I often use my children as subjects before I have a big shoot scheduled. I will bring my children to the location, and have them help scout, pick angles and model for me. This provides valuable feedback on how the light and environment responds to my gear and settings and gives me the opportunity to review my images before the make or break day.

Practice with New Gear

I am a Canon shooter and a member of Canons professional services program. It is free to borrow lenses through this program. Last year, I borrowed a Canon 200mm F/2.0 lens. I was able to borrow this incredible, and expensive lens for four days with only having to pay for return shipping.

Plan in Advance

I had plans for a styled shoot with a friend wearing my traditional Norwegian Bunad, the national costume of Norway. The four-day window and model availability didn’t give me much time for a reshoot if I ran into trouble using this heavy new lens. I scouted an incredible location, but I wasn’t certain how it would look through the lens.

Gudbrandsdalen Bunad shot in San Diego, CA
Gudbrandsdalen Bunad

Follow their Lead

It isn’t always easy to draw kids, especially my oldest daughter, out of video games and do something new. I encouraged my girls gently and provided them the opportunity to be creative for this shoot. I let them bring a few of their favorite props, and let them lead with their ideas. The day was for letting them have fun while I dialed in exactly what settings were ideal for this location.

Focus on Settings

On these practice days, I try different shutter speeds, Ill try different focus modes, and Ill look at how narrow a depth of field I can get at various distances while still keeping my subjects sharp. Plus, in all honesty, when I come home from my practice day, I often have quite a few keepers of my family that I adore and become part of our familys treasured images.

Feel Confident on Shoot Day

Everything went great the next morning during my styled shoot. It was a day that I could not easily repeat if I had some setting off. I was calm, ready, prepared, and my camera was set perfectly. Doing a pre-shoot with your children, or enthusiastic stand in models is well worth the time and effort when the stakes are high. Plus, because I use my family for these pre-shoots, and let them lead, I get incredibly creative images that mean a ton to my children. They are the artistic directors and take the lead on posing and wardrobe. They are thrilled to be the boss. I just work on nailing down the technical details of my camera. It is a huge win for all of us.

A bit of Norway in San Diego