1. Set Realistic Expectations
Stress free means that as a mom I understand that most kids are not going to sit through a 15-30 minute session pretending to be happy about it. With this in mind, my sessions are both interactive and fun! I provide you with direction to get you to interact with each other versus static, fake smile poses. The interactions I create provide real reactions to make kids look and feel natural in photographs.
2. Bring a Bribe
Usually at family portrait sessions I bring treats like lollipops, in case someone is not cooperating. This is a great way to relive stress by knowing there’s a back up plan, when things don’t go as planned. (Hate to break it to you, but they never do.) I also suggest parents bring their own treats as well or the promise of ice cream at the end of family photography session can entice even the most pouty kids.
3. Know How the Photographer Shoots
The beauty of the digital camera is that a photographer can take as many shots as they would like. All those moments in between instructions can be documented and, honestly, those are some of the best moments for natural looking photographs. Why? Because no one is thinking about the camera. So don’t stop what you’re doing when you here the click in between “poses.”
4. Make Sure Your Photographer is Encouraging
My job is to be there for my clients, to make them feel that they are doing a good job. Family portrait sessions can be very deflating if the photographer is not enthusiastic, which reflects on your mood. Deflated moods lead to unnatural looking photographs and high stress levels. Getting your picture taken should be exciting!
5. Don’t Expect Smiles All the Time
I don’t expect my child to smile all the time and I don’t expect it in family portraits either. It’s unnatural to force a smile and it shows in photos, they look cheesy. It also stresses out the family if one person doesn’t smile because everyone encourages them to do so. Kids that don’t smile can still have wonderful photos that often look soulful and heartwarming!
See what an hour long session is like or for a true stress free photography experience try a different kind of session like "day in life" sessions.
back lightI often get asked by moms how to take better photographs of their children and even how to use their camera. I love teaching, so I am more than willing to help!
Light and knowing how to see it is the most important part of photography! It's important to know how it shapes a subject in order to achieve your vision. In this post we are going to talk about front, 45 degree, side, back and top lighting.
If you just got your camera and know how to use it in manual mode stick around, even if you don't this good knowledge to have just to take better smartphone photos. However, I highly encourage you to research how to use your camera on manual mode. You'll have so much more control over the vision of your photograph!
Start with a subject you'd like to photograph, maybe even a person. Use the same subject in each photo in the same position every time. Also use the same light every time, whether it's a flashlight or a lamp or you can use a soft box kit like mine.
Front lighting is when your light source is directly in front of your subject. Front lighting makes everything flat and you'll lose detail in your subject like textures. Shadows are very subtle and even non existent and objects tend to lose their shape. If you are looking for smooth skin, beauty type shots this is the common set-up.
As you can see in the photo the flowers look very flat and two dimensional. The texture in the flowers petals and on the leaves are lost. Same with the picture of my son below. Light in front of his face has nearly eliminated all the shadows. It makes his skin look even and smooth.
Real Life Example
45 Degree Lighting
Light is angled at 45 degrees from your subjects nose or whatever point sticks out the most in your subject. This lighting is the most popular for portraits. It's often soft and the shadows are gradual giving a beautiful 3D look in a 2D medium.
You'll often hear 45 degree lighting called Rembrandt lighting after the famous painter who used it often in his portraits. It's more dramatic than front lighting, but oh so beautiful! It's my favorite type of lighting other than side light, which I'll talk about next.
Real Life Example
Side lighting comes from the side of your subject and emphasizes texture. It's extremely dramatic and often used in portraits that exhibit loneliness or sorrow. You'll see it a lot in publications like National Geographic and Time.
When I say it emphasizes texture a great example of it would be in a portrait of a senior citizen. It'll make their wrinkles and lines in their face stand out much more than any other type of lighting. On men it'll make stubble stand out and well as tiny stray hairs.
As for the flowers, side lighting highlights all the wrinkles in the leaves, little hairs on the edges of the leaves and the smoothness of the vase.
Real Life Example
Lighting from the back of the subject emphasizes the shape of your subject. Silhouettes are an example of back lighting, but back lighting also highlights the contours of a subject. This means the light will create a a halo effect around the edges of your subject.
If using artificial light it's best to use lights that are small in order for them to hide behind your subject. It's best to use back lighting on subjects that you can see their profile or the distinct shape of what the subject is. Otherwise it'll look like a black blob in your picture and not distinct.
Real Life Example
Lighting from Above
When thinking about lighting from the top you should remember you are emphasizing form of your subject, where as back lighting is the flat shape of a subject. Think sphere versus circle.
You're also going to get some pretty harsh shadows on the face for example like the forehead over the eyes. Think about when you take a photo in the mid day sun of a person in a baseball cap. Their entire face is black because of the bill of the cap over the face.
Real Life Example
If you are new to photography lighting is definitely where you should start. It's something you need to recognize with both natural and artificial light. Knowing what your seeing and how it shapes your subject will dramatically improve your photography and you'll start seeing it everywhere you go!
Have questions about the lighting above? Leave me a comment below. Otherwise I would love to see examples of the photographs you take with your new knowledge on lighting.
As a photographer one of the most common questions I get asked is “how do I organize all my photos?” Many of us have 2,000 or more photos on our phone. Photos can take up a lot of space and can really slow down the performance of your phone. So, we need to figure out the best way to keep our photos organized, easily accessible and visible because whats the point of taking photos if you can’t see them!
1. Back Up
I’m an Andriod user, so I use google photos to back up my Samsung photos. Google photos storage is unlimited for smartphone photos. Personally, I think it’s the best option out there!
If you’re an iPhone user back up your photos to iCloud, but its a limited amount of space then, I believe, you have to pay a monthly fee.
You can also back up to your computer and external hard drives. I use all three, the cloud, my computer and an external hard drive. As soon as I am done taking photos I immediately download all my photos to these devices. If you automatically upload to the cloud the better because you don’t even have to think about it!
2. Delete, delete, delete
For some reason when we take pictures we tend take 10 of the same situation and each one is slightly different. Pick the best one of the series and delete the rest. There’s no reason to have all of those photos taking up space on your phone, especially if they all pretty much look the same.
Many parents feel bad when they delete photos of their children and it’s because you’re emotionally attached to them. Look at it this way, millennials and the generations after are the most documented generations ever. They probably have 100 photos of them eating their first birthday cake to your 3 photos. So don’t fret about deleting photos. Your kids have more photos of themselves then we ever did and what in the world are they going to do with all of them.
Every smartphone, camera and video camera has an internal clock, which means every photo you take is dated and even geographically marked now. Which also means your photos are already organized for you! So awesome, don’t you think?
What about when I transfer the photos? When I transfer them they are all mixed up?
If you transfer them to the computer most likely it’s organizing them by file name. You can just left click and tell it to organize by date. Easy peasy!
The whole point of taking photos is to see them right? How often do you go through all of them when they are on your phone? I am guessing maybe once a month if that. Do you even know what’s on there from last year?
No? Well then print your photos. There are so many cheap and beautiful options out there there’s no excuse. The Shutterfly app offers free 4x6 prints, plus other different free offers every month, you just pay for shipping.
However, my favorite is Social Print Studio. Not only will it print phone photos, but it will take photos directly from Instagram too! They have so many fun options for very reasonable prices.
But what if I have a lot of photos to print from every year, like thousands? Wouldn’t that cost a lot of money?
Yes it would! So this is where you have to channel your inner Marie Kondo and only print the ones that spark joy! Really, how many pictures of your napping baby do you want to have before they all look the same. Pick the ones that really spark a memory or tell a story and print.
5. Now the last step is the easiest, but has the most value! Display!
Put your albums on coffee tables and your prints on walls so you and your family can see it everyday, plus they are great talking points for when you have guests come over.
All done and so easy! The hard part of organizing is already done for you because technology is awesome! I remember having to date photos after I printed them and put them in albums. The tedious part was figuring out what went where and the order of everything. That’s already done for you and picking which ones to print is the easy part. So there’s no excuse now you should be printing photos and making albums left and right.
Life is so different for us now, since our nights as drunk 20 year olds walking from old town Roseville to your house. I never expected you would marry a Scotsman and I would have chickens on two acres. It's not where my visions of us took me. I still think we will be old, husbandless and living together, sitting on our front porch yelling at kids to get off our lawn. But we'll be really old!
However, I would not change a thing about our lives as much as we may complain about our children. You are, by far, one of the most amazing moms I know. Just the fact that you lived in Ghana with two children astonishes me. You are brave! I would have had a mental breakdown that far from home. You are so adventurous and I see that spirit in your girls!
I am so glad I got to do a small session of your girls because I got to see how great of a mother you are! You are nurturing, but at the same time you know how to walk away and let them build their own independence. The best part about seeing you with your children is that you instinctively know how to talk to them. You don't baby, you're authoritative, but not mean. It's a comforting authority if that makes any sense, lol! I learned a lot from you and have copied your demeanor in trying situations with my son.
Just know that you are doing a great job! Seriously, i'm not just saying that because you are my friend! You have raised amazing human beings who are kind and smart and look up to you. They will be independent, self sufficient girls who will grow up to be independent, self sufficient women.
Peak into the Ross Sister's Life - Photo Slideshow
There's no better portrait than a portrait of a mother and son! Why? Well because I have a son and it's not often that I get to take pictures with him. Like a good photo, not of us making silly faces because that's what boys do at 3 years of age. So when moms come to me and want a session of just them and their son, like Kassie and Alex, my heart melts just a little!
Kassie is a school teacher and a wonderful mom! She already has Alex writing his own name, which makes me feel a little behind. She and Alex are so sweet together and I feel like they always have so much fun! Alex is a funny kid! He's got such a personality and is always smiling. I don't think I have ever seen him lose his temper.
So far I have been lucky enough to photograph them every year and I can't wait for our next session together!
Families are like fudge, mostly sweet, with a whole lot of nuts!