Friday, March 27, 2015

Easter Poses

Hoppy Easter!
Just wanted to hop by and share some easy ideas for
Easter portraits with young children.
This is my great nephew Joey who was 10 months old in these photos.
I was visiting my sister in Cincinnati, so I didn't have any
fancy studio or lighting.
We simply set up in her living room:
You can do the same thing by hanging a
white blanket or sheet in the background
like we did.  Have your little makeshift studio
facing a window...preferably a full length or sliding glass door.
I added bokeh from my Bokeh Overlay Collection to the background.
Look at all the props and MESS we created...ha ha!!
I hope you will try one of these make-shift studio shots
with your kids.
Here are a few more Easter photos taken in a similar situation.

I set up this next cute little scene for a one-year-old.
WHY did I EVER think this would work for a one-year-old?
The mother put her down and this happened
Natural is always so much better than...
But these are pretty darn cute:
Those are some ideas for some CUTE Easter Portraits!
Take some EGG-celent photos!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

More Ways to Create Motion in Photos

Last week, I wrote about my ONE technique that changed my
portrait work FOREVER...
Yes, this photo of Alyssa in the field with balloons is
very pretty...
But this next version is ALIVE and
I want to show you more examples and ways to create motion
or movement in your photos.
Mostly, I want to inspire you to challenge yourself, and REALLY look
for ways to capture emotion, talents, and interests
by creating motion in your portraits!
This is how the creative process played out for me while doing
a senior portrait shoot last summer:
This is a perfectly nice photo of Senior Abby who is a pitcher on her
high school softball team.  She wanted to wear her uniform in some of
her senior portraits.
Most photographers would take a shot like this.

                                                      I did...but I thought it was boring.
How can we add movement????
Yes, this is clever...the ball is in the air, and she is reacting to it.
But, Abby is a pitcher.  I want her pitching!
Now, this is some movement!
And, she's pitching!
I better DUCK....FAST!
Let me take it one step further...a close-up
to really capture the intensity of her face!
Okay, so I added the softball in Photoshop.
Always consider what you can do with editing
to take the action a step further!
I carefully thought out this shot, capturing her in action, while
keeping sharp focus on her face.
I even photographed the ball out of focus knowing
I would add it later in Photoshop!
I constantly challenge myself to
go beyond a regular, boring, posed snapshot and
create ART!
I always ask myself this question when someone is paying me
to do portrait work for them:
Could they take this photo with their phone????
If they can, it's a snapshot.
They are paying ME to go beyond a snapshot and create ART!
(That's my biggest tip for portrait photographers!)
Study my lesson in how to set your camera and shoot action and movement
in  THIS BLOG POST.....then
I know it seems complicated, and it takes time and courage
 to practice and set the camera
to shoot the motion.
But you will become an artist in the process.
I asked Susie to skate for me on her backyard rink
 so I could practice these techniques a few years ago.
(Actually pretty dumb to try this in the winter!)
I was FREEZING!  My fingers were numb! 
I goofed up SO MANY TIMES!
I was embarrassed because poor Susie was getting dizzy!
"Susie, can you do that spin AGAIN for the 20th time?  Pretty please??

Can you change outfits so I can try another 50 times???"
This is the shoot when I finally caught on how to do it!!!!!!
When you step out of your comfort zone and TRY...
you grow....
and grow...
and GROW...
Even intentional blur can be art!
Play with depth of field, and watch for natural movement and action!
Natural is always the BEST!
Yes, you can pose this shot:
But be alert to capture this next shot
that usually happens naturally after you take the posed shot:
Another way to create the feeling of motion in a photo,
is to have something other than your subject moving.
This next photo of Vintage Val was taken with a slower shutter speed.
I had her stand very still and the longer shutter captured the
movement of the car and a person walking.
My camera was set at f/18,  1/5 sec. shutter, ISO 100
taken with my 50mm 1.4 lens and my Canon 5D Mark III.
I was on tripod as I didn't want to shake with the slow shutter!
But you will need to play around with this to get
the correct settings for your location and action.
Here's another photo where I had the subject stay still
during a longer shutter
and something else in the photo is moving:
I simply had Mackenzie twirl the umbrella,
which is much more dynamic than this:
Moving clothing is another great way to show action!

Here's another fun way to create the movement:
Add motion blur to the background in Photoshop or PSE!
Watch my video tutorial to learn how to do this
very easy technique:
As you learn and practice,
I would love for you to share some of your
motion photos on my FACEBOOK PAGE.
Spring weather will be here get out there with your camera
manual and start reading and PRACTICING! 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Divine Black and White Portraits

As a portrait photographer, I never turn my portraits to
black and white!
That's because I ADORE color!
Plus, I don't like when the skin tones turn gray and muddy.
I have tried many techniques and actions to find a black and white
that I like, but it never happened until NOW!
Rita at CoffeeShop Blog has finally developed
the perfect Black and White action for my portraits.
It's called Gossamer Wings and you can read all about it
plus download the action from her great blog  HERE.
I finally get the whiter skin tones.
Watch my video tutorial on how to adjust
Rita's action in Photoshop or PSE:
I really like the peachy-pink color in the original photos:
 I tried moving the black and white slider on the action
to the left and a hint of gorgeous color blushed through into the photo.
 I think it looks SO beautiful and vintage!

And, just so I don't totally miss color in a black and white portrait,
I created five Pastel Haze Overlays to use over
black and white photos to add a
glimmer of color.
To download the Pastel Haze Overlays CLICK HERE
These overlays are transparent.
In Photoshop or PSE, use the Gossamer Wings Action
to change a photo to Black and White.
Click File then Place and navigate to the
pastel overlay you want to use and click on it.
Stretch the overlay over your photo.
You can lower the opacity if you want.
I like to create a layer mask and remove some
of the overlay from the subject.
(Or just use the eraser tool.)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Creating Movement in Portraits

I'm so embarrassed to post these first two portraits, but these are from
my FIRST portrait shoot EVER!  I had been learning photography for about a year
and was bored with landscape and flower photos.
I longed to shoot portraits, but they seemed so complicated.
This was my first feeble attempt at posing my lovely daughter Lindsay.
We took the little bench prop to a nearby park and I had no idea how to pose her.
This is very typical of portraits I see online...the subject sits or stands
and smiles at the camera.
I knew these early portraits of mine were BORING!
I couldn't even think up any good poses!
I studied poses online,
but when we were out for a photo shoot,
I couldn't remember ANY!
I continued to photograph my daughter and continued to get
BORING portraits
One day, it was REAL WINDY!
Dang it, wind! STOP BLOWING!  I'm trying to practice here!
This windy day is when my portraits changed FOREVER!
These photos in the wind were ALIVE!
They were magical with movement and spunk!
 Lindsay wasn't just standing there smiling...she was moving
and reacting to the wind!
I still use this next photo on my business cards:
After this windy day...I made it my mission to
CREATE MOVEMENT in my portraits.
Yes, I still get a few of her sitting pretty...
but compare this shot, which IS lovely...
to the vitality of this next shot:
Her dress and hair fluttering shows
I actually look for clothing at thrift stores
that will MOVE.
When I found this yellow top...I KNEW it would flow
out like that when my subject jumped!
Seriously, the posed photo on the left is lovely...
but which one makes you stare and study every detail of the photo?
Which photo would you want hanging on your wall
because you would never get tired of looking at it???
Which one is ART and which is the snapshot?
I constantly challenge myself to
Running is a great way to create movement.
Any motion in the clothing or hair
will bring life to a portrait.
I did this photo shoot with six-year-old Bella this winter.
  She was just standing in this photo, but
I asked her to swirl a bit to give her coat some movement.
It was cold outside, but I still took the time
to set my camera for shooting MOVEMENT.
This may seem complicated, but once you take the time to
learn and understand how to set your will
LOVE photographing with movement!
This is how to set your DSLR camera to shoot motion.
First, you MUST learn and understand how to use Focus Points on your camera.
This is different for every camera, so take the time to sit
with your manual and learn how to use focus points.  It will tremendously
 improve your portrait work. 
 I rarely have a portrait out of focus using Focus Points!
Next, set your camera's auto focus (AF) mode on Al-Servo. Read your
own camera manual to learn how to do this with your camera.
As you aim your focus point at your subject's face, Al Servo
will refocus continuously as the subject moves.
This is a great mode to shoot sports!
Next, set your Drive Mode to Continuous Shooting.
In this mode, you can hold your finger down on the shutter
and it will rapidly take a burst of multiple photos in a row.
You may be limited by the size of your memory card
or amount of battery left.
I use a 16 GB memory card.
Of course, set your camera for proper exposure, also.
With my camera set...I had Bella stand with her back towards me.
I placed myself where I could get all of her body in the shot.
I clicked halfway down and using my focus point, I
grabbed focus on her head then had Bella twirl around.
As she began to twirl, I held down on the shutter and multiple shots
were fired capturing a variety of moments in her twirl:
Not all of them will be worthy.  Sometimes, I have the
subject repeat the twirl or run several times.
I always check to see if I got any that I like.
I usually hold these "movement" shots until the end of my
portrait shoot because they do require lots of battery and space on your
memory card...especially if you're shooting in RAW as I always do!
If you are new to photography...I know this sounds a bit overwhelming.
But it's worth it to push yourself beyond your comfort zone
to learn this particular technique.
After you have practiced several times, you will understand
how to do it.
This is the technique that changed my portrait work DRAMATICALLY!
Another form of movement is natural facial expression.
In other words, NOT a pose at all...just capturing what
is naturally happening.
When Bella scooped up her kitty, I snapped away
because her natural love was glowing!
A great big, natural laugh is better than a posed smile.
I just ask the person to "Laugh as big as you can!"
Challenge yourself to go beyond the boring people shots
and create some MEMORABLE portraits
with movement and PIZAZZ!