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Look For the Cleanest Composition

Lesson 17 from: Family Photography: Creating a Successful Business

Kirsten Lewis

Look For the Cleanest Composition

Lesson 17 from: Family Photography: Creating a Successful Business

Kirsten Lewis

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Lesson Info

17. Look For the Cleanest Composition

Next Lesson: Know the POV


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


What Makes a Picture Successful?


Technical Tips: ISO


Technical Tips: Aperture


Technical Tips: Shutter Speed


Technical Tips: Focus


Using Light to Tell a Story


Using Composition to Tell a Story


Lesson Info

Look For the Cleanest Composition

When we walk into a room especially when we're inside the first thing you need to be doing is identifying your light sources. Because we have our goals, right? Now, it's really important when you're entering the scene that you acknowledge where your light sources are immediately. Why do we do that? So that a; we can decide where the best place is to stand are in the room. Say my light sources are behind you there's a window and say this was also a light source. I would know in my mind one of the best places to shoot would probably be here facing this way. Because I'd have a side light and a light behind me, right? I know that if I shoot this way I'm probably gonna end up having to blow out the background because the light is in front of me but then I have this nice side light it might work. Shooting into your light sources could also be a source of distraction. And it's easier for me to actually show you once we look at my contact sheet how I navigate this. But you need to identify whe...

re your light sources are right away so you'd know how to use them and how to avoid them. And when we look at the last segment when we look at me shooting in the field then we're talking about that. It's like distracting or I'm gonna use this light it's creating a nice three-dimensional light that kinda thing. Know that if you shoot into the light you can either blow it out or make a silhouette. A lot of the times, those are your options, right? In the inside like this. I have a light source coming you can see where the light source is from the right. I'm purposely shooting straight on it so I can have this really nice directional light as they play on the bed, right? Versus very little amount of light source. So I know that for the most part my photos are gonna be flat. Right, and we deal with this a lot. It doesn't mean we, if it's dark and we have these ambient lamps on that we don't have light to work with but if there's any sort of overhead light in the house in the evening, it's gonna be pretty flat. So it's the first thing I do when I walk in the room is I'm gonna identify where my light sources are. The second thing I'm going to do is identify where is my cleanest composition? It's really important. I know right away when I walk in a room what is gong to be distracting to shoot towards and what is going to be cleaner to shoot towards. So if things are happening if there's action happening if I'm making a portrait any of those situations happening I'm specifically choosing where to stand to avoid distracting or messy backgrounds. So this is the idea. You should always identify what directions are more ideal than others. So it's more than just walking in a room and just shooting. You should be thinking about light and you should be thinking about your composition your backgrounds. Photo's a little bit cut off but I knew that I had a really clean background if I shot that way. What would've happened if I shot the other side photographing in this way? Well that bar would've been cutting him off and there's a living room behind him with like couches and lamps and stuff so I knew that my only place to shoot was from here because it will be clean. We've looked at that one a few times. That's Greg my husband. I love my assistant, help me put these photos in so. I'm also thinking about how can I use doorways interesting framing to include multiple people from different rooms by using the composition. I'm identifying that Greg and Birdie are in the other room and so I can layer Jenna and Emmiline and still have Greg and Birdie in there. My cleanest composition was from this point of view. If I had shot from the other point of view there was another building that was really messy with a lot of trees. At least shooting towards the white building left me a cleaner direction so I felt this was the only place I could shoot this from.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Fearless and Framed Marketing Bundle

Ratings and Reviews


I own Kirsten's 3 classes. And they are ALL amazing, inspiring and refreshing. She is not only a super talented photographer but an amazing teacher and person as well. I have learned so much from each one of her classes. I have never met a photographer so willing to share and see their students succeed. I highly recommend people not only to buy this class, but all 3! I would not be the photographer I am today if it wasn’t for her. After following her advise for the last 3 years I am finally engaging with the audience I want and I feel true to myself in the way I shoot. This makes a huge difference in my everyday. I am am truly grateful to this photo wizard lady. ps: warning, make sure you are on birth control. These classes might make you want to have children, just to get amazing images like the ones she takes LOL (joking) #not

Carrie Littauer

This workshop was by far the best photography workshop I have ever been a part of. Kirsten's work, her humor, her authenticity, her expertise and perspective will forever change the way I work with families and go about documentary photography. I am so motivated and inspired to dig deeper into my role as a photographer, and as a person, to make a real difference in the lives of those that I photograph and with my art. I'm thrilled to have been in the LIVE studio and am so grateful for Creative Live for giving phenomenal artists like Kirsten this exposure and opportunity to teach other creatives like myself! Thank you.

Johanne Lila

In the very minutes Kirsten Lewis' first class (first of three) for cL aired, I realized I needed in on this awesomeness. I became a 1 Year Mentorship student with her right away, and now I have been so incredibly fortunate to be in the studio audience for the live taping of her final class (or the third of the three, who knows what the future might hold!). For me as a 'Kirsten Lewis alumni' taking this class was perfect. I was reminded of things I knew, but had forgotten. I learned a ton of new stuff. But most of all, I remembered why we do this work in the first place: The love that is right there in the reality of life. How much this work matters to real families out there. And how much it matters to keep getting better at this, to give our families better work. I will be forever greatful that I chose the best mentor, Kirsten is such a gift to all of us. And if you're still in doubt: This class is AMAZING! If you're new, if you've at it for a while, if you're alumni: Gold is HERE!

Student Work