Photographing Teens

It’s not a surprise that teens are a the forefront of most selfies. They are getting an understanding of who they are as a somewhat adult but still child.

Self awareness is huge for teens and most already know what they like and don’t dislike and unlike my generation, are more forward in telling you exactly what that is unapologetically.

Teens are also one of the most self aware clients and therefore can sometimes feel a bit self conscious and uncomfortable in front of a stranger that mom and dad paid to photograph them.

So here are my tips for having a great experience with teens!


PRE CONSULTATIONS

I can not stress how important it is for you to have a conversation with your client before any type of session actually takes place. This can be via email, FaceTime, or better yet, in person!

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Ask them what the session is for, why they wanted to hire you, what they need after the session or if the session is with other teens or family.

Also, if you can, get some time with the teen alone, always with mom or dad near by, and talk to them about THEM. Ask them if they’ve had professional photos taken before, what do they want out of the session. If the teen goes mute, which can sometimes happen if they’re around say 14 years old, just keep asking the questions in a light hearted manner.

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Don’t dwell or force them to answer anything they’re unsure of. Teens are unsure of many things. If you can spark up a conversation about you like or perhaps ask them to create a vision board and text it to you.

Giving the teen some say about their own session gives them the authority to dictate what they like, what they don’t and be the creative directors of their own shoot.

Trust me, having their input will help you create images that they’ll love and ultimately get bought, shared, and even mom will enjoy that you got them onboard.

PLAYLISTS / MUSIC

Have music playing. If it’s in studio, on location, or anywhere, create a playlist and even offer the teen to add songs to it if they wish during the session.

You can also bring a small portable speaker and have them connect their phone to it so that their favorite music is playing.

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Music can create an experience unique to the teen and help them feel more comfortable in front of your lens and during the whole session as well.

Music also fills in awkward silent gaps because let’s face it, we’re focused on creating amazing images for them and sometimes, the convo can get a little stale. Music helps to fill in that blank and keep the momentum going even when you’re not talking about anything in particular.

WARDROBE AND STYLING

Teens have some really great style, however sometimes they can use a little help in that department, and we’re not talking about mom or dad.

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Have an add on your packages for styling services with a local hair and makeup person, or you can do a quick inspiration board before the session with all the looks that the teen likes from pinterest or social media.

Creating a cohesive look and getting the wardrobe and styling down before the session can also bring confidence levels up. When you feel and look good, it shows! And teens will like having this confidence boost.

DON’T FORCE IT

Okay, we’ve all been there. Photographing someone and most likely it’s mom who’s begging the children to smile, say cheese, have fun, or otherwise force the child/teen to do something they want.

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It’s best to give the parent a little pep talk, sans teen, and reassure them that the teen is gonna knock this out of the park and that having them just enjoy the experience is much more important.

Let them also know that it’s a rule that if the teen doesn’t smile, we’re not gonna force it. Because sometimes they don’t want to. Sometimes, you’ll get a huge authentic chuckle after the nerves have calmed down.

You might even get them to dance to the music they put on. Just give them some space and time and their personality will shine. There is no need to force it.

GIVE HOVERING PARENTS A JOB

And if the parent is hovering, give them a job to do! I’m a mom, I would totally hover and make sure the session I’m paying for goes how I want. Because I know my kid and I know their real smile versus their fake one, I know what gets them happy and I can always hear their laugh in my head.

But let’s get real, as photographers, that’s super annoying and keeps us from doing our job. And it’ll make the teen never want another session again because of mom or dad.

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My solution to this is to give the parent something to do, hold, or find. This gives them something to do rather than just watch the session. They are actively participating and busy hands don’t have time to hover over the busy photographer.

Even better if the parent is comfortable with going for a quick coffee run or lunch run. That gets them totally out of the room and lets the teen just relax.


What are your tips for sessions with teens? These tips are here to help you at your next session because we want our clients to have the BEST EXPERIENCE POSSIBLE which will let you create amazing photos for them, their parents, family, and everyone!

Until next Friday friends! Oh, and let me know what you’d like to see for future posts!


Want to sponsor a post or contribute some great tips? Email at hello@jackielamas.com

Types of lighting

So a while ago a photographer friend came to me and told me how she recently had a client who told her that a real professional photographer doesn’t use flash.

Yeah, I had to hear the sentence a couple of times, mouth wide open, in full surprise that someone would ever think that! Not because flash is bad or gets a bad rep for being a little too harsh sometimes but let me say this for everyone, clients and photographers:

ALL PHOTOGRAPHERS SHOULD KNOW HOW TO USE DIFFERENT TYPES OF LIGHTING.

Whew, there, I said it. This means that flash, studio strobes, hot lights, flash lights, and even construction lights should not go to waste when the can help you achieve the look that you want and get your shot.

Yep, used flash here to fill in my clients’ faces in order to get the color from the stained glass in the background.

Yep, used flash here to fill in my clients’ faces in order to get the color from the stained glass in the background.

When a photographer can use both artificial light and natural light, there is nothing that photographer can’t create! Don’t limit yourself and jump in today because we’re gonna talk about using flash.

WHY USE FLASH AT ALL?

Okay, let’s start with this all too common question. A flash is a more portable studio light that can help you add light to your photographs when needed. See, the thing with photography is that even though it’s modeled after our own eyes, it doesn’t have the ability to expose for both foreground and background.

Not just for people, but for details and still life too. Pointed directly at the ceiling to bounce light.

Not just for people, but for details and still life too. Pointed directly at the ceiling to bounce light.

Artificial lighting is there to help light your scene evenly and not be limited to natural lighting situations. Which, let’s face it, as photographers natural light can sometimes backfire on us with really harsh days, or even worse, cloudy days where the sun hides behind clouds and throws off your exposure every couple of frames. Those are the worst in my opinion.

External flashes, and pop-up flashes, help to fill in light on a scene that otherwise would need too much photoshop or to do a composite which also takes up valuable time.

Used flash in a small room to create these portraits.

Used flash in a small room to create these portraits.

Multiple flashes can be used to create your own studio and light scenes that you have pictured in your head just right so that your creation can come to light. This is where you manipulate the light to do exactly what you want in a photo.

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Flash is portable, lightweight, and easy to use in any photographic situation. Having one doesn’t mean you’ll always use it or that you have to like it, it just means that you have in your bag more possibilities.

EXTERNAL FLASH MODES

This debate is like the RAW vs. JPEG and Canon vs. Nikon. I can only let you know my own experience with both modes on external flash and why I prefer Manual Mode in all situations.

Left: without flash, blown out sky. Right, with flash, richer colors and you can see the orange in the sky and a bluer sea.

Left: without flash, blown out sky. Right, with flash, richer colors and you can see the orange in the sky and a bluer sea.

TTL

Let’s start with TTL which is an abbreviation for “through the lens”. This is where the flash meters the output of light based on the information of exposure metered through the lens of the camera.

It will choose the best output for you as you focus your camera and fire off. In TTL you don’t have to think about the flash much because it’s doing its own thing. You can use compensation +/- to get more or less output from your flash, which is pretty effective if you want to control the flash a bit.

However, my complaint with TTL is that it often meters the output differently from photo to photo. Meaning, one photo taken in the same spot may have a different flash output than the second photo and so on. Which to me is really inconsistent and super frustrating.

These were all shot in manual mode with two flashes. One on camera and one camera left pointed at my clients.

These were all shot in manual mode with two flashes. One on camera and one camera left pointed at my clients.

MANUAL

When I learned about manual, it was a little hard to catch on at first because I had only had experience with controlling strobes in a studio and not a flash on location. Took a little bit of trial and error to get the output right for each situation but it was a total game changer because once you had your correct output you then didn’t have to change it unless you moved into a different lighting situation.

Every single one of these photos was shot using flash!

Every single one of these photos was shot using flash!

For example, I’m on a beach during midday sun and need the flash to compensate with the sun. I put my flash pointed directly at my clients at 1/2 power. Which is a pretty high output and I need it because the sun behind my clients is really bright, causing all kinds of shadows on their faces and lots of lighting mess.

I put it at 1/2 power and see that it works perfectly. Now, I can go about my entire session when I want flash and not have to guess, change, or move the output at all. It’s consistent and I know I’m getting exactly what I want in that particular lighting situation.

Yep flash again! With a big soft box attachment to soften the light. Black and white in photoshop.

Yep flash again! With a big soft box attachment to soften the light. Black and white in photoshop.

Or another example, I’m photographing a bride getting ready and I have the flash bouncing off the ceiling at 1/16 power. I take a photo, see it’s not enough output and so I change it to 1/8. Leave it on 1/8 for the entire getting ready because won’t be changing rooms and I can have consistent flash output each and every single frame.

Manual mode helps me to get consistent exposures and makes me work less by trying to compensate the flash either up or down each time I take photo.

BOUNCING, DIFFUSING, AND SLAVING

Flashes are so great because they’re portable little tools in your bag. Need to photograph a headshot but want to create that studio lighting effect? Flash. Want to light a reception with two flashes to get some cool flare? Flash. Want to add soft lighting to a bridal portrait to make it look like window light? Flash. All of these scenarios are perfect for flash. Which also requires the use of bouncing, diffusing, and slaving.

Both images have flash. Placed on a light stand and my assistant holding it so that I can move around and the light stays the same each time the flash fires.

Both images have flash. Placed on a light stand and my assistant holding it so that I can move around and the light stays the same each time the flash fires.

BOUNCING

This is when your flash is pointed at something and bounces the light back onto your subject, object, or where ever you want it to land.

The most common is bouncing it off a white ceiling. I also like to bounce light off an adjacent wall to create more depth and shadow in the photos. But, that’s all preference and you’re the boss of what want your flash to do.

DIFFUSING

All of these images have flash because it was super hot, bright, and I was competing with the sun (see the shadows?) Kept my clients out of the harsh sunlight and got the portraits lit evenly. Can’t even tell I used flash.

All of these images have flash because it was super hot, bright, and I was competing with the sun (see the shadows?) Kept my clients out of the harsh sunlight and got the portraits lit evenly. Can’t even tell I used flash.

Diffusers are useful in that they make the flash light softer. You can use the diffuser that came with your flash to soften light, or a mini-softbox, or I’ve even seen a trash bag used to diffuse light. The point is to soften the light making it more even across your scene.

SLAVING

This means that you “slave” one or more flashes so that they fire off at the same time. For this you’ll need either a transmitter and receiver or flashes that communicate with one another. Some flashes have a slave mode and when they detect the light fire from a flash with in range, that flash fires as well.

One flash on a stand behind the bride slaved to the one on camera.

One flash on a stand behind the bride slaved to the one on camera.

Slaving can be really useful in studio lighting situations where you need to light different parts of the stage with light at different output power. Or if you’re lighting a reception venue and want to make sure that you have light for any angle within the venue.

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Flash can be subtle or intentional. You’re the photographer and you can create more with flash.

Flash can be subtle or intentional. You’re the photographer and you can create more with flash.

In the end, flash is such a great too for ALL PHOTOGRAPHERS and knowing how to use them is really helpful for lots of different lighting situations.

You could even use you cell phones flash to get familiar with lighting angles. Video lights also work for still light and getting to know how light works within a frame.

And never let anyone tell you that flash isn’t for professional photographers because the more you know, the more you can create.

That’s it for this weeks Photographer Friday friends! Post your thoughts in the comments below!