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Identify What You Shoot Well

Lesson 16 from: Family Photography: Creating a Successful Business

Kirsten Lewis

Identify What You Shoot Well

Lesson 16 from: Family Photography: Creating a Successful Business

Kirsten Lewis

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Lesson Info

16. Identify What You Shoot Well


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


What Makes a Picture Successful?


Technical Tips: ISO


Technical Tips: Aperture


Technical Tips: Shutter Speed


Technical Tips: Focus


Using Light to Tell a Story


Using Composition to Tell a Story


Lesson Info

Identify What You Shoot Well

So we are going to switch, let me turn on my computer, if my computer will turn on. So Kelly was really kind enough to give me 50 of her favorite photos. Kelly, where are you? Oh, there you are. What I'm gonna try and do, we're gonna switch to Photo Mechanic, oh good we're on there, everyone can see it right? Please no one judge me for my messy desktop. Okay. So Kelly would you say these are your favorite 50 photos you've made so far? I wouldn't say they are all my favorites, I think some of them, the idea of it was a favorite but I didn't execute it well. But I wanted it included so that I could find a better way to execute it. Okay, so the purpose of me having you give me 50 of your favorites is that I wanna look through. I'm not really going to be judging these on what's good or what's bad, or level of photography you're at. What I wanna do is kind of help you, when I told everyone to put together a 50 or 100, and try and identify if there's some cohesion, I wanna help you do th...

at and I wanna show everyone how that's done, okay? So just give me a minute to look through all of these. I'm also gonna give you some feedback just in general to help improve. So my initial thoughts, cycling through these, are that you are drawn to relationships between people in general, yes? Mm-hmm. I should have tagged some of these. This is a great shot. You also have a sense of humor. This was an almost, Kelly. Kelly, do you have a site yet? Yes. Are you booking work regularly with day in the life sessions? Yes. Okay, or with documentary sessions? So it's interesting, you have a combination of quieter moments and louder moments but I think your tendency's to go a little bit quieter. Would you agree with that? I think so, yeah. Okay, you do... I see a sense of humor in some of your work, but it's not, it's more subtle. So for me, if I were you, or what I am seeing cohesively, I see photos like this, this, this, let's take this one out for a minute, this. You have lots of subjects in your photos. Was that all from the same session or different sessions? I think that was two different sessions there. I think you're drawn to having a little bit more complicated of a scene, like you're working that. Do you feel like you're working on trying to have a more complicated scene? Yes, I think so, especially with client work compared to when it's my own kids. My best advice for you, in this, from what I'm seeing here is, I think I'm going to tag this one, A, I think you need to narrow down, visually cohesively, a consistent toning and use of light. 'Cause I'm seeing a couple of different aesthetics, do you understand what I'm saying here? I think so. Like you have some really harsh stuff, and then almost like whimsical feeling and I feel like you're still trying to figure that out. Would that be correct? Okay. (Kirsten and audience laughing) Yes, I think I know what you're saying. Like, so I see this really hard black and white, right? Really solid black and white but then I have like this, which feels a little bit soft and airy. It doesn't mean you can't do that, but in your portfolio you might wanna keep it a little bit more consistent. This feels a little bit more in lifestyle genre, do you see that? Yes, I totally agree with that, yes. And that's for all of you guys, right? Because then you have this one, this one feels like this one belongs with, oops sorry guys, this one feels like it belongs with this one. In terms of pairing, right? So if we narrow down what I think are your strongest images, I want you to see how your portfolio looks completely different. These are what I feel are your strongest images in what you sent. Okay. Oh wait, not the red, hold on. Take the red out. So, if we now look at just these compared to each other, I see your humor. I see rawness. I see movement and life. And I see intelligent photos, like photos that are going to make you stop and think for a minute. Do you see what happens when I narrow it down, how much more solid your portfolio feels? Yes. Do you guys all see that? (audience murmurs agreement) Now I feel like I understand you as a photographer more because I've found these that look cohesive and they complement one another. Now it feels like the joy of childhood, this. Sometimes how you feel alone in childhood, is how this feels. How you're still trying to figure yourself out, like you feel awkward in childhood. I think for you, now that I've narrowed it down, your aim is to show the rawness of childhood. Would that be-- Yes, that's exactly. Yes! (laughs) But it's hard for me to do that until I narrow down what is your best work. And can you see how your work gets watered down with the stuff that isn't as strong, the stuff that you don't like shooting as much, yes? Yes. This is where I see direction, and then all the other stuff I don't feel direction. I was just wondering, it's directed at the other Kelly, how much of that is personal versus client work. So that's actually funny, 'cause when she narrowed it down, almost all of it's personal. Ah-ha! That's one of my questions. So Kelly's another, I didn't even see you here. Here I am. You didn't come up and hug me, like you should. I haven't had a chance yet. So, I'm so glad you asked that question, do you want to come up here and cohost with me? (Kirsten and audience laughing) It's so important, okay, so this is another class I would wanna teach at another time. You have to allow yourself to photograph your clients the way you love and see and photograph your own children. You have to be willing to take as many risks that you take to screw up with your own kids to make good photos, with your clients. Because that's going to elevate your work. And this happens all the time, when I narrow it down, Kelly too, her work of her kids is amazing. If you guys don't follow her on Instagram, it just gets better and better and better, every time I'm like, oh my God, so good, so good. But, she just like others, have struggled with allowing herself to do that with her clients, right? And another thing too the images that you did pull are from sessions that I've shot longer periods of time. So you have more time. I have more time so I relax more, I pick out those moments more, I have more time to allow myself to know I have the safe shots and now I need to get those other shots that I don't worry about the safe shots with my kids. Interesting, I hope that helps everyone, to do that. So that's what you need to be doing with your own stuff. And you might need someone else to pick out your best, to get rid of the fluff, to say, oh my God, now I see it, now I'm seeing a direction for myself. And then it gives you permission to be more raw, to be funnier, to be more ironic, and do that with your clients, okay? I'm glad that helped. So, we want to identify what we shoot well and what you seem to gravitate towards, so that's your job and that's all your jobs to try and identify this. For me, we're gonna go through this again. I like the humor of everyday life. I like photos that are funny. This is one of my favorites. (audience laughing) It's a really simple photo. How hard parenting is, multi tasking, parenting struggles. What children do when they are unsupervised. Sometimes they fight. And not everything's naughty, I like just showing, making memorable portraits just like this that their mom's don't see when they're in the kitchen, that they're dancing around the Christmas tree. Kids do weird stuff. (audience laughing) Take this next one in, because I was in pain shooting it. (Kirsten and audience laughing) I was like what are you doing? What it feels like to be a child. Sometimes you just have an outburst and fall asleep with the charger around your body. Small signs of affection. How people feel about one another. And that's that whole idea about love. And then these more artful photos.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Fearless and Framed Marketing Bundle

Ratings and Reviews


I own Kirsten's 3 classes. And they are ALL amazing, inspiring and refreshing. She is not only a super talented photographer but an amazing teacher and person as well. I have learned so much from each one of her classes. I have never met a photographer so willing to share and see their students succeed. I highly recommend people not only to buy this class, but all 3! I would not be the photographer I am today if it wasn’t for her. After following her advise for the last 3 years I am finally engaging with the audience I want and I feel true to myself in the way I shoot. This makes a huge difference in my everyday. I am am truly grateful to this photo wizard lady. ps: warning, make sure you are on birth control. These classes might make you want to have children, just to get amazing images like the ones she takes LOL (joking) #not

Carrie Littauer

This workshop was by far the best photography workshop I have ever been a part of. Kirsten's work, her humor, her authenticity, her expertise and perspective will forever change the way I work with families and go about documentary photography. I am so motivated and inspired to dig deeper into my role as a photographer, and as a person, to make a real difference in the lives of those that I photograph and with my art. I'm thrilled to have been in the LIVE studio and am so grateful for Creative Live for giving phenomenal artists like Kirsten this exposure and opportunity to teach other creatives like myself! Thank you.

Johanne Lila

In the very minutes Kirsten Lewis' first class (first of three) for cL aired, I realized I needed in on this awesomeness. I became a 1 Year Mentorship student with her right away, and now I have been so incredibly fortunate to be in the studio audience for the live taping of her final class (or the third of the three, who knows what the future might hold!). For me as a 'Kirsten Lewis alumni' taking this class was perfect. I was reminded of things I knew, but had forgotten. I learned a ton of new stuff. But most of all, I remembered why we do this work in the first place: The love that is right there in the reality of life. How much this work matters to real families out there. And how much it matters to keep getting better at this, to give our families better work. I will be forever greatful that I chose the best mentor, Kirsten is such a gift to all of us. And if you're still in doubt: This class is AMAZING! If you're new, if you've at it for a while, if you're alumni: Gold is HERE!

Student Work