In-Home Shoot: Before the Session
Okay. We are about to start. You're going to see the live shoot that we did in the home. This is kind of the introduction. What I'm going to do is it's going to take you through. We're going to walk through the house, and I'm going to kind of show you my process on what I look for when I'm going through homes, and then we're going to talk about it for a little bit. Okay? Alright. Hey, guys. We're here in Seattle. We're about to go inside and do a newborn lifestyle session. This little baby is 11 days old. She's so cute. Wait 'til you see her rolls. They have a little two and a half year old little boy, so we're going to do some sibling shots, some mom shots, some dad shots, family shots. We're going to teach you how to do low light situations, situations when it's way too bright outside because it's really, really bright in there in some locations. We have some crazy color casts going on, so we're going to teach you how to work with color casts. We're also going to teach you how to sho...
ot with possibly, we're going to see how it goes with the dog. They do have a Weimaraner. So let's go on in and check it out. We're going to walk through the home right now. We're going to move everything we need to move. We're going to get lighting ready. We're going to pick which room we're going to shoot in, so I'm going to have you follow me around. This is the front of the house. This window faces east and it's about 9:30 a.m. ish right now, so it's super bright in here. As you can see, we have really strong light coming in here and we need to soften this light. Harsh light is just, is difficult to shoot in as dark light. Dark light, no light. So we're going to go ahead and lower these sheers if we can, or the shades if we can until that goes away. So we're going to lower it just enough. I think that's probably good. So let's lower all of them so they're the same distance. That's good. Okay. So this room in here, this is mom and dad's room. Typically, we shoot a lot in the master bedroom because it has the biggest bed. But as you can see, it's pretty dark in here. So what we're going to do is we're going to do some directional lighting techniques in here. I'm going to show you how to shoot some good black and white images in here in the darker master bedroom, okay? If we can, there's some things in here that we're not going to want in the picture such as the mamaroo. So if we could take the mamaroo somewhere. Maybe put her in the bathroom?
Thank you. Okay, so this is big brother's room. This room faces west and south. It's perfect light right now. And I'm afraid the longer we wait if we're on the west side, we're going to have more of that really strong lighting. So we're going to start in here. We're going to do all the baby shots in here. We're going to do the sibling shots. We're going to do the dog shots. We actually may do some family stuff in here too, okay? We're good to go. There is also another bedroom, the master bedroom, which was not shown in this video. The master bedroom was dark. I mean, we are talking night time dark. There was a window at the top of their bedroom that was about three feet wide by about two feet high, and we spent a good amount of time in there with mom because I wanted to teach you guys how to shoot in low light so you guys will see that. The camera crew made that back bedroom. It's just good ISO on the camera film crew, a lot brighter than it actually was. So it looked a lot brighter in that video than it actually was. So I'm going to show you as well how that works. A little bit back to this lens really quick, the wide angle lens. Remember we talked about having the 24 millimeter and the fish eye? The wide angle lens really tells a story, okay? It's a really good storytelling lens. You don't need to worry about distorting the edges as much because you're storytelling. The people tend to be in the center, okay? It helps you work in tight spaces, okay? If you're in a really, really tight space, that's where that 24 millimeter is going to come in handy. The 24 millimeter lens is also amazing for standing over the baby and families because there's many times where I get up on the family's bed. Watch for fans because sometimes they're on. And (laughing) I always ask that. It's a really good point though. And so you stand over the baby, okay? Or stand over the family. You don't want to have a really tight lens on 'cause you're going to be like this, okay? 'Cause you get really comfortable with your families. You have to get pretty close. So the 24 millimeter lens is wonderful for that. Same with the crib shot. And then the pullbacks. All of the pullback shots that you see me do are either with the 35 or the 24 millimeter lens, okay? That's what those wide angle lenses are really good for. Okay, before you start a session. When we enter the client's home, you just saw what I did. We walk through, okay? And that was cut short. Typically we walk through and it takes a good, probably 15 to 20 minutes. Allow yourself to walk through a client's home because while you're walking through the client's home, what I want you to do is start thinking about moving furniture. You need to have dad or mom with you when you're walking through the home and ask them, "Hey, can you move this couch "because it's kind of in the way of the light?" Or, "Could we move this couch over here "because it's blue and amazing, "and I want to use it, but it's dark over here." So there's times where we actually are shifting furniture in the home and you need to make sure that you allow time for that, okay? I always ask the clients to take photos during the time of the day, so we can, you know, we can plan on shooting that. And we talked about that a little bit earlier in the class. What that does is it helps when you're going through the home because you're familiar with those images already, you're familiar with the rooms that you've already seen. Okay? While scouting the rooms, I am looking for things that are cool, okay? And we're going to go into this in detail. Elements of the room. If they've traveled somewhere and they have something. If you see something on the wall that looks pretty eclectic and it looks like it might be important to them, ask them. There's so many times I've been like hey, that's so neat. Did you get that somewhere? Where did that come from? And they'll say, "You know, we took a trip to Africa "right before we got pregnant." I'm like, oh, should we use that? That sounds like it something's important to you. Would you like to use this in your photo? What that does is it helps with telling the story, okay? So you're storytelling. You want to actually tell the story of the family, okay? That's part of the family. Heirlooms are part of the family. I'm going to show you some examples of that, okay? I watch for light streaks within windows. You saw that first window. It was so bright, okay? We did this on purpose. Everything was done on purpose for teaching purposes. If this were a real life shoot, I would not have photographed that family in their home at 9:00 a.m. With an east facing window, okay? Way too bright, way too bright. Not only is it hard on the skin tones. You can blow your mid tones, you know, everything on your highlights, everything on skin. You're going to have windowpane lines coming though, right? So that is way too bright. So if you have a home that is an east west facing home, and we talked about this earlier in the class, you need to make sure that you start it closer to about 11 or noon, okay? Where you have the even lighting coming in falling off the sides of the house, okay? Very important to remember 'cause we had a tricky time in that room. You're going to see, they use that greenish paint on the wall so they're a little bit green skin toned, okay? Normal, it happens. This happens in real life. We're going to show you how to deal with it. So what I did was I pulled down the shades. They didn't have sheers, they had shades. So then what happened? It made it too dark. So then I had to crank my ISO. So I made an executive decision. Do I crank my ISO or do I have extremely harsh lighting? And these are situations that we run into in homes, okay? This is why we picked this home. Anybody can shoot in light, and bright, and airy, and beautiful. It's difficult when we have really harsh light, low light, and walls that make you green, right? And it happens. It's normal, okay? So we're going to go over it and how to do all of this stuff. Okay. Moving furniture, we talked about that. We also need to think about deciding the shoot based on siblings, okay? We're going to enter this home. You need to read how is the sibling doing? Does he need a nap? Sometimes you know, things don't go as planned. The 9:00 a.m. nap didn't happen and he's crabby. And mom decided, you know, I'll just keep him up for the shoot. You need to decide. Should we do him fast so we get that part done? Maybe you should put him down for a nap. Don't worry. I'm going to be here for two and a half, three hours. You weren't really planning on it, but you will now, right? Because we've left our whole day open. We've talked about that. Leave your day open for troubleshooting. This is all troubleshooting. Don't let it stress you out. Don't let that stress mom out, okay? Say put him down for a nap, it's fine. I was planning on being here anyways. Let's shoot at the end with the sibling and we'll make it happen, okay? I would rather you have a happy two year old than us trying to document something that you're not going to want to document, okay? Okay. Make sense? Any of you have any questions on this before you start the session? Yeah.
Dorothy Renoylds asked do you have two camera bodies so that you don't have to switch lenses? Do you ever do that?
I do, but you know, the pace of a newborn session is so slow and controlled. I'm not finding that I really need to do that. I have two there, but I rarely feel like I have to do that. I rarely take off my 35 millimeter. And when I do, it's for the 24 or for specific situations. And those are things that are planned and set up, okay?
And one more from Imagine Forever who is wondering about the 24 to 72.8. So is that a lens that can get enough low light? Because it does go to 2.8.
So I don't know what the aperture is on that one. To 2.8? So 2.8 is not a very low aperture number. So you know, the depth of field, remember? It gets longer so you get more in focus, but the hole is smaller. Aperture means hole. So 2.8 is kind of borderline, in my opinion. If you're going to get a really good lens, you're better off getting a prime non-zoom lens or spending money on a really good zoom lens that can get an aperture below 1.8 or lower, is what I recommend. Okay? Okay, rooms to shoot in. The master bedroom. We tend to shoot in the master bedroom because the beds are the biggest. That's pretty much what it comes down to. However, what happens when the master bedroom's dark, which happens probably 50% of the time in my cases? We try to find a different room to shoot in that has a lot of light. But when we're talking to parents and we're planning sessions, we're talking about this. And if the master bedroom is a place that they really, really love, and they really want to photograph in the master bedroom, we make sure that we come to their home at a time of the day when the master bedroom is well illuminated. If they're just okay about their master bedroom but really want the nursery, and the nursery's on the other side of the house, you know? Or maybe the master bedroom's on a west wall and maybe the nursery's on a north wall, and you're there in the morning. In the morning, west rooms will not be dark but the nursery's illuminated because it's a south or north facing wall, that's okay. Do the master bedroom shots somewhere else. You have to let all of these things go. We have in our minds we're gonna get the family shot on the bed, we're gonna get the family and the dog with the bed. It's okay. People have couches, okay? Let go of the master bedroom idea if it doesn't work out, and it doesn't work out sometimes. It depends on what's going on. Sometimes parents take all of their stuff from all the over rooms and shove it in the master bedroom. And that was the room you really wanted 'cause it was beautiful, but it's too late now 'cause it's full of stuff. So you have to learn to go with the flow, okay? And find another light source that's going to work for you. The nursery. Some parents have nurseries set up already before the baby, some don't, okay? These are all things that you need to talk about with your client before your arrive, okay? Sibling's rooms. I love going into sibling rooms because it makes the sibling feel special, okay? Sibling rooms tend to have stuff, right? Toys, things on the wall. Typically more than a new nursery does. There are some moms that are super planners and have these gorgeous Pinterest nurseries, you know? But not everybody, okay? This is not realistic. Everybody ask me, "But my house doesn't look like that "in your portfolio." People don't realize that was one wall in their whole house that looked like that, okay? That's not their whole house. They just decorated one wall, okay? And we used it 'cause we were searching for cool spots in the home, okay? So you're storytelling. It's your job to find these cool elements and make it look cooler than they think it is, right? 'Cause none of us thinks our homes are that cool, but photographers, you can make it appear that way. Sibling rooms. So back to sibling rooms. Remember we talked about when you arrive at the home, you get the sibling. Hey, little man. You want to go show me your bedroom? I want to see what your favorite toys are. And we go in there and you see what's their favorite toy? My son Zachary has a bunny. Bunny will be part of the family for life. Bunny is in all of our family pictures, and he's important. If that little sibling has bunny, or has whatever, a lovey, ask mom, "Hey, could we keep bunny or lovey in the picture because that's part of your son." More likely than not, they're going to say yes. You don't want to take those things from an 18 month old for multiple reasons, right? But if you ask the mom. I feel like many parents are concerned about having those things in photos, right? Pacifiers, I try to get rid of, 'cause nobody wants a pacifier in a picture, unless we're calming and it's part of the story, right? But if there's a lovey for a sibling during the session, use it, okay? A lot of times, you can have them use. Hey, can you take bunny and have bunny kiss your sister? You know? Those type of things. And that's a story, okay? Bunny literally is in all of my family pictures. The family room. The family room tends to be another place that has a lot of light. However, the family room tends to be on one side of the house opposite of the bedrooms. I've just found this to be true. More of a reason during your planning stages and on that questionnaire that we talked about that we send your clients, okay? Which rooms are important to you? So after you see all of these things, you make your phone call to your client. Okay, so I see that there's four rooms. They're all important to you. One is north, one is south, one is west, and one is east, right? 'Cause that's life. Why would anything be easy? So you have a conversation with your client. What are the most important rooms to shoot in? Then you make your decision on timing based on those rooms. Okay? The kitchen. I am a sucker for a fun kitchen because I like to do activities. Remember, we talked about creating activities. The kitchen is a wonderful place, and I'll show you some examples to bring a bathtub into. The kids, the newborn bath. You can do a newborn bath in the sink, right? We're creating activities. Actions cause reactions, okay? The baby's going to cry or be happy depending on how warm the water is and depending on the baby, okay? Those are things you need to photograph. Has the family done a bath with the child yet. Maybe not. Wonderful, let's document that. That's a first memory. We're telling your story, okay? That's for the kitchen. Any of you have any questions on this? Why do you think that I chose this particular room? The blue chair, right? And it was a nursery. But this, you know. The blue chair. I'm a sucker for blue things apparently. Question?
Yeah, question from Billy. Would you ever ask to move that parent's pretty white bedding onto big brother's bed, for example, since there's nothing identifying that it's necessarily a sibling room? Or would you just leave it as it is?
100% yes. This is actually a really good question. I'm going to back up to that a little bit. A lot of parents will say, "Oh, I love my bedroom "but I hate my bedspread." It's like neon yellow or something. No problem! I have a white comforter that I bring, okay? So I bring those things to people's houses, too. Step one, if they ask me to, have a white comforter. You can never have too many things that are white 'cause white's neutral, okay? Pack up on swaddles. And remember, I showed you earlier in the show about the stretchy, the jersey knit swaddles. Bring those, okay? Bring a pair of white pants 'cause white can go on boy or girl, okay? These are things you can stock up on. And go and buy a white comforter, or a white comforter cover. The problem with white comforter covers is if you have a neon yellow bedspread, it's not going to work. Now, for the sibling rooms, if there's a sibling room that makes it so it's not identifying and they don't like the sibling bedspread, absolutely we move bedspreads. But if they do have siblings, we tend to do the sibling shots with the sibling bedspread. Right? To keep it siblingish. Then move the white bedspread on there for family shots. But that's up to them, you know, what you want. If you have something that's not going to photograph well, make that decision as a photographer and just let them know it's not going to photograph well.
Clarify again for Michelle Gould and other folks. Can you talk a little bit more about how you solve which rooms, which directions rooms are facing, which are ideal, what times those are ideal, especially if you haven't been to the house. How again do you go through that process?
Okay, so let's think about it. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west, okay? So if you have east west facing house which are the most difficult homes to shoot in, you are going to have extremely harsh lighting in the morning, and you are going to have extremely harsh lighting in the afternoon, okay? So if you have a home and they want to shoot on the west side of the house, what is it going to be in the morning? Dark, okay? You're not going to have enough light. So that's completely how I base this off of. How the sun rises and how the sun sets, essentially. Okay?
You're welcome. Alright, using unique elements in the home. Look for pops of color. You will notice within all of my images, there are pops of color, pops of cool things going on. And these are things that a lot of times as a photographer you feel may be distracting, typically, in an image when we're trying to get a pretty, beautiful picture. Remember, real can still be beautiful? They're not distracting. They're part of the story. This particular image, I wanted to use this because this was a quilt that her grandmother had made her when she was a baby, when mom was a baby. They had it framed and they put it over this wall over here and it had a diaper changing thing underneath it. Look what I did, okay? I asked her when I got there. This shoot was just, actually, like not that long ago. This was a pretty recent shoot. Hey, that's a really neat quilt. Is that yours or is that the baby's? Was that made? She's like, oh, that was actually my grandma made that for me. I'm like, "How would you like to use this in a picture?" She's like, "That would be amazing. "It's so important to me." Her grandmother's passed, and you know, it was an amazing thing. I'm like, okay, so can we move your chair over there? You know? 'Cause we're moving furniture because we're telling the story. Because I wanted to get a cool element in her home as part of the photo, okay? So find things that represent the families. Another example. We were walking downstairs in the main area and she had visited, I think it was Hawaii, when she was pregnant. And they had purchased these things to represent the baby. And they'd hung it on the wall in the family room in this random spot. I mean, you would never have thought about photographing there. And I happened to ask her because I'm always asking what these things are. You know, you need to be interested in your clients, but you need to be interested in the cool things on their walls for photography reasons, and we used it, okay? So always be asking these things. Family heirlooms, all those things. So just ask, you might be surprised. Okay? Letting go of perfection. When you stop posing, anything can happen, okay? Big sister may only hold the baby one time and it might be when you're changing something up, right? Always, this always happens. You've been trying to get the sibling to cooperate. And you see the baby, you know, dad with the sibling and the sibling's over there patting the baby laying on the couch. Stop what you're doing. Get over there and get the picture. It might not be the perfect setup. It might not be what your vision had entailed because that's what you had, like, seen on Instagram, and that's the shot you wanted for your portfolio. Let it go, okay? Go over there and get that shot. Mom was standing here. It's a little bit side lit and it's fine with me. The baby's eyes weren't as illuminated as I wanted, but it was enough, and it was fine, and he was looking at me. This was like an 11 pound baby. Cutest thing ever. It's not perfect. Parents don't care, okay? That being said, you don't want to lose your professional eye and get rid of exposure and composition. Do your best. You can still see an unperfect situation and still follow some rules, okay? So I know I'm a rule breaker, but don't become unprofessional either. Does that make sense? There's a very thin line on, you know, you still need to be a photographer, okay? So still always be thinking about your exposure and composition. Always remember to capture the entire scene, too, everything going on around the room. What if you forgot to move the diaper container and something amazing was happening right there by the changing table? Typically, there's the changing table and the diaper thingamajiggy, right? Which we have typically moved out of the room, but we're human, and we forget to move some things sometimes. Don't worry about it. When I teach my small group workshops, people always ask do you clone that out in Photoshop? No, no, no, no. Parents don't care. You can crop in a little bit if you need to, if you can, to get rid of it. But if it's not totally distracting from the story, let it go. Let go of all of that perfection. I edit primarily in Lightroom, and I'll pull into Photoshop to patch tool some things. If I need anything fixed, if baby has crazy acne. I don't soften skin on lifestyle shoots. I don't do any of that. But some babies, you know, because we are shooting the lifestyle sessions closer to a month old, two to four weeks, baby acne can kind of erupt and it always tends to happen the day before you arrive, always, 'cause that's life. Then I'll do some patch work in Photoshop. But I am not one to clone things out unless it's completely ruining the photo, okay? So let it go. Let go of that perfection and you're going to be a lot happier with your photo shoots. Okay? On the same note of letting go of perfection, capture everything. This little guy, he's a boy. He wouldn't stay still. This was literally, we tried for an hour. This happens to me, too. I love this family to pieces. We tried for an hour to get him to be anywhere near his new baby, and I'm going to show you a progression of shots on how we did this in a little bit. But finally, this is a tent. I'm like we need to confine this child. He needs to be confined. I told mom, I'm like, this is at the end of the day, I'm like, I just want one. We have to do it. So let's find some place we confine him. So we put him in a tent. I laid the baby down. I threw him in the back of the tent because I knew he was going to be crawling out at me as you can see he was doing, and we got the shot. And so after we got it, I was like oh, thank the lord. And mom's like, did you get it? I'm like, we got it! Forever. And this is normal, okay? Let it go. It's not the perfect shot. He's not holding the baby. The baby was yelling at me. Like, it was crazy, and it was unpredictable, and that's okay because this is real and we're telling the story, okay? Does anyone have any questions with that?
I do have a question from Billy. How do you prepare families to limit the number of cool things that they want in photographs? Sometimes the list is so long that if you were to shoot it all, you wouldn't have time to do what you normally do. Do you run into that?
Yeah, I mean that's a really good question 'cause that's something that you can actually put into your questionnaire. Is there anything specific in your home that you want photographed? And they're not going to think of these things. They're not going to think of the heirloom quilt. So while you're walking around, just don't make too many suggestions. More perfection. Parents love the imperfect of their family, so when you don't pose, you're shooting for moments, okay? So just kind of wrap that up, alright? Alright, we're going to head to my workflow. Varies per family. Do siblings need time warming up? Okay, sessions vary. It totally depends when I get there. Is mom feeding the baby when you arrive? We talked about telling mom, oh, try to feed the baby before you get there. But as you know and as we saw earlier while we were shooting live here, baby had just eaten 20 minutes prior. But as soon as we started moving baby, baby wanted to eat, you know? So you just need to go with the flow, okay? And I tell parents what to do before I get there, but I also tell parents when I get there it's probably not going to happen. You know? And that we're going to to flexible and everything's gonna be okay, okay? So is dad ready? So this was a shot. This was during a lifestyle session of mine, a newborn lifestyle session. And I wanted to show this because when I got there, baby was having a hard day, which happens, right? And you get there and you're like, oh, this is going to be a long session. But it was fine, the baby was just having some reflux. And dad's a physician. They know all this, so they weren't stressed out about it. So in the meantime, I'm like, you know what? Let's go play in the bed. You and dad want to go play in the bed? And we got some lifestyle shots, right? Cute. Dad hugging daughter. You can do that. Don't feel like your whole session has to be just the baby, okay? Parents will appreciate this 'cause they feel like they're getting two shoots in one. You know? But really, you're just kind of helping fill your gallery a little bit, right? And you're capturing some fun moments. What this does is this makes them want to book you again for a family shoot, okay? More often than not when I'm photographing a newborn lifestyle session, I am photographing all the time. Just because baby's eating doesn't mean I'm gonna go sit there and text people on my phone, and just sit in the corner waiting for mom to be done. I know people who have done it, okay? Don't do that. Go capture what's happening around the house. Have dad interact with the sibling. And more often than not, I've had people book me. They're like, I love those family shots you did. Can we do another family shoot? Sure. (laughing) Right? 'Cause it was on purpose, okay? The flow. We're going to start going into the flow here for a minute, then I'm going to go over the shot list, and then we're going to go into the next video. Family shots. This is what I aim for in my brain which happens probably 40% of the time. Family shots first. It tends to warm everybody up. Baby shots. More often than not, I get there and baby shots happen first just 'cause that's just life. Mom shots, dad shots, and sibling shots. The reason that mom shots come in this particular spot is because I'll have dad take the sibling away to give them a break after our family shots. So we have sibling in the family, right? We're like, okay dad, why don't you go feed him some snacks? Why don't you go play with Johnny? I'm going to go ahead and do some baby pictures and I'm going to do mom shots. I'll call you back when I need you, okay? Number one, it gives dad a job 'cause dads need jobs. Number two, it gives sibling a break, okay? So I never put sibling shots and family shots together unless things are going like perfectly, which isn't the case typically because most toddlers with a new baby are two.