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Ask the Expert | Christie Graham Photography

March 7, 2014
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I’ve been having such a wonderful time pulling together my Blogging 101 series and have had such an unexpectedly amazing response to it that I decided it was high time for me to take it next level! While I can speak to the blogging side of things pretty well, I’ve noticed a few of my Blogging 101 posts have been particularly popular but that my expertise in those areas are limited – namely, my Photography 101 post!
Because of this, over the course of the next little while, I’m going to be inviting a few of my favourite local photographers to share their best tips and tricks to help you get more comfortable both behind and in front of the lens! First off…the very lovely Christie Graham

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I’ve worked with Christie a number of times in the past and I honestly can’t say enough good things – she is beyond kind, lovely to work with but above all else, she delivers the most stunning product again and again. As you might remember, she did my blog redesign launch photography, which I love to death. So without further ado, I’ll let this gorgeous girl give you some insightful tips on shooting, how to loosen up in front of the camera and dealing with less-than-desirable conditions (very important tips for any fellow Vancouverite!).

{ ask the expert – Christie Graham Photography }

How long have you been doing photography for? 

I officially launched my business three years ago, but I have been shooting for about 8 years total. 
What equipment do you use? 

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I am definitely a minimalist when it comes to equipment and prefer to travel light. If you know your gear well, and use natural light like I do, you don’t need to go too crazy. My Nikon D600 and 50mm 1.4 lens is my go-to, especially for portraits. I also enjoy shooting film, and love the the soft and honest quality it brings to the images. My Contax 645 and 80mm lens is a favourite for my film work.
What drew you to photography? 
I adore working with people, and making them feel beautiful in their own skin is a big part of why I started shooting. I also love the idea that my clients will have their photographs forever. It’s pretty exciting to capture a special time in someone’s life. It is a gift to look back in time and to hold photographs in our hands (yes, in our hands and not just on our computers!).
What are your top three tips for shooting outfit/street style photography?

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1. Variation.

Always be sure to get a full body shot, detail shots, and a portrait. You want to keep your content interesting, so be sure to change up your angles and composition (To Vogue or Bust does an amazing job of this, doesn’t she?!). { ed. note: again, Christie’s the best! }

2. Movement.

Direct your subject to move, walk, or twirl. Not only will the clothing look amazing, your subject will lightly loosen up and radiate a more natural vibe.

3. Explore.

 One of my favourite things to do before a shoot is scout. I am always on the lookout for new and beautiful locations that fit my shooting style and I encourage you to do the same.

What is your favourite type of lighting to shoot in, and how do you shoot in it? 
Why do you love this type of lighting?

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I love backlight because it’s romantic and ethereal. It’s a favourite of mine, and I use it in many different ways for portrait work. Open shade is lovely too, I always like to have some open shade for all of my shoots. It looks wonderful on skin tones and its consistency helps create fluidity for a collection or a blog post.
How do you achieve focus without losing the bokeh and artistic quality of an image?
Be conscious of your settings when you are shooting. If you come across an image with great focus and bokeh, ask yourself where was the light, where was your subject in relation to the background, and what was your aperture and shutter speed set to. Recreate this next time! 
Try your best to get it right on camera instead of relying on editing software. I’m a huge believer that Photoshop, while a great tool, is overused.

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As a general rule for sharp focus, I set my camera so there is only one focus point to obtain more control, as opposed to multiple (you can find this under the menu on your camera). I always position this focus point on the eyes, because I want the face to be the sharpest part of the photo.

In terms of bokeh, positioning your subject on background (for example, a building) that is further away will improve improve your depth of field. I definitely recommend picking up a 50mm 1.8 lens to achieve lovely bokeh. It’s really cost-effective (compared to the 1.4), and will take your portrait work to the next level.

What’s your top suggestion for someone who’s going to get in front of the camera?
Come with an open mind and have fun! Photographers love photographing real people- they want to make you look amazing, so give them your trust and go with it. 
Everyone always looks happy and at their best in front of your lens – how do you get your subjects to move through poses and feel comfortable doing so?
My clients put a lot of trust in me, which is something I love about my job. I work with real people, and achieving natural, beautiful images is my top priority. I walk clients through natural poses, always giving them the direction they need to look and feel amazing. I am also looking to be inspired by how they move, and sometimes catch myself saying, “beautiful, do that again. Yes, the hand in your hair thing. Amazing.” When in doubt, I always get my clients moving. It takes away any stiffness that might be there, and inspires me for the next look.
Here’s a Vancouver-specific Q – when it’s raining or you’re dealing with other less-than-ideal weather situations, what are your strategies for still achieving light-filled, airy images?
1. Do your research!

I have spent a lot of time scouting Vancouver on rainy days, looking for unique undercover, light-infused locations. Try Granville Island or the downtown core and search for overhangs with interesting backgrounds. If your subject is comfortable, take a few shots out in the rain, you might end up with something very unique and playful.

2. Don’t be afraid of window light.

We have great cafes and buildings in the city that make for interesting, natural light photos. Partner with a local cafe or boutique and ask permission to use their space.

Even after having worked with Christie quite a bit in the past, I still learned a lot from this – hope you guys loved it too! A big thank you to Christie for taking the time to answer these questions!

Stay tuned for more of those features in the future – can’t wait to share them! As always, if you ever have any specific Q’s, just give me a shout!

Happy Friday lovelies!

photography via Christie Graham Photography
(with exception of top image, by Erich Mcvey)

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5 Comments

  • Reply jessica rose March 7, 2014 at 1:48 pm

    My camera is very basic compared to the one you are using!. ;(

    http://vodkaandarose.blogspot.co.uk

    • Reply Alex Grant March 7, 2014 at 4:31 pm

      Hi Jessica! Don't worry, so much of this can still be achieved with more basic point and shoots as well – these tips can even apply to an iPhone's camera! Let me know if you have any questions πŸ™‚

  • Reply Monika Faulkner March 10, 2014 at 6:18 am

    Thank you Alex (and Christie, too!) for these helpful tips!! My hubby – although he's not a professional photographer – generously takes all my blog pics for me, so I'll be sure to pass along your advice!!

    http://www.StyleIsMyPudding.com

  • Reply M.A.S. FASHION March 12, 2014 at 3:56 am

    Love love love this! thanks for sharing your tips!!

    xx,
    Mary

  • Reply Yuga Bharathi March 1, 2016 at 12:55 pm

    I am happy to visit your blog. Thanks for sharing.

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