May 2013 07

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.

 

 

 

 

May 2013 13

Senior  photography has grown tremendously over the years thanks in part to social media. Teens love to share their photographs with each other. So it’s no wonder that graduation photography is such an important part of their lives. Like any specialty, there are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind when photographing graduates.

 

1. Know Your Client

Each client is unique. What defines them at this age is their interests. The more you can connect with them on this level the more they will feel comfortable with you and in front of the lens. I know a lot of photographers that will send out a “Get to Know You” questionnaire to their clients. It’s a short survey that asks clients about their hobbies, music tastes, sports, etc. As you prepare for the photo shoot, you may want to have your client bring their ipod or mp3 player loaded with their favorite songs as background music for the shoot. You can also suggest they bring any sports items they have or  instruments they played. Anything to make their experience unique and specialized.

2. Dress for Success

Nothing dates an image more than the style of clothes a person wears. When my Senior images were taken, acid wash was the rage. Let the Senior bring their favorite clothes and what makes them feel comfortable. You may also want to suggest to throw in a few more timeless and simple outfits ie, solid colors, no big logos, etc. This way you are covering all bases and will ensure the images will not be outdated as the fads change. Also, if your client wears glasses you might want to suggest they get a pair of frames without the glass. Most glasses give a glare from studio lights or reflections from outside. You don’t want them to look differently without their tradmark specs, but you also don’t want to spend a lot of time retouching glare.

 

3. Posture and Hand Placement 

Posture and hand placement  are so important in senior photography. For most Seniors, this is their first time being the solo subject for a professional photographer. So they will not automatically know what to do with their hands and limbs. Typically, girls should have soft hands and boys should have more confident hand placement.  Instead of telling your subjects what they should be doing or going in and mechanically moving their limbs for them, show them how to pose. This way, they don’t feel as awkward or embarrassed that they are doing it wrong. This should be a positive experience and the more you can alleviate any stress for them the better.

 

4. Bring Along Support

You might also suggest they are welcomed to bring a long a friend, parent or sibling. Sometimes having a familiar face in an unfamiliar place makes all the difference in the world. I think it’s often important too to snag a few candids of the Senior with this person. It’s a simple thing to do and it makes for a lasting memory from a great session. Some photographers will even include their support person in the portrait session. Whatever your view is, this person is special to your Senior, so take the time to capture it.

 

 

5. Be Social Savvy

It seems like a majority of Seniors are very social savvy with accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.  It’s imperative to be just as savvy. In your questionairre from step 1, make sure to ask your Seniors for their various handles on social media channels. I always ask if it’s ok to tag them on Facebook and give sneak peeks on other social media channels. I’ve also Instagrammed between set ups where the client is relaxing a bit and laughing. It’s important to find out what they are comfortable with in regards to social media and then target your marketing accordingly.

The most important item to keep in mind is to make your client feel at ease. You are documenting a really important time in their life. Keeping it fun, positive and smooth on your end will go a long way in making a great memory.

May 2013 21

May and June are typically the months when wedding photographers start to get busy as the season starts. I truly believe, wedding photography is one of the hardest specialities. The reason : You need to be a photojournalist, stock photographer, architectural photographer, portrait photographer, food photographer, a commercial photographer and the list goes on. You need to have knowledge in all these areas to be truly great at your craft.  Aside from the technicalities of wedding photography, there are a few things you should keep in mind when photographing the couple on the way to the altar.

 

1. Preparation

I can’t say this one enough. Preparation is key. Have a questionnaire for your couple. In the questionnaire,you should ask the basics : start time, venue location etc. Also ask, about relations and the names of family and wedding party. It’s hard to remember everyone’s name in the wedding party, but learning the names of the parents, grandparents and siblings will take you far.  Also, ask if there are any family situations to be made aware of, such as divorces or deaths. It’s important to set expectations with your couple ahead of time instead of having a surprise or problem on the day of the wedding.  Remember there is no such thing as too much information when it comes to wedding photography. As far as preparing equipment, check and charge everything the night before if not earlier.

2. Scout your Location

I have always scouted my locations a week before the event. The reason being, I needed to know where the sun set in the sky during the time I would be taking wedding pictures. I may have been at this venue before, but generally the time of day and seasons may have been different.  Also, I check to see if there are any races or street fairs I should know about on the wedding date as this might affect traffic to and from the ceremony or the reception. You also want a back up plan. If it rains on the wedding day, you should be prepared with a  plan “b”.  A plan to execute in case it rains, you don’t want to be left high and dry without a back up plan.

3. The Power of Light

Know your light. Everything from natural to flash to strobe. When working with natural light, do you want a sihlouette or do you want to work with the sun? This will make a difference in your settings.  For flash, there are a number of ways to diffuse your flash to make it softer on your subjects. If you don’t know how to use your flash manually, try using a diffuser . You can also bounce it off walls, ceilings, even off reflectors. If you are using strobe, make sure you have tested your triggers or you have plenty of extension chord if it’s a plug in.  The key is to have the most flattering light possible on your subjects.

 

4. Details

Your couple has spent a lot of time picking out the right shoes, the right tie, the right rings, the right dress , the right suit. Spend some time getting images of these various articles as well as all the little details at the reception. You would be amazed how these detail shots help in setting up a wedding album. They often make the perfect filler or background.

5. Social Media Savvy

I can’t think of a better event to be social savvy at  than a wedding. Your opportunities to market are endless. From your questionnaire on step 1, ask for the bride and groom’s soial media handles on facebook ,twitter, instagram and such. Go over your plans with the couple on how you will present their images on your website, facebook and other channels. Some people are still very private, so it’s important to know this ahead of time.  Make it fun and get everyone involved. Sometimes coming up with a fun hashtag on Instagram can get the wedding party and guests involved. For example, #MikeandSallyTieTheKnot. Or when loading photos to Facebook, have your couple invite their friends to “tag” themselves in the photo.  At the reception, print out little cards with the website and password to the images for the wedding. Marketing is a different world now days with the internet and it’s important to not only discuss this with your couple but to also stay one step ahead of the technology curve.

There are so many more tips and tricks to wedding photography, but these are definite starting points. I have been a wedding photographer for 13 years and I can honestly say, it is one of the most difficult and demanding photography specialties. I admire those who have been in the business for years and I admire those just starting out and pushing the boundaries. Documenting a couple on one of their most cherished days is an honor and more importantly, giving them beautiful images documenting their wedding day is the best marketing you can do for yourself as they show them to their friends and family.

 

 

May 2013 28

While you might not be able to teach an old dog new tricks you can certainly learn a few tips and tricks to capture memorable photos of your pet. Pets play a huge part in many households. Capturing the personality and charm of your furry friend (or feathered or scaly) can be a cherished keepsake.

This photo makes a great greeting card or printed piece for your home.

Capturing great photos of your pets.

What started out for me as a few furry photos has become a big part of what I love to take photos of. Here are 7 of my best tips and tricks for taking fantastic photos of pets:

  1. Get to know your pet. It’s important to ease into the relationship with the pet you’re photographing. When I first meet a client’s pet I let them get to know me by gently extending my hand to allow them to sniff me. I also display a genuinely warm and caring attitude. Pets can sense fear or trepidation so it’s important to exude confidence and caring.  If they are very shy have the owner hold them for a cute and cuddly photo.

    Hold shy pets if you need to.

    For those shy pets have the owner hold them for a cute and cuddly photo.

  2. Pet friendly parks. Find a few pet-friendly parks in your area. Many parks do not allow pets to be off leash so be sure to check and observe the rules of each park. At the onset allow the pet to roam and play to extend some of their energy. I often take a few test photos at this point to set my exposure and shutter speed.

    Be sure to follow all the rules at a public park.

    Check whether your pet can be off-leash at a public park.

  3. Trick or treat. I typically do not give out treats until the very end of a session. I want the pet to be himself or herself and not guided by food. Oftentimes the clients like to bring a few favorite treats and that is okay to use as a reward, but use them judiciously.

    Can your pet have a treat during a photo session.

    Hand out pet treats judiciously especially if your pet is food motivated.

  4. Toys and noises. Dogs typically respond to squeaky noises. I have a few toys that squeak and oftentimes take the squeaker out of an old toy to have on hand to get their attention. If I forget my squeaky toy I make a high lilting noise or knock on wood (to mimic someone at the door) to get their attention. Cats respond to playful toys. I’ll often have the owner take a toy and position it behind and above my head to have the cat look in my direction for a head on shot.

    Crouching cat.

    Get a cat toy to capture a cat’s curiosity.

  5. Camera settings. When I work with children and pets I set my camera in shutter priority (Tv) or if I am on manual mode I make sure my shutter speed is at least 1/200. And I also set my camera to take continuous shots. Because pets, like children, don’t sit still for long I need to be sure my camera is ready to take that amazing shot at just the right time.

    Swimming Dog

    Set your camera to fast shutter speed to capture a pet in motion.

  6. Focus on the eyes. Pets speak through their eyes. Be sure to focus your shot on their eyes. Buy a poster size white foam core or poster board and have it propped in front of you to get nice highlights reflected in the eyes.

    Focus on the eyes of your subject

    Aim your camera’s focal point on the eyes to capture their essence.

  7. Up and down. One of the best tips for pet photography is to take the photo from different angles. Try getting down at pet level to capture the perspective they see. Or take them from above with the pet looking up. These angles mimic the perspective that either the pet views the world or how you view the pet in real life.

    Capture a photo from different angles to capture a pet's perspective.

    Be sure to take photos from different angles to capture the right perspective.

Take a shot at capturing some of your favorite pet photos with these tips and tricks.

What are some of your favorite tips and tricks for capturing picture perfect pet photos?

Tina Case is a writer and photographer out of the San Francisco Bay area.  She writes for a number of sites and co-writes for the photography blog Moms Who Click where she shares photographer tips, tricks and interviews.  Tina shares her parenting stories and more on Yahoo! where she is a featured “Parenting Guru.” Check more of her photos at Tina Case Photography, on Facebook and Instagram

May 2013 29

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.

1) Recognize
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!


2) Relax
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.


3) Intention
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.

For more inspiration, you can find Nataschalee’s website HERE and her blog HERE.

 

 


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