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Cattle Ranchers Turned Photographers Discuss Successful Photography
Luke and Cat Neumeyer, owners and lead photographers with Luke & Cat Photography of Boling, Texas, began their photography careers as cattle ranchers. Both come from successful family cattle ranching operations, yet were always drawn to the creative and artistic elements of photography.
After much thought and deliberation the duo decided to launch their photography business in the rural community where Cat’s family ranches. They focus on wedding photography but also do engagement, bridal, family and portrait sessions. Other services include mentoring other photographers through business development advice and training.
Their session at the 2015 Ag Media Summit offered tips and advice to aspiring and established photographers.
Luke and Cat believe every photographer has obstacles with their photography such as posing, lighting, equipment settings, or business management. Luke and Cat challenged the workshop attendees to apply what was shared in the session to overcome their own individual obstacles.
Here is what they had to share:
Luke and Cat strive to tell the story though photos. Sometimes that means letting the everyday things collected together tell a story.
Storytelling steps for many writers are prepare, write and finalize. For photographers the steps are very similar: prepare, shoot finalize.
Before the shoot
- Communicate with the client
- Plan the shoot
- Visit the location to gauge lighting, etc.
- Create a list of shots or ideas for shots
- Ask questions of the client such as who or what is important to them to capture (a family member, pet, particular piece of jewelry, handmade belt, etc.)
For Luke & Cat Photography, some of the early business obstacles were requests for sessions on Sunday, clients bringing too many outfits, clients not ready on time and clients with poor ideas. They have since found ways to structure their pre-session workflow to eliminate these issues such as offering clients three (non-Sunday) date options, limiting outfits to two and helping the client select them in advance, communicating pre-session about the importance of timing to achieve the best results for them and brainstorming ideas that express the feeling the client wants but not in a way that has been done many times or is not an exact replica of a pin from Pinterest.
The perfect shot
Luke and Cat believe the majority of this lies with camera settings in order to minimize post-session processing.
- Aperture – lower settings achieve a less distracting (usually blurry) background
- Good lenses:
- 24-70 f 2.8
- 70-200 f 2.8
- Slower shutter speed- don’t be afraid to use this setting to show movement and tell the story (i.e. – dancing at a reception)
If you can master the technical aspects of photography then you can focus on improving your shots.
The Fab Five
- Light – not all light is equal
- Emotional experience
- Full sun – the subject is facing the sun; best for livestock photography
- Open shade – most flexible and best for portraits; have subject face the direction of the light/sun so achieve catch lights in eyes
- Backlit – can be very unpredictable and hard to meter but gives beautiful golden hour glow when done correctly
This often comes through in photos as part of the story; clients often remember an emotional event and moment such as a wedding or maternity shoot, yet capturing it in photos gives it a deeper meaning for them and others who see the photos
Ex- have couples or parents/children whisper a secret to one another; this often times creates an emotional experience for a family or portrait session
Having subjects connect with one another and the photographer is important to help them relax. Luke and Cat often ask personal questions and relate their own take on it.
- Incorporate movement when possible such as walking, hugging, spinning
- Get subjects VERY close together (noses almost touching or foreheads touching)
- Ask them questions about one another and get creative!
Ex- Have a couple stand face to face VERY close together, look into each others eyes and ask one of them to tell the other what they love most about them or the feeling they had the first time they met. Sometimes Luke and Cat lighten it up with something like “if your girlfriend were an animal what would she be?” They often answer the questions themselves to get the couple laughing
- Free printable from Luke & Cat Photography on capturing genuine emotion:
bit.ly/lcagmedia or https://lukeandcat.leadpages.co/ideasforgenuineemotion/
- People – for closer portraits, keep their eyes in the top third of the frame
- Scenic – if people are included in a scenic shot keep their eyes in the bottom third of the frame to emphasize their surroundings such as a beautiful tree or building.
- Cropping off limbs
- Tilting the camera – this may be popular now but may not feel so classic in a few years
Sometimes it is best to let it unfold naturally, in good light!
Luke and Cat Photography often uses Lightroom pre-sets they have created to fit their personal style
Just because you can do something in Photoshop or Lightroom doesn’t mean you should
Ex – too much vignette, vibrancy, etc.
Keep a timeless look and feel
Save the emotion rather than get rid of it because of composition – remember the client has a different view of photos than you do; they often connect to the memory or the person who is in the photo and not the technical aspects of it.
Clients will always see and remember things you do not
Comments from Q&A
When buying a camera, purchase the most megapixels you can
Canon vs. Nikon
- Both are quality brands so choose one and stick with it
- Canon tends to be better with skin tones
- Nikon tents to be better with focusing
iPhone – do not zoom in on the screen because it decreases the quality; rather move closer to the subject or take the photo then zoom in by croppingTo view Luke & Cat Photography’s offering of photography products available for coaching, editing and business management visit http://lukeandcat.bigcartel.com/