Heather & Michael | Santa Monica Pier Couple's Session

Heather and Michael are from Atlanta, GA but were staying in Santa Monica for 3 weeks for Michael's work. They wanted to do a photo session so that they could have photos in their house that weren't just from their wedding. For our shoot, it was another beautiful (but busy!) day at Santa Monica Pier. I don't know what it is, but I just love the contrast of a beautiful portrait against the hustle and bustle of the pier. Heather is drop dead gorgeous and I simply loved their outfits, they were the perfect colors for a fun beach pier session. Since I had just done an engagement session at Santa Monica Pier the month before, I wanted to make sure that I got a good variety and was able to change things up a bit. I think I accomplished that while still maintaining the same feel. Hopefully? Right? Maybe?

If you don't live in Southern California, yes, go ahead and be jealous....it really is this warm and beautiful here almost all the time ;)

Some before and afters

I've had a couple of people ask me what my "trick" is - no trick, just a lot of hard work and practice. People were curious to know what my images are like straight out of the camera (SOOC) so I figured, hey, why not just show you? Actually, I have a good reason for not wanting to show you. I'm a wee bit of a perfectionist and I don't even like my husband seeing my photos until I am done and can show a truly final product. I really don't do much editing in the grand scheme of things, so it's odd that I feel that way I suppose. However, I think it's important to show a) the importance of getting things as close to correct as possible in camera and b) how sometimes the most minor adjustments in Photoshop can take a photo to a whole new level. So, here goes nothing! Get ready for a little photo nerd talk.

I shoot in full manual, obviously, as well as in RAW. Shooting in RAW allows me to not really worry about setting a custom white balance. I've purchased and tried to use gray cards but found them unreliable and difficult to use. It's not uncommon for most of my photos to come out looking too cool SOOC, but it's an extremely easy fix since I shoot in RAW. Honestly, warming up my photos is the main edit that I do and it's quite easy. We live in Southern California so "warm" is a necessity!

I normally don't run a lot of actions, but I did play around with this session. Using actions is a slippery slope and it's important to be able to create a technically clean and correct image before you start to play. Also,  it's important that the action match the photo. The action that I used on these would NOT look good on a photo taken inside or in a different setting (well, maybe, but this is totally a "beach" action in my opinion).

Nothing like a good black and white!

A simple warmth adjustment took this photo from nice to wow.

This is an extremely stylized shot and I knew exactly what I wanted to do while I was shooting it. Sometimes you have to do things wrong to do things right. That totally doesn't make sense, but yeah....haha.

Sorry Kennen...but it happens to all of us! I loved this shot. I loved Jessica's smile, the hair in her face, and the fact that as I was sitting on the ferris wheel I leaned slightly to the left to get that awesome sunflare from behind the pole that was in front of me. However, I obviously don't want Kennen's eyes closed. Head swap time! Sometimes it's easy and sometimes it's not, so if you're a client of mine, please don't expect this! haha. I only do it to save a really awesome shot.

Last one

Okay, I played a bit of a trick on you here. I didn't do a single thing to this photo except for crop in a little closer. I'm riding high on life when I can get shots like this SOOC. So, why is this one so great as-is whereas the others needed a couple of tweaks? The answer? Perfect, beautiful light. This was one of our last shots of the day and the sun was just dipping into the horizon over the water. The light perfection - warm and glowy. Right before sunset is my favorite light and I found it to be especially magical at the beach with nothing to obstruct it.

The end!