Fall Season Spruce-Up

NOTE TO EDITOR: NO INTEREST IN ANYONE/ANYTHING MENTIONED. PHOTO USED WITH PERMISSION OR MY OWN.

For many photographers fall is their busiest season. Some families can't resist the gorgeous golden hues of the season as a backdrop for portraits while others need fresh images for their annual holiday card. With so many new opportunities available this time of year to reach nevw clients and showcase your work to the hundreds of people who have photos you took arriving in their mailboxes in a couple of months, now is the perfect time to take a few steps to help make a few tweaks to help grow your business and make sure your images are your best work and match your vision.

Get Real: Everyone loves getting holiday cards in the mail, but it takes a lot to make a holiday photo stand out from the crowd. One way to distinguish your photos and distinguish yourself as a photographer? Offer documentary sessions that capture your families as they are rather than making the typical photos that have everyone looking at the camera with forced smiles. Kirsten Lewis goes over the nuts-and-bolts of documentary sessions ranging from one hour to day-long sessions in her Documentary Family Photography Handbook and offers insight into her approach in her two CreativeLive classes on documentary family photography.

Be Yourself: To be successful, it's important to look the part and connect with your clients - and a new camera bag is a simple way to bring a little of your own style to a shoot. Kelly Moore is a photographer who is as well known for her art as she is for her classic camera bags. Choose an all-leather stunner like the Evangeline that your clients will notice and to show you are at the top of your game. As an alternative, check out the Bailey from Aide de Camp that will allow you to use your own bag to safely carry your camera to a shoot in your own bag. This is a great choice if you don't need to bring along extra lenses and gear, or you want to travel completely incognito.

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Be Stylish with Kelly Moore

Be Prepared: Many top photographers always shoot with two cameras. Why? It's helpful to have one camera with a wide angle lens and one with a longer lens ready to go. This is especially important for photographers hoping to catch moments who need to be prepared for anything to happen at any time. Many photographers hesitate to carry to cameras because they are heavy. The solution? The super-comfortable and ultra-cool HoldFast Moneymaker harness, made from leather or available in a new vegan version. Designed by photographer Matt Swaggart, The Moneymaker harness is widely considered to be the most stylish and comfortable way to carry two cameras, although it can be used for one as well so there is no excuse for not being prepared to get the shot. Only use one camera? It's a great alternative to the traditional strap. And, ladies, it comes in hot pink.

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MoneyMaker by HoldFast

Be In Style: Amy & Jordan have client after client that show up for their photoshoot looking like a million bucks. They aren't just lucky - they developed a comprehensive Family Session Portrait Guide detailing the dos and don'ts of style for family photos that they've learned from years of seeing what works and what doesn't. Some specific guidance about what to wear can make a huge difference in how your final images appear - and when your clients consistently look great in your photos you will be in higher demand.

Brush Up: Need a quick guide to help with finding better light, making photos with depth, or making your photos stand out from the crowd? Click Photo School offers dozens of Breakout e-books written by Click Pros that will quickly get you up to speed wherever you may be struggling - and most are well under $100. Recent popular Breakouts include Light Seekers, in which five top photographers show how they use light to create their images and Depth in Imagery: Producing Photographs with Emotion by Monika Colichio. If you want to mix-things up, check out Tarah Sweeney's The Messy View explaining how and why it's ok to break the rules, as well as her approach to connection and light. Another good resources is More than Just Pretty Pictures by Velvet Owl Photography available as an e-workshop via Click Photo School. Or, forget about binge-watching Netflix leading up to the fall busy season and choose an extensive on-demand video course from CreativeLive on anything from learning better Photoshop skills to tips on capturing Authentic Portraits with Chris Orwig.

Be Flawless: There is one thing every photographer needs to figure out sooner rather than later, and that is how to get good skin tones. Photographer Sarah Wilkerson (http://www.sarahwilkerson.com/) wrote the book on how to get perfect skin tones every time, Flawless: The Secrets of Skin. Flawless discusses how to shoot and process in order to make sure your clients never look green or orange in their fall photos - even when shooting in the large grassy fields that are so popular for fall photo shoots.

Be a Poser: Unless you take a completely documentary approach to photography, your clients will expect at least a little guidance from you about how to pose. Sarah Beth knows what it's like to get stuck on location and blank on poses with no time to consult Pinterest. The SBP Lookbook is a great resource to be able to check quickly on your phone to make you are prepared for a variety of different looks while on a shoot. Need some quick guidance on posing families, women, teens, etc. before the busy fall season hits? Check out Lindsay Adler's Posing 101 course through CreativeLive for general posing tips that work for everyone, dealing with problem areas, and quick but effective guidance for any type of client from boudoir through tackling photographing multiple children.

Calibrate Your Monitor: Clients will be disappointed if the images you send them print with colors that just seem off, especially when they may be sending hundreds of dollars on the perfect holiday card or wall art. The solution? Calibrate your monitor so that what you see on the screen will match what comes back from the printer. The i1DisplayPRO Basic is a great option that has basic and advanced options and allows you to calibrate from one of your images or an included image.

Calibrate Your Lenses: There is nothing more frustrating that having an almost-great shot with missed focus. Check out The Focus Pyramid for an inexpensive and relatively simple way to be sure you get the most out of your gear and don't return home from a shoot wondering if your shots will be in focus or not.

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Photo: Jamie Davis Smith taken with a Lensbaby Edge 80

Be Distinguished: One way to make yourself stand out? Use an artistic lens for a look that is not easy to replicate for at least some shots. The secret of many photographers who rely on a unique look is a Lensbaby lens to produce dreamy shots clients love. For portraits, the Lensbaby Edge 80 is a popular choice that consistently delivers wow-worthy images.

Be Fun: Sometimes you need to get the kids on your side and sometimes you may want a fast and fun item to give your clients as a thank-you or to set yourself apart. Take a couple of minutes during your fall sessions to use the photobooth option with the Pulse from Alpine Labs to help your clients get some fun options for a holiday card that will stand out. For under $100 the Pulse can also be used to control your camera remotely, create long exposures, and even take video.

Go have the best fall season ever!