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Friday, January 28, 2011

Cameras and Cawfee Tawk Tuesday: A Basic Lesson in Natural Light

Happy Tuesday and welcome back to Cawfee Tawk!

As a natural light photographer, it is important for me to be able to see and find light no matter where I'm shooting or when I'm shooting, and this poses a special challenge during these fun wintery months. (snow anyone?) Some of you may be feeling a bit "stuck" inside these days, longing for warmer days so you can get outside and take beautiful photos of your family and friends. Maybe you're frustrated, feeling like you can't get great shots this time of year because it's cold and we're stuck inside. Well, I'm hoping this post shows you otherwise.

In some ways, shooting indoors is even better than shooting outdoors! If you can find the light and use it correctly, you can take wonderful photographs, and when you are inside, using window light, there is no question as to where the light is. It's right there, coming through the window! So it's just a matter of where to position your kiddos. (or parents, or sister, or friends, or objects- whatever!)

First things first- pull up that shade (get the full light), get close to that window and experiment. If you go to the window even now, (go ahead, I'll wait) you might be able to see where the light goes from being nice and bright to where it "falls off" and the room darkens. Be sure to get your subjects close enough to the window so that they are not in the dark spots of the room. Window light is beautiful, but doesn't reach very far, so stay close.

"So where should I put my subject and where should I stand?" you ask. Good question, and there really is no right or wrong position here. You can do lots of wonderfully different things here just by changing where you are standing with respect to your window light. Let me show you.

I took my kids to my favorite window in the house to shoot a few examples. In most cases, the child was sitting about 4-6 ft away from my window.

Now, first I sat Brady facing the window, dead on. This is how most people tend to shoot- put the light right behind you and have your subject facing the light. This is called "front lighting". Indoors this works beautifully, and you can see the "catchlights" in her eyes if you look closely (those little reflections of the window in her eyes- love that!). Outdoors in bright light it's a little tougher, as you can imagine lots of squinting once that window turns into the SUN! But indoors it's nice, her skin looks soft, the colors are bright and her face is lit up. Wonderful. (btw... no editing here, just sharpened for the web, so what you see is what comes straight out of camera) You can even see how the background is very dark- the light falls very fast, rendering most everything behind her dark- love it.

Next, I turned Brady 90 degrees on her chair. The window is now to my left and Brady's right and you can see how the light hits the right side of her face and then quickly "falls off". This creates wonderful drama and contrast to the photo now, while still putting light in her eyes. If you compare the two images, you will see that the colors of the "front lit" shot are a little flatter, but maybe a little "safer". Want drama? Go for some side lighting.

What about backlighting? We are told early on never to put the light source behind our subjects. It will render them black. But sometimes this is a wonderful idea, as it can create a beautiful story and image. Here I put Mikey up on the window seat (the heater cover!) and shot him doing his new favorite thing- staring out the window at the fire trucks coming out of the station across the street. Not the best "portrait" but still a wonderful memory for me as I will look at this years from now and remember how he'd spend his time there. (btw... must apologize for the terribly smudged and dirty window- he really does sit there all the time, faced pressed against that window, breath fogging it up, fingers smudging it- ugh!)

I do want to show you an example of backlighting that does not involve a darkened face. I shot with the sun behind my subject here but let the background be a bit overexposed (I can teach you how to do this in another post if you'd like) so her face wasn't dark. You can see the beautiful "rim light" that touches the back of her hair, separating her from the background- and she still has catchlights in her eyes! How, with the sun behind her? Easy! I wore a white shirt and the sun was reflecting off me! (or you can use a reflector, but who here has one and who here has someone to hold it for them???)

The bottom line here is PLAY PLAY PLAY! Experiment with the light and see what you like best. It all comes down to what you like in your images. I love the clarity of front lit photos, but love the contrast and drama that side lighting brings, so I tend to shoot a little in between. Like here- Brady is about 45 degrees from the window, a little front lit and a little side lit. She's got some great shadows (which add depth and contrast) but lots of light across her whole face. Now... if I can just get her to stop making that goofy face!
But that's for next time!
See you next Tuesday when I'll share the first of my "Top Ten" lists!
Until then, how about a homework assignment? Find a nice large window in your home, find a willing subject, and experiment with the light- try front lighting, side lighting, back lighting, and everything in between. Then send me a comment letting me know what you discovered and what you liked best. Or better yet, send me some photos! I'd love to see what you find and I LOVE hearing from you!
Have an awesome Tuesday and happy shooting!
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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Newborn Package 2011

Wow, have I got baby fever! No, not for another one of my own... for yours!

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Monday, January 24, 2011

Cameras and "Cawfee Tawk" Tuesday- The First Lesson!

Hello and Happy Tuesday! If you are here with me, reading this first post of Cameras and Cawfee Tawk, then you either (A) own a camera and hope to get some tips on how to create better pictures with it, (B) don't care about taking better pictures with your camera, but felt like a cup of coffee (pronounced cawfee!!) with your old Lawng Island girlfriend, or (C) are my mother or mother-in-law and care nothing about photography but love me anyway! Hi Moms!

Now... if you fall into category A, then I sure hope you will find these weekly lessons useful, easy to apply, and best of all, FUN! After all, why bother if it's not going to be fun? And therein lies my first lesson.

Yes, my hope is that in time we will get to chit chat about shutter speeds, and depth of field (WHAT?) and how to best compose your shot, or how to get that awfully cheesy smile off your kids' faces, but before we get to all of that, I think we need to start with the most important lesson of all: if you love it, shoot it.

Now I've shot a lot of photos over these past few years and I can tell you that this might be the most important point to consider. If you truly want to love photography, then you have to think about what it is that you love, what it truly is that makes you who you are, and go out and capture that.

Maybe you love architecture or history. Go out and shoot- there are gorgeous chapels, homes, and buildings all around you. I for one, have not found a love for architectural photography, as seen from this very boring shot below. Nope, not lovin' it- despite how much I love this building. (Scott and I were married in it!)

Or maybe you have a love of creation, of nature, and of all things outdoors. Maybe you step foot outside regardless of the season and see God's beauty all around you. Go out and shoot! There is so much beauty out there. Shoot one flower...

... or shoot them all! Again, though I love nature and am in awe over God's beautiful handiwork, I find no love for nature photography. My images always seem to be lacking something.

Or maybe it's home or memories, or special mementos that you treasure, and this is what you want to shoot. Head outside your front door, walk a few steps forward, and turn around. Look at your home, where you make your memories. Find ways to capture those memories.

It might take you a while to find out what you love. But take your time. There's no rush. There's no end. That's the great thing about photography- it's just a journey, like life. I can tell you this though. If you go out and shoot, without knowing what you it is you're passionate about, what it is you truly love, then you'll find your images falling short, and you'll find your interest in photography fading fast. For me, it didn't take long to realize that while my nature and architectural images did not do it for me, any time I got a pair of eyes in front of my camera, I came to life. The minute I start shooting people, I am happier, more alive, doing what I am meant to do, and that is why those images are the best images I've got.

So go out there. Take some time. Find out what (or who!) you love, and shoot that. And shoot it more and more. You'll find there's nothing better than shooting what you love. And hey, do me a favor- send me a comment and let me know what you discover!

And as for me, these eyes and these faces do it for me every time!

See you next week, when we'll talk about finding the light- where should you put that window?

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Sunday, January 23, 2011

A January Splash! Riley's 6th Birthday

Last weekend my kids went to a pool party! Now, not only is it TOTALLY FUN and TOTALLY COOL to be going to a pool party in January, but this happened to be a birthday party for their friend, Riley, who happens to be one of the nicest, sweetest, most wonderful kids I know!

So of course, what's a mom to do when her kids are headed to a January pool party for such an awesome kid? Why, tag along with her camera, of course!

In the end, I think I had more fun with my camera than the kids did partying... well, maybe not!

Anyway, here are my favorites from the afternoon!

Happy 6th birthday Riley girl! May this year be the best ever and may you continue to grow even more kind, thoughtful, and wonderful as you are now! You're AWESOME!

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

The New Coffee Talk?

OK, I need your help- or maybe you need mine. You see, I've had a number of friends and acquaintances ask me if I teach photography, or give lessons, or whether I can help them understand what it is they are supposed to do with these cool new cameras they've got!

Now as much as I'd LOVE to get together with all of these fabulous people (and Julianne, you can bet we'll be doing coffee over our chats!) I was thinking that perhaps I could start offering little lessons right here on my blog! Nothing too over the top, nothing too confusing, maybe just some posts on getting to know your camera, how to shoot your crazy kids (minds out of the gutter people, I mean photograph them!), or how to shoot sports events, or cool blurry backgrounds, or how to find good light. Some simple lessons right here on the blog.

So, I come to you and ask you two questions:
1. Would you be interested in such posts here?
2. If so, what would you like to learn? Please comment here and throw me some ideas. I don't want to be writing about shutter speeds when you really just want to know how to get your kid to stop making that cheesy smile!

I'd love to maybe create something weekly or bi-monthly if anyone is interested. So shoot me a comment and let me know!

Oh and just because I could never post without some adorable shots, here are some of the cutest kids I know! Enjoy!

Jen Lebo Photography
Fun. Fresh. Fantastic.
And now Functional!
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Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Jeffers Reunion: Celebrating Family

Every so often, I get to photograph an event that truly moves me. A few weeks ago, I shot such an event- a family reunion. Jack and Christine Jeffers, and their six kids, and their eleven grandchildren, and their two great-grandchildren, all got together this past New Years Day, to celebrate family. It was wonderful.

I was asked to come and shoot some family portraits- to get some shots of the group all together, and then some of each of the six kids with their families- and then maybe some candid shots of the party. I had such a blast meeting this family. It almost made me wish that I had had 5 siblings (ALMOST- one older brother was plenty for me though!). The kids joked around together like they were still all teenagers at home, and the grandkids fell right into step beside them. There were a lot of laughs, a lot of hugs, and a great sense of love and family. I loved being witness to it all.

Here were some of my favorites from the day.

Jack and Christine, I can't imagine how proud you must be to look at the amazing family that you have made. Your marriage and your family are a testament to what is still good and pure and wonderful in life. I was so inspired by you both and by your wonderfully enormous family! I hope and pray that someday, years from now, my husband and I are surrounded by our kids and our grandkids the way that you both are. Happy New Year to all the Jeffers!

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Sunday, January 9, 2011

All About Her!

Any moms out there with beautiful little girls? Girls with gorgeous hair, or girls who love to play dress up, or who love fairy tales and stories of princesses? Well then, have I got a treat for you!

Meet my friend, Beth! Beth runs a business from home called "All About Her" and that's just what it is! Beth has everything for our little girls- adorable hats, fabulous headbands, clips, tutus, even little shoes and leg warmers. And that's just the beginning! Last week I was treated to an afternoon of girly girl delights, and I got to shoot her adorable daughters modeling all the goods for me. Here are just a few of Beth's treats!

So moms, grab your daughters (from newborns to elementary age!) and go check out "All About Her". Beth's anticipating her website to go live at the end of this month, but for now you can check out her stuff on facebook (search "All About Her") or email her at

My goodness, my Brady girl is gonna LOVE this stuff!

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Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

Happy 2011 to you! It's a new year, time for new beginnings, and new plans,
and that goes for Jen Lebo Photography too! We're talkin' new site, new images, new packages, and new promotions! Woo hoo!
So come on over and visit the site at! Then stay tuned for some great new ideas that you can snatch up in 2011!
May 2011 be the best ever!
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