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Cyber Monday is here! Save 60% on Workshops and Courses!

We have massive savings in our storefront and we don’t want you to miss this opportunity to get one of our available tools for 60% off that can change your business forever that is 100% guaranteed! Visit the storefront now! The Hottest Selling Items: Buy The Store If you want to have a thriving business that gives you a great income and every tool you need to shoot incredible images, then you need this bundle. It will give you everything you need to know to take your shooting & business to the next level. Includes: The Complete Wedding Course ($500 value) The 6-Figure Business Course ($500 value) IN-CAMERA: Light ($249 value) IN-CAMERA: Natural Light ($249 value) Lighting Fast Post-Production ($249 value) Reception Lighting Made Easy ($249 value) Harvest Business Workshop Studio Lighting Made Easy ($249 value)  Save 70% off the regular price of $2,495 and get all of this for just $849! BONUS! Includes a 90 day FREE trial of ShootFlow, The Proven Workflow Solution! ($87 value) Grab the bundle now! The Complete Wedding Course (NEW!) The Complete Wedding Course is almost here (early spring 2017)! Follow us along on an entire REAL wedding shot LIVE in Nashville, TN! Walk with us in incredible HD footage as we guide you through our entire approach to photographing amazing images no matter what type of wedding day you are dealt. BONUS! Includes a 90 day FREE trial of ShootFlow, The Proven Workflow Solution! This Complete Wedding Course will cover: All aspects of the wedding day (getting ready, portraits, ceremony, reception, lighting, locations, posing, cameras and lenses and more) Interaction with their clients to get the best images possible Controlling the wedding day schedule to...
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We have massive savings in our storefront and we don’t want you to miss this opportunity to get one of our available tools for 60% off that can change your business forever that is 100% guaranteed!

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Visit the storefront now!

The Hottest Selling Items:

Buy The Store

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If you want to have a thriving business that gives you a great income and every tool you need to shoot incredible images, then you need this bundle. It will give you everything you need to know to take your shooting & business to the next level.

Includes:

  1. The Complete Wedding Course ($500 value)
  2. The 6-Figure Business Course ($500 value)
  3. IN-CAMERA: Light ($249 value)
  4. IN-CAMERA: Natural Light ($249 value)
  5. Lighting Fast Post-Production ($249 value)
  6. Reception Lighting Made Easy ($249 value)
  7. Harvest Business Workshop
  8. Studio Lighting Made Easy ($249 value) 

Save 70% off the regular price of $2,495 and get all of this for just $849!

BONUS! Includes a 90 day FREE trial of ShootFlow, The Proven Workflow Solution! ($87 value)

Grab the bundle now!


The Complete Wedding Course (NEW!)

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The Complete Wedding Course is almost here (early spring 2017)!

Follow us along on an entire REAL wedding shot LIVE in Nashville, TN!

Walk with us in incredible HD footage as we guide you through our entire approach to photographing amazing images no matter what type of wedding day you are dealt.

BONUS! Includes a 90 day FREE trial of ShootFlow, The Proven Workflow Solution!

This Complete Wedding Course will cover:

  • All aspects of the wedding day (getting ready, portraits, ceremony, reception, lighting, locations, posing, cameras and lenses and more)
  • Interaction with their clients to get the best images possible
  • Controlling the wedding day schedule to get incredible images without getting in the way of the flow of the day
  • Making great images out of tough locations
  • Tons of footage of the in-between moments
  • Learn the approach to shooting weddings with complete confidence
  • HUGE bonuses (announced soon!)

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Grab the wedding course now Save $200!


Business Course

6 Weeks to a 6-Figure Income

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BONUS! Includes a 90 day FREE trial of ShootFlow, The Proven Workflow Solution! 

This brand new course is unlike anything we have ever done before!

This course takes everything we have ever taught about business, marketing, sales and strategy to build a 6-figure business and turns it into a 6-week milestone course that helps you build a path to success!

Includes 6 Weeks of Content each Containing:

  • Weekly videos by Zach and Jody
  • Course Work
  • Downloads
  • Creating a vision for your business
  • Selling without being “salesy”
  • How to put together a solid brand
  • Getting new clients in the door
  • Pricing yourself for maximum profit
  • INCREASE your income!

The process is proven and thousands photographers have used this system to double their income, get better clients and have more fun with less stress!

Grab the business course now! Save $300!


IN-CAMERA: Light

The off-camera lighting system

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If you want to take insane images in even the worst lighting conditions, then this is the workshop for you! The Off-Camera Lighting System shows you are SIMPLE approach to taking incredible flash photos with ease!

BONUS! Includes a 90 day FREE trial of ShootFlow, The Proven Workflow Solution! 

Get ready to rock your off-camera imagery!

IN-CAMERA: Light video workshop will:

  • Remove the guesswork from off-camera lighting
  • Boost your confidence in any lighting situation
  • Give a fast and efficient step-by-step process to follow
  • Reduce your editing time significantly
  • Enable you to add unique imagery to your body of work

IN-CAMERA: Light video workshop includes:

  • Four hours of content
  • 25 live shooting demonstrations in difficult and varying lighting situations
  • 6 bonus chapters
  • Classroom explanation and instruction time
  • Gear must-haves

Much, much more!

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Learn off-camera lighting now (Save 60%)!


Low-Light Receptions Made Easy

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This digital workshop is tailored for any photographer (beginner to advanced) who wants to confidently walk into any low-light situations and capture beautifully lit images without any guesswork.

BONUS! Includes a 90 day FREE trial of ShootFlow, The Proven Workflow Solution!

IN-CAMERA: Low-Light Receptions Made Easy will:

  • Equip you to know how to use your speedlite
  • Boost your confidence in any low-lit situation
  • Share the systematic process and steps that Zach & Jody used for over 8 years to capture beautifully lit images in difficult lighting scenarios

IN-CAMERA: Low-Light Receptions Made Easy includes:

  • 2 hours of instruction and live shooting
  • 17 different live shooting demonstrations in varying reception scenarios
  • 6 bonus chapters
  • Classroom explanation and instruction time
  • Gear must-haves
  • Zach & Jody’s step-by-step systematic lighting process

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Get low-lit receptions now!


IN-CAMERA: Shooting 

The Natural Light Photography System

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Learn how to nail your color, exposure and all natural light images with ease with our step-by-step systematic approach! Never miss a great natural lit shot again!

BONUS! Includes a 90 day FREE trial of ShootFlow, The Proven Workflow Solution! 

  • Learn how to shoot in any natural-lighting conditions
  • Get amazing images IN-CAMERA
  • Reduce your editing time significantly
  • Have complete confidence any time you walk out on a shoot
  • Get your life back so you can spend time with family or friends or spend time building your business and shooting more
  • 3 hours of instructional material
  • 19 live shooting demonstrations
  • Clear, step-by-step explanation of the entire systematic natural-lighting process
  • You will walk away with better images that will amaze your clients before you even take them out of your camera

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Nail your natural lit shots now! (Save 60%)!


IN-CAMERA: Post 

The Lighting Fast Post Production System

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Want to edit an entire wedding in just 2.5 hours?

Want to cut your editing time in half or more?

This is the workshop for you as you can easily learn our tips and tricks for cutting your editing workflow down significantly!

BONUS! Includes a 90 day FREE trial of ShootFlow, The Proven Workflow Solution!

IN-CAMERA: Post will:

  • Share the systematic editing process and steps that Zach uses in his 2.5 hour wedding workflow (yes, you read that right – 2.5 hours)
  • Reduce your editing time
  • Help you organize all of your images and shoots
  • Help you reclaim your life
  • Get ready to reclaim your life!

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Reduce your editing time now (Save 60%)!


Harvest: 

The 3 Steps to Growing a Thriving Photo Business

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Learn how to build a 6-figure photography business with our proven step-by-step system to enhance your marketing, sales and referrals to build the brand of your dreams!

BONUS! Includes a 90 day FREE trial of ShootFlow, The Proven Workflow Solution! 

Run Time: 4 hrs 41 minutes

Includes:

  • Creating a Lasting Business – Setting yourself up for success
  • Creating Purpose – Having your life count for something
  • Having a Mission – Saying yes to less by gaining a focus for what you do
  • Standing Out – Differentiating yourself from everyone else
  • Organically Marketing Your Business So Others Sell You
  • Marketing Myths – What lies have we accepted that could be hurting our businesses?
  • Client Marketing – How to find clients and get them to LOVE you
  • Qualifying Clients – Attracting and bring in your perfect clientele
  • Pricing | Packages vs. A la Carte – Finding the best way to increase your booking amount
  • Pricing Strategies – Sales tips to increase your bottom line
  • Business Finances – Wisely manage your growing income
  • Dreaming Big Dreams – Growing your business by vision casting
  • Executing Goals – A plan to actually implement the steps to a thriving business

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Grow your photo business now! (Save 60%)!


Raw

Master Studio Lighting

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Learn studio lighting with this album cover shoot! Zach teaches how to create dynamic lighting in the studio and how to use multiple lights and different modifiers with ease! Get creative in the RAW digital workshop!

BONUS! Includes a 90 day FREE trial of ShootFlow, The Proven Workflow Solution! 

Includes:

  • 5 Full Lighting Set Ups
  • Multiple Light Techniques
  • Creative Lighting
  • Creative Shooting Technique
  • Multiple Modifiers
  • Ground Glass Shooting
  • Light Feathering Technique for ultra soft light
  • FULL editing of each of the 5 set ups
  • Photoshop Techniques
  • Run time of 2 Hours

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Learn studio lighting now (Save 60%)!

We’re excited to make this content available for you at a ridiculously low price! Don’t miss out :)


PS. This sale ends Monday at 11:59pm, but there are only 100 of each product and we WILL sell out, so do not wait!

PPS. Want to see the trailers for each of the videos? Check them out here!

1 easy idea to get your current clients to refer you more often

  (Image from the Complete Wedding Course by Zach & Jody) Let’s get one thing straight… Brides KNOW other brides, and many times they are standing right next to her on the wedding day. You need your current client referring you to ALL of her friends that are potential clients. But how in the world do you get her to do that? The answer is extremely simple. “Give your clients a reason to talk about you, then give them the tool they need to share you in an effective way.”  – Jody Gray (tweet this out!)    My wife is one smart cookie. She realized very early on in our business that we only needed to figure out how to get our first few clients when we started our business. After that, we needed the top clients, the best ones, to send us ALL of their friends. If we could get them to do that, we would quickly have a business full of amazing clients that we wanted to work with. Sound easy? It is!  Sort of.   A Reason To Talk It all starts with giving your client an exceptional experience that they can’t help but talk about! Seth Godin said in his amazing book The Purple Cow, “Are you making really good stuff in your business? If so, how fast can you stop!” What he meant was that it is not nearly good enough offer really good service or really good products in today’s business. You need to instead offer something great, and great is usually something unique or different. It is unique, in the photography industry,  to offer...
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(Image from the Complete Wedding Course by Zach & Jody)

Let’s get one thing straight… Brides KNOW other brides, and many times they are standing right next to her on the wedding day. You need your current client referring you to ALL of her friends that are potential clients. But how in the world do you get her to do that? The answer is extremely simple.

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Adding impact and drama to your images by layering shots

Today’s post is about something that is actually very simple to do, and adds lots of depth to our compositions and is also fun to experiment with! Layering compositions. Any time that you can take an image from having 2 layers (which is common in most images) and add another layer, the composition becomes much more 3 dimensional and adds impact. Many images are simply a subject and a background like this shot. But if we can find a way to add another layer to the composition, then we can add impact and drama to the shot and many times further pull ourselves out of the shot and make it more about the client.   The next image below is a nice moment of the groom smiling after seeing the bride for the first time. Simple shot with the couple in the foreground and a simple background.   But this below images is sooo much more dramatic! When Jody captured this, she saw these tree branches and quickly jumped behind them and framed the couple in-between a clearing. The images seems much more emotional and it appears as though we are peering in on the moment. This last example is an image we shot WAY back in 2008 after shooting for just about a year. We were shooting the groomsmen with some cool blue skies doing our off-camera lighting. We lined them up, stuck them in the frame and shot it. But it seemed to not have the impact I was going for, so we re-framed the image to what you see below… In the final shot, we simply...
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Today’s post is about something that is actually very simple to do, and adds lots of depth to our compositions and is also fun to experiment with! Layering compositions.

Any time that you can take an image from having 2 layers (which is common in most images) and add another layer, the composition becomes much more 3 dimensional and adds impact. Many images are simply a subject and a background like this shot.
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How to use an incentive to book more shoots

When we were shooting weddings, we had a 95% close rate when someone sat down to meet with us about their wedding day. This wasn’t luck and wasn’t because we are the best wedding photographers. It was because we know why people buy, and made sure to give people what they wanted. Today we want to teach you one of the tools we used so you can start to get the same results. The Why of Buy  People show up when there is a sale, people buy cars when the dealer throws in a set of tires, and when what you want might be gone tomorrow, people buy because of scarcity because no one wants to miss out. We know that people buy when they see value, when there is scarcity, when they feel safe, and when they are incentivize.  So how can we use these facts to help give our clients what they want and help us close more deals? Simple, INCENTIVIZE! (Click here to Tweet this out!)   When a client comes in and sits down with you to decide whether or not they are going to book you, there sometimes comes a moment right after you “close” (ask them if they are ready to book you), that they hesitate. This hesitation is what I call “riding the fence.” They didn’t say no to you, and they didn’t say yes. They are right on the fence and just need a little, soft push from you to fall on your side. In these situations, we always have an Ace in our pocket (an incentive). We would use an...
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When we were shooting weddings, we had a 95% close rate when someone sat down to meet with us about their wedding day. This wasn’t luck and wasn’t because we are the best wedding photographers. It was because we know why people buy, and made sure to give people what they wanted. Today we want to teach you one of the tools we used so you can start to get the same results.

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3 ways to shoot at sunset | Part 3

(This is a 3 part series, and you can access part 1 HERE and part 2 HERE for further images, diagrams and info!)  In part 1, we talked through shooting backlit as the sun is still a little high in the sky and how to get that “glow” on your images that all portrait shooters love. In part 2, we talked about adding contrast to your images by using the just-setting sun directly to get a completely different look. Now, here in part 3, we are going to cover shooting with highly reduced contrast as the sun finally goes down. The image above was shot AFTER the sun had completely set. This is a great time to shoot because the sun itself is not a source of light that we have to deal with, but rather the sky (that the set sun is still lighting up). The sky is now one HUGE soft-box that creates really soft light that has reduced contrast due to its large size in comparison to our subjects. As you can see in the final images, the shots are soft, slightly flat, and have a very low contrast ratio from highlight to dark. This time of day looks best with clear to partly cloudy skies so that the sun can bounce off the sky and send light our way. If we have an overcast day, then this timeframe for shooting can look really dreary and dark without some sort of additional lighting or lighting modifiers. The great thing about shooting in this light, is there is not much instruction needed for HOW to do it,...
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(This is a 3 part series, and you can access part 1 HERE and part 2 HERE for further images, diagrams and info!) 

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In part 1, we talked through shooting backlit as the sun is still a little high in the sky and how to get that “glow” on your images that all portrait shooters love. In part 2, we talked about adding contrast to your images by using the just-setting sun directly to get a completely different look. Now, here in part 3, we are going to cover shooting with highly reduced contrast as the sun finally goes down.

The image above was shot AFTER the sun had completely set. This is a great time to shoot because the sun itself is not a source of light that we have to deal with, but rather the sky (that the set sun is still lighting up). The sky is now one HUGE soft-box that creates really soft light that has reduced contrast due to its large size in comparison to our subjects.

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As you can see in the final images, the shots are soft, slightly flat, and have a very low contrast ratio from highlight to dark.

This time of day looks best with clear to partly cloudy skies so that the sun can bounce off the sky and send light our way. If we have an overcast day, then this timeframe for shooting can look really dreary and dark without some sort of additional lighting or lighting modifiers.

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The great thing about shooting in this light, is there is not much instruction needed for HOW to do it, because we just have one gigantic light that is really easy to deal with. We can have our subjects posed in ways that flatter them, and then just expect to see everything since the light is hitting it all. You do have to be careful at this time of day because you can’t use light (or the lack thereof) to hide any parts of your client that you may not want to see. You have to use posing and correct lens choices to get flattering images. But, as you can see, the images will all have very soft skin tones that is flattering in that respect.

With these three options for shooting at sunset, you should be able to get a great wide variety of images in a very short amount of time that your clients will love! Now get out there and shoot!

 

3 ways to shoot at sunset with natural light | Part 2

(For part 1 in this series, click HERE)  After the sun starts to just dip into the horizon, but BEFORE it is completely hidden from view, we like to create some photos that have more contrast and depth versus the ones we did in part 1 of this series. Here are the simple steps to do this. Step 1. Short Light the Ladies We will position our ladies so that the sun is coming in just over their shoulder in order to create a very flattering lighting effect on their body, and also give the image depth and dimension. The guys can be placed with the light hitting them a little more straight on, but then the key here is to position the camera so that the lighting is coming from the right (or left) side of us like in the image above. This allows the camera to see the highlights and shadows that the light is creating. If we just walked over and put the sun to our back, then the image would come out flat and because there is still a bit of direct sun coming at them, it would be pretty unflattering. Step 2. Use Open Sky for Fill If you place your subjects in the exact same way as we did here, but to camera left had a big dark building or a bunch of dense trees, then you would not have much detail on the shadow side of the body. We prefer to have some details on the shadow side, so we use the open sky to camera left in order to create fill-light...
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(For part 1 in this series, click HERE) 

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After the sun starts to just dip into the horizon, but BEFORE it is completely hidden from view, we like to create some photos that have more contrast and depth versus the ones we did in part 1 of this series. Here are the simple steps to do this.

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3 ways to shoot at sunset with natural light | Part 1

This is a 3 part series and parts 2 and 3 will come out this Thursday  and next Tuesday respectively! :)  Natural light, at just the right time of day or in the right circumstances can be a thing of beauty. Today, we want to talk about 3 key ways that we use natural light during sunset in order to get 3 completely different looks. Variety is important to you as an artist to keep your work fresh, and it gives your clients great choices which can help lead to more sales.   Set-Up #1 – Backlit Diffusion   The image above was shot at about 45 minutes prior to the sun-setting. When the sun is still a little high in the sky, we tend to use this method we will talk about today as our first option. There are the 3 key things we do in order to make the light soft and have the subtle “glow” to it that you see here. When you follow these steps, you will get really stunning lighting on your images that your clients will LOVE! Step 1. Find Natural Diffusion  First, we find something to take the sun (which is still a little bit up in the sky) and diffuse it, but NOT block it completely. Then, we put their backs to the sun so the light creates a nice halo effect around them. We live in TN and we have LOTS of trees here, so we try and find one with some colored leaves on it that can tone down the power of the light and give us that glow and vibrant...
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This is a 3 part series and parts 2 and 3 will come out this Thursday  and next Tuesday respectively! :)

 Natural light, at just the right time of day or in the right circumstances can be a thing of beauty. Today, we want to talk about 3 key ways that we use natural light during sunset in order to get 3 completely different looks. Variety is important to you as an artist to keep your work fresh, and it gives your clients great choices which can help lead to more sales.

 

Set-Up #1 – Backlit Diffusion

 

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The image above was shot at about 45 minutes prior to the sun-setting. When the sun is still a little high in the sky, we tend to use this method we will talk about today as our first option. There are the 3 key things we do in order to make the light soft and have the subtle “glow” to it that you see here. When you follow these steps, you will get really stunning lighting on your images that your clients will LOVE!

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8 Ways to Master Tack-Sharp Group Portraits | Amy & Jordan

Do you ever take a photo of a large group of people that you love, only to get home, zoom in, and realize that it’s not in focus or discover that not every face is tack sharp? It’s the WORST FEELING! We’re here to help with that! Here are eight quick tips to ensure your group photos will be sharp! 1. ONE SHOOTER, ONE ORGANIZER We always divide and conquer family & group portraits to expedite the process. Amy stays near the group, reads off combinations, poses and positions each person, and looks for anything that’s out of order. This gives Jordan the chance to worry about one thing: getting the pictures in focus. Splitting up the roles has really helped us execute this well, because trying to do both is just too much for one person (in our opinion), and can lead to mistakes with the camera. 2. LINE UP THEIR FEET Groups have a tendency to curl in on the ends to make a U-shape without even realizing it! We all do it — even photographers! — but it’s a problem when trying to get everyone in focus, because as the people on the ends curl up, they’re leaving the focal plane of the people in the middle. So, if you focus on the person in the middle, then the people on the outsides will be out of focus, and vice versa. Amy uses the direction, “Let’s line up your toes,” to help them get straightened out and back on the same plane. 3.TRY TO AVOID MULTIPLE ROWS WHEN POSSIBLE If you’re able to get everyone lined...
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Do you ever take a photo of a large group of people that you love, only to get home, zoom in, and realize that it’s not in focus or discover that not every face is tack sharp? It’s the WORST FEELING!

We’re here to help with that! Here are eight quick tips to ensure your group photos will be sharp!

1. ONE SHOOTER, ONE ORGANIZER

We always divide and conquer family & group portraits to expedite the process. Amy stays near the group, reads off combinations, poses and positions each person, and looks for anything that’s out of order. This gives Jordan the chance to worry about one thing: getting the pictures in focus. Splitting up the roles has really helped us execute this well, because trying to do both is just too much for one person (in our opinion), and can lead to mistakes with the camera.

2. LINE UP THEIR FEET

Groups have a tendency to curl in on the ends to make a U-shape without even realizing it! We all do it — even photographers! — but it’s a problem when trying to get everyone in focus, because as the people on the ends curl up, they’re leaving the focal plane of the people in the middle. So, if you focus on the person in the middle, then the people on the outsides will be out of focus, and vice versa. Amy uses the direction, “Let’s line up your toes,” to help them get straightened out and back on the same plane.

3.TRY TO AVOID MULTIPLE ROWS WHEN POSSIBLE

If you’re able to get everyone lined up on the same focal plane, that’s best. If you have to do two lines, just make sure and remind the people in the back row to get uncomfortably close to the people in front of them. The farther apart the subjects are (from front to back), the more difficult it will be to get everyone in focus. The closer they are together, the easier.

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4. FOCUS ON THE PEOPLE IN THE FRONT

If you have a two rows of people standing, make sure to focus on someone in the front and center. Aperture, like a lot of things in photography, works in a system of thirds. So, if your aperture is f/4, then within that focal plane, wherever you focus, 1/3 of that will go forward and 2/3 will go backward. In other words, when you focus on someone in the front, you just need them to be in focus, and nothing in front of them, but you do need the people behind them to be in focus, so you’ll have a better chance of doing that if you give them the extra 2/3 of that aperture’s focal depth.

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5. PICK THE RIGHT APERTURE

If we’re shooting a bride and groom and their parents or a small grouping of bridesmaids or groomsmen (of about 4 people), and they’re all on the same focal plane, we’ll shoot it at f/2.8 to get them all in focus and have nice bokeh in the background. If we’re shooting a full bridal party (of about 10-18 people), and they’re all on the same focal plane, then we’ll bump our aperture up a full stop to f/4.0 (if that makes you uncomfortable, you can always go to f/5.6, but we like f/4.0). We’ll do the same if there’s a second row added in on a small grouping, as long as everyone is very close together, like we explained earlier. If there’s a third row, we’ll go to at least f/5.6 and maybe even f/8.0, but we rarely encounter that because most of our clients usually just want immediate family in the photos: parents, siblings, and grandparents. As a rule of thumb, though, we tend to hang out at f/4.0 for most of family portrait time and keep the groupings smaller, because even though we give up some of the bokeh in the background compared to f/2.8, we’ll trade that for guaranteed in-focus family shots any day of the week. Your client won’t notice the difference between f/2.8 and f/4.0, but they will notice if they’re blurry!

A lens’s sharpest aperture isn’t actually its highest number (like f/22). For most lenses, it’s around f/8 – f/11, so if you’re really worried about getting everyone in a layered group shot sharp and in focus, something in that range will definitely do the trick!

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6. KEEP YOUR SHUTTER SPEED FAST

Your shutter should always be double your focal length — at least. We shoot a lot of our family portraits with a Canon 70-200 2.8 at 200mm because it allows us to compress the subjects (which makes everyone look SO good!) and pull in a small piece of the background and get clean, non-distracting shots, so that means we keep our shutter at around 400 just to be safe. Can that lens handle a slower shutter? Yes, probably. We shoot it lower than that all the time, but not during group formals. It’s just not worth it. If you’re not getting enough light, bump up your ISO one stop to keep your shutter fast. You’ll never notice the grain, and neither will anyone else.

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7. WATCH OUT FOR LENS FLARE

If sunlight is hitting your lens directly and you see lens flare, make an adjustment before you start family portraits. Sun flare can cause the camera to have trouble focusing 100%. You might not even notice sun flare right away, but even if it’s subtle, it can still create a tack-sharp focusing issue. We recommend lens hoods in situations like that. Sometimes we’re limited to where we can shoot family portraits, so if the only spot available is somewhere that has sunlight hitting the lens directly, a good lens hood will minimize or eliminate that. If you can’t get rid of all of it, you can always have a second shooter or assistant hold a diffuser over the camera, like a a reflector or umbrella, to shade the lens.

8. CHECK YOUR LCD SCREEN

Every time we take a set of group formals, we quickly zoom in and check the LCD before we move on to the next combination. It takes a few seconds to make sure everyone’s eyes are open and in focus, and it’s so worth it. We’re committed to getting everything right in-camera so that we don’t have to pay someone to Photoshop eyes onto a subject whose are closed, so, instead, we double-check on-site and do the shot one more time if we need to. It’s worth it to get it right while we’re there!

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Friend, we hope that these tips help you get your family portraits in focus every time! If you try these tips and you’re still having trouble, it might be time to send your lens or camera in for an inspection. We’ve had to replace our shutter after too much wear. But most of the time, these tricks will do the trick! We’ll be anxious to hear how things turn out!

Until then, we have another awesome resource for you! Click here to watch our 5 Secret Photography Life Hacks to learn five quick practical and applicable takeaways to bring your photography game to the next level in less than ten minutes! By clicking that link, you’ll get instant access to this free video, and as a bonus, you’ll also receive helpful weekly tips from Amy and Jordan. The best part? It’s all totally free!
We’re cheering for you!
Amy and Jordan

PS. HAVE YOU WATCHED THE FREE VIDEO YET? WE KNOW IT WILL HELP BOOST YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY GAME. DON’T MISS IT!
WATCH IT FOR FREE BY CLICKING THIS LINK. WHEN YOU CLICK, YOU’LL GET INSTANT ACCESS TO THE VIDEO AND HELPFUL WEEKLY TIPS LIKE THESE FROM AMY AND JORDAN! FOR FREE!

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Contrast & Curves | Jared Platt

Happy Tuesday! This week we are featuring a guest post from Lightroom Master, Jared Platt. Jared is a photographer and educator based out of Arizona. We hope you enjoy! Contrast & Curves It’s time to get your contrast under control with tone curves. A large part of photography is judging the various tones that make up an image and deciding where they should be placed in the final presentation of the print. Both in the image display of our cameras and in Adobe Lightroom, we see this tonal distribution visually represented in the histogram. The simple name for this tonal distribution is “contrast” and as photographers, we are constantly trying to control it. Reading the histogram and controlling the placement of tones within the image is one of the most important skills a photographer can master. We actively adjust image contrast both when we shoot and in post processing. When we shoot, we do this by judging and manipulating the quantity, quality and direction of light. A softer, more diffuse, less directional light creates less contrast. Conversely, harder, more directional light creates brighter highlights and leaves darker shadows which equals more contrast. This is then shown to use on the camera and in Lightroom by way of the histogram. I constantly hear people say that a good exposure is described on the histogram when there is an even distribution of tones all the way across the graph (like in the image below), and while this statement is true for the image above and the histogram below, the advice is actually very poor advice. In reality, a good exposure on...
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Happy Tuesday!

This week we are featuring a guest post from Lightroom Master, Jared Platt. Jared is a photographer and educator based out of Arizona. We hope you enjoy!


Contrast & Curves

It’s time to get your contrast under control with tone curves.

A large part of photography is judging the various tones that make up an image and deciding where they should be placed in the final presentation of the print. Both in the image display of our cameras and in Adobe Lightroom, we see this tonal distribution visually represented in the histogram. The simple name for this tonal distribution is “contrast” and as photographers, we are constantly trying to control it. Reading the histogram and controlling the placement of tones within the image is one of the most important skills a photographer can master.

aspen trees as a contrast example for lightroom curves

We actively adjust image contrast both when we shoot and in post processing. When we shoot, we do this by judging and manipulating the quantity, quality and direction of light. A softer, more diffuse, less directional light creates less contrast. Conversely, harder, more directional light creates brighter highlights and leaves darker shadows which equals more contrast. This is then shown to use on the camera and in Lightroom by way of the histogram. I constantly hear people say that a good exposure is described on the histogram when there is an even distribution of tones all the way across the graph (like in the image below), and while this statement is true for the image above and the histogram below, the advice is actually very poor advice. In reality, a good exposure on the histogram looks like the image it is describing.

well exposed histogram

On a grand scale, fog is the prefect light modifier for reducing contrast. If only we could command the elements and bring it in whenever we needed it. Fog has the effect of bouncing light everywhere and filling in all the shadows, thus everything becomes almost equal in value. No real shadows and no real highlights. We very rarely need this intense effect, but we do use soft boxes and fill reflectors all the time to help fill in the shadows and even out the difference between the shadows and the highlights. Pay attention to the histogram describing this image. When your photograph has no shadows, the histogram should display nothing on the left side of the graph. A proper exposure will avoid allowing the data to clip on the left (shadows) or the right (highlights) of the histogram, but the graph in between the either edge should be an accurate description of the tones you are seeing in the scene.

swedish soldiers in fog

In photography, the further apart the shadows and the highlights are on the histogram, the higher the contrast will be in the image. In life, we create contrast by making friends with strange people, or having peculiar pets. The more peculiar and different the greater the contrast. I had two dogs growing up, one was a tiny little Cockapoo, the other was a big Golden Lab, who was also the fattest dog in Norther Arizona (he has an award to prove it)! Just watching them run down the road together was entertaining. As with Shroder and Uggums (my dogs), the further apart we are in looks or temperament from our companions, the more drastic the contrast will be in our lives, which results in more drama. This is not to say contrast and drama make the best images. Low contrast images, like the image above, create a sense of quiet which has equal value.

In the end, our choices in image contrast change the feeling our images produce. Because of this, post-production really matters and contrast is a critical portion of that. We use the contrast slider and the tone curve to make these final contrast adjustments. The contrast slider is the simple way to change the contrast in an image, but it is also the least subtle. It is like using an axe to cut your sandwich. You will definitely cut the sandwich in two, but you will also cut the plate and most likely the table as well. If you want to maximize your control over the contrast in your image you need to master the use of the Tone Curve panel. Take a look at the image below and notice that the contrast slider is left at zero. The major contrast work is achieved in the tone curves area of Lightroom, both in the Parametric and the Point Curve areas of the Tone Curves Panel. You can see that there are five different curves at work in this one image. The lower contrast in the image helps to soften the model’s already soft look. When you are creating a tone curve for the first time, keep in mind that you should only really need to do this once. If you like the effect you have created, make a preset for that tone curve to make it simple and efficient to apply your complicated curve in the future.

lightroom curve panels

I have created a short video on Using the Tone Curve Panel in Lightroom to get you started into exploring this powerful tool in Lightroom. After watching the video, I encourage you to spend some time playing with your images in Lightroom using the Tone Curve pane in the Develop Module, and to get you started, make sure you download the free Tone Curve based presets I have created for you.

Using Tone Curves in Adobe Lightroom

Tone Curve Video Cover

Which tones you emphasize or de-emphasize can vary widely depending on the mood you want to create and where we want the viewer to focus. I may use dramatic lighting or soft lighting depending on the story I am telling — bright and happy, or dark and moody. However I light my subject, or set my exposure at the camera, I have only told half the story. The other half of the story is told when I open the image in Adobe Lightroom and make adjustments to the image. That is, as Ansel Adams said, the performance of the score (the capture being the musical score). We captured the sequence of the notes in our camera, but the way we play them out in post-processing provides infinite possibilities for performance. Mastering all of your tools (or instruments) is the first step to gaining complete control over your photographic voice.

Post Script: The contrast control in the tone curves panel is not only the superior place to tweak your contrast, but it is also a better place to create split tones and even cross processing effects. The power in the tone curve is quite intense. For this reason I use the tone curve in a lot of my Lightroom Presets. Let me get you started by giving you a small set of three great Classic Black and White Lightroom Presets that use the tone curve as the basis for their effect.

Cover image for free classic black and white lightroom presets

Are you a high contrast or low contrast shooter? Do you like big drama, or subtle dreamy tones? How do you achieve your signature look with contrast? I’d love to hear from you.

3 Quick Tricks for Shooting in Harsh Light During Ceremonies | Amy & Jordan

If you’ve EVER shot an outdoor wedding ceremony before, you know that sometimes the light isn’t ideal! In fact, a lot of times, it can be REALLY harsh! Especially when the bride is first coming down the aisle! We have three quick tips for shooting outdoor ceremonies in harsh light that should hopefully make things a little easier for you! 1. Have Dad Walk the Bride Down the Aisle on the Side that Blocks the Sun Now in an ideal world, we’d have soft, even light from head to toe during every outdoor ceremony, but that’s just rarely the case! And the sun is always the harshest at the beginning of the ceremony, when the sun is still higher in the sky. Even though there is typically a “side” protocol for the bride and the groom during the ceremony, in all our wedding experience, we’ve seen Dad walk on either side of the bride as he escorts her down the aisle. We’ve found that when we put Dad on the same side as the sun, since he’s usually taller, he blocks the light that would be hitting his daughter, putting her in perfect, even, shaded light — which we love! As you can see in the picture below. Now, again, in our perfect world, Dad isn’t getting hit by the sun either, but if we had to choose, we’re always Team Bride first! You’ll also want to note the angle (which we’ll get to in point two!). 2. Be Strategic About Side Angles Even when the ceremony is earlier in the day, there’s typically one side that is softer...
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If you’ve EVER shot an outdoor wedding ceremony before, you know that sometimes the light isn’t ideal! In fact, a lot of times, it can be REALLY harsh! Especially when the bride is first coming down the aisle!

We have three quick tips for shooting outdoor ceremonies in harsh light that should hopefully make things a little easier for you!

1. Have Dad Walk the Bride Down the Aisle on the Side that Blocks the Sun

Now in an ideal world, we’d have soft, even light from head to toe during every outdoor ceremony, but that’s just rarely the case! And the sun is always the harshest at the beginning of the ceremony, when the sun is still higher in the sky. Even though there is typically a “side” protocol for the bride and the groom during the ceremony, in all our wedding experience, we’ve seen Dad walk on either side of the bride as he escorts her down the aisle. We’ve found that when we put Dad on the same side as the sun, since he’s usually taller, he blocks the light that would be hitting his daughter, putting her in perfect, even, shaded light — which we love! As you can see in the picture below. Now, again, in our perfect world, Dad isn’t getting hit by the sun either, but if we had to choose, we’re always Team Bride first! You’ll also want to note the angle (which we’ll get to in point two!).

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2. Be Strategic About Side Angles

Even when the ceremony is earlier in the day, there’s typically one side that is softer than the other. It will always be the side that’s opposite where the sun is directly hitting.The shadow side. In this example below, you can see how powerful the sun is based on the way everyone’s hair is lit up. As you can imagine, if we had shot the ring bearer on the other side of his face, the whole thing would have looked harsh and un-ideal! And if we had shot him from the front, his face would’ve been spilt-lit (half over-exposed and the other half under-exposed) But shooting him from this one angle makes the light appear almost angelic! That’s why we find the best angle for the processional and stay there!

The same goes for the image above! Imagine if we had shot Kathleen and her dad coming down the aisle by standing on the side closer to the dad! Dad’s face would’ve been completely gone or Kathleen’s would’ve been way too dark! Shooting from Kathleen’s side was imperative to the shot. During portrait time, we always have full control of where everyone stands, but during ceremonies, we have little to no say at all, so angles are everything when it comes to ceremonies! Choose strategically!

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3. Try Shooting From Behind the Altar

During church weddings, we’re typically restricted by the church’s rules on where we can stand, but during outdoor ceremonies, we have a lot more latitude. We always make sure that we’re respectful and discreet, but we also do everything we can to get the best images for our couples. If part or all of the front of the bride’s or groom’s face is in full blazing sun, it’s likely that from somewhere it’s not! We STRIVE for consistency in our images as much as possible even when we have no control over the location, meaning if we’re shooting the bride in shadows, we want to shoot the groom in shadows, too. It makes the images look SO much better for their blog and their album. So, a lot of times at ceremonies, we’ll walk around until we find the shadow side of both of their faces, and shoot those instead of the highlights side. We’ve found that a lot of times, back behind the altar gives us the most even light when the front angle just isn’t cutting it. Just look the difference! The first photo is what you’re used to seeing from us.

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On the left, you’ll see NOT our favorite angle (this was what it looked like from the front!). Notice the harsher, more direct light on her right shoulder and Nick’s left cheek. On the right, you’ll see our favorite angle, taken just seconds later, but from the back of the altar. This is an angle we’d shoot all day long because her face is in the shadows. What a difference, eh?

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In our dream world, we’d get even light from head to toe from beginning to end, but that’s just rarely the case! As the ceremony moves along, the light typically gets softer, which is why we LOVE recessionals! But when you’re in a pickle, pick your angles strategically and remember that ultimately your number one job is to capture precious memories for your couple, regardless of the light!

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Okay, friends! We hope this post helps you at your next wedding ceremony! Go get ’em! In the meantime, we have another awesome resource for you! Click here to watch our 5 Secret Photography Life Hacks to learn five quick practical and applicable takeaways to bring your photography game to the next level in less than ten minutes! The best part? It’s totally free!

We’re cheering for you!

A&J


PS. HAVE YOU WATCHED THE FREE VIDEO YET? WE KNOW IT WILL HELP BOOST YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY GAME. DON’T MISS IT! WATCH IT FOR FREE HERE!

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