9 Poses in 9 Minutes

photography tips

If you never quite sure just how to pose with your partner for a great picture, or you’re a photographer looking for posing ideas, then this is the article for you! I’ve compiled a list of my go-to poses for couples, and I have a one-page freebie at the bottom for you to keep as a helpful guide! Big thanks to my favorite couple Jersey and Luis for being my models for this project (and standing in the freezing New York City winter weather to get these shots!) Now let’s dive into these poses.

Lean Toward Each Other

Position the couple so one person’s shoulder is leaning into the other person’s chest, and have the person behind wrap their arm around and lightly grab the right arm of the first person. It helps to mention to lean their heads toward each other and getting their noses close together. This cozy pose is great for a mid shot, or a close up.

Facing Each Other

This one is an easy one. Have the two look at each other while holding hands. Can be used for a wide shot or a close up, and you can play with how close they are standing to each other. One person can also wrap their hands around the other person’s neck and lean in close for a kiss (warning: it’s adorable!!)

Facing The Camera

The classic shot shows the couple fairly close together with one person wrapping their arm around the other. You can vary the hands–hands in pockets, hands straight down, or like in this shot, Jersey had her hand by her face, tucking her hair behind her ear. Do whatever feels most natural for you.

Half Looking at the Camera

This can be a great moment. Have one person look at their partner while the other person looks at the camera. This usually results in some natural smiles and laughs, because who doesn’t get excited when they spend a few seconds taking in how lovely their partner looks?! A great variation of this can be to alternate having both partners look at each other at the same time.

The Ear Whisper

Alright, now that you are warmed up and have the basic poses down, here are a few advanced level poses! This one is a great prompt I use with couples. When a couple is already fairly close to each other, I’ll tell one partner to lean in and whisper something into the other person’s ear. It’s great for capturing a candid moment, because generally one of them will say something silly, or sweet, and the other person will break out into a huge smile or laugh. If you’re not great with posed photos, I recommend a pose like this, which can help bring out your personality and feel really natural.

Arm Around The Shoulder

Have one or both partners wrap their arm around the shoulder or waist of the other person. A few variations are to have them both look at each other, at the camera, and one person looking down candidly. You can also alternate between serious expressions and smiles.

Touching Foreheads

I love this pose so much! Why? Because look at how cute it is! It’s pretty simple too: hold hands and touch foreheads. For a more intimate moment, you can have them get close and close their eyes, too. For a more playful and fun shot, tell them to smile and laugh. Leaning in for a kiss is also an easy pose to go to from this one!

Walking

This can be another great natural moment between the two. You can walk toward the camera, hold hands while walking away from the camera, and even start walking away and then turn around and look back at the camera. I usually tell my couples to walk in “slow motion” so they’re relaxed and not rushed. In terms of eye contact, they can look forward, at each other, down and around. I usually tell them not to look directly at the camera, so the shot comes out looking a little more like a candid moment.

The Finale: Kiss and Foot Pop!

This is a great shot to do toward the end of the shoot. Have the couple get really close to each other, put their hands on each other’s waist or around their neck, and smooch! Jersey did the foot pop with her right foot, which I love. An advanced level variation of this is to do the dip: dip your partner halfway and then have a dramatic kiss. This might not be the pose for everyone, but if you like a grand gesture (and I do) then this can be the perfect pose!

I’ll be honest, I wrote this in part because my partner hates posing and I wanted to have a quick page of ideas that I could glance at when we’re out and I want to get a cute shot. So, I made a one-page PDF with pictures of all the poses and I’m giving it to you, too! Click here to download the freebie couple posing guide!

And if you liked this, have a look at my website, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest! I hope this gave you some ideas to try out on your next photoshoot, and good luck to everyone with your posing! Tag me @gdeimz on social if you post any of the ideas you try out!

Why does it cost so much for a professional photoshoot?

photography tips

Hey there! My name’s Gaby and I’m a professional photographer based out of New York City. I get this question a lot, so I thought I’d make a blog post about it. Oftentimes I’ll send a potential client my rates, and they’ll go, “Oh…” and then there will be this awkward silence until they say, “Well, it’s just an hour shoot, so can you do it for $150 instead?”

Face. Palm. There’s soooo much more that goes into a photoshoot than just the hour of the shoot. There’s the time the photographer has involved, and then the expenses to run the business. Let’s break it down:

Photographer’s Time for a 1-Hour Shoot

  • Prepping all the camera gear, charging batteries, sending lenses in to be repaired – 1 hour
  • Travel time to and from the shoot – 1 hour
  • The shoot itself – 1 hour
  • Culling and sorting through all of the images post-shoot – 30 minutes
  • Editing and retouching the selects – 1 hour
  • Uploading and sending to the client for final approval – 30 minutes
  • Archiving and long-term storage of the images – 1 hour

That’s already 6 hours of the photographer’s time invested for a 1-hour shoot! And we haven’t even talked about the fixed costs for running the photography business or the creative fee.

Annual Photography Expenses

  • 2 Canon 5D Camera Bodies – $6,000
  • Lenses – $10,000
  • Annual website and domain name – $200 yearly
  • Memory cards and batteries – $400
  • Seamless backdrop – $200
  • Lighting equipment – $650
  • Laptop – $2,500
  • Adobe subscription – $400 yearly
  • External Hard Drives – $500 yearly
  • Google Drive Cloud Storage – $100 yearly
  • Business cards – $50
  • Photography memberships – $100 yearly
  • Subway Card – $1560 yearly
  • Graphic Designer – $400
  • Advertising on The Knot – $2,000
  • Business Thank You Cards – $100
  • Logo stickers – $70

That totals to almost $30,000 in flat costs to run the business, and doesn’t include ANY of my time. Not to mention the cost of my college and master’s degrees, or any of my day to day living expenses, like rent or food. I love being a photographer because I get to use my creativity and artistry to capture moments for folks, but I can’t do my job if I can’t afford to live.

The Creative Fee

What’s a creative fee, you ask? It’s the special services or talents that I bring to the project. So, for example, if you hire me to shoot a wedding, you’re choosing me because I have ten years of experience in wedding photography, and I bring a certain style and skill to the project that other people do not have.

According to the American Society of Media Photographers, here are a few things photographers consider when calculating their creative fee:

  • Tight deadline
  • Specific style
  • Creative solutions needed (looking for conceptual input)
  • Expectations of high end service (catering lunch rather than McDonald’s)
  • Logistical difficulties (a factory that cannot stop production or a mountain to climb)
  • Experience
  • Extreme limits on subject availability (like 2 minutes with the CEO for a portrait)
  • Technical expertise
  • Geographic location
  • Reputation

And then, since I’m a freelancer, I have to take out a percentage of the income I make for taxes. Guess how much that is in New York City? It’s between 6-7% for my tax bracket. Sometimes it sounds like I’m making buckets of money in just one day, but when you factor in my expenses and setting money aside for taxes, it’s not as lucrative as you might think.

Calculating My Rates

So, with all that in mind, here’s how I calculate my rates. I add my expenses plus the amount of money I need to live and divide it by the number of workable days I have in a year (or how many sessions I want to shoot). And funnily enough, guess what happens when I calculate how much I’m being paid for the time I have invested and my annual expenses? I’m not exactly rolling in the dough.

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE what I do with my whole heart, but I work hard to be a freelance photographer. I hustle every day to get enough shoots to make enough money so I can keep doing this as my career, and I understand how it can seem like I’m making a lot of money in a little amount of time, but it really does even out.

Here’s my point: I have a lot of time and money invested in my gear and my craft, so that’s where I come up with my rates. I believe that with photography, you get what you pay for, and with me, you’re paying for a quality experience with the highest quality images. So the next time you are talking to someone in a creative field and you think, “Wow, they’re getting paid hundreds of dollars for one hour,” think again.

There’s a lot more that goes into it than an hour of work, and there’s a lot of time, experience, and equipment costs invested. I hope this educated you and gave you some things to think about in regards to creatives and photography rates.

Top 10 Photography Questions I Get Asked

photography tips

What kind of camera should I buy? I can’t tell you what to buy, but I can tell you what I use. I’ve used Nikon and Canon gear and I prefer Canon. I love the image quality, the crispness of the images, the colors, the low light compensation. I shoot with a 5D Mark iii and Mark iv, but I honestly think any DSLR body can get you started. It’s a lot more about the experience level of the person holding the camera than the camera itself. That being said, lenses can help a lot, too. I love the 50mm and the 24-70. Start playing around and see what you like!

Why is hiring a photographer so expensive? I’m glad you asked! It’s expensive because we’re a business and we incur other costs besides just paying for the camera. Here are just a few annual costs photographers have: the Adobe Suite, computer updates, external hard drives, cloud storage, memory cards, seamless backdrops, lighting equipment, props, insurance, lenses, flashes, website yearly hosting and domain costs, accounting services, legal fees for photography contracts, workshops and classes. Not to mention the time and expertise you are paying for when you hire a photographer. A lot more goes into it than people think.

What’s the difference between an iPhone and a DSLR? Don’t get me wrong, you can take awesome pictures on your iPhone. But not quality ones. I use my phone every day to capture the city and document the world around me. But to really get quality images, I use my DSLR. There are so many more pixels and the file is so much bigger on a professional camera, so you can do more with the image. Higher quality and more options for lenses and depth of field creates more room to explore and experiment. But at the same time, start exploring with photography on your phone if you don’t want to buy a camera just yet. It’s supposed to be fun and creative!

How can I get the blurry background on my photos? That’s called Bokeh. You can learn all about it and how to get it on my article right here.

Do I need to learn manual mode on my camera? Yes! I think that Manual mode is key to understanding your camera and photography. You have a lot more room for creative expression if you are aware of the technical side of photography and can adjust it on-the-go. I learned by playing around with my camera, but a good place to start is with YouTube tutorials (or Linda.com if you have a library card!). When you know how to change the lighting, white balance, ISO, aperture and shutter speed on your own, you can be really sure you’re creating the types of images that you want. In my experience, learning more about my camera has only helped make my images more fun and creative!

Is editing photos important? I think it’s the crucial second step after shooting the image itself. To me, capturing the shot is a special art that takes practice and intuition, but editing that photo to your final vision is like sculpting the final details of an art piece. I use it to remove unnecessary elements from the shot, be it distracting spots in the background, wrinkles on a shirt, or cropping out space that doesn’t add to the focal point of the shot. Then I fix the white balance and adjust the color, usually making the shot more vibrant and punchy. The last thing I do is smooth out skin, whiten teeth, remove stray hair, and any other soft adjustments to enhance the subject. That might sound pretty simple, but it’s taken me years and years to perfect my editing style and find a balance of enhancing without overdoing.

How do you get paid to do photography? It’s a long process that won’t happen overnight. First you need to build a portfolio in the area that you want to produce work in. That might mean doing free or trade shoots with other vendors. For example, when I first moved to NYC, I produced styled shoots for wedding photography to build my portfolio. I got makeup artists, florists, and dress designers to lend me their products or skills in exchange for the photos to add to their portfolio as well. Other times I did free shoots for people to build my portfolio and gain experience. Once you feel you’re at a point where you have the knowledge and skillset to charge people, start doing it! Talk to other photographers and learn their pricing structure so you have something to base your rates off of. Increase as you become more skilled. It might take a few years, but your client base will grow as you do!

Is being a photographer hard? Yes and no. But mostly yes. It’s a career that you have to be really passionate about, and it will take a lot of work to be successful. I put in work almost every evening and weekend because I want my photography business to succeed. I reach out to potential clients and collaborators every week because I want to progress my brand. I shoot day in and day out and edit every free chance I get because I want to get better. So I guess no, on the surface being a photographer isn’t hard. But wanting to be a great photographer is. You have to put in the work to see results.

What do you use to edit photos and do you make your own presets? I do a base cull and edit in Lightroom and then I do all my final retouching in Photoshop. I generally make my own presets, but I also have some from photographers I like that I play around with on occasion. Presets are really nice when you have a lot of photos to edit at once–like a wedding for instance, but I like to mix things up for beauty and styled shoots. I find that I usually have a bit of a vision when I bring the raw photos into Lightroom, and I explore from there. Once I find a color and balance that I like, I’ll apply the preset to the batch and then go in and do adjustments per image.

How do you get the perfect shot? There’s really no perfect shot, just the right movements at the right time. I think being patient helps. For example, when I shoot concerts, I usually have an idea of the type of shot I’m looking for, and then I just wait ready to shoot when the artists is moving around stage. Framing is key for good shots, as well as being able to change the exposure in camera quickly. Being skilled at Manual mode really helps with this. Also, practice helps. As many times as I’ve gotten a really cool shot, I’ve also missed the shot because it was out of focus or overexposed (this happens with concerts a lot) or I just framed it wrong. The good news is that the more photos you take, the bigger chance you have of getting “the shot.”

How to Properly Store Your Digital Files

photography tips

Moving into the digital age, film isn’t the dominate photography medium anymore. We don’t have physical negatives that can be kept in a filing cabinet for when we need to make copies. Instead, we have thousands of digital files that don’t even exist outside of pixels and file extensions. Just like in life, it’s good to have a back up plan. And with photography, it’s not just a good idea, it’s entirely necessary.

Think of all the money invested in your gear, your time, and your photo shoots. But more than that, think about the images that are simply irreplaceable. The big production beach shoot with six models that cost a fortune. The bride and groom’s first kiss right as the sun was setting. You can never recreate those moments. And you can’t take the risk of losing them, either.

Backing up and storing your digital files is definitely not the fun, flashy part of photography. But it will save you if anything were to happen. You know that horrific moment when you realize that you just formatted your SD card without checking to see if all of those files were backed up? When you are searching for that one edit and you can’t find it anywhere? What do you do when your memory card becomes corrupt, as they occasionally do? Your Mac crashes, your laptop gets stolen? This is to protect you from all of that.

My philosophy is that it’s way better to be safe than sorry. So, here’s my photo file storage workflow. To start, every year, I get two matching 2 Terabyte hard drives and label them with my name and the year. Then I make a folder for every month. Then, after each shoot, I make a folder with the name of the shoot and the date and copy the files over. No matter if they still have a lot of space left or not, come December, a final copy gets made onto a separate (third) drive. Then, one copy stays with me, and the other drives get archived into storage in the safest place in my house: a fire proof room.

So let’s start right after the photoshoot. You have memory cards full of huge files, all waiting to be sorted, processed, and adjusted in post. First, before going through any images, I copy all the raw files onto both of the external drives. They are identical back ups. If I dropped one on accident, the other one would have my back.

Then, I edit. Lightroom, Photoshop, Bridge, whatever your workflow is. After the white balance is correct and the curves layers are adjusted to perfection, it’s time to back up the final shots. I upload those to my website, which functions as an online backup, as well. The client gets the files, too, depending on the contract we have agreed on. And then, the final images are copied within the folder of the raw images on each external drive. That’s a minimum of four places that the files are stored.

I also make sure to do a Time Machine backup of my laptop every week, because I’m constantly keeping my current projects on my desktop. Last year, my Macbook Pro died after living a long(ish) six years of life with me. But when the screen went black for the final time, my contents were backed up and everything was saved once I restored the new computer as a Time Machine back up. This will be a lifesaver one day, I promise.

The external drives work best for me as a backup system because they are small and portable, and don’t need to be plugged in, so I can take them on set or throw them in my backpack when I’m editing. Lots of people do more online backup, or a second computer drive, or flash drives, or CD’s, or memory cards. It doesn’t matter how you back up your files, as long as you aren’t leaving them in just once place (you’re making me nervous). Because technology will inevitably fail, or crash, or die, and along with it will go your files.

Some people keep their images randomly, one on a drive, some on Dropbox, others online, just the final edits here, the raw images there, etc. Don’t do that. It’s crucial to your workflow to be organized and dedicated to backing up files. No matter if it’s a bride you photographed five years ago that’s calling to ask for a canvas print of one of their wedding photos, or a magazine that wants to include one of your old shots in high res for their new issue, you have to have the files stored and you have to know precisely where they are. No exceptions.

In this digital age of photography, having a backup AND a backup of the backup is essential. Technology is amazing, but it can also delete all your years of hard work in a matter of seconds. It might sound like I’m being a bit meticulous with all the backups, but I promise you that you will exhale with relief when just one of these backups saves you just one time. It’s worth it, for the peace of mind when you are formatting your memory cards. For when you power down your laptop at the end of the day and know that the images you care about, that you are working so hard to make, are safe and secure.

PS: It takes time to keep everything organized and backed up, and it’s part of the job. So don’t feel bad about including an archival fee when sending an estimate to your clients.

4 Rookie Photographer Mistakes

photography tips

When I was a teenager, I picked up a camera and started clicking the shutter at everything my eyes could see. I would capture everything from dirt on the sidewalk to candids of my family and friends. And I’ll be honest: I had no idea what I was doing. But over time, after hours of practice and repetition, I slowly got better. And just like a lot of self-taught photographers, I made virtually all of the technical and logistical mistakes along the way to finding my voice with photography. But throughout the years, I have managed to figure a few things out, and I thought I would share some of the mistakes I made, in hopes that it helps out other emerging photographers.

1. Shooting in JPEG. When I first started out, I thought it was crazy that anyone would want to shoot in RAW. It took up so much more room than JPEG and used up vital space on my computer. But the good thing is that it also captures a lot more information in the files, so you have more options when doing things like color correction or brightening shadows, for instance. You can also print the images much larger in the RAW file format. Not to mention that every time you open a JPEG file, it loses data, which is, obviously, really bad. You don’t want your files to be deteriorating every time you need to open them in Photoshop. So if you don’t have enough space on your computer, simply buy an external hard drive to put the files on. 

2. Not Backing Up Your Stuff. Speaking of external drives, another huge mistake is not having backups of your work. It’s way too risky to rely on one piece of technology when they break or fail so easily. Especially as a wedding photographer, I just can’t risk losing those precious, once-in-a-lifetime images. I highly recommend two different places minimum to store your (hopefully RAW) files, whether that’s external drives, CDs, or using something from the Cloud like Dropbox. With 2 and 5 Terabyte drives becoming more accessible and inexpensive, you will be able to rest easy knowing your files are backed up, and not at the expense of your wallet.

3. Using the Wrong Lenses. A beginner might be temped to just use the kit lenses that usually accompany the first DSLR body they get. Please, I am begging you, don’t. Get some higher quality, more durable lenses. Lenses that have higher apertures (3.5-2.0 range) will allow you to shoot with lower light conditions and create a shallow depth of field to help the subject pop from the background. If you can’t afford to go all out and purchase a new lens, you might even consider renting them (I used to do this all the time when shooting weddings-works like a charm!). Yes, these options are more expensive, but you can immediately see the results. If you don’t believe me, do a quick test. Take a kit lens and shoot something and then try a higher quality lens. Compare the two and I can guarantee you will see stunning improvements between the images. It’s another key element to taking your work from being good to being professional.

4. Not Charging Enough. As a student, I used to feel guilty for charging my clients. Someone would say, “Hey, what would you charge to do my daughter’s senior pictures?” and I would stutter around the question before throwing out a number that would barely cover my gas money. In my head I was thinking, how can I charge very much when I am barely older than the girl getting her senior pictures taken?! Well, here’s how. You have to factor in the cost of all the gear you are using and your time as a professional. If you have quality work, it doesn’t matter if you are 18 or 48. You have knowledge and a specific skill set, which is very valuable and worth the cost. I have found that more often than not, people are willing to pay more to know that they are getting professional quality work. Lastly, don’t forget to have confidence in yourself. Just keep practicing, and you are on your way to conquering the photog world!