve just quitted…)

These Q&A entries are great, Charlotte; thanks for doing them!

I have to say, as someone who’s done only portrait sessions at this point, and not weddings [yet?], your “military schedule” is not only a surprise, but completely awesome! I feel like I spend a lot of time just “listening” to the body language of my clients during the portrait session – they’re usually the ones in control, which I find works, or has worked well thus far. But it’s also put me at what I feel is a real disadvantage as far as taking control in the way that you describe. It sounds very relaxing in a way to already know what shots you must get and what time you’ll be getting them. 🙂

I don’t know where you are taking questions, so I hope you don’t mind that I ask you here.

How do you deal with unphotogenic people? I know they don’t mean to be unphotogenic, but are there certain poses or tips or tricks that you have?

And gosh, I’m sorry. Pregnancy and childbirth are totally normal, and often totally cool too. I meant that comment to be funny, but upon reading it, it looks kind of woman-hating/child-hating, which is horrible.

Sorry if this is pestering, but I have a question. How do you choose what to make black and white, and what to make color? I noticed there were no color pics in that baby’s birth set that you did a while back. (And a very irreverent thought just occurred to me: maybe newborns look better in black and white because of their, um, harrowing recent experience and alien environment which they’ve just quitted…)

Charlotte Geary

CHARLOTTE GEARY

I photograph fascinating people, and I teach other people how to do it, too.

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