Top 5 Locations for Photography Pre-Consultations that are not in a Coffee Shop

The post Top 5 Locations for Photography Pre-Consultations that are not in a Coffee Shop appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jackie Lamas.

There is probably nothing worse than hearing a coffee grinder whirl up as you talk to your potential clients. While coffee shops can seem like an ideal and neutral location for a meet up with a client, it can also be distracting. Here are some other locations for photography pre-consultations with a client.

Top 5 Locations for Photography Pre-Consultations that are not in a Coffee Shop

1. Vendor office space

As photographers, we work with lots of different vendors that are close by and that over time, we can even become friends with.

Top 5 Locations for Photography Pre-Consultations that are not in a Coffee Shop

Find a vendor that has an office or retail space and ask them if you can rent the space to hold your pre-consultations. Perhaps they have a small office they don’t use or a large open floor plan where you can hold your meetings.

You could even swap the rent with free sessions or artwork for their space. This will also bring more business into their space while you get to hold your pre-consultation without distractions and in a beautiful space.

Top 5 Locations for Photography Pre-Consultations that are not in a Coffee Shop

Be sure to keep your samples or products that you plan on showing during your pre-consultation. If you can, talk your vendor friend into letting you use a corner where you can set it up just right for your meetings.

It will leave a much bigger impact than you have invested in making friends with other vendors you trust enough to hold your meetings there.

Top 5 Locations for Photography Pre-Consultations that are not in a Coffee Shop

Clients will feel more comfortable and be able to ask their questions and get all information without the barista yelling out names and coffee orders.

2. In your own home

Many photographers don’t have a designated studio space, which means that you probably work from a desk somewhere in your home.

Having a pre-consultation, in-person sales appointment, and any other general client meetings, in your home means that you’re able to control the impression you leave on your clients.


Designate a space in your home where your clients will be able to sit and talk with you comfortably. Have your products all ready to go, and perhaps some candles or incense burning to create a nice ambiance.

Bringing clients into your own home also builds more trust between you and the client. You have all your products right at your fingertips along with any beverages and snacks to offer your client.

Top 5 Locations for Photography Pre-Consultations that are not in a Coffee Shop

Also, you can use your television as a screen to preview photos, show a slideshow of your work, and even play music in the background.

3. In your client’s home

If don’t feel comfortable having consultations in your home, you can offer to hold the pre-consultation at your client’s home.

This can be really convenient if your client has small children and you need to work around their schedule. Also, this will allow you to view locations for wall portraits and various products that your client perhaps may not have thought of prior to the pre-consultation.


You can take your products, laptop, or have a printed product guide for your clients to view while you sit in their living room chatting about ideas for their upcoming session.

Ask your clients if they feel comfortable with a pre-consultation visit and offer them free measuring for wall portraits while you’re there. This might give them the incentive to have a consultation at their home.

Top 5 Locations for Photography Pre-Consultations that are not in a Coffee Shop

Take note of their design style, color schemes, and architecture. This can be really helpful when you do an in-person sales appointment and you’ve correctly matched frames that fit perfectly into their already decorated home.

4. At the venue/location

For wedding clients, the perfect location where you can meet is at the location where the couple will be getting married, if possible.


Walking the location can also be a good time to look for photo spots that would work perfectly for the day of wedding portraits. You can walk through and get an idea of their style, and it makes the meeting a little less formal.

For portrait sessions, you can choose a favorite location like a park that you have used before where a bench and seating are available. This is because you might be meeting with clients with their children, or you might want to show them your portfolio on your laptop or phone and your products.


If the weather is comfortable, use an outdoor space that you particularly like that isn’t heavily crowded, like a plaza or benches where you can talk with your clients comfortably.

Remember, some of these places may not have internet, so everything you need should be downloaded or pre-loaded onto your devices. That way, you can show your client without delays or issues.

5. Shared workspaces

Shared workspaces, like We Work, offer members lots of perks and amenities that are just like having an office or studio space of your own.


Some of these locations have conference rooms you can reserve ahead of time to have your pre-consultation with your clients.

Many shared workspaces have reception, lounge areas, coffee and tea bars, and many other perks that also include internet and distraction-free space. You can hold your consultation without having to sit cramped at a small round table and cafe chairs.

Top 5 Locations for Photography Pre-Consultations that are not in a Coffee Shop

If you’re holding quite a few pre-consultations and in-person sales meetings a month, you might want to consider paying the monthly fee to use the shared workspace. Or perhaps talk to a friend who has used one and get their take on it.


Many a photographer has had the coffee shop pre-consultation client meeting and while it is practical and neutral, these alternate locations may just prove to leave a more professional impression on your clients.

Do you have any other locations for photography pre-consultations that you’d like to share? Please do so in the comments!


The post Top 5 Locations for Photography Pre-Consultations that are not in a Coffee Shop appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jackie Lamas.

5 Essential Tools for Wedding Photography That Aren’t Gear-Related

The post 5 Essential Tools for Wedding Photography That Aren’t Gear-Related appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jackie Lamas.

Weddings are fast-paced with long hours. So to get you through the wedding day, we’re listing five essential tools for wedding photography that are going to make any wedding day go much smoother for you. These aren’t gear-related. They’re the things that you may have never thought of but will make all the difference during those long wedding days.

wedding pond garden

1. Bring comfortable, durable shoes

Bringing comfortable and durable shoes is almost as important as bringing your favorite lens. Shoes can keep you from falling or tripping, and they can stop your feet from hurting after several hours on the job.

Shoes that have thick soles are what you’re looking for; they must be able to withstand hours upon hours of wear. It’s also important that they’re comfortable on the inside.

uncomfortable shoes-essential-tools-for-wedding-photography

Unfortunately, flats and dress shoes don’t really fit into this category, since neither are very durable or can withstand long hours of use without giving you major discomfort. Shoes that aren’t made for long hours can fall apart or rip.

Most importantly, flats and dress shoes provide no actual support for you as you photograph the main events of the wedding. Durable and comfortable shoes that are high quality and can be worn for long hours will keep your feet safe, comfortable, and will give you the back support you need.

beach bride groom wedding-essential-tools-for-wedding-photography

If the wedding you’re photographing is mostly on pavement, you’ll be glad you looked for comfortable shoes, because those hot pavement and cement sidewalks are terrible on thin-soled shoes.

You can also get shoe inserts that help support and cushion the inside of the shoe to better withstand long hours. While this is a fast and convenient fix, it’s best if you find a shoe that provides this from the get-go, and then you can add the insert for extra support.

2. Hire an assistant

If you have the budget (maybe factor this into your wedding package) hire an assistant. This is not to be confused with a second shooter who helps you to photograph a wedding. No, an assistant is there to help you carry your things and be an extra pair of hands.

hands near a wedding dress

Assistants can be responsible for equipment, lens changes, battery changes, helping fluff out the bride’s dress, keeping you on track with the timeline, and lining up the family during group portraits. Assistants are great because they help you with things that don’t need your full attention.

They can also be quicker at getting a forgotten bouquet or holding your flash at a certain angle. Plus, the extra pair of hands will keep your gear close, so that you can focus on making the shots and not worrying about whether you forgot your tripod at the ceremony.

bride and groom under a tree

Have assistants be a part of your team. It’s good to highlight this before you cover the wedding. Outline the responsibilities, show them your equipment and what you’ll need, along with any details specific to the event you’re photographing.

3. Bring snacks

Snacks are crucial for long wedding days or even short ones. Weddings take a lot of energy out of you both mentally and physically with the posing, styling, photographing, directing, customer service, and being in charge of your team, so it’s really great to have easy and light snacks on hand.

wedding food-essential-tools-for-wedding-photography

Best snacks for wedding days include small packets of trail mix with nuts and chocolate to get your energy up, energy bars or protein bars, small reusable water bottles, fruits like an apple, and granola bars.

Keep snacks small. That way, they won’t add weight to your bags, are easy to carry, and won’t make a mess. You can also keep a small lunch bag with you and have your assistant carry it during, particularly long wedding days.

dessert on a wedding day

Having your own snacks will keep your energy up and keep you feeling great all throughout the event. No one likes a grumpy, hungry photographer!

4. Bring a small hand towel

Due to the fact that weddings are long, they tend to have a lot of sun. This means that, while your clients might be in the shade, you may find yourself in harsh sunlight.

kissing couple on the grass

A small hand towel can keep sweat off your face and your camera during those really hot summer days. This will keep you looking fresh and stop you from having to ask the guests or venue for something to wipe off your sweat with.

The hand towel can also be useful for other things: You can use it to shine wedding rings or to wipe a table you want to use in the background.

bride and groom kiss on dance floor

5. Bring command hooks and other styling items

Command hooks are super versatile, and getting a couple can really help you when it comes to styling certain wedding details. For example, because the strip can be taken off walls without doing damage, you can use a command hook to hang the wedding dress anywhere you want.

command hooks - essential-tools-for-wedding-photography

Examples of really elegant command hooks that are removable.

These hooks come in different styles and finishes, and it’s good to stock up on a few so that you won’t be without one come the wedding day. Make sure to get hooks with an adhesive that can be taken off without harming walls.


bride and groom with car

Not all wedding day prep is about gear. These tools will help keep you at 100 percent while photographing one-of-a-kind moments for your clients.

Do you have any essential tools for wedding photography to make the day run smoothly? Share them in the comments!



The post 5 Essential Tools for Wedding Photography That Aren’t Gear-Related appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jackie Lamas.

How be a Second Shooter at Weddings and Why it’s Important

The post How be a Second Shooter at Weddings and Why it’s Important appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jackie Lamas.

Getting started in wedding photography takes more than your camera gear. In order to really get an idea of what photographing a wedding is truly like, becoming a second shooter can be the perfect way to get you started.


Why it’s important to be a second shooter?

Getting started in weddings means that you should have a high level of photographic experience not only technically, like how to use your camera, but also what goes into photographing a wedding.

Second shooting allows you to shadow a photographer, photograph the entire wedding, and get real hands-on experience without having all the pressure fall on you to get every photo right.

Image: A second shooter can get creative with angles, perspective, and photograph key guests at wedd...

A second shooter can get creative with angles, perspective, and photograph key guests at weddings.

Being a second photographer can also give you insight into the customer service aspects of weddings like keeping to a timeline, knowing what to expect if something goes wrong, and seeing how each photographer you second for handles the pressure.

As a second shooter, you can also determine if weddings and events are something you’d even like to pursue. You also don’t have the pressure of booking a wedding client and then not knowing what or how to go about photographing it or if you’ll even like it.

How be a Second Shooter at Weddings and Why it's Important

Working alongside an experienced wedding photographer can also let you in on industry tips and tricks that they’ve learned throughout the years. You can also ask questions and observe how they work at a wedding. This will help you when you start photographing events as the primary photographer.

Difference between second photographer and assisting

Although it may seem like there isn’t a difference between assisting and second shooting, there is. Assistants are just that. They assist the main photographer with anything from carrying bags and equipment, to helping with veils, styling, or running to grab something for a photo. An assistant is an extra pair of hands.

How be a Second Shooter at Weddings and Why it's Important

Assistants generally don’t help photograph a wedding. However, depending on the terms that the main photographer has set up for the position, sometimes you may.

A second photographer is someone who helps photograph a wedding in tandem with the main photographer. As a second shooter, you are usually responsible for photographing the in-between moments and get a different, more creative angle on photos.

Reach out to photographers


The first step in getting a second shooting gig is to reach out to photographers that inspire you, are looking for help on wedding days, or people you know who wouldn’t mind having an extra photographer at the wedding.

Your email can be simple and concise like:


My name is ____________. Firstly, I love your work and it’s an inspiration to me as a new wedding photographer. I was wondering if you needed a second photographer at events, as I would love to learn the ropes before jumping into wedding photography full time. I have the following gear: __________. You can see my portfolio at

Thank you so much for your time!

Your name.

Emailing a busy photographer a short and to-the-point email is best. They may say no, which is okay. You should respond with a thank you email along with the message that if they ever need anyone in the future, you are available. They can then keep your information on file should they need a second photographer in the future.


Also, there are many social media groups where you can look for second shooting jobs in your local area. Many photographers can hire on the spot just by looking at your website and gear.

Make sure to sign a contract

Second shooting with a contract is highly recommended. Not all photographers do this. However, you can draft one up for them just in case they don’t have one ready.

Include the details of the event, how long you’ll be second shooting, what you’re expected to cover, and finally, the delivery of the photos and payment.


Many photographers will want you to use your own equipment and will ask you what you photograph with. If this is the case, make sure to put this in the contract as well.

Just as an important note as well, when you second shoot, the images that you take may not be under your copyright. Most contracts will state that copyright belongs to the main photographer since their photography business is the one who was hired by the couple.

Image: Often, second shooters get the candid photos during a wedding event, like this one above.

Often, second shooters get the candid photos during a wedding event, like this one above.

This means that you’re a subcontractor. Therefore any images you produce are copyright and property of the main photographer – even if you photograph the event with your equipment. Check your contract for copyright and usage rights, if any exist.


Some photographers want you to use their memory cards or even their gear. That way, they don’t have to worry about syncing times, converting raw files into the same format, or image delivery delays to the client.


Try and get a different angle than the main photographer so you can add variety, like these two images of the first dance.

Take your gear with you. Doing so gives the main photographer the choice to let you use your gear or their gear, or a mixture of both.

When you email the photographers, make sure you list all the gear that you know how to use at 100 percent. In the event you don’t know how to you use your flash in manual mode, for example, then put down “flash only in TTL mode.” This can help the main photographer know your photography experience and may even help you learn manual mode or another photography tip!

How be a Second Shooter at Weddings and Why it's Important

Be all-in

Being a second shooter means that you are there to help the photographer with photography. While some second shooters take this approach very seriously, I believe that second photographers should also be at the disposal of the main photographer – within reason, of course.


This means that you help fluff up the dress, put on the boutonniere, help with getting flowers to the bridesmaids, and yes, maybe handing the main photographer a lens or battery.

You’re a team, and it’s important to be all-in when you second. The main photographer is helping you gain experience and learn. It’s best that you also help as much as you can.

Image: While the main photographer focuses on the couple, you can use your eye to focus on other key...

While the main photographer focuses on the couple, you can use your eye to focus on other key moments during the wedding!

Each photographer works differently, however. Showing initiative and being accommodating can also help you get more second shooting gigs in the future with the same photographer.

Take what works for you

Second shooting is really helpful because you get lots of experience with different photographers and get to observe all the different ways that each one works a wedding.

How be a Second Shooter at Weddings and Why it's Important

Perhaps you vibe best with one photographer and not so much with another. That is okay. Make sure to thank the photographer for having you along. Then, in the future, only go with photographers you have a good rapport with and like to be around.

Also, you’ll be able to take away tips and tricks that you feel work for you. If one photographer was excellent at customer service, take away what they said or did, and apply it to your business. Another photographer may have created a really interesting image during the reception that you can try at the next wedding event you have.

How be a Second Shooter at Weddings and Why it's Important

Take what works for you, your style, and your business and leave the rest. That’s one great thing about being the second photographer – you can observe all and still have fun photographing a wedding.


When you are highly experienced in photography and can create quality images every single time, you may get paid anywhere between $25-$50 or more per hour for second shooting. Some photographers also offer a flat rate for a set of hours.


If you’re just starting out, you might not get paid, but the experience is completely worth it. Getting your feet wet in the wedding photography industry is more important because you’ll find that weddings are a high-pressured, fast-moving, and a once-in-a-lifetime type of photography.

You don’t get do-overs, so second shooting is the best way to get experience without paying the price for unhappy clients.

How be a Second Shooter at Weddings and Why it's Important

That being said, definitely ask the main photographer before signing a contract what the payment will be. Then you can choose whether the pay is acceptable or not. You do have the choice to take on second shooting gigs for free if you wish or ask for a set rate.

Some experienced photographers help other photographers out and so their pay rate is higher. While others do it to flex their skills, practice, or just fill up their calendar in between jobs.

How be a Second Shooter at Weddings and Why it's Important

In conclusion

Becoming a second shooter is a lot easier than you would think. Reach out to photographers that you admire and spend time observing how they work. When you’re ready, you can then start to photograph your own weddings if you don’t already do!

Do you have any other second shooter tips? Share them in the comments below!



The post How be a Second Shooter at Weddings and Why it’s Important appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jackie Lamas.

How to Photograph Wedding Receptions with Great Success

The post How to Photograph Wedding Receptions with Great Success appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jackie Lamas.

Wedding receptions are often referred to as the most boring part of the day since the most exciting part are the bride and groom portraits. However, it would be wrong to treat receptions as such since receptions hold many of the meaningful details of an actual wedding celebration. So here are some tips on how to photograph wedding receptions with great success.


1. Schedule the reception with a time buffer

Weddings are high paced and often begin on time, but as the day progresses, it can be easy to fall behind schedule. When you’re creating the wedding day itinerary for your clients, add in an extra 15-minute buffer to any travel or transition time before the reception.


The reason for this is because you’ll want to grab a snack and hydrate before getting into the last leg of the wedding day. You’ll also want to test out your gear, change batteries, or memory cards. Some photographers take this time to do the same-day slideshow.

This extra buffer means no rushing to the reception but instead preparing your gear and yourself for the last few hours of the day so that you’re not running on empty.

How to Photograph Wedding Receptions with Great Success

It also will allow you to get to the reception early, which is my next point.

2. Photograph the reception alone

Getting to the reception area those extra few minutes early also allows you to photograph all the details without any guests in the background. This makes for really nice wide shots and closeup shots of the entire set up.

You can then create real depth to your photos and zone in on particular details like the seating chart, place cards, centerpieces, and the sweetheart table. You can capture them without drinks, purses, or other guest items.

How to Photograph Wedding Receptions with Great Success

If at all possible, have the bride and groom enter the reception area and photograph them alone in the middle of the set up as part of their wedding portraits. It can add a little more emotion and tie the narrative of the event together.

3. Make a list of all the must-have photos

How to Photograph Wedding Receptions with Great Success

Most wedding receptions are much the same in terms of what you should photograph for the bride and groom. While they can vary in time of day, location, or style, these are the main details that you should be sure to photograph:

How to Photograph Wedding Receptions with Great Success

  • Entrance details: Do they have a sign? Are there photos from their engagement session? Is there a sign-in guest book, meaningful mementos like wood blocks to sign and write notes on? All of these are important to photograph as a whole and each detail individually or a group of details.
  • Wide photo of the space as a whole. Photographing the entire space gives the reception and final wedding photos a nice transition in the narrative or album. Take a few photos from different perspectives so that you can choose the best one for the final gallery of images.
  • Centerpieces: If there is only one style, photograph it both horizontally and vertically as well as taking a close up detail photo of it. If there are different styles on each table, take photos of each style. If, for example, they have placed a different photograph on each table, you don’t have to photograph each table. Instead, find one or two that you like and photograph two or three different tables.
  • Table seating/ seating cards: Table seating and table cards are how guests know where to sit during receptions. These may present in various and creative ways. You should photograph a wide shot of the setup and then a detailed photo of the seating. Choose a name that sounds familiar to you (perhaps a family member or member of the bridal party) to focus on for the detail photo.
  • Dinnerware set up: If you notice that the dinnerware and stemware have been chosen with a little more intention, photograph the setup. Get different perspectives and angles.
  • Florals: This is most likely to be found as part of the centerpiece; however, some weddings have beautiful florals decorating different parts of the space.
  • Desert table/candy bar
  • Cake
  • Lounge or seating area
  • Any other detail that you feel the couple put lots of effort, time, or money into.

How to Photograph Wedding Receptions with Great Success


3. Staging

A big mistake that many new wedding photographers make is failing to stage photos. Staging the photos will help you get the perfect photo of the detail while still keeping the main aesthetic that the bride and groom have chosen.

Image: Staging and moving things around can help the final photo.

Staging and moving things around can help the final photo.

This means, moving salt and pepper shakers out of the way, lighting the votive candles if necessary, turning a table number to face the camera, or even moving a chair so you can get the whole table in one photo.

After getting your shots, make sure to place everything back to where it belongs. That way, when the guests arrive, they see the complete look and aren’t missing their water glass or chairs.

4. Lighting

If you are photographing a reception in a salon or closed venue, the lighting may not be ideal for photos. If the ceiling is white, you can use it to bounce light from your flash back down onto the table and reception details. This will give you more even lighting and a pretty straightforward light in your photos.

Image: At left the flash is pointed to the side. At right, the flash is bouncing from the ceiling. Y...

At left the flash is pointed to the side. At right, the flash is bouncing from the ceiling. You can see the difference in both.

In addition, using an external flash attached to your camera, point the flash to the side so that you can get more side lit photos. These add more depth to your detail photos and adds shadow. For example, this type of lighting makes for great depth to cake photos and also centerpieces.

You can also use an external LED video light or small light to help you light the reception details. This also gives you a lot more flexibility in getting different lighting that is immediately obvious. As for flash, you have to take test shots first to see how the light looks.


Having an external flash can help you get really nicely lit photos. Use the flash in manual mode to control the output.

If you don’t have any external lighting then you can use the ambient light for the details. Just make sure that your camera is stable enough to photograph by using a tripod. Having a fast lens can also help you capture ambient light.


Be aware of the color temperature of the ambient light as well. This can change the color of florals, table linens, seating cards, etc. if you’re photographing with ambient light.


As a good resource, you can also use your cell phone flashlight to help light or fill in light on the details that you’re photographing.

5. Events of the reception

How to Photograph Wedding Receptions with Great Success

During the reception there will most likely be some, if not all, of the following events:

  • Grand entrance
  • First dance
  • Mother/Son and Father/ Daughter dance
  • Toasts
  • Cake cutting
  • Bouquet toss/Garter toss
  • Money or Honeymoon dance
  • DJ-led games or trivia
  • Dancing

How to Photograph Wedding Receptions with Great Success

All of these usually get coordinated by the wedding planner, bride, or DJ himself. Look to them to know what is next after dinner has begun. Never leave your camera and always be ready to photograph anything and everything that you feel is important or fun.

Dancing is always fun. If you can make sure to photograph the key players, like the mother of the bride, bridal party, children dancing, or the best man, these all make for meaningful and fun photos later.

How to Photograph Wedding Receptions with Great Success

It’s really important to photograph the bride and groom dancing with their guests as well.

Don’t be afraid to get creative when you feel like you have photographed all of the most important events. Slow your shutter to get interesting lighting effects. Use multiple flashes to light the dance floor evenly. Even get a different perspective of the party.

How to Photograph Wedding Receptions with Great Success

The main thing is to enjoy yourself while taking photos!

6. Before you leave the wedding

Before you leave the wedding reception, make sure to thank your clients and ask this one important question: Is there anything you’d like for me to capture before I leave?

How to Photograph Wedding Receptions with Great Success

This allows them to get last-minute photos that they may have forgotten to ask for earlier in the day. They may want a quick one with their grandmother or a photograph of them with their best friends from college.

Do this about 10 minutes before you are set to leave. That way, you can have time to photograph all of those last-minute requests before you pack it up and head out.


It’s also a great way to say goodbye to the couple for the night.

In Conclusion

How to Photograph Wedding Receptions with Great Success

Photographing wedding receptions can be really fun even though they usually happen at the end of a really long day.

Give yourself some time to get into the mindset and get creative during the reception.

Do you have any great tips on how to photograph wedding receptions? Feel free to share with us in the comments below.



The post How to Photograph Wedding Receptions with Great Success appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jackie Lamas.

How to Take Better Beach Portraits at Anytime of the Day

The post How to Take Better Beach Portraits at Anytime of the Day appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jackie Lamas.

Golden hour is famous for being the most ideal lighting for portraits, especially at a beach location. Unfortunately, sometimes, the golden hour isn’t an option. Therefore, it’s essential to know how to photograph portraits at any time of the day. That way, you can always create beautiful photos for clients.

Know where the sun is at all times

First, you’ll need to know where the sun is at all times. The easiest way to do this is to use an ephemeris (I personally use this one). This is a tool that can help you see where the sun will be at any time during the day.

Here you can see where the sun will rise from, set, and the times when these will be happening during the day.

Before, or even while you’re scheduling your session, you can quickly check this tool to see the sunrise, midday, and sunset times.

An ephemeris can give you the details on the direction the light is coming from at a particular point in the world. Simply plug in the location of your session, and you can see all of the important details.

Here we can see where the sun will be on this particular day at the same time on the opposite coast in Mexico from the previous photos.

This is really helpful since no beach is alike and the direction of light differs from one side of the world to another. For example, in California, the sun sets behind the beach. Whereas on the east coast, the sun sets in the opposite direction.

Here we can see where the sun will be on this particular day at the same time on the opposite coast in Mexico from the previous photos.

Also, different beaches may face differently and therefore it’s good to know where the sun will be during your session.

Morning light

Morning light on a beach is magical. It has a whole different color temperature than that of the golden hour and can provide a nice soft glow if you have your session early enough.

The light is a little bluer, and depending on the beach where your session is taking place, the sun can rise overlooking the ocean or peaking through the trees. For example, a beach on the east coast like Cancun can mean during your session in the morning you’ll catch the sunrise behind the beach.

Alternatively, on a beach in California, you’ll catch the sun hitting the water from the land side. This will give you that beautiful yellowish-blue glow if your session is before 9 o’clock in the morning.

On the left we see the sun rising behind the bay and at right is after the sun is nearing midday.

Use a simple reflector to bounce light back onto your subject if you feel the sunrise light causes shadows. This is especially useful if sunrise is behind the water at the beach.

Midday light

Midday light at a beach is pretty harsh and therefore it’s good to have some kind of additional lighting equipment to help with shadows. You can use an external flash, popup flash, or a reflector.

Seeing the shadows in front of your clients means the sun is behind them. This family is lit with an external flash mounted on-camera pointed directly at them.

You can also go without an additional light source. However, it’s good to underexpose your photos a bit so you can bring up the shadows in your editing software. Otherwise, you’ll end up with really blown out skies. Of course, this all depends on your style of photography.

Using the sand as a natural reflector helps to bounce light back onto your clients as we can see in both of these photos.

When the sun is at it’s highest point during the day, it might be a good time to take your clients under the shade of some trees nearby or opt to have more playful photos of the family. Have your client’s walk, run, splash in the water, build sandcastles, or just have a bit of fun together.

The sun is at it’s highest at different times around the world, so make sure to check the ephemeris for your exact location to know the time.

Same session, same beach, one photo with flash and one photo without.

Once the sun passes the highest point, it will be at a bit of an angle as it starts to go down for sunset. This is the sweet spot of photographing during midday sun at the beach!

Flash was used to correctly expose the photo and fill in shadows caused by the sun.

When the sun is at a bit of an angle, you can pose your clients with the sun behind them to alleviate having the sun in their eyes. This means you’ll be in the sun, but it’s better than having your clients facing the sun. This avoids causing shadows, uneven lighting, and squinting. The sand can also work as a natural reflector, bouncing light back into their faces.

After midday light

After midday light can be different in the winter than in the summer given that daylight savings can change the amount of light you have left. Either way, the sun sits lower to be at an angle behind your clients. All while still hitting the sand to reflect some light into your client’s faces.

During this time, depending on the angle of light, you can get some really interesting light. It gets more golden by the hour as you approach sunset.

Still, if you find yourself at a beach where the light is still harsh during this time, try and angle your clients away from the sun. You can also try and use your external lighting to help fill in some light.

Golden Hour (Sunset)

Actual sunset only lasts about 5-10 minutes. However, golden hour is just that – about an hour before the sun dips behind the horizon, which means the angle of the light is pretty low and directional. It can mean flooding your photos with lots of that pretty golden light. However, it also makes it difficult to capture your clients evenly lit against the background.

This is especially troublesome if the sun sets behind the water. It can be difficult capturing the beautiful colors of the sunset while also lighting your clients.

Using a flash or external light source pointed directly at your clients can help light them while capturing the sunset behind. You can also underexpose your photo a bit to bring up the shadows later without compromising the sunset.

Try silhouetting your clients behind with the sunset light to offer a different look to the final images.

Golden hour is also a perfect time to turn your clients toward the setting sun to get that beautiful golden color cast on their skin tones and in the overall look of the photo.

Blue hour (After sunset)

Blue hour is the 20-30 minutes (sometimes less time) after the sun has completely gone from view. Blue hour is nice to photograph in because of the beautiful sunset colors like blue, orange, pink, and purples that come out after sunset. The lighting is a bit darker, so you might need a tripod.

During the blue hour, you can get some additional light on your clients by facing them where the sun has set.

During this time you can attempt some slow shutter speed photos while your clients hold still. Getting the movement in water can create a more fine art approach to beach photos!

During any time of day try these ideas:

Cloudy days are perfect for photographing at any time during the day. However, you might not get the sunset as bright as on a clear day.

It doesn’t matter the time of day, it’s good to get variety in your portraits during beach sessions. For that try some of these ideas:

  • Rock formations/caves as backgrounds and also shelter from harsh light.
  • Trees can provide shade as well if the light is harsh and the day is particularly hot.
  • Around town can also serve as a nice background for photos while you’re waiting for the midday sun to angle a bit.
  • Up high can also serve as a nice way to keep clients out of harsh sunlight. For example, a balcony in their hotel room, a higher terrace with some shade that overlooks the ocean, etc.
  • Photographing more lifestyle-type photos with the family playing, getting in the water, and just having a “beach day”.

If you are waiting for the sun to go down a bit, you can take some portraits near trees that aren’t directly on the beach. This also adds variety to the final images.


Photographing at the beach during golden hour isn’t the only time that you can create one-of-a-kind and amazingly beautiful images for your clients.

Taking cover in caves or using rock formations as backgrounds can also help keep your client out of direct sunlight.

It is incredibly beneficial to learn to photograph at the beach at any time of the day. Moreover, it can mean the difference between a client choosing you and another photographer.



The post How to Take Better Beach Portraits at Anytime of the Day appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jackie Lamas.

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.

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