Another Engagement Photo Shoot

My last photo shoot session was in May with Kayla and Craig, who are getting married next April. Last week’s shoot with Liz and Travis was somewhat unique in that they are already married. They went from engaged to married quicker than they had originally planned and had to skip all the wedding planning and things that go along with it – like engagement photos. I still label this an engagement session out of simplicity, but it’s more of a just because/renewal/couples session. This session took place in Bloomington (the first time I’ve ever actually been there, yay) at Olivery Winery and Indiana University campus.

Here are some of my favorites. First, Oliver Winery:

The bokeh in a few of these shots is bordering on distracting in my opinion. We were in a shaded area underneath trees, so I wonder if the bright light coming in around the little leaves is what caused it? It still looks pretty good, but in a few shots I discarded, it started getting a little distracting. I had the aperture as far open as it goes on my 50 for this shot, so hm.

Lots of sun-saturated photos, as this shoot took place in the late evening as the sun was setting. I used no flash, off camera or otherwise. I like how they turned out as this look is very much in style right now, but I do need to invest in a flash setup at some point. I did use a reflector.

Utilizing some pretty strong back lighting. Probably have to be pretty careful with that, it could become unflattering very easily. But in these shots, it ended up pretty good.

Some pretty interesting bokeh going on here..

Moving on to IU campus, this was taken in front of the building where Liz will finish her degree. Did some very minor skin softening in Photoshop to enhance Liz’s already great skin. Direct sunlight at this time of day can bring out details on the face that aren’t really true to how a client looks. I think it turned out great. I’ve seen a lot of images posted from weddings and such of Facebook friends and their faces are airbrushed to oblivion. It astounds me that people pay for that kind of horrid work.

The Sample Gates at IU at sunset. They’re overlooking the street where they met. This was one of the only images shot with the kit 18-55mm. I needed to be wider than the 50 would allow. I do wish I had grabbed one shot with them more in the negative space of the sky, but I’m not sure I could have done it without digging a hole into the ground.

You can see what I mean here..I was completely on the ground here. I should have had them closer to me here for a shot. Oh well.

I wanted to try a shot with their figures in the foreground and keep a majority of the background in focus too, so this was shot at f/20. It’s hard to open the aperture all the way in direct sunlight.

To compare, this was shot at f/5.6.

Anyway, I was pretty happy with this shoot. It’s hard to not be happy with your shots when you have the golden hour working in your favor. I have never shot in a situation where the light was changing so constantly before, so I got some great experience dealing with that and I felt like I did a good job managing it. I stuck with aperture priority mode for a lot of the IU campus shots, and it seemed to do well for me.

I also got the opportunity to apply things I’ve learned from previous shoots. One thing I’d like to work on is having a go-to list of poses in my bag in case we aren’t sure what to do. From working with photographers in the past, I know everyone kind of hits that point where you aren’t exactly sure what to do next and it develops organically again. I would just personally like to minimize that kind of thinking time so I can maximize the time that the client gets pictures taken of them.

The other thing I want to continually work on is fluency in camera operation. It’s sort of like language fluency. When you learn Spanish, you have to translate back and forth in your head at first, and then eventually you just understand it without that processing intermediate step. I have to think too hard about why I’m changing certain settings and I want to get to a point where I just do it. This will come with practice and continued experience. It doesn’t especially hinder me now in portrait sessions (I’m not exactly slow at changing settings, I just want to be even *better*) but I seek fluency for shooting events.

As far as gear goes, I definitely need to add a faster lens to the mix. The 50mm f/1.8 is amazing especially for the price, but I found it would lose focus too much as the sun changed. I switch between AF and MF depending on what I’m doing, and at times the focus would be slow with either. I really like shooting with prime lenses, but I do need to add another zoom lens to the collection. I’m doing well with what I have (“it’s not about the camera/lenses, it’s what you do with them”), but I think these lenses would help me to tell stories.

And when it comes to style, I’m still developing it. I personally think of myself as a realist. I like capturing people in realistic ways – no studio shots, not a lot of staunch poses. I don’t do a lot of sepia-toned images, over-processing (unless a single shot might be fun in a certain way I suppose), and definitely no spot color. I like capturing things in a photojournalistic style which is great since that’s “in” right now. As a video producer, I have a strongest connection to creating documentaries, observing people, and capturing humanity as it is. Style continues to emerge as a photographer works and shoots longer, but I know that mine lies in reality.

That being said, I’m getting closer to “prime time”, aka paid photography work. I feel like I’ve worked with enough people and got enough in my portfolio to start charging for work. I feel like there is a total stigma for calling yourself a photographer because everybody and their brother with a DSLR seems to take an artsy picture, make it black and white, and slap it on a “so and so photography” Facebook page. I’ve been taking photos for a long time and I’ve gotten some intentional good photographs with a point and shoot, continuing to build myself upwards to professional photography. I should probably build a page off this site for photography examples to start. I’ve gotten solicitations in the last week to do another couples shoot, a child shoot, and a glamor shoot, so hopefully at least one of those will pan out and give me more to work with. I would also really like to second-shoot a wedding with an established photographer.

It’s definitely been very interesting to apply my video skills to photography. I feel like I post-process photos very quickly since I’m an editor and I’m used to moving quickly through decision-making. Anyway, I’ve been examining the EXIF data from this shoot in an attempt to figure out where I could have improved and why I made the decisions I did. I’d like to make the next shoot awesome too.