Natural Light, Part 3

So as a professional photographer, you’ll want to make sure that you are using the best possible quality of light.  When photographing under the sun outdoors, you need to consider the best time of the day.  Usually during early morning or late afternoon, the light is gorgeous.  The sun is either just coming up or it is on it’s just starting to settle down, when the light is softer, warmer, and easier to work with.  Try to avoid high noon when the sunlight is at its harshest, which means your subject will have dark shadows along with blown out highlights.  Even when you’re shooting in raw those blown out spots will be hard to take back, and the dark shadows will make any face look chiseled.  Details will be lost!  I for one do not like having to “fix” bad images in post process when I could have easily just picked a better source of light.

Of course there is always the exception – that is, if you’re purposely wanting to do a shoot that defines your subject(s) in dramatic highlights and shadows.

Another option is to take advantage of cloudy or overcast days.  I know it’s hard to predict weather and plan on doing a shoot in perfectly even light, but it’s worth a thought.

Natural Light, Part 2

Now that you have a purpose for your photo shoot, you need to think of LOCATION.  The location choice can make or break the quality of your “natural light” portraits.  Think of the appropriate place for your type of shoot – are the backgrounds crucial to conveying your style?  Do you want simple and clean backgrounds, do you need a background that would support the theme of the shoot?  Are the background elements (trees, ocean, blue skies, architecture, people, etc.) going to matter?  You might want to portray your subject(s) in the midst of a busy city with busy crowds and urban icons.  Maybe you need to do your photo session indoors with large windows for good lighting.  A small room would limit your light source, but a large indoor space might be too difficult to acquire.  Don’t forget the surrounding structures, natural or man-made.  Think of all the possible elements to include or exclude from your pictures.  Your choice in location will dictate what the setting will be for your shoot.

The other, more important thing to consider for location is the actual source of “natural light”.  When shooting indoors, will you have enough of it and which direction will it come from?  Outdoors would give you other challenges, such as harsh sunlight or dappled light from trees above.  Then you’ll have to think of how to harness existing light to define your subject(s).  Do you want to use the sun as rim light or key light?  You’ll have to now consider the surroundings as well as direction of the light, especially if you shoot towards it (when using the sun as rim light).  Don’t leave anything to chance!

How to Take Pictures with Natural Light, part 1

Natural light, in my opinion, is the best lighting source when used properly.  I’m talking about (mostly) outdoors where the sunlight surrounds us and shapes everything we see.  Light defines objects.  In this case I’ll be talking about how to use natural light when taking pictures of people outdoors.

Part 1: Decide what your purpose will be for the photo shoot.  Consider the “who” “what” “where” “when” etc…  Is is for an aspiring actor wanting to build their portfolio of headshots?  Could it be for something to promote a person and their business?  Or is it all about the newborn baby?  Do you need props, extra clothes, plus a hair and makeup artist to come along?  What type of environment did you need for the backgrounds?  Most importantly, what is the goal for each image?  Think of the style for the shoot – this way you’ll have a better understanding of what will reinforce each image.  Knowing the purpose of the photo shoot will dictate all the details that go into planning it.


As a professional photographer, you need to start with a checklist (either written or in your head) so that you’re better prepared for any challenges.  Stay tuned for more..

Professional Photographer’s Good Night

I know I slacked off in posting again! It’s so hard for me to write something, anything, at all.  I told you before, I’m a professional photographer in Orange County, not a writer.  But I force myself.  I want to get better at writing as much as I always want to improve my photography and creativity.  If you have any suggestions on how or what I could do to write something every single day.  Sometimes my mind is just blank.  Like a blank computer screen with no icons or background pictures.  This must be what authors go through when they experience writer’s block.  It just doesn’t want to come out.  So here I am, at 1:14 am still awake, but dying to get to bed.  I force myself to write.  Even though it’s just this pointless rant, at least I’m writing something.  It doesn’t have to be anything about photography, taking pictures, learning how to take better photos, wedding photography, or teaching some useful photo tip.  I want to be the best photographer in Orange County and I need to learn how to blog about it!  It’s all part of marketing to the Orange County market of brides looking for the best photographer.  Blog posts like this will stroke the google bot so it will notice that this blog is about the journey of a professional photographer in Southern California (Orange County really, but I’m trying not to over saturate the post with those words).  So if you’re still reading this, and you want to become a wedding photographer or some sort of pro shooter, learn to write.  It is essential to your web presence.  With that I will call it the night.  Good night folks.

Preparing for Wedding Photography

As a professional wedding photographer in Orange County, there are a few things I do as part of my routine when preparing to shoot a special event.  I have a checklist that covers equipment inventory, battery charging, lighting plan which includes looking at google maps and figuring out where the sun will hit during a particular time span, to checking the coordinator’s timeline, and making sure I have everything in my camera bag.  There are checklists on my gear, lenses, batteries, maps and directions, the wedding timeline, the photo itinerary, and shotlists. (it 1:31am, so please forgive my bad grammar and/or misspellings)  But besides going through the standard mundane day-before checklist, I’m going to focus on preparing my mindset. I believe this is something that many photographers neglect to do before or after they check their tangibles. Knowing myself, I need time to prepare my mind.  I scour the internet for inspiration so that I have a mental checklist of photo ideas for the next day. If I didn’t do this, I’d feel lost the next day, almost as if I didn’t know what to do.  So I visual my shots ahead of time.  I’m a professional photographer so I can’t afford to have a lapse in creativity.  I want to know what I will set up on game day.  I like to have a short list of new poses I want to try.  This is part of my creative process.

1. I look through my notes from the initial client meeting so I can remember their vision of the wedding day, and so I’ll keep their requests fresh in my mind and we’re all on the same page. In my notes, there is usually key information that I need to be aware of, such as divorced parents – I can plan the family group portraits accordingly.

2. Look up new poses on the internet, get new ideas, get inspired. I get the butterflies in my stomach. I get doubts. Looking for inspiration gets me excited about photography and it helps get rid of my nervousness.

3. I visualize my camera bag and think of where each piece of gear is located, and how I will access each item throughout the day while I’m shooting.  This keeps me sharp and prevents me from fumbling around in my bag frantically looking for something.  I like to know where everything is exactly located for quick and easy retrieval.

Becoming a Professional Photographer

Improving Your Photography

  • There is no secret to being a successful photographer.  You just have to focus on your passion and constantly work on creative projects. Make time to shoot what you love for yourself and your portfolio will grow as you develop your digital photography techniques. At the same time your confidence as a professional will also grow. This is true for any hobby that becomes a business.
  • Bring a camera (or two) everywhere you go.  If you want to try landscape photography try to have two good cameras: one for planned photography and one to carry around and take quick shots for practice.  Work on lighting, composition and getting to know your gear.
  • Invest in good photo editing software like Photoshop and/or Lightroom. Keep in mind though, that a great photo begins with each shot you take.  Do your edits in-camera rather than relying on the post process.  Photo editing applications should be used primarily for enhancing you images, not fixing them.
  • When you start to take photos as paid gigs, be aware of what the clients want.  Take the important shots that meets their requirements, then do more creative ideas with them.  Make them happy first, then you can wow them with additional shots.
  • Make use of your free time to get better at taking pictures. Practice will only make you better, even if you use a point and shoot camera that’s easy to carry everywhere you go.
  • Start your business slowly and be sure to learn the nuts and bolts of running a small business – the marketing part of it is very important!  Good luck.

Professional Photographer’s Journal Day 4, Hello Google

Just a quick little post to remind Mr. Google Bot that I’m still here posting about how I am a professional photographer in Orange County.  Remember me?  I am that dude that said I will start posting on this photo blog every day.  No matter what.  It’s part of kickstarting my creativity and stroking my uh, page ranking.  So here it is, in case you don’t know what I do – I take lots of artistic pictures of beautiful brides and grooms during their wedding ceremony, bridal prep, family portraits, reception dinner, and bridal portraits.  I love the interaction between two love birds and trying to capture their story in photography.  Most of my weddings are located in Orange County or Los Angeles, but some happen outside of California too.  Those are considered destination weddings.  I’ll go anywhere as a professional photographer to take photo assignments.  I also shoot quite a bit of special events for Toyota and Coca-Cola, most of which are used for marketing their charity or fundraising events.  They use my commercial photos or studio shoots for internal marketing and press releases.  Those images are then used to promote that they are doing good through community outreach, volunteering and public works.  Once in a while I also set up mobile studios to shoot executive portraits at their place of business.  One common avenue is real estate portraits (of agents), but I’d like to get into shooting properties for sale.  Real estate photography and videography might be a good source of business as well, so I’ll include that here.  I believe that high quality pictures and/or video of luxury home listings would attract more buyers to visit the open house.  The bigger the number of buyers that see the property, the more potential for selling the house.  Having an online presence via virtual tour could have a positive impact.  So basically I do anything from portraits, to wedding photojournalism, to corporate portraits, commercial or special events, marketing projects, and real estate photography.  Thanks for looking kind google bot.  You’re welcome here any time.