I’m not generally a big fan of learning from books. I’m a visual learner (as I think many photographers are) but I also am not a big fan of those “shoot out” style workshops where photographers crowd around a subject jockeying for position while their 70-200’s clang together and their Kelly Moore bags smash into my hips. Those workshops make me want to sneak out and drink instead….
I was really surprised at how much I got out of Laura Siebert’s Get Real. Authentic, Emotional Outdoor Family Portraits workbook. I figured I’d give it a skim and put it in the “thanks but no thanks” pile for reviewing and affiliating. In fact, a few weeks ago I received a copy of a pretty well known bloggers book (No, I won’t tell you who it is) and while the content is good, I keep losing interest because the formatting is so hard for me to read. It’s sounds a little childish and pedantic, but when you dealing with visual people you have to write how they read.
In chunks of sentences.
In memorable sound bites.
With pretty pictures here and there. Get Real did all of this.
Because the book was so readable for me, I read it cover to cover. I studied the photos. She’s not a prolific, flowery writer which I really like. She doesn’t say a lot of words without saying anything. What she does do is give you clear and concise plan on how to make incredible (seriously, go look at her work) authentic lifestyle family portraits. From the posing to the games to how she gently guides people into poses that MAKE SENSE to their family she leads you right through how she does it.
We’ve all heard the term “boutique studio” versus the “JCPenney Portrait Studio” mentality. If you had asked me before I read this book I would have told you the portrait side of my studio was boutique, and I would have been wrong. Step by step, from the first contact with the clients through the session itself she explains how she is able to capture the kind of photos that she does. It became very clear to me that THIS mentality and this way of capturing clients is why she is boutique and my studio is just a more uppity cousin of the mall Portrait People.
And here’s another thing Laura gave me in this read: I’ll never, ever ignore hands again. I had no idea how they can make or break an image. Mind. Blown.
A few months ago I had a family portrait session that yielded me one of my favorite family photos I have taken in a long time. It was a tough shoot, very cold, drizzling rain and so wet and I couldn’t pile mom and dad on the ground with the kids, so the family shots had to be done standing. My first attempt was this:
Lame-O. Boring. If this was the only family shot I got, mom and dad probably would have bought it. They look good, the kids are smiling…but really is it a fantastic portrait? No. It’s a professional snapshot.
Then, I got this one. This was the MONEY shot. The photo that mom described as “The photo I know I will hang in my house for the rest of my life”
With apologies to Laura (whom I don’t know and might not be as potty mouthed as me) I believe I Sieberted the shit out of that photo. This kind of posing is what she teaches. How to get it, and how to get it consistently. I dumb-lucked into it. I believe that I could not have replicated that pose again before reading Get Real, and now I could.
I now understand why this photo is successful and why the other one wasn’t, and how to create more photos like this.
Better photos=more monies.
So count me as a fan, and I’ll be investing in her other workbooks too. I might even consider a workshop with her, if she promises beverages on site.