Photographer Spotlight: Nichole Burnett

We are so excited to welcome the fabulous Nichole Burnett of Nichole Burnett Photography to the Rock the Shot Blog! Take a moment to learn more about her beautiful family photography, and be sure to visit her website. Thank you so much Nichole for taking the time to share your work with us today!

Where did your inspiration for photography begin?
My inspiration for photography began in my early teens.  I would have my friends come over and we would have photo shoots in my room.  I’d take my comforter off of my bed and hang it from my curtain rod as my backdrop, then I’d use my bedroom lamps as my light.  My mom was a hobbyist so I would steal her camera and play with it.  I was terrible.  I didn’t even know what a shutter was at that point, but I knew I was intrigued.  After I had my first child that intrigue grew.  I bought my first DSLR and things went from there.

How would you describe your photography style?
My style is light and airy.  Sweet and thoughtful.  Happy and serene.  Modern and whimsical.

Did you study photography in school or are you self taught?
I consider myself self taught.  I was an art major in college and I did take a few digital photography courses, but I had already taught myself the basics of photography at that point.

What brand/model camera do you shoot, and what is your favorite lens?
I actually just switched from Nikon to Canon.  I have the Canon 5d MkIII and the Canon 5d MkII as backup and for underwater photography.  My favorite lens is my 45mm tilt shift.  There is just something special about that lens that I just love.

Do you have any tips for photographers on how to find the light?
Just challenge yourself.  Make it a point to see the light everywhere.  Try to shoot in light that isn’t desirable and try to make it work.  Push yourself and don’t forget to experiment.  The shot might not work out the way you hoped or it could work out better than you had thought.  Just keep learning and experimenting.
What is the most challenging thing about photographing families?
Honestly, I don’t find much challenging about photographing families.  It’s one of the reasons why I love it so much.:)  I am always saying that some of my favorite images are “perfectly imperfect” and that’s just something I embrace.   
What is a good lesson you have learned this year in photography or in your business?
I have learned that it takes a village sometimes in order to succeed.  I let go of a lot of things that I was trying to do myself and outsourced them.  I, in turn, have more time and less stress.  It’s amazing.  I should have done that sooner.

If you could encourage a new photographer in one area, what would it be?
It would be to just be themselves.  Explore all areas of Photography and specialize in what makes you happy.  Even if it is something obscure.  When you love doing what you do, it shows.

What do you love most about being a photographer?
I love documenting children and families.  Children grow so fast and families do too.  Freezing those moments in time makes me incredibly happy.  Also, being my own boss and setting my own hours is pretty nice too.:)

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I see myself living in my dream home, still documenting children and families and hopefully teaching more.

About the Artist: Nichole Burnett is an award winning Santa Rosa Beach photographer located in Florida.  Her magnetic personality helps her subjects open up and feel at ease in front of the camera.  She has the innate ability to tell a story from a mother’s heart.  With Nichole’s soft pastel tones and the hazy nature of her images, her work is bound to take you to a magical place.  Nichole’s style is a bit unconventional, you’ll find that with Nichole Burnett Photography life is your fairytale.

Visit Nichole at her WEBSITE | FACEBOOK |  TWITTER | SHOP

Tips for Capturing the Perfect Silhouette

by Guest Contributor Hunter McRae

Any wedding and portrait photographer can tell you: there are times when the day’s light is running out, but you still need to squeeze one more dramatic shot out of the session. Silhouettes are the perfect solution.

Silhouettes are when your subject appears as a dark shape in front of a bright background, and can be an excellent way to add drama or a bit of mystery to a scene. It’s a fairly simple technique and really, it’s all about being in the right place at the right time with the right gear and knowledge of how to use it.

Whether you are squeaking out one last shot with the remaining light of the evening or you want to know how to convey drama any time of day, here are a few things I have learned to help capture the perfect silhouette:

Choosing Your Subject and Positioning
You want your subject to be fairly simple and easily recognizable in shape. When working with people, it’s usually best to have them turn to the side so you can see their profile and the viewer can recognize features such as the face or a pregnant belly.

When photographing couples, it’s romantic to have them kissing (but not if they turn into one giant blob). Be aware that when two figures come together in a silhouette, “the blob” can often happen, so you want to make sure there is just enough space between the two people to show each person’s individual features. I like to capture couples in the moments just before their lips touch, or as their foreheads barely press together. Walking, holding hands while looking at each other, a dip, or a twirl are always fun, too!

What really makes a silhouette stand out is the light and framing. When preparing for a shoot, think of locations that will present a good silhouette opportunity when the light is right. You’ll want to place your subject in front of a wide-open, brightly lit background. Ideally, the brightest source of light is going to be directly behind your subject.

Look for the Light
The best times of day to capture a silhouette are just before sunrise or around sunset. The light at these times will create a situation where your subject is strongly backlit and there will be contrast between the sky and your subject. You want to make sure that your subjects don’t have much light bouncing on the front of them and that the brightest light source is directly behind. You may get lucky with fabulous clouds and beautiful rich colors in the sky, which will add even more interest to the image.

Camera Settings

For silhouettes, open yourself up to breaking the ‘lighting rules.’ Instead of exposing correctly for the light on your subject’s face in the foreground, like usual, you’re going to need to expose correctly for the light in the background. You will need a camera that allows you to change the aperture, ISO and shutter speed. Shoot in manual mode and underexpose the shot just slightly. Shooting manually allows you to control these settings to achieve the look you want.

When possible, use a small aperture (high number) so that your subject and the majority of anything else showing in the image will be in focus. You want a large depth of field. Try not to go lower than f/8, however. If you are using a larger aperture, ensure that your subject is in focus — that’s absolutely critical for silhouette shots.

Start with your ISO low for the best quality but increase as needed and as light decreases when the sun goes down.

And lastly, set your shutter speed to match the exposure you’re aiming for. In general, you will need to use a tripod if the shutter speed is slower than the length of the lens you are using. Otherwise, your picture will be blurry with camera shake.

Selecting Your Gear
As mentioned earlier, you need a camera that shoots manually so that you can control your aperture, ISO, and shutter speed. You can capture silhouettes with just about any lens, but it helps to have a fixed low-light lens such as a 50mm f/1.2 or a 35mm f/1.4. These lenses will help you capture light even when your eye barely sees it anymore, but be aware that when you use the larger aperture (smaller number) you risk your subject being out of focus. You’ll lose depth of field, so do everything you can to try and make sure your subject stays sharp.

If your camera has an on-camera flash, turn it off. Additionally, it’ll be handy to carry a tripod with you in case you need to dial down your shutter speed as you lose light for the shot.

Post Processing
It’s always best to try and get your shot right in camera, but there are ways to enhance a near-perfect image. I usually add ‘pop’ to a shot by darkening the blacks, brightening the lights, adding some contrast, and using just a hint of saturation.

If you didn’t have enough light to work with, or if your settings were off, you can also brighten the entire image completely.

Using an Off-Camera Remote Flash
Lastly, there are times when it’s just impossible to place your subject above the horizon line and use a bright sky as the backdrop. Fortunately, there is another way to create a silhouette. You need an assistant or a light stand and an off-camera flash with a remote trigger. I use Canon Speedlites and Pocket Wizards. Have your assistant hold the flash behind your subject or place your light stand directly behind your subject, and fire away. This technique creates a beautiful rim light behind your subject, separating them from the dark background. This technique is fun and creative. With the right tools and just the right amount of practice you’ll be on your way!

These are just my suggestions and there are no cut-and-dry rules to capturing a perfect silhouette image. Practice and experiment and take your camera everywhere! The beauty of using digital cameras is that you can take as many pictures as you need to get it right. Don’t be afraid to experiment and shoot a lot! I’d love to see some of your great silhouettes!

About the Artist: Hunter McRae is an award-winning photojournalist and wedding photographer based in Charleston, S.C. She has been featured in the New York Times and Weddings Unveiled and is a frequent blogger for

Visit Hunter at her WEBSITE | FACEBOOK pages today!


December Photo Challenge: Christmas Tree

Photo Credit: Keara Welsh KLWfotos

Everyone here at Rock the Shot LOVES the Holiday Season.  There is nothing better than decorating the house with lights, garland, and of course a twinkling Christmas tree!  This month, we’d love you to share your beautiful “CHRISTMAS TREE‘ photos with us! Everyone is invited to participate!

Special thanks to our very generous sponsors for the AMAZING prizes for this months challenge!

Here are the prizes you can win:

1st Place PRIZE:  $200 Gift Certificate to Intuition Backgrounds



Are you looking for excellent quality and unique backdrops and props to reflect your style of photography? Good! You have come to the right place. Intuition Backgrounds is here to help your beautiful work stand out. Becky Gregory specializes in a hand-painted look and provides a fresh approach to color and design. She loves to find items to compliment her work, and now carries props, flooring, flokati rugs and perfectly matched ‘sets’ for photographers to purchase.

 2nd Place PRIZE: $150 Gift Certificate to Photographer Depot


Photographer Depot is stocked to the roof with everything you need to succeed in the business of photography. Our focus in on practical, affordable tools for the newer professional photographer that will boost your confidence in the office and behind the camera.  Be sure to check out our AMAZING Actions and Overlays for Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, and Creative Cloud.

 3rd Place PRIZE16×24 Canvas from Canvas by Blossom {$137 Value}


Here are the details for entering your submission:

1. Create a post on your blog and include ONE photo submission for the challenge. If you like, include some fun facts about the photo, and any tips or tricks you might like to share about how you captured and/or processed your image. For this month’s submission your image must include a Christmas Tree, there are no other requirements.
2. Include the Rock the Shot Button and type the link in your post. DO NOT include http://
3. You can also link your submission from public Facebook pages, Flickr, Pinterest, etc. Just be sure to include the link within your post. If you are having trouble with this method, check out our step-by-step video tutorial HERE 
4. Submit the link to your post using the InLinkz button below. You must submit the actual post link (permalink), not just your website URL. NOTE: do not include http:// in your link
5. You may submit your photo at any time during the challenge – the deadline for this month’s submission is December 31st, 11:59pm (CST).
6. The winners will be announced on January 5th, 2015.

LEGAL STUFF: This promotion is in NO WAY sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. You will NOT be notified publicly via Facebook if you are a winner. You MUST be 18 to participate. By entering this giveaway, you are providing information to Rock the Shot and NOT to Facebook. Prizes do not have cash value. There will be no returns/exchanges on any of the items.

By submitting your photo, you grant Rock the Shot permission to re-post your photo on our blog and/or Facebook page.

Photographer Spotlight: Katie Andelman

We are so excited to welcome the fabulously talented Katie Andelman to the Rock the Shot Blog! Take a moment to learn more about her beautiful children’s photography, and be sure to visit her website Katie Andelman Photography. Thank you so much Katie for taking the time to share your work with us today!

Where did your inspiration for photography begin?
It began when I was a child with my love of fairytales. I would spend hours reading, immersed in their magical worlds. Striving to create my own enchanted images, I started styling my dolls and taking photos of them with my parent’s camera. In middle school, I transitioned to my reluctant friends, who were forced to be my involuntary models.

How would you describe your photography style?
Whimsical, ethereal, dream like, and technically accurate.

Did you study photography in school or are you self taught?
My first photography class was in high school, back then we still shot with film. I wanted to study photography in Collage, but I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to make a career out of it. I did however spend a semester studying abroad at the University of London, where I shot and developed color film. After graduation, I photographed weddings part time, but continued with school and completed a Masters in educational psychology in 2012. Afterwards, taking the biggest trust fall of my life, I decided to follow my heart and peruse portrait and commercial photography full time. I am still constantly learning, I never want to become stagnant; there is always room for growth.

Do brand/model camera do you shoot, and what is your favorite lens?
The Canon 5D Mark iii is my go to camera. I shoot primarily with the 85mm 1.2L, and recently with the 200mm f/2L. However, the 200mm is a VERY heavy lens.

Do you have any tips for photographers on how to find the light?
Light is one of the most difficult and rewarding elements in photography. Once you discover how to find the light your images will transform. I recommend going out during different times of the day and looking at how the light falls on your subject. I believe the best time to shoot is golden hour.

What is the most challenging thing about photographing children?
For me, kids 4 and under are the most challenging age group to work with. However, it’s also very rewarding. When you get those wow shots of kiddos this age, the effort is worth it!

What is a good lesson you have learned this year in photography or in your business?
There is a quote by Conan O’Brien, “If you work really hard, and you’re kind, amazing things will happen.” That’s my daily motto for life and for running my business.

If you could encourage a new photographer in one area, what would it be?
I would encourage him/her to learn how to shoot in full manual. I cannot stress this enough. I believe that as professional photographers, we have a responsibility to our clients. Knowing how to shoot correctly, in any light, in full manual is one of those responsibilities. Only start shooting clients when you have mastered your camera, and can find the light at any time of day.

What do you love most about being photographer?
Everything! I love that I get to capture the beauty of this world, and do it as my career. The possibilities are endless. I am so motivated and excited for what comes next.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
In 5 years, I plan to be dedicated to the creation of my visions, and the education of future visionaries.

About the Artist: Katie Andelman is an internationally published award-winning photographer, specializing in unique whimsical photo shoots. Her stylized children’s portraits have been published and featured in multiple magazines, international blogs and websites. An observer of tiny moments and a collector of memories, Katie strives to capture the whimsical magic of childhood.

Visit Katie at her WEBSITE | INSTAGRAM | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | 500px pages

A Very Merry GIVEAWAY: Over $6,500 in Prizes!!!

It may only be November, but Santa Claus is coming early for Rock the Shot fans this year! We’ve put together a “VERY MERRY GIVEAWAY”: a giveaway SO big we think you’ll be dreaming about it at night!

Because we LOVE our fans so much, one SUPER LUCKY person will have an incredible jump-start on their photography career.  PLUS… an AMAZING opportunity to get in on some fabulous BLACK FRIDAY DISCOUNTS from our participating vendors.  Hurry, these special discounts will only be available through Cyber Monday.


This AMAZING prize package is valued at over $6,500

Winners choice of a Canon 5D Mark III  or Nikon D810 {$3,399 Value}

A Lifetime Membership to Rock the Shot Forum {$175 Value}


Save 40% off Rock the Shot Forum Membership using code: BFCM40

A $200 Gift Certificate to Pretty Presets for Lightroom


30% off all Lightroom Presets at Pretty Presets for Lightroom: no code needed

Group Mentoring with Crave Photoshop Mentoring {$350 Value}


70% off Group Online Photoshop Mentoring Classes at CRAVE: SAVE70

A $100 Gift Certificate to Crave Design


70% off templates at CRAVE Design: no code needed

A One-year membership to Stickyalbums {$228 Value}


$70 off Annual Membership: no code needed

A One-year Subscription to the 5,000 Photo Plan from ShootProof {$200 Value}


Receive 50% off 1 year to any ShootProof plan. Enjoy commission-free sales with print and digital download fulfillment options (new clients only). Get the deal!

A $200 Gift Certificate to The Hummingbird Press


50% off all templates at The Hummingbird Press using code: RTS50

The “Workshop Workbook” from Work of Heart Photography  {$399 Value}


The “Workshop Workbook” for only $79 {$399 Value}
[Includes Posing Guide $149 + Styled Sessions Guide $149 both FREE] using code: rocktheshot

A $200 Gift Certificate for “A Motherly Workshop” with Robin Long


$50 off any workshop seat in 2015 with Robin Long using code: AMOTHERLYDISCOUNT50

A one-year Full Access Pass to Squijoo {$120 Value}


Unlimited Access to Photoshop Templates for only $5 per month at Squijoo using code: 1EE3B

A $150 Gift Certificate to Photo Deal Café


A $200 Gift Certificate to Photographer Depot


Up to 60% off during “7 DAYS OF DEALS” at Photographer Depot: no code needed

Album99 from Nations Photo Lab {$350 Value}


20% off at Nations Photo Lab using code: RTSGIVING

One-year Membership to Photographic Elements: {$240 Value}


98% off our entire shop! 880 templates for only $47: no code needed


So here are the rules and how to enter:

First things first. The Rock the Shot “Very Merry Giveaway” starts today November 25th, and will end on Cyber Monday, December 1st at 11:59pm CST! ONE winner will be selected randomly and announced here on Thursday, December 4th.  The winner will have 48 hours to claim their winnings.

Use the RAFFLECOPTER widget below to visit  all of the participating vendors {this is a mandatory requirement for entering the giveaway}.  Once you “VISIT” each page, be sure to click the “I VISITED” button for each vendor entry option.  You can also earn EXTRA (Optional) entries by sharing about the giveaway on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.  Good luck to everyone!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

LEGAL STUFF:  Please read the Terms & Conditions on the Rafflecopter widget above. By participating in the Sweepstakes, each entrant unconditionally accepts and agrees to comply with and abide by these Official Rules and the decisions of Rock the Shot, LLC (“Sponsor”).  You MUST be 18 to participate. Prizes do not have cash value. There will be no returns/exchanges on any of the items.

Congratulations to Chelsea Hansel on winning our Very Merry Giveaway!  Chelsea, please email me at in the next 48 hours to claim your prize. Thank you all for participating and have a wonderful week!

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