EP 55: Better Photos with the Accordion Method

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In today's episode, I want to talk to you about something that I've been calling the accordion method for a little while now.

I just put a name to it in a recent coaching session because it made sense. And you'll see why when I explain to you what it is. What is it? It's something to help you get out of a place when you're feeling stuck or not very creative at a wedding or a photoshoot, or whatever it is you're doing or shooting that day, something I like to do to sort of switch things up a little bit, keep me thinking differently and produce better images.

One of the things that inspired this technique is shooting a lot during certain times of the year, I am shooting a lot.

And when you find yourself in that position, if you're listening and this is you, you may notice that you go into a session whether it's a family session or a wedding, and you start sort of defaulting to a certain way of shooting. You find yourself sort of moving to the same part of the room or putting on the same lens doing the same shot because you know it works. And there's nothing wrong with that. I'm not trying to discourage you from doing stuff that actually works.

I'm just trying to give you a little tool that might help you get more creative again, if you're feeling a bit tired at this time of year with all of the stuff that you've been doing and the stuff that you tend to default to.

So hopefully this helps. It's something I call the accordion method. I don't know if someone else has dubbed it something else, or if it's somewhere else in the internet. I just came up with this completely honestly by myself and brought it up in a coaching session recently, and it was very helpful for that person. So I thought I'd share it with you here today.

What is the accordion method?

It's very, very simple. So when I walk into a room, let's just say it's people getting ready in a hotel room before a wedding. If you're a wedding photographer, you've been in this scenario many, many times. One of the ways I try to challenge myself is to start out by shooting really wide. I'll throw on a 24 or 35 millimeter. Wider the better. It doesn't really matter.

You can experiment with this, and I'll shoot wide and I'll try and figure out what sorts of angles and approaches in that room make for a really wide, great shot. Wide shots in a situation like getting ready aren't necessarily the shots that you want a ton of, but they do a really, really good job in almost any scenario of telling a story. So if you're cropping in a lot, if you're doing like an at home session, for example, and you're really zooming in on faces and portraits, but the family wants to show more of the environment of their house, think about shooting wide. So anyway, I like to go into the room, I shoot wide.

Cover image for episode 55 of the photo business help podcast

Next, after about a half a dozen wide shots, I will challenge myself to shoot sort of a mid range. This is usually where I'll throw on maybe a 35 to 50 and do a handful of shots at that range. This might work really well for candid pictures of people sitting on a couch in the room or people getting their makeup done.

After that. I zoom in as far as I can with the lenses that I have. Sometimes it might even be a macro shot of jewelry and other things that my going into the wedding itself. Sometimes it might be just a really cropped portrait of maybe the bride if there's a bride getting mascara put on but like an incredibly tight shot, usually with an 85 to 135. I don't have my 85 anymore, but it's that range that I'm kind of thinking of. So half a dozen shots are so wide, half a dozen or so mid, half a dozen or so cropped in, and then back out to wide again.

So this is why I call it the accordion method because you're just sort of going wide, mid close, wide, mid close.

And I find that if I'm stuck, all it takes is a couple rounds of this random method to really, really get a sense of the room in a different way and get the creative juices flowing.

I just wanted to jump in here and let you know that I have continued to add to the bundle if you're not sure what the bundle is. It is a PDF download.

It's totally free and it's something that I put together to help make things easier for you guys that are listening to the show. Basically, it's every single PDF opt in that I've offered on the show throughout these last 50 or so episodes, but it's everything all in one place.

So there is the beginner's guide to astrophotography, five things to avoid when setting up your website, how to easily shoot in camera double exposure, how to build a photo portfolio from scratch, how to get focused and productive, things to consider when you're feeling stuck, how to find your ideal client, understanding your circle of influence and obviously more to come because they just keep adding to it.

So if you're loving the show, like in the show, whatever, and you're finding some value and you want to dig into some of the worksheets and guides that I've put together on your own time and have them handy for whenever you have time to dig into stuff and especially if you don't want to go back through the archives and find all of the individual opt ins, this is a good choice for you. So it's called the bundle, I've mentioned it before. Go to, that's to get your bundle of all the stuff that I've put out so far on the show in the last 50 episodes or so. 50 episodes, thank you for listening! If you've been with me the whole journey or even just starting to listen, really appreciate it. That's All right, that's all I got for you.


There are two other things that you can sort of stack on to this method to push yourself even further and maybe inspire yourself even more.

So the first thing is looking for natural or available light in the room. So you're doing this accordion thing, you're going wide mid close…so I have a tendency to shoot with my back to a window, it obviously lights the room incredibly well. In this case, if I'm if I'm bouncing around a room trying to get inspired, I will challenge myself to use the light in a different way. Maybe I'll shoot straight into the window. Maybe I'll shoot off to the side a little bit and see how the shadows play. Maybe there's available light in the room that's a little quirky or weird like a candle or a dim lamp or something like that. In addition to the accordion method, I just think it's a funny, funny name.

But in addition to that, play with the light a little bit in the room in a way that you don't usually do. So figure out what your default sort of vibe is with light in the room, maybe you use flash a lot, whatever it is try and do something different.

The second thing I encourage you to do to sort of add a little more inspiration juice to this accordion method thing–that's a sentence I never thought I'd say–is to do a total 180.

So if you find yourself standing on one side of the room, loop all the way to the other side directly across from where you are. So if you're at three o'clock, walk on over to nine o'clock, etc, etc, and see what the room looks like. I realized some rooms like there's a bed in the way or there's stuff in the way but do your best to stand somewhere that you wouldn't normally stand.

I promise if you play around with the light, if you play around with where you're standing, and if you do the accordion thing where you're far away mid and then close, whether you do that with a lens or with your physical body, it doesn't matter to me.

You could keep a 50 millimeter on for the whole thing and still shoot wide close and are wide open and close. So keep those things in mind. This is just something I wanted to share with you guys because I think for me, I know for me and I'm sure for many of you listening this time of year when we're winding down the craziness that was September/ October, we can kind of get sort of burnt out really is the word. You know, you just get sort of blasé about showing up and doing stuff. I'm always looking for ways to challenge myself to shoot better. So that's the accordion method. Thank you for listening.

If you have been listening a while and like the show, share the show with someone else or better yet, head on over to and leave a quick review. I'd really appreciate it that's Show the love and I'll be back every Tuesday and Thursday with a 10-ish minute episode. Remember in everything you want to achieve consistency is key. Love and Light. Until next time.



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