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Why Do I Love It So?

Lesson 42 from: Family Photography: Creating a Successful Business

Kirsten Lewis

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Lesson Info

42. Why Do I Love It So?


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

Why Do I Love It So?

Why do I love it so? Because nothing, (audience giggles) nothing is better than real life. (laughs) But it's true, that's why I love documentary family photography. 'Cause I don't think anything's better than real life. I can't make anything up with the stuff that I photographed. I am not that smart. And so I love that there's always something new. There's always a new story. Okay, let's all laugh a little. Don't let the unknown prevent you from trying. Ever. I know it's scary to put your work out there. I know it's scary to get close. But, some of the best lessons I've learned, I've learned from children. And you just don't want to let the unknown prevent you from not trying. And if you don't believe me, take it from Bertie. This is her eating vinegar beans. (laughs) (audience laughs) Are you okay? (laughs) Are you okay? (laughs) (baby coughs) (audience laughs) (laughing) Do you want to spit it out? Do you want it or no? (baby coughs) (woman laughs) (audience giggles) And furtherm...

ore, don't let your failures prevent you from continuing to try. Again, everything I've learned, the best things I've learned, I've learned from kids. Okay, here's Tyler working. This was a session I did with him years ago. This is his son. And back in the day, he had an issue with textures. And he knew it. Like he would every time there was a texture in his mouth that he didn't like, he would gag. But, he'd still try it, even though he had failed so many times. So, I was there. He is glaring at the dreaded piece of mashed potato. So let's see him try. Well, there he goes. There he goes. Tyler seems optimistic. (audience laughs) No, no, no, no, no, no. That's not working. Then there is a little bit of disappointment on Tyler's face. (audience snickers) And you might feel bad. But now, he eats mashed potatoes. (everyone giggles) So in terms of your work, even though we fail, we continue to try because it makes us better. (laughs) Don't let one bad review affect your worth in this world. If any, we are so sensitive, including myself, to the negative things that people say about us. And the best thing I can do to help you and also help myself, is remember that no one hates you more in the world than the next man who hates me. (snickers) (audience members giggle) "I saw you on CreativeLive "and I wouldn't let you anywhere near a child of mine. "You say you were a kindergarten teacher? "With all those tattoos and piercings "and obviously suppressed lesbianism? (audience giggles) "No way! "And everything you said on that show "came down to me, me, me, me, me. "You read letters praising you "that your mom allegedly wrote, "and you had friends come on for the purpose "of telling you what a wonderful person you are. "And you, even yourself kept talking "all that me, me, me nonsense. "You really need to get over yourself "and get in touch with reality. "Just because you had a mom that didn't like you, "and a step-dad that may have liked you too much, "well, there, just get over it. "Oh, and learn to use a flash. "Dang, your photos on CreativeLive are horrible. "You can't backlight people with the midday sun "and expect to not need to have a light on their faces. "Your photos really sucked, "and I'm just being real. "And for someone who allegedly went to college, "you sure don't know how to write. "Look at all those errors in your post "on March 3rd at 2:22 p.m. (audience laughs) "Just full of errors. "Things like that reflect on your business. "Tsk, tsk, grab a camera, shoot like a machine gun, "and hope that maybe something turns out. "There, I just saved everyone "from having to watch your training. "They can just shoot like you do. "Have a good evening." (audience laughs and groans) I got this right after my last CreativeLive class. Now here's the interesting thing. He was referring to the first one, so he must have watched the second one and then watched the first one, and I must have touched a nerve. I was super pregnant. It was like seven in the morning, we're in Vegas because I have to speak. We're sharing a room with my friend, Olivia, who was here for most of the class. She was sleeping with her earplugs in. And Greg's like, "Oh crap, you got a review "on your Facebook page." And I was, I read this, and I just started laughing. I couldn't even hold it in. What are you supposed to do? Are you supposed to get mad at that? Like, I can't get mad at that. And I can't let what people think about my photography, or my parenting or, my choice in my lifestyle. I can't let that get me down, right? I have to feel confident in my choices. That's what I'm telling you to do. When all else fails, just make a joke of it. So I read this, I'm laughing. And then I hear a ping, like someone has responded to this. And I was like, "Wait a minute, "who just liked that post?" (audience laughs) Oh, and now there's a comment. It's my husband. I live with the lady and I couldn't agree more. (audience laughs loudly) Um, I'm never laughed that hard in my entire life. (audience giggles) Sometimes humor's a good thing. And like I told you, it's my survival mechanism. And when I need to, I can retreat to it. And this is one of those times when humor is the best way to deal with this. And now this guy is famous. He had no idea all these people were gonna hear him and what he had to say. I'm gonna share one last thing with you. And that is, this isn't important. The photographers that don't like my work aren't important. The family members you have that don't get what you do isn't important. What is important are your clients, and that they love what you do for them. You are doing something good for them. You're doing something that's gonna last for them. So I asked, I had my assistant ask some of my past clients if they could give an honest video testimonial of what my photos have meant to them. That none of this matters. I have not watched this video. I wanted to be completely unbiased. I have not seen anything, I don't know what they said. I did not edit it a particular way. This is just honestly coming from them. And however they feel, hopefully it's good, (laughs) is how you're making all your clients feel. And while we're in the process of getting better, that's our challenge, right? But as long as we're making our clients happy, ultimately, that's what's most important, right? Day, day? Mm-hmm. In the life? (laughs) Hey, I saw that before. Remember in your bathroom? I saw that before. Mm-hmm. (gentle music) Hi, my name's Carolina Rabera. And I had Kristen come in when I had my first daughter, Valentina. To come photograph us. I feel like the images that she took you know, at the moment, we were so busy with everything. We were learning how to be parents, figuring things out. And everything was new to us. And I knew I really wanted that documented, because I knew that at the moment I wouldn't realize what the, what the magnitude of that situation would be. Oh (whispers) What do it mean? (woman speaks in foreign language) (girl speaks in foreign language) (woman speaks in foreign language) (girl speaks in foreign language) (woman speaks in foreign language) Si. Si, yes. (girl speaks in foreign language) (woman speaks in foreign language) Si. (laughs) My name's Danny Clemments. I'm a wedding photographer in Oxford Mississippi. And we had the pleasure of having Kirsten come shoot our family this January. How are we gonna make this something worth photographing? But I think that's the beauty about Kirsten, and her approach to photography. It's not about what you're doing. It's about who you are, who your kids are. And then when we got the final images, we were blown away by what she was able to see, and what she was able to capture. Hi, we're the Alliston family. We are so glad that Kirsten came to take priceless photos for us before we moved across the country. We got some special photos of us in our old, beloved home. I have lots of favorite photos. But right now, my most favorite is this one. I couldn't even decide which to print, so I printed them both, the black and white and the color, of my middle son. There's so many of these little moments that happen during the day, that I don't know that I'll remember. And I love that it got caught for me. Especially with my middle son, 'cause he's the middle. He lost a lot of time being the baby. So it's special to me to have that. Our session with Kirsten was our family's first time being photographed ever. My most favorite photos that she made of my kids and I are the ones where I'm having fun with them. Being able to spend the day with my kids, doing stuff that we do, and being with our friends and our family and having fun, and getting to have photos of our life with me in them, is really important to me. I want my kids to have those. And now they have them. That one's pretty cool. (laughs) I like that one. (gentle music) I really like this picture. This is a picture of us walking in to, we were actually getting Santa pictures. So we were walking into the area where Santa was. This is just, this is a great picture, because this is every day for us. It was raining, one of the kids was kind of pouting, and it was just, we were dragging one along. We're trying to hold hands, we're trying to cross the street. And anyone who doesn't really understand the importance of this picture to me as a Dad, doesn't understand, that they might think that this is a snapshot, or you just caught something. This is a moment, this is how it happens for us every day. Oh, oh my gosh! There was an earthquake drill. Kirsten got an earthquake drill in the photo. And I don't remember a lot of stuff from fifth grade, and now I'm just looking through memories of fifth grade, making me miss elementary school a lot. Hi. Hi. Hi Kirsten. Hi. We miss you (laughs). We really do missed you. Come back. Yeah, so when we had these photos taken, we were transitioning from one crap-hole house. (laughs) It even had rats in the wall. It had mice in the walls. And it was just what we could find and-- In the house in Underwood, there was even a rat. She didn't even pick me up and take her to her room. That's neither here nor there. The year that she came was just the year that I finally felt like a Mum. And it is so important to me that we have those. I love you. (laughs) (gentle music) Thank you. I just want to thank everybody in the audience. You guys have been amazing, amazing. My favorite audience. Not to take away from the other audience, I love them too, but (laughs) (audience laughs) Thank you to Kenna, who's always such a great host. A very special thanks to my producer, Heather. And Cathy, who was my producer for the other two. To the crew, I love them, they are great. The guys, guys, guys, guys. (laughs) And especially to Arlene who, I would not have the career that I have if she did not trust me and invite me to come on the first time. Thank you to my dearest friends, Olivia and Bethy and Jenny, who picked out all my outfits, because I'm really not fashionable. Maybe the biggest thanks other than my family has to go to my assistants, Molly & Jessica, because I don't know how to run a business without them. Jess made the video for me. Molly's been working on something else for me all day. They are unbelievable, and I wouldn't have a business without them. Thanks to Marie Moss and Daniel Kudish for coming on and helping me do this class. And most importantly, I need to thank my husband and daughter, because I haven't been there as much as I'd like to, and they've been very patient with me. And it's really hard (laughs) to be doing what I've been doing, and feel like I'm not there all the time for them. And so, I'm making big efforts so that I can in the future. Bertie, do you want to come to Mommy? 'Cause I'm all done. (laughs) (audience laughs) You want to come to Mama? Come on, come on. (feet pitter-pat) Hi (smacks). She might go right down my shirt, so (laughs) (audience laughs) So thank you, and to everyone who watches me and supports me, and it's been overwhelming. While I might come back to CreativeLive, if they'll let me come back, I do feel like I have rounded out this set of classes, and hopefully I'll see you all in the future.

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