Skip to main content

Settings for Shoots

Lesson 3 from: FAST CLASS: Get Started with Lifestyle Family Photography

Elena S Blair

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2000+ more >

Lesson Info

3. Settings for Shoots

Lesson Info

Settings for Shoots

So, we have to talk a little bit about the basics. Now I am not here to teach you the technicals of photography for many reasons. One, I'm not good at teaching that. I don't shoot from a technical standpoint, as you can tell I'm like a super like lovey-dovey person. I teach from a-- I shoot from an emotional standpoint. But we do have to talk about the basics and if I don't talk about 'em we're gonna, people will be like confused. So, one thing that people will often wanna know is what my gear is. So I'm gonna tell you that I am a camera gear minimalist. I am not that person that's like out with the new lenses and like, I still have the Mark Three even though I know that there's a new body out there because I just really don't care about getting the next body like the camera is just my medium, it's just how I connect with these people. So I could shoot with the 5D Mark Three. I have three lenses. I have a 35 millimeter 1.4L, a 50 millimeter 1.2L, and a 135 millimeter 2.0L. What often h...

appens, to be honest, is I get one on and I never change it because I forget, because I'm so into the session. But usually I start with the because it's a longer lens and it allows the family to kinda warm up to the idea of what we're doing, that we're taking photos, and kinda gives them space, you know, from me and them. And then I usually move into the 50 or 35, usually the 50. You'll see when I work with the family, I'm all up in there, I touch everybody and move them around, I sit myself where I want mom, and I usually move to the 50 after that, the 50 is just, it's a beautiful lens, it's true to life I really like it. I usually end with the 35 millimeter because then it allows me to get the wider angle shots to kind of include some of the amazing elements that we have here in Seattle, we're very, very lucky. So that's it, that's my gear. Don't use lights, don't use reflectors, this is it. What you see is what you get. So we're gonna talk a little bit about the exposure triangle. Like I said, I am not gonna teach you what aperture is, what ISO is, what shutter speed is. What I wanna talk to you about though is my thought process behind why I choose the settings that I do because people often ask me this stuff so I'm gonna just lay the foundation and then we won't ever have to talk about anything technical again because I don't like talking about it. Okay, so as we know the ISO is your camera's sensitivity to light and you'll hear when you're starting a lot of people say don't push the ISO up too high, don't push the ISO up to high you're gonna end up with a ton of grain, all of those things. I push the ISO up really high all the time. I live in Seattle. It is gloomy here a lot. I shoot back like at golden hour. So like that kind of deep back light like this and so it's usually actually sort of dark and I shoot in home sessions for my newborn work and so it is like cave town here in Seattle, right? Sometimes the sun like doesn't really come out. So I wanna show that I will push that ISO up really high and my reason is I really want a fast shutter speed, so we're gonna get there in a second. But, like for instance, this is 1250, and for some people that's very high. And it was golden hour, the sun was dipping behind the horizon, and it was actually quite dark right here under this tree but I wanted that really beautiful warm backlight. And the mom and the little one were moving a lot so I needed my shutter speed to be really fast. So I went up. If your exposing properly your grain is gonna be very minimal. And I actually don't mind a little bit of grain, there I am breaking the rules again, I think it's actually really beautiful so. These cameras were made to push the ISO up, that's what they're made for. Here's another example. This was a really cloudy day. We were out in the forest and we were under a bunch of trees in the fall and so I had to push the ISO way up to in order to get the exposure proper. And then just to show you, this is inside. I think I shot this whole session at 4000. We had just one window. There's like no grain in this picture at all. Maybe if we zoomed way in we would see some. But don't be afraid, push the ISO up, break the rule, it's fine. It's gonna be just fine. Your camera can handle it I promise. So, shutter speed is, for me, in founding photography, I like my shutter speed to be super duper fast. Mostly because I use a lot of movement in my direction but because we're working with kids, they don't hold still, ever. Not even for a second. So you need a really fast shutter speed and so a common misconception is that, we're gonna get to aperture in a second, but if you shoot wide open you're gonna have a lot of trouble with focus. But the truth of the matter is is if you're shooting with a really fast shutter speed, everybody's gonna be in focus, everybody that you want. So this I'm at 3200, really fast. This is dad, he was like crouched down and everybody was on top of him and they're like falling over and moving all over the place, ton of movement happening here. But I froze it. Froze it solid because it's really fast. 3200, so really fast shutter speed is gonna help with focus. You're gonna get your images in focus if you do that. Same thing. She's whipping her hair around, I love to use movement with hair, I have a thing for hair, and super fast shutter speed, 1250. Same, mom spinning her around. We were able to even freeze her hair in the air. And they were moving like constantly, right? Fast shutter speed, 3200. Okay, so the final little, this is the last technical thing we're gonna talk about, is aperture. It is no secret I love shooting wide open. I rarely, rarely close down more than 2.0, 2.5. And people will often say, "How do you get an entire group in focus "when you're that wide open?" And I know that that doesn't seem to make technical sense but here, if you think about it, my people are usually very close, we'll talk about that in a second, but I get everybody really close and so they're all in the same focal plain here, they're all on the same line. This is with my 135 as well, which is a pretty forgiving lens. I was far from them but. So everyone's in focus because they're all in that same plain. And then my shutter speed was probably pretty fast too. But sometimes, I do it on purpose. I only want part of the image to be in focus. I love it that the only thing that is really in focus is his face here, I love that dad has fallen soft. That is the point for me on this one. I think that a wide open aperture allows you to tell the viewer where you want them to look. So I am just showing, like this is it. This is what I want you to see. I want you to know that he's back there but this is where I want you to focus. So that's what a wide open aperture helps you to do. And sometimes I'll go even more wide. I'll go to 1.2 and this to me, when I do this, this is all wrong. Like there's people that are super technical that'll be like, "Oh my god "like this is not in focus "and you have all this stuff going on." I don't care. This feels like a memory to me. This is what, I have little girls, this is little girl hair that you just wanna remember that. And so I will open up all the way like this to make it be more soft, to make it feel a little bit more artistic, to make it a little bit more interesting. So I use aperture in that way.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Client FAQ Questions
Family Session Educational Experience
Family Session Prep Guide
Pricing Worksheet
Session Prep Example Email

Ratings and Reviews

Katie Rivers

This was a great class! So much great information packed into such a short amount of time. I also LOVE Elena Blair. I would love to meet her after taking this course. She is so confident and fearless in her work and that is so inspiring!

Brooke Emery

Student Work