Q+A : part 1

thank you so much to all who submitted submitted questions for this!
I am splitting this up into two posts, and will share part 2 later this month. :)

What is your favorite kind of shoot?

Family sessions are probably my favorite, and where my heart really is right now. 
I love the interaction/laughter/love/connection..yes, sometimes they can be challenging with little kids, 
but that makes it so much more worth it when you have to really work to get the shot you want.

How did you get started into photography?
Several years ago I started reading blogs regularly, and was really inspired to get my own dSLR camera 
and be able to take pictures like I was seeing online. 
I purchased a Canon Rebel in December of 2010 and officially started my business in the fall of 2011. 
I am mostly self-taught, but have learned a lot through internships/mentorships, photog friends, and online resources.

Where do you see yourself in your photography business over the next few years?
Umm, wow...this is hard to answer as I have no idea what all I will be doing, or what my life will look like in the next few years.
If nothing else, I want to make sure that I am in control of my business, not that it is driving me.
I want to feed my passion for photography as a ministry and art, and not be stressed out 
trying to keep up with e-mails, editing, or over-booking myself.
Finding balance with running a home business is super challenging, but I want to keep striving for
the place where I can truly enjoy my craft, stay on top of things, push my creativity, glorify the Lord, and bless people.

What is your method of communicating with your subjects to capture genuine smiles/laughter/etc?

I always try and get people to relax...if they feel comfortable in front of your lens, it shows..and vice-versa.
My goal with anyone I shoot is to get them laughing at some point--
people have their most authentic smile right after they laugh,and that is the smile I want.
Your subjects will laugh at random points throughout the session 
(i.e. a kid doing something funny, the wind blowing their hair around,
 me saying something random, etc.) so train yourself to be watching for those moments and catch them.

for example, this is from an engagement session I did last year:
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I was planning to just get a close-up shot of her ring, but got their faces in the frame accidentally,
and they happened to be laughing about something when I took it...and I love how it turned out.
I hadn't told them to 'laugh' while I was shooting, but was in the right place at the right moment and caught it.

Sometimes I'll do a crazy laugh and tell a little kid to copy me and they may start laughing before they even can do it themselves.
This is from my session on Monday--I did a weird laugh, and told Amina to copy me, but instead she just giggled back--
exactly what I wanted. :)
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here is a contrast of two photos I took recently:
in the first photo she is smiling, but it doesn't look very authentic.
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right after I took this ^ I had her tilt towards me like "I'm a little teapot"--which made her laugh.
yes, that's what I want!!
you can see the total difference in her face and how much happier she looks.
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How much do you tell them how to pose?
I usually show people the position I want them in and then have them do it.
If I want someone leaning against a wall I'll demonstrate and then say,
"lean against the wall like this, with your right shoulder forward, left hand in your pocket with your thumb out, 
relax your body, I'll be shooting from this direction, smile...
now look towards that white car over there, look back at me, do serious, etc.."

Any tips for capturing authentic images with clients that you just met at the session
Take a few minutes if you're just meeting someone at the session and get to know them a little.
Feel out the family/senior/couple--are they snugly? fun? laid back? quiet? how do they interact?
Some families joke and laugh all the time, others connect through physical touch, etc.
Not every pose you have in mind will work, so strive to capture them as they are, and not as pinterest says. ;)
Tell people at the beginning of the shoot how things will flow (start out with the whole family, then individual kid photos, etc),
 and that sometimes you may have them do something and not look at the camera, so they know this is okay.

For capturing everyday memories + events, do you mainly use your phone, or both your dslr + phone?

Sadly, my phone. :( 
I always have it with me, and it is easier to instagram something than go find my hefty camera, 
make sure I have the correct memory card in it, and then go back and take the photo.

What is your "turnaround" for getting images to your clients?

For portrait sessions, 6-8 weeks after their session date, 
unless I am traveling and can't edit while I'm gone, then it is longer.

How do most of your clients hear about your work?

Facebook and word of mouth. :)

What has the Lord been teaching you recently?

Honestly, to cling to Him. 
So often I think I have control over my day, and then various challenges/problems come up 
and I realize "wow, it's by the grace of God I make it through each hour, each day." 
I keep going back to phrases in Psalm 63 lately..
"earnestly I seek You.
Your steadfast love is better than life.
You have been my help.
my soul clings to You.
Your right hand upholds me.
I will bless You as long as I live."
So humbling, and this keeps me on my knees.

How do you answer the question about what you're doing now that you have graduated
Ohhh, this question. 
When I was a senior in highschool I vowed to get brochures printed or a tape player recording 
to have out at my grad open house so I wouldn't have to keep verbally repeating my 'future plans' to everyone.
I actually don't really mind this question anymore though--it's awesome for free marketing!
I respond with explaining about my photography business I run from home [and give them a business card],
 that I also teach about 20 piano students, volunteer at a ministry office once a week, help my family at home, etc. 
I think people mostly want to know that you have a vision for what you're doing with your life, 
and that you won't be sitting around doing nothing.

How do you make the people you are photographing relax and enjoy the session?
I had my pictures taken a couple times this year, and it reminded me how awkward it can feel on the other side of the camera.
You'd think as photographers we'd have this down, right?! NOT.
It reinforced how I need to always be encouraging and giving my subjects confidence, 
because it really does feel weird to have someone standing with a black box in front of your face.

Sometimes when I'm shooting I'll jokingly say, 
"You can relax your arms/body--this is non-stressful!" :P
Because getting your pictures taken shouldn't be stressful...
I want people to interact and enjoy each other, and the more they can relax and be chill the better.

Give people something fun to do--have dad throw the youngest child in the air, 
tell the kids to all run towards you when you say go,
 if everyone is grouped together have them tickle each other.
Have the family talk and interact and tell them not to look at you, or play the game 'telephone.'

With this photo, I put the Mom and youngest girl seated on the road, and had Molly stand off to the left.
When I told her to, she ran over and kissed her Mom on the cheek, and I love the natural reaction that followed.
 photo IMG_4274-1.jpg
I love getting to know people so I try and ask a lot of questions in-between pictures about the kids, parents, senior, couple, etc.
What have they been doing lately? When was the last time they did family pictures?
What are they excited about for their senior year? How was their summer vacation?

I don't push things, especially with family sessions...
if little kids are wild/cranky I don't try and get the 'everyone-perfectly-smiling' shot.
I'll stop and do individual pictures of one child, and then try things again later if kids are happier.
Keep things moving and don't stress out if everything isn't going how you planned it...
the most important thing is for your clients to have a great session,
regardless if things are happening in the order you want them to. :)

Hope this helps at least one person, and have a lovely Wednesday!
I did do a vlog awhile back that answers a few of these questions more in-depth as well if you missed it this spring!

~H. Elise
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  2. Wonderful post! I enjoyed reading it!!!! Can't wait for part 2!

  3. Neato mosquito! Awesome stuff Hannah. You really inspire me to do more with photography. :)

  4. wow! what fun pictures! I am sure you just LOVE your job! :) I would anyway! -Sarah

  5. Great post! I feel like I got to know you better through the Q&A:) You sound like a great photographer (your play by play reminded me of Jasmine Star:)
    Blessings to you and your photography business.

  6. This was so inspirational, Hannah! THANK YOU!!! I had my first "official" photo job this past Saturday, covering a fall festival at a local historical home. It was SO MUCH FUN!!! I hope to implement several of your tips & tricks into my photography business in the future as I branch out and hopefully start doing family sessions like you do!
    I wish you the best with your business!

    Hannah H.

  7. This post was {such} a blessing, Hannah - loved reading your answers and seeing your examples. =) Super excited for part two!


please leave a comment -- I would love to hear your thoughts on this post!! :)