Portraits

Quick Tips for Taking Great Outdoor Portraits

Whether you're new to the whole portrait gig, want tips for taking better photos of graduating Seniors, or just want to improve on portraits overall - today I'm going to give you a few pointers to have a successful portrait session! 

This is my beautiful friend Cali that I knew growing up in Hawaii, who recently graduated from college and happened to be my latest subject for a portrait session. If you are going to shoot outdoors, my first tip is regarding LIGHTING.

Easy Tips for Taking Great Portraits - www.mommatography.com
  • Choose to photograph your subject when during the "sweet light" (just before sunset). I love shooting late in the evening when the sun isn't blaring hot and bright; it softens your subject and creates a nice glow. I also love shooting BACKLIT, placing the sun behind my subject. This can create fun sun flares, or just a really beautiful glow. 

Quick Tips for Taking Better Portraits and Headshots - www.mommatography.com
  • It's key to get your subject comfortable; most people don't love to be smiling in front of a camera and can appear stiff and out of their element. Chat with them, make them laugh, create movement; do anything to make them feel confident and relaxed.  It will show! 

Choose to photograph your subject when during the "sweet light" (just before sunset). I love shooting late in the evening when the sun isn't blaring hot and bright; it softens your subject and creates a nice glow. I also love shooting BACKLIT, placing the sun behind my subject. This can create fun sun flares, or just a nice glow.
  • Remember to get the eyes in focus. There's nothing more disappointing to a good photograph than realizing the subject's eyes aren't tack sharp. If you have a shallow depth of field (a small aperture/very blurry background) take your camera off of Autofocus and use your toggle button to land your focus point right on the eyes. For more on sharp photos and directions on how to do this, head to my article here.

Portrait Tips - www.mommatography.com
  • Mix up your angles and have your subject in various poses; sitting AND standing. I like to bring a simple stool or a chair to change things up, have them sit in the field, on a blanket, against a wall... anything to bring variety into the shoot. I also always ask women if they have a side of their profile that they like better to make sure they are happiest with their photos. 

Easy Tips for Taking Great Portraits - www.mommatography.com
Easy Tips for Taking Great Portraits - www.mommatography.com
Easy Tips for Taking Great Portraits - www.mommatography.com

The more options you have to show your client, the happier they will be with the end results. If they didn't like a certain angle and 80% of the shoot was stuck on that one pose, it can be a problem! If you are creative, keep things lighthearted and fun and have great lighting on your side, chances are you'll get some great photos. 

 

Happy Birthday to my Girls - Portraits of Twins

My sweet little twin girls turned THREE today! I can hardly believe how fast they are growing up. It seemed like yesterday they were still in the NICU; all five-and-a-half pounds of them, connected to feeding tubes and oxygen help surrounded by nurses. We made it to three girls! You can stop growing up now.  

Sometimes the phases that toddlers go through (fighting over toys, throwing fits, biting, having accidents, spilling drinks, having no interest in eating, getting out of bed five times a night, refusing to nap and falling apart before dinner... you know that kind of thing) can make for difficult days and long nights... now times that by TWO and it can turn into quite the circus act! I can honestly say that I wouldn't trade any of it for the world. Those moments are small and quickly forgotten amidst the joy, giggles, snuggles, love and pure happiness we experience together. I love these two little angels with all of my heart and am so blessed to have them call me Momma! 

SO, as a tribute to them, today's post is entirely that; my latest portrait session with these two, taken a few nights ago at sundown. They laughed, cried, and toughed it out, walking through pokey fields with just sandals on and not having had much of a dinner. It went ten times better than I thought it would (I made them leave their best friends' birthday party early to catch the good light - dinner consisted of half a piece of pizza, sugar cookies and few bites of cake). Thanks for letting me capture the essence of who you are and just how much you love each other. These photos mean the world to me. 

Happy birthday girlies!  

Photoshoot of Twin Girls - Portraits of Kids - www.mommatography.com
Photoshoot of Twin Girls - Portraits of Kids - www.mommatography.com
Photoshoot of Twin Girls - Portraits of Kids - www.mommatography.com
Photoshoot of Twin Girls - Portraits of Kids - www.mommatography.com
Photoshoot of Twin Girls - Portraits of Kids - www.mommatography.com
Photoshoot of Twin Girls - Portraits of Kids - www.mommatography.com
Photoshoot of Twin Girls - Portraits of Kids - www.mommatography.com
Photoshoot of Twin Girls - Portraits of Kids - www.mommatography.com
Photoshoot of Twin Girls - Portraits of Kids - www.mommatography.com
Photoshoot of Twin Girls - Portraits of Kids - www.mommatography.com
Photoshoot of Twin Girls - Portraits of Kids - www.mommatography.com
Photoshoot of Twin Girls - Portraits of Kids - www.mommatography.com
Photoshoot of Twin Girls - Portraits of Kids - www.mommatography.com
Photoshoot of Twin Girls - Portraits of Kids - www.mommatography.com
Photoshoot of Twin Girls - Portraits of Kids - www.mommatography.com
Photoshoot of Twin Girls - Portraits of Kids - www.mommatography.com
Photoshoot of Twin Girls - Portraits of Kids - www.mommatography.com

Love you M & E .

 
Backlit Portraits/Photography of Kids - Portraits of Twin Girls - www.mommatography.com

Behind the Scenes - In-Home Lifestyle Family Session

My wonderful brother and sister in law just moved to Arizona and I had the privilege of staying with them, just a few days after they had moved in! We had little to work with, as the rest of their belongings were being shipped across the Pacific Ocean from Hawaii. We really made this session simple and only used a bed, a sheet and a few white pillows for an in-home, lifestyle family photoshoot. Today I'm going to take you behind the scenes and give you some simple tips to get great photos in the home. 

1. Don't over complicate things!

Sometimes it's so easy to get crazy with props, outfits, blankets, and accessories. I think some photos become more about all those extra things, rather than focusing on the people in the photo. I love keeping things simple, clean and natural.  

hatchfamily-13.jpg

2. If there is a baby, make sure the baby is warm and well fed - that applies to the other kids too!

Crankiness and crying bring red faces and a lot of wiggles. Having the baby fed before hand helps a lot; I also had small easy snacks close by for the kids. It felt more like jumping on the bed, having a snack and snuggling than a photoshoot. Happy kids = happy photos. Simple as that. 

In-Home Lifestyle Tips
In-Home Family Lifestyle Photos - Tips for Keeping it Simple - www.mommatography.com

 

3. Allow for enough time to shoot and don't rush things. 

I loved being able to spend some quality time with this cute family and not have to rush things. In almost all of my sessions that involve a newborn, we'll have to take little breaks for nursing, calming the baby, or even making sure the older siblings are cheerful and happy. If it feels rushed it will be stressful and the pictures will show it! 

In-Home Lifestyle Family Photography Session - Behind the Scenes & Tips for Great Photos at Home - www.mommatography.com
in home family photos
In-Home Family Lifestyle Photos - Tips for Keeping it Simple - www.mommatography.com

4. Let the family be natural; don't stage everything or over-pose (I might have made that phrase up, but it sounds good to me). 

All I did for this shoot was tell them how to sit on the bed for the group shot. Everything else was candid and those are some of my favorite photos. Even if things get ugly with tears and meltdowns, it's okay to snap a few photos. Let them be their true every-day selves. It's real life. 

In-Home Lifestyle Family Photography Session - Behind the Scenes & Tips for Great Photos at Home - www.mommatography.com
In-Home Family Lifestyle Photos - Tips for Keeping it Simple - www.mommatography.com
In-Home Family Lifestyle Photos - Tips for Keeping it Simple - www.mommatography.com

5. Don't ever tell the kids to smile. Just make them laugh.

You know what I'm talking about. You say 'Okay, now SMILE!' and you get the world's most forced and irritated happy face. I steer clear of that. I tell them stories, make jokes and try to keep it light hearted. For these family shots, I played peek-a-boo behind the bathroom wall and that's all I needed to get happy expressions. It turned into a fun game for the girls. Okay, I might have done some really silly dancing as well; whatever it takes for million-dollar smiles, right??

In-Home Family Lifestyle Photos - Tips for Keeping it Simple - www.mommatography.com

6. Try and be discrete. 

I love standing by, trying not to let the kids know I am taking pictures. If you are documenting more than directing, you can get really great moments and the kids aren't bugged that a big annoying camera is in their face. This was my favorite shot of the whole day; the littlest sister jealously looking on at the new center of attention. She is the cutest thing. I wanted to take her home with me. 

In-Home Family Lifestyle Photos - Tips for Keeping it Simple - www.mommatography.com
In-Home Family Lifestyle Photos - Tips for Keeping it Simple - www.mommatography.com

7. Find the room that has the most natural-light.

Lighting is key to great photos. I always search for the best-lit room and let all that beautiful light flood in. If the master bedroom is dark, try moving to the living room if it has bigger windows. Shoot in different directions, towards the light source and letting the light fall on the subject. The quicker you learn about lighting and how to find good lighting, the better your pictures will be! 

In-Home Family Lifestyle Photos - Tips for Keeping it Simple - www.mommatography.com

Practice taking lifestyle photos at home with your own kids or ask friends, if you'd like to take better family photos. What better place to shoot than where a family is most comfortable - in their own home. 

 

Tips for Photographing Kids - Portraits in their Room

Spring is just around the corner which means the days are longer, brighter and spring cleaning is on the minds of many. I feel like I am nesting (for no reason, really) and find myself wanting to organize every nook and cranny in my home! Besides thinking about every closet I want to redo, I've also found myself wanting to cherish the stages my kids are currently at. We've had a lot of fun playing together lately, we are SO excited for springtime and I just can't get enough of them. 

So my twins went through about a week spurt where they decided they didn't want to argue over toys and realized they could be best friends (unfortunately, it didn't last very long... now it's hit or miss). The whole morning I was free to observe and not be a referee! Hallelujah! It was so much fun to sit back in the doorway while they laughed, played princesses, snuggled, jumped around, tucked each other in and sang at the top of their lungs in their room. They didn't even know I was there with my camera, documenting a memory that meant so much to me. 

Tips for Photographing a Nursery or Kids Room - www.mommatography.com
Tips for Photographing a Nursery or Kids Room - www.mommatography.com

This led me to realize how much I love having photos of them in their room! So I'm posting another challenge out there - try and capture the essence of your children in their room(s). Even if it's just a small corner of a shared room; these are moments and details in your life that you won't want to forget. PS: How awesome is the artwork my friend made in this little guys' nursery?   

Tips for Photographing a Nursery or Kids Room - www.mommatography.com

Think of getting different angles and getting on their level. Be creative!

Tips for Photographing a Nursery or Kids Room - www.mommatography.com
Tips for Photographing a Nursery or Kids Room - www.mommatography.com

If you have a toddler, try and get some candid shots of them playing with a favorite toy, snuggled with a favorite blanket or just exploring and playing in their territory.

Portraits of Kids - Fun Photos in their Room - www.mommatography.com
Portraits of Kids - Fun Photos in their Room - www.mommatography.com

Maybe you intrude on quiet time to remember what their favorite book was when they were three, six or even ten years old.

Portraits of Kids - Fun Photos in their Room - www.mommatography.com
Tips for Photographing Kids in their Element - www.mommatography.com

Try and let a lot of that fresh spring daylight into the room (try to bump up your ISO number to let in more light). I love being able to remember the everyday details and routine by documenting little ones in their element, in their room.  

Portraits of Kids - Fun Photos in their Room - www.mommatography.com

Just let them do their thing so it's not planned out and they don't feel pressure; you'll get more photos that are raw and real. Kids are hilarious, entertaining and full of life. They are my favorite subject matter, hands down. Take your camera out a little more often while they play and practice getting better! You won't regret it!

 

Fun Portrait Tips for Kids - Photograph Kids in Their Element - www.mommatography.com

6 Tips for Shooting Fun Portraits in the Snow

We have had some amazing snow falling in Utah this winter (they don't call it the greatest snow on earth for nothing) and we are loving it. For those of you who get the chance to play in all this white stuff - try taking some fun photos in the snow! I've got a few tips for shooting portraits in the snow. Snow can make things tricky sometimes. Here are a few pointers to ensure you make the most of your photos outside in the winter. 

SIX TIPS FOR TAKING PORTRAITS IN THE SNOW

1. TAKE YOUR CAMERA OFF AUTO! This is one of my MAIN goals for you, a major point of my whole blog - to get you exploring different camera settings and becoming familiar with shooting manual. Just take a glance at the two photos below. Can you guess which one was taken on Auto?? 

Tips for Taking Fun Portraits in the Snow - www.mommatography.com

Not this one. 

Tips for Taking Fun Portraits in the Snow (don't shoot on auto!) - www.mommatography.com

This one was shot on Auto!

Look how murky it is! The brightness of snow can be overwhelming to your camera and the light meter inside it, resulting in images that are way too dark when shooting on Auto. Be brave, switch it to manual, keep an eye on your light meter and pick your own exposure. Your images will be ten times better if you practice shooting on Manual Mode. 

Five Tips for Fun Portraits in the Snow - www.mommatography.com

2. Slightly overexpose your image. Snow will look cleaner and brighter if you shoot a little brighter than what your camera tells you is the right exposure. Don't go too far to where you completely blow out the snow or lose all detail in the white areas of your image. This can be tricky, especially if the light is changing due to partly cloudy skies. 

I made that mistake in this photo below - the sun peeked through the clouds a little and it made my exposure brighter than I wanted it to be. 

Tips for Taking Fun Portraits in the Snow (don't overexpose too much) - www.mommatography.com

This leads to my next tip!

3. Shoot in RAW format. If you are questioning your ability to make a good exposure, and don't want to risk anything, turn your camera file setting to shoot in RAW, or RAW + JPEG. This will give you the file that has all the information you need to bring back detail in your snow, just in case you do lose details in your crazy bright snowy scene. If you have editing software such as Photoshop, you can tone those areas down when you edit your photos.

Tips for Taking Fun Portraits in the Snow - www.mommatography.com

4. Use your HISTOGRAM. Most digital cameras and for sure DSLR cameras have a histogram. On the back of your camera when you preview your image using your playback menu, you can find and read a histogram for each of your images (check your instruction manual on how to display your histogram). On my Nikon, I simply press my up and down arrows. This is graph/chart that will SHOW YOU your where your shadows or dark areas, mid-tones and highlights or bright areas are. In the image below you can see my histogram (red highlighted area) and see that my values are spread pretty even across the histogram (the peak favors the right side because it's a bright image). 

histogram reading - www.mommatography.com

If there is a gap on the left side of your chart, it means you are losing some detail in your highlights. See the image below. 

histogram reading - www.mommatography.com

Let this work as a guide to see what is happening with your exposure. I will give a more detailed post about histograms soon. 

Tips for Taking Fun Portraits in the Snow - www.mommatography.com

5. Try using a shallow depth of field. I love shooting with a lower Aperture number (f/stop) to get the snowflakes to show around my subject. I shot these at f/2.8 and f/3.2 to get that effect. I also made sure that my shutter speed was at least 1/250th of a second to freeze motion. These girls are constantly wiggling, jumping and laughing when they get out in the snow. To get crisp images and freeze motion, the faster the shutter speed the better. I shot these ones at 1/640th of a second. 

Tips for Taking Fun Portraits in the Snow - www.mommatography.com

6. Try something fun, like shooting out of focus and see what happens. I just so happened to focus on the snow falling instead of her face and ended up loving the result (image below on the left). If you're photographing kids, don't  tell them to say cheese. Just let them play and explore and you'll get some great moments. For more tips about photographing kids, read my article here

Tips for Taking Fun Portraits in the Snow - www.mommatography.com
Tips for Taking Fun Portraits in the Snow - www.mommatography.com

Next time it snows, take your camera outside and try shooting some fun photos!