Ask the Expert | Jamie Lauren Photography

March 14, 2014

I couldn’t think of a more fitting way to wrap up what has turned out to be a pretty incredible week than with another Blogging 101 | Ask the Expert feature. I got such a great response to Christie Graham Photography’s feature last week, which makes me all the more excited to introduce the lovely Jamie Lauren Photography today! You will not want to miss this talented Vancouver-based photographer‘s tips – you’ll get pointers on mastering that covetable blurry effect, posing like a pro and so much more after the break!

{ ask the expert – Jamie Lauren Photography }

How long have you been doing photography for?
I’ve always loved photography. Growing up I always had a camera on me (whether it was the classic London Drugs disposal film camera, or a little divi), but it wasn’t until my second year in business school that I picked up my first SLR (reason being is answered below) and started understanding the camera modes, other than automatic. The first year was considered a hobby (2010). I then found this hobby of mine became more like a business and incorporated soon after.  
What equipment do you use?
My camera body is Canon 1DX.
And the lenses I have are:
24-70 f2.8
70-200 f2.8
35mm f1.4
50mm f1.4
85mm f1.2
100mm f1.4
For street-style shots I would either use my 50 or 85. Shooting portrait/full length I want to make sure my lens won’t be too distorted. I can count on that with those lenses. 

What drew you to photography?
Like any hobby you dont necessarily think it’s going to turn into a career, and I’m not sure it ever would have if it wasn’t for my love of videography in 2009. While in business school I started to create short montages of social events (weekends away, Christmas holidays, elaborate birthday greeting videos for my closest friends, I even documented an entire summer and put together a short video of all the shenanigans). 
I started noticing how beautiful some of the still frames were within my movies, and I think that’s what brought me back to my love for photography. Then one thing lead to another, and now still frames are all I shoot. 
What are your top three tips for shooting outfit/street style photography?
Light, location, body language/details.
Avoid direct sunlight on the face. Position your subject with the sun behind them or find a shaded area. Any harsh shadows on your subject can take away from them and their outfit. If you can, choose a day with clouds in the sky. Having the clouds act as a natural light filter will create soft light on the face and allow the colors and textures of the outfit to showcase beautifully. 

Choose a location that isn’t too distracting to the eye. I do love street style photography and the look of high rise buildings in the back or crowded intersections with your subject crossing through – but don’t be fooled…those locations are definitely thought about before shooting there. The photographer has for sure picked an area that works to their, and the frame’s, benefit. Just watch out for details in the back like phone lines, poles, garbage cans etc…

While we’re on the topic of background noise, notice your subject’s angles and positions with the details behind them. The biggest mistake I used to make was positioning my subjects in a spot and later notice a tree or pole is standing perfectly behind them so it looks like they have something growing out of their head (try photoshopping that out!!).    
While you want your subject to feel comfortable, always be mindful that they aren’t “too comfortable” in their stance. That could result in slouchy posture (which looks super frumpy on camera). I always tell my subjects “if you feel uncomfortable in your position chances are it looks good in the lens” now – give or take a few examples haha! But if I am positioning them I need them to trust that I am not making them look stupid. 
Specific tips in positioning:

– Always!!!…shoulders down and back
– Pull in your tummy
– If you have your subject facing one way but looking over at your 
camera make sure their front shoulder (the shoulder closest to 
the lens) is dropped to elongate the space from your shoulder to your chin
– Lastly: details on your subject. 
I am a HUGE hair fanatic and I hate pieces of hair that are misplaced. 
If you have their hair parted and sitting on either side in front of their 
chest make sure it’s clean looking on either side. Photoshopping hair is 
almost next to impossible! Fly aways can be difficult to handle…try 
your best but don’t go to extreme ends like licking your palm and 
swiping it over their head (ew).
– If you’re shooting the back of your subject either bring 
all their hair back or none at all. We don’t live in the ’90s anymore 
so let’s avoid any rat tails in the back. 

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?
My favorite is sunset. I’ve always been drawn to the golden light in photographs. 
If you want that golden look plan to shoot 30-45 minutes before sun sets behind the mountains. If you notice the sun is still too high and creating too much light put your arm directly in front of you up in the air. Block the sun with your hand- this will help reduce the light. 

I even notice once the sun is gone behind the mountains the light is so soft and beautiful. So don’t worry once it’s out of sight – it’s still amazing light!
Besides all that the most ideal times of the day to shoot is either morning or evening. Avoid the sun when it’s mid-sky. That’s the trickiest time of the day to avoid harsh shadows.
How do you achieve focus without losing the bokeh and artistic quality of an image?
I’ll try to answer this in layman’s terms! 
If you want the “blurry” effect:
1. Open your aperture (somewhere in the range of F1.2-4.0…the lower the setting the more blur) 
2. Stand at a specific distance from your subject, and also ensure your subject isn’t standing too close to the background (for example, if you have them against a brick wall, have them step away from the wall rather than being close to it) 
3. Adjust your shutter so there isn’t too much light due to the open aperture (i.e. bring your shutter speed up)
4. Focus your “focal points” on your subject’s face…and start shooting!
SCENARIO: The closer you stand to your subject with an open aperture (example F1.8) the less detail will be in focus on their face. Now, the background will be super, super blurry, but my guess is you want their face to be a little more in focus! SO!…you’ll need to either change your aperture to, for example, 4.0 OR don’t stand so close to your subject. 
Put on a zoom lens and step backwards…if you stand farther away from your subject with a zoom lens (85) you can zoom in on your subject for a tight frame (aperture still being the same [1.8]) and still have the entire face in focus WITH the background blurry. 
Just be careful when you open your aperture that you change your shutter speed accordingly. Go out and test this! And if you still need help, email me 🙂

What’s your top suggestion for someone who’s going to get in front of the camera?
Don’t be nervous!!! Seriously. The last thing I’m going to do is judge you on your posing ability and camera-confidence. I love working with everyone and letting them see they too can “strike a pose” ;). I thrive off making people feel good so if you show up feeling awkward it’s more fun for me! Haha.
 Also, just know, its completely normal…you’re bound to show up feeling “uncomfortable,” and trust me 99% of people always tell me “I hate being in front of the camera so just tell me what to do” and by the end of the shoot they could keep going like an energizer bunny and I’m feeding off their energy. 

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?
I always set up an initial pose for my subject(s) and then from there I direct them to start looking elsewhere – moving forward or back or side to side. I’ve learned over the years people just need a little kick start and then they’re good to go! I also will tell them to freeze in a pose if it’s complimenting to their figure. I am always on the look out for the tiniest details (from hair to double chins)
About double chins – everyone has one at some point or another. And most of the time when we “smile big for the camera” we tend to push our faces back creating a shorter chin area. Oprah taught me: push your head out of your neck area like a turtle. Out and down. But not too far out…I’ll let you know your limits!!

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?
I am a rain kind of girl. My only wish was that my camera was too. My equipment wasn’t cheap so if it’s raining hard or even sprinkling, I cancel the shoot. Of course that’s impossible for a wedding – so in that case I have someone (whether my assistant or someone in the wedding party or family) hold an umbrella over my head. I will also find a less wet area for the subjects. Luckily for me, knock on wood, I haven’t yet had torrential downpour on a wedding day ;).
The lighting situation on a day like this won’t be a natural airy look – so you either need to envision a different look for the shot or know how to manipulate colors and color overlays in Photoshop. I personally love the darker days. I feel like the colors become richer looking! 
All photography by Jamie Lauren Photography
Just want to say a big thank you to Jamie for taking the time to answer these questions – I personally learned some new tricks that I’m so excited to try out this weekend. Let me know if you have any specific questions that you want me to relay to Jamie and as promised before, stay tuned for more features like this in the future!
Two more things: first of all, if you haven’t already, do yourself a favour and enter my Tieks giveaway. These flats are seriously my favourite and they are a bit of an investment (though one you’ll have for years, seriously!) so it’s a good time to take advantage of this giveaway! Enter here.
Secondly, I just wanted to say thank you again to everyone who’s gotten in touch over the course of this week with kind words. I had a bit of a rocky month in February, so having this great mention in WhoWhatWear recently and then having such great support and words of congratulation has really helped lift me out of the fog I had been in for a little bit there! Thanks again everyone :). And if you haven’t checked out the feature yet, be sure to do so here to get acquainted with some amazing style bloggers! 

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  • Reply Naghmeh March 14, 2014 at 2:56 pm

    amazing post! thank you so much I need all the help I can get with my DSLR haha and this was very detailed and very helpful 🙂

  • Reply Monika Faulkner March 16, 2014 at 4:57 pm

    Any tips and pointers relating to photography are always SO helpful to non-professionals like me…thank you Alex (and Jamie!!) And a big – if somewhat belated! – congrats on the WhoWhatWear mention!! 🙂

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