If you’re anything like I was, you are spending hours upon hours on the internet learning photography techniques, viewing photoshop tutorials, and wondering when your photos are going to look professional. Here is my first bit of advice to new photographers:

Get it right in camera.

This will save you so much time in post processing, and will start to set you apart from your peers. When you set everything up to be perfect before your press the shutter button, you won’t have to edit for hours upon hours to get one photo right. Two minutes fixing something in front of the camera is better than 30 minutes in post processing. Before we go further, please know that this is not a post about camera settings. That is important, but today we are focusing on what is in front of the camera. The topics that will help you if you’re shooting with a pro camera or an iPhone. So what are the top 3 things you should learn in order to get it right in camera?

Lighting

The top 3 things new photographers should learn! Photography tips and resources about light, posing, and composition. Written by Kristen Ellis of Kristen D. Photography. Kentucky Wedding & Portrait Photography. www.kristendphotography.com

A Portrait in Natural Light.

You cannot up your photography game unless you learn about light. Photography is essentially how a lens and camera read light. This goes for natural & artificial light. Many of us will start with natural light, so here are the Do’s and Don’ts while working with natural light.

  • DO photograph during golden hour. The time right after sunrise or right before sunset. The sun is more directional, lighting the face in a flattering way, as well as adding a gorgeous golden glow to your subject.
  • DON’T photograph your client in midday bright sun. It will cast unpleasant shadows on their faces. If you have to photograph during this time of day, find shade. Trees & buildings are your best friends during midday. Also, you can use a scrim to soften the light.
  • DO photograph with window light. I love window light. It’s the best. Find a window, get a reflector, and have fun.

Posing

The top 3 things new photographers should learn! Photography tips and resources about light, posing, and composition. Written by Kristen Ellis of Kristen D. Photography. Kentucky Wedding & Portrait Photography. www.kristendphotography.com

Bridal Portrait at The Historic Shelby Manor.

If you’re photographing people, you need to learn how to pose them. I’ve seen incredibly creative photos that lacked luster because it lacked posing of their main subject. I’ve heard arguments against it. “I like the more natural, candid look!” During a shoot, you have to know how to get a candid look from your client, which goes into posing/knowing your client. Also, this will send your photography skills through the roof. Not only will your photos come out better, but clients will feel more confident in you as a professional! Clients like to be told how to stand, what to do with their hands, where to look, etc. Most clients are not models, and even most models like having direction.

  • DO learn the difference between posing women and men. Here is an amazing video of Jerry Ghionis teaching how to pose, and it changed my world! I became obsessed with learning how to pose.
  • DO learn how to get genuine reactions from your clients. This is where the candid look comes into play. Most people don’t know how to be candid in front of a camera. During a couple’s portraits I ask the groom, “Do you ever do anything that makes her laugh?” Every time it results in big smiles and laughter, even if they don’t come up with an answer! Just thinking about it makes them laugh.
  • DON’T assume that every pose is going to be good for every person. We are all made differently, and certain angles may compliment one person, and look unflattering on the other. Posing takes time and practice, but it’s so worth it.

Composition

The top 3 things new photographers should learn! Photography tips and resources about light, posing, and composition. Written by Kristen Ellis of Kristen D. Photography. Kentucky Wedding & Portrait Photography. www.kristendphotography.com

Candle Lighting Ceremony

When I caught the photo bug, I went to my Orchestra Director. (I majored in Music in college.) He is also a photographer, and the first thing he told me after seeing a few of my photos was about the Rule of Thirds. This helped me tremendously. FStoppers does an amazing job breaking down the rules of composition here.

  • DO practice, practice, practice. Composing a photo will become second nature only after a lot of practice!
  • DON’T assume the rules of composition are set in stone. Some of the most interesting photos break the rules. I always think of music as the same way. Learn the basics, learn the rules. Practice them until you grow an appreciation and admiration for them. Then learn how to bend them to create something new and beautiful.

Thanks so much for reading! If you liked this post, please share, tweet, or pin! Happy Labor Day!

-Kristen D.

The top 3 things new photographers should learn! Photography tips and resources about light, posing, and composition. Written by Kristen Ellis of Kristen D. Photography. Kentucky Wedding & Portrait Photography. www.kristendphotography.com