A couple months ago, I bought a camera. And then I did my first photography gig and dedicated a blog post to it. Since then, I’ve filled up my weekends doing photography shoots with friends so I could get some experience under my belt. I had a goal to do 10 shoots by the end of the year. Similar to my first shoot, I had planned to do a blog post per shoot, but I didn’t anticipate is the amount of time editing takes on the back-end. Before I knew it, I had a ton of photos and no blog posts. So, I’ve decided to group them into this one post with a couple highlights from what I learned from each one. So here we go starting with my second gig and beyond . . .
Gig #2: Nina – Teaching & Tarot Night
Nina is a local health coach who occasionally hosts a small group at her place where she pulls tarot cards and incorporates that into her overall health message. I knew an event-type of shoot would be a good chance to catch candid moments of several people.
What I learned: Nina’s apartment had a wall of windows, so I learned how sun shining in changes the look of a photo compared to later in the event when the sun had gone down. I also learned that a wide lens is better than telephoto in a small space. I later learned I needed a better editing tool if I was going to take this photography thing seriously. And while it doesn’t seem all that exciting — I learned how I wanted to store, organize, and share my photos too.
Gig #3 – Three Oaks Vineyard
A former coworker/friend owns Three Oaks Vineyard in Granville, OH. I ventured out to the winery to take photos she could potentially use on marketing materials and her website.
What I learned: If an event is going on for 3-ish hours, you’re probably going to overshoot. I hung around the winery for a few hours and when I uploaded the photos I was a bit overwhelmed on where to start when editing. I also learned that taking photos when people are eating probably won’t catch the right moments. Lastly, I learned to have your camera ready at all times, because, sometimes, a random slow dance will start and you’ll be glad you caught it.
Gig #4 – Jen Frabott & Crew
This shoot was with one of my best friends, Jen, who has done some modeling for Zulily before (so she’s very comfortable in front of the camera) to take headshots of her fiancé for his business, engagement photos of the two of them, and then some photos with her kids too.
What I learned: If someone has some modeling experience, it makes it so much easier to photograph them because they naturally move into positions that seem natural but turn into the perfect pose. This was also my first time shooting kids, so I learned that catching the silly moments between shots made for some of my favorite photos. I also learned that Creekside in Gahanna makes for a great photoshoot location.
Gig #5 – My Sister & Her Friends
I drove to Miami University to take photos of my sister (Sydney) and her roommates. A college campus makes for a great location for photos!
What I learned: Playing music when you’re doing a shoot can make everyone, myself included, feel a little more loosened up. Being prepared with prompts of what to do helps the people you’re shooting. A group of friends in their natural state can be a really fun shoot. And lastly, I learned that I needed a real camera bag that provides more support on my shoulders and hips than the bookbag I was toting around (I bought a new bag right after this shoot).
Gig #6 – Sarah Harste – Weaving Workshop
Similar to Nina’s event, I attended one of Sarah Harste’s workshops to get some more experience shooting events. It was a three-hour class, of which I decided to attend for an hour and a half based on my learnings from overshooting at the Three Oaks Vineyard shoot.
What I learned: Color is fun! Sarah had everyone working with very colorful yarn which made for a fun backdrop. I also learned to just get comfortable moving people’s water bottles or things out of the way. Ideally, you’d shoot full-blown candids of real situations, but if there’s a water bottle or someone’s bag in the way of “the perfect shot,” just simply ask if you can move it. This was also my first time using lightroom to edit . . . so that was a learning in itself.
Gig #7 – My Mom
I took some photos of my mom early-on when I got the camera, but this time we ventured out for a real shoot at Inniswood Metro Gardens.
What I learned: I would advise showing up to a new location about 45 minutes prior to the person you’re shooting so you can scope it out. It was homecoming weekend and the park was SO crowded, and on top of that, it was extremely hot and only felt hotter when both of us started roaming around looking for good spots to shoot. It would’ve been helpful if I would’ve had that planned out and could just tell my mom where to go. I also learned that giving prompts for people (e.g. telling them to make four different funny faces and then trying to capture their laugh at the end) would be more helpful than just “okay, now, laugh.” My mom also said I need to do a better job of telling people throughout a shoot that their photos look good so they’re not wondering what I’m thinking, and to avoid them starting to feel self-conscious.
Gig #8 – My Dad
I had won a free round of golf at Rattlesnake Golf Club, so I knew this would be the perfect opportunity to get photos of my dad doing the thing he loves most.
What I learned: If you shoot people while they do what they’re good at, they act the most natural. And, shooting the small details even if they don’t include someone’s face make for special photos. I also learned that having parents that are so supportive they’ll let you follow them around for hours to help you learn a new hobby is always something to be thankful for.
Gig #9 – Joe & Zach
I was excited to take some individual photos and photos together of my friends, Joe and Zach. With eight other shoots under my belt, I was catching my stride.
What I learned: Again, playing music helps the mood. A plain brick-wall or wood-wall is quickly becoming my brand of sorts when it comes to photo backgrounds — I just really like the simplicity of a candid shot in front of them. And again, I need to be more prepared with prompts for people who may not have “poses” in mind. I had a few (e.g. “walk towards me and tell the other person the top 5 cars you would buy if you had all the money in the world)” but I would be prepared with even more next time.
Gig #10 – The Weidner Family
This was going to be my first time shooting five people at one time — my friend Adriane, her husband, and their three kids.
What I learned: Based on what I had learned from the shoot with my mom, I went with a location I was familiar with and had areas I knew would be good for photos since I assumed the attention span for three kids may be short. I learned that taking multiple photos even when you think you got the shot is helpful, because with a family of five . . . . someone is bound to have their eyes closed. I learned that even when people show up for family photos, I personally think it’s always fun to get individual shots too. I also learned the joyous feeling when after a shoot you find out they actually printed and framed the photos the next day!
Gig #11 – Addison at the Pumpkin Patch
My friend Katie asked me to tag along with her family when they went to a local pumpkin patch to see if I could get some good candids of her daughter. She was my youngest model to date.
What I learned: Toddlers are wiggly. Using my telephoto lens and standing far away worked well so that she (and her parents) didn’t feel like they always had to look at the camera. I also learned that you have to keep the camera up and ready because you never know when tiny people decide they want to look your way and there’s not much time to get ready at that point. I continue to learn about focal points — for example, if you shoot a family standing in a corn field, you may accidentally find the corn is in focus and they’re blurry.
Gig #12 – Chelsea – Dress for Success
Chelsea asked me if I could take some photos of her with different accessories so that she could use them on marketing materials for work she’s doing with Dress for Success. The point of the shoot was to highlight accessories with less focus on Chelsea’s face/her . . . but, I took the opportunity to get some great ones of her too, you know, just for fun.
What I learned: I love doing fashion-related shoots. This gave me the ability to get some creative shots and crop/edit in different ways. I also continue to learn about how the sun plays a large part in your outdoor shoots. I shot this in aperture priority mode on my camera so I had to adjust halfway through when the sun started to go down, but I felt equipped based on what I learned in my photography classes.
So what’s next?
Well, I accomplished my goal of doing at least 10 photoshoots before the end of the year, and I have more set up in November. I am LOVING photography. I’m still figuring out my niche, but I lean toward portraits and candid moments vs. overly formal posed photos. I am still learning the art of shooting in manual or priority modes. And I am still getting a thrill when I see someone actually printed a photo I took or they’re actually using it on social media.
I am looking to get more into documentary-style photography, meaning, following someone for a few hours throughout an event or even their every day activities and piecing the photos together to tell the story of their behind-the-scenes moments. I will also be adding a tab (well, Chris will be adding a tab) on my website specific to photography. I’m also working through what packages/pricing would look like (even though I still have a lot to learn!) to spin this up as a real side/weekend-gig.
Thanks for all the support and for the friends who have served as models in my first ten (or 12!) shoots!