A New Style of Photography
Patrice bought me a photography studio kit while I was pregnant and I couldn’t wait to get started on taking photos of my little girl! I spent weeks practicing on a teddy bear, working out where to put the lights and how to position the camera to get the right angles. I was used to taking candid shots of kids in the classroom or in the family shoots, so the studio presented me with a new style to explore… taking posed pictures.
Charlotte arrived and as soon as everything settled and we had time to ourselves, I got straight in to the Studio to take the pictures I had been planning for months! At this point I still wasn’t using any post production editing software but I opted to add some vignetting using the basic instagram filters X-Pro II or Moon for creating black and white. My sizing was also all over the place, despite all my practicing with angles to shoot from it was different with a real life model wriggling about! Some cropping was essential to hide things I left in the shot by mistake or when I would catch the edge of the back drop in the frame.
everything I had learnt so far about aperture and ISO and shutter speed was being distorted as the difference between natural light and studio light is huge. I couldn’t understand why even when it looks bright in the studio. I was still getting dark grainy pictures. It was so frustrating. I couldn’t find the right balance to get the crystal clear shots I wanted so badly. I watched endless you tube tutorials on studio photography and although my manipulations of the lighting and angles improved there was still lots that wasn’t working. I preferred to shoot on a dark background for a while as the white just showed too many imperfections such as dirty marks and all the creases. I stopped needing to crop the pictures though so they we coming out consistent in size. I enjoyed exploring the angles to shoot from and introducing different colours against the dark back drop.
First Steps in Post Production Editing
I was enjoying getting by with Instagram filters and dark backgrounds but I knew it was time to face facts that I could really step up the quality of my images if I just tried to use some editing software. I did a lot of research and opted for Adobe Lightroom as the price and capabilities seemed to fit what I was looking for. It took a while to learn how to navigate the editing suite. I started by using some of the presets with in Lightroom or adjusting the exposure to brighten up my dull images. I struggled to find the right balance and not wash Charlotte out or make her kind of orange at first but slowly I started to get to grips with how it all worked. It just took practice, lots and lots of practice!
Lightroom highlighted the issues in my camera skills, particularly when it came to focus and blurring. Charlotte was a few months old at this point and as such was very active, in many of my pictures parts came out blurry like her hands as she waved them around or the focus point would shift on to something else in the shot and not her face, you could hardly see the issues when just straight uploading to social media but when editing in Lightroom to adjust the exposure or colour saturation these little mistakes became a whole lot more noticeable. I practiced using different shutter speeds to make sure it was fast enough to freeze things that are moving, but not so fast that I would have to use a high ISO as that can make the images grainy. I found somewhere around 1/200th of a second usually works best for posed images with minimal movements in natural day light. Speed needs to be slower when there is less light as the shutter needs to let more light in to capture the image. It takes practices to find the right balance. Once I started to understand the relationship between shutter speed, ISO and aperture I was able to more easily control the accuracy and light balance of my pictures.
I am a Photographer.
So after returning to my teaching job following the birth of my daughter I struggled a lot (In France we only get 16 weeks total maternity leave and 6 of that was before the birth) I wasn’t ready to go back to teaching and class of preschoolers, I could barely function day to day from exhaustion and all I could think about was my little girl, I thought maybe a part time solution could work but my heart just wasn’t in it anymore… I wanted to be my own boss again, I needed the freedom and flexibility of being in charge of my own scheduled so that I could work around my baby. After a lot of soul searching I talked with Patrice and we agreed photography would allow me that. It was kind of scary at first as I had lots of event photography experience but my professional photography life had been put on hold when I moved to France. I have a very different life style and network here so the event photography wasn’t easy to just fall back in to. I had however taken the time to understand my camera and learnt how to use Lightroom to manage my photos in post production. I was ready to launch my self as a family and portrait photographer. I designed my website and put together an Instagram and so Lemonbox Photography was born! I used the networks I was now part of; expats and mums groups, to get the message out there that I was a family and portrait photographer and It didn’t take long for work to start coming in.
Applying My New Skills to My Outdoor Photography
Spending time in the studio and getting to know my camera and post editing software also helped to improve the quality of my outdoor shoots. I started to create my own presets and develop my own style.