As any photographer will tell you, editing style is one thing that sets photographers apart from one another. We are very particular about our editing, and we love to learn new techniques. When I was approached by Jane at Sleeklens.com to try out some of their Lightroom presets and brushes, I jumped at the chance! I’ve used some presets in the past, but I’ve never really worked with the brushes before. They sent me their “Strike A Pose” workflow presets and brushes, and I’ve been having a blast trying them out. I’m posting some before & after pictures below to show you some of what they can do, but there are so many more possibilities! This set included 69 different presets and 62 brushes. This is the first time I’ve used Lightroom brushes for the facial editing, such as eye sharpening/brightening, skin smoothing, contouring, teeth whitening, etc… It was pretty fun to play with all that! They have helpful videos to explain how to use everything. The presets have a wonderful variety of effects. Some are all-in-one presets, and others are stackable. This set is going to make a wonderful addition to my workflow!
Before After Before
There are a few factors that go into choosing what time you should schedule your photo session. These differ depending on the type of photo shoot, so I’ll try to make it easy for you.
OUTDOOR SESSION: Time of day is pretty important for outdoor pictures. In the midday hours around noon, the sun is pretty much directly overhead. Shine a flashlight down over your face from above in a dark room and see how flattering that looks! The effect won’t be quite so pronounced, but that light is pretty harsh and hard to work with. My favorite time to schedule outdoor shoots is a couple hours before sunset. The sun is lower in the sky and much more flattering. Early mornings are also preferable to noon (as long as there’s plenty of coffee!).
LITTLE KIDS: No matter if these are indoor or outdoor, you’ll want to consider what time of day your children will be in the best mood. Maybe they’re happy in the morning, or they might perk up after their afternoon nap. Making sure they’re well fed will also go a long way toward getting those natural smiles, so don’t skip any meals!
NEWBORNS: Those precious little babies are a whole different matter. Newborn sessions usually take place before the baby is 2 weeks old, and we generally want them to sleep through the session. For this reason, I like to recommend that you bring those babies hungry, tired, and crabby. Then when you get to the studio, the baby can be fed, burped, and soothed into a nice, deep sleep. Of course, that’s not always possible if you’re driving a long way to get here, but it’s preferable.
Have you ever had your family’s portrait taken? If so, then you’ve probably felt the frustration of trying to coordinate outfits for you, your spouse, a couple of kids, and perhaps even the dog. Not only that, but you may have to choose certain colors depending on the background or if the pictures will be used for holiday cards. My head is spinning!! The easy way is to dress everyone in jeans and white shirts (or something similar), and that’s great! But if you don’t want everyone to be matchy-matchy, then things can get complicated. Sometimes you can find what you need in your closets, but sometimes you’ll need to go shopping or borrow from friends. Either way, here are some tips to help you decide what to wear.
2. Coordinate with your home colors: Will a picture be displayed in your home? Will it clash with your curtains or couch? This may be the last thing on your mind when choosing outfits, but it definitely should be considered.
3. Avoid a lot of patterns: You definitely don’t want everyone wearing different patterns. That doesn’t mean that everyone has to wear solids, though. Maybe you love a certain dress with a fun pattern, and you pick colors from that to dress the other members of the family in. Just don’t confuse the eye with contrasting patterns.
4. Consider the background: If your pictures will be taken in the studio, you’ll have a choice and there will surely be something that will go with your outfits. If you’re taking outdoor photos in the fall, for instance, your outfits had better look good with orange! If it’s winter, you’ll want to stand out against the plain white background.
5. Add layers and texture: Scarves, ruffles, sweaters, etc… all add dimension to an otherwise flat-looking image.
6. Consider a theme:
Does your family love sports? Live on a farm? Spend a lot of time at the beach? There are many ways to choose outfits that express your family’s style and make your portrait original!
7. Relax (this one isn’t about the clothes): Most importantly, don’t stress your family out on picture day. You want the pictures to be perfect, and you want your children to cooperate, and that can lead to nervous kids and forced smiles, and sometimes even tears and breakdowns. Just make sure the kids are well rested and fed before they come for pictures. Maybe offer some reward for after the photo session, but that’s up to you. I don’t mind excited kids and goofiness. Sometimes I’ll let the kids choose a silly pose or face in return for a nice smile, and they love that! I want it to be a fun experience, and ultimately that will result in the perfect family picture that you want.