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One way to get better at something is to hang around with people who are already really good at it. I’ve been wanting to improve my portrait photography skills, so I spent an afternoon with Deanna Rivaldo Photography as she shot a couple’s portrait session in Ballard. 

While I was shooting this behind the scenes video, here’s what I learned while watching Deanna work her magic:

  • No matter the environment – don’t freak out. It was really windy and a little rainy on the afternoon of the shoot, but Deanna stayed calm, and solved lots of little problems (hair in the face, rain on the lens, etc…) quietly and with no drama. This helped the couple stay relaxed, and added a couple of moments of laughter and fun.
  • Come with a plan, but be flexible. The wind required adjustment to a couple of photo locations, and a beautiful flower backdrop was not available as it was on private property. Again, Deanna stayed calm and quickly had a solution for each change in plans. Confidence and adaptability gives confidence to your subjects and results in much better photos.
  • Be specific, but open to interpretation. Use your hands and body as a model for what you would like your subject to do, and then watch how they add their own personality to the pose for that special moment.
  • Laugh. If you’re having fun, there’s a much better chance your subjects will too.
  • One lens. One. Freaking. Lens. It’s not about the gear. Deanna completed the entire shoot with one lens – a 50mm f/1.8. I feel naked without at least two lenses, and one (or both) of those is usually a zoom lens. Deanna knows this lens REALLY well, so she knows what it does well for her, and what to avoid. No excuses, just great photos from what you have.