How to evoke genuine emotions & feelings

Even though I think I’m nice & fun to work with, it is not always easy for all my clients to look at their partner’s eyes & show all their love when they’re outdoor, wearing a gown/suit & with a camera pointing on them… Anyone can be overwhelmed by the situation itself. Love, affection & tenderness for the other are here but might be hidden by stress or discomfort.

Last August, a lovely lady came up to me as she wanted posed images of her & her husband H. to celebrate their 1st wedding anniversary.

Posed images are something I almost don’t do, except for business portraits (one-to-one photo sessions). I mainly photograph people in action, walking in Istanbul, having interactions within the family, having fun.

How would I manage to evoke genuine emotions, to get them visible when my clients are just posing?

This is a challenge I always wanted to work on & that the reason why I invested on unique tips to create genuine happy & emotional moments during a photo session

——————————
I want to capture their eyes saying “I’M SO IN LOVE WITH YOU!” & offer this memory to my clients”
——————————

The 1st part of the secret ingredient is a unique type of preparation. A classic one leads to find the right place, the right time, the right outfits, the route during the photo session.

This special preparation is unique as the couple has to find, for example, objects that make them think about their other half or a song that reminds you of a lovely moment in their relationship.

This preparation has a hidden advantage: my clients arrive at the photo session excited about revealing to their partner what they prepared, just like kids!

When revealing their beforehand prepared interactions, I can see the magic gaze in their eyes & the body language begins to be more spontaneous. The couple feel highly connected & create lovely & intense moments. Just perfect moments for me to photograph, with emotions, loving states of mind, extra connections in front of the camera.

It’s really about them, their story, their anecdotes, their words, their love.
A very special thank you to Mrs & Mr LOVE 😍!

Scroll down to discover their live feedbacks & of course their photos!

images.jpg

How to prepare for a "Smash the Cake" photo session

The “Smash the Cake” sessions come from the USA & get trendy: so fun, so colorful & an amazing occasion to capture candide moments of the baby!

Such a photo session can be done when the baby is about 1-year-old: he needs to be able to sit without falling head over feet & to have the capacity to reach things. Still, it’s better when the baby is not much able to stand up or walk, so he won’t escape the scenery!

What about the cake?
The cake needs to be colorful to attract the baby’s attention. Avoid red & brown colors as they’re to close to natural “fluids” 😬. The cake also needs to be soft & creamy so it'll be messy and this is the fun part of it!
As the baby will be sitting with his legs around the cake set up in a low cake-stand, a 2-tiered cake will allow him to reach the top of the cake & then dig in. A higher cake would only work if it stays on the floor. It depends if you want the “fallen cake” image! The only thing we don’t want is the baby’s face being hidden by the cake.
Be generous with the food coloring for the frosting (to go natural, here are great tips!).
I know it’s not great for health but a sugary frosting will help the baby getting back at it.

What about the scenery? As it will get messy, I’d advice to set up the decoration behind the baby with washable items (rather than disposable ones). Be aware that there will be some food left on the ground so if you’re doing this outdoor & you’d prefer to avoid ants & insects to be attracted to the area, put a large cloth underneath the baby & the cake.

Which colors to choose? You can pick up a theme & coordinate the baby’s outfit & the decoration. Bright colors will create a dynamic & fun atmosphere.

Help is necessary as 1 person will take pictures when the other one will interact with the baby. To motivate the baby to touch & dig in the cake, don’t hesitate to show him that he can do it. Have also noisy & colorful toys to be shook around to get the baby look towards the camera.
I advice to be only 2 persons around the baby as the idea is to keep him focus in the cake or looking at the camera if possible. Too many distractions won’t help.
Keep siblings away too.

When is the time to have this session? Take into account the nap times & the lunch break. The baby needs to be fully awake & not completely full otherwise he might not be interested into the cake. Avoid having the photo session done before or after the birthday party, as it is tiring for everybody.

To the parents: during the session, with or without a professional photographer, you will - yes, it’s an affirmation 😂 - get messy too. Just because it’s fun, because their baby is having fun, it’s hard to resist not to go & help the baby picking the cake, helping him to smash it. So get dressed accordingly. You can also prepare a large cloth to roll the baby up in the way to the shower if it’s reachable. Or prepare a big bag to put away the messy clothes & have clean extra clothes. Baby wipes & kitchen paper rolls will be very helpful too.

Hidden workshops in the Grand Bazaar

A few weeks ago, I joined a guided visit of the Grand Bazaar.

'“Again?” you might tell me :). Yes, again.

I never get bored of the backstreets & hidden places in & around the Grand Bazaar. And even though most of the guides know the same “secret” spots, from one day to another, we never end up seeing the same things.

This time, I was very pleased to be able to photograph some “usta” (craftsmen, crafts-masters) working. Outdoor or in a dark small room, they work hard to create unique pieces. And always surrounded by cats, of course.

From the huge ornament meant to reach the very top of a cupola to the tiny tiny handles of sugar bowls, the tools & the processes are different but the dedication & patience are the same.

These “usta” might be the last ones to master these crafts.

If you want to offer yourself one of these photography, get in touch with me!

Teaching photography teaches me so much!

Last August, I was very lucky to meet a very nice & kind man called BT. He lives in Singapore, loves to travel & owns a Leica Q. An inspiring man with an amazing gear. Or the other way around, as you prefer :). 

He got in touch with me to organize photo lessons during his one-week holiday in Istanbul. I'm used to teach photograph to foreigners living here, one lesson every week or every other week. 7 days with 3-hour photo lessons per day was quite a challenge for me. And I loved it! We loved it! 

On day 1, we met to get to know each other & to go through the basics. Then, I organized 6 walking tours in different places in Istanbul, at different times of the day so we'll have to face quite a large range of situations & photography challenges. 

BT is a mindful, curious & hard-working student. He faced, like everybody, difficulties & mistakes but his will to achieve what he wanted to achieve was strong. It was great to witness him spreading his wings into the photography world. I could see he was not seeing things anymore, he was looking at them & looking for something different to capture.

images3.jpg

Albert Einstein, one of the men who worked on the most complicated themes, said that "if you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
So every time I struggle to explain a technic point, I know I have to study more, to understand more, to find new ways of looking at the situation. And then I study until it becomes simple & spontaneous for me to explain.

 

If I may, I'd add that you need to be able to explain it in different simple ways, so everyone, with different knowledge & backgrounds, can understand it.  
That's another trick about lessons: the teacher needs to discover the way the student thinks, understands & memorizes, in order to explain things in the most suitable way
So I ask questions, not related to photography, to find how to explain things to my student: I draw, I show a video, I give an example with the camera, I ask the student to do the same & to explain it to me. 

Unknown.jpg

The 3rd point is to give confidence to the learner by supporting them on their journey. Step by step, through hesitations & mistakes, that's how we learnt how to walk & that's how we learn everything. 
I'm always supportive & I listen to the doubts, fears, issues of my students. And I am very curious about the kind of photography they love & what kind of images they want to achieve. 

 

Learning photography takes time, efforts, commitment but it is simple. Not easy but simple. 

Since I gave photo lessons, I discovered myself much more patient than I thought & I learnt how to become a better listener and a good & positive critic

I feel very lucky & blessed to give photo lessons and to be part of someone's photography journey. 
To receive more info about my lessons, get in touch with me here

Here is the feedback from BT. THANK YOU so much for your trust & kindness! 

How a lens changed my photography

Nowadays, most of the people still think size matters to get sensational results.

When we spot a guy with such big & heavy camera, with a huge & long lens, we think "oh, that guy must a such a great photographer". 

The truth is that a "big lens" is not equal to great images. Neither so-called professional gears don't make someone with no knowledge turn into an award-winner. As I won't win any F1 race because I'd be driving a Ferrari. 

My first lens was the classic "kit lens" 18-55mm on my Nikon D40.
Then I wanted something bigger. I invested into a 28-300mm
Then, as I switched to the full-fram Nikon D600, I invested into a 24-70mm, a 50mm & later a 35mm
As I left Nikon to Fuji xt-2 (cropped sensor), I used a 16-55mm & a 23mm

But let's speak about first things first, here is a reminder of the major roles lenses play: 

  • Inside the lens, there is the diaphragm, which is the mechanism that makes a variable aperture to control the intensity of light that passes through the lens.
  • Along with shutter speed, this is what controls the exposure received by the film or image sensor.
  • A lens can be "zoom" or "prime". If there are 2 numbers to define the lens (16-55m for ex), you'll be able to zoom. If there is only one focal length, you'll have to walk :D!
  • The aperture & the zoom settings will have consequences on the depth of field
  • The focus is made through the lens, either automatically or manually.
  • The lens might have an integrated stabilisation system to avoid motion blur. 

 

F-1-point-4-prime-lens-group-940x526.jpg

 

It took me quite a long time to find the lenses I love & which are part of my photography life now. 
I don't regret any choice I made, every step was an occasion to learn what I like, dislike & need. 

My photography changed when I began to use the 50mm (for full-frame - so for a cropped sensor, it'd be globally 35mm).
I had to walk. I had to move. I actually learn to go & get what I want. Walking makes me discover new places, meet new people & enjoy even more my photography experience. 

And I found out that I was putting much more intention into what I was photographing & at the same time, I was letting myself explore much more too. I just loved every aspect of using a 50mm lens. 

And I had to push a bit further composition & framing. To be honest, I think I actually learnt how to compose & frame. Using the grid on the screen, I worked in the rule of third or symmetry. I used the environment to frame my images. I just liked my work more & more, as I think my images were getting stronger.  

The great things about the 50mm lens:
- It's (quite) cheap, light & small
- It shows you the world without much distortion
- It very often has a very wide aperture, which makes it a luminous lens. 

Click here to read a great article about amazing photographers using specific lenses (and most of them are prime lenses). 

And here is a short guide about the purposes of lenses: 
8mm - 24mm: Ultra wide angle (fisheye): Wide panoramas & skyscapes, artistic
24mm - 35mm: Wide angle, Interiors, architecture, landscapes
35mm - 85mm (50mm common): Standard, General purpose
85mm - 135mm: Short telephoto, Portraits, candid
135mm - 300mm: Medium telephoto, Close sports, action
300mm+: Super telephoto, Far sports, wildlife, nature, astronomy

And here are the results of shooting the same subject with a wide range of lenses. See how the focal length has a huge impact! 

97d6cb27f73a449d93865a8f3837c12c.jpg

Retouching images? Yes I do.

A few days ago, I was asked if I worked on my images before delivering them to my clients.

Because it shows curiosity & interest into my work & photography in general, I was pleased to receive this question. 

Here are other important reasons: 

  • I think my clients deserve to know how the images they receive are created (if they want to!).
  • In my opinion, post-production (or edition) is part of the creative process as actually taking the photo.
  • Most of the people don't really know what to be a photographer nowadays can include.  
  • Many people misjudge & look down on post-production, as it'd be not real or unfair.
  • Some people think retouching only came along with digital photography. 

No baker will ever deliver an uncooked or even an undecorated cake. Neither a photographer will deliver raw images to his-her customers. They are just not finished, not ready & sometimes not even readable on a computer without a specific software. Giving raw images is at least as irrelevant as giving a undeveloped film. 

Behind the camera, I do my best to choose the right settings to create the image I want. This is part of my creativity: how I see a scene, how I decide to shoot it, the different angles I try, the different settings. All this leads me to create a unique image.

And it's only the beginning of the creative process.

On the computer, I finish the process, by adjusting the exposure, the contrast, the colors etc. We can say that I actually "develop" the image, with a software, called Lightroom. 

During this post-production, I will correct & beautify the images. Because depending on my own taste & style and what I want to enhance, I will either choose to edit the images to be as close as possible to reality, or in the opposite, to create for example a more dramatic or romantic atmosphere. Some also choose to remove disturbing objects, some won't. Some will choose to strengthen the colors, some will fade them. It's all about the style: from how we take the image to how we post-produce it. And that's actually one of the most important reason why one will choose this or that photographer: style! 

This "back-office" part of the job takes time. A lot of time. And a lot of knowledge & experience. Actually, for 1 hour taking pictures, photographers work 4-5 hours in the images, sometimes more. Some people don't understand the photography prices (seen as expensive), they only see the visible part of the work, just when we're actually taking pictures. 

Others would look down on post-production as they might think it denatures the real images. But when my clients pay for my services, they are paying for the best experience & the best images possible. And if the natural lights, for example, is not as good as we need, I'll correct it. And after all, what does "real images" mean? Real question as the camera doesn't always give me the exact copy of the reality as I see it. 

Last and not least info: photo edition existed before digital photography! Here are a few examples of Pablo Inirio, the master darkroom printer who works at Magnum Photos New York headquarters (and here is the link to the full article about him & his work).

 

For my part, I decided to show you a few "before-after" images of Istanbul. 

I hope you enjoy reading this article and I'll be happy to read your comments & answer your questions! Don't hesitate to share this article on social medias. 

To discover my work called "Istanbul through my eyes"

Join my monthly newsletter, and follow me on FaceBook & Instagram

Have a lovely day!