Almost everything we do in life is a choice. How we express ourselves, how we see objects, how we create art, all of these elements, although may be intuitive to our nature, are also choices we make.
In regards to photography, we may choose a certain kind of subject to photograph. Some of us prefer to photograph landscapes or children or weddings. Whatever the subject, it’s a choice we make, and in making those choices, we are creating a style and a look to our work.
There are several other style choices that I want to talk about in this article. They include lighting, lenses, angles, locations, props and camera settings.
Lighting is a style choice. How we see light and then use it in our imagery is a choice we make. Some of us prefer a Low Key image with very dramatic lighting effects. Some prefer High Key lighting like these images of Courtney and her family.
My vision for this session was to create a sense of spirituality. I wanted a very soft and pleasant feeling to the overall image with beautiful light and a great location that had an ethereal look to it. As you can see from this image, there is a lot of reflective light bouncing off the cement and into Courtney’s face. It’s a nice soft light and once I selected my settings, (another style choice) unless the light changed, there would be no need to reason to change them again.
The settings I choose for this session were based on a wide-open aperture, wanting to soften the background and keeping my subjects very sharp which is why the shutter-speed is so high. Clothing, another style choice, was mine… a white dress designed especially for pregnancy.
My next style choice was to choose my lens perspective for this session. I decided on the Sigma’s 50mm F1.4 DG HSM I A. The perfect lens for capturing a full body shot and the aperture of 1.4 was also perfect for the look I wanted to create.
With all these elements in place, I set up the family portrait as well as the mother and son portrait. Location is another style choice, and I found that look in San Francisco at the Legion of Honor. Placement of my subject is also a style choice. I knew the minute I saw the pillars and the gorgeous lines of the pathway this would be a great place to photograph. I wanted an image with some nice leading lines to create a sense of movement. These lines give the image a place for the viewer’s eye to go. It also adds to the overall composition of the image, again another style choice.
The priority of the session was the family portrait. This is not always easy with a two year old, but we made a game out of it and I photographed as quickly as I could. Again, another style choice, I would prefer to let my families come together naturally. Trying to pose a two year old is well, impossible. So placing Courtney against the pillar and then having Scotty come in next to her with his hand on her stomach worked for them. Next, the games began and coaxing Grey into the image was the trick. Candy is a great motivator and works almost every time. I had already adjusted my settings a little to compensate for the pillar blocking my light. A quick moment in time and we had our image.
Sometimes when the momentum is good, I will quietly ask the father to move out of the image so that I can continue to photograph uninterrupted. These types of images are priceless and my most favorite. Settings on my camera are still the same and so is the light giving me the freedom I need to capture these moments.
This last image I call “The Negotiation”. There was a lot of that going on during our shoot. I had changed my position to photograph from a different angle. In doing so, I changed my settings to compensate for the additional light. Grey had other things in mind. so I took the opportunity to photograph these moments because you never know what you will get. They can’t be posed and they are so precious.