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Choosing Outfits For Your Senior Portrait Session | Carroll County Maryland Senior Portrait Photographer | Union Bridge, MD

Choosing Outfits For A Perfectly Styled Senior Portrait Session

When the most exciting part of your senior year of high school is finally here, your senior portrait session, deciding which outfits to wear can be so hard! At planning consults with my clients, this topic is one we spend a lot of time discussing, because your outfits have a HUGE impact on your final images. In ten years, you don't want to look back on your senior portraits and wonder why the heck you chose to wear those outfits! By following these guidelines that I give all my seniors, your images will be sure to turn out gorgeously timeless. 

  • Avoid neon colors and big logos/words.
  • Try to stay away from fabrics that are very prone to wrinkles or tend to cling to you in unflattering ways.
  • Choose a variety of types of outfits. If you wear a cute dress for one outfit, choose a more casual outfit for your other one. 
  • Incorporate a variety of colors that are consistent with your every day style, so you don't end up with 4 outfits based around different shades of blue.
  • Avoid too much solid black. If you do choose to wear black, be sure to break it up with other colors, patterns, and accessories.
  • Choose flattering styles and fits that complement your natural shape. Boxy tops and dresses that hide your shape or make you look much bigger than you are should be avoided.
  • Be sure to properly accessorize each outfit, but don't go overboard. Cute hats, scarves, necklaces, bracelets, and rings will add a finishing touch to your outfits. 
  • Don't be afraid of patterns! Cute patterns that aren't overwhelming photograph beautifully and will add a unique flair to your images. 

Most importantly, choose outfit that represent your genuine style, and make you feel confident and beautiful.

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Becca Mathews: Maryland Senior Portrait Photographer

Tips for Photographing Sessions with Horses | Maryland Equine Photographer | Carroll County Maryland | Equine Photography Tips

Tips for Photographing Sessions with Horses

If you’ve never worked with or been around horses before, and you find yourself with an inquiry sitting in your inbox for a session with one, there are certain things you need to know. Sessions with horses are a completely different ball game than shoots with only people, or even dogs. Unlike most dogs (there are always exceptions to the rule of course), working with horses can be extremely dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. By following the guidelines below, you can be sure to have a successful, and safe session even though you aren’t experienced with horses.

  • Be upfront with your client right from the start. Never ever let your client assume that you’ve worked with horses before if you haven’t. Instead, let her know that you are inexperienced, but you’re willing to work with her to be sure she gets what she wants out of her session and no one is put into a dangerous situation because of your inexperience.
  • Recommend your client invite a friend or family member who IS experienced with horses to come along to the session to help out. Photographing a person with a horse is a lot to handle at once, especially for a photographer who isn’t used to doing it. Not only do you have to worry about posing two different subjects, but one subject is an unpredictable animal who doesn’t always want to follow your instructions. If your client has to be the one to walk her horse to and from the locations and reposition him/her for each shot, she is most likely going to end up getting dirty, which isn’t good for the images. By having someone else there who knows how to handle horses, you can keep your client clean for the photos without having to work with the horse yourself.
  • Never walk directly behind a horse. Every horse is different, so some will be more likely to kick you if you walk behind them, while some are fine with it. As a general rule for safety, just don’t do it.
  • Before you begin shooting (preferably before you even arrive to the session), you need to specifically ask your client if her horse is particularly spooky about certain things. If you shoot with flash, ask her if the horse will be fine with it. If you shoot with a reflector, ask if her horse would spook at it. You get the idea. “Spook” means to be startled or afraid of something, which you never want to happen at your session. A spooky horse is nearly impossible to get good images of if you are waving a reflector in his face the entire session. You want the horse to be as calm and relaxed as possible, so you’ll need to work closely with your client to design a session experience that allows for that.
  • As you are shooting, you need to always be aware of the horse’s expression. Your client will be looking for images with the horse’s ears up and paying attention, not a disinterested horse with his ears back and a grumpy expression on his face. This is where that friend/family member assistant also comes in handy. Have them either wave a plastic bag around or shake a feed bucket for each shot to get the horse’s ears up. If the client said her horse tends to be spooky, you’ll want to start with an attention getter that isn’t scary. So use the feed bucket instead of a plastic bag. Always start with the smallest possible attention getter, so as the horse gets bored, you can work up to something that is more exciting and get’s them to perk up again.
Bad expression: ears back and uninterested.

Bad expression: ears back and uninterested.

Good expression: ears forward, paying attention and interested.

Good expression: ears forward, paying attention and interested.

Photographing with horses can be a little nerve-wracking if you’ve never worked around horses before, but as long as you follow the guidelines above and work closely with your client, your session experience should go smoothly and you should end up with gorgeous images.

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Becca Mathews: Maryland Equine Photographer

Utilizing Pinterest to Grow Your Photography Business | Maryland Photographer Mentor | Maryland Senior Portrait Photographer

Utilizing Pinterest to Grow Your Photography Business

If you aren't utilizing Pinterest for your business, you should be! My senior session images have been pinned over a million times in the past year and my business has grown because of it.

Pinterest is an amazing tool for photographers because:
1. Pinning your images drives a ton of traffic to your website
2. It greatly improves your SEO
3. It gets your work in front of your target market because most of today's high schoolers are on Pinterest
4. It can help grow the social media page of your choosing despite all the crazy Facebook and Instagram algorithm changes

Strategies you can start using to grow your business today:

1. Add the website coding provided by Pinterest to allow your images to be pinned straight from your website by anyone viewing your site.
2. Create a Business Pinterest account to have analytics
3. Pin as many of your individual images from your site as you can.
4. If you blog your sessions, pin every single image you blog!
5. As you pin, in your captions cram as many keywords as possible in there, such as any terms associated with the image or any terms your target client will be searching for. This is how your pins will show up in Pinterest searches and get seen.
6. Use a collage maker to create a Pinterest friendly collage of images for each session. These collages always end up being the most pinned and get the most attention. I use this free collage maker that has a specific pinterest layout available: https://www.befunky.com/create/collage/
7. Instead of linking the collage pins to your website like individual images, link them to the social media platform you want to grow!

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Becca Mathews: Maryland Senior Portrait, Equine, and Couples Photographer

Finding Your Style | Maryland Senior Portrait Photographer | Maryland Photographer Mentor

Finding Your Photography Style

Finding your style as a photographer can be confusing and daunting, especially if you are just starting out. There are so many different directions you can take your images: from dark and moody to light and airy to vibrant and colorful, and everything in between.

When I was just starting out, I already knew a big part of my style would be LIGHT. I’ve always been obsessed with that gorgeous, golden backlighting, and I sought it in every single one of my images. But when it came to editing, I was pretty much all over the place. One of my very first sessions I edited with super vibrant yellow/greens and saturated colors because that just ended up being how I thought those images looked best. Then I started discovering other photographers that I fell in LOVE with their styles, and I still admire their work so much today. My favorites were Jessica Heller Photography, Brittney Borowski, India Earl, and Ben Sasso. The funny thing is, and I’m sure you notice this if you follow any of their work, their styles are COMPLETELY different. I know lots of photographers have the same problem: they love work done in all different styles. So how in the world did I find MY style, if the photographers I admired most had such different styles?

I found mine by just shooting and editing and practicing, and that’s exactly how most photographers do, and how YOU will end up finding yours! After doing shoot after shoot, I started naturally editing my images consistently in a certain way. I found that no matter what the session was, I felt that each image looked best with a rich, film inspired tone that was not over exposed or underexposed. So instead of dark and moody or light and airy, I landed somewhere in the middle! Even though I loved specific photographers’ work, I never liked editing my images in their styles. I felt like my images looked best completely different, and I learned to be okay with that instead of trying to copy someone else’s style.

There aren’t any specific steps you can take, or a quiz, or a magical answer to finding what your style is. The only way to do it is to simply practice! Do as many shoots as you can and edit each shoot to the best of your ability. Don’t stress about trying to commit to muted greens or over exposed highlights, you’ll find your own style naturally by just doing the shoots and edits that YOU love.  

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Becca Mathews: Maryland Senior, Equine, and Couples Photographer