Shiny Eyes

  • Ask Anything

A couple of weeks ago I posted about other photographers and wanting to help out. In many ways I do not feel worthy to post an “Ask Anything” or a “FAQ” post.  What do I know?! I’m just really good at trial and error and so my methods may not be 100% correct. That is my disclaimer. I want to help but please note that I am NOT AN EXPERT.  I’m just a girl who has an unhealthy obsession with her Mark II and her 50 1.2.  That’s it.  I have failed MISERABLY but I have learned so much from those failures.  It was people like Jasmine Star who helped me learn the importance of shooting manually and conquering my fear of the scary “M” on my settings dial. So please enjoy this new series of “Ask Anything” posts and hopefully someone will learn a little bit of photo knowledge that will help them improve!


So is this post really answering questions about “Shiny eyes”? Yes. It is. It sounds funny but I have had so many people email me and say “How do you get such shiny eyes? …. How are your images so sharp?” To be honest, I always laugh a little because what people don’t realize is that I show the best of the best.  There are so many of my images that are out of focus. So in reality, I still have a TON to learn about focusing and producing consistently sharp images. One thing I should share is that I have an obsession with prime lenses. I love them! I love to shoot wide open (1.4, 1.6, 1.8) and prime lenses allow me to do just that. My 50 1.2 is my friend. Once I got that lens I started to really pay attention to my focusing. Jasmine Star always talked about locking in the focus on the eyes and so I starting trying that. I started practicing this at 3.2… and then 2.0…. and then 1.6, 1.4  and then I tried 1.2! UGH. Talk about sensitive! If you REALLY want to master your focusing skills, try practicing at 1.4 or 1.2.  The depth of field is out of this world but it is so hard to control sometimes. Here are some images shot at 1.2:

I’m definitely still nervous to shoot portraits at 1.2 but sometimes I try it for a little challenge.  A common misunderstanding is that sharp images come from good editing. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Sharp images come from understanding your camera, controlling your aperture and locking in your focus.  The best way to learn this is to….. PRACTICE!  Surprise, surprise.  I feel like that is a cop-out answer, but it’s true.  I didn’t learn from just reading blogs. I learned from really bad engagement sessions and really blurry images. It scared me that I didn’t understand my camera and so I practiced until felt like I was the one in control.


I hope this was somewhat helpful and not too confusing! On a final note, if you do not currently have a prime lens, practice with what you have! If you can only shoot at a 5.6…. then master the 5.6.  There is nothing wrong with that. Make the absolute best of where you are and what you have.  Enjoy your Monday and happy shooting!!!


**Edited to add** Michael informed my this morning that I should give an example of “Shiny eyes” So here’s a close up of Mary’s “shiny eyes”!

xoxo, Katelyn
11 Comments Ask Anything, Education, Photography
  1. johnna brynn reply

    oh yay! i’ve been wanting to ask questions, but didn’t want to “bother the pro”! :)
    ok… thanks for the info on primes and wide aps. Love it and am workin on it all the time with my 50mm 1.2 and 85mm 1.2! What i’d really like to know is about your white balancing and color correcting. What do you do? How do u white balance? and do you manually set your Kelvin settings? Ever use AWB? And do you enhance on the computer? if so, with what? THANKS A MILLION!

  2. sharon reply

    So happy you are doing this!!! I’m great with people, but awful at business – how do I combine the two?! I want to take my ‘business’ to the next level, to the ‘I can finally quit my yucky job and do what I love’ level?!!?!? xoxo

  3. erin reply

    thanks katelyn!i love this new ask anything feature! thank-you, thank-you!

  4. Susan reply

    Oh I love a good “ask anything” . . . so here goes. Your images are so crisp and bright. I use a Canon 7D and my 50 f1.4 (oh yes, love the 50mm!!!) but I feel like my images are a little flat and just aren’t competing with others I see. Obviously lighting / exposure has to be right but do you do other settings within the camera or any post production to give them that “wow”? I use the AWB and it seems to do a decent job but wondering if I should do something else.
    Okay, so not to wear out my welcome with questions . . . BUT . . . I have shot portraits mainly and then second shooting weddings. Well just shot my first wedding solo and loved it but one thing I really struggled with is when I was doing pictures before the wedding (bride/groom) and EVERYONE was hanging around, messing around and it was like herding cats. I found it frustrating and difficult to get the b/g to focus on the moment and then when I started doing groups people were just plain unfocused. I felt like I turned into a super bossy photographer. So any tips on that.
    Okay, thought of one more thing (aren’t you sorry you posted ask anything!) . . . would you ever consider giving a critique on pictures? As I am getting started with my wedding side, I would love some honest feedback from someone more experienced. Cuz I know you have tons of time for that – lol
    Thanks so much – truly admire your work. Susan

  5. Brittany reply

    LOVE that second photo (and all the others too…)

  6. Naomi Figueroa reply

    I’m lovin it! I am so thankful for other photogs who are willing to share from their experiences in hopes that others will learn (and in some cases not have to learn the hard way).
    Thank you! And I’ll let you know if I have a question. :)

  7. Girish reply

    Cool information.

  8. Camille reply

    Thank you Thank you Thank you!!!! This post was a fabulous confidence booster. I appreciate your real-ness (is that a word? It is now.) I get so down on myself when a photoshoot doesn’t turn out the way I picture it in my mind but I know that I just need to keep practicing and investing in better gear. You are so fabulous!!

  9. Rebecca Cannon reply

    Heyy I was wondering what editing system you used. Is it Adobe Photoshop or is it Lightroom or something completely different?

    Thanks so much :)


  10. DeLora reply

    I have a (Nikon D7000) 50mm 1.8 and when focus on the eye (at 1.8), the eye is rarely ever in focus, it’ll be focused on something slightly closer to me than the eye – is this a faulty lens? I’ve been told to focus on the eye as well and I just can’t trust that so far – recommendations? Also I’d love more info on how you focus during a ceremony or any shoot for that matter… back button focusing? I’m still clicking my little black boxes around… some advise?

  11. john reply

    Enjoyed your post a lot. I have the same quest, to master focusing.

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