March 2021 // The Senior Edition

march 2021




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MARCH 2021 | ISSUE 102

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A Checklist of Must-Haves on Your Website with Vanessa Joy


Product Spotlight with the CG Pro Prints Legacy Edition Frames


The Five Most Useful Blending Modes in Photoshop with David Byrd

Product Spotlight with The Salvatore Cincotta Album line from H&H Color Lab 44


How I Got the Shot with Sal Cincotta


How to Use Natural Light for Modern Senior Portraits with Carlee Secor


Must-Have Gear for Senior Photography with David Beckham


Five Tips To Take Your Studio Lighting To The Next Level with Jen Bertrand

102 1 1 6 128 144 156 168 200 208

Posing Tips & Tricks for Seniors with Jaimy Ellis

Show It To Sell It: How to Shoot to Sell Large Wall Prints with Lisa Jones

Customize Your Senior Portrait Sessions and Make More Money with Megan Engeseth

Creating Dramatic Athlete Portraits with Matt Hernandez

Senior Photography in a Covid World with Sal Cincotta

Inspirations from Our Readers

Raw Workflow for Videographers with Rob Adams

Final Inspiration with Angelica Page




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P U B L I S H E R S a l C i n c o t t a

E D I T O R - I N - C H I E F A l i s s a C i n c o t t a

D E S I G N E R E l l i e P l o t k i n

C O P Y E D I T O R A l l i s o n B r u b a k e r

Shutter Magazine ’s focus is on photography education. Our goal is to provide current insightful and in-depth educational content for today’s professional wedding and portrait photographer. Shutter uses the latest technologies to deliver information in a way that is relevant to our audience. Our experienced contributors help us create a sense of community and have established the magazine as one of the leading photography publications in the world.


C O N T R I B U T I N G W R I T E R S C a r l e e S e c o r D a v i d B e c k h a m

D a v i d B y r d J a i my E l l i s J e n B e r t r a n d L i s a J o n e s


M a t t H e r n a n d e z M e g a n E n g e s e t h R o b Ad a m s

Shutter Magazine: By photographers, for photographers.

S a l C i n c o t t a Va n e s s a J o y

No matter where you live in the world, high-school seniors want to look and be cool. And in this world of “Influencers” , they can help you promote your business like never before. In this issue of Shutter Magazine , our writers explore new and exciting ways for you to grow your senior business. - Sal Cincotta



TITLE: flower waltz

PHOTOGRAPHER: saray taylor-roman CAMERA: canon 5d mark iv LENS: canon 50mm 1.2 l EXPOSURE: f/8 @ 1/125 iso 640 WEBSITE:

LIGHTING: natural light camera right 8’ away from subject (large floor to ceiling 10’ window with double white polyester sheers as diffusion) plus a white v-flat on camera right 6’ away from subject. MODEL: ella kate, company dancer with knox dance

ABOUT THE IMAGE: There is something about dancers that fascinates me. The way they can showcase strength and discipline while appearing effortless and ethereal while they dance. So, when putting together this concept, I drew from nature which is a consistent inspiration for me. In this case, flowers as soft, ephemeral, and items full of beauty would represent the graceful and aesthetic elements of a dancer. Then, she would go on pointe to showcase the years, the hours, and the pain she endured for the love of this discipline; yet her hands would softly fall in front barely touching the tutu as she effortlessly arched her back to also speak of her love for ballet as art. A little movement on the tulle on her head as well as in her hair reminds us dance isn’t static. And her calm yet fierce gaze lets us know that on the dance floor she is most confidently herself.

A Checklist of Must-Haves on Your Website | Vanessa Joy

with Vanessa Joy

A Checklist of Must-Haves on Your Website | Vanessa Joy

As a photographer, you know that it's important to have a website. It helps you reach a wider audience, gets more people interested in the services you offer, and is a great place to show off your portfolio. If you're just getting started with creating a website from scratch, you may be wondering what it should look like and what information and elements you absolutely need to include. Luckily, it's easier than ever to create an amazing site for your photography business. Here are a few must-haves that you should never overlook.


Think about the goal of your website. Is it to get people to call you, fill out your contact form, request a quote, or schedule a time to chat with you? Use this goal to craft a call to action to get people to take the next step. When someone first lands on your site, their eye often travels to the top right corner of the page. This specific spot is prime web real estate and should be used as such! In that top right corner, you want to put a strong call to action, whether that's your business's contact information and a prompt to get in touch, a button to your contact form, or whatever you want your audience to do next.

A Checklist of Must-Haves on Your Website | Vanessa Joy


Your website should be straightforward and easy to understand from the moment someone finds it. When someone visits your site for the first time, they should be able to tell exactly what you do in just a few seconds. Use text and visual elements like photos, videos, and graphics to convey a simple, concise message that anyone can easily grasp. Put your business name at the top of the site, and use your homepage to include the most important images and text. If people are looking for a photographer for their engagement session, and they land on your site but it doesn't seem totally obvious that you do engagement photos, they may leave to look for a different option. It's important to remember that across all the communications you have with your audience (this includes your website, your social media profiles, and any emails you send out), your branding should be consistent. Try hard to use the same type of language, the same photos and communicate the same message no matter where you're talking to your potential customers.

A Checklist of Must-Haves on Your Website | Vanessa Joy


Your site should have an "About Me" section that contains a little bit of information about yourself, your experience, and what you can do for potential clients. Don't make this section too long, but include enough to let people know that you're a real person and that you have experience working as a photographer. Most people only want to read a quick blurb rather than your entire life story, so you can utilize bullet points here like I did ( This way, they can quickly skim the information you have available. Include anything that you think may be relevant to your audience and potential customers, like how long you've been a professional photographer, where you studied or were trained, and what you specialize in.

A Checklist of Must-Haves on Your Website | Vanessa Joy


When someone is looking for a photographer in their area, they usually have dozens of options to choose from. If this seems like an intimidating prospect, you're right! It can be hard to stand out among so many photography options. So, what can you do to set your business apart from all the other choices people have? First, think about what makes your photography unique. Think about the styles you specialize in and who your work appeals to, and build a stunning portfolio keeping these ideas in mind.

There are lots of great website building platforms for photographers that you can take advantage of to make your portfolio look beautiful, like WordPress, Wix, or Squarespace (my choice). You don't necessarily need to have a lot of tech know-how to make a great website when you have user-friendly platforms like these available to you! While Instagram is a great photography-based social media platform, it shouldn't totally replace a website. Your social media can work in conjunction to funnel more people to your website. Once you have a website up and running, choose some of your best work for your portfolio. Be sure to include a wide variety of examples so people can see your style and the different sorts of projects you've worked on, but don't put in everything. This is a chance to show off a curated selection of your personal best.

A Checklist of Must-Haves on Your Website | Vanessa Joy


The easier it is for potential customers to get in touch with you, the more likely it is they'll do it. Give them a variety of ways to get ahold of you, like phone, email, and social media platforms. Some people might prefer one contact method over another. A contact form on your website will also give them another way to contact you where they can include their name, phone number, email address, and a short message to you. From there, you can ask the best way and the best time to get in touch with them and follow up based on the information you collected. You can also include a checkbox to indicate if they want to sign up for email updates. Place a contact button on each page on your website that takes people to your contact form, and a link in your site's top-level navigation that points to your contact form too. Don't ask for too much information in this form. If people see that they have to fill out 20 fields, they might think it's too much work and navigate away without filling out the form. Remember, your goal is to make contacting you as easy as possible!


As mentioned above, make sure to highlight a lot of different work on your website's portfolio. You may want to break this up into different galleries so that people can navigate it more easily. Each gallery can focus on a different style or type of photography (e.g., engagement shoots, wedding shoots, detail photos, etc.). Stick to no more than 20 images per gallery because almost no one is actually going to scroll through dozens or hundreds of photographs (I know that’s difficult and yes, I’m breaking my own rule on my website). Of course, you're proud of your work, but keep it simple! Focus on including shots that illustrate your brand, show your absolute best and create an easily-recognizable style for your business. When you work to include these elements in your website, it can help you find new clients, show off your proudest photography moments, get clients actually contacting you, and build a solid foundation for expanding your business.

LEARN MORE . Click here or check us out at

Vanessa Joy has been a professional wedding photographer in New Jersey since 2002, and an influencer in the photographic community for years. Since starting in 2008, she has taught photographers around the globe at almost every major platform in the industry ( Vanessa has been recognized for her talent and business sense at the renowned industry events CreativeLIVE, Clickin’ Moms, WPPI and ShutterFest. Her peers love her informative, open-book style of teaching. website: instagram: @vanessajoy

Focal Length: 70mm Exposure: F2.8 1/125sec ISO: 125

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Product Spotlight | CG Pro Prints Legacy Edition Frames


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The Five Most Useful Blending Modes in Photoshop | David Byrd

with David Byrd

The Five Most Useful Blending Modes in Photoshop | David Byrd

In the realm of digital photo editing, there are many powerful tools and techniques that can be utilized to create awesome works of art. As these editors have developed over time, their mechanisms and interactions have evolved to offer more complex options to the artist. This is definitely worth exploring as you seek to set the bar even higher for your own artwork. However, it is vital to remember that some of the most powerful tools in digital photo editors (that have yet to be matched by new software) are also the most basic tools or aspects of the program. Such is the case in Photoshop in regard to Layer Blending Modes. They are one of the first major additions to the program and their functions are the cornerstone to how new mechanisms are developed for the modern age of the software. Let’s do a general overview of the Blending Modes and then we’ll get into examples of why the most popular choices work the way they do. These are all of the Blending Modes that are available in the Layers Window in Photoshop. How can we easily identify what they do? Here is a simple breakdown.

Each of the modes are sectioned into categories that, in a sense, create a look that reflects what the first mode is in each of the categories. For instance, in the first major section (beyond Normal and Dissolve) is the Darken group. All of the modes in this section will darken the image in some way, utilizing various elements of the data of the image to achieve the look. So if that is the case, then what do you suppose all of the modes do in the section under Lighten?

When we get to the Overlay section, that’s where things get a little more interesting in how Photoshop uses the available layer data to work its magic. Speaking of magic, the Difference and Hue sections are dark and evil and will do wonky things to your image just as your digestive system will react to your shirt after two funnel cakes and a ride on the Tilt-A-Whirl. Gross. Back to the Overlay section of Blending Modes. If it stands to reason that the first section makes things darker and the next one makes things brighter, then you need a third option that allows you to make things brighter or darker by standing right in the middle. Let me explain.

The Five Most Useful Blending Modes in Photoshop | David Byrd


In Photoshop there are three main thresholds of light: highlights, shadows, and mid-tones. We can’t just have two extremes of light and dark, we need a middle ground that is the defining point of how far we have to travel with the light to reach those extremes, hence the mid-tones. With that understanding, there are three colors that represent these luminosity values in Photoshop: white, black, and gray. Gray is the defining mid-point between these two extreme colors, specifically 50% gray which is the perfect middle ground between black and white. So let’s look at some examples of how these three colors (that represent values of light) interact with an image from each of the sections mentioned. First, we’ll start with this image of Stephanie. I’ve added a layer above the image that has a circle made of black, white, and 50% gray. This new layer is on a Normal Blending Mode; therefore, we see all three circles/colors without any changes.


The Five Most Useful Blending Modes in Photoshop | David Byrd

The first experiment is to switch this circle layer to Multiply, the first of the five most popular Blending Modes. When we do this, the white circle disappears, the black circle stays the same, and the gray circle now looks a lot darker. In this section of modes, Photoshop will ignore the absolute extreme of light and focus on using anything that is 99% or less in color and light values to darken the layers beneath it. When it gets to 0% it does not do anything—hence why the black circle is still visible. It can’t make anything darker than 0%. We see the change with the gray circle because now that color and luminosity value has been allowed to interact with the layers beneath. This is why Blending Modes are so incredibly powerful—it gives you the option to have layers and have elements interact with the others in the layer stack.




When we move to the Lighten group and switch the circle layer to Screen (number two on our list of popular Blending Modes), we get the exact opposite result from Multiply. Essentially, Photoshop ignores the color black. Anything moving forward from that color and luminosity value begins to brighten the image.

The Five Most Useful Blending Modes in Photoshop | David Byrd


So that middle ground we talked about? That comes into play now with the Overlay section. If we switch the circle layer to Soft Light, Photoshop will ignore the gray circle or 50% gray. However, it does something special beyond that. It now uses the various stages of color and luminosity to either darken or lighten the image, based on their percentage from 50% gray. Think of this process like a dimmer switch for color and light. The switch starts at the mid-tone level of 50% and as you slowly move it toward the darkest point, the layers beneath gradually get darker and darker. The same is true in reverse: light and colors get gradually brighter as you move up the sliding scale toward 100% white.

Keep in mind that Photoshop is using the available data of the layer that you are moving through in these modes. We just used a layer of these primary luminosity-colored circles, but generally your layers are going to be a little more dynamic and more interesting than that.

soft light

The Five Most Useful Blending Modes in Photoshop | David Byrd


Now let’s explore the last two popular Blending Modes: Color Dodge and Color Burn. These two function on the foundation of their category (Darken and Lighten), but they do so in a manner that is closer to the actual process of Dodge and Burning. They use the colors of the layer to do precisely that. They have a lot of real-world application in varying scenarios, but the realm that I most often utilize them is in special effects. If you’ve ever spent a few minutes with me and my most common work, you will know that I live in a world of make-believe. You’ll often find a random sword or fantasy prop lying about my studio. Some photographers have bundles of flowers, some have apple boxes and beautiful old wooden ladders. I have lightsabers and Valkyrie wings. In the examples provided I needed to add some special effects to the sword that Danielle is holding. I want it to glow with the blue fiery power of her magnificence. To achieve that, I can simply make a new blank layer that is above the image, switch that blank layer to Color Dodge Blending Mode and use a light shade of blue/teal to start painting over the sword.

Subsequently, if I need to add a little bit of depth to the sword, I can create a new blank layer and switch it to Color Burn Blending Mode and begin to introduce that new color tone to the effect.

blending mode of color burn

blending mode of color dodge

Using this simple fantasy composite, let’s see examples of the five Blending Modes in action. Each major stage of developing the foundation of this composite requires one of the five Blending Modes. After further special effects and a color grade have been applied to the piece, we have the final artwork.

cloud stock has been added to the image, on a blending mode of screen

base background layer on a mode of normal

special effects added to the sword using color dodge & burn

danielle was added on a mode of normal

artistic enhancement and color grade

the final art was flattened then duplicated, and that new duplicate layer was put on a blending mode of multiply and the overall opacity of this new layer was reduced to 40% to add a bit of contrast to the image.


Each Blending Mode can help you create some incredible additions to your artwork and some of them (like the popular ones) have pretty common, reliable results. However, it’s always important to experiment with any given layer and the modes to see how it will affect your unique composition of one solitary image. The takeaway here is to use the tools you have at your disposal to their fullest potential and to make sure you know what that potential is before you move forward to commit resources to the “next great thing.” As photographers and artists, we often overlook all that our gear and software can do and that is a challenge worth taking up in our travels.

David is an award-winning photographer, Photoshop artist and educator who specializes in unique portrait and photo manipulation art. Through his brand Reality Reimagined, his artwork spans the genres of fantasy, glamour, fashion and all the stories found therein. In 2018, he received the Grand Award from the ShutterFest image competition and is currently nominated for a Grand Imaging Award through Professional Photographers of America. The center of his universe is his wonderful wife Bethany, who reminds him to never be afraid to fly. Together they have traveled the world and continue to explore all the possibilities of Reality Reimagined and the imagination it is based on. website: instagram: @realityreimagined

Product Spotlight | The Salvatore Cincotta Collection by H&H Color Lab


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| How I Got the Shot with Sal Cincotta | How to Use Natural Light for Modern Senior Portraits with Carlee Secor | Must-Have Gear for Senior Photography with David Beckham | Five Tips To Take Your Studio Lighting To The Next Level with Jen Bertrand | Posing Tips & Tricks for Seniors with Jaimy Ellis | Show It To Sell It: How to Shoot to Sell Large Wall Prints with Lisa Jones | Customize Your Senior Portrait Sessions and Make More Money with Megan Engeseth

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102 1 1 6 128 144 156 168

| Creating Dramatic Athlete Portraits with Matt Hernandez | Senior Photography in a Covid World with Sal Cincotta | Inspirations from Our Readers

How I Got the Shot | Sal Cincotta

with Sal Cincotta

How I Got the Shot | Sal Cincotta

Over the course of my career, I have had the opportunity to make some incredible images and I can say without a doubt these are some of them. This was a concept shoot for Profoto during the launch of their Profoto B10. We wanted to review the light in the field and under real shooting conditions, so we thought, why not the St. Louis City Museum. With shoots like this, it’s not just about grabbing a model and slamming light in there. You really want to step back and think like a creative director. Plan the shoot, set some goals and objectives, and storyboard it out like you would if you were making a movie. Over the years, I have found that when I prepare for a shoot and try to visualize the results, I usually end up with significantly stronger images.


We shot this on the roof along with a series of other images I will share in another article sometime in the future. Now, in all transparency, we rented this location after hours to ensure we had complete access to the rooftop uninterrupted. Was it expensive? Of course. But the results would not be the same had we not done this. If you ever have the ability to secure a unique location, I highly encourage you to do it because the results will surely be worth it. The Ferris wheel was the obvious choice for me. The red seat, the red dress and the blue sky was just a perfect color palette to work with.

How I Got the Shot | Sal Cincotta


We had a Profoto B10 that was the perfect solution for this shot. I needed a light that would have enough power to fill and completely illuminate my subject’s face. Keep in mind, I could have shot this with natural light, but I would have blown out the sky in the background and lost all that depth and color. So, it was very important the flash had enough power. Now, of course, we needed to soften the light and control it a bit. That’s where the Beauty Dish comes into play. It’s a small form factor, easy to work with and manipulate which is incredibly important when you are on top of a building on top of a Ferris wheel.


Now, this was shot before Canon released the new EOS-R platform. Since then I have converted to the Canon EOS-R and then the EOS-R5.

Here we used two different lenses: EF11-24mm f/4L USM Lens and EF24-70mm f/2.8L USM Lens.

Trust me, changing lenses this high up was extremely unnerving. As you can see from the pictures, my assistant had to hold on to the light and was freaking out during the shoot because I was backwards in the car and it was rocking significantly. So, her main focus was living… not lighting or holding on to a bunch of lenses. If I’m being honest, it was a little unsettling being backwards in the car. Every movement was magnified by 10 like a shockwave. But hey… the results speak for themselves.


How I Got the Shot | Sal Cincotta

Settings: f14 @ 1/125 iso 100


Settings: f16 @ 1/160 iso 100


Level of difficulty here? I would say… a solid 7. You are dealing with heights, wind, a rocking car, lighting challenges, and a model. In all that, I had to think creatively and ensure the details were on point. Hair, hands, pose, lighting, focal length, horizon line, etc. It needs to be perfect. Maybe that’s why I love this series so much. I know how much effort went into it. Hopefully, you appreciate the difficulty of the shot and the final results. Like they say, nothing worth achieving in life is ever easy. So, that being said, get out there and challenge yourself to do more. You will surprise yourself with what is possible.

LEARN MORE . Click here or check us out at

Sal Cincotta is an international award-winning photographer, educator, author, Canon Explorer Of Light and the publisher of Shutter Magazine. Sal’s success is directly tied to the education he received in business school. He graduated from Binghamton University, a Top 20 business school, and has worked for Fortune 500 companies like Procter & Gamble and Microsoft. After spending 10 years in corporate America, Sal left to pursue a career in photography and has never looked back. website: instagram: @salcincotta

How to Use Natural Light for Modern Senior Portraits | Carlee Secor

with Carlee Secor

How to Use Natural Light for Modern Senior Portraits | Carlee Secor

Settings: f1.8 @ 1/160 iso 640

Settings: f1.8 @ 1/125 iso 100

Senior portraits are what really kicked off my photography career and made me fall in love with photography. I’ve been in business for four years now and have been using only natural light with all my senior portrait shoots since the beginning! I’ve always been big on using minimal gear knowing that it can still produce great work. I almost always will shoot an entire senior session with just one lens, no reflector and no artificial lighting. I truly believe if you study light and know your gear well, you’ll always be able to nail the end product. So with that being said, I wanted to share a few tips and tricks on how I do it!

Settings: f1.8 @ 1/500 iso 100


Scouting locations is so important when it comes to getting the exact result you’re looking for. You want to make sure your location has plenty of options for different backgrounds and of course good light! Light is everything in photography, and if you’re going for a specific look, direct light, side light and back light all result in a different “style.” The position the sun will be at the time you’re shooting can completely ruin a shoot. Know your locations, have an idea in your head of what you want the end result to look like, and work with the sun. If you can’t go out and scout locations, they make apps for your phone that will tell you the direction the sun will set. You’ll thank yourself later.

How to Use Natural Light for Modern Senior Portraits | Carlee Secor


From the beginning of my career, I decided I loved the look of backlit photos the most. It made for the cleanest, sharpest looking photos every time. No matter what time of day, or even if it’s cloudy, I make sure the sun is behind my subject. Obviously I break this “rule” from time to time (there really are no rules with photography in my opinion). But it’s a style I’ve stayed consistent with and it works best for me. Always focus on the placement of the sun and place your subject’s head directly in front of the sun. This works best during golden hour.

Settings: f1.8 @ 1/250 iso 100


My setup is a 55mm 1.8 Zeiss on the Sony A7III. A true portrait lens is 50mm and anything longer. Almost every photo I take is with this lens. My settings are usually 1/200 shutter speed, 1.8 aperture and 100 ISO during golden hour. Before I switched to Sony I was with Nikon for three years, and even shooting with my Nikon D750 I mostly stuck with a 50mm 1.4 for every portrait session or wedding. Since switching from Nikon I’ve never once regretted my decision. Sony Mirrorless is fast, sharp and so much lighter. This circles back to me only carrying and working with minimal gear. I really believe you produce better work if you know the ins and outs of the gear you consistently use vs. switching it up. Very rarely do I change my lens, and if I do it’s to an 85mm! I don’t use a 35mm for portraits because I feel like it can distort the image. If you are looking for a simple, go-to portrait lens I recommend a 50mm 1.8. They’re cheap and easily the best.

Settings: f1.8 @ 1/320 iso 200

Settings: f1.8 @ 1/250 iso 100

Settings: f1.8 @ 1/800 iso 100

Settings: f1.8 @ 1/500 iso 100

How to Use Natural Light for Modern Senior Portraits | Carlee Secor


Knowing what the sun looks like during certain times of day and times of year will help you tremendously. The sun sets in the west and rises in the east, so if you’re photographing at sunset you’ll want an east- facing location and vice versa for sunrise. During different seasons the sunset tends to look different and may move slightly. I only shoot two hours before sunset for this reason, and YES I plan every single shoot around sunset. BUT there are certain times where it’ll be really cloudy and I’ll move a shoot up or reschedule for that reason. A cloudy day vs. a sunny day sunset looks completely different. On a cloudy day you’ll lose your light much quicker. Since backlit images is a style I’ve consistently stuck with, most of my clients request that specific golden hour look in their photos. If it’s extremely overcast, it’s out of my hands. I have no issue moving dates to sunny days to please my clients. It’s so important to communicate to your clients the reality of the weather and how it’ll affect the end product.

When looking for light, you want to find a location that has trees, buildings or foliage to “break the light.”An open field with no trees will be harshly backlit. It’ll be hard to photograph your subject in focus because the sun will be too overpowering, even during the last two hours (or less) before sundown. If you’re constantly wondering why you can’t achieve that backlit look, it’s because there’s nothing to break the light. This is what I look for in all my locations, and I won’t shoot at locations that don’t have good lighting. This is why I always choose the locations for my shoots, because I know where the light will be best.

Settings: f1.8 @ 1/800 iso 100

How to Use Natural Light for Modern Senior Portraits | Carlee Secor

Settings: f2.0 @ 1/1000 iso 100


My seniors always begin their senior session at my studio for hair and makeup. From my studio, we head to our first location. Since it’s about two hours before sunset at this time, the sun is still pretty high in the sky. This is my favorite time to utilize locations that have a lot of buildings to help break the light. For example, downtown or on top of a parking garage are perfect for this time of day. From there we head to an in-between location. The sun is getting lower at this point so I have more freedom in where I can shoot. I usually go to a garden, college campus, courtyard, basically anywhere that’s a little less industrial than downtown. For the last location we head to my favorite place, the grassy field! It’s about 35 minutes until sundown at this point and the sun is already glowing, waiting for us. If you want the really orange, warm sunset look, you’ll have that during the last ten minutes of sunlight! Planning your shoots out minute by minute (don’t forget to include travel) and how much time you’ll spend shooting at each location is so helpful. Hair and makeup takes about an hour and I usually spend 30 minutes at each location. Most of my clients will book three locations, although I offer an option for four, so I always count back three hours when booking a start time. I leave a half hour for any delays that may happen.

Settings: f2.0 @ 1/400 iso 100

How to Use Natural Light for Modern Senior Portraits | Carlee Secor

Settings: f2.0 @ 1/250 iso 100

It took years for me to get a system down that works for me, but ultimately understanding how the sun works during the night, in the morning, on overcast days and partly cloudy days is what leads me to clean and consistent work. If this is something you feel you struggle with, I encourage you to get out and scout locations with family and friends to practice. Consistency is key when owning a photography business. Your clients want to have an idea of what the end result will be. If you’re more of a visual learner, I have a few videos on my YouTube channel (just search my name) that may help you! While this all may sound a little bit daunting, practice really does make perfect. I hope my guidance and advice will help you achieve the look you’re going for!

Carlee is a senior and wedding photographer based in Green Bay, Wisconsin. She has been in business for four years and she is extremely passionate about what she does. Her main goal is to

always capture beautiful images and have fun while doing it. website: instagram: @carleesecor

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Must-Have Gear for Senior Photography | David Beckham

with David Beckham

Must-Have Gear for Senior Photography | David Beckham

Settings: f1.4 @ 1/640 iso 100 Gear: sony A7III, 85mm f1.4 “g” lens

If you have seen me speak on business topics, you have heard me say, “Try it. Test it. Use it or leave it behind.” The same thing holds true with gear. My first SLR was a Canon AE1 Program that my wife and I purchased over 40 years ago. I stuck with Canon until I tried a Sony A7III. The “eye focus” feature was everything. I did not switch because everyone else was. I switched because I proved that it was better for me and I could not wait any longer for Canon to catch up. I am going to share some of the gear I use for photographing seniors. I will share the good and the bad with my choices and show you some of the photos I have taken with it.


Love it. The eye focus is crisp and fast. The price is fair. With the Sony G 85mm f/1.4 lens I hit perfect focus 99% of the time. It is my new favorite shooting lens. The negatives: The menus are a pain to learn. Getting used to no mirror meant keeping that sensor clean is a whole new way of shooting. Sadly, the quality was a little fragile as well. I had to send it in for repairs twice in the first two years. But being a Sony Pro member means the service is fast and they are readily available to talk to. They even sent me a loaner during warranty work! I own two Sony A7III and will grab the next A7IV if they make one!

Must-Have Gear for Senior Photography | David Beckham


The quality is every bit as good as any brand that I have used. I have the 24-70mm f/2.8, 70-200mm f/2.8 and the 85mm f/1.4. I recently added a Sigma 35mm f/1.4 but will probably replace it with the new Sony G. These photos of Cece show you the ranges if you are thinking about purchasing new glass. I framed her the same in each of these and moved closer as I decreased the mm. You can see the effects of wide angle and compression of the longer lenses. I used a Godox AD300 with a Mola Demi dish for OCF and the camera settings were ISO 100, F/3.5, SS 1/200.

135mm lens

85mm lens

70mm lens

50mm lens

35mm lens

24mm lens

200mm lens

sony g 70-200mm zoom lens @70mm and at 200mm

sony g 24-70mm zoom lens @70mm and at 24mm


I love my 85 and it has turned into my favorite lens for the amazing bokeh. But with my 70-200mm f/2.8 lens, being able to get a full body shot and a waist up shot of Sarenity without moving from my location is a huge advantage. As I get older it is not as easy to kneel to capture a photograph. The zoom makes multiple shots so much easier and the compression with shooting at 200mm at f/2.8 has comparable bokeh to the 85.

Similarly, the versatility of the 24-70mm is great. At 70mm you can get great headshots and the zoom to 24 can get that cool look that seniors are loving right now.


You know how I love the light source close and low power. The Savage Multiplex 10’ stand gives me so much versatility, as the legs all can be set to different lengths and angles. It will stand virtually anywhere. The legs can also be extended so that it will not blow over. The negatives: It is heavy and takes a little longer to set up and take down. It seems a little flimsy and I wouldn’t extend it to 10’ with a 600 or Profoto light at the top. It works great for me though with the smaller, lighter lights. For these of Sarenity, I’m using a Godox AD300 with a Mola beauty dish for the OCF.

Must-Have Gear for Senior Photography | David Beckham


I went Godox wireless this year for my studio strobes. I use four AD400 Pros for most of my studio lighting. These have plenty of power and versatility for every lighting I do. The LED model lights are strong and the battery life is fine. For my main light I use the plug-in adaptor, so I still have one cord. I can keep the model light on full and the flash recovery is so quick. The BEST part of these lights is the bulb extending into the modifiers. This allows you to fill the modifier with light and let the modifiers modify. I cannot express my thoughts about this enough. An AD200 with the bulb adaptor will fill a 4’x6’ modifier. The negatives: The batteries go dead if you leave them plugged into the charger for too long. You can send them in to MoLight for a $35 reset fee and he is quick about getting them back to you. The negatives in no way outweigh the positives and the price on these is fantastic! I also use Godox LED Continuous lighting in the studio. I reviewed those in the March 2020 issue of Shutter Magazine. For outdoor work, I have an AD300 Pro and three AD200 Pros. These are so lightweight and powerful, and the bulbs protrude into the modifier and the batteries last forever. I have been able to shoot in full sun to adding just a touch of light. They are durable too. I have dropped them and they keep right on working!


The next set of photographs of Alyssa will show you a one Godox AD400 light setup using the modifiers I use to get that “fashion” look. The first photo uses my trusty Mola Demi beauty dish. The light head is within 3 feet of her face and gives a great even flow of light and soft shadows. But also notice the smooth falloff. That falloff is why I love it for outdoor work. The edge of a BD is different than a softbox or these other modifiers. Without a hard forward edge, light will spill out without a hard shadow line. Putting a grid on a modifier like this Mola Demi does not make sense to me because it straightens out the light again, ruining the beauty of a beauty dish!

mola demi with diffuser

Must-Have Gear for Senior Photography | David Beckham

selens parabolic with diffuser

The Selens 28” Hexadecagon Parabolic is a perfect round softbox for controlled light, purchased on Amazon. I am using the diffuser scrim but not the grid that is available in the first shot. I pull the light further away so that I get a crisper slightly contrasted look and the falloff is outside of the photo. You can see the shadow is there, but it is not hard and defined. There is a huge change when I removed the diffuser scrim. Now you can see more defined shadows and the falloff line. The light is about 12 feet away in both. This is an easily collapsible modifier. Something to note: When you place the scrim inside the modifier, keep in mind that the closer to the outer edge you mount it, the softer the falloff will be. The Velcro is over 2 inches wide so that it can hold a grid too. If you put the scrim in deeper the edge of the light will be harder.

selens parabolic w/o diffuser

For a daylight funky editorial look, I love the MoLight MoThro reflector. It is 45 degree, 11” diameter and 14” long. I am using it with a diffuser scrim in the first shots and with the grid in the second. The kids love the fun cool light that makes them feel like a fashion shoot when they see the back of the camera. The photos typically don’t end up on a wall as a large print but they will definitely fill a spread in an album to remember how fun the session was! This reflector is also great for outside lighting if you cannot get the flash close enough and do not mind the contrast and shadows.

mothro reflector with diffuser

mothro reflector w/o diffuser

The last shots of Alyssa are using the classic snoot for a tight spotlight look. The hardest shadows and obvious drop off can give a 50s glam feel. They are great for adding a touch of light or color using a gel if the flash is used as a kicker, hair or background light.


Must-Have Gear for Senior Photography | David Beckham

falcon eyes pro studio solutions 150cm x 200cm (59in x 78.7in) sun scrim


Another one-light setup with a 5’x7’ scrim on a stand. This one is a Falcon Eyes Pro Studio Solutions 150cm x 200cm (59in x 78.7in) Sun Scrim purchased on Amazon. I guide the light through the scrim with a 24”x36” Paul Buff softbox and it creates a soft, subtle glow on Kaitlynn. This is my favorite setup for studio lifestyle portfolio shoots with models. It’s great in my white room too for other fashion looks.

Must-Have Gear for Senior Photography | David Beckham

godox lc500 and lc500r


Well, sort of. The transformation to LED continuous lighting is in full swing. And the Godox LC500 and LC500R are part of it for me. The best reason for continuous light is that you see EXACTLY what you will get before you snap the shot—especially if you are using a Sony Mirrorless camera that lets you see the results of your adjustments on your LED screen before you snap it. The LC500 is a white light but you can change the Kelvin to either 3300 or 5600. The LC500R is way more versatile with 360 color range and a variable Kelvin from 2200-8500! It also has lots of features that I will probably never use like flashing and changing colors to the beat of music. Both come with a remote control (that I throw away), adjustable and removable barn doors (which work great), charger and carrying case. The negatives: only one. There is a 1/4”-20 socket for mounting but no adjustable connector. I use the ones that I got with my AD200s. They are super sturdy and work great! And a battery charge lasts a long time! I have used these light sticks as fill light in my windows, indoor shoots and outside in lowlight conditions. Here we are doing a three-light setup as you see with Olivia. She is in front of a Savage Model gray paper backdrop. I am using the LC500Rs set to a blue color to light the background and a kicker behind her. The LC500 is at 5600K as the main. This works great with the blue homecoming dress that she did not get to wear this year due to the pandemic. On the second shot I turned both LC500Rs toward her to get the hair and rim lights in blue. The background picks up the ambient overflow and turns the gray paper dark blue.

Must-Have Gear for Senior Photography | David Beckham

saranomic microphones and receiver

the savage edge lights

The phopik tripod mounting head

savage low profile speed rings


• The Phopik Tripod mounting head is great for attaching my phone to when making videos. It is tall enough to be eye level or above me slightly too! The clamp is hand turned instead of an awkward spring-loaded clamp that can be difficult for larger phones. • Saranomic microphones and receiver. Simple and easy to use. The receiver plugs into your phone and the wireless mics clip on to your clothing. This allows me to do Facebook Lives and IGTV clips without any disruption in the audio. The batteries are built-in and rechargeable using a USB connection. • The Savage EDGE lights are amazing LED lights. I have the 6”x9” and the 6” diameter, excellent soft LED light sources. • Savage low profile speed rings. I love the quality of Paul Buff modifiers. Savage makes a speed ring that fits perfectly in the Paul Buff mount so that I can convert them to Bowens mounts. The low profile means the bulb from the flash will extend further into the modifier in a setup like this. These come in multiple diameters for many softboxes and light modifiers.

godox lc500

I love using the LC500s at night like this Christmas shot with Ella. The key here is to keep the light close and low power (9%), your ISO up (320) and get that great glow from the lights behind with that Sony G 85mm lens at f/1.4!

David Beckham is an award-winning photographer from Pickerington, Ohio and specializes in fashion styled senior photography. In January he was honored with the PPA National Award for his teaching, mentoring and education he gives back to the professional photographer community. In 2020 he won the Grand Imaging Award in the Senior category at the Professional Photographers of America’s International Competition. He will be returning to speak for the fifth time at ShutterFest 21. Join his education group ASKDavid on Facebook. David also teaches workshops from his studio four times a year. website: instagram: @DavidBeckhamPhotography

Five Tips To Take Your Studio Lighting To The Next Level | Jen Bertrand

with Jen Bertrand

Five Tips To Take Your Studio Lighting To The Next Level | Jen Bertrand

Settings: f4.0 @ 1/200 iso 100

As photographers, it’s easy to get sucked into the mindset that it takes tons of fancy equipment to create stunning studio images. The truth is, killer images can be created on the smallest of budgets. It’s all about how you use your gear and understanding how to refine the light you create. Whether you’re just starting out in studio or have been at it for a while and want to take your lighting to the next level, these five simple tips will help you level up your studio lighting game with the gear you already have.

Settings: f4.5 @ 1/160 iso 250


Our job as photographers is to create an emotional response and engage the viewer. One of the most powerful ways to do that is through intentional lighting. When lighting any image I create, I start with how I want the final image to look and then work my way back. Rather than just setting up lights and hoping for a well-lit image, I think through different elements that make up the final image and make decisions based on those answers. For instance, what sort of mood do I want to create? How do I want the viewer to feel? Do I need to accentuate a specific feature of my subject like their eyes, cheekbones, or even the clothing they’re wearing? Do I want this image to feel happy? Edgy? Pensive? Energetic? An energetic image may require a different light modifier than one needed for a pensive mood. While the same modifier could be used for both moods, the position of the light may determine that one is energetic and the other pensive. Ask yourself these questions before you begin and let the creative vision guide your lighting.

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