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.

My exact client process

Have you ever wanted to book a session with a photographer and just felt completely lost on what was going on? I really hope not. But, I wanted to go ahead and tell you what my processes were so you could follow along and also learn what I am doing behind the scenes.

First, I receive your inquiry.

This is where you tell me that you saw something you liked and may be interested in hiring me. As soon as I get this message, I get to work. I send you a welcome email with information regarding going forward from that point. I will send a few more emails including information with my pricing (I like to be super upfront about them because I want you to be able to make a good decision), as well as a questionnaire to get the ball rolling.

Now, you fill out the questionnaire.

I have you do this so that way when we are in the consultation (the next step) I am not going to ask you a lot of these questions. I can do my research and try to make the consultation more about the details instead of “What are we doing the photos for?”

I want to get to know you and make sure I am a good fit for you. I send you all of these things before I even meet with you so that way if you can’t hire me for any reason (i.e. cost, style, not the services I offer) then we don’t waste anyone’s time. I certainly don’t want you to come see me and then realize that you can’t afford me, etc. I am very transparent and these steps will really help with that.

I also want to have you fill out this questionnaire before hand so that I can get a good idea of what you want and I can present you with ideas during your session. I look at inspiration from different photographers, my own work, as well as Pinterest.

Consultation time.

This is the time I get to know you, and vice versa. I want to make sure I am the perfect fit for you before you even hire me. I offer these either over the phone or in person. I understand that people have busy lives to live and can’t always meet in person. We can talk about anything you want to know about me and I will get to know you so that way I know what it is that I am going to capture during the session. It can also give me great ideas when planning your session. For example, I could have a high school senior that they are going to Indiana University in the fall. I will tell this person that we can totally showcase that in the session and I will make it a priority to get photos with him/her in that gear. It also gives you the time to learn about me, and ask me how my process goes.

Crossing your T’s and dotting your I’s.

So at the end of the consultation I will ask you if you would like to hire me. If yes, we will then go ahead and come up with a location, date, and time. Once we have all that information, I will create a contract for you to sign which will include the retainer payment attached to it. The retainer is to secure your spot. It will be due midway before your session with the final payment due before the session date. The contract must be signed before I can continue with booking your session. It’s not just to protect me, but it is especially meant to protect you, the client.

Session time!

Here is the fun part. The session. I will show up, snap the photos and give you an approximate date that I will have the photos ready for you. I do this the day of to make sure I don’t have anything else super crazy going on around that same time.

The behind the scenes magic.

This is where I do my work. I go through and pick out all the photos I plan on editing. This is where I take out anything that may not be in focus, someone is blinking, someone moved while I snapped the photo, or anything else that wouldn’t work. It’s not that I don’t want to show you every photo I took, but you would have taken those out to begin with so let me do that work for you. Then I go through and make any touch ups needed (lighting, composition, etc.).

Once I have done all of that I prepare 3 types of photos for you. One folder includes the high resolution photos for printing. Second, is the smaller version for online purposes. Third, has my watermark on it. You will get access to the third one. The first two are for me to use on social media, my website and to get your photos printed.

You’ll receive the gallery!

Typically I try to get a blog post sneak peek for you before I send the gallery. I typically do that the day before. Once I send the gallery, you can look through ALL of them. Pick and choose your favorites. You can even send that same link to anyone you think may want to purchase some as well. This is when I will send you information regarding ordering prints.

Order and receive.

Once you order your prints and pay the invoice I can get my lab started on it. I have my lab send everything to me first. I want to make sure you receive these pieces in tip top condition. Plus, some items take longer than others and I want you to get the WHOLE package all at once. (Also, if you decide to have these items shipped to you, it will cost you less to just put it all in once package). I’ll let you know when everything has arrived and I will get it to you as soon as possible.

Last, but not least.

The last step is to fill out a survey. It’s mainly so I can see how I did and how I can better my business. I want to make sure that if you didn’t think I did something right or if there was a way I could do it better, I would LOVE to hear your suggestions. I don’t know what it’s like getting any of this stuff from myself so I need to hear it. Tell me all.

I hope this post gives you better insight into how I run my business. I would love to hear any suggestions from you as well. Feel free to comment below anything you can think of.