"Ask Me Anything..." {5/31/16}

image1-2"Ask Me Anything..." is a weekly blog segment where I answer your questions about photography, me, or...anything. Check back next Monday on my Instagram and Facebook pages where I'll be taking all of your questions. 1-How do you overcome a client who does not want to be there getting photos done and refuses to crack a smile or play along during a session? 

I love this question because I'm positive it's something every photographer struggles with. Helping a client to feel comfortable in front of your camera is one thing, but breaking down barriers & walls of clients who don't want to be there is another beast altogether. I've definitely had my fair share of clients, most of the time it's the husband, who don't want to be there. In most cases, a man would rather do most anything other than take the time to pose for family or engagement photos. Having your photo taken and being silly is a totally vulnerable experience and a lot of people are completely uncomfortable showing their vulnerability. Here are a few tips for overcoming a client who is hesitant about being photographed:

  1. Give lots of direction: There is nothing more awkward than being in front of a camera and not knowing what to do with your hands or body. Providing your subject with lots of clear direction allows them to feel a lot less helpless and a lot more confident. Plan to enter into all of your sessions with a clear game plan of what poses and locations you'd like to try with each client.Palm Springs Engagement Session_0332
  2. Set expectations: Start each session with what your client should expect from you for the next hour or two. For example, I always like to begin my Engagement Sessions by explaining to couples that they should try as much as possible to be playful and let go of inhibitions by encouraging them to forget I'm there. I basically say, "Okay, today is going to be really tough. I'm going to make you kiss each other for two hours straight. If you're not sure what to do with your hands you can never go wrong by placing them here, here, or here."
  3. Be relatable: I always love to start sessions by simply making conversation with my clients. I ask them questions about how they met, how the wedding planning is going, how he proposed, etc. It's amazing how much you can have in common with a person if you just take the time to ask. This ease of friendly conversation not only takes off some of the pressure, but also builds trust. A person will never open up to you unless they trust you. Finding things in common with your subjects will also help you to connect with them on a personal level, allowing for better images.Chris and Erica-6
  4. Design the moment: When you're posing a person who does not want to open up to you or play along, it's sometimes helpful to pause the session and take some time to create the moment you want. If the man, for example, is totally stiff and uncomfortable, I might ask him to stare into his fiance's eyes and think about how much he loves her in that moment. Or, as he kisses her, imagine that it's the last time. Implementing poses that involve movement also helps a lot. I love asking couples to walk, slow dance, spin, etc. Asking them to do silly things will help them to forget that they're uncomfortable and, in that split second of them bursting into laughter, you get an awesome shot of them with their guard down.Cole and Abigail Esession-4
  5. Look stupid: I don't know if this is the most professional thing in the world, but I always find that when I'm not afraid to look stupid, the client usually seems to become a lot more comfortable. I make fun of myself a lot at sessions or act really silly. It breaks up the tension and let's the client know it's okay to have fun with it.

    Kevan Miller and Haley Kettlekamp_Engagement Photography_Valencia-10

2-What is your favorite, most comfortable thing to wear on super hot wedding days?

Summer wedding season is upon us! As much as I love what I do, shooting weddings in the heat of the summer can be a totally miserable experience that leaves you dripping in sweat. The worst thing in the world is shooting a wedding in clothing that is uncomfortable. When I know it's going to be scorching hot on a wedding day, I make sure to choose fabrics that don't cling to my skin and are breathable. Loose fitting dresses, for examples, allow your body to breathe when you're shooting. You can also chose a loose fitting pant/skirt with a sheer, light weight top. Just make sure you feel comfortable, but also look professional.


3-What type and brand of camera do you recommend for a beginner?

Choosing your first camera is such an exciting thing! I actually started on a Nikon D200 that I bought used for 500 bucks. I eventually made the switch over to a Canon system for various reasons, but loved learning on my Nikon. You can get a great DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) camera for somewhere between $500-$1000.

Both Nikon and Canon, the two main brands in the industry, produce wonderful products so I won't push one brand over the other. No matter what you choose, make sure your camera offers the ability to shoot in Manual mode. Shooting in Manual is the key to learning how to have full control over the types of shots you want to produce. It takes practice at first but it's totally worth it to know how to balance the three main components of an image (ISO, Aperture, Shutter) to produce a proper exposure.

Another thing to consider when investing in your first DLSR is low light capabilities. A good way to judge this is by how high the camera's ISO can go. My Markiii, for example, can shoot at up to ISO 256,000 while a Canon Rebel can go to ISO 12,800. For me, that's really important since I shoot in a lot of low lit churches and reception halls. For you, however, that might not be as much of an issue.

Overall, I think the two most popular options for a person starting out with photography would be a NikonD5300 or Canon Rebel. I'd advise against purchasing the camera body with the kit lens it comes with and saving up your money for higher quality lenses.