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  1. Q. If you are shooting in mixed light, do you put your camera on spot metering?
  2. Q. How long do you spend on each photo session with the sitter?
  3. Q. How big do you think a photography portfolio on a website should be?

Q1. If you are shooting in mixed light, do you put your camera on spot metering? I sometimes find that if my camera is on evaluative metering, it struggles to get peoples’ faces correctly exposed.    Pennie Withers, Berkshire

A1. I don’t usually shoot in mixed light – tending to keep in soft, even daylight if possible. Occasionally I do shoot indoors on commercial shoots (directors of companies, etc.) where there is often electric light – but I face everyone into the daylight and shoot with my back to the windows.

Often a child looks really cute sitting on the sofa, but because of the overhead lights, the quality of the picture isn’t great. You can faff around with white balances, etc, but by the time you’ve done that the child will have moved! Take it, if you want a simple snapshot of the moment, but move them to the daylight if you want a perfect picture.

I always use mixed metering. For all the settings I use – check out: Set up your camera the easy way…

I usually put the pictures into Lightroom afterwards and often bump up the exposure slider too, as I like my shots to look a bit over exposed – but want to keep the detail in them when I am actually shooting them.

Annabel x


Q2. How long do you spend on each photo session with the sitter? Is it short and non-stop to keep up the pace and flow, or slow and easy going but spread out over a day?    Alexander Petricca, Liverpool

A2. It’s more “slow and easy going spread over a day”! I spend the first hour or so chatting over coffee, and looking for backgrounds, while the make up artist is working. Then we look at clothes together to find colours that will work with the backgrounds I’ve chosen.

It’s not set in stone – I am flexible and change things as I go through the day – but I find this preparation time at the beginning is really useful – it helps me get organised, and it helps the client to relax as they realise we are working it all out together. I also have plenty of refreshment breaks – which really helps, particularly with children.

If I am not using a make up artist, then the shoot may only be half a day, but I allow all day just in case I need it – I never really know what’s going to happen and I don’t want to feel under pressure to be at another appointment. Check out my blog on: How do you get people to relax in front of the camera? – this gives you more on what I do with my time!

Annabel x


Q3. How big do you think a photography portfolio on a website should be?    Claire Barlow, Dubai

A3. I would keep it as simple as possible. So many sites out there have tons of photos on and can get boring. I always believe in less is more (hard to imagine when you see the length of some of my blogs!). But with photos I think you should choose your absolute best, and most varied – the way I do this is to put them all in a viewing page – and keep taking out the ones that look the weakest when you see them as a set. Go over it again and again being ruthless, and you will end up with the best shots.

I think you need to excite people and make them want to see more. If you give them everything, all your pix, all your prices, etc. – they have everything they need, and then may move onto other sites to check those out. If you keep them interested they may contact you to see more. That’s my theory!

Annabel x