Lessons From My First Family Photo Session

Hey guys! This post has been a long time coming. It is going to be all about my first photography session, that happens to be a family sesh, that I’ve done in years. I’ve been photographing friends and family plenty but amid this COVID-19 crisis, I’ve been able to find some time to safely offer portrait and family sessions to people in my community. It’s a great way for me to get back into the game and brush off some of the dust.

I have to admit, this post is going to be pretty humbling. So often I would see photos by other photographers and think to myself oh, I can do that, no problem. Well Skyler, think again. Every photo shoot I do is another reminder of how far I have to go. But it’s also a reminder of how far I’ve come. 🙂 I’m still searching for that confidence and consistency in my work and know the only way I’ll find it is to put in the work, get out there, and shoot some photos!

Before photo sessions I always do a lot of preparation. I tell my client what to wear and what to bring. I watch videos about how to pose and direct people. I pin photos of my favorite poses on Pinterest. I prepare my gear and maybe even practice with the lens I’ll be using the day of, just to make sure there are no quirky settings I missed before I get to the shoot. I get to the location at least a half hour early and scout spots with the best lighting scenario. I do all this and still, STILL make so many silly mistakes. insert emoji of woman with palm on forehead

But it’s ok! That’s what it’s all about, right? Trial and error. You practice, review, take notes, and try to make improvements the next time.

Needless to say, I was a bit nervous about the session. Thankfully I lucked out and was able to work with the most wonderful, kind, and relaxed family. It was an honor to take their family portraits, and I promise to do an even better job next time. 😀

A few notes I made for myself while editing this photo shoot..oh gosh, it’s so long. Oh well, Skyler, oh well. Practicing humility here. Haha,

•Posing – and this was something I thought I was prepared for! I’ll admit having to remind 6+ feet away makes it a little bit difficult because you can’t move your subjects. This means I need to improve my verbal directions.

•Get everyone on the same plane. I was on a higher F-stop than I usually would use, F4.0, only because I was using a zoom lens and that was the lowest I could make it. Normally I would use my Canon 50mm, F2.4, but considering the 6+ foot distance, I opted for my zoom lens instead.

•Back up! I was becoming static and kept moving closer and closer. I should have kept my lens at 50mm and moved by body backwards and forwards to get those wide, then medium, then close ups.

•White balance – this is maybe harder to notice since I edited the photos. But I clearly was not paying close enough attention. I set my balance using Kelvin at the beginning and then kept forgetting to adjust throughout.

•Get creative with my framing! When I’m shooting photos for other people, I always tell myself start traditional and then get more creative as time moves on. Well, when times moved on, I forgot to think more creatively.

Things I thought I did well were gathering a large variety of photos and taking advantage of those in between moments. The lighting was ok. Some locations were better than others. I think I need to take a chill pill and take a chance sometimes with my lighting scenarios. I was so focused on finding the exact spot for optimal lighting that made me overthink finding locations. Taking suggestions was actually really helpful. It forced me to think on my feet and work with different lighting scenarios. It sort of reminded me of the time I was teaching English in Huê´, Vietnam. Sometimes activities within your lesson plan don’t work out like you’d like them to. Or sometimes they take 5 minutes instead of 10. Suddenly you’re left with 20 minutes at the end of the class period and are forced to improvise. IMPROVISE?! It’s a little terrifying at first but I got pretty good at it by the end, that’s for sure. Photo shoots are definitely filled with lots of improvisation. I look forward to the future me, when I can look back at the old, current me, and be like oh Skyler, there’s so much you have yet to learn. 🙂

Please enjoy a few of my favorites from their photo shoot.

Until next time,


May 20, 2020

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