my portrait photography adventure

My goal this summer was to take pictures of a different friend every week in order to learn more about portrait photography.  For me, summer went from Memorial Day to Labor Day and that means my adventure is over.  And you know what?  I learned a heck of a lot.

Here was the first post that I did on the first four friends that I took pictures of.  I posted about what I learned from each one of the shoots.  And even after a total of NINE photo shoots, I still believe that what I learned at the first one was the most important.  (How do you like that teaser?  Go click the link to find out.)

Here’s how this round went.

Photo Session #5: Karyn

The goal: After the last shoot, I had finally read my camera’s manual – so my goal of this shoot was to learn how to better focus on the subject.

What I learned: Always check the weather.  Actually, I did check the weather, but it still surprised us.  Karyn and I actually got rained on before the shoot even started so we went to grab brunch and then we took pictures.  I also learned that I like having some kind of one on one time with the person that I’m shooting beforehand to get to know them a little better or catch up with them and hear how life is going these days.  It’s all about the experience.  Also, Karyn’s a musician – so it was great to get her into some poses that mimicked things she would do on stage.  Always think about a person’s passions while shooting them.

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Photo Session #6: Steve

The goal: Find poses that work for males before doing a photo shoot of Doug.  Note: this shoot was on a Thursday night and Doug’s was on a Friday afternoon.

What I learned: Go to poses for men mostly involve (1) arms crossed or (2) hands in pockets with a few variations.  Also, if you’re going to photo shoot in the late evening, make sure that the location you shoot in isn’t in the middle of a bunch of buildings and trees blocking all possible light.  Also.  Goodness gracious, you would have thought I’d have figured this out by now – but if you’re going to back up more than 5 feet, remember to turn the f-stop above 2, otherwise everything will be a hot mess of blurry.

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Photo Session #7: Doug

The goal: Don’t mess up.  Yes, I know this sounds simple, but sometimes you’ve got to keep it simple.  Doug was my professor in college, so I felt like the pressure was on a little bit.  Please note that it was actually the chillest shoot ever and we walked around the University of Pennsylvania’s campus and he humored me by trying random photos.  Made me feel silly for ever being nervous.

What I learned: If you’re really nervous about something, prepare the best you can.  I checked out a lot of websites beforehand about posing and actually showed up to the campus early to scope out possible spots to take pictures in.  It made me feel more relaxed and ready for the shoot.

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Photo Session #8: Marie

The goal: Make sure Marie knows how awesomely pretty she is

What I learned: When I started this adventure I thought that I was embarking on a skill that involved a camera.  What I learned along the way was that it involves a camera, it involves posing, and it involves psychology.  There are so many things.  Being a photograph subject is about feeling pretty by giving them confidence and the tools to be great.  (or handsome, or sexy, or hot, or beautiful, or cute, or dreamy – please see this post if you have no idea what I’m talking about)  At the beginning of the photo shoot I found a few key pictures of Marie that she looked stunning in and showed them to her.  Definitely gave her a little bit of a pep in her step for the rest of them and made the shoot a lot of fun.  Also, direct sunlight can create some harsh shadows, I’m going to try to avoid those from now on.

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Photo Session #9: Carly

The goal: Take a professional headshot

What I learned: There are some poses that are powerful and there are other poses that aren’t so powerful.  If the pose is something that someone standing in the corner at a party would feel comfortable doing, it’s probably not a powerful pose.  Also, this was the first photo shoot where props and outfit changes were used.  It was surprisingly easy to go between looking casual and professional with the addition or removal of a blazer.  She also brought a really fun hat for some of the more casual shots.

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What’s Next

I’ve got a list going at this point.  I’m in the process of putting together a price list for photo shoots in the future if you should find yourself interested or in the Philadelphia area.  I’ll let y’all know when this service is available.  In the meantime, there’s a few more types of shoots that I want to do for free in order to get a better handle on including: newborn photography, family shots, and engagement shots.

Also, I’m going to photo shoot Ryan (my first subject) one more time to see the difference between the first and last shoot to make a total of 10.  After I do that, I’ll post about my top 10 tips about what I’ve learned.

I also want to get more comfortable using props and learning about how to better use them.

I also may have signed up for this one-day photography conference on a whim.  Oops.

my summer photo project: portraits

my summer photo shoots

One of my goals for the year was to take photographs of a different friend every week all summer.  While that’s been a little bit hard with my travel schedule, I’ve still managed to do 4 shoots to date.  It really is amazing how much more you can learn on the job as opposed to reading websites.

Photo Session #1: Ryan

What I learned: This is probably the most pratical lesson that I’ll learn, do not wear a tight skirt while taking pictures.  You can’t move nearly as much as you need to.  Also, a week after I took these photos I had my boudoir shoot.  It was there that I learned that the photographer should come prepped with poses and learn how to tell the subject how to move.

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Photo Session #2: Janalyn

What I learned: I learned more about posing.  I learned that it’s okay to try something that doesn’t work.  I learned that it’s easier to take photographs when you’re above or on the same level as somebody else – lower created interesting angles.  I learned that it’s fun if the subject has a prop because it gives you something external to work with.  I remembered the joy of black and white photography.  Also, I confirmed that there are certain pictures that I really like even though they are blurry.

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Photo Session #3: Zoha

What I learned: We wandered the city taking pictures, which was fun because the background was ever changing.  It was also during this shoot that I started to develop what I believe to be my shooting style – I talk constantly.  It makes me feel more comfortable, and I think it puts the other person at ease as well because it makes things seem less formal.  Also, I really like close up shots of people, it makes for some fun pictures.

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Photo Session #4: Vania

What I learned: This girl knows posing.  It’s impressive.  She had so many ideas that I tried to take in so I could remember them next time.  I also had more fun with facial expressions.  I think I’m going to have a few go tos – the Home Alone face, tongue sticking out, looking really excited, and being pensive.  We’ll see what else I can add to the list.

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What’s Next?

Well, it was after Vania’s photoshoot that I finally read the manual for my camera.  I learned that some of the shots were wide angle because I was accidentally shooting in video mode.  I also learned how to manual focus – it’s not as intuitive as it was on my last camera, so I wasn’t using it.  I also bought the Photography Concentrate course called Really Easy Retouching, which I’m excited to take (when I find some time).  I also want to try shooting another boy sometime soon, I feel like masculine poses are harder to come up with – it will probably involve browsing some GQ magazines.  We’ll see what comes next.  My co-workers have been very good sports about posing for me – so we’ll see exactly who I can talk into it this week.

What have I learned from this experience overall?  I have pretty friends.

my trip to denver

This is one of the first trips that I’ve been on that I felt like my pictures were a good representation of what I did on the trip and not just a collection of pretty pictures.  It also probably helped that Kevin doesn’t like having his picture taken, so there actually wasn’t anybody for me to take pictures of.

This is one of my goals for this year, try to capture the experience, not just the nouns.  That’s what I’m going to call it, the nouns – the people, the places, the things.  It really is incredible how you can capture all of those things and still not have a clue about what happened along the journey.  (Kind of like what I believe happened with my India pictures, oops.)

My trip to Denver was actually an out of my comfort zone trip.  That is the longest amount of time that I have spent with an introvert in a long time, which resulted in me spending a lot of time in my own head.  It’s a scary place up there, but it allowed me more time to think about life, relationships, really good music, photo compositions, and what I want 2014 to look like.  I guess maybe it was a good thing overall, huh?

Here’s the coffee shop we went to the first morning.

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Meet Bo.  He has more energy than any pup I’ve ever met.

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Meet Santana.
These two wouldn’t leave me alone at all.  Good thing they’re cute.

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We went to see Railroad Earth at Twist and Shout.

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I had a biscuit sandwich for breakfast that was buttermilk fried chicken, Tender Belly bacon, and cheddar cheese smothered in vegetarian gravy at The Biscuit Company.  Probably should have taken a picture of that instead of my teacup.

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Then we drove to Breckinridge while we were in food comas.

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I spent $50 on greeting cards and art at the shop that this banner was in front of, oops.  The shop was called Magic Scraps.  I could have lived there.

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We found Olive & Finch for breakfast on my last full day.  It was delicious.

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Then we wandered around downtown.

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And on my last day we made it to the Botanic Garden.

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Not too shabby for a 4-day trip, huh?

Now I just need to figure out what city I’m going to hit next.  Any ideas?

nola for new years

After two-and-a-half years in Louisiana, I finally talked Tory into coming down with me for New Years.  Yes, I admit that it may have been a mileage run.

Let me un-consultant that for you.  When you’re SO close to getting the status you want at the end of the year, but you only have a few miles left to go, sometimes you hop on a plane at the last minute just to keep your status for the next year.  And because I’m not quite ready to give up gold status yet, I hopped a plane back to Louisiana to spend New Year’s Eve.

We spent New Year’s Eve in Baton Rouge since neither one of us is actually a big enough partier to justify battling New Orleans for the evening and that meant that we got to spend New Year’s Eve with the love of my life and his man.  We even got to attempt to sing karaoke again.  Fail.  We’re not supposed to ever sing A Whole New World (or maybe I’m not ever supposed to sing karaoke?).  This time it was the wrong version, which meant the wrong key, which meant the men’s part was far too high.  Anyway.

Tory and I decided to check out NOLA on January 1st and 2nd because she had never been before – and I have never really taken out my dSLR walking around the city, so that was fun too.

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Do you have any favorite sites in New Orleans that I should check out next time?  Always looking for new places to hit up.