March 2022


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MARCH 2022 | ISSUE 114

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Food Photography Tips & Tricks with Chad Montano


A Beginner’s Guide to Boudoir Photography with David Byrd


The Art of Visual Storytelling with Deanne Fitzmaurice


Minimal Reception Lighting with Maximum Results with Esteban Gil


Pricing Guide for Senior Photographers with Isaac Coffy


The Four Secrets to Recreating Window Light In The Studio with John Gress


Creating Impactful Wedding Portraits with Jesse Rinka


How To Get Started With Branding Photography with Mena Darre


5 Basic Lightroom Techniques You Need To Use with Vanessa Joy

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Inspirations from Our Readers

Top 10 Tips for Beginners in Lightroom Classic with Dustin Lucas


Final Inspiration with Eli Infante

















MISSION STATEMENT 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.

Shutter Magazine : By photographers, for photographers.

PUBLISHER Sal Cincotta

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Alissa Cincotta

COPY EDITOR Allison Brubaker


CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Chad Montano, David Byrd, Deanne Fitzmaurice, Dustin Lucas, Esteban Gil Isaac Cošy, John Gress, Jesse Rinka, Mena Darre, Vanessa Joy


PHOTOGRAPHER: Eli Infante | CAMERA: Sony A7III LENS: Sigma 35mm EXPOSURE: ISO 250, f/2.8, 1/500 LIGHTING: Flashpoint Speedlite with 36" Westcott Rapid Box Octa M ABOUT THE IMAGE: Color has a strong influence on my work. The rainbow feature at The Wall Flowers location inspired this photo. When I composed this image, I wanted to be sure she was right in the middle to create balance. Once I had Betsy positioned, my goal was to suggest motion in the pose to create a striking, one-of-kind image. MODEL: Betsy Loyde


message from sal cincotta publisher

Are you photographing seniors? This lucrative market is hot right now. This month, we have several articles helping you figure it out. Enjoy. ~Sal

Food Photography Tips & Tricks | Chad Montano

with Chad Montano

Food Photography Tips & Tricks | Chad Montano


To really understand food photography you must first love food. It begins with passion. Many people see food as just something to fill their bellies. I look at food like a piece of art. It can be transformed into something beautiful and delicious that brings happiness and creates community. Food photography is a powerful tool that can be used for social media, commercial advertising, cookbooks, brand awareness and storytelling. People always ask me how I make food look so good. It’s not easy, but definitely possible. Let me tell you how.

Food Photography Tips & Tricks | Chad Montano


There are a few things you need to know before you can create dynamic food photos that will make people stop and drool. This type of photography takes time to learn and the only way to really become good at it is to become obsessed with it. Look at professional images online and you’ll notice how flawless they look. The photos are well lit, sharp, and have vibrant colors. It takes a little more than just whipping out your iPhone and taking a shot. It’s the process and production behind the photography that really makes a good image.


The food you’re photographing must look as delicious and fresh as possible. Food has a short life span so you want to photograph it quickly. Whether you are shooting at a restaurant or shooting a recipe in the comfort of your own home, the food must be crisp and attractive. When working at restaurants, I personally talk with the chef and ask if they can provide me with the best quality ingredients for the plates. This will save time with the editing process having to fix produce or meats that have blemishes or discoloration. I’m a firm believer in sourcing the best local ingredients for the best quality images.


Photography gear plays a big role in this business. If you are shooting food photography for fun, then using a phone camera will suffice. If you are shooting to make money and create a career, then you will want to invest in a professional full frame DSLR. There are a variety of cameras out there so do some research and find something within your price range. Remember to not break the bank on just a camera body. You will need to take into account the prices for lenses, memory cards, batteries and accessories. To start, a 20mp or higher DSLR with a 50mm f/1.2 or 24-70mm f/2.8 would be a solid kit. Once you practice your skills and become more confident in your abilities I would invest in a macro lens. Something like a 100mm or 105mm lens will help bring out those stunning details in food.


Whether you’re shooting food, portraits, sports or animals, using your camera in manual mode is far more rewarding than automatic mode. The problem with automatic mode is that the camera decides what it wants to shoot. We want depth of field and that beautiful, soft bokeh. If you want that juicy burger to stand out, then you’ll want some depth and separation. Learning to shoot in manual mode is not only beneficial, but really necessary when it comes to shooting food.

Food Photography Tips & Tricks | Chad Montano


The lighting when it comes to shooting food is the most critical. If you are shooting with natural light, then make sure to pick the best time of the day when the light is soft and not harsh. If the natural light ever becomes too bright, you can use some sort of diffusion to soften the light and avoid blowing out the images. Once the sun goes down, artificial light becomes a necessary tool. When starting out with food photography, I recommend beginning with a good quality continuous LED light. These are easy to use, affordable, and can be used with a large softbox to create beautiful, soft light that is consistent and can be used any time of day. Once you have mastered that, you can look into trying flash and studio strobes. These are invaluable tools that give you full control over lighting scenarios. It takes time to learn but is definitely worth it and will add extra value to your credibility.

Food Photography Tips & Tricks | Chad Montano


Now that you know how to use a professional DSLR and create stunning light, it’s time to put the final touch on the whole process. All of that hard work won’t be worth it unless you can take those photos and make them come to life with the power of photo editing. There are a few programs out there, but Adobe Lightroom has been tried and true for the majority of photographers. It’s user friendly and a powerful tool that can turn flat images into vibrant, stunning works of art. To get the most dynamic range out of your images you will want to make sure your camera is shooting RAW files. Trust me, just do it.


With the world we live in today, social media surrounds us everywhere. People with a large enough following can make a living on social media as a public figure or a content creator. Photography is a powerful tool in this business and if the quality of the work stands out from the rest, there will definitely be a future. Food has become extremely trendy on social media and is one of the biggest topics on the internet. As a food photographer, there are different avenues to explore to see what fits your style. There are food bloggers, recipe developers, restaurants, commercial advertising, cookbooks, brand collaborations, social ads and more. Start creating a portfolio of your work and share it on social media and your website. The most important thing is to get your work out there on the internet for people to see. Be active and reach out to people and brands that appeal to your work and begin building relationships within the industry. This type of networking takes time but is vital in building a successful clientele.

Food Photography Tips & Tricks | Chad Montano


The most important thing at the end of the day is to HAVE FUN. No amount of work in life is worth it if it doesn’t make you happy. Making a career with food photography is hard but possible. Take the time to learn as much as you can about this craft and continue to grow. It’s not so bad getting paid to stay home and cook a steak while getting paid for it. You feel me?

Chad’s love for food is what got him into photography. One day he had a burning desire to marry his passions for cooking, food and photography to create mouthwatering photos for people to enjoy. Today, he works as a freelance photographer building content for brands in the food industry, local restaurants, and his Instagram account @briewilly. Make sure to follow if you love food porn. website: instagram: @



A Beginner’s Guide to Boudoir Photography | David Byrd

with David Byrd

I began my photography journey long ago, with weddings, high-school seniors and high-volume dance/sports as our main genres. Along with my wife, we navigated the turbulent waters of learning pretty much everything you need to create a successful business, on the job. The bills piled up and the funds continued to recede faster than they were replenished. The wise concept of “you don’t know what you don’t know” sadly became an overused phrase to boost our spirits as we tried, failed, tried again, learned, grew and achieved as many of the original goals that we could. That journey ended in 2017 as this other brand called Reality Reimagined made far more sense and had nothing to do with the portrait world that I cut my teeth on long ago. Now in 2022 I am returning to the portrait sales world and I’ve chosen boudoir as the one and only genre that I’m going to explore. Let’s talk about why I’m doing this, how I’m going into this better prepared than I was at the start, and how you can use this as a guide to starting your own journey—regardless of the genre.


Storytelling has been a guiding force to my work as a photographer for ages. When I first started I was honestly crippled by posing, lighting patterns, what to do with their hands, etc. I learned the rules of composition. I had a flip book of poses. I had all the anxiety of not knowing what to do (while the paying client stared at me waiting for me to produce magical images worthy of the dollars of my top package offering). The day that I learned to TRUST my instincts and asked myself, “What makes me unique? What’s my value?” was the day that I actually broke free from the label of “I don’t know what I’m doing” and started earning those top package dollars. My answer to that proposed question was, “I think cinematically, theatrically, and I want to tell a story with each session.” Suddenly posing wasn’t an issue any longer, because if I knew the story of this location (that I labeled in my mind as a scene) then I knew how to guide the subject to move and pose in that location/ scene. Suddenly branding and client experience of my business were born. Instead of telling seniors to pick two locations with their chosen session fee, we told them to pick two scenes. That one domino falling led to clothing choices, lighting choices, post-production choices and ultimately helped finish the experience in the sales room.

A Beginner’s Guide to Boudoir Photography | David Byrd


Storytelling is still my “thing” and definitely is going to be the cornerstone to this boudoir portrait sales endeavor. However, I know more “things” now and one of them is to define the genre in relation to how it fits into my brand. I’ve been creating stylized glamour (with gel lighting) artwork for a while now. The clothing the models have worn is definitely on the revealing side, but it isn’t what I would expect the general public to envision when they think “boudoir photography.” But it’s not just about clothing—it’s about the experience too. Empowerment. Celebrate your beauty. Unapologetically sexy. These are key words/phrases that current working boudoir photographers are using to define some of the experience a client will find with their brand.

None of these fit my perceived value to my client.

Storytelling. Art. Your Story. These are the key words that define my brand offering. How do I build the experience around these words? Well, first I’m going to step into the 21st century of our digital world and make video a key integral component of what my clients achieve on their journey with my brand. Let’s discuss that later in this article. Right now, let’s look at some basic bullet points to show you how my mind works as I forge this path ahead.

A Beginner’s Guide to Boudoir Photography | David Byrd


• Not just about lingerie. All brand/marketing images need to show three clothing types: • Lingerie (full deluxe ensembles and just plain everyday undies)

• Clothing to get out of (formal dresses unzipped; unbuttoned shirts/blouses; sweaters and undies) • Character driven (full fantasy wardrobe with swords, wings and shit; leather jacket, hose and high heels; secret fantasies) • Create character/mood boards you can include in the consultation, so the client IMMEDIATELY understands this experience is very unique from the typical. • Curate some pieces/styles/costumes that can be used by the client. Need varying sizes available. Make a list of Amazon links (find other vendors besides Bezos) to the pieces they can order if their size isn’t available in our closet.


• Natural light, Rembrandt (with kicker) and gel lighting • Link clothing/costume styles to each lighting pattern: • Lingerie for natural light

• Get out of clothing/character driven for Rembrandt • Character driven for gel lighting


• Studio session • Booking session: Schedule the day of the shoot and IPS to follow two days later. IPS via Zoom for now, until Rona fucks directly off. Client selects two of three available styles. 2.5 hours of total session time, split between both styles. HMUA included in session fee. Product review with client before they leave. • Location session: Only for clients that have already done a studio session. Limited engagement on these; four times a year, X number of spots available. Prequalifies them so I know I can get the images they expect in a non-controlled environment. One look only, variations on the clothing/costume accepted. HMUA needs to be scheduled outside of this event. If HMUAhas their own studio then potentially can include this in the session price.


• Curating 75 images to show to the client, all with basic retouch. • Two main products from H&H:

• Tooled Leather Wrap Album (9x9, 48 sides max) • Edge Print Boxes (8x10 print size, 12 max prints) • Album COG $150 for max 48 images - RR price: $750 (2022 pricing; increase by $100 each year) • Box COG - $170.16 for 12 prints lustre - RR price: $600

These concepts and ideas need to remain a little fluid as I go through the first series of clients and learn what works and what needs refinement. Obviously there are many more elements to plan for, like marketing goals and sales goals. However, the key here is to know my value, show that value as a journey the client can join me on, and together we achieve our goals of art-making. It’s not about “come in and I will do all the work and make you look beautiful.” They aren’t just the client; they are a collaborator and they have work to do themselves. This helps the client to be committed to this journey and it will show in their images, the sales session and their praise of the work to others. Now let’s talk about that video option.


Let’s tell the client’s story (like, literally) rather than just solely relying upon two-dimensional images to be the only access to said story. The concept of empowerment is often used to define part of the goal of the typical boudoir photography experience. That’s fine, but I want it to go much further than that. Why are they here and why do they want to go on this journey? Are they celebrating a milestone of age, doing something nice for their significant other, or do they just want to say they had the experience of being photographed in a state of undress? We generally explore these possibilities through the consultation or through a questionnaire. It may lead to a discussion with the client and that can help break the ice and enable them to feel more comfortable with you. However, after that, how much of that story can be seen in the images? Let’s be realistic—75% or more of the images captured are just going to be good posing to flatter them to the camera and hopefully create some solid art. There are some basic story elements that can be suggested with their poses, but it’s mainly about processing the same go-to poses in the same sections of your studio. Because that’s what’s comfortable and we tell ourselves, “This is what the client expects because they’ve seen my other work.” Sure, nothing wrong with that, but can it be more? I think it can and that’s why I’m doing this. Imagine a client’s own voice speaking to the audience (whomever that audience is for the client) making one single true statement about what intimacy, sexuality or empowerment is for them. Then the camera fades in from black to a slow crawl from the client’s foot to the top of their beautifully done hair (while the client puts on their finishing touches of some lip gloss). That single shot can be broken into several small sections and in between each of those sections is a piece of art from their journey with you. While this plays out, the client’s voice speaks to us (the audience) and tells us why they wanted to go on this journey and thus they can finally, directly tell their truth—their story. The rest of the video can include behind-the-scenes moments of arrival, putting on clothes, the hair and makeup art process, then the journey of art-making with you, the artist. Their voiceover can be their own answers to five leading questions you send to them ahead of the shoot. Then during the recording of this interview, you can ask them three new bonus questions all designed to get some genuine responses that aren’t planned. Laughter, coy smiles, naughty nibbles of the lips or even some tears—again, depending on their story. Shooting this footage is relatively easy once you have a plan for what pieces of footage you need. You can rely upon the supplemental information you’ve gathered during the onboarding process to know that plan. Video is not hard, it’s just like doing a photo shoot. You plan each sequence and know where you are going to place the gear to capture it. You plan your shoots, right? Right? If you don’t, then I strongly recommend you do. And I’ll show you how I do precisely that and the shoot itself, in part two of this three-part series. Video can be done with your cell phone and your camera. Yep, you’ll need a few extra bits of gear to get started, but like all things in this business it doesn’t have to be the most expensive gear out there. Editing the footage together is easier and easier with the various programs available (DaVinci Resolve is free and quite powerful). YouTube is a great resource to learn how to use those programs, you just have to invest the time. And you have the time—no really, you do. You just spent a minute telling yourself why you can’t do video and that same minute could be spent on a tutorial learning how you can do it.

A Beginner’s Guide to Boudoir Photography | David Byrd


The video is what I want to be the key element that brings prospective clients to my brand. I will provide my clients with a full-length video (5 minutes or shorter) and then a 60-second teaser. I will encourage them to share the teaser with friends that they know will respect the journey they have just been on and may want to go on it themselves. I’ve learned to show clients the exact pieces of artwork that will communicate precisely what my brand is about. I will use words like art (instead of pictures) so I set a mental tone that this is not just a “go get your naughty pictures done.” I will invite them to go on the journey together, so they know that can shape what they are investing in. I know the exact sections of my business they can begin their journey with and I have answers for all the relevant questions I can expect. When the journey is complete and goodwill has been earned with my client, then I will ask them to share their story and help others begin their own journey with Reality Reimagined. In part two of this series I’ll share with you how I organize inspirational images into sequences that I cover during the shoot. This allows for a systemic approach to the photography session that has an organic feeling to it. Then we’ll see some behind-the-scenes footage and images as I take a model through the experience, building my portfolio to launch this new adventure.

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:

The Art of Visual Storytelling | Deanne Fitzmaurice

with Deanne Fitzmaurice

The Art of Visual Storytelling | Deanne Fitzmaurice


Sometimes the picture we find is not the one we’ve been looking for. My mindset is as important as my subject matter. I find confidence by going into situations feeling prepared, having done my research, but staying open to what unfolds. I trust what I need will be there and if not it will push me to where I really need to be. I go in with prepared confidence. Sometimes things aren’t going my way, so I try to stay patient and often things reveal themselves, sometimes through a roundabout way. It helps me take chances and be bold. I try to go into a situation with confidence that everything will go the way I want, or even better than I can imagine. There will be surprises. Serendipity happens. Trust your instinct.

The Art of Visual Storytelling | Deanne Fitzmaurice


By nature I am positive and see the best in people, I see the light in people. In my work, I try to illuminate something, to bring something into the light, actually and metaphorically. I am always looking for good light to illuminate the people I photograph as well as the issue. I look for universal themes to bring attention to something, hoping to show humanity so people will care and engage with my photography. I often take an issue or data and put a human face to it, to make it relatable. Through humanity I try to tap into the universal things that make us all human—love, family— to provoke the viewer to engage. Even though we have differences we all share these basic human characteristics.

The Art of Visual Storytelling | Deanne Fitzmaurice


Unlike art photography, photojournalism is done for a reason, to call attention to something. It doesn’t work unless people are moved to act or feel something. My goal is to get people to feel emotion—that is the only way we can make a difference. I aim to create poignancy, empathy, compassion, to provoke emotion, evoke a feeling, to show how it feels. I have to feel something enough so I can photograph it, but not feel it so deeply that it paralyzes me. I photograph with the hope that the viewer will feel joy, sadness, anger to act, in a way that they are moved to act or are informed in a new way.

The Art of Visual Storytelling | Deanne Fitzmaurice


I strive to teach the viewer something, to bring them new information or present old information in a new way. Our lives are so busy—a constant barrage of input—that we’ve grown numb to stimuli. One way to cut through the clutter is to take a photograph that stops you in your tracks. I aim to find the essence of each and every scene or to present a new and unexpected way of looking at something, The foreground, middle ground and background are equally important. Everything in the frame, edge to edge matters. How can I take this scene and make it as visually compelling as possible? Each image is edited down to its essence. What is really needed to tell this story? I’m looking for something we haven’t seen before that provokes an emotion—laughter, anger, joy, surprise. In this crowded media space, how do we capture the viewer’s attention?

The Art of Visual Storytelling | Deanne Fitzmaurice


I’m looking for interesting juxtapositions— what is incongruous or an outlier here? I want to surprise the viewer as I look for the unpredictable, an image with an edge. Every image needs something special: light, color, moment. There should be nothing extraneous that doesn’t help build the story you are trying to tell within this frame. What are the moments in this story that I need to interpret into an image? Can I create a mystery so the viewer asks questions? Can I create an interesting place for the eye to wander with layers upon layers of storytelling elements? I aim to take the viewer to a place they’ve never been on one level or another—visually, emotionally. There should be nothing in the image that isn’t helping to tell the story.

The Art of Visual Storytelling | Deanne Fitzmaurice


I’m looking for the magic and the energy in the frame created by light, color, moment. There is a crescendo when the perfect storm aligns the elements in a peak moment. I anticipate where the action is going to go, even in a room, and that is where I bring my camera. I understand how to work a room and anticipate where to go from photographing sports. I learned about anticipating where to go on a football field, for example, and the same way I would position myself along the sidelines of a football field where an interception may take place, I also position myself in a room where the action may go. That way I am ahead of the action instead of behind. When I’m not sure what to shoot, I ask myself this: What is the truth in this moment, place or story? I’m reading the room. I try to observe deeply, interpret and show what others don’t see. I look for gestures and body language. I’m looking for authenticity and rawness. While studying the human experience, I’m looking for the revealing. I spend time becoming forgotten and invisible so real moments happen. I’m curious and I ask questions. I’ve learned to be bold and ask for what I want. I go there to document and I photograph to understand.

The Art of Visual Storytelling | Deanne Fitzmaurice


I try to be a human first and photographer second. I’ve learned to sometimes put the camera down and simply be present. When I speak my truth with honesty in a vulnerable state, I connect on a deeper level with the people I photograph. I aim to make a personal connection, find common ground so they will reveal their truth. As I observe, I am reading people. What is their body language telling me? I’ve learned to honor and respect the people I photograph as they trust me with their story. Build trust; they are trusting me to tell their story. When it’s right, I try to keep it light, to have some fun. I persevere. I don’t give up, arriving early and staying late. Patience is a photographer’s virtue. I trust the story will develop and evolve. I go for intimacy to get deep into people’s lives. I try to put myself in their situation with empathy and compassion. To gain access into someone’s life, I allow them to say yes. No is a word you hear on the way to yes. I’ve learned to give people multiple opportunities to say yes.

The Art of Visual Storytelling | Deanne Fitzmaurice


In storytelling, it’s your job to make sure all of the elements are there: change, conflict, narrative arc, meaning, metaphors. Is there a journey for the viewer? Sometimes you can reveal a deeper truth with a deeper narrative. Is there a change/conflict arc in this story? I look for meaning, metaphors, things for viewers to discover. I look around the edges. I’m always looking for the stories that matter to me and interest me. I photograph in diverse spaces, always trying to create engaging storytelling images with layers in composition and meaning so your eye wants to linger and explore the frame.

For more than two decades, Deanne Fitzmaurice served as an eyewitness to sweeping change across the Bay Area as a photojournalist for the San Francisco Chronicle . Her work for the Chronicle garnered the attention of global publications and soon she was shooting and creating stories for National Geographic , Sports Illustrated, ESPN and others. One photographic essay, documenting a young Iraqi war victim named Saleh, earned her the Pulitzer Prize. This Nikon Ambassador has won multiple top prizes from Pictures of the Year International, AI-AP American Photography, Communication Arts, NPPA, and others. When she’s not on the move, Deanne and her photographer husband, Kurt Rogers, help guide Think Tank, the cult camera bag business they co-founded. website: instagram:

Minimal Reception Lighting with Maximum Results | Esteban Gil

with Esteban Gil

Minimal Reception Lighting with Maximum Results | Esteban Gil

“I hate the way my reception lighting looks.” “I don’t know what settings to use on my flashes.” “How many lights should I use?”

These are all questions that we, as wedding photographers, have asked ourselves at some point in our careers. I have never met a photographer that hasn’t struggled with their reception lighting setup and after years of trying to come up with the perfect setup, I’ve slowly realized that like everything else, less is more. With that being said, I want to cover three different types of lighting setups that I use throughout a wedding reception. All three use minimal equipment and all three yield excellent results!

Let’s dive in…


One AD200: This light is one of the most versatile strobes you can buy and it is extremely affordable. This is what I generally use as my main light.

Two AD100s: I use these tiny lights as kickers when I want to use a triangle setup (which I will explain in a bit).

One small modifier: It could be a MagSphere or a portable softbox. Keep in mind, the bigger the light source, the softer the light. I have been a big fan of using a MagGrid and MagSphere stacked in order to create some soft light with very accurate direction! The modifier will go on my AD200. Voice-activated light stand (VAL): This is the most game-changing thing you can do to your reception lighting game. A voice-activated light stand! When you’re only using one light and it’s limited to a light stand, you’re pretty limited to light positioning. Having a voice-activated light stand or an assistant following you around makes everything so much easier! Try it! I promise you it will make your life so much better! Impact QuickStik+: This is a very helpful piece of equipment when you have an assistant holding your lights! It’s a very easy way to get your light and modifier on a stick. It also comes with a belt that can be used for proper support.

Minimal Reception Lighting with Maximum Results | Esteban Gil


This is probably the most well-known and commonly used setup for receptions. I will generally set up one or two AD100s in the back of the venue as kickers. You want them as tall and as far away as possible. NEVER put your light stands near the dance floor where you may run the chance of having someone trip over them. This will do nothing but put you in a liable spot if someone gets hurt. So, take those really tall light stands and put them up away from the crowd! For the main light, you can either have an on-camera flash firing at the ceiling OR you can do what I do! Have your assistant maintain a 45-degree angle between your camera and the subject. This setup is extremely useful for first and parent dance shots when using an ultra-wide-angle lens! For a general base on settings, I usually will set my AD100s to 1/64 or 1/32 power and my main light always starts at 1/32. I’ve always thought 1/32 is a great starting point since it’s close to the middle of the power range and it’s much easier to adjust from 1/32 depending on how well your subject is lit.

Minimal Reception Lighting with Maximum Results | Esteban Gil


This is my most used setup, especially for dancing! It’s one AD200 with a MagSphere and grid being held by my assistant. All they have to do is hold the light up and ensure it’s pointed in the direction of where I am shooting! It’s so simple that the only direction I give my assistant is, “Stay at around a 45-degree angle and hold the QuickStik as high as you can hold it.” My job during this setup is to ensure I have a good balance of ambient light and flash hitting my subject. As a general rule of thumb, my shutter speed will control the ambient light coming into my image, so the higher the shutter speed, the darker my background will look. If I want to bring in more ambient light, I will lower my shutter speed. Generally speaking, for my style I enjoy having a darker and moodier background, so my shutter speed will sometimes go into the thousands via high-speed sync!


This is something that has been coming back in style lately and I absolutely love it! It’s one of my favorite ways to get creative during dancing and helps me experiment with light trails and the settings of my camera. This technique is certainly one that requires a lot of trial and error. The idea behind it is to use a VERY slow shutter speed to create motion and use your flash (on-camera or off-camera) to freeze your subject. The end goal is to have images similar to the ones here.

In order to achieve this look, there are a few things you might need to do. As a general rule, I like to keep these settings as my starting point:

Shutter speed: 0.5 seconds Aperture: F8 iso: 400 Flash power: 1/32 (See? This is where I start every time and I adjust from there.)

When attempting this, it all goes back to the very simple rules of flash photography. You have exactly 0.5 seconds to create your light trails. Experiment by moving your camera in different shapes and directions. The flash is going to be what freezes your subject, so make sure it is pointed directly at them in order to get a nice sharp image! You also have two options with most flash and strobes. You can either fire it at the beginning of your exposure (front curtain sync) and create the trails after it freezes your subject OR you can create the trails and have the flash fire at the end of your exposure (rear curtain sync). I personally prefer to have my flash fire at the end of my exposure because it tends to yield better trails and I’m able to time my exposure pretty accurately.

Minimal Reception Lighting with Maximum Results | Esteban Gil

Well, there you have it. Three very simple setups for reception lighting. Go out, have fun, and practice!

Before I leave you, I’d love to preach a little about the importance of prioritizing the right things during the reception. This is one of the most important parts of a wedding, so please do not get overwhelmed by the technical aspect of it. Throughout my career, I have seen a lot of fancy lit images of receptions with no essence or emotion behind them. Let’s focus on what’s important! The couple, the party, the emotions, the candid moments! Whenever I talk about reception lighting, I always recommend the same thing: Learn to capture moments before you get technical. I would much rather deliver a poorly lit image full of emotion than a beautifully lit image with absolutely no essence behind it! Get comfortable capturing moments before you go out and experiment with different setups.

The ultimate goal is to have a beautifully lit image full of storytelling and emotion.

Needless to say: Moments will always trump any technical fancy lighting, but a mixture of both will ensure your work stands out among the crowd!

Esteban Gil is a Guilford, Connecticut-based wedding photographer and educator. Over the years, he has honed his raw creative abilities into a talent that is undeniable. Esteban places importance on capturing emotion first and art second, but consistently succeeds in turning every moment into artistry. His work is easily recognized by his well-thought-out framing, out-of-the-box creativity, and

even more so his imaginative use of light—be it natural or flash. website: instagram:


This beauty would be the perfect addition to your studio this season! we adore this one.

b i t . l y / 3GU8 I YV ENTER NOW!

Pricing Guide for Senior Photographers | Isaac Coffy

with Isaac Coffy

“Are you kidding me?! You’re telling me that this costs $55?!” he said as he waved a sample 8x10 print in front of me four years ago. At the time, I muttered some sort of BS response about how there’s a lot more that goes into it than just an 8x10… because I didn’t really feel confident in my own pricing. I knew I needed to upcharge to make money, but didn’t have a grasp on what (or, more importantly, why and how) to set my photography pricing. I think I was even “that guy” that was delusional enough to just go with what “felt right” or what I thought my market could afford. I was insecure because I was convinced people would balk at anything above $5, and everyone around me was offering free digitals included in their session fees.


If you couldn’t guess this already, my clients could sense that I was unsure about my own pricing, and my sales were struggling as a result. It’s like this one part of my business was a glaring weak spot holding my entire business back. There are so many differing opinions on how much to charge for photos that it’s hard to know what’s right.

Does this sound familiar?

The good news is, things have changed! I now charge a lot more because I have an EASY and LOGICAL pricing structure that I’m confident in, so I’m no longer shrinking into my seat anytime someone questions my pricing. I want to share this all with you to make sure you also have a rock-solid reason for pricing your photos in a way that’s a win for both you and your clients.

Pricing Guide for Senior Photographers | Isaac Coffy


Pricing. The oh so wonderful topic that every photographer enjoys talking about and feels 100% confident in… No? Actually, in the 10 years of running my business and the handful of years teaching, this is the very first time I’ll ever be sharing pricing education, and I couldn’t be more excited! We’re artists here to create, but in order to create, we must also be business owners here to make money. Your pricing structure stands at the very foundation of your business. But instead of having an awesome foundation that’s like a badass man-cave basement, most photographers have a pricing structure that’s kind of like that sketchy basement you avoid entering and you’re 100% embarrassed to show anyone. It’s dark. It’s scary. You know if you took an honest look, the foundation is cracked and your whole business could come crashing down. If you’re anything like me, you’ve learned all different ways of structuring your pricing: • You’ve seen people get their pricing torn to shreds in the Facebook groups (or YOU are that person… I’m here for you if you need a friend to talk to, by the way). • You’ve copied what other photographers have done in the past, number for number, without much change. • You’ve tried packages and IPS, but still struggle to make ends meet.

Basically, you’re confused, but you know something needs to change.

In the past 10 years alone, I’ve probably changed my pricing 5,000 times—barely an exaggeration. But it wasn’t until just two years ago that things finally clicked.

A lightbulb went off and things finally just made sense.

I’m going to show that pricing really can be as simple as punching a few important numbers into a spreadsheet rather than fudging a bunch of numbers because it “feels right.”


Every pricing structure I’ve tried has left me weak and exposed. It’s like the emperor’s new clothes… except I was fully aware that I was naked when other photographers would tell me my clothes were on. Awkward. They fall short because most portrait pricing models are built around the lab cost of the products you offer, but hinge on a random multiplier that you never really feel good about.

It goes something like this: [print cost] x [random multiplier] = your price

Seems simple… until you need to put food on the table. This pricing model leaves you starving at one end of the sheet, and your clients’ eyes popping out on the other end of the sheet. Some others take it a step further by factoring in some other expenses: [print cost + expenses] x [another random multiplier] = your price Yet again, this model falls short because the smaller prints might make you some money, but the multiplier has to be random and obscure to avoid bankrupting your business or making your clients laugh you out of the room. Oh, and you still don’t feel good about the multiplier. You actually fiddle with the multiplier until your pricing seems like it’s in a spot that makes sense… which means you’re right back where you started. You’ve got a calculator, but your pricing foundation is still a mess because you’re not confident in your multiplier.

Pricing Guide for Senior Photographers | Isaac Coffy


Two years ago we decided to blaze our own path and create a pricing model that makes every photographer confident.

We wanted something that we felt good sharing with our clients and something we could back up with hard numbers and logic.

What we’ve come up with:

• Puts the right value on the work you’ve done, and what you need to make per image, regardless of the medium. • Takes the emphasis off of the “multiplier” you use… and actually makes the multiplier make sense. Instead of a number you pull out of your ass for your multiplier, it’s the same across the board and uses logic to set it in stone. Hint: your print costs will now always be 25% or less no matter what your client buys. • Doesn’t make our clients pay a “size tax” because they’re buying a larger print. It doesn’t make sense to us that we should gouge our clients just because a print is a little larger. Clients felt the same way, and they’d rarely buy the wall art pieces we wanted them to enjoy. With our new pricing, larger photos are far more attainable, so our clients are buying larger prints more often because they’re within reach—and the studio still makes money!

OK, Enough of the Build-Up: Here’s the Portrait Product Pricing Formula We Use:

Pricing Guide for Senior Photographers | Isaac Coffy


Here’s a quick breakdown: • Base Price: What you must make per unique photo to keep your studio running. There are many things that go into this number: your take-home pay, operating expenses and overhead (even if you don’t have a studio), boxes/

shipping/presentation, marketing costs, equipment, etc. • Lab Cost of Goods (COG): Total lab costs per print.

• Multiplier: Yes, we still use a multiplier. However, it has a smaller impact. We keep ours at 4 (except for books/ albums, but again, solid reasoning behind it). This multiplier will guarantee that your COG is at or less than 25% of your total sale. This number ONLY pertains to your actual print costs, so you will not need to change this number often. You will not need to fudge with this multiplier or question its validity. The awesome thing is, this formula is future-proof because it’s tied to hard numbers, and accounts for more than fluctuations in print costs. For example: • Did your rent just go up? Great. Just adjust the base price accordingly and everything levels out. No guesswork with your multiplier. • Do you want to add an associate photographer? Perfect, you’re scaling your business! Just account for it in your base price and everything updates. You know you’re still making a profit. • Shoot. Your lab just increased prices? Update the COG to match and your profits are still intact. • Want to buy the latest and greatest hipster Sony camera? There’s something wrong with you. Reconsider your bad decisions and switch to Canon, you weirdo. :)

Pricing Guide for Senior Photographers | Isaac Coffy


We’ve put together a spreadsheet so you don’t have to mess with creating one yourself. It’s the same one we use at Coffy Creations. It includes our formulas, sizes and instructions on how to customize it for your business.

Albums are a little different. You’ll notice our base cost is far more, and our multiplier is 2 instead of 4. Our base cost is more because our base cost is figured per image and albums include 20-25 images (plus, we basically give our clients a bit of a bulk discount). The multiplier is at 2 because: our profit margins are where we want them to be and we need to cover our tails in case we mess up and need to replace an entire album. Choose products that increase your value. We haven’t sold loose prints ever since Mr. $55 Print Meltdown Guy waved a (very nice) flimsy photo in my face years ago. He, and many others, could only think about the $0.19 prints they get from those cheap, consumer “labs.” When people buy prints from us, they’re always mounted prints. Clients can see and feel a difference, and expect it to cost more than their crappy cheapo prints. This pivot alone has been wildly successful because the perceived product value is already heightened. Digitals. Every client asks, so you need to be prepared. I can’t tell you what to specifically charge for high-resolution digitals, but I can share this: You need to make sure they’re priced in a way that almost “scares” the client away from buying and promotes value in printed products. For example: I’m doing myself a disservice if I charge $80 for one 8x10 and then $100 for one digital… Yes, the digital is priced more, but the client is not going to be inclined to buy that print when they print 500 copies of that image if they buy the digital. At the same time, you want to price your digitals not too high so you can leverage packages and “discounts” without cutting into physical COGs. More on this when we talk about packages.

Not every lead is “your client.” You should always be up front with your leads and clients with pricing, so anyone who books with you feels comfortable with the prices they’ve seen. The sales session goes far smoother since they are prepared ahead of time, and nobody (including you) is squirming because of pricing. Awin for everyone!

If someone doesn’t like the prices, they don’t book with you, which is also a win for you both.

Packages. The best tip I can share with you about packages is not to stack them in a way where your top package includes the best of everything or a ton of products that the clients don’t know what to do with. In our top package, you’ll see we only have an 8x8 linen album, yet our “top” album might be a 12x12 leather with a custom engraved cover and cameo. We have some head room to upsell and add to the order. We’ll also create some incentives to encourage the client to add more, like a percentage off additional wall art or prints.

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