I wake in the early morning hours when my house is quiet. Like 4am early. Crazy. This I know. I just enjoy listening to my own music and not having any child interrupt my thoughts. Because let’s face it, being a mother to four amazing individuals requires plenty of downtime. (wink)
To help my brain dump and feel productive with personal assigned projects, I scrapbook. Yeah! I kick it old school!
Now, I’m not talking about scissors, tape, glue, pattern or textured paper, and cute stickers. Like pleeease! I’ve evolved to a digital scraper don’t-ya-know! (Said in my best mid-western accent.)
My latest project (ahem, 2 years in the making) has been to create family Halloween/Fall themed yearbook(s). I wanted a way to look back yearly and instead of printing a bunch of photos, my solution was to put everything into book format. My plan is to bring the book(s) out yearly when I decorate for fall and Halloween and enjoy my round trip ticket on the memory express.
My favorite book publisher for my personal photographic projects hands down is Blurb Books.
Most everyone I know uses Shutterfly. Who can blame them? Shutterfly offers a product at a cheap price point. But what you should never overlook, is quality of photographic products and Shutterfly is not about that. You know the saying…you get what you pay for.
I create and order 12×12 books from Blurb for my family. The books have on average 180 pages, and I upgrade the paper. After all, these are my memories that will be handed down for (hopefully) generations to come, so I need them printed on quality paper to make sure they’ll pass the 100 year test.
My family themed Blurb books normally cost $167 + shipping (depends on how many printed pages), but I always wait for a sale that’s normally offered twice a month, and save on average $30-$40 dollars. I understand that cost can add up, but my rational is that I no longer budget for film processing, so I’m exchanging cost of film + printing, for cost of printing books. I do order one book for each child since my memory keeping style is to combine all images and not create individual photo books for each kid. If I did that…I’d be a sinking ship and never get any projects done. But that’s just me.
What photo projects do you have going?
When do you make the time to complete them?
What steps are you taking to preserve them?
Do you make yearly family year books?
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“You are not in the mountains. The mountains are in you.” John Muir
Photographing in full sun.
Red Rock State Park lies about 15 minutes outside Las Vegas. On our way to LA in 2016 we took a tour of the park and I captured a few images for Mallory’s senior portfolio.
Photographing in full sun is not my first choice, but when it’s my only choice I have to make lemonade outta lemons. I took the photo’s above at high noon. Not only did I need to properly expose Mallory, I needed the mountains in the background to tell the story. It took me awhile driving around to find the right location within the park, but once I did, me and my girl worked fast due to ever-changing lighting scenario.
Here’s how I set up the shot:
- Positioning: Making sure I was facing into the sun and placing Mallory in front of me was key.
- Exposure: To properly expose for her skin, I used the desert floor as the natural reflector.
- Clothing: Having her wear dark colors meant I could expose properly for her skin without blowing her skin-tone or any highlights.
- Background: Having the mountains take up most of the background, I knew there wouldn’t be a blown out sky which would be a common occurrence.
- Direction: When photographing her face, I had her turn towards me, away from the sun, to cast even light on her face.
- Challenge: The wind. With her long hair I could only photograph her face in one direction so her hair wouldn’t cover her face. Pulling her hair up was not an option, and provided the movement I needed in her photo since she was stationary.
Lens: 50mm ISO 100/f 2.2/ SS 1/5000
**Having a camera body that has the minimum capability to dial the shutter speed to 1/4000 would be ideal and produce better results.
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One topic I always discuss with new clients is feeling uncomfortable. I get it. It’s not everyday you get a camera shoved in your face and you’re asked to perform, never-mind about wanting to look amazing and confident while feeling vulnerable.
Let me put it out there, confidence is something I struggle with in areas of my life. We all do. Some are better at hiding it then others. I prefer watching, and sometimes struggle walking into large crowds with an uncomfortable feeling. I just want to address that feeling and move past it quickly. To this day, I avoid large sporting events. I just can’t take the crowd size. Ok, now that’s on the table let’s talk about how I make my clients feel comfortable to get the photographic results I’m happy to present.
- Natural Behavior. Upon showing up at my clients location I let things happening naturally. After introductions, I keep the conversation on them always finding common ground to take the conversation further. During this time I observe what comes naturally to my client(s). I study their walk, how they sit, fold their arms, then I’m able to make small posing suggestions while keeping them true to themselves.
- Conversation. I talk. Alot. I talk while I’m photographing them. It also helps that mom is along for the session and most of the time funny family stories start to work their way into our conversation and that helps my clients relax and produce the candid images I want to present.
- Expectations. Lastly, the session is suppose to be fun. I always remind my clients that. I ask them to not look left or right at what others (peers) are doing and just be themselves. Giving them permission to be authentic, genuine, and honest, and comfortable with who they are. Putting all that uncomfortable emotion on the table I’ve gained the trust of my clients and that sets the tone for a successful session.
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Did you know we have something amazing in our own backyard?
Yep…we have the little patch of heaven in the form of a sunflower field right down the road.
If you don’t stop to smell the sun flowers you just might miss it. This is our 3rd year visiting Babbettes Seeds of Hope and we’re looking forward to visiting next year. After all, it’s become of end of summer family tradition. If you’re around for the long weekend I suggest taking the family out and getting lost in a sunflower maze. Think about it, how many people can say they’ve been to a sunflower maze?
Here’s a few fun family pictures I took with my Canon.
I wanted to get a photo of all my kiddos together but the lighting conditions were not great. So let me explain what I did:
Looking at the photo below you see the sunflowers are facing away from my kids. I would’ve LOVED to have my kids turned around so I could’ve had more sunflower faces and yellow petals in my photo, but that would have put the sun directly on my kids faces. So turning them away from the sun was the only way I could capture them without blinding them. Then to properly expose for them, I asked them to step to the side where the shade was and get close. At that point I knew I’d get happy faces that weren’t blinded by the sun and a good exposure of the tall sun flower stocks so the kids would know what this photo is about.
Camera Settings: ISO 100/F 7.1/SS 1/200
If I wanted a good photo of my kids in the field, what time of day would be best to visit Babbetts Sends of Hope? I’d say early morning or early dinner hours. Then the light won’t be so harsh.
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Hey there! Let’s talk about candid photos and how best to capture your loved ones.
Candid moments are by far my favorite images to create over posed. Now don’t get me wrong it’s nice to have photos where everyone is looking at the camera but let’s face it candid photographs seem more sentimental to me.
First and foremost before I ask my four kids to line up for a photograph I assess the location and lighting. Let me walk you through how I photographed my kids when we toured the community of Pullman that I blogged about the other day.
The Hotel Florence has this amazing wide wrap around porch that provided me with even shade depending on how I positioned my kids. When setting up this shot I decided to back light my subjects rather than have them stand with their faces to the sun. If you look at the lighting on the porch you’ll see how spotty it is. Now as much as I love brick in my images, the orange brick would cast an orange hue back onto my subjects (kids) so I made sure to position my kids away from the brick wall.
I decided to position my kids on the railing knowing there would be strong back-lighting but I was hoping to create a bit of lens flare. By having my children’s back to the sun this will allow me to expose their cute faces evenly and dial in my manual settings to expose for skin. I also made sure to put my girls in the line of light to highlight their hair since my boys have short hair and the light would end up on top of their heads and shoulders. That’s not the look I wanted. In the photo below I positioned everyone on the same plane to make sure everyone is in focus.
Next I centered the kids on the porch out of the strong patches of light you saw in the first photo. Again making sure everyone is on the same plane and close.
Once I got my “posed” photo out of the way, I let me kids play and that’s where I know I’ll create and get something I love! Of course I do offer guidance in the way of talking to my kids way too much but that guarantees that I’ll get something amazing for my wall at home.
Below I asked my kids to stand on the same plane and slowly walk towards me. This task is very difficult for my kids! Someone always ends up running to me as if it’s a contest to see who gets to mommy first. I then have to stop them and ask them to back up and try it again. This trick always gets my kids interacting with each other and guarantees me lots of photos with genuine laughs and goofy interaction. I never stop shooting.
Even though my kids are not cooperating (as seen in the photos above) I never put my camera down and they can play all they want because I’ve set myself in the perfect spot when great lighting so once again I let them play occasionally reminding them to stay on the same plane.
Ok…so let’s review:
- Assess your location and lighting.
- Dial in your manual settings to expose for skin.
- Ask your kids to line-up on the same plane.
- Position yourself in a fixed stance so you’re not moving, only the kids.
- Ask them to play and make a game out of it.
- Don’t stop shooting until you’ve got something good.
Because I run this “drill” a lot with my kids they know what to expect and therefore make the best of the situation to appease mom. Remember the saying…if mamma ain’t happy…
The candid moments I shared today are completely and truly my kids and I love that I can still hear their laughter when I look at these images. Therefore this series of images were a complete success for me to cherish.
Thanks for stopping by.