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How to Nail a Photoshoot

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Know your body:  Find your angles. No matter what outfits you choose knowing how to work the outfit is important.  Find that physical feature that makes you YOU and work it!  Example I have Big eyes, long neck and legs.  The way I work my eyes 👀 is by my use of eye makeup.  In my day to day life I don’t wear makeup with the exception of 1-2 color eyeshadow and lipstick.  No foundation etc.   I most prefer to keep my eye makeup in the “natural/earth tone family.  Opting for bronze, subtle gold and copper.  I find these colors work best against my dark skin and are complimentary to most colors so I have issues matching eye to wardrobe.  For my legs 🦵 I tend to go both directions because it works.

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  To really accentuate my long legs I like a nice mini/above the knee skirt or dress paired with a good 3-4inch heel and my legs are ready for show business.  As an alternative and equally dramatic is a long flows dress/skirt.  You can’t under estimate the wow factor a great maxi dress gives. If long and flowing isn’t your thing then opt for a long a-line style with a long exaggerated split and subtly angle that leg and let it make its cameo from under the dress.  This look is sexy/sensual and flirty.   Knowing your body type is also the same as knowing and working your angles.  Every picture doesn’t need to have you standing like a soldier at attention.  Relax and try some of these tips..  Note:  cute is not always “comfortable”.  Sometimes you have to contort your body to capture the perfect pose.   Assuming the goal is the pursuit of the most perfect shot.       

                                           

Body tips:  Lift your neck, straighten your back and learn to lean slightly forward with the emphasis on sucking in the stomach while pushing out the butt.  It will take practice and work to get it right.  Twist your hips and lean sideways..  but not so far you look like the leaning tower of Pisa. While standing with bone knees slightly bent put opposite hand on hip and watch that hourglass ⏳ form.  Now hold that pose! 

     Wanna capture that “PERFECT” pool shot?  I call it the  S.I. Swimsuit pose:  lay down, arch your back, suck in your stomach, point your toes and smile

  1. Use props:  go all out.  Be dramatic.  Props add visual interest and a fun factor to a shoot.  Order a bouquet of ballons, French beret, designer department story bag, sunglasses, umbrellas, picnic basket, or ladies a great handbag 👜 or straw beach hat just to name a few.   You’ll be amazed at how awesome the pictures will come out! 
  2. Don’t be so silly:  Every picture doesn’t require you to smile.  Smirk, smile with your eyes 👀 and eyebrows. 
  3. Carry flats wear 👠.  Depending on the theme of your shoot heels may or not work Ex. Shooting on a mountain side (although knowing me.. I’d show up in a gown and heels just to get the shot.  However, flats/sneakers works out the best. 
  4. Shoot in the early mornings between the hours of 6am-9am.  or early evening roughly the same time 6p-9p.  While you may feel the inclination to sleep in as most people do but I promise you’ll be thankful you set the alarm and didn’t hit snooze!    Why you ask?  Particularly in the mornings the crowds are lowest and so is the temperature.  There’s also  less background noise as in people photobombing etc.  the same can be said during the early evening … most people are getting ready for dinner or maybe putting the kids in bed so the crowds start to thin out. Some of the best lighting can be found at these times as well. 
  5. Know your light. Depending on your skin hue proper lighting is everything! If you’re fair skinned too much light can wash you out to where you basically fade.  If you’re darker skinned like me too much sun/light can make you appear orangy-brown conversely as a darker skinned person if the sunlight is behind you your photos may come out shadowy.  You’ll get a silhouette effect.  While that is cool and creative you may not want all your pics to have shadows and be more vivid. 
  6. Action!  A good photographer knows how to direct and give you assurance.   He/she has the power to create the mood/ energy but so do you! Bring your A game, smile and energy and get ready for a wonderful photoshoot. 
  7. Cheaper isn’t always better. Sometimes searching for the lowest bidder isn’t the most ideal. 

    Here are things I look for and questions I ask when shopping for a photographer in general.

         A.  I look for clarity and picture quality.  Do their photos resonate with me?  It’s all about the details.  Are they using visually interesting techniques like the use of blurred background and closeups?  Does the photo tell a story.  Is the background lined up properly?  Are building tops being cut off?  How’s the color?  If you’re darker or fairer skinned how does their photos look with people who look like you.  Not everyone can balance the lighting well for darker/fair skin. Ask for samples of their work.  Stalk their social media pages, get references. Are they just a point and shoot type photographer or do they get down and dirty with it? 

       B.  Ask about the equipment used.  Do they have multiple lenses, light screen to direct and filter the light to give the best  image.   While you may not understand all the technical specs the jist here it make sure the “photographer” isn’t just relying on his/her iPhones.  Trust me those types of “photographers” do exist.  

       C. Understand what you are getting. Will you own the rights to your photos?  Will they retouch if necessary?   Can you bring an external drive and get copies of all the photos taken? Most professional photographers use Wetransfer or smug mug to send photos.  Gaining access to all your photos is helpful for many reasons but the main one being YOU get to choose and pick your “best” photos versus allowing someone who is unfamiliar with you and doesn’t know your “good” side from bad to pick their definition of what’s the best.  Does that make sense?  It’s all about you controlling the outcome. 

D.  How many “looks” can I have?   This is a biggie.  Most people naturally and rightfully so want to maximize the photography session but the reality is..  especially when you’re on a 1 hour location shoot it gets pretty hard to do so and keep within time.  You can vary your look with the use of props as mentioned before.  Add a scarf, switch out a top or bottom if the location has a place to achieve as much.  Studio sessions are bit more accommodating in that regard.  If you truly desire multiple looks its best to pre-arrange that in advance and maybe ante up and pay for an additional hour. 

  1. So where do you look for photographers out of the country and what’s been your experience?  In the world of social media frenzy that’s honestly the first place  I look for photographers.                                                                                                                                                            *   Using hashtag keyword searches like #parisphotographer #photographersinparis #parisianphotographers #parisphotography and #xyzcountryphotographer you get the drift.  Sidenote:  similar search patterns is also how I determine what things I want to do or go see in said countries/cities.                                                                                                                                                           *  Another clever method is to comb photos of the destination on social media and most often photo cred is 📸 listed.                                                                                                             

     *   Airbnb now offers experiences and one of them is photography.  WORD OF CAUTION: Not all photographers are created equal!  The range of ability and legit photography skills ranges from amateur to seasoned vet.  Along with the range of skills is also the range in pricing.   I’ve seen ads on Airbnb for example when I was searching for one in Chefchouen Morocco… where the Airbnb experience photographer stated she would bring her iPhone and do a walking tour shoot.  Now she wasn’t overly expensive but is that what you really want?  You could likely achieve the same results by using your own tripod, a remote and a good light kit for fractions of the cost.  Even then it’s a matter of choosing based on quality not cost.  Yes, usually the cheaper photogs book out fast as do the really really good ones.                                                                                                                                                         *  Lastly if you’re on Facebook canvas travel groups as there’s an abundance of them out there and feel free to ask for recommendations as well.  You never know who in your “friends” list has suggestions.   Sidenote:  let’s also not forget about google searches.   I personally prefer private business photographers versus organized photographer society/organizations that have multiple freelance photographers on staff.  Why?  I like people who are flexible, accommodating and not looking at the clock or keeping to a schedule. 

  2. How much should I expect to pay? Prices may vary based on season, tourist traffic, time of year and location.  I’ve used private photographers in Morocco, Rome, and Paris.  The range has been typically around $250-$350 per hour.   Sidenote: typically a good photog also knows a good MUA just in case you were in the market for one. Coming in significantly cheaper their fees can run from $50 for one look to upwards $100 especially if you’re getting lashes.  When it comes to photographers I can’t say it enough about getting what you pay for. There’s also the random photographer who targets selfie taking girl groups, fashionistas and couples. I encountered one recently at the Trocadero square in Paris which has killer views of the Eiffel Tower.  While polite he approached us and offered his services.  The good is that there was no pressure nor commitment.  He also said he had no set price just make a “donation” that you felt was proper.  He also sent the pics directly to my phone after shooting and doing some small editing.  Worked like a charm.  He left me with 8 pics.  Satisfied I paid him a fair 35 euro.  He was happy and so was I.  TIP:  I’m a very picky and selective person and not everyone can capture me with the right lighting so I had him do a few test shots to see if I approved of his style/technique before going full on mini-shoot. 

    I approved and we proceeded.  I took the bait and it worked out in this case.  DEFINITELY USE CAUTION!  

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