Lights, Camera, wait, is my dress just right? Does my hair look funny? I struggle uncomfortably with myself just before the button clicks. My standard pose is rolling my eyes upward while inwardly grimacing, hoping the shot won’t be completely bizarre. Some people are so photogenic and look fabulous in photos and other people end up a viral sensation with freaky eyes. Cue Gabrielle von Heyking to the rescue. With photographic wisdom beyond her not-so-many years and gentle demeanor, Gabrielle’s art is photography and her subjects look good, very good. So I had to ask this whiz with a camera where the talent for finding just the right light comes from. How is it possible to look at a photograph that is so good you feel like you’re right there? Her answers were as great as her photography.
1. What inspired you to become a photographer?
From the time I was a little girl I have had this deep seated need within me to be creative and to capture the beauty that I see in this world. When I was a little girl my mom would buy me film cameras and I would go around taking pictures of anything or anybody that would let me. I started pursuing photography seriously when I was 14 years old and started taking digital photography classes. For me I love the connection that photography gives me with other people. When someone gets in front of my lens and it is just me and them in a frozen moment of time, it’s almost like I can see them in the way that Jesus sees them, with all of their imperfections and beautiful little quirks.
2. What do you try to capture as you photograph a subject?
I try to capture real moments. I will give clients advice on how to pose so that I will capture them in the most flattering way possible, but I also love to capture all the little in between moments when they maybe think I’m not taking their picture and they are sharing a private joke with the one they love or tickling their little girl to make her giggle. My favorite things to capture are families being themselves together, playing and laughing and sharing hugs and memories or a bride and groom as they gently kiss each other and think about how they are embarking on their biggest life journey together. I like to let people be real and true to who they are and as a photographer I do my best to capture that realness, that authenticity…
3. What is a favorite picture you’ve taken?
This is SUCH a hard question for me to answer since I have so many favorite moments that I have been honored to capture over the years. Recently one of my favorite images I captured was of a couple whose wedding I shot this summer, Ashley and Ryan. They are cozied up together and their love for life and each other is just so apparent in their eyes and expressions! The gorgeous sunset behind them also makes it one of my favorite images, I’m a sucker for golden hour light!
4. Do you have any advice for photography with cell phones?
First let me just say that I hereby admit that I am an instagram addict, so I am always looking for ways to make my instagram shots look better. As far as cellphone photography goes, great lighting is your best friend! If you can try to find a good source of natural light, window light or outdoor light from behind can create some really pretty lighting. If you are wanting a flattering angle, shooting from above will automatically take 10 pounds off of you. I would also advise take advantage of some of the amazing apps out there that are meant to be used in conjunction with cellphone photography such as: a beautiful mess, fuzel, land, and instasize. Different filters, sizing and framing options can very quickly update the look of any photo taken on a cellphone.
5. What pose is the most universally flattering in pictures?
Different poses work for different people, so something that may be flattering on me might not be flattering on someone else and vice versa. Some general rules for flattering photography are: have people turn to the side and put their weight on their back foot that is furthest from the camera (this rule rings especially true for women), have someone shoot you from above (it will automatically make your facial features stand out and some of the things you don’t like about your body will look smaller than they really are), wear flattering clothes (this may seem like a no brainer, but an outfit really can make a picture, things to look for are dark denim, shirts or sweater that nip in a that waste and create the hourglass figure effect, shoe that elongate your legs…nude pumps do a great job at this), tilt your chin down slightly because it will make you look less stiff and it helps ensure that you photographer isn’t shooting up your nose, before the photographer starts snapping away breathe in and then smile….doing this creates a much more relaxed, natural smile. The most important thing to remember if you want your pictures to be flattering is to just relax and have fun! It is so easy for me as a photographer to see when someone is comfortable in their own skin, that to me is more beautiful than anything in the world.
To see Gabrielle’s complete portfolio, please visit http://gvhphotographie.com/