Jul 28, 2011

Questions and Answers {Featured Photographer}

A few weeks ago we asked our facebook followers what they would ask an amazing natural light photographer?   Well we sent your questions over and I am excited to share the answers!! This is definitely one to read!   Stephanie of Bellini Portraits, yes the amazing photographer who shoots for the measure, was kind enough to take time to answer your questions and share some of her beautiful work. So with out hindering you any farther....enjoy!! 

Name:  Stephanie Piscitelli

Business name: Bellini Portraits

Website/blog: http://www.bellinipics.com/ / http://www.bellinipics.com/blog

Facebook pagehttps://www.facebook.com/pages/Bellini-Portraits/112009414309

Area you work: Boston, North & South Shore and Cape Cod

How long you have been photographing?  Full time professionally for 4 years, "on the side" for 10+ years and aspiring since I was in my teens!

What Camera do you shoot with? Canon 5D Mark II plus a bunch of L series lenses; 50mm 1.2, 85mm 1.2, 24-70mm 2.8 and 100mm 2.8

What is your fav. lens? It's a total toss up between the 50 & the 85! Love them both!!

I generally use backlight with portraits because i'm afraid to use directional lighting, are there any good tips on directional lighting ( if that's correct terminology haha! In others words facing subject towards the light)?

(Asked by Nichole Buckner Crowley)
I'm a backlight shooter as well. Very seldom do I ever turn my clients into the light UNLESS I have open shade or if it's at the very end of the day when the sun has gone just below the horizon or, of course, if I'm shooting indoors using window light. When shooting outdoors, try to get your clients in a doorway, on a porch, under an overhang or within the shadow of a tree. This will keep them shaded and out of the harsh sun but will allow ample light to hit their eyes, giving those gorgeous catchlights, producing a great result!

How do you use the light to your advantage when it's the middle of the day and the sun is directly on top of you causing shadows and squinty eyes?
(Asked by Melissa Copeland )
This is pretty easy to control.  Just turn your clients so the sun is hitting the back or side of them. Always be mindful where you might have hotspots and keep turning them until their face(s) are completely free of any harsh shadows and glaring hot spots. Shooting mid-day is never ideal but this is a great way to get around it!

Best times to schedule outdoor shoots! and when and why to use flash outdoors!
(Asked by Michelle Prano )
The general rule of thumb is just after sunrise and 1-2 hours before sunset. Getting your clients to commit to an early morning session is usually difficult but the results can be stunning. Unlike the warm, golden tones of shooting late afternoon you get soft, cool blue tones during those early dawn sessions! As far as when to use a flash outdoors, personally I never use a flash. It's just my preference in style and general aesthetic however I do understand that there are some times when fill flash will come in handy. This might be when you are shooting in mid-day sun and want to POP your subject with the flash vs. overexposing for their faces when shooting without the flash resulting in a washed out, hazy look. Perfect segue into the next question....

How and what is the best way to expose a photo to get that hazy look shooting into the sun? Like when there are rays of light behind the subject?
(Asked by Brittany Ostrov  )
Ahhh, my favorite! This can be achieved by shooting into the light. This works best when the sun is lower in the the sky, versus directly overhead, positioning your subject so the sun can be blocked by their head or shoulder. Then you will make small movements around your subject until the sun is just sneaking around them. Too much and you'll completely blow out the image but when you hit it just right it can be magical! Shooting without your lens hood will often get you that delicious sun flare as well!

I second the tips for mid-day. I have some clients who in spite of my best efforts to get them to choose a morning/evening session, seem to want to shoot mid-day. Obviously, we look for open shade, but other than that? Any tips?
(Asked by Cara Genton Harrison  )
When your client WANTS to shoot mid-day versus NEEDS to shoot mid-day it may be just a lack of technical knowledge on their part. Try explaining why it's best to shoot during those optimal times. Often times they will defer to you for your professional opinion. If it's because of necessity and there is no working around their time constraints then I would suggest shooting the same way I explained above for using light to your advantage with mid-day sun. Always keep the sun at their back, make sure there are no harsh shadows/hotspots on their faces and expose for their faces. Good luck!!

Thank you so so so much!! Stephanie for taking the time to answer our questions!
Your work is such an inspiration and I am sure all of us learned something from reading your answers!!
Make sure to leave Stephanie some love below and check out blog/website and fb page!
Now gigi and I are off to get ready for our first gathering tonight!!
Don't worry we will post pictures!!!


  1. I'm a huge fan!! Wonderful feature!

  2. She has been an inspiration to me for awhile now, this was great to hear her responses and she deserves the acknowledgement!!!!

  3. love the questions and love the answers...thank you so much for sharing your beautiful work and your technical knowledge with all of us!

  4. I have been a fan for so long! thanks for the article!!

  5. I am a super huge fan of your work. Thanks so much for answering questions that many of us have. If you ever offer any workshops I'd be the first to sign up!