How to: Photograph Young Siblings

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Family portraits are hard.  There’s a good chance everyone involved has varying levels of interest in taking a great portrait.  I’m usually the one in the bunch groaning, so I’m here to tell you how to make future family shots a little less painful, specifically portraits of young siblings.

It all comes down to making it quick, easy and safe for the little ones.  You’re not going to walk away with fifty amazing portraits, but if you get one great shot, the squawks and squeals are all worth it.  In previous posts, we gave you a primer on photography, newborn portraits and kid candids.  I advise skimming those posts to get a better understanding of light and photography before setting up your mini models.

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5 Tips For Taking Better Kid Candids

Taking great kid candids is an important skill to have.  Give any parent a stellar photo of their son or daughter and you’ll be invited over for dinner often.  Throw all those kid candids in a photo album and BOOM you have the best mother’s day present ever, one that will never be duplicated or lost.  If you need more dinner dates or a great father’s day present (it’s already June!) than read on my friends, read on and charge those camera batteries because today’s post includes 5 Tips For Taking Better Kid Candids.

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How To: Take a Newborn Portrait

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Hey baby mommas and poppas! From time to time I like to share photography tips and bits. Today I’ll show you a simple setup for a newborn photography session.  If you have a DSLR, this tutorial is especially for you!  If you’re working with an iPhone or point and shoot camera, these tips will totally help you out too, but there’s going to be some information that you don’t need so just skim through all that junk.  Like I said, this is a simple setup.  Nothing crazy goin’ on here.  I think it’s best to master the basics first and that’s what we’ll be focusing on in this post.

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Bulldozer Birthday Cake!

Alex turned two at the end of April, and the timing worked perfectly that we had a house full of family ready to celebrate! Since we weren’t inviting his super cute little friends, we didn’t bother to have a theme party. Plus, how could we pick just one theme for the guy who loves, in no particular order : kitty cats, anything with wheels (and wings!), dinos, tools, and speed? We could have gone with a bike-riding kitty cat holding a screw driver, but without including the dinosaur, why even bother, you know?

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Even without a theme, I wanted to make a cake that the little guy would love. I also wanted it to be relatively simple. There are so many awesome ideas out there, just scanning Pinterest can put you into option overload. Want to see my kids’ party board? This is where I’ve become good at putting my blinders on. I have sense of what will excite Alex the moment he sees it, and that’s my first criteria in picking a cake. The second criteria is that it be simple, especially since I had my hands full this year. Once I found “the” cake, I stopped looking. And that’s that.

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Travel, travel, travel: always on the brain.

I think about traveling every. single. day. Sometimes it’s motivating, sometimes I feel bummed that I’m not off romping around and sometimes those thoughts encourage me to search for travel jobs and update my website.  Tonight I did the later and after working a couple twelve hour not-so-exciting days in a row, all I want is to live in a van and drive, drive, drive.  Instead I’ll post some photos – a few of these didn’t make the cut for my website.  Maybe they’ll give you the urge to get out there or maybe the lottery gods will read this post and my numbers will win tonight 😉

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Christmas Candids: A few tips!

I just watched a video of people unwrapping puppies and I’ve never been more grateful for family photographers.  We all want to capture the cheer and joy during holidays and gatherings so here are a few tips for photographing this year’s festivities.  First off, it really doesn’t matter if you’re shooting with a phone, point and shoot or a DSLR, these tips will work for you. Second, have fun while photographing, try to capture candid moments and remember to put down your camera for a few hours and really enjoy the moment as it is unfolding.  Happy Holidays!

White Balance

  • Check it!  The camera’s default setting is Auto White Balance, but that may not be the best option for the scene at hand.  Change the white balance to Incandescent or Fluorescent to see which setting works best for your home and lights.  If that sounded like Chinese to you, check out this Photography 101 post.

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Point of Focus

  • Pick one.  There is SO much going on at the holidays that you might see cookies, presents, lights and decorations all in one scene.  Decide what the point of focus is for your photo and zone in on that.  If it’s a little boy unwrapping a present, the photo is about his expression not the christmas tree behind him so frame the boy, not the entire living room.  Think about what you want to stand out about the photo and choose an angle that will highlight the subject not distract from it.

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Shooting on Burst Mode

  • Anytime you’re shooting action like unwrapping presents, a New Year’s toast, someone blowing out candles, shoot on burst mode.  It might also be called continuous mode and depending on your camera and settings it will take anywhere from a couple to a dozen shots each second.  Shooting on burst mode is the perfect way to capture every expression especially in candid situations.

Out-of-focus Christmas Lights

  • Lots of folks are always asking me how to achieve a bokeh effect with Christmas lights – good news, it is super easy! Simply choose a low aperture a.k.a. fstop number and that will effectively blur whatever you are not focusing on, in this case it’s the lights.  An example?  If I’m photographing my nephew in front of our Christmas tree, I want the tree to be visible so I can set the scene, yet he is the main focus of the photograph so I would set my aperture to f2.8 and focus on his sweet little face.  The tree behind him would be out of focus and therefore the lights would attain the bokeh effect. In the photos above, all three photos are of the same scene, but the light circles grow bigger as they become more out of focus. I simply pointed my camera at a Christmas tree and turned my focusing ring just out of focus, a little out of focus and majorly out of focus.

Photographing Outdoor Lights and Decorations

  • There are a few things that are relatively difficult to photograph.  Outdoor Christmas lights are one of them.  You basically have a really bright object (the lights) against a really dark object (the house and sky), which makes a tricky situation to expose properly.    I feel like we have all been here before.  You see an amazingly gorgeous sunset and you think, ‘family photo opp!’ only to be completely disappointed by the results.  You either end up silhouetted against the sun or you use the flash and hate the unnatural outcome.  It’s the same type of deal, dark and light competing for a proper exposure.
  • Head outside during twilight when the sky is nice and blue – right after sunset, but before it gets dark.  You have a small window of time for these shots, only about twenty minutes.  Set up your camera and tripod.  Choose a low ISO number like 400.  Also choose a slow shutter speed somewhere around 1/25 of a second or slower.  Set your aperture according to your light meter and then experiment from there.  I usually set up the shot, ISO and shutter speed and then take a dozen shots adjusting my aperture by one stop (click) each time.  Then I’ll scroll through the shots, decide which I like the best and set the aperture accordingly.  This time I’ll play with the shutter speed a little bit by adjusting it a tiny bit faster or a tiny bit slower.  That way you get a good variety of exposures.

Good luck and let us know if you found any of these tips useful by posting your pics to IG and tagging us 🙂

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