Step by step, how I got this shot

I love having the chance to show off some of my creative photographs. When I am, I always get asked how I “got that shot.” Today, I wanted to take a more creative photo and explain to you step by step how I got this shot. If you want to see how I made the shot the way it looks now, besides the idea planning and direction (so in Lightroom), watch the video to see the rest!

 
 
  1. I knew I wanted to use these string lights I had and I wanted something to do with bokeh lighting (large out of focus circles where the lights are). So I tried it with my cousin, Sam. I knew in order to make the lights pop, it needed to be REALLY dark around us. So it was Christmas Eve and it got dark pretty quickly in the day and it was a new moon that night meaning it would be DARK. So we went into my backyard at my parents house to use for the backdrop.

  2. I positioned the lights to wrap around her so I could get a specific focal point. So in order to do this, I made her stick out one of her arms so when I kept focus on her face, the lights on the arm closest to me would end up being blurry (intentionally).

  3. The way I laid the lights made her face light up as well. I put some in her hair next to her ear as well as wrapped more around her other arm. The arm that wasn’t close to me I had her move it to be close enough to her face to give her more light but far enough to not be in the frame.

  4. Since we were in the dark, I had to keep the camera VERY still in order to keep her face (mainly the eyes) in focus. Once I took a few shots in the same place, I did move to multiple angles, but this one I liked the most and was most in focus.

  5. So once I had my composed in camera photo, I went through the editing process. If you would like to see how this process goes, feel free to watch the video below.

So, overall, what I do when composing a photograph is noticing the lighting around me, location, time of day, what is going to be in and out of the frame, focal points, and angles to name a few. Since I have been doing this all my life, I can pick these points out very quickly during a session. It took many years of practice and I still am constantly finding new things to look out for with each and every photo. Now you can see how I go from a vision in my head to what you see in the end.

Creative vs. Traditional/Minimalistic Editing

Back in May, I wrote a blog post titled, "Editing: What a Photographer REALLY Means." After some time I realized that I should write kind of a follow-up on that topic. What I wrote is not always true to every photographer. It is to my company. However, there are many things that editing can entail nowadays. I am here to describe the differences between two popular styles of editing: Creative and Traditional or Minimalistic editing.

These are complete polar opposite of the editing scale. There are many who can do one versus the other, a combination of both, or simply just chooses to do one. It can also depend on what the photograph is being taken for will depend on the editing style the photographer chooses to use. I will explain these in further detail in this blog post. Let's dive right in.


Traditional/Minimalistic Editing

Coming from a journalistic background, this is what I am known for.  This is when you only correct things in the photograph. Let's say your setting made the picture look like it had an orange tint or a blue tint, my editing would fix that to make it look more natural or like I saw it in person. If the photograph was too dark, I would lighten it. Little, simple things like that would be made in editing. This type of editing's main purpose is to fix errors or to slightly enhance the photograph.

You will find a lot of this type of editing in newspapers or anything journalistic. There are many rules to journalistic photographs when it comes to editing. If there is any misrepresentation because of editing, there will be consequences, which many include loosing their job.

Many small business photographers use this as well. For the most part, it is a lot faster to use this type of editing instead of creative editing. This is the 99% of the editing Kaytee Lorentzen Photography uses. I don't like to alter the way life looks to us. I attempt to capture the photographs in a way that I want the world to see it, so less editing would occur.


Creative Editing

What is creative editing you ask? You may not be able to find the exact definition when you look it up online. It is when you add things to the photograph that are not there before hand. Some examples is adding sun flare, layering, adding something new to the photograph, and so on. One way to think of it is asking yourself the question "Is this realistic?" If the answer is no, then it is creative editing.

You would most likely see these in advertisements. One example I can think of is looking at a picture with a person standing on top of the Eiffel Tower. That is obviously edited because it is unrealistic.

However, it can end up being really fun to use. In my senior year of high school, I did a really meaningful project about students who have lost a sibling one way or another. I asked each of them to either go to their gravesite or to their cross on the road and take the photographs. I also had them write a letter to their sibling as well. I took bits and pieces of that letter and put them overtop of the photographs. This changed the way the photographs were received to the audience and gave them more background.


Is Black & White Considered Creative or Traditional Editing?

Short answer: it depends. There are black and white (B&W) photographs in the news field and some are just because the whole page needs to be in B&W. However, if it is for personal use, like portraits, it can be considered creative. If this is what you are looking for in your portrait photographs, check with the photographer to see if this is something than can and will do.

I love to do black and white photographs, but I just never have the opportunity to do so.


There is really no right or wrong way when it comes to editing preferences, especially when it comes to portrait photography. There are just some photographers that prefer one to the other. Always ask and be upfront on what you want from your portrait session.

Kaytee Lorentzen
Owner & Photographer | Kaytee Lorentzen Photography