I took a trip to New England for New Years Eve and captured some amazing photos and saw some amazing sights. It was such a blast!
Well it's been a while since I've been on here and you deserve to know the reason why so I'll be honest. I recently went through a lapse where I didn't think I was going to take photography anymore. My cousin and life-long best friend and both of her beautiful daughters passed away last May and it devastated me. I couldn't seem to find the passion I once had in my photography. Of course I'm sure it was mostly from my grieving, but that is why I hadn't made any posts until now.
During the beginning of my grieving period, I found an outlet in creating a photography page for my cousin. She was an avid amateur photographer and a great talent. Before she passed away she expressed to me how she had wished she had a photography website like mine. After she was gone, it felt like the proper tribute to her to create one. I took the photos she had taken, created a watermark for her, and set to work. If you would like to check out her works you can do so here or click on one of the three images below.
Christmas found me with a brand new Canon EOS 60D from my wonderful husband and that a was the first step back "into the saddle" as the saying goes.
I took a trip to New England for New Years Eve and captured some amazing photos and saw some amazing sights. It was such a blast!
I visited Ground Zero and paid my respects to lives lost on 9/11.
I even made some new friends!
Of course what trip is complete without seeing Lady Liberty herself!
It was only until just recently that I found myself getting back into the business aspects of photography again when I had to do a bridal shoot of a friend of mine. Taking photos with her relaxed me and reminded me why I still enjoy doing this.
If you'd like to see more of Hannah's Bridals click here.
So for all of you struggling to decide on whether or not to take the jump into doing something you love or simply trying to decide whether or not to get back into the saddle- I highly recommend it. It gives you purpose. For as it says in the bible: "Arise, for it is your task, and we are with you; be strong and do it." Ezra 10:4
My own family out-takes
Over the Christmas holidays I didn't take many pictures of things other than people, dedicating my time to my family without being behind a lens the entire time. However, for the times that I turn the camera on, I wanted to share with you some of the laughs I got when going through my family's photos. I hope you snicker like I did when watching how goofy my family can be! Enjoy!
I had the wonderful benefit today of being asked to give a private lesson to an upcoming photographer. Naturally, I was completely honored and still a little surprised that my work was seen as professional enough to be asked about all my little tricks and secrets. After giving her some advice that I had to learn the hard way, I liked feeling as if I've made a little difference. At least I hope I did. Photography isn't one big secret or an unobtainable goal. Yet, nothing really is if you have a passion to learn and understand it. I've always liked taking pictures even before I ever owned a digital camera, but I never had a passion for it until I realized that it was actually in my reach to be good at photography. I'm my own worst critic and still see a ton of room for improvement which I will probably ALWAYS feel. Even some of the best photographers in the world need to a goal to work towards, which is usually improving on some skill or technique.
Nevertheless, I wanted to share some of the advice that I gave this excited but slightly overwhelmed lady.
She explained that she was looking to make her photography more than just a hobby and didn't know where to start. For many people, this starting point can be different. It may come as common-sense to some and others may really be at a loss for where to turn. My advice to her was to set a few goals for her photography. Start by looking up photographers that you admire. Look at their work. When I was a student in architecture (yes, I really had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up, lol!) they would call these precedent studies. Depending on the project we were assigned, whether it was to create a museum, construct a water tower, or design a house, we were assigned to precedent studies. Researching previous works (and I mean good quality works too) will give you a goal to work towards. I would even recommend replicating that work in your own way if you can.
I found this image at http://miskamiller.blogspot.com/2010/10/miller-family-has-grown-by-two-feet.html It's a beautiful photo that she has taken. I liked the idea of using a family's feet. So I did my best to recreate the photo in my own way.
The photo is different, but still has a similar theme or central pose/idea.
One of the greatest tips I can give a blooming photographer is to find something unique. Make your photos stand out. I can look through my arsenal of images and give you tons of examples of why I took that image. For example, in the photo below, I found a tree that had carvings all over it. It was unique. I could have picked any other tree in the area, but this one stood out.
It adds just a little more character to her photo. If you aren't photographing people and think, well I suppose I could go take a picture of this flower for practice, try different angles. Picture what it would look like from underneath, straight above, or even directly beside whatever you are photographing. This doesn't really work as well with people, but it makes nature photography very interesting.
Angles of things can make an image very exciting and really pop too! It can leave your photos unforgettable or even a little mysterious. This is especially true if you have zoomed in to something. Macro images are some of my favorite types! I could have held my camera at eye level and looked down at the stones or grass and shot from above but it makes the image so much more interesting if I can look at it from a way most people don't see.
Let's not jump ahead though. It's also important to find interesting THINGS to take pictures of as well. People like to look at people, that's true enough. But what about things? I could sit here at my desk and take a picture of my keyboard if I like, but would that make for an interesting photo? Maybe if I was creative with the angles or other elements of that nature. OR I could go out and find something that most people don't notice or see very often. It strikes intrigue into what you are photographing. How many people really stop to look at a fence post? But I was drawn to it because wood has great texture and rich colors.
Or we can zoom in even more and look at the barbed wire. I like this image because it shows such a great contrast between the rusty metal and the old wood.
Yet, I have people say, well Amy that just isn't interesting to me. To which I would reply, GREAT!! If it was interesting to everyone, we would have pictures of fence posts everywhere and would defeat the purpose of it being unique. Maybe you prefer capturing the movement of water like in the image below?
Maybe you prefer something different like in the images below? I wouldn't say these are all super interesting, but some people may prefer the photo of the cake over the photo of the eight ball. To each his own.
However, I took each of these images because I was learning what I like to take pictures of, which turns out to be things found in rural areas in case you are wondering. Some people like food, landscapes, every-day items, or any number of things. The trick is to make it interesting. Adding a variety to your portfolio will increase the chances of gaining supporters as well as increasing your skills at photographing things outside your comfort zone.
I ended up giving that lady a bit more advice, but I'll save that information for another blog. I got kind of long-winded in this one I'm afraid. Nevertheless, I hope it has helped some of you. I did want to post that I ran across an article that may help those of you who are passed this point and are looking to make your hobby an actual business. It's not a long article and gives some sound advice. It's written by a photographer named Veronica Gillas. You can find the link here:
When going for a photoshoot, many people ask the time-old traditional question, "What should I wear?" This is important for many reasons: glare on the face, attention drawn to cleavage or unflattering areas of the body, etc. To help you out, I've come up with some hints on what to wear and some things that should be avoided.
Let's start with the face, (and yes, most of this is targeted to the women so men, feel free to skip on down some).
Hair is pretty simple:
For what most people are looking for, the clothing:
For the bottom half:
Don't forget the shoes!
I've slowly become aware of how little people know about what goes on after a photoshoot is complete. Why I haven't blogged about this before now is maybe due to the fact that I was not aware that many clients and other people who do not take photos on a professional scale realize just how much goes into editing images after they have been taken. Now of course, this does not apply to every client's photos or every style of image. There have been many images I have taken that are just exactly how I want them coming straight off of the camera. We call these images SOOC. I have had many that I simply slap a watermark on and upload to my website or facebook page. The image below had no post-processing. This is what the image looked like exactly as I took it, the only addition was my watermark.
However, these are typically not pictures of people, and if it is, they are rare. Most times, one image takes as long as half an hour to an hour just to get the quality and look of what I want in the final image.
You have to understand though, most photographers do not like sharing their SOOC images for a multitude of reasons: their images are low to bad quality and they rely on an editing software maybe more than they should, the product they offer is one that is more prone to editing (which is okay if that is what the client wants or likes), they do not want to give away their editing techniques and secrets, or to dissuade unprofessionals from trying to copy or imitate their work. I'm sure there are other reasons, but that's really not the point of my blog today.
The image below is one that I found online (NOTE: this image is not mine. I do not own the copyrights to it). The image can be found at: http://www.bloomandgrowphotography.com/2011/08/bloom-grow-actions.html
This image is of a newborn, which fyi- takes a TON of editing just because a newborn's skin is typically so rough, pink, or transparent. You'll notice the lighting has changed, as well as the baby's skin. Also, it seems the photographer has edited out part of the top right image, which can also be time-consuming if done properly.
To illustrate this better (and since this IS a photography website and most of you like to see photos) I have recreated some of the steps I go through to show you just how I get to this process. I'd upload a video, but alas... my new computer does not have the software yet required to record all my steps. So screenshots will have to suffice. For my purpose, I'm going to go through and edit one of the images that I feel needs a much bigger change. The end result will be more dramatic so that you can tell what I am doing; however, this does not necessarily mean that it takes more or less time. It just means I am exaggerating my steps a bit more so that they are more noticeable.
My first step is to decide how I want the image to look... black and white or a more blueish hue? I don't have to decide yet, just have a goal to work towards. I want something that will pull the eye to the model, particularly his eyes (or maybe his senior ring since this was a senior portrait). I have cropped the image so that you can see the timestamp on each. That gives you a general idea of how long it takes me between each step. You can click on each image to enlarge it.
I noticed that he had a lot of acne (as teenagers tend to have) and so I went through and blended them into his natural skin tone. This is the kind of thing I mean when I say post-processing. I typically don't cover up moles or freckles unless specifically asked to simply because they make a person unique. I also happened to notice that he had a bad sore on his left hand. I went ahead and edited that as well.
I went ahead and checked the rest of his skin for any noticeable blemishes. I have to stay zoomed in so that I don't miss it, so this takes time.
After that I wanted to sharpen the image because it looked a little fuzzy on my screen.
My next step is to go through and touch up his eyes. This is before I adjusted the opacity so that you can really tell what I'm doing. The whites of his eyes will not be quite as red as they were and you will be able to see the color of his eyes a little better. Many times I don't have to do this step, but for this image, I felt it needed it.
Next I need to even out his skin color a little better, getting rid of the dark circles below his eyes and any other blemishes I may have missed. Yes, I know he looks plastic, this is after-all, before I have adjusted the opacity.
As you can see, he now has his skin looking a little more realistic and a little less plastic.
Remember I mentioned his senior ring? I want to make that pop a little more and be noticeable to the eye as well, so I'm going to pull out the color just a little. It seems intense here, but when I scroll back out, it won't be as extreme.
I also want to pull the red out of this image some. It's not the color tone that I like for this overall look.
I wanted to play with the shadows some as well and really pull the focus towards the center of the image. I haven't exaggerated it here just because it looks so dark and with low quality images, it's hard to depict.
Now for the experimental part. Some images I can look at instantly and tell you what would look best. Others, I have to basically "try-on" different looks to see which I like best. I went with a sepia look first. However, with all the light and shadow behind him, I'm not sure if this is the best way to go with this photo. Let's try something different.
This may be the way to go, but if it is then I'm going to need to dial down some of the hues in this photo.
Yes, I like this look much better. However, there is still the problem of focusing the image in some more. After editing the hue, I realize I still need to add a little more shadow around the edges to help pull the eye towards the middle again. I don't want to overdo it though, or it will look too edited. I like my photos to have a much more natural look and not have black frames.
And then the final step, the watermark.
Now that image alone took nearly fifty minutes! Did you know that that is how much goes into an image?!
Next time you think, gosh that photographer is charging a lot of money for just one hour of pictures, think about how much work goes into those pictures behind-the-scenes. That was one image and many clients expect anywhere from 20 to 100! I'm not going to do the math but if I did a bridal session for $100 and gave that bride 40 images, can you imagine the amount I got paid per hour?! So do your photographer a favor, don't request her/him to go back and re-edit, un-crop, or change their final work. It took them a long time to get there, and it comes off as rude or unappreciative.
Well, I hope this blog post, helps to explain a little of what I and other photographers do after they see you from behind the lens. I've enjoyed giving you a little behind-the-scenes look at my post-processing.
Celebration for a New Start!
I am so excited to be revamping my website. I have given it a major overhaul and hope that it looks more modern and...well just plain awesome! I find myself at the end of the summer and a little disappointed. I didn't get to take pictures of as many people or things as I had planned this summer.
However, when the Fourth of July rolled around, I was eager to snap some pictures of the amazing fireworks show we always get to see here in my town.
To be honest, I amazed myself at how clear the shots came out without me having to use a tri-pod, which sadly I don't have. After editing my images a little, I found that sharpening the images was all I even really needed to do to them. Of course, not all of the images came out as good as the ones shown here, but that is just part of learning to adjust your settings as you go.
I had to play with the shutter speed and other settings before I could get them to come out clearly. It's a good thing the fireworks show was a long one.
Oh! I almost forgot to mention... if you haven't already noticed, I've made another big change. I have redone my logo as well. I like this new one; it feels more like a logo and not just some name in a specific font. It took me a while to create it just how I wanted, but after playing around with it some, I finally got it how I like it.
Anyway, I hope everyone has enjoyed their summer!
How to be Photogenic
So I read an article today about what it takes to be photogenic. I thought to myself, man this is so me! I'm so much better behind the camera than in front of it! But then it occurred to me, this would be great for any of my own potential clients or for those who really want to master taking good pictures! Here's the link I got it from: http://www.wikihow.com/Be-Photogenic
It's really quite an interesting article! It's all posted below.
Having your photo taken can seem like a frightening endeavor, especially when it seems that you never look quite as good in portraits as you do in reality. This is a problem faced by many people, but is quite easy to remedy. Being photogenic is not an inborn talent, but an acquired skill that can be learned through practice. Try these methods of posing and tips for becoming photogenic and in no time you'll be the model-esq friend all your buddies brag about.
Posing Your Body
Photographing Christmas Trees
Getting the perfect picture of your christmas tree can be much harder than it looks! Never fear though! A great photographer, Elizabeth Halford has shown us how it's done! Interested? Check out her helpful tips here > http://www.elizabethhalford.com/photography-tutorials/photographing/how-to-photograph-your-christmas-tree-how-to-get-twinkle-bursts-of-light/
This was my attempt at her tips. Not quite as great as hers but a work in progress.
Don't forget to check out the rest of my blog posts for other helpful hints!
Behind the Scenes
Ever wonder how photographers get such awesome photos in ways that seem impossible? The truth is, they really aren't that impossible after all. Many times, a photographer has to be very innovative to get the shot he/she wants. The trick is being creative and picturing the image you want in your head before you snap the camera. I have often times used whatever I had on hand to get the image I want.
Yes, this includes using an assistant's back pocket to hold up the backdrop. However, you would have never been able to tell by just looking at the image I took of the baby, would you?
Taking pictures doesn't have to be a dream out of reach. And it definitely doesn't have to done in a fancy studio with expensive materials. Here, we shot in the client's doorway simply because it offered the best lighting. I used materials I had at home (colorful bead necklaces, a play crown, a simple scarf, and a fluffy blanket) to make this image a true and original composition.
To make this shoot even more personal I asked the client if they had any props they would like to add or use. She happened to have this sweet girl's first stuffed bunny, which you see in the image. It helps to make the photographs unique to that particular client. Plus, the clients like the personal touches that go into their photo shoot with you!
Don't be afraid to get on a personal level with your clients. Chances are they're more nervous than you are! If your client seems stiff, take a moment to simply talk to your client. Discuss things that are personal and specific to them ("I love this jacket you are wearing! Where did you get it?") Anything to help them take their mind off of being in front of the camera for a moment.
Now I'm not saying you have to find out their life story and every intimate detail, but many clients just want to know you are more than just a person behind this camera clicking away. With children, this can be very important. Some can be very shy at first. As a teacher, I know that many times children feel awkward around strange adults until you show interest in something they're interested in. Don't be afraid of acting a little silly just to get them to smile. Your smile will probably make them smile! And don't forget an important asset you have at your finger-tips: the parents! Parents are usually more than willing to help you in any way. All you need to do is ask!
I hope this helps any photographer, novice or otherwise. And just remember, you can become a great photographer with a little creativity and a lot of practice! Good luck and if you have any questions, shoot me an email under the 'contact me' tab at the top.
Thinking of bringing your camera to that giant stuffing fest we call Thanksgiving? Taking pictures of family at events like this is a great idea, but here are some helpful tips that might revamp your pictures while still capturing the essence of that Thanksgiving gathering.
By Allan Peterson
The autumn season brings about trees covered in yellow gold leaves, spooky Halloween tricks and also the special occasion of Thanksgiving. During this time, Americans and Canadians celebrate by having family dinners which usually end up being quite memorable. But memories fade and digital pictures don’t so if you want to record everything that has to do with Thanksgiving, whip out your digital camera and read this fabulous photo tips:
So I'm Amy! I am a elementary and jr. high teacher who also happens to LOVE photography!