Peri Co owes a gracious thanks to Amy Carlston for taking the time to teach us her ways! Amy is an amazing portrait and wedding photographer. Originally from Connecticut, Amy graduated from BYU-H, fell in love, and now resides in San Fransisco with her beautiful family. Amy and her husband have an adorable little boy and are expecting a baby girl this summer. Amy loves the beach and is obsessed with food - like most cool people :) Read on to learn tips and view amazing photos taken by Amy herself. Here we go!
1. Pay attention to lighting
The quality and direction of your light will make a bigger difference than anything else in your photographs. It might seem counter-intuitive, but whenever I am shooting at home I ALWAYS turn off all the lights. Natural light will always be the most beautiful. So - flip that light switch and open the windows, the front door, heck, head to the garage (seriously, I <3 garage light) if you need to.. or just go outside! Overhead lights will make the coloring of your photos wonky - even having the television on can cast an unnatural tint to your pictures. And lighting from above casts unflattering shadows (I don’t need my under-eye circles exaggerated any more than they are already, thanks).
2. And timing
If you’re shooting outside, the time of day makes an impact on your photos as well. Unless it’s totally cloudy out, outdoor lighting will be softest the hour or two after sunrise and before sunset. This is when the sun is closest to the horizon and easy to position behind your subject for back-lit photos with a dreamy feel, or to the side for flattering portrait lighting. The sun is highest in the sky at noon, which isn’t all bad - you might just have to get creative using trees or buildings to find some shadows or position your subject towards the light so they aren’t covered in harsh shadows.
Get up and experiment with different viewpoints and notice how the lighting changes as you move. When I’m shooting, I’m always moving! It’s impossible to capture a variety of images when you’re standing in the same exact spot. Get low, get low, get low.. or grab a chair to stand on. Take a walk around your subject and practice blocking the light with them. If you’re indoors, try leaving the room and including a part of the doorway in your frame. And then move closer than you normally ever would and see what happens. At first half of your images might be complete flops.. but soon you’ll start to learn what works for you.
4. Focus on emotion
Okay so I know I said lighting would make the biggest difference in your photographs.. but I take it back. Gorgeous, golden lighting is irrelevant if you aren’t capturing real emotion. Many of my favorite photographs are not technically perfect - but it’s the feeling that pulls you in. When I’m shooting for clients, I like to step back and let things unfold naturally. This doesn’t mean I don’t guide them, but I’m not shouting out a play-by-play of where each hand and toe and eyelash should be and when. This is even more true with my son, Duke (my most popular subject at the moment). The kid is 18 months old and cannot sit still, period. If I ask him to look my way - or worse, say cheese - it’s game over. Basically, I have to hide my camera completely and just let him do his thing. And that’s okay, because life’s real moments are so much more perfectly imperfect than the ones we try to orchestrate.
5. Get in front of the camera
This last one is something I am working on myself. As a mom I'm constantly taking photos of my son, but I tend to shy away from the camera. I usually have a "good" reason (messy bun, toddler snot on my shoulders, too sweaty, no makeup..) but I love looking back at the pictures that I do have of our family together. Have you ever looked at an old photo of your mom and thought, “Yikes, mom looks pretty haggard in this one!” I haven’t! I’m always like “Man, mom was hot!” and then I spend a few minutes admiring her flare jeans and hair down to her waist. Your kids will love the photos they have with you, and one day you’ll look back and realize how beautiful you were (are) and wish you had more photos together.
Hoping these tips will help you to capture your family in a beautiful way.