A little explanation | Stephanie Pana | Orland Park Photographer

31 May

Everyone has their own specific style, correct? I know I’ve fallen into my habits and techniques of how I do things. The thing is, it didn’t all come naturally. I am inspired by everyday things – texture, color, sunlight, movement, etc. When I am photographing someone I try my hardest to look at a spot and imagine the image in my head before it’s even in front of me. Taking the photo is one half but most people (non-photographers) don’t fathom what goes on after the session is over and I’m up till 5am editing my photos.

I suppose I’d like to cover my top favorite techniques that qualify under my “style” of photography…Keep in mind all of these ideas are meant to inspire. I’ve studied so many other inspirational photographers images and read tons of articles/blogs/forums to really understand the look I am trying to achieve. I am in no way at the point where I’d like to be, but I appreciated the help when I was starting out. That’s what I am here to do for you, whoever “you” are 🙂

Backlighting / Lens Flares:

I have been such a sucker for backlighting recently. I am always practicing with it every chance I get. It’s something new for me but something fresh and I feel it adds such a warm feeling to an image. I’ve seen so many photographers use this technique and I feel it adds something really unique  to the image itself and it’s honestly so simple. As I mentioned before, I am not the best at this technique yet but what I’ve found to help me is coming from a low angle so the sun is coming from one of the upper corners. Obviously we want to make sure we keep our subject well exposed, so make sure your focus point is on the subject them self. Try to preview this in your head prior to the shot. Where you’d like the light to come in and how much of it do you want to show. It’s a lot and I mean a lot of trial and error but once you get that “shot”…it’s such a good feeling!


I can’t even begin to tell you how much I’ve enjoyed messing around with angles. I was so used to straight lines and everything being lined up ever so perfectly. It didn’t feel like me anymore. I needed something new so I began messing with angles. Now angles can be a great thing, but only to a certain extent. First, you need to make sure the angle is flowing with the subject and scenery around you. You want the angle of the photograph to help ease the eye across the image creating something easy to look at and understand. Use what you have around you and work with it. Nature allows so much creativity. Hence why I love being a natural light/on-location photographer. There is an endless amount of things you can play around with!

Low F Stop:

I am sure many of you can see the familiar “blurry” or “creamy” background I display in many of my images here recently. Thank you to my 50mm f/1.8, I am able to create this effect but sometimes it’s not very easy! The key to this is all about your focus points. Still to this day, I have problems with making sure everything I want in focus IS in focus. A lot of fuzziness can happen with these smaller f-stops but the outcome can play such a great effect on your images! My tactic is to always make sure I am well focused before shooting. I also feel I get the best bokeh when in a shaded area with not too much harsh lighting. My final tip is to make sure you also know how to use the manual focus. I tend to only use this for close up shots but it really helps me get right on key to where I need to focus my image.

Shooting in RAW + Photoshop + Actions

My final technique can be combined into one segment. For just about the past year, I converted over to shooting in RAW vs. JPEG. Lots of “controversy” with that but that is not anything I’d like to go into. I have my preferences and I feel RAW gives me so much more room to work with an image. You can capture and fix so many other details in an image and truly tweek it into something customized that you will love. My favorite things to do to my images is mess with the clarity, vibrance and vignette. Once my image enters into photoshop everything is all about the actions. Actions save me so much time and create some truly beautiful effects! My one action I will forever use on EVERY single image is CoffeeShop Perfect Portrait which just emphasizes the portrait itself down from softening skin, defining, sharpening, color, etc. It is a must for every image and I highly suggest you use it! The rest of my actions are used for web/portfolio purposes. I’ve gotten many off of deviantart.com + ilovephotography.com. Sadly, I do not remember all of the sites I got most of my actions from but heres a couple:



There are so many incredible resources out there for photographers. It’s all about research and inspiration and using it to your best ability. But always remember to turn everything into your own. This genre of art is so rewarding. I hope to keep you guys updated with more behind the scenes from my sessions, etc! Please let me know if you’d like to know anything in particular! Also, feel free to subscribe to the blog via email 🙂


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