Wednesday, September 1, 2010

How magnifying your flaws will improve your focus

September Tip of the Month

Too many aspiring photographers spend hours on end fiddling with images on the computer without ever committing them to print. 

Perhaps it’s because of the sheer volume of shots, or the amazing tools available to share photos online, but over the years I’ve learned that one of the best ways to improve my skills is to enlarge and display my favorite photos. 

When you print a photo, particularly when you go larger than 8x10, it magnifies the imperfections. I know what you’re thinking…why would I want to show off an imperfect piece?   

Well, enlarging and displaying your photos, even the slightly flawed ones, will improve your focus in three ways:

1) Printing and displaying your photos ensures that you will put more time into planning for your photo. You are more particular about quality of the images you shoot if you know you will be published.

2) Once your photos have been taken, you will have multiple opportunities – from loading and editing to selecting frames for printing – to evaluate. This is where you are going to develop a better eye for shooting and consistency.

3) Planning and evaluating your shots will make you a better photojournalist. You will learn to daydream about and visualize the best shots, ask yourself what is great about an event  and identify the details.

Of course, I can’t leave you without a few fantastic ideas for displaying the plethora of images you are going to create…

How fantastic would this great Lisa Bengtsson Family Wallpaper look hung from clips or papered on a piece of plywood? Add some photos and you’ve got a darling display no one will be able to resist!

Jewel Case Photo Display

Learning to reduce, reuse and recycle is pretty hot right now. How about using old CD jewel cases to develop changeable, rearrangeable  casual art for the big blank wall in your home? Check out the tutorial here.
Vintage Window

I absolutely adore vintage windows. I picked up my first set nearly a decade ago. What can I say? I was ahead of the times. And, a vintage window makes for a great photo display. Don’t have time to go thrifting for one? You can pick up this one (or one like it) on ETSY.
Gallery Wall

Gallery photos are always a classic. Learn how to install one like Martha’s or check out the variety of options posted here.


Go big or go home with this incredible personalized wallpaper!  You could also pursue a less expensive option, like do-it-yourself poster making


Love her or hate her, Martha sure has some good ideas. Isn’t this photo screen so elegant?! And, it’s easy to recreate to. Read more about it here.


I love this idea for a child’s room or play area. 


Feeling a bit more creative? Check out these darling frames over at the Creative Crate. Perfect for displaying photos of your little ones!

I think it goes without saying that there are numerous photo book and canvas shops online. You might try out Blurb, Shutterfly, SnapFish and Picaboo.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Junes Tip of the Month

Hi all you happy snappers out there.  Here's your tip of the month.  I had the most difficult time deciding what to write about this month.  I made a list of about 12 topics - I really wish I had more time!!  I decided to go back through my emails this month and reevaluate what topics you're asking about.  Hands down this month you-all have been asking me about locations. (The other ? I got a lot this month is where I purchased my website.  I got it from Blu Domain.  I decided that ? wasn't really worthy of my tip of the month :)

Before I get into the topic I want to explore one thought with you.  As Mommy Photographers your job is to capture the life of your little ones.  To have your camera on you at all times just in case a special moment needs to be recorded.  I'm going to offer you a challenge.  My challenge is to let go of this job description.  Your new job description will be to photograph 2 moments.  One, the significant moments: birthday parties, soccer games, family dinners, family reunion, trip to Disneyland, school programs etc. This "capture the moment sessions" would be your candid photos.  There are no instructions given to "look at the camera" or "say cheese", it's merely to capture your little ones enjoying the moment.  Check out this post as an example.  Two, portrait session.  A portrait session would be a predetermined time, place, props, outfits.  This is where your are goal is to capture that "looking at the camera smile" image.  Prep your children for these sessions by talking about how fun it will be, how cute their new outfits are they'll be wearing and what treat you'll give them when they do a good job.  These session should focus on the developmental milestones.  If your child is just learning to stand up have lots of images of them standing.  If your child just lost their 2 front teeth have lots of images where you capture their big grin.  If you follow these rules several things will happen, the number of images you take vs the number of images you actually like will significantly increase.  You'll elimiate the question "what do I do with all these random photos?".  Random photos are the #1 reason Mommy Photographers get overwhelmed and unorganized and ultimately stop taking photos.  One other thing will happen, you will take more images you like and less random images.  You'll have more time and motivation to improve your Photoshop skills rounding out your abilities as a killer Mommy Photographer. 

Well, that was a lot more Bla Bla Bla than I thought I would write.  Now, onto my tip regarding locations.  My philosophy on locations is that you can capture great images ANYWHERE!  Sure it's always fun to have an inspiring locations but I genuinely believe that when you have a more challenging location your images are more creative and capture the essence of your child more than the essence of the location.  Below is a photo of the most uninspiring location I could find.  It's just right out my front door in my condo complex.  As you see one of the more uninspiring spots on the face of the earth. 

Here are the images I took in this most uninspiring location...

I am going to issue you all a challenge  - schedule a time, choose some darling outfits, set aside a few favorite toys and go to a lack luster location and snaps images of your little ones with the intent that you will capture the essence of their big personalities.

Happy Snapping!!!

to read May's Tip of the month

Saturday, April 10, 2010

My Tricks to Photographing Children

Do you have a busy busy little one? No matter what you do you can't snap quick enough to get a good photo!! I've got some tricks for you.

Here are a few of my best trick and tips to get great images
of challenging little ones.

1. Bribe Them. There's nothing that gets results like a good old fashioned bribe. My favorite bribing tool are Smarties. Smarties are great for several reasons, there are lots of them per package for a maximum bribe time, they dissolve quickly and don't stain or color little mouths.

Another fun bribe trick are Pez dispensers. If your trim off their little feet they slide right into your camera flash hub. This is an excellent way to keep little ones focused on the camera. Again, lots of them per package for a maximum bride time.

2. For those little runners out there. Kids that won't sit still is one of my most common challenges. My best solution is to put your little ones on a chair. Little legs can't run away if they are sitting on chair. Use the Smarties as a reward for not dashing away.

Here are some examples...

The chair also adds some fun vintage style to this image.

Instead of a chair we used a dresser, same concept.
Look how darling her little feet look crossed like a princess.

2 above images - Same shoot, different chairs,
different way to use the chair both help me control
one busy little boy and a busier little puppy.

Not a chair, but the same concept. This busy little one
can't go anywhere. Not to mention how the cute buggy
really ads to the image.

Again, not a chair but the same concept.

Using a chair in a family image is really fun too.
This little gal was about 1 year old and LOVED sitting in a
chair just her size. She would have sat in that chair
& let me take her pix for hours. I got some great
family shots and then mom and dad moved out of the shot
  and I got some real cute smile ones of just her in the chair.

Again, not a chair but the same concept. She was
so mesmerized by this bowl and just sat and let me snap away.

Again, not a chair but the same concept. This is my
and he thought sitting in this tire was so cool
  and just smiled and smiled. This tire made my job so
easy and that's what I'm look for during every session.

Doubling up on a chair works great too. Sometimes it's
difficult to get kids to stand close to each other, they
are just too wiggly. When photographing little
ones compositionally it looks better to have them
fairly close together. Having them both sit on a chair
allows you to pose kids close without any effort allowing
them to just sit back and grin.

Need I say anytime about this last one?

3. What if they just want to run? When you can't stop them - join them. Find a cute backdrop and turning running a game, have your kids run toward and away from the camera. I think running photos are just darling. After about 15 minutes of this game (and oodles of darling photos) they'll be ready for that chair.

Here are some examples...


Same concept but dancing instead of running.

Capturing Mom and Dad in the foreground and
background tells more of a story.

A whole family walking. This shot also looks so cute
walking towards the camera. I typically shoot something like
this about half way through the session, the kids love it
  and allows them a little break from following posing directions which buys me some additional time.

This is a fun variation, I had these little kids running toward the camera and this was the last shot I got. Just look at their
faces, they are having a great time.

Here's another variation. The concept is the same to
allow kids to run, move and play. All you'll need to do
is set it up so you can capture a great shot.

Love Love Love this variation.

Line them up and march them. It took us a few times to
get just the right spacing but these kids loved it.

Like this little sweetie, sometimes no matter what
tricks you try they just want to move. I spent most
of the session following her snapping when
she turned my way. I had a packet of smarties in my
hand which dramatically increased the amount she turned
toward me. This image really captures her little free spirit.

Children photography is more than just having a nice camera or perfect lighting it's also about knowing how to create an environment where you can capture the spirit of your little ones. The more tricks you have up your sleeve the more ability you'll have to create an environment where children are authentically having fun and capturing that in your images.

Happy Snapping!!

Come learn more about photographing kids in my Workshops.
Click Here for info on Salt Lake Class & Online Classes.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Using a Reflector as Fill Light

One of my favorite topics during my workshop is lighting. I teach you how I look at light, how I determine where I will place my subject according to my available light. Then how I enhance my available light to get warm gorgeous soft light on my subject.

One trick to creating a great photo with warm light is knowing how to use Fill Light to eliminate shadow and illuminate eyes. In this photo I used the white side of the reflector. I placed the reflector at his waist and pointed it up into his face, this eliminated the shadow cased by his cap.

In this next photo I used the reflector to add drama and glow. I had my assistant stand about 10 feet back from the model. Using the gold side to catching a patch of sun and reflect it back onto the model. This achieved a more high fashion look and feel.


One of my favorite photography tools is my reflector.
I use the 32" Soft Gold/White.

Learning to master light is one of the most challenging aspects of photography. Additional tools like this reflector, external flashes and speed lights add an level of drama to your images that you just can't achieve without them.  As you continue to master light with these tools you will begin to see your images pop and sparkle!!

Come learn more about lighting and lots of other photography topics at my Photography Workshops.