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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

31 Days of Photo Fun: Day 31... Tip & Assignment: Keep Shooting!

I can't believe how quickly this Month of Photo Fun has gone. Thanks so much for sharing this month with me. I hope these ideas and lessons have helped you in your own photography, and given you some fantastic new portraits to cherish.

One final tip and assignment to finish off the month. Keep shooting!

Keep that camera close by and don't always wait for the perfect shot. Just capture the moments and remember that it's not about the perfect portrait, it's about the precious memories.

Sometimes the best shots are the unplanned ones!
Thanks again for taking this photo journey with me! I'm always excited to hear what you've learned and how you are enjoying your photo taking, so share with us here!

And keep shooting!
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Monday, July 30, 2012

31 Days of Photo Fun: Day 30... Tip: Show Them How

Just a couple more days of our Month of Photo Fun and today brings you another tip, one that I've been using a lot myself lately. When you are posing your subjects, SHOW them how.

Often, when we are photographing people, we have an idea in our head as to how we'd like them to pose- especially when we've been paying attention to posing ideas and tips and want to implement them to create better portraits (hint, hint)! But we are reluctant to step out from behind our cameras, and so we try to tell our subjects how to sit, stand, move that right elbow, and so on. It's too hard for them to hear what you are saying, decipher whether you mean their right or your right, and try to follow your instructions, all while trying to look their best. So lower your camera, step over to where they are, and physically show them what you mean.

This is most especially helpful for young kids who might be nervous about "doing it wrong". In the shot below, I actually sat behind dad and leaned in to show Chase exactly what I wanted (the step was at an awkward height for her and she was having trouble). I didn't hug dad though- I think he was a little nervous himself!

Take time to show your subject what you want them to do, even if it makes you look silly. When I want my guy subjects to look masculine, I often have to show them what I mean. This means sitting down, spreading my legs, and hanging over them, which makes me look like a fool. It works though. This was exactly how I wanted Brandon sitting and his masculine pose makes the shot!

And then there's hand position. Trying to tell Fayth here how to position her hands so her chin wasn't resting completely on them (thus squishing her chin) would have taken so much time, so I simply showed her. It takes just a second and is so easy and makes all the difference.

So take a moment and show them what you want. We are often visual learners and it helps so much when your subjects can see exactly what you want them to do. And it makes a wonderful difference in your images!

Happy shooting!
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Sunday, July 29, 2012

31 Days of Photo Fun: Day 29... Tip: Get Them Closer (To You and Each Other)

We are almost at the end of our Month of Photo Fun! Today's tip is one of the very first tips I learned myself, one that has proven to be a favorite of mine again and again. When photographing people, get closer!

First, get yourself closer to your subject. Filling your frame with the subject helps eliminate those problems in the background (like we mentioned on Day 24), and it leaves no question as to who your focus is on!

I love close up shots, full of gorgeous eyes, or lashes, or a great smile!

But it's not only important for you to get closer to your subjects. It's just as effective for you to get your subjects closer to each other! Encourage your kids or friends or family members to get closer... closer still... uncomfortably close! They might feel a bit awkward at first, but it creates a beautiful feeling of love and friendship in your images. So everyone get closer!

This is an easy tip and a wonderfully effective one, so always keep it in the back of your mind. Are you close enough? Will one or two steps forward create a spectacular image? What about them? Can you get them a little bit closer? They'll feel silly maybe, but they'll thank you for it when they see the portrait!

So get close!

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Saturday, July 28, 2012

31 Days of Photo Fun: Day 28... Idea: Use Props

Day 28 of our Month of Photo Fun brings an idea that is quite simple, but can be very helpful for your subject. Consider adding simple props to your images.

Often times, we find our subjects in front of our camera, feeing awkward and unsure how to stand or pose, or what to do particularly with their hands. Simple solution? Give them a prop!

Sometimes a prop can be as simple as a hat or scarf or a balloon. It's not necessarily special or unique to your client, but adds a little something to your photograph, or gives your subject something to do with her hands.

I love how Bonnie's super fun hat added class and sophistication to her portrait. Putting it on changed the mood and expressions for sure!

A prop can also give us some insight into who our subject is. Encourage your subject to bring some of her favorite props. A simple soccer ball adds a natural, sport feel to the portrait of Courtney.

A prop can also be a fun way to add something new to your portraits and also helps give your subject something to do in the photo. I love this fun portrait of Kailey. A portrait within a portrait, it also speaks to her love of music, but in a fresh, unique way.

Having Georgia sit with her sketch pad while I photographed her benefitted us in a few ways. It gave her something to do with her hands (a common challenge), it helped her retreat into something she loved and got her to forget a little bit about the camera on her, and it gave us a peek into what makes her unique and special.

A prop that is personal to your subject can be a tremendous source of comfort to her when she is being photographed. Many of us feel a little anxious and nervous in front of a camera, and having something with us can be a great way to relax a little bit.

So ask your subjects to bring their favorite props with them into the photos. You'll never know what you're going to get. I LOVE that Alec included his favorite magazine into our session. It created a very relaxed look to his photos, and helped him feel more like himself. This turned out to be one of his favorite images, as it's so "him"!

Some simple props can really add to the story you are trying to tell too. Remember to consider the location when thinking about props. The baton in her back pocket, and basketball on her hip would have surely implied the love of sports that my niece has, but taking a few minutes to drive her to the track on which she competes added that much more to the story. So worth the extra few minutes to take her there.

Have fun with your subjects and encourage them to bring their favorite props to "photo time". Or have a few of your own handy. Little hats are adorable on our babies, and a handful of balloons can light up the face of most any child. An ice cream cone, mess and all, can make for some adorable photos too!

Brainstorm some props that you can incorporate into your photos. Then be sure to share them with the rest of us here, as we can all benefit from having a few prop ideas in our bag of tricks!

Keep shooting!

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Friday, July 27, 2012

31 Days of Photo Fun: Day 27... Tip: Shoot the Details

Happy Day 27 of our Month of Photo Fun. Did you have fun with yesterday's assignment? Did you capture some of what makes your loved ones special? Today's tip can help you continue in that assignment. Remember to include the details.

When photographing our loved ones, it's easy to zero in on their faces, to get caught up in shooting them how we see them everyday. But it's important to remember to get the details.

An exciting reunion or family event brings us lots of happy faces, but don't forget to shoot the details put into making it such a beautiful event.

Sure their faces look hilariously adorable in their costumes, but don't forget to shoot the details of it- the glittery make up, the fancy shoes, or the furry mane.

When she has her hair done special for her birthday, shoot those little details right away. We all know those perfect curls and pretty clips won't even make it through dinner!

And if your child puts on her first pair of glasses, or is adjusting to her first days of braces, photograph them. Whether it's a happy occasion for them or not, these are the details of their lives, and our minds will not remember them perfectly. How wonderful to have these images to help us remember. In the case of Brady and her new glasses below, I'm so glad I shot the details right away, as we were onto a second, and then third pair in about 2 months!

And of course, there's never a better time to capture all the details of your precious ones than when they are so fresh and new. It's so easy to be captivated by their precious little faces, but remember to get those tiny little toes too.

It's all in the details right? So don't forget them. They can add to scrapbook pages, memory books, or simply help us relive the days years from now.

What details in your family's life might you want to capture today?

Let us know!

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Thursday, July 26, 2012

31 Days of Photo Fun: Day 26... Assignment: What's Special About Them?

Happy Day 26 of our Month of Photo Fun, and Happy Birthday to my awesome husband! I put together today's assignment with him in mind, and ask you to go out and photograph your favorite subjects, considering "what's so special about them" and incorporating that into your images.

When thinking about my husband, this assignment could get very long, as there are so many things about him that make him my hero and my favorite person in the whole world. He's an elite marathoner, and so we've got photos of him in his running gear, shoes over shoulder, along some of his favorite trails. He's also an amazing math teacher and coach, loved by so many of his students over the 20+ years he's been in the classroom, so we've got images with his students and runners, laughing, working, planning, you name it.

I've even photographed the scars on his head, and the tattoos on his skin that make him special to me.

But for this post, I wanted to show photos of why he is special to the entire bunch of us in this house. I am not the only one here who thinks Daddy rocks!

There's an 8 year old boy here who thinks his dad is the best, and who loves all the time Dad takes with him to read with him, play with him, and teach him fun new games.

There's a little girl in our home who literally FLIPS for her daddy! Only daddy can do this with her! I LOVE that I captured this series of photos for them, as this little trick is probably seeing its last days!

And there is our little baby, who has learned already that if Daddy is there with open arms, there is nothing to be afraid of. Thanks to Daddy's patience and love, Mike has conquered any fear of water and is a little fish, jumping happily into his Daddy's arms!

And me? Well, I knew right away and all along what a special guy I had in Scott. NO ONE makes me laugh like he does, and no one makes me as happy as he does. Even if we are on opposite sides of a heated baseball rivalry.

Take some time to photograph the special traits of the ones you love. It's a fantastic way to remind yourself of just how wonderful these precious blessings are, and creates wonderful memories for all of you.

As for my special guy, Happy Birthday to you, Scott!
I hope your day is as special as you are!

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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

31 Days of Photo Fun: Day 25... Idea: Play With Lighting

Here we are at Day 25 of our Month of Photo Fun! Another idea comes your way today, a simple one in theory, but one that might prove a little tougher once out with the camera. Consider playing with lighting.

If you are outside, shooting your subject in natural sunlight, then your main source of light is simply the sun. Add to that some open shade or a late evening or early morning and your light has some direction to it, which creates more attractive lighting on your subject. From there you can place your subject several ways in relation to your light.

First, you can use front lighting. With front lighting, you simply put the sun behind you and in front of your subject. She is lit on her front. A fantastic traditional method of lighting, it gets gorgeous even light on your subject's face and eyes.

For a more dramatic look, you can use side lighting. With side lighting, you turn your subject so that the light source hits her on one side. Depending on how low the sun is or how much you turn your subject, you can get some real dramatic shadows and some moody contrast, which could add to the style you are trying to capture, or simply just offer something new and fun.

And finally, there's backlighting, which is having the sun at your subject's back. Different than that rule we all know too well, to keep the sun behind you, backlighting can help you if the sun is too strong for your subject's eyes, or to create even more drama to your images. The sun can create "rim lighting" on your subject's hair and bring it to life.

Play around with your light source, putting it in front of you, to the side, and behind you. But remember, if that sun is behind your subject, make sure to adjust your exposure to her face, or you will have a very dark subject, as your camera's meter will expose for the sun behind her. This could be fantastic if you are looking for moody silhouettes, but just beware of that.

What kind of lighting do you prefer? What poses the greatest challenge for you?

Let us know what you're learning!

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

31 Days of Photo Fun: Day 24... Tip: Check Your Surroundings

A quick and easy tip comes to you for Day 24 of our Month of Photo Fun, but one that is vital in capturing a "keeper" of an image, or a "tosser". Be aware of the surroundings in your photo!

I've learned this lesson the very hard way, as I've had some fantastic images ruined by the background telephone pole seemingly jutting out of my subject's head, or the clutter behind my kids ruining a nice portrait. A few simple things to remember:

1. If it's possible, take a few minutes to pick up the clutter surrounding the kids. Clean spaces make for better portraits.
2. Take a second to look in the viewfinder of your camera. Is that tree coming out of your child's head? Simple move her to the left or right and fix it. Or move yourself.

3. People ruining your shot behind your subject? Wait. Give them a second to walk out of the shot and THEN shoot.

Case in point below. I love shooting along city sidewalks and sometimes the strangers behind add to the shot. But not here. I wanted to incorporate the colors from the windows behind my niece in these shots, and did not want the lady who was entering my shot in my shot. So I stopped shooting for a moment.

I also zoomed in (with my feet) to crop her out. A little patience and a little awareness, and I had a better shot for it.

Of course, if your kids are like mine, sometimes you have to just shoot with whatever is behind you. My oldest HATES having his photo taken, so when I get the chance I shoot! I had no time to say to him "wait, let me move you away from the picnic table behind you". He would have changed his mind and the shot would have been lost. Instead I got the smile and I love the shot. I even have this hanging in our home- with the table legs jutting out of his head and all!

Lesson of the day? IF you can, take the time to check and clean up your surroundings for a better shot.

Keep shooting!

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Monday, July 23, 2012

31 Days of Photo Fun: Day 23... Idea: Photograph Their Favorite Things

Welcome to Day 23 of our Month of Photo Fun! I hope you've been enjoying all of these tips and ideas, and enjoying even a few assignments. Today I've got another idea for you, one that is especially helpful for us moms of young ones. Consider photographing all the details in your little ones' lives, before those details are gone.

Our kids are such beautiful little people. I am constantly bugging my kids to sit still for a moment so I can get a shot of their gorgeous eyes, their toothless smiles, and their fun new haircuts.

But we need to remember to also photograph the little details in their lives for their future memories. The things that are so very important in their lives today will soon fade away and we need to capture them in photos for our kids to enjoy again someday.

Photograph their Lego creations or the fort they built with their own hands. Soon enough, the Legos will be put aside and deemed "totally lame"!

Photograph them embracing their favorite movies or characters. My son rotates from Star Wars, to Ninjago, to Harry Potter, on an almost daily basis. Soon enough all three will make way for cooler things. I dread the thought. But I loved capturing his version of Yoda! (also couldn't resist shooting that awesome mohawk!)

Photograph them cuddling with their favorite little stuffed animals. Not only will the poor thing get dirtier and dirtier with every day of love, but someday it will be tossed for perfume and nail polish, and all that teen girly stuff.

And of course, we cannot forget the American Girl Doll! When we were kids it was the Cabbage Patch Doll. I loved mine so much and made her so dirty, my father nicknamed her "the mechanic" and threatened to take her to work with him whenever he had a brake job. She was my favorite doll, just like Kit is Brady's, so I'm glad I've got this portrait of them together.

Remember the clothing too. Photograph them enjoying their first love. Cookie Monster has already given way to Elmo (ugh!), then Thomas the Tank, and now dinosaurs. Our babies change quickly, so it's important to photograph these details now.

And of course, it doesn't have to be just their loves. It can be yours too! My son has NO IDEA who Ferris Bueller is, but this was my favorite shirt of his for a very long time! Every time he wore it, it made me chuckle (along with many of our friends). So you can be sure I had to get a photo of him in it. Which brings up another point. The shot doesn't always have to be perfect. The memory is worth the "less than perfect shot" sometimes, so I'm ok with this "way too bright" photo. And I think the drool on the shirt makes it all the better!

What are your little ones gaga over these days? What special activities and friends are in their lives? Be sure to capture them today. We all know that tomorrow brings new friends, new games, new loves, new joys.

Let us know what you captured for your kids today!

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