Tracie Howe Photography – Seattle Wedding Photographer | Seattle elopement photographer | Destination wedding and elopement photographer | Pacific Northwest wedding and elopement photographer | Family and lifestyle photographer | Travel photographer based in Seattle. » Seattle destination wedding and travel photographer. Specializing in documentary and candid photography for adventurous souls wanting a destination wedding or elopement. I love working with mountain-climbing, sea-loving, travel-wanderlusting free-spirits, and I hope you will contact me for your next adventure!

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Engagement shoot and snapshot fill flash tips

Last weekend I did an engagement shoot with Samantha and Josh. They seemed pretty happy with the location that I suggested despite the Mother’s Day/ first warm and sunny Seattle weekend that we’ve had in awhile. I chose the Arboretum because it’s not only gorgeous, but there are lots of nice little areas that you can seek out if you need to get away from other people. It’s huge though, so I suggested bringing walking shoes just in case we had to cover some ground. We didn’t end up walking too much, but Samantha took advantage of having those spare shoes.

Anyway, it was a beautiful day and there was no shortage of bright, harsh sunlight. Fortunately, arboretums obviously have a lot of trees. We got some nice shots under those trees and I used a bit of fill flash when needed for the brighter areas.

If you’re wondering what the heck fill flash is, it’s simply used to fill in the harsh shadows created by bright light with a soft light. If you know what it is, the following will likely not apply to you, so you can skip to the next paragraph 🙂 . The use of a fill flash is a simple solution to 2 common problems that I see in photos all the time. I don’t intend for this to be a lesson on flash, but it is a handy thing to know anytime the sun is bright and high in the sky. Just pop up or turn on your flash to see what happens, because you might be surprised. If you have a little pocket (or what I like to call point-and-shoot), just make sure the auto flash is not on. Auto will usually guess that since there seems to be enough light, then it doesn’t need flash, so that’s where you need to control it. Another instance where you might assume you don’t need flash is when the sun is lower in the sky. If it is close to the horizon, you first have to be aware of where your subject is in relation to the sun. If your subject is being lit directly by the low sun (your back to the sun), you’re likely to get very nice light as long as your own shadow isn’t falling on the person. If you find yourself unable to take a nice sunset photo of your subject (when you’re facing the sun), try a little flash to add some light to what would otherwise be a silhouette without it. Really, just try a little flash to see what happens. The fill flash method on one of those little cameras won’t work 100% of the time because they almost force you to lose control. In fact, the reason I decided long ago to upgrade my point-and-shoot to a DSLR is because I needed more control over what the camera was trying to do on it’s own.

Getting back to the engagement photo session…

So, after searching for some acceptable locations unoccupied by happy mothers and thankful children, we were able to take some pretty natural looking shots. I think people often assume that a photo session involves a lot of posing, which makes them feel awkward because it’s so unnatural. I try to make my photo sessions as natural as possible, but that usually begins with a little posing. You have to start somewhere, right? Unless people are used to falling into natural looking “poses”, I will start them out with something simple and then nudge them into interacting with each other somehow. This will inevitably give me natural shots, but the trick is to catch the good ones! It takes patience, but it’s fun because you have to interact with them as well.

Enough talk, here are a few from the shoot:


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  • June 8, 2010 - 10:14 am

    MaLora - The photos of Sam and Josh look fantastic! The colors really pop!ReplyCancel

    • June 9, 2010 - 8:41 am

      traciehowe - Thanks! I hoped they didn’t pop too much. I think my monitor is not as bright and saturated as most people’s, so it’s hard to tell sometimes! Glad you like them!ReplyCancel

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