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Family Photography: Modern Storytelling

Lesson 10 of 35

Post Processing in Lightroom

Kirsten Lewis

Family Photography: Modern Storytelling

Kirsten Lewis

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Lesson Info

10. Post Processing in Lightroom

Lesson Info

Post Processing in Lightroom

I personally on lee used for the most part photo shop now and uh, greg, my fiance tones everything else extending gallery in light room. So, uh, what I did was I just dragged my faves, which I would have already picked here I'm just going use the faves teo tone in both sections, we probably won't tone all of them will see so I'm gonna bring this in to light room first you guys all use light room, do you use photo shop also are just like a room, okay? Do you use any, um for the actions or presets to use preset geese to more? So I'm okay go in away, okay? I actually don't use presets at all, so all right? And because I don't use presets, I'm actually just going to get rid of it. This side here should go away. There we go, okay, so normally this would be a much bigger selection rather than fifty eight photos it would be well, however many I kept one hundred forty and greg would go in and lightly tone I'm going to treat this as if I'm not going to just lightly tone. I'm going to talk about...

why I'm choosing tio um, dodging burner why I'm choosing teo uh, crop, so we're just gonna go ahead and open this up this is going to be a situation this pit picture in particular where I'm going to decide do I want it to be in black and white or do I want it to be in color? Is the color adding anything to this image? My other concern is because of how bright that that top is and then it's a tiny bit over exposed it might blow out if I do it in color you guys know like if you have some blown highlights sometimes you khun rescue things better in black and white and in color the other thing is I shoot everything and raw so I tone you know and ralph first um so my inclination is to go black and white on this so all I do is de saturate and then I'm going to adjust my blacks my exposure it's gonna look a little bit differently think on that screen how many were film shooters did you guys shoot with ilford black and white that it was really contrast e and I tend to lean towards that when I'm processing my pictures so I like to bring in quite a bit of contrast in clarity now we can't the thing is with black and white now we can't really see him a whole lot so the picture has a kind of a kind of a different tone to it like a mood to it what I could do is go in and bring him in just a little bit and I use a big brush. Oh, here's a really helpful hint. Um for I'm going to share this because it's really helpful to me when I first started learning, uh, light room, sorry, I didn't like dodging and burning in light room because I was getting picks elation, and I didn't know what was going on, and this might happened to some of you guys in the audience. I was using the auto mask tool like option down here, and when you do that does not have a good flow for dodging and burning, so I highly suggest making sure like if you're having this problem there's got to be other people out there that have I was like, what is going on and heat it it's because of that auto masks. So take that auto mask out, you know, when you so you can pick your point and dodging burn, then I can just bring this up a little bit, just a hair. I'm fine with the line here, I'm fine with the space and this is merging her head just a tiny bit, but because she has so much highlight on her hair doesn't bother me as much, and I would just leave the image as it is. Like that it is very rare that I allow a horizon to be crooked otherwise I trying to shoot it straight all the time if for whatever reason it isn't straight I will correct it immediately so that stays is black and white and hopefully as we do this I'm going to help answer some questions about when I turn into black and white when I leave it in color this I know isn't black and white it's a moment it doesn't there's no color that's adding to it in fact the color in his shirt is distracting distracting me so all the more reason to go black and white yes I had do you create your own presets for black and white or color where you're you know like for this siri's you're doing a lot of the same adjustments over and over or in your work in general no, I always just do it because I never know if there's gonna be different adjustments like for this like the exposure's going to go up really high and it might not need a cz much clarity so especially this picture I love the mood of this it's kind of eerie so I'm not going to bring it up the whole lot and I might add a lot more black to this and maybe just a tiny bit of clarity so yeah I don't do that because I feel like every picture is an individual picture I don't know about how greg does it I know that he does a lot of batch tony um but for me it's the only photograph I'm only tony like individual pictures rather than a group you know what it's the same thing over and over again no I don't I don't use those I don't make my own I just do each one individually oh I probably should explain why I just did sorry if I lose you just remind me so I did crop in little because I feel like this is distracting right here so I'm just going to bring it in a little bit now my eye doesn't go in that corner at all you have to remember with pictures your eye is going to go to the brightest spot in the photo first okay almost always your eyes going to the brightest spot so if there's a bright spot that's distracting and leg trying my eye away from where I want the viewer to look I'm going to get rid of it if I can or go and dump the photo altogether if it's not flexible because our eyes are really lazy and so they don't wanna work that hard and so for the viewer I don't want them to have to work that hard to understand the picture or the story I'm trying to tell so I try and be very clear and deliberate with my shooting as well as my toning and processing of my images decisions to crop or not to crop to burn or dodge because I'm trying to make it as clear the message and I'm sending with each picture does that make sense? Okay okay so these are the family photos uh usually my thought processes one black and white in one color at least and then the other one will get something so in this situation I actually think I'm going to do black and white for this one and we have to formal photos so one will get black and white one will get color meaning there to where there camera where bring up the shadows a little bit clarity too much it looks a little bit different on there so we had to bring up but this is a sensitive welcome in town gif with a welcome tablet yes the reason being it's actually my mouse um I developed really bad tendonitis in this wrist and it wasn't on lee from just holding a camera the way to the camera the doctor said it was from using a mouse in going like this over and over again and it weakened the thiss spot so I had like a whole right there so yes I switched over the welcome taboo about three years ago and I use it for everything now it's my mouse um I didn't bring one with me so they're loaning me this one but yeah I it takes if you haven't used walking tablet it just takes a little bit of getting used to for me I know exactly where my hand should be and where it's going to put my cursor and it's very natural to me now do you guys use welcomes? Yes, yeah I'm funny yeah, that won't go black and white this one's gonna go black and white also now in this situation I'm not going to make a pre set but I know that the light, the lighting situation and both environments has not changed at all and because I'm going to have them both black and white I'm gonna be more likely to just select that and sink and that will make a slight adjustment so I guess in a way I'm kind of doing preset kind of I mean, I'm not going back to it every time, but if it's if the picture before is very similar than I will I'm gonna bring this in just a hair so it's even cassie her foot is right there actually, no, I'm not gonna so sometimes I have to talk this out I don't want to cut her foot off, but I kind of want to even decide where we go so because yes, uh, with that other picture, yes so as you said before, the brightest your eyes drawn to so would either in light room or and photoshopped maybe would you get rid of that bright spot in the trees? Do you do that sort of thing that I know that when this fight, what I'd be more likely to do is do you guys use this tool, the radiant tool? My favorite tool? It's while you're saying that I was like, well, we might fix that a little bit, I might bring this down just a hair that's better no, with this, the only thing I could do right is kind of like, um, use the what's it called the cloning tool and get rid of it altogether. I'm kind of I'm pretty pj about that just leave it as it is. I mean, I could try and burn it, but then it's gonna look weird like I mean, we can do it we'll see, but I think it's gonna look really weird if I go in here, it doesn't really get rid of it and it just looks fake, you know what I mean? So I'd rather just leave it as it is that I know that one doesn't bother me as much, but for this one, because we already had one, um camera wear black and white really like they diplomatic about this so that one was black and whites and this won't be color and actually I like this one warren color because look, they're really happy and they're squeezing together and I'm fine with it being color it's a little too warm for my taste so my coolest just a hair bringing correct no I used kelvin okay you guys shoot calvin yeah, I was oh issue kelvin I don't have an issue with the auto I'm just so used to shooting kelvin now like I'm so basic everything is in my control like I don't let the camera I should let the camera to sign world who's probably smarter than I am but um for the most part everything's male even my flashes when I use a flash um never in family photos but with weddings everything's meaningless so the kelvin is like for me like the manual option and ijust chimp I mean that's partly why is there just check and make sure if it's too warm cool? I'm pretty good now I've been shooting calvin for about four years so I know when I go into a room and I look at the light whether it's fluorescent light or um natural light or shade or I can kind of I kind of know ahead of time, so I'll set it up, reset it and then adjust if I need to adjust this one didn't really need that much it's fine as it is maybe a little bit warmer uh not warmer but uh last green button that is pretty good like I said, I'm not like a crazy tour um so originally I had picked this one in my favorites it would have to stay color I think because black and white um you lose them this is a situation where you kind of need the color to see everybody sometimes with clarity you lose a little bit of the color saturation so I go back in sometimes I'm the coolest off a little it looks a bit different in my monitor there but again, this is not my this actually isn't one of my favorites, but they're they're also going to look for it I might bring this down a little yeah, not my favorite but feel like it this is so much better do you see like the compression and like that's when we choose a different aperture and it works um in this one I really like I'm goingto tone this one in color um because I'm going to tone the other one in black and white. I know for sure and so far none of these have really needed um, any dodging and burning I will tell you when it does pretty much for all my formal stuff I don't need a lot of dodging and burning because they're so set up and I have a lot of control there's no layering going on oh did I say I was doing this and color I'm a bum bum think that's that was done let's reset this one the more accurate I can be in camera the less work I have imposed processing I don't like toe over process my work so I don't do anything too crazy I'm going to fix the horizon a tiny bit it's a little bit off that's how crazy I am about that and make sure there's an equal number of spring in there as best I can equal number of evil amount of space on either side this was the only one of the walking ones I really like again I'm gonna fix this horizon right here going to move this over a little so it's even and I'm going to go black and white on this that is not by the way I'm toning for them not the foreground I'm going to fix the four around with grady in okay? She does kind of conceive my process here okay now use ingredient because right now is we're looking at it there's not a whole lot of separation between our foreground and them because uh it's brighter in the front so our eyes going there first and then it's having a hard time focusing on them so I'm going to use the grady in't tool because it's so much easier and I'm really going to bring down this front pretty good and by breakdown I mean I'm gonna burn it down and for those of you that never shot with film that term dodging and burning comes from the dark room when you would dodge the light meaning you would avoid light exposing the paper or you and burning you would allow the light um to expose the paper until it was as dark as you wanted it that's much better and then I just might go in with this tool to bring them up a little bit more this is the dodging and burning tool of selection to all of you use that before yeah, the adjustment brush I told him not bring tech savvy so I'm not the best at um terminology here we're just going to bring this whole thing up a little bit okay master going to keep this in color because I'm worried that with black and white there actually isn't a whole lot of room light here so he might get lost if I use black and white so I'm going to use color intone it and bring it down just a little I'm going to go in and dodge her face a hair really um tony more for him and then we'll go in here and just bring up her face a little bit and by using that um try that again temperature that's why that happened I just unintentionally spot colored that was terrible ah reverse spot colored I'm just gonna bring her up a little I also use a big here's nothing I use a big brush with a narrow margin to that like it's that is a gradual thing and it's not direct like I hate when you could see if it's going to be um if it late was dodged and burns like I like everything to look really natural but that's nice by just bringing up her face a little bit does it actually great color I like this this this in this um so I'll leave this in color yes how important is it for you to have continuity in the set of how they look tone wise exposure white feeling wise and you're black and whites and your colors well, as you can see like I'm not using I don't really do anything to that color except I'm just like enhancing it I'm not changing that tony I'm not really changing the white balance unless I'm correcting the white balance I'm not using any presets to make it look aged or making greener or um I don't know all those things you can do with the photos so in that way I think it is that there is a certain amount of continuity just because I told everything the same way um I'm on ly toning to enhance I'm not toning to change anything justin it enhance what was already there naturally and you'll see like when we look at the whole sat think they're all pretty much like equal um this is another one where I like the color o as faras balance we're also wondering like, how many black and white versus how many color um a little bit, but just in terms of like, how much contrast and how you know how visually, how much visual continuity there is in terms of the color contrast, that kind of thing I think for the most part everything pretty much works together I think for the most part everything works together um because I've been turning the same way for so long that I kind of do the same thing even if there's small adjustments to each picture I'm not straying too far away from my personal aesthetic and so it kind of they kind of flow sometimes with slide shows I don't like too many black and white if it's a black and white and color uh story I don't like too much too many black and white together or too many color together I like him to be interest first pretty evenly there have been times when I've actually done an entire session in black and white or in color, but the majority of the time it's a combination of black and white in color for the final product so he's a little bright, so this is one of those quiet, graphic images um, I also noticed that he tended and I don't know if this is true, real life, like I don't I only had an hour with him, but he seemed to be one of them were independent of the kids and you, like, was a self, uh, entertainer, so he did a lot of this, and so I wanted to make a picture like this that was really quiet of him because I'm hoping that it kind of reflects his personality. He was the only one, I think, in the session that I made a portrait just of him because he just seemed like kind of do his own thing. And again, I think about these things when I'm making pictures, I think father and son relationships are really important, I think there's a lot of families nowadays where dad's either not around or he's working all the time, so I'm drawn to making good pictures for my dads and sons, and especially because he's, the oldest son, so this was important to me that I make this picture when I saw it and that I kept it in because, again, this is this is a picture I'm always thinking, when I'm making pictures I'm thinking about how are they going to feel about these pictures twenty years from now? I'm always thinking about that how is this going to impact them how are they going to look back at these photos that's why I don't want to do a bunch of crazy trends that's why don't shoot trendy I just want them to toe always hold up no matter what year it iss like twenty years from now I want these to be relevant you know what I mean same with now that's not to say two thousand for two thousand five when I started looking at a lot of blog's and I got obsessed with all these actions that people were doing like putting on their pictures like I was sucked into that in the beginning I totally wass I just realised that wasn't for me at the end of the day was more about just being totally relevant did you have a question I have to learn your cues I love that one too I love it again it's him alone right like usually can and plays a lot of the color of it too with green yeah and you saw this took some time to get this shot I wasn't quite sure how it's going to get it um this is a this is the concept of filling the frame I filled the frame with this and by filling the frame with the net your eye goes directly here here's that photo that I just I love when I when this comes together this is a definitely a black and white picture um these are not easy people thes air not easy to dio especially these these types of photos where everyone's doing something different it's very important if you're going to make these pictures that their separation I'm almost cutting it close right here see this almost is merging it's not but almost iss but I like how everyone's kind of doing their own thing I was also very aware of the background and that I didn't want any heads emerging with these boats as well I mean, this is all very deliberate um I love that you can see the mountains just a hair in the back don't bring this in just there I think this one when I was talking to greg when I looked at these yesterday this was one of my favorites from this session I'm going to bring down because of the mood of this photo I'm going to bring down the I don't know if I'm upon it or not they're going to bring this down just a little yeah, okay um someone had asked I don't remember his name, but he asked if I ever cross people out, this would be one of those situations where yes, I don't mind him bending down and um filling this corner this one just feels uncomfortable to me so when I toned these before I pulled this up just a little so it's just dad and son in that way I'm going from corner to corner here and I'm gonna keep color with this one I also really like this light this is where I noticed that light when I made the picture later of um jacob hitting the stones what what products are you processing for like we're going to talk about products later in the workshop but what do you thinking about are you doing as far as your shapes are you are you cropping for books so you cropping for prints so you cropping for online are you just doing when I do the formal pictures for the camera where portrait I am aware a leaving space for enlargements I am but we had this conversation at lunch my business plan my business my opinion about business and how I approach business is not for everyone um I'm not a good sales person it kind of makes me nervous like I'm just going to say it out loud and some people might hate me for it so my approach is we're going to talk about tomorrow day in the life sessions I am working for an album because what I want is my clients to have an album and work with me every year and that the only thing on the album on this spine is the date so that every it's almost like a chronicle that they could have they give their kids when they're adults on the shelf is two thousand fourteen two thousand fifteen two thousand sixteen so when it comes a day in the life sessions I am working for that album that is the on ly session where I'm working for a product uh my approach is I'd rather be paid what I feel my work and my talent is worth up front rather than pushing the after the sales after there's another reason why I have this opinion and that is because I've always been a destination photographer for the most part when I lived in the outer banks all of my wedding clients all of my uh my portrait clients were coming in from out of town they were all coming to me so I didn't get that opportunity ever to do one on one like here's all your photos is looking all my products like it's very hard to sell products when I can't have that one on one interaction in connection with them also I feel awkward about pushing I wouldn't feel is awkward if I could just have the one on one but when you don't then you've got to figure out some way to do it was skype and I'm just not good at it there are people out there that are amazing at it I just rather charged up front for my my talent and my time and what I feel, I think I'm worth to get that up front with the files and then let them choose what to do with it after I always suggest using like grass roots, um, locally owned photo shops, print shops, if they're available, I'll go so much as toe look into the town where they live and kind of like, scope it out and then make a suggestion, I really think that you were going to get prints done, they should be here. I really believe in not printing everything, and for my six, I think things should be hung on the wall, so they're enjoyed all the time, so invest the money in doing that if you're going to, but overall, I'm not thinking about prince, if anything, I'm always thinking about albums, I guess I would hope that they would put him in albums for the most part, with stories, but as faras these situations, I'm really just shooting to make great pictures for them to get paid for that for the files and then let them choose products after that is probably not what everyone wanted to hear. You know, I think every photographer is different and I hate doing sales and so that's a great approach to just charge upfront, don't worry about it. About the post sales kirsten here's a question that often comes up on bit's from gabrielle and I'm going to actually paraphrase it a little bit you process your photographs into black and white when you're processing and do you present those to the clients and like here you go it's black and white period or do they ever say oh what is the color look like or how does that relationship work? Well because they get to different galleries they get their extended gallery and then they get their artists and edit the extended gallery is all in color greg on ly tones and color so they get to see everything in color when I tone I'm making decision black and white or color and that's how it is far too soon at it if we're doing an album for daily life session or a wedding and they make their select and I feel that the pages like I don't like black and white in color on the same page I'm really weird about that so all actually sometimes opt to change something back to color or changes the other photo to black and white so that it matches on dh it goes well aesthetically on the page but they they get they khun see all their photos in color and then they see some in black and white and then some with a nicer detail that makes sense yeah perfect thank you you're welcome okay so we'll do a few more in light room and then I know where I'm going to go uh we're going to stop and then we're gonna do the latter half in uh photo shop so in this situation this really nice quiet moment right here I feel like if it's in black and white that detail is goingto be accentuated also this really nice light you see this light on her hand right here um between that and this highlight here by bringing it down with the black and white it really pops there to really just nice quite moment of her and also as a teenager I think she would like that here's that photo I talked about where I saw this light right here I actually think this is better in color sometimes I'll do this will be like flunking willie color I think color I think he actually pops more off of this green if he's in color so again is the color adding to the photo is it is it helping to support the picture I'm going to a pretty high contrast on this is that this is more to find the spot right here in this photo would have not been this would not have been a picture if this rock wasn't here honestly but because he's really focused on that rock that's that moment that we need and that's what makes that picture I do have an issue with this so what I'm going to do is go in and kind of burn this out a little bit. I'm just going to bring them down. If I can. Just a hair, because of kind of distracting by taking those highlights down there. Still there, I'm not gonna get rid of him. I'm not gonna clone them out, but by just doing a little bit of burning it kind of like, takes that distraction away a little bit and see, really focus on that this's fun thiss movement right here in this water going up and actually think it'll be better in black and white, incorrect for that.

Class Description

Learn how to capture genuine, emotional images of families. In Family Photography: Modern Storytelling, Kirsten Lewis will teach you how to take meaningful documentary-style family photographs.

Kirsten Lewis takes a unique approach to family photography, leaving posing techniques and studio light at the door to capture real moments, as they are lived. In this class Kirsten will share her techniques for creating the relationships and environments that help her subjects feel at ease and open-up in an authentic way while she shoots. You’ll revisit the art of storytelling through still images and how to bring storytelling into your work with families. Kirsten will teach you the steps to developing client relationships that allow you to honestly document a family, from birth onward, while nurturing your business. You’ll learn new ways to approach composition and editing so your final product is both beautiful and true to reality.

If you want to deepen your relationships with the subjects you shoot and deliver photographs that are joyful and authentic, join Kirsten for this in-depth class on documentary-style family photography.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Family Portraits Quick Tips

Sponsor Discount Codes

Gear Guide

Family Session - HD

Newborn Session - HD

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes



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.