Ever wondered what it's like to get your portraits created by Heidi Horton Photography?
Right from the beginning of our business I decided to put a huge emphasis on the experience we give our clients. I believe my job as photographer is not only to take the photos but also to provide an awesome experience during the whole process. Capturing your story is not a transaction for me, it's a privilege.
With weddings that extra experience comes in many forms right from booking, through the planning stages, on the big day & after. While portrait sessions aren't as in-depth as weddings, I still bring the same philosophy to my portrait clients too. My portrait sessions are fun and relaxed, as is the whole experience from planning through to the finished product. I love the connections I get to make with the people I photograph and I strive to offer a luxury experience.
So here's what you can expect from the portrait experience with me...
When you first enquire about portraits we have a quick chat about the sort of portraits you want created. We chat about potential locations, the best time of day for your portrait session, how you want to be photographed, when the last time you had portraits taken. I run you through how my portrait experience works and the pricing. I answer any initial questions you might already have.
After you've had a chance to look over my portrait information email and we've found a date that suits for your portrait session we get your booking confirmed and in the calendar. Your booking is confirmed with payment of your session fee plus acceptance of our terms & conditions which I email out to you. Our Portrait T&C's can be signed digitally online which make it easy and painless.
This is pretty much the only formal part of the whole portrait experience and then it's on to the fun part!
We can do the pre-shoot planning either via email, a phone call or even a coffee date in studio. This part is all about how you want to be photographed. We talk about any goals or ideas you have for your portraits. If you already have an idea in mind of how you want to display the final products we can plan for that too. Whether you have a wall in your home you'd like to fill or maybe a keepsake box for the bookshelf - this can influence the style of the portrait session.
I also send you information & tips for preparing for your portrait session. Including what to expect and ideas for what to wear.
The portrait session itself
My portrait sessions are really relaxed and conversational. I know just how awkward it can feel being in front of the camera so I make sure everyone has a fun, enjoyable time with zero awkwardness. I'll give you all the guidance you need & I promise we'll have a great time during the shoot!
I don't put a time limit on my portrait sessions as every family is unique. Some sessions go for 30 minutes, others for 90 minutes! I let the sessions unfold organically - sometimes we'll start with the obvious combinations and shots, then move into capturing more candid photos. Each session is different and I encourage you to put forward any specific shots you want during our time together.
Your viewing session
After your shoot I process your photographs and invite you into the studio to view them. I play a slideshow of the images from your portrait session up on the big TV so you can see what we captured. Then we go through the photographs one-by-one and discuss options for what you might like to do with them. We can compare images side-by-side, select favourites and also look at the sample products in studio for inspiration.
I help you with ideas for getting the most from your photographs and answer any questions you may have. I can also design up a wall collage or frame series on the computer to give you a visual idea of how the finished product will look. This viewing session is all about how you wish to display and enjoy your portraits.
The final product
This is the exciting part - getting to hand over to you the final product! It's also a little sad because it brings the experience to a close (until next time!).
I love when clients see their printed portraits for the very first time! There is something incredible about the tangible keepsake of a printed photograph. Being able to hold it in your hands. To feel and see the quality, the texture and crispness. It is at that moment that I am reminded of the true value of what I do and of what I have created for my clients. Those printed portraits will be treasured for the rest of time.
"Everything from first booking, the photo shoot, going over the photos, through to the final prints has been the coolest journey and now I finally have memories of our family to put up on the wall!"
Potentially the question I get asked the most as a photographer by the general public, friends, clients and followers is; "what camera should I buy?". Sometimes it's people wanting to get a versatile camera for their up-coming travelling. Other times it's just someone with an interest in photography that wants a good camera to have a go with.
It's funny how people assume that being a photographer means I probably know heaps about cameras, when in reality I only know my own cameras well. Put another brand or model of camera in my hand and I still have to sit down and take some time to learn how to drive it.
Because of how often I get asked about cameras, it got me thinking that while I'm not a camera expert there are definitely some tips I can share to help with choosing the right camera.
FIGURE OUT YOUR PRIORITIES.
Knowing whether you want something compact, lightweight, weather-proof, good for video, upgradeable, cheap, expensive, versatile, durable or even whether you want the ability to buy additional lenses is all important stuff to consider. There is such a huge range of cameras on the market today that it can be overwhelming, but if you have a specific purpose, idea or use for your camera in mind, from there you can narrow down which cameras are going to suit your priorities.
For example if someone comes to me asking about a good camera for travelling - the first questions I ask in return is what they really want to photograph on their travels (landscapes, buildings, street photos, portraits or perhaps a mixture of everything?), do they plan to carry a camera bag everywhere or would they prefer a smaller camera that can be popped in their day bag and also I ask about their budget. Immediately if they say they don't want to carry a bulky camera and multiple lenses around then I suggest looking at mirrorless cameras. If they say that the trip will be centred around taking photos and they need versatility, then an DSLR set up with a couple of good quality lenses and a tripod might be a good option. If they want to do some street photography and get amongst the action either a DSLR or mirrorless camera paired with a wide angle lens will suit them well.
Once you figure out your priorities you can confidently talk to a camera shop about good options or start researching online for good camera models & setups to suit your needs.
INVEST IN THE LENS.
I always say at our photography workshops that if you're going to spend money on camera gear spend it on good lenses. A high quality lens will last longer than your lifetime if cared for well and a good lens goes a long way towards getting higher quality photographs. Usually when you buy a camera they come with one or two 'kit' lenses - which I call 'plastic fantastics' and they're actually not very fantastic at all. While kit lenses do the trick of getting you going, they are limited and lack in sharpness & quality that you see with higher spec lenses.
I often suggest to people that are interested in taking portraits to buy a camera body and a reasonably priced 50mm prime lens rather than worrying about the kit lens package deal. The 50mm is a great lens for portrait photography and if you're a Canon shooter they have an incredibly priced 50mm f1.8 lens which is superb value for money. For those wanting to shoot sports games or wildlife then investing in a good quality telephoto lens is more appropriate such as a 70-200mm zoom lens. Travel photographers might enjoy a versatile 24-70mm zoom lens.
Knowing about focal length and the different specifications of lenses is important. Each photographer has their own unique preferences. If you're not sure where to start ask fellow photographers their opinions and do some research; Google provides a wealth of information on lenses for different applications, lens brand & model reviews and comparisons.
DIFFERENT CAMERA TYPES.
When people ask me about what sort of camera to buy I usually point them in one of two directions depending on their priorities. Either towards a DSLR camera or a mirrorless camera. Here I'm going to outline the pros & cons of each.
DSLR (stands for digital single-lens reflex) cameras are the digital versions of the old 35mm film cameras. The most common brands are Canon & Nikon, coming in a wide range of models ranging in specs. DSLR cameras are bigger and heavier than mirrorless cameras because they require the optics & mechanism of a mirror setup (not going into detail about this, as google will explain it much better than me!). A huge advantage to DSLR is the range of lenses you can get for them because DSLR's have been around for so much longer than mirrorless cameras. They also sometimes have larger sensors (although mirrorless systems are catching up) which means better image quality and better performance in low light situations.
Mirrorless cameras are a relatively new technology and because they don't have the traditional mirror set-up DSLRs have, they are made a lot more compact and lightweight. While I know Canon has a good line up of mirrorless cameras now, brands such as Sony, Fujifilm and Olympus have been leading the way with mirrorless technology. I guess because it is newer technology and also because there are many brands & models of mirrorless with differentiating setups there are less lenses available for them, but this is changing rapidly as the mirrorless market grows. Mirrorless cameras boast good video capability and fast shooting speeds due to their simpler build. One disadvantage with mirrorless, that DSLR shooters often miss, is the lack of an optical viewfinder - but this is a personal preference.
You might think that because I have professional camera gear that I would naturally use it for everything including personal holidays, trips and events. But I've actually just acquired a mirrorless camera in the hopes that a smaller, lightweight camera will come with me everywhere when I can't be bothered lugging my kilo's of DSLR gear around! I've realised my work gear, while it's highly spec'd & comprehensive, isn't the right camera setup for the photos I want to take everyday & while travelling.
A GREAT CAMERA DOESN'T EQUATE TO GREAT PHOTOS.
Unfortunately there isn't a magic button on cameras for taking the perfect photo every time and I know from experience that it can be hugely disappointing when you spend a lot of money on a camera and you still can't create the photos you're dreaming of. I remind my workshop attendees that it is not all about the gear you own. You are the one that sees, not the camera. The camera is just a tool.
While shooting on Auto modes will get the photo taken, you do really need to become familiar with your camera and how to take control of the exposure settings to consistently be able to create great photographs and get creative with your photography. Knowing the characteristics of different lenses is important too, as well as understanding compositional elements.
If you've got a good camera but you're not getting the results from it that you want, take a look at our photography workshops here - these beginner workshops are designed to get you taking control of your camera and give you the tools to get creative with your photography.
Please note this blog post is based purely on my opinions and photography is such a subjective artistry which in itself is a beautiful thing. This blog post is aimed at beginners and those interested in pursuing photography as a hobby, rather than those who are already in the photographic industry. If you have any questions, get in touch! x
We get asked a lot about how Matt ended up being a part of my photography business and how we came to be a husband & wife team. Understandably at weddings people who don't know us often ask who was the photographer first, do we always work together and if we're just business partners or whether we're husband & wife. It comes as a surprise to many that Matt is in fact a mechanic. During the summer months he works a couple of days a week in our business and reduced hours at his other job (thanks to his incredibly flexible boss!).
I've only shot one wedding (out of fifty odd now) without Matt. When I started into wedding photography I realised having an assistant & second shooter helping me affected the style and pace of work for me. It meant I could spend all morning with the girls rather than having to rush between the bride & groom prep. It meant we had more angles covered and a more diverse portfolio in less time. It meant having a friend for company during the long hours of a wedding day.
I asked Matt if he would help me with the handful of weddings I initially booked. He seemed like the perfect person to have by my side. He knows me best. He makes friends wherever he goes. And he'd never done photography before which meant when I taught him how to shoot he naturally learnt to shoot much the same as me which makes him a very consistent second-shooter.
Matt is better at telling the story of how I taught him to shoot in manual mode, but essentially I put him on a semi-auto mode to begin with and he quickly became frustrated with his results. So I wrote out notes with my explanation of how manual exposure works, showed him how to adjust each setting on his camera and totally threw him in the deep end! After one wedding he was shooting fully manual!!! Now I realise that sounds fairly incredible given all the other factors thrown at you on a wedding day, but what you have to know about this story is that Matt is one of those annoying people who is naturally good at just about everything he tries. So I fully knew he'd pick it up just like that & start running.
After our first small season of weddings, I asked if Matt had enjoyed himself. Was he willing to continue, because we were quickly becoming know as a husband & wife team. Although photography isn't his passion like it is mine, Matt enjoyed the work, the people and could see the potential for this business to change our lives. Becoming a husband and wife wedding photography team meant changes in his work structure and changes to our work/life balance. But it has also given us the ability to build this business together, to meet amazing people and travel to beautiful places.
Being a husband and wife photography team has been a constant learning curve. We're lucky that we work together really well and we have a lot of fun working together. And while running our own business seems to be a constant work in progress with the whole work/life balance thing, I think we're doing pretty well. I couldn't imagine having anyone else as my business partner & workmate.