I lived in Amsterdam for one year, and I miss it all the time. I swooped up the chance to photograph Kesiena + Benji… in darkness.
Photographers have the ability to produce stunning images with perfect circumstances, but the skill of a photographer is tested when challenges arise. I had set up this couples session with Kesiena + Benji to be around sunset (perfect world) but because of timing and poor weather, it was pushed back when the sun was down (challenge).
This meant one thing: take every single past photo experience, use it, and get to work!!
Things to Keep in Mind When Faced with a Challenge –
Trust yourself. As the photographer, my first responsibility is to take care of my clients and then focus on getting them the powerful photos they deserve. We’re the eye in the situation, so look for ways to make your images speak louder than the challenge.
Change how you look at the big picture. This isn’t a dark and rainy session, this is Amsterdam at Night
(who has done this before?! a couple session in the dark? I don’t think you’ve seen one in Amsterdam before…)
And of course: Enjoy your time with your people!! Make this a memory for you and them 🙂
Get Hot Chocolate if its raining. That’s a given!
Interested to know how to level up your photo game? Keep scrollin’
Understanding another culture is so vital to getting the richest images & story. Amsterdam is known for many things but at the heart of it is biking! This is something I knew I needed to capture as we biked through rain and dark streets. The weather doesn’t stop anyone from biking in this city, and it wouldn’t stop me from photographing it.
Tip #1 – Think in light. Keep your eyes open!
Rain makes the road glisten and the light shining on them creates a silhouette. It’s movement and real. We were freezing and moving FAST. This gives us an instant feeling of being present with them as they biked through that weather together. (Fun fact: I feel the most free biking in Amsterdam and going lightning speeds)
Tip #2 – Ask to pause and stop.
Waiting at a light gave me a chance to ask Kesiena to move closer to Benji. The moving bikers in front of them and the well lit area gives us a nice look at Benji’s face. I noticed we were in a popular area (Leidseplein) and wanted to catch its lights + busy people. The time waiting gave me a chance to get a clear image as well, lowering my shutter speed but with minimal movement.
Tip #3 – Live in the situation & embrace it.
The cold meant we wanted a warm drink fast. It’s part of the story and a chance to bond together. When you are all in it together, you can make it personal. That is part of who I am as the photographer, and if you can make it personal for the other person as well, you’ve succeeded! Why not enjoy the moment, make it happen! (then photograph it 😉 )
Tip #4 – Don’t be limited to what you think is possible. You are the eye.
Mindset is huge in making the best out of what seems to be a not ideal situation. Instead of limiting myself to thinking pictures can only be taken in daylight, find the light in the darkness. Face your subject towards available light (in this case: a singular street lamp!) Take the time to think about how to position your subjects in the most flattering way.
I can’t stress enough the importance of being the guide to your people. I was confident as I moved on the street because to my couple I was the expert. You are the expert. Changing light, weather, etc. should not hinder your expertise. Always remember: Take your time.
Final notes – The Technical Side
I’m highlighting the technical aspect at the end so as not to take away from the above tips. I think mindset + utilizing available light were the biggest points to this shoot, but I know for a fact that it’s valuable info to share gear as well!
Gear for a Night in Amsterdam:
I stayed on one lens to take advantage of the wide aperture + limit possibility of rain entering my camera (if I changed a lens – yikes). There are advantages to certain cameras and lenses, but I truly believe you can create art with whatever you have at your disposal.
I hope this was an interesting look at how you can take advantage of a ‘challenge’ and use it as a positive point for your clients + you as an expert. You got this!
What will you do next to change you mindset? What will you create?