Everything I know about photography in an email response!

This morning I found this delightful email in my inbox from 14 year old Emma. She says,

hi Brooke Snow my name is Emma. i am 14 years old and i am a freshman [in] high school. i am in photography and my final assignment is to research a photographer and get some tips from them about their style of photography. how they take their pictures- and i LOVE your work i hope you could find time to help me make my photos look as amazing as yours!! thank you so much, all i need to know is just what you do to make your photos look so beautiful both on your camera and in photoshop/lightroom. THANKS

Instead of getting completely overwhelmed at how large of a question that is, I decided to see if I could really boil things down into a simple email response. Here it goes:

Hi Emma!

Thank you for your email! You ask a pretty big question!

To sum things up as best as I can I would say that the following things are the most important for me (and I think everyone else) in photography:

1. Knowledge. Absolutely foundational is understanding how the camera works. When you understand the basic principles of photography it allows you to have a choice about what you want to create rather than the camera making the decision for you (which is what happens when you shoot in Auto mode). I shoot my photography in Manual mode, meaning I choose all the settings. This means that I can tell the camera I want the background blurry, or I can tell the camera that I want more or less light in the picture, or only one subject in focus etc. This has made a HUGE difference in my photos. In addition, I have studied light and how to make it most flattering.

2. Practice. LOTS OF IT! There is a gap between knowing something and doing something. Getting out and practicing over and over and over again is the only way to truly understand what we’re doing and how to execute our artistic vision.

3. Learning about who I am and what my style is. I wrote an article about this a few weeks ago that you can see HERE

4. Knowing how to pose people. Most people are not comfortable in front of the camera, and it is the job of the photographer to help them relax and to look good. I studied poses from magazines and often brought those poses along as a guide to help me pose people.

5. Knowing how to interact with people. Again, people are not usually comfortable in front of the camera, and give stiff smiles. It is the job of the photographer to help them have a great time so that they can relax and I can capture those pictures of them laughing and being their authentic beautiful selves. This has taken me a long time to learn how to do. Today, I use games and questions to help people be themselves. I do this with both adults as well as kids.

6. As for photoshop/lightroom, I strongly believe that we need to take the best possible picture inside the camera first. Editing tools should not be used to fix photos, but enhance them. My photos look good out of the camera, but I use lightroom to add some nice finishing touches. This saves me tons of time since I already had a good photo to begin with.

Hope that helps! Good luck on your assignment!



So my friends, anything else you would add? I’ll forward your comments on to Emma :)

Brooke Snow is a Lifestyle photographer in Cache Valley, Utah.  She loves winter because she loves coats. She collects them. Almost obsessively.  Thankfully she has gleaned a true talent for thrift store finds to support her habit and quest for unique bundled up fashion.

Brooke teaches inspiring online photography classes that bring you confidence in your skills and creativity.

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