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Guest Contributor: Claire Anderson of Clara Bella Photography

Hi there! I’m excited to talk with you about getting it right in camera, and why it’s so lucrative for your business, and for your sanity!

I remember when I first started out I was so overwhelmed with all of the buttons and functions on my camera. One of the best pieces of advice an experienced photographer gave me at the time was to shoot in manual mode from the beginning. As someone who had never picked up a professional DSLR – that was a lot easier said than done! But I ended up taking her advice and to this day, I have never photographed any other way. Not to say the other modes aren’t as good, but I do believe shooting in manual forced me to better understand my camera and how to work with any lighting situation.

The first step of getting it right in camera is also probably the most obvious – assess your surroundings! I taught myself to think of a 1,2,3 step process before I begin any shoot:
1. ISO – I like to shoot as low as possible. The brighter it is outside then the lower you can keep your ISO.
2. Aperture – I like to shoot as wide open as possible so anything below 2.8 is what I will set it to.
3. Shutter speed – depending on the first 2 variables and time of the day. ClaraBellaPhoto3

Camera Body: Canon 5D Mark III
Lens: 85 1/2 L
ISO: 400
Shutter Speed: 1/1600

I am all about that dreamy bokeh, so I always want to shoot as wide as I can while keeping my ISO as low as possible to avoid any additional noise. Typically I can depend on 100-400 ISO, f/2.0 – 2.8 and my shutter speed of course varies depending on the time of the day.

Since I am a HUGE lover of backlight I also always work with a reflector (or other light modifier) to bounce as much light as I can back to my subjects face. Since my move to LA I have been doing a lot more shoots on the beach, and although it can have it’s challenges – I absolutely love the natural reflector I get from the white sand!


Camera Body: Canon 5D Mark III
Lens: 85 1/2 L
ISO: 125
Shutter Speed: 1/320

As much as I wish I could say I get to stay at those settings the whole time, the truth is when your shooting on location you have all sorts of variables including but not limited to: a cloud, sun setting faster than you can blink, wind moving tree branches around etc. etc. I have been so carried away going off of what I see through my viewfinder then 10 shots later noticing I was completely blown out the whole time (the worst!) so now I make sure to take a peek at the back of my camera at least every 3- 5 shots. Doing so also reminds me to let my client see my face to let her know, “hi! I’m still back here!” :)


Camera Body: Canon 5D Mark III
Lens: 85 1/2 L
ISO: 400
Shutter Speed: 1/400

Another mistake I made first starting out was buying every set of photoshop actions known to man – then wasting hours upon hours testing and trying all of them! Nothing at all against actions, because I did eventually end up using two that I love from the Florabella collection, but as the old saying goes – less is more! Luckily, getting to the point where I was so busy that I was working over 60+ hrs a week, it forced me to streamline my editing process. I now have a ‘Clara Bella’ action that I use on every single one of my images. Creating your own go-to edit will also help create a consistent look throughout your session, and also really help define your style as an artist!


Camera Body: Canon 5D Mark III
Lens: 85 1/2 L
ISO: 160
Shutter Speed: 1/500Once I learned to get it right in camera, it honestly made my editing process (and life!) so much more efficient. I remember I used to say to myself, “Oh, I’ll just fix it in Photoshop later.” *cringe* as I’m sure most of us in our busy season know, time is precious! Saving time on redundant tasks, such as editing, gives you more time to focus on more important aspects of your business!

Hopefully these tips will help you or inspire you to really focus on getting it right in camera!

Happy shooting!

clara-bio Clara Bella Photography

Join Claire this month in the forum where she has posted an amazing video and is answering your questions!




Chic Critique is so excited to have Claire Anderson of Clara Bella Photography  as our Monthly Mentor this month!  She will answer any questions you may have regarding her video & business ALL MONTH LONG exclusively in the forum!


ClaireAnderson_155x210 CBP Logo-150x150

Claire Anderson is the owner and lead Photographer of Clara Bella Photography, and has been a professional photographer for the past 6 years. Having photographed everything from weddings to babies and families, she now focuses on Fashion, Lifestyle and most notably, Senior Portraiture. Her work can be described as natural, soft, beautiful and infused with nature and sunlight. She is also a frequent blog contributor for Seniorologie, and her work has been nationally published in various publications including Senior Style Guide Magazine, and Vogue Magazine. She has recently expanded her business from her hometown of Dallas, Texas to Los Angeles, California where it is currently operating in both locations.

ClaraBellaPhotography_Collage Do you edit mostly in Photoshop or Lightroom?


Why do you think honest critique on your images is important?

Honest critique on images is important because it is the only way you can improve!


What camera do you use? Favorite lens?

5D Mark III & 85 1.2L

What 3 words would you use to describe your style?

Natural, soft, beautiful


Where do you pull your inspiration from?

Nature, High Fashion Magazines, pinterest 

What is one specific way that you balance work and family?

Sundays are reserved for family. No shoots and as little as technology as possible! 

Best biz/photo advice?

Persist towards your goal, always believe in yourself (because if you don’t, who will?) and always set bigger goals than you think you can achieve.


What have you learned the hard way?

You can’t do it ALL.  

How does your business deal with the rise in photographers. What have you done to standout and compete?

I focus on my clients wants/needs and give them 110%. When you do that you don’t have time to focus on anyone or anything else! Also by always being kind, and not entertaining gossip. 

Where have most of your 2014 clients come from (besides WOM)?



What has been the best workshop or convention you’ve attended so far?

Imaging USA pre-conference classes

What is your most popular product?


CBP_2029-Edit copy


Go meet Claire and ask her any question you have HERE in the forum all month long!




Guest Contributor | Leslie Vega



Leslie Vega is a seasoned brand designer for photographers and wedding professionals. She founded Leslie Vega Design in 2008 and has been creating breathtaking brands for clients across the globe ever since. From logos to stationery and beautiful web presences, her passion exudes in her work and in her client experience. View her work at www.leslievegadesign.com
Leslie Vega Design, LLC |  Twitter | Facebook | Blog