Today’s post is part of blog series in which we get the privilege of answering some of the questions we have gotten about photography, marriage and life! We know there are so many other amazing photographers out there who would know the answers far better than we ever could. But it’s not about us. It’s not about how good or not good we might be in comparison to someone else. It’s about serving. And if this series helps one person, it was worth it! You can catch up on the series here:
#1 | Where Do I Start?
#2 | Needle In A Haystack
#3 | A Natural Feel
#4 | 4 Keys To A Consistent Style
#5 | 5 Questions To Answer Before Going Full-time
#6 | 3 Ways To Light Beautiful Reception Images
#7 | 1 Simple Trick To Improve Your Images Right Now
#8 | 3 Tips To Thrive On A Double-Header Weekend
Ryan & Alyssa,
We have gotta say, we are in love with your images! Your shots are gorgeous and you’ve branded a very well-defined style for your business. We were wondering if you’d mind sharing your secret to getting those milky skin tones, airy scenes, and generally light and airy style to your images? We’d love to emulate a similar style. We are so amazed by the beauty of your images that we’d love to build a workflow and/or process that helps us to achieve the same looks. It’s how you’re getting that dreamy white sky that isn’t blown out yet everything else is light, airy, creamy, and just plain gorgeous!!!
Anything you’d be willing to share would be huge! Thanks so much in advance!
First of all, we read your email and we almost fell out of our chairs and onto the floor!!! Wow! We were absolutely blown away by the things you guys said! Thank you so much! One reason we were so amazed by your lovely email is that we don’t always feel that our images are consistent! Can we be honest? Consistency in our images is something we really just started to figure out in the last year. We have spent many long hours to get to this point! That said, don’t feel like it’s a mountain you can’t climb. You can! But having a consistent look is a huge struggle for photographers. We get it. We are right there with you. Sometimes we look at our portfolio and say, “What is that image doing there??” We are always working to improve the consistent feel of our work. And we always will!
We are going to give you insight into the formula that we have put together that truly helps us get consistent images. But first, you have to know the angle we are taking right from the beginning.
When we first started to realize we didn’t really have a style, we knew we couldn’t change that overnight. We also knew we had to start from the very beginning. With what we call the “Philosophy Behind Our Images.” In short, it sounds like this: We want to show the relationship between our couples. People are the most important. If we get the people to look right, everything else is secondary.
You have to base your style on your philosophy. Some like a dramatic feel. Some like wide scenery shots where the people are tiny in the frame. There’s nothing wrong with that! But for us, we want our couples to see in the images the joy that they feel in their hearts. That’s it! So here are the 4 factors we use to make that happen for them!
The first thing we consider (note: we did not say the most important thing) is the locations we are going to use. There are a few specific qualities we are searching for when we look for locations. First, we are looking for light-colored backdrops. If we have a choice between a light grey wall and a dark brown wall, we will take the light grey every single time! Why? Because the backdrop if the image is often a large portion of the final image and if we keep it light-colored, we will keep our images light-colored as well!
The second thing we look for is a simple backdrop. If there are too many things going on in the background, it will take away from our subjects. Go back to the philosophy. Our couple is the most important part of the image. A simple background keeps the attention on them.
One other tip we love to share is to scout locations ahead of time! Read more about that here. Don’t wait until you are with the couple to decide locations. Take test shots and find the perfect spots!
Light might be the most important factor in this list! As photographers, we know light is essential. But there is a difference between light and good light. If we want our images to have a bright, airy look, we have to make sure we light our subjects well! Here are a few ways to make that happen.
The first thing we do is look for natural reflectors. Natural reflectors are any native objects that reflect light. In other words, your reflector that you carry around with you is not a natural reflector. Although, those are important too! When we look at locations, we look for white walls, light colored sidewalks or sand. Really anything that is light in color will reflect beautiful light into our images. Some examples of poor reflectors: grass. asphalt. wood. No bueno! That’s not to say we never shoot on grass or wood, but those are not our first choice!
The second thing we look for is backlighting. This is a little bit more advanced and takes a good amount of practice! But any time we can get filtered light to hit the backs of our couples (usually the backs of their heads works wonderfully!) that’s an added bonus. We want the light to be filtered because we don’t want it to be too strong. The best way to look for this is to look at the shadows on the ground! Sometimes when we are posing our couples we can see that there is a spot of light on the ground 6 inches from where the shadows of their heads are. So if we just move them to where their heads are in that light spot, boom! We have filtered backlighting!
Ok, so we have our perfect location and we have our perfect light. It’s time to shoot! Woohoo! We want to share a few technical things we do as we shoot that really make a difference in our style.
First and foremost, we use a tool called the Expodisc. It allows us to get our color right in-camera! So, later, when we are editing, our images are already very close to where we want them to be! We could say a ton about this tool, but suffice to say if you don’t use it, you are missing out on life!
Secondly, we overexpose our images by one stop as we are shooting. We love to see the light, bright feeling in our images and a lot of that look is accomplished by a slight overexposure. So we overexpose by one stop in-camera. If we underexposed our images, we would have a hard time getting them to have the light, airy look in post-production.
Thirdly, we shoot at low (wide) apertures. Shooting at low apertures gives us a shallow depth of field which in turn gives our images a milky, buttery look! Again, we go back to the philosophy. We want our couples to shine and be the stars that they truly are so we want to keep that background soft!
*Bonus tip: Pulling your subjects away from the background also accomplishes the milky background feel. So we try to find locations that allow us the space to pull our couples away from the background!
Guys, the editing we do to our images is extremely minimal! We have worked our little booties off to get everything to look just right in-camera so we barely have to change anything. We can focus on making our images consistent instead of worrying about getting them to the right exposure.
First, we don’t use any presets to edit. We edit in a program called Lightroom and we only use a few simple sliders to get our results. Here are the sliders we use: White balance. Exposure. Contrast. That’s it! The Expodisc tends to shoot a little warmer than we like. So we make a temperature adjustment. We like to add a slight contrast bump. And then maybe a small exposure bump. And we’re done!! Guys, we can’t even tell you how much of our life we have gotten back! Shoot it well in-camera! It takes work, but when you can do it right, it saves you a ton of time!
One other step is something we like to call “Comparison Testing.” In Lightroom, we select images from all portions of the session or wedding and look at those all on one screen to compare color and exposure. That way, we make sure we get everything consistent! Also, when we first started making a real effort to be consistent, we would actually take images from other recent sessions and compare them against the session we just edited! Now that’s a test!
And there you have it! We know that every single photographer in the universe has a different style. They also have different ways of achieving that style. But as for us, we are in love with light, bright, dreamy images with buttery, creamy backgrounds and beautiful light. We are in love with images that show the love in the hearts of our couples rather than just a beautiful background. And as we follow these 4 guiding principles, we are able to create a consistent style that we believe will stand the test of time! We sincerely hope this helps you as you establish your style! Remember, you can’t do it overnight and it will always be a work in progress!
Ryan & Alyssa
If anyone has any other questions, no matter how small, please don’t hesitate to email us your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org! We would be humbled to try and answer your question as best we can!