9 Jul 2013

First communion session part 4: summary and lessons learned

 This is the last entry of the series of posts (part 1, part 2 and part 3) about my first organized photo session. In a couple of days I'll hand the printed album over to my "customers". So it is time to look back and take some final notes.
First of all it was a lot of fun. Not only for me, but also for the photographed family. It was also the assignment that learned me a lot of new things and gave insights on how to make it better in the future.

What to keep

  • The proposed timeline of the whole process was right (roughly 1 week from the session the photos were available on the Internet for review, 2 weeks from the session photos were chosen for the album, after 3 weeks the album layout was discussed and finalized, after 4 weeks the album was sent from the printing office). Note that I did the whole assignment in my free time. Full time photo professionals work (as they have to) much faster.
  • Communication with the photographed people. I think they appreciated it much and we could organize everything very efficient and in a good atmosphere. 
  • Planning and scouting the photo location in advance. I will be doing it in the future since it gives me more confidence. Besides knowing the location enables me to operate more professionally since I can concentrate on photographing and not on which scenery will emerge behind next corner.
  • Planning the session flow in advance.
  • Selection of the high quality printer and its materials. Solid, paper album made out of high quality paper just feels right. Blurb simply delivered good stuff.

What to improve (lessons learned)

  • Variation of scenes could be better. I have chosen 6 different locations and I thought it would be enough. But during post processing I realized that it would be better to have 2-3 more. On the other hand the session took roughly 1 hour, so we spent 10 minutes per scene on average, which  means that the tempo was quite high. Probably the session could e longer to capture more locations.
  • Watch depth of field (DOF). I have quite some shots where the DOF was not enough, so I didn't have all persons sharp in the picture. This is something to improve and keep in mind that adjusting the aperture is necessary.
  • Work more on posing. Give more direction. I had quite some shots where people look in very different directions, leading to photos that are not appealing. To improve it some more direction would be necessary from my side (just letting people know where I am and that I am about to take a photo). On the other hand a balance must be kept between posing and natural look. I don't have clear answer how to achieve it. Next time I will try to direct people a little bit more (well, in amusing and funny way).

  • Take more photos. It is slightly related to the previous bullet and is probably the only way of capturing the right moment when arranging the posing is not possible or practical. It works well with children that are active and very mobile.
  • Don't spend too much time on something that does not work. I has some scenes in my mind and I wanted to try them all. But not all of them were working. It is tempting to pursue own vision, but if it does not work, just skip it and move on. After all, photographed people are not professional models and are supposed to have fun and good time during the session. How to judge if the concept works? It is difficult to generalize, but for me it was enough to look regularly at the participants and see how they react on my proposals and how do they interact with me.
I am looking forward for the next assignment. Let's hope it will come soon.