Quick and Easy Poses for any Couple During a Photoshoot

The post Quick and Easy Poses for any Couple During a Photoshoot appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jackie Lamas.

Engagement sessions can feel intimidating and you might feel like your poses or photos are starting to look all the same. Or perhaps you’re having trouble getting a start at sessions? If that is the case, these poses will help you at your next engagement session and they work for all couples!


The following poses work for all couples. Give them a try and add variety to your photo session.

T-Bone Pose

This pose works for any couple as it is in the shape of a “T.”  Place one person (the taller person) 45-degrees from the camera. Then place the other person’s shoulder into the armpit area of the taller person.

From here, the couple can hold hands, snuggle into the pose, look at each other, and even hug. Also, you can have the taller person, or the person standing at 45-degrees, kiss the person who is leaning into them on the forehead or cheek.


See the shape of the “T” as the woman leans into the man’s chest in this photo and they snuggle close.

You can use this same pose with a little distance between the two and have them hold hands. Doing the pose this way can make it feel more powerful and strong.

Standing with arms interlocked

Start by having both people stand facing the camera. Ask one person to wrap their arms around the other person’s with the hands around the tricep/bicep area. Once they are in that pose, you can have the person who is wrapped around also lean their head on the shoulder.

Here you can add variety by getting up close and photographing the rings. Have the leaning person look down at their hands and get detail photos of their face. Alternatively, get one from farther back and have the couple look at each other in this pose.


This particular pose also works if you photograph the couple from behind and ask them to touch noses, foreheads, or to kiss lightly.

One person in front and one person behind

This pose can offer many different photos since you can photograph it from different angles. Have one person standing slightly in front but off to the side of the other person.

Here they can stand holding hands, or you can even have one person facing backward and angled so that their back is to the camera but facing the other person. From here, you can ask them to look at each other. Have one person look at the camera, or have them get closer little by little while you capture their reactions.


Have them face the camera and ask them to walk a bit with one person trailing behind. Do this a couple of times with them looking down, looking at each other, laughing or talking, or strolling. All of which will bring about authentic expressions while you’re photographing the pose.

Sitting down

Sitting down is another great pose for any couple. It can offer lots of different variations all within the same spot. You get different photos and won’t have to move your couple very much.


A combination pose sitting down using the t-bone set up along with the arm wrapped around and the head leaning on the shoulder.

This pose works best if you have a staircase, ledge, or stool of some kind to offer different height options. However, don’t worry, it also works if they sit on a curb or the grass.

The key here is to have the couple sit comfortably as if they were sitting on their own during a date. From there, you can make adjustments to hand positions and where they are facing.

Have the couple sit next to each other at an angle. Or have one person leaning into the other in a sitting t-bone shape. You can even have one person sitting and the other standing.

Photograph them in this position from behind, side, and front. This will give you a lot of variety within the same pose. Have them snuggle, hold hands, caress or fix each other’s hair, kiss, close their eyes and go forehead to forehead, or touch noses. All of these are great variations of the same sitting down pose.

Using different focal lengths and apertures will give you a lot of different types of photos of the same moment.

Natural posing

When in doubt, natural posing may just be the best pose for all couples. It can be extremely useful at times during the session when it can seem like the poses are getting stale or repetitive.


Natural posing is when you ask the couple to simply walk and enjoy the moment, or just sit and tell each other something they love about one another. You can also tell them to enjoy their surroundings or that you’ll be photographing them hanging out together as if you weren’t there.

This can bring about a lot of natural expressions, gestures, and relaxed poses from the couple that is much more authentic than any other pose you can put them in.

Usually, this works if you give them something to do like enjoying the moment or walking and exploring the location where they are. You can also tell them that you’re getting the settings right and just catch them being natural and relaxed.

This type of posing is really helpful at the beginning of sessions since most couples are nervous about having their photos taken. Getting them to relax while not having the pressure of looking at the camera or knowing how to pose can help them look natural.


Also, use this when you feel like your poses are getting repetitive, or you feel like you’re out of ideas. Natural posing can also lead to natural cuddles that you can ask your couples to repeat and hold so that you can get the shot.

Natural posing can break up the session and make it more fun, especially if you’re at a location like a coffee shop, carnival, or doing an activity with the couple.

In conclusion

Using poses that work for all couples can a great solid foundation when you’re getting started in couple shoots.

Also, these poses work for all couples and therefore, can be helpful when you have run out of ideas or need something new to use at your next couples shoot.

Which pose will you try at your next couples session?



The post Quick and Easy Poses for any Couple During a Photoshoot appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jackie Lamas.

Why Hiring an Assistant at Weddings Makes you a Better Photographer

The post Why Hiring an Assistant at Weddings Makes you a Better Photographer appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jackie Lamas.

It’s no mistake that many wedding photographers have assistants and even second shooters at weddings. The reason being is that photographing a wedding longer than 5 hours on your own can be very challenging, especially since there are many important wedding details and moments that need extra coverage.

Hiring an assistant means you have help carrying your gear and keeping distractions at bay so you can photograph the important moments smoothly.

What is an assistant?

A photography assistant is not to be confused with a second shooter. While sometimes used interchangeably, the two terms are actually different, and it’s really important to know the difference.

An assistant is an extra pair of hands available for you during the wedding day.

They may be in charge of carrying the equipment, helping with setting up additional cameras and being available for any need that the photography may have during the wedding day.

Assistants can help gather details during a wedding day and help with styling as well.

Many assistants are aspiring wedding photographers or seasoned wedding photographers. It can vary in the level of experience. This is something that you should look into while interviewing or hiring an assistant.

Assistants can also help with styling certain shots like the wedding rings, or help to gather flowers. They can also help with posing families during that portion of the wedding day.

Assistants also offer a second point of view. They offer ideas to get better shots or additional photos that perhaps you had not thought of previously. They are also helpful when you need an opinion and also someone to talk to as weddings can run up to 12 hours or more depending on how much you are covering.

What is a second shooter?

A second shooter is a second photographer. Usually, the second photographer is solely responsible for taking photos of the event alongside you, the main photographer.

A second photographer can get those in-between candid moments that happen when the main photographer is busy photographing something else.

The second shooter helps to get a different angle of the same setup. Or perhaps they can be trusted to photograph a portion of the day alone while you cover another. For example, if you’re photographing the bride and her bridesmaids, the second photographer may cover the groom and his groomsmen.

Also, if you’re photographing the bride and groom together, the second photographer can shoot from a completely different angle. This gives the final images more variety of the same moments throughout the wedding day.

Having a second photographer can get images from a different angle.

Sometimes the assistant can also be a second photographer during certain parts of the day but perhaps not the whole day. For example, you can hire a second photographer and an assistant so that the two jobs don’t overlap during the day. That way, you have both a second pair of photos taken while having someone help carry your equipment and to help you set up.

Be clear about expectations

This brings me to this very important point; be clear about expectations when you’re looking to hire an assistant. Make sure that you outline what their responsibilities are.

An assistant can help carry gear when the terrain is less than ideal for your gear to be in. Like a sandy beach near the ocean.

Perhaps you’re only looking for an assistant? In that case, be sure to outline that their responsibilities will not include photographing the event at all. They will only be there to help with setting up, carrying equipment, and helping the main photographer during the event.

If you’re looking for a combination of the two, outline that from the beginning. Make sure to advise them to bring useful equipment if you will have them use their own. Also, specify which parts of the event they will be covering. Perhaps you need them to be an assistant during most of the day but will need them to be a second photographer during the ceremony only.

Why Hiring an Assistant at Weddings Makes you a Better Photographer 5

Be clear about what your assistant should help you with. For example, posing the family or helping to fluff out the wedding dress.

Also, be aware that it is very difficult to be a second photographer and an assistant simultaneously. You will need to be very clear about what you need from the person helping you at the event.

Be a team player

All photographers work and handle their businesses differently. However, when you are photographing a wedding, it’s best to make it clear that you and your assistant are a team. You are both there to work at the wedding together.

This creates an openness for the assistant to help with styling, and to offer their opinion or aesthetic input. This can be really helpful during the wedding day. Working together rather than bossing or ordering the assistant around can be really helpful since the assistant will feel included and part of a team.

Keep in mind the level of experience the assistant may have, which can also help you immensely during the event. Most seasoned wedding photographers have, at some point, been second photographers or assistants themselves. They are eager and accommodating on wedding days. If they are seasoned pros and are helping you out, consider their input.

Why Hiring an Assistant at Weddings Makes you a Better Photographer 4

When you are hiring someone who is just getting started, it’s important to talk with them before starting the photography. State your expectations, where gear is in your bag, how you approach the wedding day, and what you’ll need from them.

Some assistants are barely getting their feet wet and may need extra coaching. If this is the case, approach them with the mindset of being a team. They will work harder for you and be more willing to anticipate your needs.

Assistant contract

It is very important to have a contract drafted for the assistant position. Too often does it happen when images get published, used, sold, or otherwise from assistants who weren’t the main photographer.

Why Hiring an Assistant at Weddings Makes you a Better Photographer 3

A contract can outline image delivery expectations if they helped photograph a portion of the event, and what their pay is to be.

The contract can help you set boundaries, and outline their responsibilities, as well as set the pay for the event. Don’t skip on this tip! All too often we hear horror stories of assistants that never returned the equipment, didn’t deliver images and got paid what was due!

Why Hiring an Assistant at Weddings Makes you a Better Photographer 2

Having a contract is good to have for all parties involved.


Even though you can hire someone who is just getting started in the wedding photography business, this doesn’t mean that you can pay them less than you would expect to be paid if you were assisting.

They give you a pair of extra hands and help you for hours carrying most of your equipment, so pay them accordingly. Some more seasoned wedding photographers may have a going rate. However, it’s good to research your area for the going rate, either hourly or a set rate for the entire event.

Take into consideration the following:

  • The amount of time they will be hired to assist
  • Will they also be using their photography skills to photograph certain parts of the event?
  • Will they be using their own equipment or your own? If they are using their own equipment, then factor that into the payment.
  • How much will they be carrying in equipment?
  • Milage, gas, or extra costs

If the assistant will be there with you during the dinner portion of the event, make sure you let the bride and groom know. That way, they will know you have an assistant also eating at the wedding, even if it’s a vendor meal. If they aren’t going to stay for dinner, make sure you state what meals you’ll be covering or if you will be paying for their meal at all.

An assistant can help make a first look go smoothly by helping with positioning the bride and making sure to be available to switch lenses, cards, batteries, etc.

It’s also really important to state how the assistant will be getting paid. Will they be paid by bank transfer, deposit, invoicing, or any other method? That way they know when and how they will be getting paid for assisting at the event.

Having an assistant makes you a better photographer

The reason to have an assistant at a wedding is that it ultimately makes you a better photographer. It frees you up from carrying your equipment so that you can focus on taking important photos rather than checking to see if your camera bag is within reach.

Assistants can help with lighting, adjusting extra cameras, or even helping style the bride’s veil during the portraits. Having an extra pair of hands makes it easier for you to focus on getting the shot without having to do it all on your own.

Also, having someone there to help with making sure that the wedding photography goes smoothly and quickly will help you to focus on what really matters – getting the shot.

Moreover, having someone to talk to during the long wedding day can help you stay focused and in the present moment.

In Conclusion

Hiring an assistant during a wedding event can help you be free to really focus on photographing each and every special moment of a wedding day.

They can help by carrying your equipment, be a teammate and help with lighting or offer ideas. An assistant can be an extra pair of hands and eyes during the day too.

Have you hired an assistant before? If so, what additional tips would you include?


Why Hiring an Assistant at Weddings Makes you a Better Photographer

The post Why Hiring an Assistant at Weddings Makes you a Better Photographer appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jackie Lamas.

How to Mix Lifestyle and Posed Photography Styles to Add Variety

The post How to Mix Lifestyle and Posed Photography Styles to Add Variety appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jackie Lamas.

As photographers, we take time to hone in our craft and practice many hours getting it right. When it comes to photographing people, there are two main approaches in directing clients to get the photos you want. I’ll explain the difference between both, and how to apply the two during the same session to get the most variety in the final gallery that your clients will absolutely love!

Mixing posed and lifestyle can add variety to your photos.

What is lifestyle photography?

Lifestyle photography is when you capture your clients a little more naturally than you would if you were posing them. It’s all about letting the session unfold naturally all while you photograph your couple, family, or individual being themselves.

Lifestyle can mean going for a walk through a botanical garden with your clients.

It’s also about showcasing the person in their daily life or routines too. For example, joining a family as they casually hang out at their home and bake together. Or joining a couple for coffee and a stroll through the park.

Going for coffee while you photograph your clients can also be considered lifestyle.

Lifestyle photography can be both natural or styled. Styled simply means curating the look so that even though the person is hanging out drinking coffee on their sofa, they are dressed and using items that make the photos have a cohesiveness.

Using a styled home can also offer a great location for lifestyle photos of a couple hanging out in the living room.

Much of what you see on Instagram can be considered lifestyle photography.

What is posed photography?

Posed photography is when you are directing your clients to sit, stand, and well, pose exactly how you would like them to. This gives you a more controlled and directive role in addition to being the photographer.

Directing people to pose a certain way is posed photography.

Posed photography can be really beautiful and usually lies in the editorial, fashion, or fine art styles of photography. However, posed photography can be used in every session where you want to control the final pose in your photo.

How to mix both styles to get variety

In a portrait session, it doesn’t matter if it’s family or just one person, mixing the two styles can really help add variety in the final images that you deliver to your client.

Mixing styles

When you’re starting the session, begin with posed photography because most clients are nervous at the beginning of a session. Getting them comfortable posing, and being more direct in how you want them to stand can help them to feel more comfortable in front of the camera.

The photo on the left was lifestyle, and the right is posed. Same family, same session, two different styles that add variety to the final images.

While you’re posing, show your client exactly how you want them to pose rather than merely instructing, which can get confusing.

For example, instead of saying “put your left hand on your right elbow,” you would instead go over to where they are standing and show them how you want them to put the left hand on their right elbow.

This is a quicker way to help your client visually see what you want them to do.

After you’ve posed your client enough, and they seem a little more comfortable in front of the camera, go for the lifestyle approach.

Tell your client to relax and walk around the area. If it’s a family, for example, ask them to walk and talk to each other while telling a funny joke. Make sure to keep your camera at the ready during these times. That way you can achieve photojournalistic style photos that make lifestyle so meaningful.

With children, you can capture them playing with their toys and also get posed photos during the same session.

As you go through the session, keep alternating between posed and lifestyle. You can also pose your clients, a couple, for example, so that they’re facing each other, take a few photos and then ask the couple to say one nice thing about the other.

This is a great way to transition from posed to lifestyle. You will get authentic expressions from the couple because you are putting them in a particular pose then giving them something to do that will seem natural. It’s a perfect mix of the two styles at the same time.

If you’re more comfortable with lifestyle and candid photography styles, don’t be afraid to stop your clients in mid-walk, hug, or whatever they are doing naturally to hold the pose. This is a transition from lifestyle to posed.

Mixing the two styles offers your clients more variety as well as an overall great experience. They will feel more comfortable being in front of the camera because they were allowed to be themselves while you also stopped to make sure to get posed photos as well.

Using both styles will give the session a more fluid flow and also allows your clients to have a good time during the session. This is especially important when photographing children. Letting them play and have a good time while mixing in posed photos will give them a fun experience.

In conclusion


Mixing the two styles, lifestyle and posed photography, will add variety to your client’s photos and will also ensure that they have a great experience without feeling stiff or uncomfortable in front of the camera.


The post How to Mix Lifestyle and Posed Photography Styles to Add Variety appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jackie Lamas.

How to Pose Grooms and Groomsmen Effectively

The post How to Pose Grooms and Groomsmen Effectively appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jackie Lamas.

Wedding days aren’t just about the bride, even though it might seem that way. As photographers we must also take photos of the groom by himself and with his groomsman buddies – whether they like it or not.

Posing the groom alone

When posing the groom alone you often see stiffness and shifting eyes because most men don’t feel  comfortable having their photo taken. So it’s worth starting a conversation that has nothing to do with the wedding to relax them and settle their nerves.

Find a nice background where you can photograph the groom at three different crops: full-body, half-body, and close-up. These three crops will add variety to your portraits, and give you more options when choosing the best portrait to deliver to your clients.

For example, window lighting can add dimension and depth while the groom is adjusting his tie or watch, or buttoning his shirt. Have the groom look out the window, or at his watch or tie. This keeps his hands busy, and because he’s not looking at the camera he won’t feel as vulnerable.

When you’re outside you can have the groom lean on a wall, or simply stand in the middle of a walkway. To help him pose naturally, tell him to stand as if he was by himself and not getting his photo taken.

Also, remind him to breathe. The stiffness is often caused by the groom holding his breath. It will also help him relax his shoulders and overall stance.

Photographing the groom at three different crops is a great way to add variety to the final images.

If the groom usually puts his hand in a pocket, have him put the one furthest from the camera into his pocket. This can help make the portrait feel more natural. Having the groom look at various points beyond the camera (to the side, behind you, or even at his shoes) can reduce the nerves and stiffness, and make him feel more comfortable.

As you’re taking the groom’s portraits, feel free to joke around, talk about things they like, or simply compliment them. This can make them feel more comfortable and bring about natural smiling and laughing, as well as fill in the silence.

Sitting is another great way to pose the groom. Have him sit on steps, a short wall or a chair. It will make the groom feel less stiff, and allow you to focus on various details of his outfit such as his shoes or socks if he chose something special.

Portraits of the groom while with the bride

But the groom doesn’t have to be completely alone in his portraits. A beautiful portrait of the groom with his bride can isolate him while placing him in the overall story of the wedding day.

Pose the couple facing each other, and ask the bride to place her head on his chest or arm to bring her face out a little. Then have her close her eyes while you direct the groom to look at the camera.

Another great portrait is having the groom at a 45-degree angle, with the bride behind him. Ask her to put her head on his back/shoulders, and have him look either directly at you or off into the distance.

He doesn’t have to smile. He can even look a little more serious. But the big picture will still look romantic and show that the couple is sharing a special moment.

You can move the groom and bride from there and create variations where the groom is:

  • in focus
  • in the forefront
  • looking directly at the camera
  • the main focal point in the photo.

These will all make great portraits of the groom and help him pose with his bride.


Groomsmen are really fun to photograph. Most of the time they’re buddies and will joke around a bit, which can make for great candid photos. But it can also mean they won’t take the photo shoot seriously.

One way to get them to listen and cooperate is to let them know the faster they get through the photo shoot, the sooner they can start having fun. But don’t use this trick until you’ve captured some candids showing how they all interact, as it will be nice for the groom to have those as well.

Keep at least three different groomsmen setups in mind before photographing the wedding. You can find inspiration online and save those inspirational photos on your phone to recreate or build on them. This can save you lots of time if you’re new to wedding photography.

Try and keep the conversation light and easygoing. It will help the groomsmen relax, and you’ll get much more authentic expressions from them.

Group huddles and hugs are great icebreakers, and can lighten the mood if you feel the photos are getting a little stiff or the groomsmen are losing steam. A slow walking photo is also nice to have and having them looking at each other and talking is a great way to get them all smiling.

A staggered photo, either on a staircase or in a big area, can provide you with more varied poses for your final photos. If you have enough time, get a photo of each groomsman with the groom. Keep the photos moving by keeping the groom in the same place and having the groomsmen take turns standing beside him.

Keep everyone’s height variations in mind when taking photos of the groom with his groomsmen. Taller groomsmen may need to stand further back. If there are big height differences between the groom and his groomsmen, place those who are about the same height next to the groom, or bring the groom closer to the camera. This can help isolate the groom and make him the focal point of the photo, which is exactly what you want.

Keep everyone moving and try to get the photos done quickly. Groomsmen are usually ready for the next event pretty quickly and get sick of the camera much faster than the bride and bridesmaids.

If the groomsmen have ideas for poses, go along with them. It may be an inside joke or something that brings them closer together as buddies. And they’re usually the photos they love to remember.

Also, always ask if the groomsmen are wearing something special or have a gift from the couple – watches, socks, matching shoes, flasks, etc. These items have far more meaning when they’re photographed in the hands of those who received or are wearing them.

For example, these groomsmen all received personalized flasks from the groom, so a toasting photo was fun to create for them, along with a close-up of one of the flasks.

In conclusion

Grooms and groomsmen are fun to photograph during a wedding. But it’s best to have a few poses in mind so you can work quickly, as they often don’t like having their photos taken and may tire quickly. Keeping the mood light and fun gives them a great experience, and they’ll look back at the photos with fond memories.


The post How to Pose Grooms and Groomsmen Effectively appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jackie Lamas.

How to Create and Use a Light Skin Smoothing Action in Photoshop

The post How to Create and Use a Light Skin Smoothing Action in Photoshop appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jackie Lamas.

When you photograph portraits, you’ll spend time editing the photos so your clients look their very best. A lot of that time is often spent smoothing out the skin. But while some smoothing is okay, doing it too much can change the look of the person.

Here’s how to create a simple and easy Photoshop action that will have you smoothing out skin faster without over-retouching it.

Before and after using this light skin smoothing action.

What is a Photoshop Action?

A Photoshop action is where you record various steps in an editing process and save them so you can then reapply those steps simply by ‘playing’ the action.

In this case, the action will have three steps. When you press ‘Play’ it will apply those three steps quickly and automatically so you can get to the fun part – the retouching.

Create the action

Step 1: Open a photo (any photo will do) so you can create the action.

Step 2: Make sure the Actions panel is open. If it isn’t, go to the Window menu and make sure Actions is selected. If you can’t find the Actions panel on your workspace, deselect and re-select it in the menu.

Step 3: Create an Action Set, which will create a master folder for your action to live in and help you organize your actions. (You can skip this step if you already have one.) Click on the three lines in the Actions panel and select New Set. You can also create it by clicking the folder icon at the bottom of the Actions panel. You can give it any name you like. (In this example I named it “My actions”.)

Step 4: Now it’s time to record the action. Select New Action from the Actions panel menu, or click the New icon at the bottom. Choose a name for your action, select the set you want it stored in, and click Record.

Note: Once you hit record, everything you do in Photoshop will be recorded – including the things you did accidentally. Fortunately, you can click the Record and Stop buttons at any time while you’re recording the steps.

Step 5: Once you start recording your action, duplicate your layer in the layers panel or by hitting CMD/CTRL+J.

Step 6: From the Photoshop menu select Filters ->Blur -> Gaussian Blur and choose a value between 10 and 25 pixels. (Don’t worry. Your photo won’t stay blurry.)

Step 7: Create a mask layer, then hold down the Alt/Option key and click on the mask. This will add a black mask on your blur, and your photo will be back to normal. We’ll be using this mask to add the smoothing rather than erase the blur, which is a lot more work.

Step 8: Select the Brush tool (or press B on the keyboard), and choose an opacity between 10% and 20%. Make sure your foreground color is set to white so you can paint back the smoothing.

Step 9: Hit Stop to stop recording.

Your action is now ready to use.

To test your action, open a new photo and hit Play in the Actions panel.

You’ll see the actions you recorded re-applied to the new photo.

How to use your action

Open a photo with the skin you want to smooth out. It’s best if you retouch any imperfections or blemishes beforehand. This action simply smoothes out the skin lightly to make it look natural and clean.

Hit Play on your action, choose a brush size that’s best for your photo and start painting in the smoothing in small strokes. Make sure you paint in the mask layer or you’ll be painting white onto the skin.

You should see the difference after a few strokes. You can also change the opacity if you need more or less smoothing.


If you accidentally record extra steps, simply stop the recording and then delete the steps that aren’t part of the action.

You can also delete the action and start over. So don’t worry if you don’t get each step right the first time.

In conclusion

Retouching skin can often take time away from photographing clients. But by using actions, you can streamline your editing by automating steps you use regularly.

This action also helps you retouch photos lightly and more naturally.

Let us know if you find it helpful.

The post How to Create and Use a Light Skin Smoothing Action in Photoshop appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jackie Lamas.

Creative Lighting Tips Using Household Items

The post Creative Lighting Tips Using Household Items appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jackie Lamas.

Ever want to create interesting photographs without having to spend so much on equipment? Chances are that you already own ordinary household items that can give your photos that creative lighting twist to make them pop! Read and try these creative light tips using things that are already in your home.

In almost all of the tips, I use my smartphone to light my subject, which is also another item you can use that is already in your home!

1 - Creative Lighting Tips Using Household Items

1. Shadows and patterns

To create shadows and patterns in your photos, try some of the following items that you have in your home already. Create a dot pattern with a colander. Hold it under the light – it can be a flashlight or natural light over your subject and you’ll see how the shadows form.

Experiment with different items with similar holes like a spatula, cheese grater, or laundry basket. Hold the items close and far away from your subject until you get the look that you want! Another easy way to create shadows is with the blinds on your windows. You can place your subject next to the blinds and angle them so that you get the desired pattern on your subject.

2 - Creative Lighting Tips Using Household Items

Using one small light like the flash on my phone and a colander works for making patterns.

You can also cut out patterns on paper, cardboard, or other similar materials to get the patterns you want. Hold them over your subject, and under your light source, and you’ll have shadows and patterns for your photos.

2. Color filters

Using translucent paper like cellophane or even document protectors that are translucent can help you add color casts to your photos. Cut them into squares or circles the diameter of your lens and hold each one up as you take a photo. You can also use tape to keep them on the lens while you’re photographing your subject.

3 - Creative Lighting Tips Using Household Items

I used cut up CD color cases. Document protectors would also work. Anything translucent.

Layer the colors or place them at the edges of the lens to create different color casts in the same photo. Another way is to put the colored paper in front of your light source, like a flashlight or sunlight, in order to achieve the color cast. This way you don’t have to have the paper over your lens and you can mix in different colors in the scene.

4 - Creative Lighting Tips Using Household Items

You can also use a tablet, laptop, or phone to create color casts as well. Try and aim to photograph your subject in a bit of a darker place so that the color cast shows up a little more. Place your device close to the subject and see how the colors show up onto your subject. Make sure your camera is steady as less light will cause more camera shake if you’re using slow shutter speed. Use a fast lens so that you don’t have blurry photos.

5 - Creative Lighting Tips Using Household Items

Use the color filter to the side of the lens.

3. Making rainbows

Using an old CD can create a rainbow light when it’s being reflected. Use this to create interesting rainbows on your subject or background. You can tilt it to get different effects.

6 - Creative Lighting Tips Using Household Items

Another way you can use a CD to create interesting light is to cut it up and glue it to poster board or cardboard and hold it up to the light that way. See what kind of creative light you can get onto your subject!

Try moving it around so that you can angle the rainbow just how you want it in your photo. Get creative with placing the rainbow to highlight different parts of your scene.

4. Fairy or string lights

String lights can give your photos a creative twist all while lighting your subject as well. Place the lights close to the lens to get the blurry orbs of light or place them on your actual subject to get that warm and inviting color on your subject.

7 - Creative Lighting Tips Using Household Items

Tape the lights to the wall so you can have free hands to photograph your subject.

String lights work best in a darker scene but you can experiment with different lighting situations to see what works best. Christmas lights also work for this but they are bulkier.

8 - Creative Lighting Tips Using Household Items

Use the fairy light close up to your lens to get the orb effect.

5. Spray bottle

Water refracts light, this means that when the light hits the water, it bends and can give you a unique way of lighting a photograph! Grab a spray bottle and give the lens a little spray. You might have to point your camera toward the light source, like a backlight or the sun in order to get the light refracting.

9 - Creative Lighting Tips Using Household Items

Using distilled water in a spray bottle gives some really interesting effects too. You could even go another step and use a colored filter over the light or lens to get a mixture of the effects.

In conclusion

10 - Creative Lighting Tips Using Household Items

Create interesting images by combining all of the tips together. This image has the rainbow from the CD, twinkle lights, water droplets all lit by my smartphone flash.

All of these cool lighting effects will give you more creative lighting to your images all using household items that you already have or can create under a budget. Which one will you try?

Share some of the images you take using these techniques with us in the comments below.


The post Creative Lighting Tips Using Household Items appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jackie Lamas.

How to Turn Your Living Room into a Photo Studio

The post How to Turn Your Living Room into a Photo Studio appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jackie Lamas.

Have you ever wished to have a studio space where you could bring clients in and photograph all types of portraits and ideas? You can! Your living room, or any room in your home for that matter, can be quickly converted so that you can photograph your studio ideas in your home!

Setting up backgrounds on a plain wall can help you take great portraits in your own living room.

Finding the right space

Your living room might be the room with the biggest space for you to get the best angles and set up your lights. As long as you have about 10 feet of blank wall space, you can use it for your at-home studio.

Choose a wall where you can mount backgrounds. Put up studio paper, or any background paper. Alternatively, use a painted wall for your photos. It doesn’t have to be anything special, and you could use the existing wall as the main background as well.

A bedroom with big windows can be used as a studio for portraits.

Why 10 feet? The wider your wall space, the more room you’ll have to the sides of your photos. This will enable you to photograph both horizontally and vertically. You will also have room for more than one person.

If you’re photographing headshots or only individuals, a smaller wall space would work. A wall with 5 feet would be sufficient enough for headshots and individuals.

Other spaces in your home that could work

The living room doesn’t have to be the only space that you can use. For example, if you don’t have studio lights, but want to create beautiful portraits with creative direction on backgrounds and don’t want to go on location, your home can still work!

You can photograph in a covered patio with lots of wall space, in your garage, in the bedroom, or on a balcony. All of these spaces work if you have the wall space to place your subject and space to photograph them from a distance.

This makes it much simpler to choose the right location for your at-home studio in the event that you don’t have studio lighting equipment or a special look to your photographs.

Creating the best set up for studio/flash  set up

You don’t necessarily need to use studio lights for your at-home studio, however, if that is what you’re going to use then let’s go through what you’ll need in the space for the best outcome.

Use flash bouncing off the ceiling to light portraits in your living room or in the space you want for your at home studio.

You’ll need to choose a wall space that is in a darker or not-so-brightly-lit room. You can also use shades or curtains to block out light so that your off-camera lighting can correctly light your scene.

Using a flash to light these portraits to simulate the sun. Plain wall background in the bedroom.

Living rooms offer the most space but make sure you can get it dark enough to set up the lights exactly where you want them.  You could also use external flashes to set up your at-home studio.

You can light portraits creatively when you have control of the space and lighting.

Have a lamp nearby so that you can use it as a modeling light. You can also use a light dimmer so that the light doesn’t affect the outcome or interfere with the white balance, exposure, or look and feel that you’re trying to achieve.

Best set up for natural light at-home studio

If your living room or any other room in your home has great natural light, you can definitely set up your studio there. The same tips apply as far as wall space so that you can pose your subject and have enough space in the frame in case cropping is necessary. It also gives you the option to photograph vertical or horizontal.

This was shot with all natural light using a silver reflector with a 3×3 grey background taped to the wall. Edited to bump up the contrast and desaturate the colors.

Choose a room that has great window light or light coming into the space. For example, a garage space with the garage door open is a good option. Another good option is a living room with big sliding doors where light floods the room. Make sure that the sunlight isn’t coming directly into the room or through the window where it casts weird shadows on your subject.

To diffuse the light, you can hang translucent curtains. This will help with harsh lighting, shadows, and the temperature of the room. Of course, you don’t necessarily need the window open unless it adds more light to your scene – if that is the look you’re going for.

If your home has textured walls, you can use them as backgrounds for the portraits as well!

Use a reflector and bounce cards to help bounce light in the direction you want. Black flags  (black boards that help darken the light) and are great for creating shadows and can help to give you more dramatic lighting.

Be aware of the floor

In your home, your floor is already installed and this can present a problem if you’re photographing full-length portraits. Take a look to see if the floor is what you’ll want for your photos. If it isn’t, you can use paper and place it from the wall all the way to the floor. This will create a seamless look to your photos like a real studio.

In the before photo, we covered the floor with a black sheet so we could photoshop the black background in and create a seamless look.

You can also get cheap wood floor-looking laminate flooring and create your portable floor. If the trim base to the floor isn’t distracting, you could even possibly photoshop that out to create a more seamless look with the wall and the floor.

Just be aware of your floor so you know what to do before you start photographing in your new home studio.

Backgrounds for in-home studios

There are a lot of great backgrounds that you can use for a home studio. Given that it’s completely your space and you can get really creative. The simplest one is the one you already have available! Use the existing wall color and texture to create interesting portraits.

You can use existing decor to create beautiful portraits or tape a paper background to the wall for a seamless background.

Other backgrounds you can use can be:

  • A sheet that covers the wall and onto the floor for a seamless fabric background.
  • Paper either rolled onto the floor for seamless or a piece of paper taped to the wall for up-close portraits
  • Any fabric or paper with a print on it
  • Different colored paper for headshots

Pretty much anything you can think of you can create as a background! You can get really creative with balloons, tissue paper, hanging strings, lights, paper flowers, artificial flowers, string or hanging garlands either made by you or already made newspaper or even plants.

The options and ideas are limitless and will give your photos a unique look no matter what your style is.

In conclusion

Your living room can be the perfect space for you to create beautiful studio work. You don’t need fancy equipment just nice wall space and the light you love to photograph with. Add in some music and you’ve got the perfect comfortable studio right in your home!

Do you have other suggestions to make a great living room studio? Share with us and our readers in the comments below.

The post How to Turn Your Living Room into a Photo Studio appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jackie Lamas.

What You Need to Know About Using Manual Mode on Your External Flash

The post What You Need to Know About Using Manual Mode on Your External Flash appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jackie Lamas.

When you’re getting started in flash photography, it can seem like your flash has a mind of its own. You’ll be surprised to know that in a way it does. However, switching to manual mode can give you the control you really want.

1 - Using Manual Mode on Your External Flash

Using flash in manual mode lets you set the amount of light that you want to fire from your flash to light your subject.

What is manual mode?

External flashes are default set to the ETTL setting. This setting lets the flash meter the light and then give what it thinks is the correct output of light. ETTL is rather inconvenient since each photo you take will have a different output because the flash is constantly metering before each frame, causing a lot of inconsistency from photo to photo.

2 - Using Manual Mode on Your External Flash

Refer to your manual to find out how to change your flash from ETTL to Manual. On Canon, you push the MODE button until you cycle through to M which is manual.

Manual mode is where you take control of the power output of the flash and therefore get more consistently lit photos. For example, if you are in one spot photographing a portrait and don’t need to adjust for ambient light changes constantly, then you can set your flash at 1/4 power and leave it there until you move or want something different.

3 - Using Manual Mode on Your External Flash

When competing with the sun, full power or half power is your best bet.

In manual mode, you override the flash’s metering and have full control. It also allows you to control taking photos at shutter speeds of more than 1/200th of a second, which is the fastest shutter speed in ETTL.

4 - Using Manual Mode on Your External Flash

On this particular flash, hitting the button with the “H” on it will allow you to use a shutter speed faster than 1/200 of a second. Refer to your flash manual to find this option.

You can use manual mode in both outdoor and indoor settings. Practicing using your flash in manual gets easier over time, and eventually, you’ll be able to select the correct output for the ambient light or the effect that you want to achieve.

Manual mode is also really helpful when you ‘slave’ more than one flash. Slaving is when you sync more than one flash so that they go off at the same time. In manual mode, each flash can be set to a different power output so you can choose which is your key light and which is your fill – giving your photos more depth and contrast.

5 - Using Manual Mode on Your External Flash

For these photos, two flashes were used to light the couple and keep the ambient in the background.

Metering output for flash in manual mode

Your camera meters ambient light, however, it does not do the same for flash output. Don’t worry though, with practice and a bit of trial and error, you will get to know your flash and when to use full power or half power, for example.

6 - Using Manual Mode on Your External Flash

Now you’re probably wondering what full power even means. An external flash has power output levels which are read in fractions. Full power output means that the flash is giving everything it has got and this is transcribed as 1/1. From there it can go to 1/64 of its power output.

There is no right way to begin practicing, however, it’s best to meter for the ambient light that you want to achieve in-camera. For example, if you’re photographing a family during sunset, meter for the sunset. Once you have that settled, put your flash in manual mode and begin with a power output of 1/4 power.

7 - Using Manual Mode on Your External Flash

No flash was used for this portrait.


8 - Using Manual Mode on Your External Flash

Same family, location, ambient light and used flash at 1/8 power.

From there, adjust the power of the flash until you get the desired result. This way, you’re guaranteed to have the ambient light metered correctly and use the flash to fill in the light where you want it – in this case, on the family.

You can use your flash on your camera or off-camera in manual mode. Using it off-camera will give you a more angled direction of light and may inspire some creative lighting. On camera, be careful of the power output and angle you have your flash. Outdoors, you’ll probably want to point the flash at your subjects. Indoors, however, you might want to bounce the light off of a ceiling or adjacent wall.

9 - Using Manual Mode on Your External Flash

If you’re using a modifier like a flash diffuser, be aware that the light output will be different than using the flash without a diffuser. The power needed to light your subject also depends on the distance at which the flash is from your subject. When your flash is closer to your subject, it requires less power because the light is closer.

10 - Using Manual Mode on Your External Flash

If you are at a distance, then you’ll need to up the power on the flash in order for it to reach your subject at all. This can be especially tricky outdoors so make sure you are checking your photos after taking some test shots.

When to use your flash in manual mode

You should strive at getting comfortable using your flash in manual mode every time you need to use flash. This can really help you to get consistent photos when you’re not moving around or when the ambient light isn’t changing.

11 - Using Manual Mode on Your External Flash

The left photo is with flash and the right is without flash. Note the blue of the ocean and the sky with the flash versus without flash.

The best times to use flash are when you want to pop some light onto your subject when you’re competing with the sun outdoors, or when you want to control and create light in a studio, to fill in shadows, during sunset or low light, and for indoor settings.

For example, when you are photographing family portrait sessions outdoors with the sunset, you may need to use the flash to fill in light so that you can get the beautiful sunset and not have your subjects in the dark.

12 - Using Manual Mode on Your External Flash

Left without flash and right with flash.

Another example is when you are in an indoor setting, like a bride getting ready and you can bounce your flash off the ceiling to add some light into the room.

Using your flash in a studio setting can be a little more tricky since flashes don’t come with modeling lights. If you’re photographing in a dark room, using a flashlight to focus your camera first can be a big help. Some flashes have a fluttering effect to help with focusing, check your manual to turn this function on.

13 - Using Manual Mode on Your External Flash

One flash used for both photos. The left has the flash in front of the couple and the second has the flash behind the couple.

Using more than one flash at different power output levels can also create stunning photos with lots of depth, much like real studio strobe flashes but with more portability and less expensive.

To do this, you’ll need transmitters or some flashes also come with built-in sync transmitters. This means that when one flash sees another go off, it also goes off.

Other important factors when shooting with flash in manual mode

A few things to keep in mind when you’re photographing subjects with flash in manual mode include the batteries, shutter speed, ambient light metering, and high-speed sync.

14 - Using Manual Mode on Your External Flash

Using flash to fill the couple in and capture the sunset.

When you’re photographing at 1/4 power or more, you’ll go through batteries much quicker. A battery pack especially made for flash and professional cameras can come in handy especially if you’re going to be using flash for a long period of time. It can also make recycling the flash much faster.

What is flash recycling? It’s the amount of time that it takes the flash to recycle and be ready to flash again. The more power you set the flash at, the more time it takes to recycle. For example, a flash at 1/2 power takes longer to get ready to fire again than a flash powered at 1/16.

15 - Using Manual Mode on Your External Flash

Using flash at an angle to light your subject creatively.

The flash also takes much longer to recycle when the batteries begin to drain and lose charge. Have at least three or more sets of batteries at the ready in case this begins to happen.

When you’re using a flash in ETTL, the fastest shutter speed that you can use is 1/200th, on some, it can go up to 1/250th of a second. This isn’t too fast if you’re photographing in outdoor light or competing with the sun. Many flashes have the ability for high sync speeds when you’re using the flash in manual mode.

16 - Using Manual Mode on Your External Flash

Using flash indoors bounced off the ceiling at about 1/16 power.

The distance of the flash to your subject can also affect where to set the power on your flash in manual mode. The further away your flash is from your subject, the more power you’ll need in order for the light to reach your subject. The closer you are, the less power you’ll need. Of course, this depends on where you are photographing your subject and if ambient light is a factor.

Practice makes perfect

Using flash can seem really intimidating. However, controlling your flash by using it in manual mode can be just the right move for you to get comfortable using a flash. Practice makes perfect and the more you practice with your flash, the more you’ll understand how to power it in certain lighting situations.

17 - Using Manual Mode on Your External Flash

Flash used at 1/16 power to fill in light and get catchlights in eyes.

Unfortunately, cameras don’t record flash settings in the metadata of your images. It only records if the flash fired or not. This isn’t helpful when you’re trying to practice flash in manual mode.

Carry around a small notebook and record your settings in your camera for each image that you take. This way, you can remember what your flash settings were in that particular set up and light for future reference.

18 - Using Manual Mode on Your External Flash

Using flash at a 45-degree angle toward the subject off camera helps fill in the light.

As time goes on, you’ll be more comfortable setting, testing, and using your flash in manual mode.

In conclusion

19 - Using Manual Mode on Your External Flash

Using flash at 1/2 power indoors off-camera, on a flash pole high and pointed directly at the subject. This imitates the light of the sun for these indoor photos.

If you feel like using your flash sometimes gives your images an inconsistent look, try using your flash in manual mode. Manual mode lets you be in full control of how much light you want the flash to fire giving you more consistent exposures and taking out the guesswork of the flash itself.

Try it out and let us know if these tips helped you out!

The post What You Need to Know About Using Manual Mode on Your External Flash appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jackie Lamas.

Your Guide to the Best Poses for Engagement Photos

The post Your Guide to the Best Poses for Engagement Photos appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jackie Lamas.

Engagement sessions can be really fun, but it can get a little repetitive posing the couple together again and again throughout the session. Here are great poses that work for all couples during an engagement photo session.

1 - Guide to the Best Poses for Engagement Photos

Begin with foundation poses

A foundation pose is a pose where you set the couple in the exact spot facing a specific direction. Foundation poses are great to lead into different variations as you begin to build upon the poses. For example, you start with both people facing the camera. From this foundation pose, you can build so that the couple holds hands, look at each other, and in the end, you can capture them walking toward each other slowly.

2 - Guide to the Best Poses for Engagement Photos

From each foundation pose, you can get at least five different variations without having to move the couple all that much! This is helpful especially when you find yourself in tight spaces or pressed for time.

However, you don’t always have to stay in one spot. Depending on the location, feel free to move around and use all of the interesting nooks at the location of the session.

3 - Guide to the Best Poses for Engagement Photos

Posing facing each other

This is probably the most comfortable pose for all couples because it’s the most natural. Have the couple face each other, and with their arms furthest from the camera, have them wrap them around each other. This leaves the pose open from the front so that you can capture them looking at each other.

From here, have them hold hands loosely or play with their hands up with interlocking fingers. You can also have one person play with the other person’s hair while you get creative angles on the pose.

4 - Guide to the Best Poses for Engagement Photos

Have them give each other a good squeeze to help loosen nerves and get the most natural laughs and expressions out of the couple. Have them kiss if they’re comfortable with that.

You can also give them a little space so that they are directly facing each other. Here the couple can stand with their hands at their side and then hold hands. Have them lean in to kiss each other and let them move in closer if they need to.

5 - Guide to the Best Poses for Engagement Photos

From this pose, you can also ask that they get really close together – tummy to tummy – and have one person lay their heads on the other person’s shoulder/chest. This pose is romantic and sweet.

The “T” pose

The “T” pose is a variation on the prom pose and gives a more romantic feel to the photo. Have the taller person stand facing 45-degrees from the camera. Ask the other person to stand with their shoulder’s perpendicular to the other person. Have them get close and wrap their arms around each other.

This pose is great for all couples because it keeps the faces at an angle where the couple can look at one another, hug, kiss, and enjoy each other at close proximity.

6 - Guide to the Best Poses for Engagement Photos

Try photographing this pose with a wide-angle lens, like a 35mm, and place the couple in the center. This technique makes the pose much more interesting! Especially if you’re at a breathtaking or unique location.

When your clients are in this T pose, you can ask one person to look at the camera while the other closes their eyes or looks off into the distance. Get in close to take a beautiful portrait of the person looking at the camera.

7 - Guide to the Best Poses for Engagement Photos

This is also a perfect pose to get a nice ring shot while the couple’s arms are wrapped around each other. Try getting more of the couple’s bodies in the frame with the rings in focus and the rest out of focus.

Prom pose with variations

While the prom pose isn’t all that popular these days, you can still use the foundation pose to build on and get great photos of the couple. One variation is to get the shorter person to stand behind the taller. Here, they can hold onto the taller person’s arm and look at the photographer.

You can also have them loosely hold hands in this position and look off into the distance. The person in the front can look back or down while the person in the back can look at the camera. This is a romantic and sweet pose that can be taken full length or from a closer angle. Take both focal lengths to get more variety from the pose.

8 - Guide to the Best Poses for Engagement Photos

This pose can also stay in its original form where the shorter person stands in front and arms are wrapped around the waist. However, it’s best if you change it up a bit and have the hands of the person in front caress the face of the person behind. Here the pose becomes more romantic and has more connection rather than staying in its original form.

Ask the person in the back to wrap their arms up high around their beloved. Make sure that in this pose, the heads are not directly above one another. Move the front person to either side of the neck to avoid having the pose look stiff and disconnected.

9 - Guide to the Best Poses for Engagement Photos

From here, move around the couple and get different angles. Have the couple look off into the distance and enjoy the moment. Perhaps tell a joke to get them to laugh a bit.

To create a little bit more movement, from this pose, ask the couple to hold hands while the person in front moves towards the camera creating some distance from the other person. It will appear like they’re walking while holding hands. It’s a more creative take on the pose and adds beautiful movement.

10 - Guide to the Best Poses for Engagement Photos

Action poses

Action poses are fun and a great way to loosen nerves and get the couple more comfortable with being in front of the camera. These can include the couple walking, either holding hands or at a distance, climbing, dancing, or just talking with one another.

11 - Guide to the Best Poses for Engagement Photos

Starting with action poses can be more comfortable for a couple that is not necessarily big on kissing or being affectionate. If you’re in a location where there are activities, like an amusement park or coffee shop, have the couple do what they usually would if you weren’t around. This could be playing games, getting a coffee, enjoying some music together, walking, dancing, and talking.

12 - Guide to the Best Poses for Engagement Photos

You can also have the couple walk toward the camera while you’re out photographing the engagement session. Have them walk two or three times as you get different focal lengths and angles. Ask the couple to talk with each other or smile at one another because this looks more natural as they are walking.

Facing away from the camera

Having the couple face away from the camera can create more interesting photographs and keep the mood more romantic resulting in less posed and more natural looking photographs.

13 - Guide to the Best Poses for Engagement Photos

For one pose, have the couple stand at a distance facing away from the camera. Have the couple take one step forward and hold it as if they were walking. Have one person look back toward the camera and the other person looking down or to the side. You could have them do this as the couple is walking away from the camera. Just make sure that there is nothing in the way that could provoke a fall.

14 - Guide to the Best Poses for Engagement Photos

Another pose is having the couple face away from the camera but gets in close to each other. Here they can look at one another, hold hands, or kiss the forehead all while you are photographing from behind. Try getting the couple from a high angle, so it looks like you’re looking down at them.

Allow poses to develop naturally

While you set foundation poses and build different variations, allow the poses to develop into their own naturally. What I mean by this is that let the couple take charge in some of the poses with the kissing and getting close. Allowing for the couple to feel like they can move around within a pose can create more authentic and romantic expressions.

15 - Guide to the Best Poses for Engagement Photos

Couples feel most uncomfortable when they can’t be themselves, so during the session let them know that they are free to move and enjoy the moment. You are there to capture their love and excitement for their wedding day.

Once they have this liberty to move about in a pose, you’ll get real emotions and might even progress naturally through poses you may have thought of doing anyway!

16 - Guide to the Best Poses for Engagement Photos

Make sure to go with the vibe of the couple

Some couples aren’t romantic types and feel silly or uncomfortable doing lots of kissy or huggy shots. Try and get a feel for how the couple is. Are they playful? Active? Romantic? If after a few silly poses, you find that the couple is more on the romantic side, go for those types of poses.

17 - Guide to the Best Poses for Engagement Photos

Here are some ideas for each type of couple:

Romantic: Go with poses where the couple is close to each other. Either facing each other or hugging. Lots of closed eyes and enjoying the quiet moments of love between them. Try and photograph with a longer lens to give them space to be intimate with one another. Have them say something they love about one another while you photograph their reactions.

Fun/silly: Here you can get the couple talking and being overall silly. Try and get them to dance, tell jokes or play around at the location of the session. For example, having the couple make silly faces at one another or have one person tell a joke and get the reaction of the other person. Pose them with a little distance while holding hands to create a connection but not too close to where they feel uncomfortable having their photo taken so intimately.

Active: This couple will appreciate a good walk or even run! Have them jump, dance, climb, or even have one person piggy-back on the other! This couple is fun and needs to move around to keep them active by having them move around.

Not all of the poses have to be active if the couple is active, or romantic if the couple is the romantic type. Usually, after the first half hour, the couple has lost their nervousness and are more open to other poses. Just make sure that you keep an eye out for their natural personalities and go along with that vibe.

18 - Guide to the Best Poses for Engagement Photos

Being a little intuitive to the personality of the couple helps you create more authentic photos that they will love. An important note to remember is that some couples will be easy to pose, and others will need more direction.

In any case, let the couples know that they can move around and to not worry about holding poses for too long. Remind them to enjoy the moments and do what feels natural to them as a couple. This helps to calm nerves, and you’ll get much more real expressions than forced ones.

19 - Guide to the Best Poses for Engagement Photos

In conclusion

The best poses for engagement sessions are where you set a foundation pose and then build upon that depending on the vibe of your clients. Aim to give them a real and fun experience and document their personalities during the session. Pose them but let them feel free to move around and be themselves. They will have a great time and love their photos after!

The post Your Guide to the Best Poses for Engagement Photos appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jackie Lamas.

How to Photograph Destination Weddings Successfully

The post How to Photograph Destination Weddings Successfully appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jackie Lamas.

So you’ve booked your first destination wedding, now what? Don’t worry, photographing a destination wedding is not much different from photographing a local wedding. Check out how to photograph destination weddings and make sure that everything runs as smoothly as possible.

1. Logistics and planning

It’s incredibly exciting getting the chance to travel to photograph a couple’s wedding. With that, however, comes the logistics and effective planning, so you aren’t scrambling or getting delayed by a flight.

First things first, make all the flight purchases and itineraries yourself. You should arrive at the destination at least one full day before the event.

For example, if the wedding is on a Friday, you need to arrive early Thursday morning at the latest. The best would be to arrive on Wednesday anytime. This way, if a flight gets delayed or canceled, you have time to figure out your next move. Never plan to arrive on the same day as the event.

If you are not extending your stay, make sure to leave the destination the next day or next night. The reason for this is because, after a full day of photographing a wedding, you won’t want to worry about packing, airport shuttles, and all that goes into traveling back home.

Get your rest, eat a good breakfast and then be on your way. Make sure to say goodbye to your clients before leaving if they are still on the property.

It is entirely up to you if you wish to extend the stay and turn the opportunity into a vacation. However, make sure that you separate the costs of work and vacation so that your clients aren’t paying for your vacation and you can relax knowing that you can enjoy your vacation.

Having said that, it is acceptable to extend the stay and travel a bit on your own. Destination weddings are perfect for this type of traveling, however, always be careful of your equipment when traveling.

2. Research the location of the wedding

Since you’ll most likely be traveling to a new place, you won’t be familiar with the location. Research online as much as possible so that you can find possible shoot locations and get an idea of what you’ll be working with.

Googling the location and adding “weddings” can also bring up other photographer websites who have photographed there. It can give you ideas of where to photograph or how the light looks.

Reach out to the planner or coordinator of the wedding and touch base with them before you arrive. It’s also nice to introduce yourself to them via email before arriving. Ask them in-depth questions about things such as the weather, the location, travel, and access.

All of these logistical and location questions are important so that you know whether to rent a car or if it’s easily accessible to the nearest town.

Getting all of this information can help you make an itinerary with the couple and they will be impressed that you went the extra mile to find out all of the details not only the wedding, but of the actual location.

3. Make the most of your time before the event

It can seem pretty enticing to take a dip in the pool after traveling to the destination of the wedding, however, it’s best to make the most of your time before the event.

Take the time to walk the grounds and get the lay of the land. This can help you get an idea of possible locations that aren’t too far from any of the important events of the wedding day. Ask the coordinator or planner to give you a quick tour of where the ceremony and the reception are taking place.

This is also a great time to check out the town if the couple has opted for photos there. Go and take a look and take the time to make a list of possible locations for portraits, family portraits, creative bridal party locations, etc.

In order to capture this shot, we had to wake up for sunrise at 6:30. Doing research on the location will help you determine the best time for photos.

Also, take a short break to say hi to the couple. Reassure them that you have arrived and have been checking out the location for the best possible photo spots.

Upon arriving, also check your gear. Check that everything is in working order after traveling and that your batteries are charged. If you find you need something, it’s best to find it during this time rather than finding out you needed extra double aa batteries during the ceremony.

Preparing yourself, the photo locations, and your gear allows you to fully relax knowing that you have everything ready to go for the event. Then you can take that dip in the pool without any worries.

4. Gear

Flying with gear can be stressful. Never check-in your gear. Whenever possible, put it in a carry-on case so that it is with you at all times – at least the most important gear. Light stands and tripods are not as crucial as a flash and your favorite portrait lens.

Keeping your lens within arm’s length always ensures nothing gets thrown or broken in the course of the trip. Also, you’ll be able to take photos as you travel on the plane, in the airport, and anywhere.

Before traveling, make sure to speak to an insurance agent about getting your gear insured while you travel. Some insurance agencies only cover your gear in the country you live in. Be sure to call around and have your gear covered as you travel.

Also, ask if your gear is covered in transit. That means that while you’re on your way to where your event is taking place. Transit means in the car on the way to the airport, to the resort, or on the plane.

Having your gear insured while you are traveling makes you feel more at ease in the event something were to happen. Something like a broken lens, a faulty flash, having your camera fall in the water or having your gear stolen.

No one would want this to happen, however, being insured against these things helps keep repair and replacing costs lower than if you didn’t have your gear insured.

Now that you’re insured make sure you bring a backup camera and lens that helps you to cover the wedding in case your main camera stops working for any reason. This is pretty basic for any wedding event – local or destination. However, overseas or far from your local camera shop, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to rent anything if something does go wrong.

5. Tell a story

Most destination weddings take place in places that tell part of the couples’ story or is meaningful to them in some way. Take a photo of the dress where the resort is shown off. For example, a couple from Washington has their wedding in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. An excellent photo to showcase the beach would be to take a photo of the wedding dress outside where you see the reflection of the ocean in the sliding door windows.

You can also strategically place the details of the wedding day, such as the shoes, bouquet, or the family formals so that some part of the location tells the story. Including these details in the photos makes for a beautiful wedding album and tells the story of the entire day. It has more meaning than a photo of the bride’s shoes in a location that could have been local.

Destination weddings tend to have a smaller guest list, and therefore, most of the guests are very close to the couple. This means that toasts and first dances may be emotionally driven.

Photograph from a more journalistic point of view during these emotional moments, that way, you can capture the mother with tears of joy during the ceremony, or a meaningful hug from a best friend after the first kiss. All of these moments are important during destination weddings.

The bride’s father is the officiant and her sister is behind them.

Take lots of portraits of the bride and groom with their guests, either candid or posed. As the guest list is small, every person is essential, and you should photograph each of them. If the wedding is tiny, say less than 20 people, take a group photo of everyone who attended.

Capture all moments. This man was telling the bride that she was the most beautiful bride he had ever seen during the bride and groom portraits. A funny and sweet moment to remember!

It’s sure to be a favorite among all the guests, and the bride and groom will appreciate you took the time to get a group photo of everyone who made their day special.

6. Get vendor information

Destination weddings are perfect for publications and lots of blogs. You’ll want to get the full list of vendors so that you can also share the images with them and across social media sites.

Tagging a vendor in your photos always creates more buzz and can help you to book more destination weddings in the future. This is especially helpful if you would like to keep photographing weddings at that particular destination.

Send the coordinator/planner a thank you email along with the link to selected photos of the event so that they too can share the images and tag you. Include any hashtags that you’d like for them to use on social media.

Doing this can create a positive rapport with the vendors and give you another opportunity to photograph more weddings at the same location. It also helps your future clients if they need referrals to vendors that you have personally worked with before.

In conclusion

There is not much difference between a local wedding and a destination wedding. With these tips, you’ll be more than prepared to photograph your destination wedding. With the right planning, you’ll do the very best for your clients, and you might even get to enjoy a vacation while you’re at it.

Have you photographed destination weddings? We’d love to hear your experiences in the comments below.

The post How to Photograph Destination Weddings Successfully appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jackie Lamas.

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