I know I said this would be out two to three weeks after the wedding, but life has taken a hold of me. None the less, I am finally making this blog!
I just want to say starting off the bat, my significant other had to learn all his photography skills in 4 sessions within a month. To say it was stressful was an understatement. Although it was my mom's wedding and very lowkey wedding, I still wanted all photos that day to be as good as mine. I did not want anybody to be really able to tell what ones he took and what ones I took.
I also had something to prove. At my mom's bachelorette party my relatives that were there made some... um... interesting comments about my mom's choice to have me as their photographer. They said things such as "You should have your uncle do your photos that way you get photos you can actually be proud of and can print later" "It would be better to have a professional do your photos" and many other comments. Now I will not bash my uncle as I don't believe in bashing or bad mouthing other photographers. I will say he is a decent nature/landscape photographer (that is his specialty), but that doesn't mean I am not a professional photographer (spoiler I am a professional with a legit business), but hearing these comments made me want to be on my A game more so than usual.
I wanted to blast everybody out of the park as much as I could. Some of you may be wondering why didn't I have my second photographer photograph instead of my significant other? That is because my mom wanted to keep numbers down and didn't want any "stranger" at her wedding. So that is why I had to train my significant other.
Now onto the part you have all been waiting for, the reveal. If you want to check out the blog with how his practice shots were like and more on the actual training aspect click here ------> (click me!)
We will go in order of the day starting off with the getting ready shots:
Below you can see the getting ready shots. I love this first one especially he really mastered getting my head in tack sharp focus and then letting the rest be blurry. I love how he was being creative with this perspective with the shot below as many (especially beginners) might not think of taking a shot like the one below. It was perfectly exposed. I love this photo overall!
I did not give him any direction on how to take photos during the getting ready shots. I just told him to get photos of me, doing everybody's hair and makeup and whatever he thought of to take photos of during the time I am busy. He did very well taking this portion of the wedding.
My one criticism for the photos above is the one in the middle. He cut off her toes in this picture which is a no no in photography, but overall he did well.
After the getting ready shots I took over the photography for a bit and got the detail shots, my mom's and step dad's first look, bridal portraits and some bridal party pictures. Once I got all those photos done, I had my significant other do the rest of the bridal party photos as I was a bridesmaid and needed to be in the photos. If I wasn't in that shot, I took the picture but majority was taken by him.
I don't have too much to say to these photos as I set all the manual settings for him and I did the posing before I hopped into the photos myself. One criticism I have is I wish he would of tweaked some small things in some of the photos. As Although I posed people, people inevitably move once posed and I cannot see what everybody looks like once I get into my space. Such as in the photo above on left side I wish he had the bridesmaid on far right switch which hand had the bouquet so there wouldn't be any big gaps between the flowers.
My other (half) criticism is that especially the horizontal photos were a bit tightly cropped. None of the photos had anything (like arms) cropped out that shouldn't be, but I would of liked to see it a tad zoomed out. Now the reason was why this was a half criticism is because it was not really his fault for most part. We had a very very small area to work with, he actually was standing on the end of a dock to take these photos (and one time almost fell in!) so I don't know if it was something he could of helped or changed.
Lastly, the ceremony photos. This was the most stressful part as although I could set up his initial exposure, he had to change lens after he got photos of everybody walking down, due to limited space. With the change in lens he would have to change the settings to get the right exposure. Although I taught him, he is still a beginner and with the short ceremony time he had to do it fast.
We will start with the walking down photos:
He did pretty good, exposure was good, followed rules of thirds, etc. Then came the bride:
The two photos above I love especially the left one. I like how there is foreground that leads to her dress then leads your eye to my mom's face. The focus is a bit on the softer side (especially upper right), but they are alright overall. Lighting is good, everything is good. My main criticism comes to the next photo below:
I am not really sure what happened here as when he did these shots for the bridesmaid he did not have any problems. But with this he cut off a good chunk of her dress and my mom was not straight up and down, he took it a tad crooked. I was a tad disappointed in this photo as this was the only on in tack sharp focus of her walking down. But it is what it is and I do have to keep in mind that he is very new.
Now onto the last of the ceremony photos.
The ceremony was a very small space and I think he did well in the small space. framing and focusing wise I think he did awesome. Where I think he missed his mark was that all of the ceremony photos were really under exposed. It took a bit more editing than I would like to do on a photo to get these to look like they do above. I will show you one unedited photo to compare so you can see what I mean. (luckily I shoot in raw!)
As you can see it is a tad under exposed, but thanks to my editing skills I was able to fix it for the most part. After the ceremony I took control of the rest of the photos.
In conclusion, I think my significant other did extremely well especially with very little training and going from literally not knowing how to press a button to take a picture to learning everything I know that I have learned in three years and learning it in four hours worth of training. Although he made mistakes, it is not the end of the world. Even I don't catch everything nor do I exposure perfectly every time. We are human and are not perfect every time.
Will my significant other ever become my second shooter? I don't see it happening. Photography is not really his thing (interest wise) and that is okay! that is what my actual second shooter is for!
Now my significant other is not going to be my second photographer anytime soon (I already have a trained photographer for that) my significant other had to learn for the sake of my mom's wedding. My mom didn't want any strangers at the wedding, so she asked me to photograph the wedding. That in and of itself is not a problem except for one thing... I am a bridesmaid. It was important to my mom for me to be a bridesmaid and to be an active participant in the ceremony.
That being said I cannot photograph the ceremony and be a bridesmaid in it at the same time. That is where my significant other comes into play. He gets probably the most important job as he only has 15 minutes of time comprised of moments that cannot be recreated and usually the ones people want. He is taking this pressure really well though despite our challenges. I had the challenge of taking my significant other who literally knew nothing of photography (he did not know even how to just take a photo/what the shutter button was).
I was not originally going to be the photographer, but due to having to downsize their wedding (thanks COVID-19) from a big wedding at a winery to a small backyard wedding, they decided to go with me to keep the numbers down and that they liked my photography.
My significant other has had a practice 1x a week for about a month now, as the change was some what last minute. I wish I kept his first photos to compare to now, but unfortunately I did not. But I will show you guys and talk you guys through his most recent practice session. This practice session is the last practice before the dress rehearsal where we will be doing a pretend ceremony and that will be his final practice before the big day.
I will warn you in these photos I am not in any way flattering as I was talking to myself and other stuff that I will talk about more later.
The photo above is the equivalent of the bride walking down the aisle if he were taking the photo from the back. He did good. He is following rule of thirds and if my mom has her dad (my grandpa) walking her down the aisle there is room for him in the photo above as well. I am well back lit, and in focus. none of my body parts are cut off (my boyfriend in beginning had trouble with cutting off my feet during full size shots)
The reason why I chose this location is because (most likely) my mom is going to have the ceremony facing the lake so this gives us the most accurate lighting and background situation. Lakes can be a hard background as light reflects off of the water making it easy to over expose the lake and making the background not pure white. Which my significant other did good at capturing while not under exposing me.
This next photo above represents during the time my mom and step dad may be holding hands as the officiant talks. It is had to imagine where the second person will be, but I think he did a good job having it zoomed out enough for two people while still not being too zoomed out. This is one of those things where until we are able to practice with two people it will be hard to judge. I will probably force my brother to help us to give my significant other a chance to practice with two people.
The two photos above represent the sand pouring. This is one of the important parts of the ceremony to my mom. Each child, my mom, and step dad will be pouring a different color sand into a jar to symbolizing us coming together as a one blended family. I wanted to practice him getting the shots of each person pouring the sand into the jar. we practiced waist up and then full body. we practiced waist up in a different practice so I do not have those photos. I think both look good it will be a decision to be made day of depending how it is done.
I love this photo above. Ignore my weird facial expression as I was mouthing "duh duh duh duh" (the typical bride walking down the aisle music) my hands are where they are as I was pretending to hold a bouquet. But from a technical aspect this is good. the background is blurry, I am in sharp focus, good layout, lighting etc. This photo is equivalent to the bride walking down the aisle if he was taking photos of the front instead of the back of the ceremony. it is also a good representation of when the bride and groom exit the ceremony.
We did practice posed photos as well as my significant other will have to take some posed photos as I will be in some of the photos. Those were in previous practices so I don't have them. For just practicing 4 or 5 times I think my significant other really has improved and has quality I am not afraid to share. Although we cannot practice for every situation and variation I think he has a good grasp on changing settings in manual mode to get good exposure, framing, lighting, and posing to do well on the wedding day. If you want to see his photos that he takes on the wedding day I will make a blog post for that once I edit the photos, but right now all there's left to do is prep for the wedding that is to be taking place this coming Saturday! (10/17/20)
As I go on in my business I have been constantly changing. I have always wanted to empower people through photography as I know what is is like to have low self esteem and feel awkward in front of a camera. I want to change that with my business. If you have low self esteem I want you to leave the photoshoot holding your head up a little higher and have more confidence than when you arrived. I never really knew how to incorporate my image for my business until now! Today I am going to let you guys know how my business is changing!
1. my mission
I have not one but two mission statements that I hope to achieve in my business. The first one is my overall mission. It is what I hope to accomplish by the time I retire from photography. That mission is:
"To empower and inspire people through photography, create lasting friendships, and to come together as a community to empower those around us and within the community to leave a lasting, positive impact on the world"
My second mission is my mission that I want to achieve by the end of each and every photoshoot. If I don't complete this mission each time I know I didn't do my job right. The mission is as follows:
"To empower my client and to have them leave feeling better about themselves with a higher confidence and better self esteem than when they arrived, as well as to create beautiful images for them to cherish forever"
2. My Plan to achieve my mission
A mission (or two ;) ) is no good if I don't take action. To complete my overall mission I have created a Facebook group called "MH photo fam. community group" This group is to connect my past and present clients to each other. In this community people can connect with one another, create friendships, lean on each other in hard times, and so much more.
It is also a way for us to come together as a community and give back to the world. through out each year I host various community service project events such as picking up trash, volunteering at a local food shelter and lots of other community service projects.
Although this community right now has around 20 people (when this was written) I hope it grows to have hundreds or even thousands of people in the group one day. I know a lot of my clients, (especially older people) have been a bit taken back by the group and have rejected the invitation as this is not common in my area for photography businesses to have communities, but I am not any ordinary business. I don't view my clients as just a business transaction but as friends and I want a place to become friends and something bigger than just here's pictures, now bye. I want more than that and I want clients who want to be more than just being a transaction.
Another way I am working towards completing my mission is through client experience. I bring a positive attitude to all my photoshoots. I help coach my clients from the smallest ways like where to point your toes all the way to what angle to stand or sit, where to look, and even making sure every hair on your head is not out of place. I use positive wording when I pose my clients. Instead of saying "No don't look left look right!" I may say "Instead of looking to your left look to your your right, Perfect you are doing so well!" This creates a positive environment that my clients can relax and enjoy their time with me. I also strive to do what I can to make you feel like the best version of yourself.
Lastly, although I could probably talk forever on my plans my last main way I am going to make my mission a success is by furthering my education. I am always looking to learn new things in order to stay up to date and to keep things new and exciting. whether education means college, working with another photographer or even learning from my clients! I just want to learn and strive to be better than I was yesterday!
3. What photography projects I take on
In the beginning I took every project that was handed to me. I have narrowed it down some and may continue to narrow it down in the future but here is what I offer now! If you don't see one on the list it doesn't mean I am unwilling (never hurts to ask me!), but depending upon what it is I may decline the offer.
As I do photography more there will be more and more changes, but here are my main changes I am making today! I want to thank everybody who has followed my journey and has watched me grow to what I am now!
In March 2020 I took photos of my first client and couple Andy and Kaylei. They were so much fun to photograph and such a cute couple. I remember being so excited to shoot them that I talked my boyfriend's ear off about it (sorry honey :) ) I remember feeling so proud of the photos as they were the best I had taken at the time. Fast forward to six months later, September 2020. I had the honor of photographing this wonderful couple again for fall photos! I was estatic as I truly loved working with them in the past. When I went to edit the photos I noticed how I improved A LOT in the six months which I want to show you guys! So without further adieu let me show you the before and after photos!
The photo on the right I took back in March and the photo I took on the left was taken a few weeks ago. Almost all the March photos were really grainy and a soft focus on their faces or even body in general. On the Right they even have dark eye sockets, which now I know how to prevent. My editing has vastly changed as well. I would kind of wing editing in March and now I know how to get the desired look I am going for!
I remember when I first started out I rushed changing my settings. I felt pressured that the client would think I am taking to long (it was all in my head of course) and so I ended up with a lot of over or really under exposed images. which is shown with these photos on right, I way over exposed the image and tried to save it. Andy's arm is still very over exposed on the right. Now I know the importance of taking a few extra seconds to double check my exposure. I now usually will talk to my clients as I am changing my settings to not feel pressured and to not have awkward silence.
What I love about these photos is all were taken at Quarry Park in St. Cloud MN and some like these two above were taken in the exact same location on the exact same rock. The reason why I got a much better photo on the left vs. right is because I know how to use lighting to my advantage and framing techniques to get the perfect shot. On the right I was more too my Left (their right) which made them darker not to mention because of not being careful of my settings I under exposed the image to the left. on the right I stepped more to my right (their left) which got better lighting with where the sun was creating that glow on them that I always strive for. I was able to move in a way to get the tree branches framing the photo to have some lead lines that brings your eyes to them. Overall the right was one of my favorite photos I took of them from our last session.
Another thing I did not do in March was not shoot in RAW. I did start after I watched a you tube video saying you should. But in March at the start of their session my camera wouldn't save the photos on the SD card and it would buffer and would not let me take photos of them. I thought I was going to have to end the session early. I thought it was because I switched to raw, but it was actually that I was using a very cheap SD card that got damaged. Luckily for them I had a spare SD card with me and was able to still take the session. Because of thinking it was because I was shooting in RAW I switched to Jpeg for their session which makes correcting images (especially under or over exposed) very difficult. I now have a good quality SD card and now that I have switched back to shooting in RAW I have had zero problems and I always carry a backup SD card just in case.
Above is the last photos I will show you. I have been talking about lighting mainly in this post, but although the lighting is partly what makes the right so much worse it is also my posing that has changed. I admit I was not good at giving directions and coaching my clients on posing. On the right back in March I think I said something along the lines of "wrap your arms around her from behind" and that is all. Where now I fully coach my clients on how to pose from the tips of their toes to where to place their hands, where to look etc. I pair my posing with encouraging words to help relax the clients and to ensure they know they are doing it right! This has resulted in a more natural and relaxed posing.
Overall, I hope you enjoyed reading about my transformation as much as I enjoyed seeing it. I am glad I have learned so much from my photographer mentor KJ and that I am able to break down my shoots and analyze them myself in order to improve as well as giving my clients a better experience.
Yesterday I got to spend the lovely evening with Katana who is a senior this year! The location of choice was Musinger Gardens in St. Cloud MN. The place is a Beautiful park with lots of pretty flowers and greenery as you can see as you take the visual walk with us!
In the picture above and some below is one of my favorite spots for photos here as there are tall trees that filter in the light so beautifully and even. Then there is the greenery and bright red flowers that add pop and interest into the photo. Makes Katana look like she is in beautiful Fantasy Fairy garden of some sort!
After the Beautiful fairy garden vibe, we get to a pathway for Katana to release her inner model and strut her stuff!
After spending some time with Katana I learned that Musinger Gardens that isn't just a random location for them, this location is special to her and her mom Lisa. They come here regularly to play Pokemon Go! Although I am bad at the game myself I am glad I got to find fellow Pokemon Go Fanatics! As her mom was fighting in a gym battle we went and got some photos on the steps.
Katana Below Slaying the model walk once again looking like royalty!
Nearby there were violets that matched her outfit and I just had to get some photos!
Before changing into her second outfit we got a last few photos under an arch full of greenery
Katana's second outfit consists of a purple blouse, jeans and gorgeous heeled boots that are to die for!
The Garden had beautiful swinging benches scattered throughout the park I love the rustic vibe I get from the bench, compliments Katana's outfit so well.
To Finish off the session we captured great photos in front of a old cabin
I had the pleasure of doing engagement photos for Alyssa and Jake this past weekend! I have been waiting since July to do their photos as they booked me for their wedding in July. I love doing engagement photo sessions because it is fun to see the couple's personalities and seeing them have fun with each other, it all just warms my heart.
Their engagement session started off like any other engagement shoot. We met at a park in St. Cloud MN and chatted about the wedding and engagement session. We warmed up doing a few "warm up" photos that you can see below:
After we got warmed up we walked on the trail where I got to know that their wedding was going to be rustic themed with sage green, black, white, and grey colors. They picked beautiful colors that will looks stunning at the barn with the browns of the wooden barn. As we all approach a clearing I have them do the signature nuzzle shot!
I love doing nuzzle shots as they are simple, yet intimate. I love how close and relaxed they look as well as the emotion of happiness and being content this picture shows. in my opinion you can never have enough nuzzle shots.
I love the clearing they are in. the tree line is high enough during the evening to diffuse the light and create a nice glowy look, but not too high or thick that the light can't shine through. Not to mention it has nice tall crass with tree that don't create what we call in the industry "black holes" for the non photographers that may be reading this, black holes in photography sense are really dark areas that seem to suck the subjects in instead of making them pop from the background.
Once we got done taking photos into the clearing we got some beautiful on the path photos that you can see below:
Because of how this park's trail is made the sun is usually on one side or the other of the trail. I like to back light my clients so the sun is behind them and crates a nice glowy background. so typically on the path pictures don't happen at this location. I decided to take a risk and did some photos on the path and I am glad I did! these are one of my favorites from this location They are well lit and have the bright and airy vibe I try to go for! This is one of those times where breaking some of the photography rules that we try to abide by makes sense to be broken.
Right to the Left of this path there is kind of an opening. I think it was an old short cut trail that got over grown over time. but I love this area because there is enough of an opening to get a bright an airy look
The picture is soft and romantic with the trees hanging over head and the small plants a tiny white flowers just add beautiful detail and bring this picture together.
After the clearing, we get to the river. Everybody loves pictures by this river. the bad thing about the river is that the trees are too thick for light to shine through in the way that I like and not to mention the sun is never in the right position. none the less the clients of course want to do pictures. I take them as I know I can fix most of the issue post editing.
I have my wonderful couples sit down. Since I have bad handwriting Alyssa decides to write on the chalkboard instead of me. I tell her to write "engaged" and then add the month and year they are engaged. we take the pictures (unfortunately I deleted them as they didn't want these pictures you'll see why in a minute) and then then Alyssa's fiance drop the bomb and he says "funny thing is that we are not engaged"
I let out a small "oh?" while I start panicking internally thinking I booked a regular couple and I did not remember doing so. I ask them, "Are you guys my clients who are getting married?"
They both laugh (thankfully they have an awesome sense of humor) and Alyssa tells me "yes we are. We know we do things backwards, but we are not engaged yet because he hasn't proposed technically."
I let out a mental sigh of relief, at least I did not mix up any clients! Jake decides to throw us both for a loop! he nonchalantly asks, "How about we make it offical?" and he got down on one knee and proposed!
Luckily I had my camera on. This lighting was a tad dark as I did not have time to adjust lighting as I had no idea this was going to happen, but post processing fixes most things. I am very ecstatic that I was able to capture this once in a life time moment for them. Alyssa cried tears of joy and was able to cherish the moment. After their official engagement we redid the photo with the sign to have the correct date for them to share.
With that, we took a few more shots before heading back up towards the entrance as we had to go to our second location for the beautiful sunset photos. Before we got back to the entrance we stopped on the path as there is a tree that bends over the path. I love this tree, but the bad thing it is usually too dark, but the clear sky worked in my favor and I was able to capture a romantic scene under the tree
After getting to the car we head to the second location. As I get near the second location I just happen to see a road divider that has trees in the divider. As the sun was still a tad high I tell them my impromptu plan of walking to the middle of the road to the divider. I am glad I took this chance as I got the most gorgeous photos here!
I believe the apples are crap apple trees which created a beautiful pop to the background! this is probably my favorite place out of the whole shoot.
After sporting their sunglasses the sun was starting to emit warm orange tones from setting. We did a picnic scene where they had white grape sparkling cider and a yummy chocolate cake dessert. I used my macro lens to get away from them so they could enjoy a romantic and intimate moment shared just between themselves without me in their face. These pictures were truly magical!
To finish off the romantic evening we did a few simple sunset kissing photos before parting our ways. I went home to edit and they went off to a dinner reservation to celebrate their engagement.
Although I have only been doing photography for six months in a serious business like way, I still have advice for newer photographers. Three things that I wish I knew from the very beginning.
1. use auto focus
I remember I seen a Youtube video about how you shouldn't shoot in Auto focus that you can't control the focus and that you should only shoot in manual focus. Boy was that guy wrong. Using manual focus I struggled with the focus being soft. I tried everything and I was so frustrated. Through talking with fellow professional photographers I find most (if not all) shoot in Auto focus. I switched and it made a lot of a difference.
2. expose for what you want to see
This is particularly useful if your subject(s) are wearing bright colors or white. white can be easily be over exposed which will have them glowing in a bad way. by exposing for what you want to see you can ensure you have a good picture you can always fix some things that might not be properly exposed in post editing. Below you can see picture on Left the blanket is glowing as I forgot to expose for it vs. the Right the dress is properly exposed
3. Shoot in raw
I was told this a lot, but I always ignored it as I love my jpegs (for whatever reason). Raws are your friend though. There were photos in jpeg that I couldn't save due to being over or under exposed, but once I switched to raw, those same issues I could fix and save more photos!
How it all began
By: Michayla Hanson
Hello, for those who don't know me, my name is Michayla Hanson. I am a photographer and owner of Photography By Michayla Hanson. Today I just wanted to share my photography journey.
I am a newer professional photographer. I have been doing photography since I was in 7th grade with a dinky point and shoot camera. You can see one of my first photos I have ever shot with it below!
These are screenshots off of Face book as I couldn't download them, but as you can see they are not good quality. I am a bit surprised by how they don't look too terrible framing wise, but definitely not my best work. These are not as bad as when I went to my cousins wedding though and decided I would play wedding photographer at age thirteen. I will let you cringe with me on this one.
As you may see both images are blurry. The Image on the Left is badly lit, hazy and my thumb is in the top left corner of picture. Luckily for them they hired a professional photographer as you can see in left picture on the left side of frame. The right picture is just blurry and is a tad orange. In all we all start some where right?
I mainly did landscape photos until I hit Highschool. In my senior year (2017) I started to take photography a bit more serious. I took a photography course with my fantastic teacher Geoff Welles. This is where I learned the basics such as rules of thirds. We did various projects and if you want to see all of them you can click here to go to my old website. I will highlight a few below:
The photo on the left was part of a double exposure project where we purposefully made double exposed images. I still like this one and I actually submitted it into a local contest and tied for first place in the "Digital Imaging" category. The picture on the right is better than the wedding photos I took four years prior, but the picture is still a tad blurry. What is cool about the photo on the right is that this was taking in what is called the Arklund Studio in Cokato MN. It is technically a small museum of an old photography studio where the background was actually painted on. The museum let students use this studio for free. The furniture my friend is sitting on is actually the original furniture that the original photographer used. Back in the day they used a skylight at an angle instead of studio lighting which is what I utilized. Which looking back I am thankful I got to shoot the "old fashioned" way.
I started using what is considered a medium camera in April 2017. It was better than a point and shoot, but not as good as a DSLR. From 2017-2020 I tried to make it as a photographer with a Medium camera. Being in a small town where people are very hesitant about anything free (unless they know you) It was hard building any sort of portfolio or clients. I don't blame anybody through. my Medium camera though it didn't take the worst photos it wasn't the best. Below is two pictures I took with my medium Camera.
It wasn't until March 2020 that I obtained a DSLR camera. The Canon Rebel T6 is what I bought and is the camera I am using today. It's a nifty beginner DSLR that works wonders! I started in March with free photography sessions to help build my portfolio and now I currently offer discounted rates to help create a client base. My first two sessions with this camera was a maternity and then a couple session. These sessions went alright, but I had minimal light knowledge. That is what I feel I have been struggling the most as a photographer is with lighting. My maternity shoot most of my pictures were either way under exposed or super over exposed on the skin as I will show you below.
My photography has improved A LOT since March. and I am starting to find my style! I now have a bright and vibrant style that I love! I know I will always continue to grow and improve as a photographer, but I am happy and proud of my pictures now.
It amazes me to see how far I have come and hope to grow in the future! If you are new, don't be too hard on yourself nobody was perfect (or even good) when they first start out. Just keep an open mind and keep striving to learn new things and push yourself as a photographer!