Photographer Spotlight + Celebrity Mentor: Liz Franco Photography

We are so excited to welcome the insanely talented Liz Franco of Liz Franco Photography to the Rock the Shot Blog! Take a moment to learn more about her beautiful portrait and fine art photography, and be sure to visit her website.  The best news… Liz will be featured as our “Celebrity Mentor” in the Rock the Shot Forum for the entire month of November so come on over and ask her anything you like. Thank you so much Liz for taking the time to share your work with us today!

Where did your inspiration for photography begin? ​

I have always loved art and the beauty in it, but little did I imagine that my way of expressing art to others was going to be through my camera and lens. I enjoy sharing this with others and little by little I am growing into a new love for teaching, I truly enjoy sharing what the Lord has given me through this journey.

How would you describe your photography style? ​
Whimsical and Romantic. Using the nature that was given to us, I love to create a unique mystery in many of my portraits. I enjoy so many styles but my heart is set on Fine Whimsical Art.

Did you study photography in school or are you self taught? ​
I am self taught. Even though I know that I would completely enjoy attending a workshop or maybe even taking a class in photography, I am thankful for being able to find my own self in this journey as a photographer. Though the process of being self taught has not been easy for me I have enjoyed growing each day a little more and more. There has been trial and error quite often, but I hope that this desire to continue to learn never fades. It is what keeps my creative soul going, knowing there is always something new to learn.

Do brand/model camera do you shoot, and what is your favorite lens?
I shoot with a Nikon D800 and my two babies are the Nikon 85mm 1.8G and 50mm​ 1.4G.

Do you have any tips for photographers on how to find the light?
Use your creative eye. Don’t just arrive at a location and start shooting, walk around search for it. Imagine how a specific spot with beautiful light will make a difference in your portraits. Also know that the way and direction to which you pose your subjects is very important.

What is your favorite subject to photograph and why?
That is a hard question for me, I honestly love to photograph Love, Life and Beauty. The love between a couple, the beauty of an expecting mommy or the beauty of a soul. I simply enjoy photography so much.

What is a good lesson you have learned this year in photography or in your business?
I have learned to NOT compare myself to others. We block our minds from seeing further once we are so focused on what others are doing. Wish them well, motivate one another and compliment when you see talent but focus on your own art and vision. ​

If you could encourage a new photographer in one area, what would it be?
I have been there. Keep working hard, it will be okay. Stay humble, do not envy your neighbor photographers, there is a client for everyone. You will make it. ​

What do you love most about being a photographer?
I can share with others my love for Christ and Art. How do these two beauties fall together? They simply do because what I do is not for myself but for His glory. Photography was given to me as a way of healing in a difficult time in my life, this journey is not a coincidence. It was given to me and I am truly blessed to be able and share that amazing testimony with others. ​

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
My dreamer’s mind sees many things. I just know it is somewhere beautiful. Two years ago I had NO idea I would be here, it did not even cross my mind. I am simply thankful and taking this day by day…. One day at a time. ​

About the Artist: Liz Franco is a Fine Art natural light photographer serving the Chicago are and surrounding suburbs. With her focus on capturing life, love and beauty in a unique way with her unique vision she enjoys every second of this journey with the amazing support of her husband and daughter.

Visit Liz at her WEBSITE | FACEBOOK  pages today!

And don’t forget, you can ask Liz anything you like in the Rock the Shot Celebrity Mentor Forum for the entire month of November!!

October Photo Challenge Winners

We are so thrilled today to announce the WINNING photos for our October Photo Challenge.  Our theme last month was “HALLOWEEN COSTUME”, and the images were beautiful, spooky, and just plain wonderful!!   We want to thank all of our readers who submitted entries for the challenge, and a HUGE  THANK YOU to our fabulous sponsors Pretty Presets for Lightroom; Bittersweet Design; and Canvas by Blossom for their generous prize donations to the challenge this month.

Here are our winners for the “Halloween Costume” photo challenge:

1st Prize: #111 “Sally” by Tara Lesher Photography

2nd Prize:  #101 by Lyndsay West Photography

3rd Prize: #76 “Magical Merida” by Deanna Mae Photography

Honorable mention 1: #44 “Maleficent” by Tanya Karaman

Honorable mention 2: #91 “Sweet Little Dorothy” by Julia Luna Photography

If you’re one of our top five, proudly display the button “Top 5 Photo” button on your blog and Facebook pages. This button can be found HERE.

Winners, please contact Karlen at

Thanks to everyone who entered, and STAY TUNED for our next Photo Challenge…

P & L = People and Love

by Guest Contributor Amy Fraughton

If you’ve been in the business world very long, you may be familiar with the term “P and L”.  It stands for Profit and Loss.  It’s something businesses watch and analyze frequently to make sure they are always growing and not losing.

I’ve learned that “P and L” can stand for something much more important and have a more dramatic affect on your bottom line, and that is People and Love.

Investing in your clients and making them feel valued and important will be the smartest thing you do for your business!  It can not only bring you many more financial rewards, it also is very rewarding internally.  This business is all about people.  Without your clients, you would have no business.  Let them know how much you value them and they will pay you over and over.

This could not be truer for any business, but especially the photography industry.

We get a lot of time with our clients.  We get to know them before the photo shoot, and lots of time during the session to interact and develop a relationship.  Then we get to spend time after the shoot as we provide them with their images.   Each of these times is an opportunity to show your client how much you love and appreciate them.  The more they feel this from you, the longer they will stay with you as a client and refer their friends and family too.

I am always thrilled when my clients stay with me year after year.  Not only because it keeps my business strong, but I love feeling like I have them as friends.  I love talking to their kids and catching up on their latest activities.  And I know my clients appreciate our relationship!

Here are a few tips of things you can do to build relationships with your clients.

1.  Truly listen to them.  Repeat back what they’ve told you so they know they have been heard.  This is big.  Clients are nervous that they are going to get the types of images they have in mind and feel much better when they know that you’ve heard their needs and wants.

2.  Remember their names, their kids names, and what is going on in their lives.  Treat them as though they are your best friends but they just don’t know it yet.  I love asking how one kid

3.  Give them the time that they need within your session.  Under promise and over deliver.

4.  Take a thank you gift to the shoot or deliver it with their products.  Surprise and delight them.  This doesn’t have to be something expensive, any gift will be a thrill for them.  One morning I brought a box of doughnuts and scribbled a big thank you on the top of the box.  I gave it to my clients after the shoot and they were so excited!

5.  Follow up with them a month after the session to see how they like their images, if they need any help getting them on the wall, and if there is anything else you can do for them.  No one expects this kind of a phone call, but it will be the thing that ties them to you as a future client.

Most importantly, just remember that your clients are people, not just your next paycheck.  Treat them as if they were family to you and they will be your future!

Enjoy this free downloadable print for your office or working space.

About Amy: Amy Fraughton is the founder of Photo Business Tools, an online site offering business resources and education for photographers through blog posts, podcasts and downloadable forms.

Visit Amy at her WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | PINTEREST pages today!

Photographer Spotlight: Olivia Leigh Photography

We are so excited to welcome the insanely talented Olivia Sweeney of Olivia Leigh Photography to the Rock the Shot Blog! Take a moment to learn more about her beautiful wedding and portrait photography, and be sure to visit her website. Thank you so much Olivia for taking the time to share your work with us today!

Where did your inspiration for photography begin?

My inspiration for photography began as a little girl.  I have always been infatuated with photographs and documenting moments in our lives. I loved looking through photos to remember special times from my childhood and cherished photos so much.  This passion for photos just grew with time.   As a young adult I finally bought a DSLR and taught myself everything I know now.   I began to just photograph personal events such as traveling family and then I decided to photograph my friends and it just grew from there.

How would you describe your photography style?

Since I am a wedding and portrait photographer my style is very much romantic and airy.  I love to use natural light and love to capture moments that are genuine, real and “in the moment.”  I love color and black and white but would say most of my images are color and black and white for a real story teller or a candid moment from a wedding or session.  I love the look of film and the ease of digital, so I shoot both.  I love shooting film because it forces you to slow down and really think about each shot.  I love film because of the authentic colors and feel it creates that digital doesn’t always emulate.

Did you study photography in school or are you self taught?

I am self taught…going backwards from digital and now self teaching myself film.  Often times I think it would have been nice to have learned photography in school but I think being self-taught allows you to make more mistakes and learn from them which is great.  I love learning for myself and it only makes me want to continue to progress as an artist.  I have also read a lot of books and find inspiration from many great photographers that I believe help to shape the industry trends.

Do you shoot Canon or Nikon, and what is your favorite lens?

I shoot Canon.  My favorite lens is the 50mm 1.4  Its a dream!  I love all Prime lenses because I shoot at a very wide aperture 99% of the time.

Do you have any tips for photographers on how to find the light?

Every scene, every location and every time of day is different.  If you are wanting to shoot at a certain location I always suggest walking around the time you plan to shoot ahead of time.  See how different backgrounds effect lighting, use back-light to wrap your subject nicely but also keep in mind of finding natural reflectors on location to bring out the light in their face.  Try side-lighting and just play around with it to figure out your style and what you like.  Lighting is something photographers are constantly learning because its never exactly the same for any situation.  Also don’t be afraid to shoot during the day, you can create some beautiful images at any time of day its all about finding open nice shade.  For film avoid shooting directly into the sun to avoid haze.

What is the most challenging thing about photographing maternity?

My biggest challenge shooting maternity is creating a good angle for my clients and creating natural poses with their spouses.  Unlike a couple or engagement session posing can be tricky with a bump.  You want your subjects to feel comfortable and beautiful.  I always suggest shooting them at  45 degree angle and don’t be afraid to ask them what their “good side” is.  Women always appreciate when I ask this because they will hate photos of themselves in which they don’t feel that is their “good side.”  Make sure to ask in a nice way of course you don’t want to offend her!  Also posing the husband is tricky so just make sure to remember you are shooting a couple but their are really 3 subjects, don’t focus too much on the belly because its also about the couple and their relationship.  I always like to have  a variety of close-up, detail and farther away shots.

What is a good lesson you have learned this year in photography or in your business?

One good lesson I have learned this year is to stop overshooting during my sessions.  Before I would try and come up with every single pose and idea and scenario for a session.  Now I focus on what type of session it is and plan in my head before what kind of shots I want and what sort of feeling I am trying to portray from my subjects.  I also try to minimize my locations to just a variety within a session so that I can really tell a story with my images rather then try and have different poses in different locations.  Its all about the details and the different perspectives of our subjects that really helps to evoke emotion and tell a true story.
If you could encourage a new photographer in one area, what would it be?

Try Film and use natural light and try something new at every session.  Also practice on your family and friends shoot more personal and fun and creative projects and it will help you in your work.

What do you love most about being a photographer?

What I love most about being a photographer is creating something tangible that my clients and myself can cherish for a lifetime.  I love that I am creating something unique every time my shutter clicks that isn’t an iphone photo or something someone else can create.  No matter what you are always being authentic and creating something true and real that literally stamps a time, place and moment in time that will never happen again.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

In 5 Years I dream of still being a digital and film wedding and portrait photographer.  I dream that I will be traveling near and far for weddings and amazing projects, that I will have met some amazing and talented vendors and photographers in my industry that I have learned from and really built a community of people I feel I can learn from and teach as well.  I think that a solid community within your industry is so important for the progression of art, photography, trends and styles as well as business and photography education.  I would love to some day have the opportunity to teach aspiring photographers what I know as well and pass along my experiences….but I really think that would be like 10 years down the road.

About the Artist: Olivia is an Oregon and Destination Wedding and Portrait photographer.  She lives in Jacksonville, Oregon with her husband and they are expecting their first baby this fall.  She enjoys capturing true and genuine moments shooting film and digital formats.  She loves her family, traveling and enjoying the outdoors.  Her work has been publishes on Style Me Pretty, Wedding Chicks, Green Wedding Shoes and many other great publications.

Visit Olivia at her WEBSITE | INSTAGRAM | FACEBOOK | TWITTER pages

Lifestyle Photography in Any Location

by Guest Contributor Jean Smith

Typically, lifestyle photography is described as a style of photography where daily events or happenings are captured. So, that means capturing a family in their home doing the things they love or do on a daily basis is lifestyle photography, right? Right. And wrong. Lifestyle photography doesn’t HAVE to be confined to your subject’s home or other familiar places they frequent on a daily basis. You can tell a story with the same feelings of love, playfulness, relationships, and “everyday” in any location.

 In order to do that, there are a few things to consider to help you steer more toward lifestyle and candid captures.

  1. Lens – Typically, a wider angle lens (24-35mm) is considered to be more of a storytelling lens. And for good reason. It shows the entire story and scene. No matter how wide your aperture is, most everything will be in focus and your viewer will feel like they are “in the scene.”
  2. Motion – Capturing motion is a sure fire way to take your photos from posed and traditional, to candid and lifestyle. You can create motion either through giving your subject movement direction (running, walking, throwing hair, twirling, laughing, etc), or YOU can create the look of movement within an image with a lower shutter speed, choice of lens (Lensbaby or Tilt shift which create blur), or by physically moving the camera while shooting (ex: dragging the shutter).
  3. Emotion. Showing emotion is one of the easiest ways to capture the “everyday” in any location. Show the laughter between a son and mother. A quiet, intimate moment between mother and father. A playful interaction between siblings. Showing emotion within the relationships of a couple or family will give the viewer a sense of looking in at a certain special moment in those people’s lives.
  4. Distance. Think about moving away, toward, and around your subject. Again, you are trying to tell a story, so the same angle, focal length, or distance from your subject throughout an entire shoot becomes static and non-storytelling.

Lifestyle photography isn’t for everyone, but if you are attracted to relationships, emotion, and capturing the “every day,” practice these different suggestions, and you’ll find yourself thinking differently and capturing more moments rather than poses.

About Jean:
 I am a photographer living in New Hudson, Michigan, with my husband and four little boys. I adore my family more than anything, and also love exercise, reading, travel, travel, travel, and delicious food.

Visit Jean at her WEBSITEFACEBOOK, and BLOG today!

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