some things I've learned : part 2

Well, this post started out with just some thoughts on inspiration, 
and then I started adding other random things to it soooo I'm just calling it another 
"things I've learned post, and hopefully my ramblings will be helpful to at least one person. :)
Sometimes I get going on a topic and I just have too many things I want to share..
it's that or the fact that I enjoy talking and get fired up about these things!
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We are all inspired by each other...literally every day.
You hear someone talking about how they get up at 4:30 am to exercise, 
and you think "jeepers, I need to get out and start moving."
Or you see a good friend with an adorable skirt, and then suddenly feel like the urge to storm target 
just so you can join their 'maxi skirt club.'
And inspiration is everywhere in the photography realm as well.

Just the other day someone asked me for tips on taking pictures of families,
as they hadn't had much experience taking pictures of people. 

I remember when I was preparing for some of my first sessions,
I would draw stick people or print off little thumbnail images on a piece of paper,
stick it in my Jotote and use as my inspiration sheet.
And I still do this a lot..stick figures for the win, haha!

I always sketch out on paper the family, and put the person's name initial next to the stick figure.
This especially works well for large families because I don't have to freak out and 
decide how in the world I am going to pose them right at the session,
I already have the layout determined for standing and sitting shots,
so I just whip out my paper and say, "okay, I want Brian on the far left, then Jill, 
Mom can hold baby next to Jill, then Makayla, Dad, etc, etc."
Sometimes I make changes to this while I'm shooting, 
and it's not like I use the sheet the entire time, but it really helps to have something to work off of right away.
I also try and memorize all the kids' names and the sibling order beforehand.
Knowing names is a huge asset...especially for extended family sessions!!

You can also print off a sheet of thumbnail images you like, or just whip out your smartphone and use the pinterest app
to make a specific board for an upcoming shoot.
Obviously your goal isn't to have your clients where the exact same clothes, lean against the classic brick wall,
and mimic the same smile as 'such-and-such' photographer did,
but follow the work of the professionals, and notice how they're posing and capturing genuine expressions.
This is going to train your eye to shoot like they do, and your work will steadily improve.

One example is this photo (the left shot), my awesome friend Caitlyn took:
I loved the idea of having the girl on the steps twisting back..
so at Liz's senior session years ago, I played off this same idea and here is how my image turned out:
So if you're just starting, and feel clueless at times with posing families, seniors, etc, get on pinterest and start studying.

How did they position dad sitting in the photo? 
What is mom doing with her hands?
What creates visual interest in this photo?
How can I help my clients relax and interact like they are in this image?

One other simple tip I have been learning over the last year or so in regards to photographing families, siblings, etc,
(really anytime you're working with two people or more!)
is to get them as close as possible, and one way to do this is to tell them repeatedly "move in closer--have your heads touching!"

In this shot, the family is grouped close, but notice there is some space between Mom and Dad..
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So I told Dad to lean his head against Mom's and you can feel the difference and connection so much more in this shot
just because of one change!
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I think this principle applies in all areas of life--that we can always be learning from each other. 
Whether it is organization, exercising, branding, cooking or photography.
We all are doing life together, and I think we would all grow faster if we stopped thinking of everyone as being on different levels, and just gleaned from people whether they have just started this craft,
or been doing it for years. 

All that said, seek to be inspired by and learn as much as you can from other creative people you follow.

And remember don't just limit yourself to just photographers..one of my favorite blogs of all time is MADE,
and I don't even sew!
I love her clean and bright style and that has inspired me for years.

And some instagram feeds I currently am in love with are:
@paisleysprouts || her branding is so killer, and products are hands-down amazing
@gparrish || she is so creative and colorful with her family photos, and just captures daily life so well
@freshlypicked || the owner of Freshly Picked Mocs , which isn't a 'photography' business, but I love her feed because the quality of her products are insane, and she has some awesome marketing strategies..
like giving away a pair of mocs at airport gates to the first person that finds her?!
Seriously here..so awesome.

So who inspires you? What is your latest favorite instagram feed?
I'd love to hear any thoughts you guys have in regards to all this,
and if anyone has other questions I'd be happy to answer them in a future blog post!
Just comment below. :)

~H. Elise
p.s. the lovely Kristin Partin has some other neat examples related to this topic of inspiration here, as well!

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  1. I loved this post. It was neat to hear your tips/thoughts on photography. I also really like the idea of drawing stick people on paper for poses. Thanks for sharing, Hannah!

  2. This is so wonderful! It's so interesting to hear it from the photographer's perspective and learn all that goes on technicality-wise in preparation for a shoot. I have to admit I never realized "Dana Made It" had a blog but I fell in LOVE with her Instagram - I DROOL over that teal back-splash! I think you'll like this DIY pallet wall I was telling you about - here's the link if you're interested: http://therockstarranch.net/pallet-wall/ I think it's absolutely stunning. Speaking of inspiration, I've been inspired by the headband you were wearing Saturday! ;) Do you mind sharing where you got it? OK I'm done rambling and shall continue stalking yours and other blogs #sorryimnotsorry Have a lovely week!

    1. yes! Dana's blog is the BEST! and I LOVE that pallet wall..so cool. Headband is from www.garlandsofgrace.com! Loved meeting and photographing you guys. :) xo.

  3. Thanks so much, Hannah! These faq/things I've learned posts are some of my very fave. :) I also really appreciate the examples you share. Two IG feeds that have inspired me recently: @imhaleyjane (like the clean simplicity/beauty) and @estherleclerc (I've been inspired by the adventurous, outdoorsy, travel flavor of her recent captures). Oh, and there's this {awesome} one called @hannahelisephotography that's filled with stunningly gorgeous images, too. *smile* Thanks again, Hannah, for sharing your helpful thoughts! <3

    1. so happy to hear you enjoy them, EB! LOVE haley jane's and I just started following Esther's (thanks to you)..unique feed!! miss ya, girl! :)

  4. This is a wonderful post. Thank you SO much for sharing your words, work, and talent! When I first started taking senior pictures I felt like I was 'copying' someone by doing the same pose as another photographer. But in reality, they didn't do it first either. It is so important to learn from one another. Thanks for having a sharing heart!

  5. I loved this post, Hannah! Thanks for all these tips! I'd have to say this is probably one of my fave posts! :) My fave IG feeds that have inspired me recently are: @alifphotos, @hannahelisephotography, @anniejeanine, @simplybnmamma, and @beautebykayla, just to name a few. :)

    1. thanks Tashia! I currently follow @alifphotos and @anniejeanine, but will have to check out the other ones you mentioned!! :)


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