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Preserving Love and Legacy

With her Tamron 70-200mm F2.8 VC G2 lens, Becka McKiness captures authentic connection in wedding and family portrait photography.

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By Jenn Gidman
Images by Becka McKiness

It was Becka McKiness’ husband who first introduced her to the world of image-making. “He’s been doing videography for about a decade, and he was my first model and muse,” she says. Over the years, Becka honed her skills through a mentorship with another photographer and built up her portfolio by serving as a second shooter at various events.

“I was initially drawn to the idea of studio work and doing mini-sessions with cute props,” Becka recalls. “Then I fell in love with weddings, and the emotion involved in those photos. I love capturing a genuine smile or tears on that big day, or during the days leading up to it, and transforming those interactions into frameable moments for my clients.”

Today, the Chicago area–based photographer turns to the Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2 telephoto lens for her wedding portrait photography work, using an adapter for her mirrorless camera system. “The 70-200mm has become one of my go-to lenses,” she says. “As we all know, wedding venues can be unpredictable when it comes to lighting, so having that F2.8 maximum aperture, in addition to the Vibration Compensation feature to keep my images sharp, has been key. I also love the compression this lens is able to achieve, and the remarkable speed and accuracy of the autofocus merged with my mirrorless camera is a powerful combination. I rarely miss a shot.”

Becka’s goal for her wedding and family portrait photography: a timeless quality that endures. “I want my couples to be able to show these images to their kids and grandkids, and to not have those other younger generations say, ‘What was going on here? This is so cheesy!,’” she notes. “I want the colors to be true to life, and the poses to be natural and relaxed. My Tamron 70-200mm lens helps me create a long-lasting legacy through my portraits that families can enjoy for years to come.”


Seek out optimal lighting and backgrounds.
Begin by prioritizing good lighting, as it sets the foundation for your images. Look for areas with the most favorable lighting conditions and avoid harsh contrasts that can detract from your subjects, like noon sunlight on bright green grass. Be mindful of reflective surfaces and color casts that may impact the overall aesthetic.

© Becka McKiness
70-200mm (111mm), F4.0, 1/250 sec., ISO 400
Click image to view larger

Aim for backgrounds that are nondistracting, choosing colors and elements that complement the couple and their surroundings. Don't overlook the potential of incorporating foreground elements, as I did here with the couple posing behind a few branches. By blurring out those foreground elements, I was able to add depth and create layers in my composition.

© Becka McKiness
70-200mm (89mm), F2.8, 1/400 sec., ISO 200
Click image to view larger

© Becka McKiness
70-200mm (158mm), F4.0, 1/250 sec., ISO 320
Click image to view larger

Establish a positive, energetic environment.
When you approach your session with enthusiasm from the get-go, your portrait subjects will feel comfortable and excited. Engage them in conversation, and throughout the shoot, maintain a continuous flow of positive affirmations and lighthearted prompts, which can help boost their confidence. It can be something as simple as “That is so cute!” or “You guys are killing it!”

© Becka McKiness
70-200mm (144mm), F2.8, 1/800 sec., ISO 640
Click image to view larger

Also, start off your session with a bit of distance, standing back and zooming in with that 70-200mm lens. That will keep your subjects from feeling overwhelmed by the camera's presence initially. Earn their trust during the session by occasionally showing them a photo on the back of your camera. Let them see the magic you're capturing together.

Tap into the couple’s connection for wedding portrait photography.
Every couple has their own dynamic, whether it's playful and silly, sweet and intimate, or high energy and dynamic. To capture their authentic bond, observe their interactions and adapt your approach accordingly. Encourage them to express their natural affection or create a serene moment where they can focus solely on each other.

© Becka McKiness
70-200mm (118mm), F3.5, 1/320 sec., ISO 640
Click image to view larger

Have fun with children and pets.
When including kids and pets in family portrait photography, bring high energy and create a fun atmosphere—I’m usually sweating after a family session! Engage with the kids, laugh, and have a blast together. When children see you having a good time, it helps them relax, and their parents also become more at ease. For the boy seen here in front of the barn door, I instructed him to put his hand in his pocket and the entire family started praising him, telling him how great he looked. He loved being the center of attention.

© Becka McKiness
70-200mm (96mm), F2.8, 1/500 sec., ISO 400
Click image to view larger

Similarly, when photographing pets, understand that they’re also cherished family members. Unless my subjects are models, they tend to freeze initially when a camera lens is staring them down. By having pet owners interact with their furry friends, it helps everyone to forget the camera’s on them, so they can relax and enjoy the session.

© Becka McKiness
70-200mm (86mm), F3.5, 1/250 sec., ISO 800
Click image to view larger

To see more of Becka’s work, check out her website and Instagram.

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