The look he gave her the moment he laid his eyes on her for the first time the day they became husband and wife, the laugh she let out when he put his nose to her ear. These were just a few of the sights and sounds of Arthi and Andrew’s wedding. The vows they exchanged under a tree at the La Jolla Bridge Club were personal and touching and brought a tear to their parents eyes as they sat in the front row watching with admiration.
Their story started a few years back when a friend of Andrew’s, working a museum event, helped get the two of them within speaking distance by serving Andrew next to where Arthi was standing. They hit it off in that moment and from there set into motion a relationship that would lead to their intimate wedding in La Jolla.

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I hope you all enjoyed my tips last week regarding capturing real emotion from your clients during a shoot. Those were just the tip of the iceberg! I hope you are all ready to digest even more capturing real emotion tips!

1. Let the kids be kids- This one obviously is specific to family sessions. I think that the best, most memorable and cutest images come from when you let the kids be themselves. I know that parents want their kids to behave in these situations and I understand that. I know everyone wants the photo of everyone smiling that you can give to Grandma and put in a frame. However, I’m a huge advocate of just documenting the kids running around, playing with sticks and just having an overall good time. These photos will show their personality and reflect who they were at that age.

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As photographers, professional and hobbyist alike, we all strive to document that true laugh, joy, love, sweetness etc. that exist at every shoot we have the pleasure of being a part of. These hints I’m going to share with you can be applied to any shoot you are doing that involves people, and heck maybe even animals if you feel so inclined. My main focus is couples and families so they are tailored to that but take them and apply them to your own shoots.
I make it my job (since it is) to make every client I work with as comfortable as possible at a shoot, and here are some of the top 4 ways I go about that:

1. Take the pressure off For the photographer this means being as prepared as possible going into the shoot. Know where your shooting, what spots you want to hit, and also know your gear. It’s like that feeling you get before a test you studied your butt off for vs. the one you spent 20 minutes before class studying. You will obviously go into the one you studied for longer more prepared and more confidante. This confidence will allow you and your clients to feel at ease, and allow for true emotion to shine through.

2. Acknowledge why your all there and see how your clients are feeling– I like to call it out right then and there. I say something like “hey we’re just here to have fun, I know it can be a bit awkward but you know what FORGET that and let’s rock it out!” You can of course put that in your own words. I feel this much like #1 also takes the pressure off. I also like to ask my clients how they’re feeling, gauge where they’re at, and let them know it’s ok to be nervous but that I’m not there to judge anyone I’m there to give them a heck of a good time

3. Start with a telephoto lens– This is a pretty simple concept. It allows you to not be all up in your clients business with a 50mm standing over them when they first start the shoot. This will help them warm up to it without throwing them into the deep end….you feel me? We together? Good let’s continue…

4. Engage/interact/converse/encourage– Ok you caught me I did jam a bunch of verbs into this on to try to disguise it as one, I’m outta control I blame the Red Bull I just drank. Engage- ask questions get to know your wonderful clients, interact- respond to them don’t be afraid to be yourself and fully allow and encourage your clients to do the same, converse- have a dialogue it will put everyone more at ease if there is some rapport going on, and why wouldn’t you want to find out more about the people you are photographing ya know? Encourage- NEVER speak in negatives! If you ask for a certain pose and it’s not 100% what you envisioned GO WITH IT and then say “ok let’s try it this way now” speaking from first hand experience no one wants to feel like they are disappoint the photographer! Encourage them this will allow them to loosen up, be free and feel comfortable letting the real emotions come through.

I really hope you found any part of this helpful! There is no magic bullet but working some of these things into your shoot can help with making everyone comfortable and THAT’S how you will get to the real emotions! I in no way think these are the only things you can implement nor do I think my way is 100% the right way, but if I can help even one person with this then I can sleep tonight just fine. These are just the tip of the iceberg I got more for you guys, oh ya get excited it’s ok! Check back next Wednesday for more helpful hints with yours truly!

When it comes that time for couples to plan their engagement session a big part of the planning is where should we do that shoot? I always have this discussion with clients and try to help them figure out what fits best with them. I ask, “Are you guys beach people, nature people, urban etc.?” This may be easier said than done to come up with the response. You may think “wow I never considered what type of environmental (that’s the best word I could come up with) couple we are.” Try to think of the types of dates you both like to go on, or maybe where was your first date? Where did your proposal take place? Even take into account your style are you more urban chic, beach casual? Do you love bold colors? Beautiful architecture? Just ask yourselves those questions and before you know it you will figure out what type of location suites you best!

This nature shoot took place in Los Angeles. I went back and forth a few times with Jen to figure out where they would like to do the shoot. The beach came up but they weren’t feeling like they were that beach couple. In the end Jen decided on the beautiful Descanso Gardens in La Canada. This was such a beautiful and lush location, with beautiful colors throughout. Jen told me before the shoot that her fiancé Javier was a bit on the shy side when it came to being in front of the camera, a little tip that I greatly appreciate before a shoot. For me it is important at every photo shoot to make the couple feel as at ease as possible, and knowing beforehand if someone is particularly shy helps in my approach. I like to just let people know were here for fun, no one is judging you and this photos are for the two of you- so just enjoy your time together. Another day I will do a more in depth post on how to make your clients comfortable at a shoot. Here is a quote from an e-mail Jen sent me after our shoot:

“We such a good time and Javier felt very comfortable around you, I was really surprised … Thank you for making it such an enjoyable experience… ”

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Well you should. I’m sure you have heard of this game, or maybe you and your friends have even tried it once or twice. If you have no idea what I’m talking about it’s basically a game where the idea is you can connect Kevin Bacon to any actor in less than 6 steps. For example we will use my favorite: Audrey Hepburn. Audrey Hepburn was in “How to Steal a Million” with Eli Wallach who was in “Mystic River” with Kevin Bacon. BOOM! Now wasn’t that easy!? It doesn’t hurt either with a little help from our friend, The Internet

I’ve sorta had a thing for Kevin Bacon since “Apollo 13” I’m usually met with odd inquisitive stares when I list him as the first actor when asked the question “which actor do you find attractive?” But I don’t care I’m a loud and proud KB supporter! Here’s another little fact for you, that you may not be familiar with: he is in a band with his brother, aptly titled The Bacon Brothers. Now before you go on the “oh no another actor in a crappy band rant” let me say this is no Keanu Reeves “Dogstar” band. I dig their music and Kevin Bacon can sing too in case your wondering. Now I have seen their band more times than I can remember, should this fact cause me embarrassment? Some of you may answer with a resounding “YES!” but again I’m gonna own it 100%. The first time I saw them play I was in 7th grade, yup you read that right 7th grade so 13ish?? And I don’t wanna brag but I met him after at a private show at the now non existent Planet Hollywood. I hope you read that sentence and imagined me brushing my knuckles on my shoulder.

The photos from this concert were actually taken at last year’s Comic Con when he was there promoting his new show “The Following” And you can bet I was excited to hear the band would be performing, and for free no less! SWEET!
Concert photography was my first real foray into photographing people. I quite enjoyed the energy and raw emotion in it that is not much unlike what I get from shooting a wedding. I guess there was some sort of a natural progression happening there!

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