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Technical Tips: Shutter Speed

Lesson 5 from: Family Photography: Creating a Successful Business

Kirsten Lewis

Technical Tips: Shutter Speed

Lesson 5 from: Family Photography: Creating a Successful Business

Kirsten Lewis

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Lesson Info

5. Technical Tips: Shutter Speed


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

Technical Tips: Shutter Speed

We're gonna take a peek at the lady eye. This is what my producer and I call them, lady eye. So again, with the eyeball, I like to think of it as the shutter speed is the eyelid or the eyelashes that move down and up. So, let's think about all the ways that we use shutter speed in terms of storytelling. I use a fast shutter, we use a fast shutter, if we want to stop motion. Especially with kids, if they're running around and you want to stop it, you need at least 1/500th of a second, right? Here's another example of, I wanted to definitely stop the motion, and I'm making a conscious decision. Now I've photographed this family many years in a row, and he always does this to his wife. So I always know if she's around the pool that he's gonna throw her in, right? So I'm ready, like, when I see him coming after her, I'm like, "okay, I gotta make sure "my shutter speed's really fast." Because they also are so expressive, that I want to stop their facial expressions while he's throwing her i...

n the pool, and so I'm making a conscious effort that this is one of those situations in terms of the story I'm telling photographically that I must have a fast shutter speed. Write this down if you don't know this. The minimum to stop motion, to be guaranteed to stop motion, is suggested at 1/250th of a second. That's not an always, because sometimes I can shoot at 1/60th of a second and stop the motion I need to, but if you want to feel confident, 1/250th. Now, my suggestion, if you're shooting kids, is it better be 1/500th of a second. So if they're outside, they're playing, they're running around, you really need 1/500th of a second. Indoors, it's a little harder to guarantee yourself that, so you have to learn how to be good at a steady handhold. Or, moving, not panning, but that you can kind of move with the motion just a little bit so that you can stop the motion that's important to you. We can also create motion, so this I told you, we were gonna talk about this in a minute. And that is panning. I'm doing a lot more of it, I'm being a lot more exploratory and adventurous with my storytelling, and how I'm playing with my settings, and my shutter speeds, and so panning is coming into play more and more. I'm not panning just for the sake of panning, I'm being very decisive in terms of when I'm using it and when I'm not, but when I really want to show what it feels like for this girl to be on the carousel, I feel like I have to pan it so the viewer has a sense of her speed. Does that make sense? I made photos stopped, too. Another reason why I chose to pan in this situation is with the movement, I wanted to show the city behind. Anyone know where this is? I think it might be Jane's Carousel. You win! (audience laughing) The reason why I thought everybody might know is she lives in Long Island, in New York, and this is in Brooklyn. This is what I love, is I left enough information with the carousel for people to identify possibly where this is, right? At least, my New Yorkers. So if I share this photo with a little bit of information, without any title or description, I'm hoping that maybe some New Yorkers see this and are like, "oh my God, I take my kids there all the time. "I'd love to hire Kirsten, like this is a great photo "at the carousel." I wanted to show what it feels like for her to be there. She's looking up because it's really beautiful, the carousel up at the top, and all this wonderment, but I also was very selective with the information I was choosing to show in the back. And so I shot a lot of this, and I knew that there were parts where we would come around where I wasn't gonna see those buildings, and then there were parts where as the carousel was moving, that's when I want to shoot, because I purposely wanted to include that in the photo. This is one of the more experimental things that I'm doing now, and again, this is playing with the idea of, I'm trying to add some more fine art to my storytelling, and this is, it's easier to read in the original file, but this child was madness at bath time. Just crazy madness, running around the house. And the house is dark, and I wanted to create this mood of fury and frenzy, and so that's why I warmed up my white balance and I slowed down my shutter tremendously, and I just started playing with these lines that I could make with the light, and you can see, just this little hair is flowing, and his little butt and leg. I'm just playing with being more experimental because, like I ask all my students, you want to evolve and add new things to your repertoire and kind of really find your perspective, and that's what I'm doing right now. You can also preserve motion. So this is different from panning, this is the idea that the environment is in focus, and stays, and just the one thing that's in motion has motion in it. So this is her, just getting rid of the diaper (audience laughing) and throwing it. And she had done that earlier in the day, and I was like, oh, I'll remind you guys about squirreling later, but she had done that earlier in the day where she had tossed it, and I was like, "oh, that would have made for a good photo." and I missed it. So I just knew later in the evening that she'd probably do it again, so I purposely, I think I slowed the shutter to like 1/100th of a second, and then I was able to keep her in focus, and then as she tossed it, you could just see the motion in the clean spot right there. And that's one where you're gonna hold down your continuous shutter here because it works well because it's in this clean spot away from her fingers, right, there's this separation there. If it had been in her hand or really too much outside of the frame, it wouldn't have worked, right? So make a lot of photos for something like this. And I'm gonna show you some contact sheets of mine later in the class, and you'll be able to see how I shoot through things like this. And this is just another situation where I wanted to show her moving, but I'm not panning, I don't want the environment to move, and so I'm slowing down the shutter just a little bit so that her legs are moving. Another reason to think about shutter speed and how you're using it is if you're photographing kids, they're might be some chaos at some point. And I use it differently, with the different types of chaos I want to show. In this situation I wanted to stop the motion, right? So I have a high shutter speed, but I loved the chaos of the feel, and the way there was a little bit of wind, and kids falling, and really hurting themselves. You guys have seen this photo before, I've decided to move it to black and white, again, I'm stopping the motion here because I want right with the chaos, where he's falling and she's running, and I definitely wanted this to be as stopped as possible. (laughter) Can anybody relate to this? Do you guys know what this is? Or you might know it, but you don't know it's called this. Do you ever shoot, and then you go back and look at the contact sheet, and you're like, "why the hell are these photos red, yellow, orange, "red, yellow, orange, red, yellow, orange," have you seen that in your contact sheet? I'm gonna show you. I have not changed anything, and all of a sudden, the light changes from yellow to green to orange, you guys can't see it as well in here. What this is is cycle time and temperature in the overhead lights. And so it's important that you make a lot of photos, watch, it's gonna change again, you make a lot of photos of this to catch the cycle time if you don't want to slow down your shutter to a point where you don't see it, and I think it's like, I'm bad, I should know this, 1/30th of a second, it has to be to really stop the cycle time. It's because lights aren't steady, you know, especially these overhead lights. They flicker, and so if you shoot too fast, it's gonna stop it as it flickers with the change in temperature, you're gonna catch it, and that's why it changes in your images. So you either have to make a lot of them, or you have to shoot at a low enough shutter speed so that you avoid that. And so what I just choose to do is shoot a lot of them when I recognize it there, I have that issue. I just make a lot of the photos, and then I will adjust, and that was my final photo, that's what I chose as my final delivery. And I just adjusted the white balance in post. Here we go. Indoor lights, most artificial lights, especially fluorescent, cycle at about 50 to 60 times times a minute, which is crazy. Oh here we go. If you need to shoot over 1/60th of a second, you need to make multiple images so it's 1/60th. I was smart and put it in, I forgot. (laughs) Okay, TV monitors are better now because they're LCD, they're not like, back in the day. But there still is an issue where it needs to be slower in order to get it to freeze it, right? So you can see it, otherwise it's bright and blown out. The other thing, (audience laughing) I just made this photo, it's pretty funny, right? I work really hard to try and find interaction between what's on TV and the child. I actually made a really good one that you'll see in the fourth segment that I'm really proud of that I made for the clients that I photographed. I feel like there should be a relationship between the subject in the picture in the screen, otherwise it just doesn't make much sense, right? And this is an old one, but I feel like a goodie, is... (audience laughing) kids do really weird stuff, right? I was really lucky that Aladdin was playing, and it just happened, right? A lot of it is luck. Preparation and luck combined. I was very lucky that she kicked her leg up and did that weird thing out of the doorway and right at the same time the monkey from Aladdin opened his eyes big.

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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