Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Prop Connection

Using props can always add an interesting element to a photo, but when you use a prop that has a connection to the main subject in your photo, it adds a deeper level of meaning. For instance, when shooting senior photos, I like to ask the teens that I am photographing what their hobbies and interests are. I even ask them to bring along a favorite article of clothing or jewelry, something that they have a connection to. One senior wore a necklace in her photos that was special to her. That way, regardless if the necklace was lost or damaged, she would have it forever preserved, photographically, for her to always remember. These props can be an old teddy bear, a heirloom from a grandparent, a favorite hat or a piece of their sports equipment.

The reason for this? When someone is passionate about something they love or even love to do, it typically comes through in the photos I take. My photography is not just about capturing images, it is about creating memories.

When you shoot a photo with a prop that they have selected, it reveals a little bit about that person’s life and evokes conversation and interest. Sometimes, it reveals a personal and sentimental connection. And sometimes, it just is a comfort zone that puts your subject at ease. In having something familiar from their real life in the photo session, it makes them almost forget that the camera is there. Of course, it helps to continue that chatty conversation which also helps to distract and relax them.

In the example above, I thought it would be interesting to bring along an old  bike wheel that had some busted spokes as a fun prop since the model, Kylie, works at a bike shop. It makes the viewer wonder, “why does she have this wheel?” and creates more interest in wanting to know her life story.

Begin shooting with props and exploring ways how you can reveal a little bit about the life of the person that you are shooting and leave the viewers of your photos wondering...what is the prop connection?

For more examples, vist my website or Facebook Page.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Perfect Photo Location Could Be Right Around the Corner

Locations and backgrounds can be vital to creating an awesome photo...sometimes, equally as important as the subject itself. The setting can dictate the mood of a photographic image.
This photo, below, almost appears to be a painted studio backdrop, but don’t be fooled.

 I realize that I am blessed to live 7 miles from the beach so opportunities exist for lots of gorgeous shots, however a creative type never falls back on the expected. We are always seeking new locations and cool places to shoot photos. For me, an amazing discovery proved to be right around the corner, one that I have driven by thousands of times over the past 8 years. The farm that backs up to our suburban community is sort of out of place. It sits on the roadside of a fairly busy road. There are horses in the stables and occasional cows in the fields. It is a reminder of my days out in Kansas when we drove to Zimmerman’s farm to pick out our pumpkin and enjoy Fall festivities.

Since I don’t know the owners, I thought about just stopping on the side of the road to start shooting a sunset photo session with my daughter, Kylie. We had plans to go to a park near the base of the causeway, but she agreed to try a few shots. We quickly discovered that there was no need to drive any further than right around the corner. Check out the amazing photos we took and the variety of looks simply by walking a few feet in one direction or the other.

In the shots below, which you can view larger by clicking on, you see the changes in lighting creates different mood & overall feel to the shots. This was accomplished by positioning the model in different scenery with the light falling in different directions. When shooting in manual mode this requires constant monitoring and changing of aperture and shutter speed...and as light diminshed, even changing the ISO for a few of the shots.


After we got just a wee bit too close to the farm and were chased off by some very large, not-so-friendly dogs, we scurried across the street where we saw the perfect fence and scenery for some brighter lit sunset shots...some of my favorites of the day! After applying a few actions and doing some post editing, you can see how different a look these images have. Remember, they were shot all within the same hour, just a change in scenery with actions applied. Pretty amazing, huh? Out of all the pictures we took, both Kylie and I agreed that these were our favorites of the night. Imagine that — my 17 yr. old and I agreeing on something! Pretty special.

So when you are struggling to make your photos fresh and new, a walk around the block may open up your imagination to some new photographic possibilities. Or if you are limited in new background settings, simply change the viewpoint, or position your model in different lighting, to create some fresh new images!