Hi, all! I’m Monica Shulman and I am a photographer in New York City. I also write Ciao, Chessa! — a lifestyle blog focusing on art, photography and travel. Thank you Adorama for inviting me to share on your blog!
I’m a bit obsessed with creating gallery walls and I’ve decided that I need more walls in my home. The wall above the dresser in my daughter’s room was a sad, empty space that taunted me for months. I thought about leaving it blank but one rainy afternoon, while we were lying on the floor reading some of her favorite books, my girl stopped me and staring at her existing gallery wall she started calling out everything and everyone she saw in the photos. Soon this became one of her favorite activities. She walks around our apartment (especially in the kitchen), points at photos and talks about them and the people in them and I tell her the story of the day the photo was taken. I started thinking about the kind of pictures that I wanted to put up on that little wall and soon the stories started to unfold. I use Instagram (A LOT) to capture the moments of my life and with a toddler running around sometimes the iPhone camera is the only practical way to take pictures because I simply don’t have the time or the hands to use my dslr. And so the idea for my newest gallery wall started to form. I had never printed my Instagram photos before but I knew, after years of working with Adoramapix, that the quality would be amazing and would not disappoint.
I used my own gallery wall tutorial as a guide:
(1) get all the necessarily materials (I LOVE painter’s tape)
(2) choose the frames and photos
(3) frame your wall using painter’s tape
(4) choose a layout, and finally
(5) hang the frames
The best part of creating this wall was choosing the images and once I decided that I was going to print pictures from my Instagram feed the fun really began. I love mobile photography because it has allowed me to take photography in general less seriously all the time. For the first time ever, as a photographer at least, I have finally learned to relinquish a bit of control (just a little) and in doing so I’m actually having more fun and have gotten better at capturing quiet, spontaneous moments and the images that I chose for this wall illustrate that. All of the photos are taken from behind or above when my daughter didn’t know that I was there, when she was in her own world, doing something wonderful and fun – jumping in puddles, running fearlessly toward the waves, sleeping peacefully in her beloved crib. I’m always, always there with her, watching her, letting her run and encouraging her to be adventurous and live playfully, even when (perhaps especially when) she doesn’t know I’m right behind her.
I’d highly recommend printing some of your favorite phone photos. If you think about it, these are the times when you feel the least self-conscious about your photo-taking skills because after all, it’s just a phone. The majority of my favorites happen to be Instagram pics but the idea behind mobile phone photos is the same…they are real, seemingly inconsequential but actually quite meaningful moments. I used Adoramapix and the prints look great in the 10×10 and 5×5 size.
I’m curious to know what you think. Do you have any tips for creating gallery walls or favorite apps for your iPhone or android? Share them in the comments!
Maternity photography has really gained in popularity through the last few years. Photographers are getting more and more creative with women and their baby bumps. It’s fantastic to see so much brightness and life in this new wave of photography. However, with any specialty there are always a few things to keep in mind when starting out.
1. The Time is Right
It’s hard to say when the exact right time to photograph a pregnant woman would be, but in most cases 7 months is the ideal month. This is usually when the baby has dropped a bit in the tummy and when moms are still relatively comfortable in moving their bodies. If you wait until after the 7 months, sometimes it can be uncomfortable for the mothers, plus they have a lot on their plate the closer they get to their due date. As a photographer, you’ll also want enough time to edit and print these images before the baby arrives. This should be plenty of time for your client to order images and share them before the wee one enters the world.
2. Preparation is Key
Maternity photography should be treated just like modeling or head shot photography. Have your client come prepared. Moms should make sure their nails are groomed and you might even suggest having the moms have their hair and makeup professionally done. It’s a little bit of pampering but it goes a long way in making the clients feel great about themselves. Have a candid discussion with your client regarding what to bring and make sure they bring water, snacks and a robe (for in between shoots) so they can feel as comfortable as possible. Also, remind them not to wear anything too confining around the belly before the session (like elastic pants). This can often leave marks on the tummy in which you’ll have to photoshop out later. So save yourself some time with this little tip.
3. Try New Angles
Ok, so you’ve done the traditional photo of mom standing up with her hands on her belly, now what? With maternity photography, it’s important to get the best angles and lighting as possible for the expecting moms. Try shooting from above. This is a great angle as it is almost always flattering . At this position, you can focus on her bright eyes or her hands on her belly. She can be looking straight at you or down at her bump. Any of these combinations will work as this angle is flattering and slimming to the face.
4. Get Creative
Think outside the box and get creative. What I love most about today’s maternity photography is the abstracts. I love the focus on the belly and flowers. Or maybe the feet are in focus and the tummy is out of focus. Or you can be clever in announcing the sex of the child by including elements to give clues. Try a pair of boy’s baby shoes in the photo or maybe fill the room with pink balloons. It’s fun to get creative and your client will have fun as well.
5. Get Loved Ones Involved
It’s not just mom who is excited about the arrival of the baby, it’s the dad, the partner, the pets, the siblings, the grandparents, the aunts, the uncles, you name it, everyone is anxiously waiting. So now is the time to capture their excitement too and include them in the maternity photo shoot. Dads and partners can come in and wrap their arms around the mom. Siblings can come in get up and close to mom’s belly. Finally, let Fido in on the action too, he’s a part of the family too and his life is about to get a whole lot better with more table scraps coming his way in a few years.
The important key to remember with any of this is to always make sure your client is comfortable. Keep relaxed but take this seriously. Your clients will love the extra attention and details you give them. Photographers are family historians and this is one of the most important jobs in the world.
Today is Mother’s Day. It’s no surprise, it comes every year. So why was I surprised, when I was looking through my photos that I could not find one of myself with my children from the past year either on my phone, camera or in print by Adoramapix? Yes, I had let a whole year slip away without one picture of me with both my kids.
When I was talking with member Natascha Lee of Natascha Lee Studios out of Colorado, we talked about not only photographer moms not getting in the pictures, but our clients as well were just wanting the kids in the photos. These are such wasted opportunities. Natascha Lee wrote a sweet article on encouraging moms to get into the picture.
Those who have spoken with me know that I am pretty passionate about photographing moms and dads with their children; not just the children alone but children with their parents as well! How else can you truly capture the love and special connection of a family?
When I get a push back on this (“Oh no, I don’t want to be in the photos — just the kids”), I ask:
What is *your* most cherished childhood photo?
Is it the one of you smiling big on your first day of school? The one where you are holding up your Christmas gift? The one where you are sleeping on the beach? Or is it the one, that includes your parents, playing with you, holding you, just being themselves?
For most of us, our most cherished images include our parents, and show the love we felt for each other. They might not be technically perfect but they are real and they are precious.
I worry that mothers are taking hundreds (thousands?) of images of their kids, and not including themselves in hardly any of them! I want to encourage all those moms who take tons of snapshots of their kids, to make sure that they themselves are in at least some of them.
It’s not hard I promise! Have your spouse or partner take a turn with the camera/phone, ask another parent to snap a few or hold the camera or phone out the way you do when you take pix with your bestie.
That photo where your hair wasn’t perfect but you were having a snow fight with your kids? Or the ones where your smile is a little lopsided and you are still in your pjs cuddling with your kids on the couch? That’ll probably be their favorite.
Thank you Natascha Lee, an important reminder to parents. By the way, I did find a picture of myself and my son together. This is how he sees me and I love it.
Happy Muvrs Day!
Father’s Day is just around the corner and now is the time to think about photo sessions. If you’re stuck on ideas on how to photograph dads, here’s a hint : Let them play with their kids! Adoramapix Member, Natascha Lee of Natascha Lee Studios (Baby and Family Photography in Broomfield, Colorado), creates vibrant, natural images of families having fun, especially her photos of Fathers playing with their children. So in honor of Father’s Day (June 16th), Natascha shares her top 5 tips for photographing Dads.
Recognize that Dad may being coming along at Mommy’s request and might not be all that enthused about having photos taken. So it’s important to honor his starting frame of mind, which might be, “Let’s get this over with.” By the end of the session, my Dads are amazed at how much fun they had!
Things may have been stressful at home, getting both parents and all kids ready for the photo shoot. So be friendly and upbeat but relaxed; make sure you don’t “bark out orders” or give too many directions, instructions or requirements.
Approach family sessions with the intention to include Dad + Kid photos. If your mission in similar to mine (to provide priceless family memories in a highly artistic fashion), then capturing the relationship between Daddy + Kids is a crucial part of providing that service. I also always photograph just Mommy + Daddy (or Mommy + Mommy, or Daddy + Daddy), for the same reason: to honor and celebrate their relationship as adults, as well as parents.
4) Set it Up
I now offer headshots to parents during my family sessions. It provides a great looking photo to use on LinkedIn and enables me to set up my Daddy + Kids opportunity. First I photograph Daddy alone. Then, when it’s Mommy’s turn, I ask Daddy to please take the kids “over there” (someplace with a great background) and “just play with them.” When I’m done shooting Mommy’s headshot, Daddy is inevitably playing adorably with the kids.
5) Shoot It!
First I’ll observe and take candid photos of them playing together. Then I’ll start to ask for some/all to look in my direction. I don’t want to interfere too much, just to capture the natural love and energy they have together.
When I edit for the final gallery, having photos of Daddy with the kids makes for a much fuller (and harder to resist) gallery to present to your clients. It also creates two parents who are jointly AND individually thrilled with the experience and the images.
HDR, or “High Dynamic Range” photography comes with a ton of opinions and critics. Basically you either really love HDR or you hate it. Over the past number of years it has become a very popular type of photography but also has a fairly poor reputation for being very unrealistic and extremely over done. I won’t lie, when I first started shooting them I made all the early mistakes most people usually do. Here a 5 tips to get you going in the right direction!
1. Less is More
The whole purpose of HDR photography is to bring out the details in shadows and highlights that your camera’s sensor can not do with one shot. The problem is you will see a lot of people going with 6+ images to merge together into one HDR photo. This brings out way too much detail and can sometimes flatten it out. You best bet is to try and merge 3 photos together with just a couple stops difference at the most. You have one neutral, one over exposed by a stop or two, and one under exposed by a stop or two. This will keep the image looking more realistic but at the same time give you that HDR look.
2. Shoot in RAW
If you aren’t already shooting RAW, you should be…even more so for HDR photography. With RAW files you are able to change the exposure of an image entirely in post processing. So you can get away with taking only 1 photo and adjusting the exposures in your photo editing program to give yourself the 3 different exposures you need. Doing it like this will keep issues like camera shake/movement and subject movement from happening and giving you a sharper image. It doesn’t work in all situations but it is absolutely a very handy way of getting a great HDR image.
3. Use a Tripod
If you are already familiar with shooting landscapes, even more so at night than you are likely already using a tripod. However, it is extremely important for creating photos that require multiple exposures. This allows you to take your 3 images while constantly having the same scene, horizons, subject, etc. When you bring your file into the HDR processing software (I personally used Photomatix) it gives you options for file alignment but to play it safe, always use a tripod. Also if you can, pick up a remote shutter or use the timer on the camera to reduce all camera shake for each image. Also quite handy (the remote) for long exposures!
4. Shoot at a low ISO
Shoot at low ISO, ideally 100. HDR processing introduces a lot of noise into your image so start with a lower ISO to minimize that problem. Every HDR image will have some noise, in post processing you can use certain tools and filters to help reduce noise.
5. Take it Easy with the Sliders
When I say sliders I mean the adjustment sliders in the HDR program you use such as Photomatix. Putting too much into strength, saturation, etc. can result in just a very ugly over done image. You create “halos” around subjects. If it looks over done to your eyes, it likely is. Bring that strength slider down. Also Photomatix is not the end of the editing process, take it from there into Photoshop or Lightroom to make final touches but editing is another topic all together!
Thanks to guest blogger Matthew Pugliese. Matt started shooting back in 2009 as a hobby with a Canon Rebel. His main area for photography has always been the urban landscape of New York City. He has been shooting HDR for about 3 years now. What started as a hobby, has now turned into a way of life for him. You can view more of his amazing work on his website and flickr account.