The road less traveled

When I was pregnant, I had a vision how my maternity photo shoot should look like. I didn’t want classical photos with baby socks on my tummy. I wanted my photos to reflect not only new stage in my life but my personality entirely, our family’s life style, our passion. I was looking for a photographer who would implement my ideas, who would be interested in working with me, creating something new together (rather than just trying to fit me into his/her style). I was not able to find one and had to direct my own photo session :) That was 6 years ago and that was when I realized that in our busy world we often lack individual approach… In my work with people I make personalized approach my priority. It is very important for me that my clients not only love visual appearance of their photos but also feel their emotional attachment to them.

Do you have photos in your family album that are your “reflection”? Photos that make you say “That is real me”?

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The moment not to miss...

The first few days after baby’s arrival are always very special. The entire family is changing its' routine and dynamic. A couple suddenly becomes a “real family”. A family of three is now a family of four with siblings’ love and a bit of jealousy, a new feeling to deal with, to learn about. There is so much going on during these days that it is hard to remember to catch these moments on paper, on camera, in your heart… But if you can, you will always be very grateful…

Looking for your business style

These photos were taken for writing coach Melissa Anders (check her website for complimentary discovery call www.melissaeanders.com ). When we met to discuss our photo session for the first time, Melissa was just starting her business and wasn't sure about her coaching approach. To help her find the way, we created four (!) different styles, each transmitting a different message to the clients: from business leader that you saw in my earlier posts #lifeandcameramelissa to this cozy friend - listener and supporter.

What kind of coach would you choose for yourself?

PS You can read more about photos' effect on our mind under #subcontography hashtag

There is a big personal journey behind this photo 👇

When photography was my hobby, I took photos intuitively. A lot of photo rules, that later were presented to me in college📚, I used for many years without knowing they were art dogmas. At that time I couldn't explain why certain composition looked better than others and how I came up with it, it just *felt* right to me💁. Now, knowing the rules helps me to share my knowledge and explain certain aspects to people for whom photography is not as intuitive as it was for me.

But there was a moment in my photo journey when I lost my photo-feelings 😒... When photography became my career, I was trying to expand my knowledge and learn from other people. I was looking at websites of the most popular photographers trying to understand what makes them stand out. 🌟 While I was learning a lot, I realized that people like "perfected images" (with plastic looking skin, sleeping babies wrapped tight and many other things). It didn't find reflection in my soul but I thought: "Let me try it. Let me see if I am missing something." That is how this image was born. At that time, I put my style and vision on a shelf and tried to "wear" someone's else approach. This experiment gave me a lot: I understood that I *am able* to take this type of photos but I also realized that it is not how I *want* my photos to look like. I learned that I love actions, dynamic and emotions in my photos 💫. I love to capture real moments and real feeling. I want to show *life* in my images, not stillness (unless, there are still moments in life, which don't happen often, especially with babies). But the most important lesson I learn was that there were people who shared my vision. I am very grateful to my clients, who come for my particular style. 💛🙏💛

Do you always stay true to yourself or did you have moments when you were sidetracked into someone's else life/style/goals/approach?

These moments are magical ✨💫✨

When your world changes forever... ✨💛✨
When you don't only belong to yourself anymore💕...
When a new, unknown galaxy opens up to the three of you 👨‍👩‍👧and you experience a new depth of love and care...
When there just aren’t enough words to describe how you feel and your heart is about to explode...💓
It is all coming so soon...👶 Meanwhile, you, as a beautiful mom-to-be, are flying from one week to another like a flower fairy between pansies🌸, enjoying the magical moments while the two are still one.

Workshop for everyone

Are you thinking about buying new camera but not sure which model to choose?

Or maybe you simply want to try how does professional camera feel in your hands?

Or maybe you have a camera already but have never used it in any other modes but AUTO and would like to explore...

Whatever the cause is, I have good news! I want to share my passion for #photography with you! People often come with questions about their cameras, style and quite a lot of "how to's" :) That would be the right place to talk about it all! Bring any of your questions to this one-on-one hands-on workshop! The best part (after learning a bunch, of course!), the price for this workshop is Pay What You Can. Yes, it is truly about sharing and learning! Send me a message through the contact form on the web site to reserve your spot! 

My personal story or why so many brilliant projects fail

A few days ago I attended a meeting where we discussed a big upcoming event.  To promote it, we needed to print 200 flyers. Some people suggested to print them in black 🔲 and 🔳 white instead of color to save some money. At that moment I suddenly realized why so many beautiful and brilliant ideas and projects fail. In order to save a few bucks here and there, we miss the big picture view. We have been working on this project for a few months already and have invested a lot of time and materials. But it all doesn't matter in the end if the attendance is low.

The other day I was looking at some real estate listings  It might be hard to believe (for me at least) but there were still some listings with low quality cell phone photos. People are selling their homes for close to million dollars but they are not willing to invest $100 in professional photos. (Did you notice I said "invest" and not "spend"? )

But the most interesting part for me is that I am completely guilty of the same thing!  I still don't have an editor for my posts and promotional materials.  It is time to change that! Are there people who is interested in this 5-15 mins/week job?

Pictured above: real estate photos that I did 5 years ago 

Would you like some sneak peek behind the scenes?

Would you like some sneak peek behind the scene?  What do photographers do when they are not taking pictures?
I cannot talk about all photographers but for me the "active" part of capturing images takes only about 5%-10% of my total time that I spend with each client. 
Can you imagine? If your photo session was about 2-3 hours, I would spend about 30 hours (!) on things that are related to your photo session but not necessary a part of it.

These things include

1. Our communication  (phone calls, emails and meetings in person)

2. Finding and/or setting up a location  that is right for your particular needs (setting up a studio and looking for right color/texture of backdrops, chairs, setting up the light; or, like for this photo, finding a natural location that  would not be muddy in March, would be within a few minutes from the office, would have even shade to avoid harsh lighting, and would have some ever green trees to create spring/summer look to seamlessly blend these photos with other ones on company's website.

3. Travel time  to our meetings and photo session

4. Photos selection (there are a lot of photos even for a simple head-shot session like this one. If the contract assumes delivery of 10+ photos, I select them myself but if there is only one photo per person, I prefer to choose together to make sure that the client really likes it).

5. Post processing/retouching usually usually takes more time than anything. It includes removing extra things that are not meant to be part of the photo, doing minor touch ups (for example, removing a few hairs crossing your face or that acne that you got this morning, right before the photo session), light and shadows correction, etc.

6. Photos resizing and delivery  (so, you would have appropriate size (means it wouldn't take you 30 mins to upload a single photo) to share with your friends on Facebook and another folder with high resolution images that you can print on a huge canvas (for family photos usually) and hang in your living room.

7. There are also things like tea  (for cold days) and water (for hot days) that I take for my clients but I always forget to track this time, so it is not part of this calculation 

Is it what you expected?  Did you know about all this "behind the scenes” work? Is it similar to what you do in your industry/work? Share in comments below, so, all of us can learn about each other's field! 

Spring is (almost) here!

(But it doesn’t really matter for photos ;) )

A lot of people are waiting for spring flowers🌸, green leaves 🌿 and warm weather ☀ to have their photo session 📷 because they don't know that they can have beautiful pictures all year round. Look how much spring we have in photos we captured 3 weeks ago. There are always evergreens that can add a bit of color if you need it but deep brown looks wonderful too!

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What is the difference between business portrait and more artistic portrait?

Compare this photo with the previous post. It is the same person, the same outfit but the feel is very different. What is a big no-no in business portrait (for example, no eye contact) might be totally ok in casual photo session. Your body position is not that critical anymore. You still send a certain message to a viewer but the message doesn't have to be restrained to a particular character. In short, in casual photos you can play any role, be anybody you want to be (without putting too much thoughts into it). 
How do you usually take photos? What is your process? Do you pay attention to any of those things at all or do you go with a flow? Do you like the result?

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What is right?

Ok, now we know what was wrong with the previous photo :) Let’s talk about RIGHT things :) As some of you mentioned, you liked that photo and it felt good to you regardless of my criticism :) I was very picky on purpose because I wanted to illustrate what could be done better. Let’s see what made that photo strong.

1.      A lot of natural light. We all know that sunshine makes us feel good. When we see the same color spectrum in the photo, reinforced by light spots on the wall, it give us that feeling of beautiful sunny day and we mentally want to get closer to the person in the photo to experience that warmth.

2.      Direct eye contact and soft smile shows openness to communication, invites us to start a conversation.

3.      White shirt gives a sense of formality. At the same time, unbuttoned collar, rolled up sleeves and blue jeans help to avoid excessive primness. Rolled up sleeves are also a sign of hardworking.

4.      Colors: white – honesty, blue – strength, light grey – balance, logic. Combined together they present us a strong, trustworthy person with calm and logical mind. Who wouldn’t want to work with him?

5.      Brick/stone background gives our subconscious feeling of stability and strong foundation. We can almost physically feel that support we can rely on.

How do you feel about this photo now? Do these points reflect the positive feeling you had originally?

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What is WRONG with this photo?

I took this photo some time ago before I learned to pay attention to small details that make a big difference.  From art perspective, there is no wrong or right photo and it all comes down to one question "What are we trying to make people feel when they look at it?".  The model is absolutely handsome and looks fantastic here  This photo would be great for personal social media but I would not use it for business profile. Why? There are three reasons for it:

1. Leaning against the wall is ok in casual photos as it creates impression of easy going person with relaxed attitude.  However, I would not recommend to use this pose in your business photos, especially if you are promoting your leadership skills, as it demonstrate that you cannot stand independently and need extra support.  

2. Hands. Inside. The pockets. I see this mistake in professional photos all the time (ex. realtors, coaches and many others). We communicate with people by speech, eyes eyes, hands and body language  in general. Photos don't have audio in them, hence, your main instruments are eyes and hands. Hiding hands in the pockets is like staring at the floor instead of looking into person's eyes. Crossing arms on your chest is not a good idea either. Your body conveys the message that you want to close from or to put a a barrier between yourself and someone or something you don't like or don't feel comfortable with. Your hands must be visible and relaxed.

3. Keeping hands in tight jeans pockets elevates your arms and shoulders a bit. Elevated shoulders look like you are trying to pull your head inside/towards your torso. That is what turtles do in case of danger and it is called "turtle effect". Try to keep your hands relaxed, shake them, move your shoulders... 

If it doesn't help and you still feel very uncomfortable during your photo session, read my previous post. 

For those who were asking what to do with their hands, use them as they are meant to be used for now  I am thinking about writing another post about this topic soon! Stay tuned. 

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How to get natural looking photos?

How to feel comfortable during your photo sessions? 

Many of us feel very uneasy in front of the camera (big secret: photographers do too!). Our body translates what we feel into unnatural smile and stiff muscles resulting in somewhat weird photos. 

If you are not a professional model, natural and beautiful photos usually require 2 elements: 

☑ Being comfortable with the person/photographer

☑ Being comfortable in front of the camera

To trust and to feel comfortable with photographer is not always the same type of "comfortable" feeling we experience with our friends.  People often feel that they are not photogenic because they don't see some parts of their personalities in the photos that they would like to see. Photographer-model team becomes successful when photographer understands what exactly the person is looking for. If the photo session is for your business page, we need to deliver confident look. If it is a family photo, we want to show kindness and connection between people. Do you feel the difference? Sometimes clients don't know exactly what they want. They want "cool photos" but it is hard for them to expand on "cool" element. That is when it is essential to have a photographer who is willing to put as much time and effort into your work as needed to understand those nuances. It would be also helpful if you could think about it ahead of time and come up with a few messages that you would like to be told through the photos (for example "I want to appear as leader. I want people feel like they can trust me.")  

The second part is how to be comfortable in front of the camera. First of all, it is about your experience. You need to establish similar relationship with this part of technology as you have with its owner :) The best way is to just start taking pictures. Initially it feels awkward but, as time passes by, it would feel more and more natural. It is great if photographer can speak casually with you during the photo session, make jokes and give you some unobtrusive suggestions. I usually do it by first mimicking model's current pose (without stopping our casual conversation) and then slowly move into a different, desired pose. Our brain is amazing and often a person changes his/her pose without even realizing that they have done so.

Another technique I recommend for my clients as homework prep.  First you need to find a few photos of other people that you like. Then pay close attention to their pose and copy it entirely: hands and arms position, head tilt, distance between feet. The secret to understand how another person feels is not just about getting into her/his shoes but into his/her body. When you copy the pose exactly, you feel similar to what that person was feeling and translating through the photo. Do this exercise at least 5-10 times before the photo session. Pay attention to your feelings, how you just got a bit taller, a bit stronger and a bit more confident. When you get to photo session, you will be able to repeat not just the pose itself but the feelings as well! 

Does it help a bit? Do you feel more confident that photo session can be a pleasure time?

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