Remember that guy who said he’d never photograph people?

Well we had to fire him.

Turns out he(okay, it was me) didn’t know what I was missing and just how much fun photographing people can be. Not to mention the challenge of stepping WAAAY outside of my normal comfort zone and photographing a subject that talks back!

Let me tell you, landscapes are easy when compared to photographing people. I don’t need to know anything about posing, the light I’m given by the sun is, like it or not, the light I have to work with. And if I botch a photograph of a waterfall that waterfall isn’t going to judge.

But those challenges have also been the unexpected fun of it all.

E-Session Anyone?


My first engagement session was a lot of “fun.” And by “fun” I mean I was a nervous wreck. Being paid by someone to take photos of them, the whole time trying to capture the love they share, adds a whole new meaning the the term “performance anxiety!”

By the end of the session I was much more at ease than when things started out, with both myself and my very patient clients being quite happy with the photos.

Practice, Practice, Practice. 


Getting my lovely wife in front of the camera was a tough sell, but she finally caved in.

I’ve been reading everything I can and watching pretty much any video I can find on using off camera lighting, but all that knowledge was useless without being able to put it to the test on a real person. Thanks, Sweety!

All in all I think I just might be getting the hang of this whole people thing.

And for those of you wondering what the heck is going on around here, where are those beautiful landscape photos? I’ll leave you with this, just so you know I haven’t completely lost my photographic mind! 😉

Sunrise and Rough Seas at Nubble Light


45 thoughts on “The Changing Face(s) Of Jeff Sinon Photography

  1. oh, this is wonderful! and what a beautiful smile your wife has. she did great with the shoot, and you obviously did, too. well done – and congrats on this new change. you’ve definitely got portraiture off to a brilliant start. thanks for sharing.

    1. Thank you! One of the things we both learned was that poses that look good in a photograph are actually awkward and uncomfortable to do. But I had fun, that’s for sure.

        1. It came as a huge surprise to me, that’s for sure. Now I just need to learn how to direct people. Which means I need to learn a LOT more about posing.

          1. Posing is hard. Some poses work with some people and then not others. I struggle with it, especially if the person and I have not really connected. Then it just looks forced and awkward. The key is connecting with the person on a level where they relax and show their personality. But I have a lot more to learn myself, especially in the technical aspects of the camera. I guess that’s the thing, we are all learning all of the time.

            1. It’s definitely the people/posing part I’m finding the most difficult. Working with the model in the first photo has helped, and videos, lots and lots of youtube videos.

              1. Practice makes perfect. I just bought a tutorial on various photography aspect, mostly technical features. I am so not a tech person, but I have a good eye and do well. Isn’t Youtube helpful!! Good luck on your people posing!

            2. I should add that the technical aspect of my camera comes easy. I’ve spent a lot of time playing with my cameras as well as understanding how aperture, shutter speed, and ISO affect exposure. As well as how to get the look I want from a given scene. This is where landscape photography has really helped. Unlike with people I had all the time in the world to play around with settings to achieve the results I wanted. This has made my entry into portrait photography somewhat easier by removing the need to think about what I’m doing with my camera from the equation.

              1. I am jealous. I learned photography in the Army. Just the basic were taught and I was fortunate to really see the picture before I took it. I struggle from time to time with technical things. Then when you add people waiting on you, it adds a level of stress. I do well enough, but I really want to move to the next level where I am not going, I want to get this look, but wait, I have to…. Funny we are on opposite sides of the field. Recently, I was struggling with some long exposures doing landscape. Youtube and DVD tutorials, here I come!

                1. I have a tendency to research the hell out of everything, which is a good part of why I know my camera so well. The same is somewhat true when it comes to off camera lighting. I’ve been studying so much I feel I have a pretty good handle on the lighting part of it. It’s the people that I need the help with.

                  Oh, long exposures are easy, what are you having trouble with?

                  1. Off camera lighting are bad words to me! I am a horrible researcher and instructions sometimes sound like blah blah blah. So, I am really forcing myself to learn. Around Christmas I had two landscape long exposure issues. One was really low light and I stupidly forgot my tripod in my excitement. So I had to prop my camera on rocks. ( I got some decent shots but I don’t want decent. I wanted great and I blew my one opportunity at an amazing place. And the other was a brighter day where I was trying to capture a rushing river and wanted a bit of smooth water look ( Both were pretty much the same issue, I didn’t really know what time or setting to do. So I was just blindly fumbling around long shutter speeds to see what happened. (I did have tripod this time.)

                    1. I’m loving off camera flash! Check out Gavin Hoey’s videos on Adorama TV on YouTube, his Red Riding Hood video is one that really got me going.

                      With the long exposures you’ve got two different things working against you. The first you realized, no tripod. The second, the light was too bright. When shooting long exposures of flowing water I like to start with at least a half second exposure and slow it down from there until I get the look I want. The key is lower and even light. Overcast days are awesome for shooting moving water!
                      Basically, I use the lowest ISO I can, set the aperture to right around F/16, and then set the shutter speed, dialing it in to get a proper exposure and the look I want on the water. Oh yea, when I’m shooting waterfalls or other flowing water, I always have a circular polarizer on my lens. It helps to remove glare and reflections as well as cutting as much as two stops of light thus allowing an even slower shutter speed.

                    2. Yeah, I was slapping myself for forgetting the tripod in my excitement. It is not like I see the Barbados coast every sunrise. EEERRR. Ok, I will check out that video and play with the settings you mentioned. Long exposures are not really used in documenting Army events. It is snap and go. So this is all new for me, challenging too, but fun. Thank you for the info! Next week I am documenting a military competition all week, so lots of people running here and there and over walls and such. No long exposure practice there, but maybe once I am home!

                    3. Let me know if you have any other long exposure questions. As you may have guessed from so many of my photos, I do it a lot. I won’t say i’m anything like an expert, but I’ll gladly help if I can.

                    4. I sure will; thanks! I think you might be pretty darn expert. You have some amazing work, quality that I hope to achieve one day once I pay attention to technical aspects.

                    5. One tip I can offer right off the bat. Take control of your camera, don’t let it make any decisions for you. I know that sounds scary, but in the end you’ll thank me for it. If you ever want to chat privately, where I can offer more detailed tips, you can message me through my fan page. I can give you my number if you want to text, my email if you’d rather chat that way, I really like to help. I think the biggest shock to me when starting this blog was just how much I enjoy teaching. I sometimes think half the reason I started offering workshops is because I love the teaching part so much 🙂

                    6. Thanks! I have noticed that blogging photographers are so much more friendly than other photographers. It is like they are afraid of competition I guess. I did take one local class on night photography where we shot some static Christmas lights. It was fun and I learned some neat things. But even the instructor acted a bit arrogant when I said I didn’t know a few things and got paid to shoot weddings. Well, none of my brides have ever complained so I must be doing something right, so I just smiled and nodded to him and said…well, that is why I am taking your class. Kind of makes me not want to take anymore of his classes though. If I knew everything, I wouldn’t need him right!

                    7. I’m in several groups on Facebook where there are people that would lose their freaking minds at the thought of you getting paid to shoot a wedding and “not knowing a few things.” You just need to come to NH and take one of my workshops! I never feel the need to belittle anyone, clients or non clients. Why? because I was there! I didn’t just pick up a camera one day and have it mastered. I had a lot of people along the way who have been and continue to be very helpful. I don’t see you, or any other photographer, as “competition.” The way I see it is, your eyes are not my eyes, I could take you to my most favorite secret spot, show you everything I know, and your photos will in all likelihood be just as good yet quite different from mine. If a potential buyer likes your photo more than mine I think, Good for you! I believe in helping other photographers, not trying to keep them down in the hopes that I will look better.

                    8. I bet if they are reading this, they would freak out, lol. Oh well, at least I am not acting like I know it all and suck. That would be bad. I agree, why belittle a client. That is just bad for business as an instructor. I have never been to NH. I may have to add it to my bucket list! Thanks for the input and advice. Community is much nicer that competition:)

  2. Nice work. Sounds like the change I experienced a year and a half ago (albeit with way less landscape experience than you have). I got addicted to Strobist and then began learning everything I could about lighting, posing, working with people, and checking out other photographers’ portraiture. What an awesome journey; I hope you’re enjoying it as much as I am!

    1. I really am. It sounds like you;re doing the same thing I’m currently doing. I watch every video, belong to way too many Facebook OCF groups, all in an effort to learn more!

  3. I would love to be photographing people. Good for you for taking on that extra challenge. I hope your clients give you the okay to post photos because I’d love to see some. These first ones are great!

    1. It’s more fun, and just as scary as I imagined it would be. I have pretty much zero experience in directing people, so thats my next challenge to master. Learning the lighting is easy with all of the information available online. The posing and how to deal with people, that’s an entirely different story!

  4. I agree: landscapes are easier. Taking photos of people is fun. Sometimes it’s difficult because there’s a lot of things to consider: face portrait, full portrait, half portrait? Clothing, nude, natural light, flash? One flash or several? Background & setting? Which mood do you want to portray?

    1. Definitely! There is no posing and only so much mood you can alter when photographing landscapes. And of course the light is what it is at the time you happen to be there. I think being in almost total control of how the final picture is going to come out is what’s really attracting me to photographing people.

    1. Thank you! I think the hardest part is going to be getting over my nerves when it comes to directing people. And I need to learn more about posing people. Of course finding willing test models is harder than I thought it would be too!

  5. It’s really a whole new world, isn’t it? I can count on one hand the number of times folks have paid me for portraits, but they are real learning experiences. Nature’s still my favorite subject, but I try to keep an open mind to any new opportunity, and people work can provide surprising rewards–especially when they don’t know they’re being captured.

    1. Gary, I won’t be giving up nature any time soon. Ideally I want to combine the two for my portrait photography. Candids are certainly the best way to get people looking natural for sure. In that regard I’ve always been intrigued by street photography, but I’ve never felt comfortable just snapping photos of strangers without their permission. And by asking them if it’s ok to take a photo of them I’ve lost a lot of what originally drew me to them in the first place.

  6. I LOVE capturing people. But you’re right! Its not easy! It’s landscapes I find challenging though. The great thing about photography is there is always something to learn, something to challenge you, and never ever gets boring! Go Jeff!!

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