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General Q and A

Lesson 34 from: Family Photography: Modern Storytelling

Kirsten Lewis

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Lesson Info

34. General Q and A

Next Lesson: The Sophie Project

Lesson Info

General Q and A

Let's just call it the end so while june is working with you guys on get collecting those those last final questions I just wanted to remind you of ah a few things and then announce a couple of other little things remember if you're interested in my why workshop finding your own voice workbook with dvd and then the um and then the facebook group to work together you can do that as well as fine any of my other products kirsten lewis dot com person louis photo sorry dot com and then go up to the header you find the info watch for that to drop down and then I think it's the second option down you'll see products for photographers uh in the next week I'm going to be adding a lot of supplements specifically for this course. The reason I didn't do it beforehand is I wanted you to just worry about absorbing what I had to say and listen to me teach and let that just settle for a little bit and then I'll have a bunch of different collections of pfc like about thie day in the life sessions proba...

bly about ten to twelve then there's the faily photography, one hour sessions, birth of newborn and all my business stuff on you confined the books there and the quick tips as well a star is the mentoring session like I said again I'm on ly taking ten students for next year will be starting in january, but you need to reserve your space now. I already have four signed up I have about fifty mils from other people, but the one year mentoring session I only have ten spots total available for the two day mentoring sessions. You will be traveling to me, but it's included in the price on it could be it's about twenty hours of one on one instruction and there's in the field. Construction as well is back at my home slash studio and I'm on ly taking twenty I have quite a few of those already signed up what you come to me and beautiful denver and we take care of you for a couple of days hang out with my dog mingas, who you'll probably live a lot more than me because he's really lovable. And so I'm I'm having people sign up for that now. Uh, and then I also conduct portfolio review uh, that could be done online is very easy. Uh, I usually use google plus how's it sound that sounds fantastic. What a great deal of special opportunity. And while we're on this topic, I know folks, we went over very briefly yesterday what first question can we reiterate a little bit about your pricing? So you're pricing it would look we would love to hear the dana life we loved here the two hour session okay and then how you price the digitals and how you price the book just okay quickly read it ritter reiteration okay, so that the dane life session the session fee is seventeen fifty and like I discussed yesterday during business I have a different business model than a lot of other photographers because I don't sell a lot of products I don't push a lot of products most of my clients are from a savior of the country I just would prefer to be paid for my time and for my knowledge my talent uh upfront I just rather have that money up front I do spend about fourteen hours with the family so seventeen fifty for the whole day is, um is a pretty good deal I'm not saying that that's what you should charge and actually what I told people I told my uh my students a thousand is a good place to start that's where I started when I started actually started seven fifteen then I went to a thousand and then I increased uh and then the files it is sixteen hundred dollars for the artist annette it from the day in the life sessions so that is uh just my favorite remember it's about one hundred fifty to one, seventy five I tone them myself and then greg takes care of the extending gallery if you this is another thing I suggest for photographers if they are swamped with the all the processing they have to do all that editing work they have to do sometimes it makes sense to just hire an editor I mean you khun train somebody and I actually prefer training somebody over sending it out I have a hard time communicating when I send it out to one of those editing companies really how I want my stuff done but you can find a college kid who's in the photography in photography program or some sort of graphic design program who is just looking to pick up some extra work they learn so fast you can teach them and like literally a few sessions just kind of like look over their shoulder given some advice of how you like your things edited and you khun get away with paying him like fifteen dollars an hour I did it where my one hour sessions I paid my my editor who is young and learning twenty five dollars a session but I was shooting a lot of session she's she was making a lot of money and weddings I paid her one hundred for the wedding but you can set it up how we want I'm just saying just on a side note greg helps me out now because we have the business together so he processes for me we don't have teo contract that out my highly suggest contracting out at least the extending gallery if you're swamped with editing work so that's day in the life oh I'm sorry so sixteen hundred for the artisan that it and it's twenty two fifty for the artisan at it in the extended gallery uh but they have to purchase the either have to purchase the artisan that it alone or the artisan in it in the extended gallery they can't have just extending gallery basically always want them to have the best and then if they want the extra that's okay with my wedding with my wedding out and in the book and which mind like the the album ballpark album okay, so the album itself is a thousand dollars but that is thirty pages is a pretty big book and and I'm answering the question now you guys for non photography clients right? Because photography clients don't have to buy an album but my other clients dio so it's a thousand dollars for the album for thirty pages and then any additional page that they want which is basically one I'm sorry any additional pictures that they want is fifty dollars a picture because I usually just put one sometimes two pictures on a page I like it very clean, very simple it's supposed to be red like a story I don't like things cluttered so it's a thousand dollars for the album and then fifty dollars for any additional pictures and usually we get up to about fifty pictures in total, so usually by about twenty more the one thing I do with the albums with these clients is any of the photos that are in the album they'll get the high rise files of those and then if they want additional then I charge them a separate price for the artisan and the extended gallery but it's different than the photographers who do they want the pricing for so like one hour sessions is three fifty an hour time and talent and then the files are additional. It's seven fifty for the artisan at it in a thousand for ours and edit and extended gallery party simple I think that's great, I think waken go from their fantastic. So the effects of you shoot if some folks were with us yesterday when you do a day in the life ten thousand images what effect does that have on your camera? And do you find you need to replace your equipment many more? Just no, I don't, uh I think that people get so stuck on actuacion tze how many actuacion sze does your camera have? You know, it's pretty affordable to just replace your shutter when it dies like you can replace it flake five hundred bucks I think it's even less than that it's not a lot of money to replace your shutter so I don't even worry about the actual ations I've never blown out a shutter not yet maybe I'll get close I kind of I upgrade about every three to four years I'll get a new body so I'm due for one I'm gonna upgrade to the d for s uh for a nikon um let me think what was the rest of that question oh when I worked on the beach anybody that does do beach portrait that hell on my equipment not so much my camera body but my lenses and I've lost quite a bit of lenses for san getting in the gears and if the sand gets in the gears then it won't focus and that's kind of a pain in the butt but the actual shutter release amount it hasn't affected me yet okay this question is I've sort of built this question from a lot of different questions okay so and I've kind of built it myself so thank you everybody for helping me with this one I and I woke up thinking of this this morning is like it's all about logistics who pays for meals who pays for disneyland who pays for travel on dh when you're at the house is there a certain amount of time we like you eat dinner with them then you say ham quarter the bathroom how does how does all that work? Okay so as faras travel goes, um, unless travel I have, unless I've run specials to travel included, they do have to pay for me to come the advantages they don't have to pay for a hotel because I stay with them the entire time, and that includes if I'm going like when I went to disney world when I went to disneyland when I went and photographed the family on vacation in south carolina, I'm always staying with them. You have to be comfortable doing that and guys it's going to be harder for you to get access to sleeping over. I'm so sorry, but like that's just how it is, but I say if guys air during vacation photography, then you just charge them, make them pay for the room, you make them pay for the hotel room and don't feel bad about that. If they could afford to bring you on vacation, they could afford to get your room, any activities that we d'oh, they pay for them. So disney world was pricey for my family because it's seventy dollars a day to get in, and I was with him for three days so that alone, the tickets like they had to pay for my tickets. Uh like I said, any activities that we do, whether it's, mini golfing or bowling they have to pay for all of that for me they also have to pay for all my food so if but most the time I'm just eating with them at their house breakfast, lunch and dinner if I'm doing a day in the life we're on vacation a few times we go out and I always I don't assume they're going to pay for me when we're out, but it's kind of understood and I've never had to pay, so I've never had to have that issue. Does that make sense? Yeah perfectly ous faras rental cars and all that I don't need him because I make them to come and get me because I'm going to be with them I am going to be a child in their family for the day so and that's really after about half a day that's how it's working correct! You know you're just part of the you know you say all right let's eat let's have a snack and you just you just with them oh, yeah hey, uh when you asked about like meals and you sit down with them yes, you always sit with them to eat, try and take some pictures before hand of like them sitting down together but then go and sit with them and always have your camera on your lap or right next to you because you never know something funny is going to happen, but you don't have to shoot through that entire process of them eating. Also, take that time for connection and conversation. Great. Could you mention any books and other types of inspiration? Like if people want to learn more about this? Do you have any recommendations? Um, I own quite a few david alan harvey books. You'll find them on amazon. He's probably my favorite photo journalist, and I just really love his work. Eddie adams has several wonderful books as well, to study as faras like if you want to study layering in good story, telling those air to that, I really love a lot inspiration. Go out and see live music if you know what again go to an opening at an art museum, what were we talking about? Okay? Oh, there's two documentaries, which I haven't even seen yet, which I haven't had time. Um, one of them is finding vivian maier on if you're not familiar with her she's like now considered one of the best street photographers of all time and no one knew it while she was alive, this kid went a couple of years ago kid, I say that he's probably ten years younger than me he I believe was at an auction and there was like a box full of like a thousand on processed rolls of film and he was like, I'll just buy those so he bid on them and he won and they start processing them and found and discovered vivian maier who was like, consider literally one of the best street photographers of our time and but no one knew about her and she was that kind of a recluse and she like stage herself and she was uh the only time she would take a camera out in front of anyone when she wasn't alone was with the kids she nah need for like she's very fasting so that movie I know is out now on I'm going to watch it now that I don't have to prepare for creative live yes look oh and her but yes I think there's a couple but there's a new book coming everyone just come. Yeah, yeah, I was fascinated by like year and a half ago I saw kind of a teaser for it and I was waiting and waiting and I came over to seattle to watch it yeah and it was incredible. And even after the movie it's still so mysterious rest highly recommend it it's amazing and I think it was all work she did in new york on my right. Oh, it's all over france in chicago and yeah, but she said, like, I think there's people interviewed that make her really good friends that didn't even know that she took pictures so crazy. So there's that and then there's another documentary that's out there you can watch I think it's called get street and that's about really awesome street photographers, mainly in new york. So those air some, uh, uh, war photographer, uh, dreams not a way you can watch that documentary. That's pretty awesome is pretty it's a little intense, but if you enjoyed the first part of my talk today, I think that you'll enjoy all these things that I'm suggesting yes, well, one thing I was gonna add to the whole inspiration thing. I still get a subscription to time magazine. I love time magazine and you, you've brought up light books billions of times. I also like finding old life magazine copies because there's some great stuff on they confront you can find that stuff online, but especially old old photography and war photography as well. Nat geo has a pretty good website to go teo time new york times the light box so yeah, that's all all good stuff so when you're not on the job, how this is from kenny miller you can ask me personal questions but I'm not answering like what kind of underwear you wear are alright never mind not know so from kenny miller when not on the job how do you practice your visual storytelling? How often do you practice in your free time all the time? Because I always have my phone, I'm not I'm not kidding about that. I'm always making pictures on my phone, so if I don't have my camera on me, which sometimes that's my preference like sometimes I like a break from the heavy gear and I just like to challenge myself with my phone um but I'm always making pictures I'm always storytelling that's what I'm doing a lot of my street photography is with my phone these days for sure. All right, go ahead no okay, this is from a barrel. How do you break families out of the stereotypes of posed family portrait so often I'm finding that people will pose even when I'm going into candids and we talked a little bit about this, but if you could touch on it again to be great, okay, so just remind them before the shoot or even when they inquire that they're only going to get a certain amount of time in the chute to do the formal photos and that's all they get so if they know that ahead of time going into the shoot your that's, their expectation is oh, I'm on ly gonna have this much time and then it's not an issue, they're going to be prepared for that, but you really need to inform the clients the potential clients that this is my process. This is how I'm gonna handle this shoot, and this is what you're going to expect. If you set them up that way, then they're gonna be a lot more relaxed towards the shoot itself. Cool and along the same lines from ashley, do you ever ask the family to move a hand or step to the side? Or do you always wait for them to come together? That makes your picture what you want it I always wait for them to come together to make a picture that I want and maybe sometimes a picture? I didn't think I wanted that's the great thing about it, like you just shoot through that those moments, and then you let the photo come to be yes, would that be the same? Is if they were, if you anticipated that they were going to repeated behavior and then they didn't like with a ball toss or something, would you encourage him to do it again? I'd like to move on. But like I said, I'll be like a squirrel I always use this analogy because squirrels like they hide nuts the joke is like women are like squirrels with relationships and like they won't they won't attack if I do this they won't attack you at the offense we'll just save it up for a long time and then when you least expect it they're going to like rip you a new one why do we do that that's horrible anyways well if photographer needs to do the same thing like everyone's laughing at e think I'm like freaking out my producer but anyways is the same thing with my photography if they don't do it again I'm like that squirrel or that evil woman I just like keep that I store that information and if they go back and I think they're gonna repeat the behavior again I'm already anticipating it does that makes sense okay yeah thanks great. So this is one of our highest voted questions of the entire three days it says can you touch on this type of photography with maternity or couples? How do you use the same approach? We talked a little bit about your upcoming but let's talk maybe a little bit about maternity oh, I don't do it anymore, okay? Because I think okay, so when I did do it I approached maternity sessions like an engagement shoot I always included both the husband and the wife or the girlfriend and boyfriend or the girlfriend girlfriend or well then there's no well boyfriend boyfriend if they were adopting I guess I haven't had that situation, but the couple I always want to work with a couple together if they were together and I kind of just approached it as put them in nice light and have them interact and then I would take portrait of them of the mom by herself in nice light but I just don't I am not creative or innovative as faras what to do I'm not very good at giving directions recognizes about myself like I'm not good at that makes me feel uncomfortable I do suggest uh, we I mentioned him earlier gay mcclintock is that how you say yeah and he's out of canada and he just does brilliant portrait work in general and it's not his look is nothing like my look, but I really appreciate his stuff and he does some really gorgeous maternity is sessions that I would highly I recommend you go take a look great, and this is another really highly voted question from gio sanchez junior how do you photograph families with older children that won't necessarily be able or willing to jump on and play on and we've talked a lot about little kids, but I think we've talked about teenagers yet I have said this before I would rather work with twenty five year olds and then a thirteen year old specifically at their two year old girl um they're not easy and I have a lot of experience working with teenagers when I was at the beach it was perfect because they don't want to like do the little kid stuff, but they'll totally horse around in the water if you're anywhere near water, water, sports or the easier way toe work with teenagers that age uh, I would have been like, bring boogie boards and skim boards and a football and play in the water and then they would do it they would interact with each other uh, I would all I also approach there shoot their portrait shoot differently, I think about they have a facebook account this is not really fun for them, so let's at least make them feel good about going to make some really awesome pictures for your facebook profile. I would say that like let's just make some really awesome photos for your facebook profile so that that's how I get around making their portrait as faras the hanging out it's just the activities that you suggest especially with teenagers, I ask, are you a dancer? Do you play sports? Are there any of these things that you can do on location with us? I've even gone to sports uh I've done like extended see you I actually do like senior portrait which is crazy because I really don't like porter work in general but what I've done with my senior portrait which is really fun is all go to a sporting event if they play sports or I'll go to some dance thing that they've got or if they singing music uh they if they seeing then I'll go to some sort of an event that they have and that's kind of fun like incorporate what they do because it's part of who they are teenagers aren't easy but if you speak to them with respect and not like a total jerk and you kind of just be like like be understanding like I know this is not fun but like let's just do the best we can and like I'm gonna make some great pictures of you and you know let's have much fun as we can I think if you could just relate to them that way and not like you're going to take these pictures and I'm the boss I think it goes over a little bit better all right? And this is from tammy what advice do you have for amateur photographers if they're interested into switching their careers into full fine a full time photography including doing family documentary I think that you just need to be prepared that it's a lot of work and it's probably more hours then any other job you've had, I have to learn to stop looking, especially as a lot of photographers work in their home when they're not on location and you can get consumed by it. Uh, secondly, I think that you don't get discouraged if you don't get work immediately. It's going to take some time, I suggest starting the transition like a year, like take a year to, like transition, still working your regular job, and then start doing the advertising, get your logo, get your website up, start doing some shoots, do a lot of shoots for free to build up your portfolio, and then maybe even consult with an sio specialist. If you're starting out a brand new business, you can find him for lake. I don't know one hundred bucks an hour, two hundred bucks an hour, but it could be a really good investment for you in the long run to help get you higher in the google search faster, because I think when you go from a regular job where you're getting a paycheck weekly or biweekly to switch to not being like assured that you're gonna get paid all the time can be really scary, so I think that you should take that, do the transition and make the effort I had to do that with moving to colorado, it was not fun or easy when I went from north carolina to colorado and I'm still like trying to make that transition, so just be prepared for that, but don't give up, uh, look, two photographers that really inspire you maybe see if there's a local photographer that needs a second, um, photographer uh, to help them and maybe work under them because they're all he said his advice read lots of books, picture books I'm talking about like, look at other people's work pick pictures wise and kind of study that perfect answer great. Thank you, kristen, I think we're ready to keep rolling. Okay, those are good questions. Do you guys have any last questions before? Okay, if you could choose anyone past or present to do a day in the life have orders you to do and I have a goal that I'm going to do it, this is such a crazy answer. I really want to photograph the jolie pitts when they do one of their family missions um, over in africa that's my ideal client that's what I want, uh, because their first of all that they're very blended family, I've read that the really good parents, they're actually really involved with their kids, and I love I really respect the fact that they include their kids in all of these volunteer mission trips that they do, and they're exposing them to that. And I think that's really special. And so, yeah, ideally, like that would be who I would want to work with for them to take me there with, um, yeah, and I don't care that they're famous. I just I kind of like the dynamic of their family and and what they do to, like, teach them to be appreciative of what they have. I think that's pretty awesome. So

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Family Portraits Quick Tips
Sponsor Discount Codes
Gear Guide
Family Session - HD
Newborn Session - HD

Ratings and Reviews


I cannot recommend Kirsten's course highly enough. I've tuned in to a couple of CreativeLive courses on photographing families and children, and they were both very "studio"-centric. A lot of posing, a lot of gear, etc. I don't have a studio and a lot of gear, I don't desire to, I'm uninspired by the outcomes, and I tuned out pretty quickly. I love capturing people, especially kids and families, in their moments. I love a great candid. I love "documentary photography" (as I learned to call it from this course). And loving and creating photos that tell a story or capture a genuine moment is exactly what this course taught us to do, and did a fantastic job of doing. A few things I loved about Kirsten from the get go: she is not pretentious, but intelligent and genuine; she as a person and her photography are inspiring; she knows how to teach - technical without being 'technical', knows how to explain her process, draws on her mistakes so we can all learn from them (and our own - and this is a HUGE element of teaching most people lack!), all the while packing in an enormous amount of information that could improve anyone's photography. is very accessible in her explanations and her language; she is honest: a good teacher will be critical because again, if she's not (and if we're not open to it) how will we ever learn? Although I felt sometimes her language was a bit harsh or her assessments "right or wrong" where more nuanced language could be merited - my one critique. really seemed to be teaching first and foremost to have people learn and be excellent photographers, and to enjoy the gifts photography can offer (personally and productively), which made it so much more appealing to be "in the room". Best of all, I had an awakening that I am allowed to be myself in my photography. As much as I love candids, I get caught up in the expectation to take posed pics, for those I'm taking the photos for more than for myself. No more. It makes me impatient and disappointed with the outcomes. I'm going to cultivate what I love. I also finished each day inspired to take and process photos - visiting my nieces, bringing my camera everywhere. During the class I kept going into lightroom to look at my pics while she was teaching, to compare my past photos to what she was teaching. It was such a wonderful learning experience. Thank you Kirsten for being true to yourself, going out on a limb in your approach, and sharing all of this with us!

Kathleen Petersen

I started out in photojournalism, but it was a long time ago. Back in the 70s, I would play with the little ones, in their backyards, or at their breakfast tables, to get lots of beautiful, real images. Then, over the years, with the need to earn income, and then later, the need to compete, I got side tracked. I still did photojournalistic images of my kids, and eventually, their kids, but clients were wanting specific things. I called it the line-them-up-and-shoot-them style of family photography. The creative soul within was always longing for the more natural, more real images, and I have always been able to sneak them in to any session. But my business was mostly about everything else. I shot some weddings early on, to pay my dues and my rent. But discovered that I much preferred being a second shooter and capturing the candid moments and the details. As I am now a grandmother, I have been making changes gradually in my business to get back to my roots. Taking this class has been life-changing for me. I was making these tiny little baby steps, as if I was afraid that I would fall out of favor with my current and future clients. The competition is huge here in socal, so how could I dare step away from the white shirts and khakis? I dare. I am about to completely revamp my business model to return to where I started from. I plan to march to the beat of my own drummer. It really does make one happy to follow one's passions and to be true to one's self. I don't even care if I lose any clients. I want to provide for people something that is so essential. Real images that will nail down the memories forever as they interact and love each other. This is so important. At first, I wasn't sure if I would like Kirsten. But by the end of the three days, I loved her as if she were my best friend from forever ago. I love her for her personality, the things she taught us, and her great example. Best class I have ever taken at Creative Live, and that is saying something! Thank you!

Jo Benoy

The great thing about photography is that it can be all things to all people: a hobby, an art form, a profession. As long as I can remember, cameras and pictures have been important to me - for different reasons in different seasons. I have never been particularly interested in formal photos, and I thought my preference for "catching moments" in a style three or four notches above a snapshot made me seem like some sort of slackard. Enter Kirsten Lewis. In three days, she explained, modeled and taught the sort of shooting that I've loved for as long as I can remember. She mirrors my philosophy that good photographs aren't necessarily pretty, and that if a picture is compelling or evocative, it's a good one. Lewis is not only a gifted photographer but a clear and cogent teacher, which is always a welcome combination, and as strong as her tangible skills are her confidence and dedication to her own style and voice. I've watched and bought several CreativeLive courses, but I have enjoyed none more than this one: ever since watching it, my brain has been spinning and my shutter finger has been itchy. I loved, loved, loved this workshop.

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