Stay Inspired

"Real talk. How do you stay inspired and creative when you shoot so much?"

I got this text from one of my photographers the other day. At first it made me chuckle and I almost went to my go to answer (music, lifestyle photography etc etc etc) And, YES I get it... I have written about this before. And YES, I have so many things I run to when I need inspiration. But this one stuck with me this time and it got me thinking a little bit differently for some reason.  This time I responded differently. And in so many words I responded with,

“To you, what is the greatest thing about this work we do? And do you LOVE it?” 

Thats annoyingly vague and even more annoyingly cliche. But, listen, let me lay a few things out first. I know for a fact I am not the most talented photographer in the world. I know it and I reference that fact often. I may not even be the most talented photographer in the SSP Collective. However I know that I love my work. That sounds so narcissistic... let me clarify. I have found what I want to do until the day I die. That is my anchoring point in the every day “ho-hum” details of what I do. And I OBSESS over it. I LOVE what I do.

But to get back to my original question... what keeps me inspired is the exact thing that keeps me obsessed with my work; the couple and the people I serve

When I look at a beautiful image that i have taken, I rarely see anything else but the couple. 

What I love more than anything else about photographing weddings is the connection I have with the people I serve on a daily basis. I love hearing their stories. I love seeing the look on their face when I get them to interact with each other during their portrait sessions. So when I am feeling uninspired, I lean in on that. And believe me I DO GET UNINSPIRED. We shoot 100+ weddings a year and half that in engagements and bridals. It happens!

But when it does I try to take a second from shooting with them and think about that connection. I ask more questions. I find out more about them. What is their story? How did they meet? What drew them to each other ? What is their love story? I try to remove the focus off of me, and what I am feeling in that moment and whatever it is that is causing me to make it about me, and put the focus back on them and what they share together.  Let me explain by showing you a few photos;

  I love this photo. And it's gone a bit "viral" sure. But what excites me about this photo is the couple. I remember talking to them during our consultation about chipotle and the redskins. I look at this image and think about how willing they were to let me try something different and how awesome they were about the torrential downpour on their wedding day. 

 

I love this photo. And it's gone a bit "viral" sure. But what excites me about this photo is the couple. I remember talking to them during our consultation about chipotle and the redskins. I look at this image and think about how willing they were to let me try something different and how awesome they were about the torrential downpour on their wedding day. 

  Here is another image I really love. Sure, the Milky Way is exploding forth in all of it's glory from their heads. But when I see this image I think of Dan and Mindy. And the story they shared with everybody about their struggles, about their faith and what motivates their love for each other. And honestly this one is not my favorite image from their day. This one is.

 

Here is another image I really love. Sure, the Milky Way is exploding forth in all of it's glory from their heads. But when I see this image I think of Dan and Mindy. And the story they shared with everybody about their struggles, about their faith and what motivates their love for each other. And honestly this one is not my favorite image from their day. This one is.

  Again the earth looks like it's on fire... (no this wasn't photoshopped... its the sun setting below the clouds. it was crazy) and it looks like its a love story being told on the last day before the apocalypse. But Ben and Laura are two of the best people I know. And I am reminded of that every time I see their images. 

 

Again the earth looks like it's on fire... (no this wasn't photoshopped... its the sun setting below the clouds. it was crazy) and it looks like its a love story being told on the last day before the apocalypse. But Ben and Laura are two of the best people I know. And I am reminded of that every time I see their images. 

Yes, I can absolutely do some technical things to keep posing, framing and composition fresh. And you can as well. Practically, pick 5 poses you love, and shot around those 5 poses. Get in tight, get wide, use some atmospheric technique… all of those things are great. But I would push you beyond that and encourage you to also find out what it is about your work you love. Have you ever asked yourself that question? Have you ever taken a few minutes to think about and find out what that is and if you are struggling through this fall season being uninspired, lean in on that one thing and let it move you to creating work you love.

 

Another Brenizer

The Brenizer Method is nothing new. However, Ryan Brenizer has really made it at popular thing over the last few years. For those of you who don't know what it is, here is the quick and dirty; 

It's a method of stitching together a series of shots all at the same DOF with the focal point being on one single thing. In the image below, the single point of focus is the couple, and you can see it gives it almost a 3D look. Basically think of it as a wide panoramic with a shallow depth of field. See the images below. Enjoy! 

 

Winner Announced!

As you know, we have been announcing for a few days here that we are giving away an ONA bag, and the time has come to announce our winner! 

the first step was to collect and randomize all of the names and email address, then use the incredible tool over at Random.org to pick a number between 1 and 1247 entries! 

SO without further delay here is your winner;

Kendra Phillibaum, congrats!!! Shoot us an email and claim your ONA!!!! 

Shooting Indoors

So many photographers these days are focusing on “Natural Light” photography, and telling us how to take the best image possible when we are outside. And of course that makes sense, it’s where the magic happens! Shooting outdoors isn’t always easy, but it isn’t difficult once you practice at finding or creating the right conditions. And if you are curious about shooting better portraits outside, let me condense that for you… 1. Put the client between you and the sun. or 2. find some shade. 3 wait for sunset

There, problem solved… ha!

ANYWAYS, the issue with focusing on shooting only outdoors is that SO much of what we shoot, often happens inside! With the bride getting ready, inside a church during the ceremony, and of course the reception we often find ourselves in those awkward and tough lighting conditions. So  let me help you with 3 ways to get better images while shooting inside! 

1. Find a Window - This is the mother of all lighting conditions. The light is diffused and directional. What that means is it’s coming from one place and it generally places itself evenly on whatever subject your photographing. For me, when photographing a bride, this kind of light makes for those beautiful tight, soft images of her face. You can also create some really unique portraits by using the window to back light them. Regardless of how you place them, using window light can be the easiest way to light a subject in a poorly lit area. I often times, when the bride is getting ready, have them change the room around to ensure she is facing the window (Window behind me, me between the window and the bride, and have the bride face me) because of smooth even light and how it makes the brides eyes just pop! 

 

2. Room Lighting - This is a toughie... But you can make it work. First thing is first, if at all possible, stay AWAY from any over head lighting. It creates the worst shadows. And if you don’t have a flash, there is no way to fix that. If you do have a flash, well then carry on! (we will get to using your flash in a second) Often times you can have your subject back up a bit to allow the light to reflect from the floor to highlight more of those shadowy areas as well. There are a couple of things to remember here when shooting indoors and using the lighting in the room only. Make sure you pay attention to how you have your camera set up. In these situations both white balance and ISO matter! Before you start firing away, make sure first you have everything in order so that your post processing doesn’t get hung up on trying to figure out how to make those blues more cleaner or those reds less annoying!

 

3. Your flash is your friend - This is one of the more daunting things I have found for newer shooters. The idea of shooting your subject using a flash scares a lot of people but we can make it easy. And there are two ways to do it, TTL or Manual. TTL means “Through The Lens” and Manual is just setting everything (the flash and camera yourself) and both in theory or practice is an easy way to get a really even exposure. But sometimes Theory or practice goes right out the window when we get into the hustle of work. There are so many ways you get get around that but here are just a few;

When Using TTL

I set my camera to a lower aperture here and often shoot wide open around f/1.2-2.0 -

Bounce your flash behind you or above you - I prefer behind me if I am in a smaller room, and above me if I am shooting the reception hall or other bigger spaces. This allows the TTL system, which reads the amount of light including your flash, to help properly expose diffused light! It’s the best! 

When using Manual

This gets a little funky but the sure fire way to nail a decent exposure every time is to set your camera to an ISO between 400-800 and your Aperture to 2.8-3.5 and then set your flash to manual and drop the power any where from 1/16 to 1/32 and fire away. (This may vary depending on whether you’re shooting nikon or canon) I don’t like shooting Manually but Lindsey who shoots for me does, and she gets it perfect every time!

Remember regardless of what situation you are in, and whatever lighting conditions you are working with the best thing you can possibly due before a wedding is prepare! Know where you’re going and where you’re shooting. That way anything that comes your way won’t rattle you or affect your ability to provide the best absolute experience for the bride and groom!  

Let us know what works for you guys! What are your favorite ways to light your subject indoors?