Why Your Images Don’t Look “Wow” Right Out of Camera (and How to Fix It)

I recently worked with a student who came into the studio to learn about natural lighting for headshots.


As we were going over post processing, she said something that I’ve heard multiple times during my in-person Masterclasses (which by the way is now retired in anticipation of the release of my digital course).


It usually goes something like this, “Wow, your images look so good right out of the camera.”


At first I didn’t think much about this comment. My images coming out of the camera looking good isn’t really anything special… so I thought.


But as I kept hearing it over and over again, it dawned on me that that is a very telling comment and in fact tells me that my students’ images don’t look “so good” right out of the camera.


And it tells me more… It tells me that, and here’s my light bulb moment, my students are not metering their subjects.


And by not metering, they’re just exposing willy-nilly, looking at the LCD, and then “fixing” exposure in post.


I’m not talking about necessarily using a hand-held light-meter as I demonstrate in this video.


When I’m using natural light, I don’t use a hand-held but I do use my camera’s internal light meter.


I use it specifically to read the light on the subject’s face. In other words, I don’t meter for the entire scene (called Evaluative Metering for Canon and Matrix Metering for Nikon).


The internal light meter in the camera of course is reading the light that is reflected off of the face instead of the light that is hitting the face which would be the case for a hand-held meter.


For me that’s okay because I like to over-expose my subjects and I find this method to be a very precise way to expose how I like.


Point being that the reason my images right out of the camera seem so exceptional to my students is because I’m metering for perfect exposure.


This is essential for many reasons.


But my top two would be this:


1. You save yourself loads of time in post because you’re not having to correct anything. You’re simply culling and adding your unique processing style to the images.


2. You’re making sure you’re not under-exposing your images because trying to fix under-exposed images looks like crap. When your camera doesn’t capture enough information in pixels, it’s hard to make it look good without adding a lot of undesirable noise to the image.


If you’re not metering, try using your internal meter next time.


If you don’t know how, ask me how in the comments below!

Hi, I’m Vanie!

Pronounced like Bonnie… and I blame my parents for the misspelling of my name! I went from having $300 in the bank to building a six-figure headshot photography business doing what I love. I’m here to teach you how to do the same!




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