My seven year old daughter studies the martial art taekwondo, the art of hands and feet. As with everything we do in our family it’s an all or nothing venture! The past few weeks in her private lessons, her instructor has been teaching her the importance of self correction. Self correction often is the difference of where you rank in competition.
This concept is true for so many things, but especially photography. We all know that learning to shoot better means less time spent in post processing. We typically associate that with proper camera settings, quality lighting, and right locations. There is a deeper aspect to correcting….the tiny details…..that if you address these while you shoot, will reduce the amount of time you spend editing each gallery.
My question for you is….
“Do you look while you shoot?”
It is so easy to get caught up in the art, the stunning lighting, your subject’s positioning, but are you taking time to zoom in on either past shots or your subject and really look? There are some things I keep an eagle eye out for now that have saved me so much editing time by fixing as I go. When I first started out in the photography business, I would get caught up in the flow of the shoot and if I saw something I would say, “oh, I’ll just fix it in post” because I didn’t want to stop my flow. Even if it is an easy fix, it still adds time spent in front of your computer. I love Photoshop and love learning new editing techniques, but I would much rather spend time with my family than editing or cloning, etc.
Below are some things I look for while I shoot…..
1. Bra straps
Most of the time, this is an easy fix in post, but again, at the shoot, it takes literally one second to pop it back in place. Set up the shot/pose, take it, then zoom in and look for this detail, correct it and shoot away!
I have a lot of high school female clients and this is something I keep an eagle eye out for because I know their moms are not going to want this. I want to make sure everything is appropriate. When working on styling with female clients, I caution them against wearing anything that is too low cut because when you are worried about everything hanging all out it really limits how much we can do with posing. Still though, tops just have a tendency to move, and while it can be highly annoying to have to keep pulling and adjusting while you shoot, just do it in order to save not only editing headaches but often times to save the shot itself.
3. Hair in the eyes and lips
This is a harder thing to catch, especially if your client has lighter colored hair. Cloning out hair typically is a simple task, but can be time consuming if there is a lot of it or if it goes across the eye. Jodi did a fabulous post recently on zooming in to your pictures before printing them as large canvases to check for details like this. It is an easy thing to miss even zoomed in on your camera display, so take a moment now and then to look at your client’s face and double check. This year has been an unusually windy one here in Texas and looking for stray hairs is something I have started to be on high alert for, because fixing something like this in post…. is annoying.
4. Locked elbows
This is a huge pet peeve of mine. When the elbows are locked, it creates a very awkward, unflattering line. It takes just a second for your client to slightly bend and can save your shot. Here is an example from a recent headshot session with a gorgeous singer…..locked vs unlocked.
Always keep a slight bend in the arm to maintain pleasing angles.
5. Fingers relaxed
This is something that is easy to miss but can break a shot if someone has their hands balled up looking tense or has their fingers at an awkward angle. My clients will hear me say dozens of times on a shoot, “relax your hands….relax your fingers”. My mantra for how I direct in a shoot is “candidly posed” so if the hands aren’t right it tends to lean us more toward the posed part of that rather than the candid! I did not say it on this shot…completely got distracted and missed it… and the client’s comment was, “I LOVE this…but I wish my hand wasn’t balled up!” ARGH!
Again, this is just a sampling of things I am on alert for while I shoot. I continue to add to my list. It’s no wonder I’m exhausted at the end of every session!! It’s worth it though because it saves me time in post, and time is precious!!
Angela Richardson is a portrait photographer from Dallas, TX who specializes in high school seniors and children. She loves vintage modern style and obsessively collecting antiques.
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