10 Things I Learned Photographing People and Events in 2016

Winter tends to be a time of reflection in the photography industry since the presence of snow, cold and blizzards at any moment tends to reduce the amount of weddings and other events scheduled and typically make less people excited about hanging out outside for portraits.

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In this time of reflection, I realized all I have learned in just this last year. I hope you find these helpful in your own photography journey! Or perhaps insightful into the crazy way I think if you are a client of mine :).

1. Not all shade is created equal.

If you are a wedding photographer, you likely take quite a few portraits during mid-day when the sun is high in the sky, and if you are like me, you are likely always on the look out for beautiful shade. I've always been on the lookout for open shade (nothing above your heads), but there is more to it than that. There is something that I now just refer to as 'edge of shade'. Always finding the edge of shade has been a game changer. Basically what I mean by edge of shade is finding your beautiful light, putting the sun behind your subject's faces (even though the sun is high in the sky it almost always has a slight angle) and going right to the edge of where the shade ends. This way that beautiful bright light bounces off the bright ground and up into your client's faces. If you stay deep in the shade you may run into issues with dark shadows in the face and lack of catchlights.

2. I love barn weddings more than I ever would have imagined.

Ok - not so much to explain here, barn weddings are not the easiest to light (hello yellow wood walls!!), but really are my thing, I'll take some tricky lighting situations for beautiful barns :).

3. Flash isn't scary.

Just get out there and use your flash. This year I learned how to use flash so it looks like natural light, how to create beautiful flares on the dance floor and more. Flash is awesome. If you are a photographer and still don't love your flash, I challenge you to read up on Justin & Mary's blog, get your flash off camera and practice!

4. Shooting in mid-day sun isn't as hard as I always used to think.

Referencing back to point 1, finding that beautiful edge of shade and placing the sun slightly behind your subject's head is key. If there isn't open shade, well then find a beautiful open area and shoot in full sun, again with the sun slightly behind your subjects. You might just get better results than you expected.

5. You can have too many lenses.

As a beginning photographer I was always dreaming of buying new lenses and all the fancy gear I didn't have. Well, it turns out you can have too many lenses (well maybe not....), but they do get kind of heavy to carry around on a wedding day. Despite this advice I still added a new lens to my collection this winter (the sigma 85mm art)...

6. I need more people on my team. 

Doing it all alone gets lonely and exhausting. This year I am planning to outsource some parts of business and continue to build relationships/train people in the event where I need a second shooter or assistant.

7. Working out matters.

So when you are working all the time...you know like busy season, it is so easy to skip taking care of yourself. It turns out working out and eating well makes a HUGE difference in how you feel and energy levels. Ok - might be common sense, but sometimes its hard to believe until you have lived it.

8. Pictures Matter.

Pictures they just matter, moments are fleeting, we sometimes lose people. Then those photographs matter so much more than just being a pretty picture that makes you happy when you look at it on the wall. It is a huge reminder of a specific moment and/or person.

9. I am passionate about weddings.

This might seem obvious, but this year I think it really hit me, I am passionate about weddings, they are such a special moment, a huge change in people's lives and I just love getting to know my couples and hopefully make a small positive difference in their lives.

10. Digital Images Matter

There is this thing in the photography industry. A pull between selling digital images and selling tangible items. I totally get it, digital images have a tendency to 'sit' on the computer and well get forgotten. Also, I 100% am for printing images, hanging them in your home, having a wedding album that holds a collection of memories, the story really of your wedding day in photographs. But...you knew there was a but coming right!? Sometimes you cannot print every image, but it is still a special moment and even though it didn't fit in the album, you still really want to look back on it someday. That there is why I believe in digital images and believe digital images matter. While we are on the topic, I just need to do a quick speech though about backing up your files, back up, back up, back up. That's all I have to say ;). Really though, what good are digital images if your only copy goes bad or even missing, making a back up or two helps ensure that those images are safely stored away for you.