On October 24, 2015, I had the fortune of photographing my first professional session. I was so humbled that my cousin-in-law and her fiance asked me to do their photos. My close friends and family have known for a while that I love taking photos.
I think it was a couple photos I took of my sister, mom and step-dad on thanksgiving last year that caught her eye. I am so grateful for this first session!
You learn something new with each session you do, but with this session, I learned many lessons.
Lesson #1: Share your passion with your friends and family, even if you don’t feel like a professional. You never know who might love your style and want to work with you even before you think you’re ready.
The first thing we did was choose a location for these photos. Being that it’s October and there’s colourful leaves EVERYWHERE, we knew we had to take advantage of that. Because this was my first professional session, I didn’t have any go-to locations and wasn’t familiar with the best spots in the area.
It took a bit of research but we ended up deciding on the Laurel Creek Conservation Area (which is closed this time of year). We parked on the street, stuffed our backpacks with props, water and snacks, and off we went into the park.
Lesson #2: Build a list of go-to locations in your area. Ones you can use for different types of sessions. Ones with different photo ops. Ones with bunches of trees with orange leaves in the fall, untouched pillowed snow in the winter, fields of flowers in the spring, and shaded greenery in the summer. Take photos in each of these locations so you have examples to show clients.
A week or two before we met, I asked the couple what photos they absolutely wanted taken during this session and I started a Pinterest board with photo ideas. I referenced this board A LOT during the session because I was still new to figuring out poses and frames. Seriously, take a look at the board… you’ll notice a lot of the poses look familiar. ;) What I found, though, was that my most favourite shots were the candid ones.
Lesson #3: Be prepared. Don’t just wing it and assume poses will flow naturally (unless you’re a seasoned professional, of course). Know the area you’re going to and map out some ideas beforehand. Bring a list if you have to. Always ask what the couple wants photographed so you don’t miss the most important shots to your customers. Then, get creative. What do you want to add to your portfolio?
So this shot was initially staged. We lay a blanket down in front of some tall grass. I got down and dirty and asked them to get up close and personal. Meagan had the most perfect red polish on, bringing your attention to her diamond ring after you take in that beautiful smile. That part was candid. I said something goofy and they both laughed. And I caught that moment on camera. I wonder what I said… :P
Lesson #4: Be a comedian. You have to learn how to make your clients feel comfortable during the session. Being a bit humorous and prancing around is a great way to crack a smile on their face. Trust me, they will appreciate your awkwardness after they see your beautifully candid photos.
Most of the shots from this session were staged because I was so nervous (thanks again Pinterest for having an abundance of ideas)!
I had the opportunity to really play with depth of field. I have to admit, I don’t quite understand all of the settings on my camera. But that doesn’t stop me from playing around. I change a setting, take a shot, adjust the settings again to ensure the right lighting is achieved. I shoot in 100% manual mode. Sometimes this means the set up for each shot takes a bit longer and catching those candid moments on camera are tough. But it allows me to experiment with the ever-changing light during the golden hour.
One of the must-take photos that Meagan asked of me was one that I reeeeally struggled with. She was so understanding when I told her that I just wasn’t happy with how they were turning out. After the session I did my best to edit one of the photos I took to a point that it was decent and she was ecstatic! Although I wouldn’t consider it one of my best, she loved it, and that’s all that matters. That’s a shot I’ll continue to practice so I’m ready for the next bride-to-be who asks for this one. ;)
Lesson #5: Never stop learning. There is always something you’ve never shot. Step out of your comfort zone every chance you get or you’ll lose your passion with photography.
Pinerest reminded me to take note of the small details, the ones you often overlook. Meagan’s wool textured cardigan contrasted Brandon’s navy plaid button-up so perfectly. And that pop of red polish!
While Meagan and Brandon were getting the chalkboards ready, I decided to borrow her ring and take a couple shots with the leaves. The colours were just incredible, I couldn’t help myself.
Lesson #6: Stand back and appreciate the little things.
Meagan and Brandon brought a couple of handmade chalkboards so we could take a couple cutesy-wootsy photos like these. There are so many adorable things you can do with chalkboards. They’re a must-have in your prop basket, no matter what type of session you’re doing.
They also brought a few letters from their scrabble board game so we could take a couple cute photos with phrases using Meagan’s engagement ring for the o’s.
Lesson #7: Add little pieces to your photography prop basket whenever you can so you can build opportunities for unique sessions with each client.
To finish off the session, we drove to a spot we knew had beautiful train tracks – St. Jacobs, right by the Farmer’s Market. There were a few shots we wanted to get by the tracks and I’m so grateful for Meagan and Brandon’s patience.
This session took 4 hours! But the clients ended up with a buuuunch of beautiful photos. In fact, Meagen text me just this week saying, “Why do you have to be such a good photographer.. do you know how hard it is to decide which engagement picture to put on the save the dates!! Lol.” In my books, that’s a great problem to have!
Thanks for peeking,