I think you’ll find today’s photography and video tips from Sarah Dupree very practical, enlightening, and, best of all: doable!
Sarah Dupree has been a professional in the advertising industry for 17 years. She started out at large agencies such as Saatchi & Saatchi and Yamaha and ultimately found her place in the marketing world as a commercial and brand photographer. She's shot for large companies such as Boot Barn, Sprouts, and Kotex, as well as many local small businesses and entrepreneurs, including highly influential social media personalities.
The first question I had to ask her was about helping people get comfortable behind a camera. Many of us are self-conscious and critical of ourselves, so getting in the right frame of mind is priority #1.
Feel Awkward? Sarah recommends an easy fix: give your hands something to do.
Whether it’s putting on a hat or sunglasses, holding products, or adjusting your hair- somehow, confidence is immediately boosted every time!
Next, instead of frozen poses, Sarah likes to make sure her clients just do three things:
Pull their shoulders down
Put chest out
Make sure their chin stays down (and doesn’t jut upward).
These simple tweaks will make you feel 1000% more confident in front of cameras!
Better yet, this all applies to reels, too. If you’re feeling awkward, just hold a coffee cup, take off your sunglasses mid-take, etc.- finding something to do with your hands can change everything. It’s a magic confidence booster.
If you’re posing for photos, here are some pointers to remember:
This way, you won’t look frozen! Movement can capture more emotion, so slow walking, dancing, twirling a skirt, looking to the side then back, and even just shifting your chin can make the money shot.
You don’t want to stand like a stick, so turn your body a tiny bit. Place your weight on your back foot, and you’ll find that you have a beautiful “S” curve instead of a box! Bend the legs slightly, arms a little bit, place your shoulders slightly off instead of square to the camera- and your shape will instantly work for you.
"We all have insecurities, but we also overlook so much natural beauty." - Sarah Dupree
I had to throw in my personal favorite- the “yoga laugh.” In the past, I’ve done “laughter yoga,” where I had to force myself to laugh, and naturally, I end up laughing! So in photoshoots, I’ll warn the photographer that I’m going to laugh loudly and awkwardly so to just roll with it… and the BEST photos always result because we both end up laughing for real!
Lighting: it can make or break photos. Don’t get lazy with this one!
Sarah’s favorite tool is always a window or open door. (They’re the easiest things to do, too!) If you don’t have access to either, ring lights are ok, but if you find there is a shadow behind you, you will have to light the wall behind you too. (Always combat shadows with more light.)
If you’re indoors, try turning off your lights. It sounds strange, but since they’re coming from overhead, they’ll create shadows under your eyes. They’re also a different color temperature than what’s coming from outside. (Outside light is blue, inside light is yellow- so your camera won’t be sure what color you are anymore, and the lighting will look odd.)
Sarah’s favorite video light she can take on the go anywhere is the “Ice light”! It’s like taking a window with you, especially since it doesn’t need to be plugged in. (Ring lights are great if you have somewhere to plug in!)
Lighting for photos vs. videos: You can use photo lighting to get great videos, but you can’t necessarily use video lighting to get great photos. The reason for this is lower lighting can be video friendly since the shutter stays open the entire time, but it’s not good for photos since the shutter opens and closes quickly. Videos can be taken in full sunlight in the middle of the day, but photos won’t turn out in that setting.
The great news about reels is they don’t depend on lighting like photos do!
Don’t ignore lighting in both photos AND videos though. The quality of your light is going to be what takes a photo or video from amateur to professional very quickly.
For editing: Sarah uses Lightroom both on her computer and her phone.
She doesn’t use filters, but for 99.99% of her photos, this is her simple editing formula: “Auto” for white balance, lower the highlights, raise shadows, raise whites, and lower blacks… and it nearly always works.
Now, if she’s on a computer with Lightroom and wants to refine this a little bit, she’ll turn the saturation down on the oranges & reds and turn the vibrants up all around… but that’s it. This is the system she uses on all her photos!
What about congruency for branding?
This largely depends on who you are, and what you want. You can hodge-podge things to a degree, especially if you’re a personal brand and you’re testing different approaches to see what your audience responds to! But if you’re a business, you need to be very recognizable- and that’s when consistency is more important.
Tips for videos & reels: If congruency is a concern for your feed, pay close attention to your cover images. Make sure they’re something that will draw your audience into looking at your content.
How do you slow someone’s scroll and make sure your content really breaks up the noise?
Emotion, no matter your brand, tends to stop people in their tracks. Picture-perfect faces and selfies aren’t gonna stop people as quickly as story-telling and imagery.
Key Takeaways From This Episode:
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