How to get the most help when asking for CC | Rachel Vanoven Blog

How to get the most help when asking for CC


“Can I get some CC on this?”

Raise your hand if you’re in at least ONE photography group on Facebook. I’m guessing if you’re reading this, that there is a 99% chance that you are in one. At least. If I had to guess, I’d say I’m in twenty five-ish groups, and an admin in a dozen others. The three main groups I admin are the Newborn and Family eWorkshop groups and the Collective group, with a total of 4,500 people between those three. Not a supersized group by any means, but enough people that I get tagged asking for CC a handful of times a day.

I love helping other photographers this way.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s dive in to the do’s and don’ts of asking for CC in groups:

DO make sure to include what kind of CC that you’re asking for. Lighting? Posing? Edit? One of my biggest frustrations is when someone asks for “general CC” and after I’ve taken time to give CC on something specific, then they narrow it down to what exactly that they are looking for. In a perfect world, we would just do away completely with “general CC”!

DON’T make excuses/explain why you did XYZ after someone has taken time to help you. If you have a disclaimer, give it when you are asking. (i.e. “I know baby’s fingers should be unclenched, I tried and he wouldn’t budge) Because once I’ve responded with tips to fix, it’s better to respond with a “thank you” than an explanation of why it was this way or responded “I know, I couldn’t get it.” because that is telling me that you didn’t need my CC. Man, I hope I’m making sense here.

DO say thank you. Always. No questions asked. While it is technically my job to help in the groups I admin (part of the cost of the Collective includes personal help from me!), it’s still ridiculously time consuming and many of the other people giving CC aren’t being paid to help! 

DON’T ask for CC when all you really want is a pat on the back. Most people can tell when a completely perfect image is posted asking for CC and everyone comments how gorgeous/amazing it is! Just own it, yo! I love when people post a stunning image and say they’re proud of it!

DO post the SOOC whenever you can…especially when you’re asking “How does this edit look?” because I have no idea what you’ve done edit-wise unless I see the SOOC. I don’t know what the baby’s skin tone should look like, the original color of the blanket, exposure, etc. 

DON’T post on a weekend or after 3 pm if you’re specifically asking/tagging me. Like I said above, it’s part of my job to help you guys out, and I LOVE it, but I have pretty hard boundaries since I work my butt off during normal business hours, and for my mental health, I simply can’t be giving CC 24/7. Even when I comment, “Can you bump this during the weekday morning/afternoon hours?” can get tiring when multiple people are tagging me on weekends/evenings! So if you want to help me be a happy Rachel, remember that I’m a human and need off time! This also applies to holidays!

DO post your settings (aperture, shutter speed and ISO) along with what light source you’re using, and how close your subject was to that light source. Anyone in our private groups knows that this will be the first thing I ask before giving CC, so do yourself a favor and post it when you’re first asking!

DON’T feel bad bumping a post multiple times (during my working hours!) it honestly doesn’t bother me! I’m just not always by a calibrated computer for color checks, or for really long answers I’m not always able to type it all out to give you the best advice! So bump away and know that I’m never ever ever intentionally ignoring you!

DO let me know if you’re up for some harsh CC…possibly my favorite kind to give because, man, if you listen to what I’m trying to lay down, I promise it will be helpful! On the same note, let me know if you want gentle CC and I’ll go easy on you! I can say that I grew the most in my career when those who loved me were brave enough to tell me when my photos sucked and why!

DON’T post collages asking for CC, it’s really difficult to describe each and every image that you’re giving advice on, since not every image may need it. Instead, make an album so people helping you can go through and leave CC on the images that need it!

Okay, so now that we’ve gone through some do’s and don’ts, I’ll show you how helpful it is when you not only give settings, but post pullbacks! I asked members of the Collective to submit images they wanted CC on, along with all of their camera settings, lighting information and pullbacks if they had them!

First up, Liz from Elizabeth Greenleaf Photography gave me this info: ISO 100 | 2.8 | SS 200
He was about 3′ from my Einstein (64″ white plm, black outer cover, white diffuser)


My CC for this image would be that the first thing my eye is drawn to his feet that are OOF (out of focus) in the foreground. Next time, try facing him away from the light like this:


Not only will this keep the feet from being OOF in the foreground, but you’ll be able to crop the entire image muuuuch nicer!


Next up is Melissa from Melissa Rosic Photography: ISO 640 | 2.2 | SS 500 and I use a Spiderlite TD6, 86″ white plm, black outer cover, white diffuser


and she shared this pullback:


My CC would be to raise the light, because while the final image is GORGEOUS, baby is being ghoul lit, or up lit, just a smidge! My lighting video this month is going to be really helpful to show where that light should be for this pose and the froggy pose, but here’s an example of one of my poses to show how it’s lit differently!


So one way to see where the light is coming from is to look at the lightest/brightest/hottest part of the subject’s face. In the green set up, that part is baby’s lower cheek, since the light is coming from below. In mine, that brightest part is the top of the side of her face!


Next up is this shot from Nicola Jackson Photography: ISO 800 | 2.0 | SS 250, natural light.


So the first thing I’m looking at are the settings, which tell me that:

1. with an ISO of 800 that means that it’s either dark outside OR that the subject is placed too far from the window. This is why it’s so important to not only say your light source, but how far from that light source your subject is.

2. Along with a high ISO, the shutter speed is 250, which for a moving toddler in natural light, just isn’t fast enough. Hence the slight motion blur on the entire image! Next time, make sure that the shutter speed is a little bit faster!

3. The f/stop is 2.0, this would have been a great place to get some extra light in, so you could have bumped your shutter speed a little bit faster!

For example, here’s a recent shot of mine that was naturally lit…2019-01-20_0002

my settings were: ISO 100, 1/400 ss, and f/1.4. I have her literally IN the window/curtains, but could have scooted her away, just bumped up my ISO, my shutter speed was fast enough to avoid motion blur and because I only had one subject and was far enough away, f/1.4 did the job!


This CC request came from Lindsay from Paper Crane Studio: “ISO 160 l 2.8 l SS 125
Alien Bee 400 with 86” white plm, black outer cover. He was a little over 2.5 ft from the light”


and she included this BTS shot:


So I think for this CC, making a side by side of a similar one of mine will really help too!


So here are my settings:

ISO 100, 1/200 ss, f/2.0

There are two big differences here that will change the look COMPLETELY. First, notice my aperture is a little bit wider open, at 2.0 instead of hers at 2.8. That is going to give a creamier blur to that wall behind them, but the second difference is that she’s much farther from that wall…that is key to making the subject really pop! 

Also, the focal length of your camera is going to change the overall compression. So mine was shot with a 50mm, so knowing what lens Lindsay used would also have helped to know!


This next image is from Skye from Skye Lynn Photography, she included the non-edited image too, but the issues with this aren’t edit-related! 


The first thing right off the bat that I notice is that it’s ghoul lit, so the light needed to be more like this:


instead of shooting light up her nose!

And secondly, I would LOVE to see this cropped vertically, instead of horizontally!


How sweet is this next image from Melissa from Melissa Micale Photography?


She gave her settings, but they don’t matter, since my CC would be to make sure to tuck the wrap in the front all the way under so we didn’t see the bunched up part. Also, I wish her hands were showing! I would also probably rotate the entire image so the heart was more straight up and down instead of tilted.


This gorgeous girl was photographed by Sarah from Sarah Dunlap Photography, with the information: “1/160, iso 100, 3.2. Alien bee 64” with white front cover and black back cover”


and this BTS shot:



I think the light looks GREAT, nice fall off on her cheek into the shadow. The biggest issue I have with this is the close crop just isn’t working for me. There’s a small bit of her head, elbow and foot all cropped off and that would make it difficult to print! And I know most newborn photographers already know this, but I just would love to see her fingers unclenched!

Sarah had another image, this one:


And my only CC for this is that baby’s foot is closer to the camera than her face is, which makes that foot OOF (out of focus) in the foreground, which I try to always avoid! To fix this, you can just scotch to the right and make sure that your camera is closer to baby’s face than her feet!

Whew! We’re done! I hope this is helpful to not only see how vital as much information as possible is, but that the actual advice that I’m giving can help everyone reading this blog! Just try to remember when asking for CC:

Screen Shot 2018-09-17 at 10.00.28 AM-1


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