To say that these are weird and crazy times would be a bit of an understatement, right?
As we enter our 8th week of self-isolation, I wanted to share with you how we are doing as a family, what’s going on with my business and what I’m doing for YOU.
How’s my family doing?
I know how lucky I am to be self-isolating with my family right now. We are all healthy and safe. We have each other, and we have everything we need. We miss school, daycare, and little things like holding the door open for someone or stopping to talk with the mail delivery person. I’m not going to sugar coat it and say that it’s been a wonderful adventure, because personal struggles have been plenty; it’s been tough.
What’s going on with my Business?
I made the decision in January to follow my heart and focus solely on family and newborn photography. Don’t get me wrong, I love weddings, but documenting the beauty of parenthood and family has become a passion that I wanted to capitalize on. I’m really good at it, and it makes my heart truly sing. I have been showing up on social media regularly, reaching out to form new business and personal relationships that will support my work, and really working hard to build my business. My goal is to be able to transition to working full-time at photography, and not spread my work, focus and attention to the other work that I have to do to support my family.
And then COVID-19 came along.
All of the photoshoots I had hoped to book for the spring and summer? Didn’t materialize. The amazing mini-shoots I had planned? Cancelled. The last summer wedding I was to shoot this year? Cancelled. My business has been completely gutted.
And yet, I will continue to forge on because I love documenting families. I know that this time is temporary, and love has not been cancelled. With your support, my dream will come true. After all of this, we will still want family photos and babies will be born.
What I’m doing for YOU!
I can’t be with you right now to take your photos, and so I’m doing my best to show up to help you take photos of your kids and your family. On Instagram I’ve hosted a few challenges to help you develop your photography skills, and here on this blog I’ve been posting about taking great photos of your kids, and showing you how to create meaningful connection in your photos. Do you have a DSLR camera sitting in a drawer that you got as a mother’s day present and meant to read the manual for… and just didn’t get around to it? You still totally don’t have time to read it, so let me help you! I’m offering some free help if you want quick pointers on using your camera, and taking it off of Automatic to get great images. Send me a message with what model your camera is, what you normally set it to, and what you want to photograph, and I will hook you up with help, friend! We can either schedule a quick video tutorial, or I will email you with pointers.
For my clients who have had to cancel, I’ve offered full refunds on deposits, and for those who are rescheduling we are working together to rebook. When it’s safe for us to get together again for photographs, I plan to offer a variety of safe options for clients so that you can choose how and where we can work together.
So, how are you doing? What’s going on in your world? Are you struggling with home schooling and working from home simultaneously? Are you sick of looking at the inside of your house? Are you missing people? Tell me all about it, friend.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the beautiful and classic photos of everyone with perfect haircuts, unwrinkled shirts, with the Sears textured backdrop, all looking at the camera giving their best and hopefully least awkward smile. You know *exactly* what I’m talking about.
I love these photos… but these photos? They’re not my style, and they’re not the kind of photos you are going to get when we take photos together.
It’s taken me a long time to accept that I am far from perfect, and my photography isn’t perfect either. My photography, like me, is maybe not technically flawless, but it’s full of heart. I am a girl who tells awful cheesy jokes. I feel some things so hard, I cry easily, and my emotions read like a book on my face.
The photos I take are real, heartfelt and truly genuinely you. They are not Sears portraits.
These are the photos we want of the real moments of tender love, hilarious laughter and true smiles. These pictures are the ones you will look at next month on those wild, crazy days (which sometimes feel like they outnumber the not so crazy ones, am I right?) and be reminded of what it’s all about. These are the images that you will look back on, five, ten or twenty years from now and think, “how did I get so lucky?”
I believe that everyone should have photos of the cozy and perfectly imperfect, intimate moments in their family, whether I take these photos or not. My goal is to help guide you to take these photos.
Here are my three simple steps to taking photos of the real love and connection in your family. Ideally, you would use all three of these together at the same time, but try them out one at a time and see how it goes.
1. Give your kids something to do
You have been there in front of the camera, wondering… what do I do with my hands? Where should I be looking? Should I smile? Does my face look weird? Your kids might not feel quite as self conscious in front of the camera, but is it just me, or do your kids pull out the super-fake “cheese” face every time you bring a camera within 20 feet of them? Here’s my solution: give them something to DO. It can be as simple as directing them to hold hands and skip in a circle, blow bubbles, or dump all the ingredients for cookies into a bowl and stir. Whatever you do, don’t sit them down and tell them to “act natural” or “be yourself, just do what you normally do.”
2. Get your kids to touch
It might sound obvious, but if you want photos of real, connected moments, the best way to achieve that is to have your kids physically connect. It’s simply the easiest way to show it. This kind of coaching can take some practice, but don’t be shy telling your kids what to do (I know I’m not shy telling my kids what to do the rest of the time!). If they are sitting, make sure their bodies are touching. If they are standing, ask them to hold hands, or get an older sibling to “help” a younger one by going hand-over-hand or asking them to guide them through an action. “Can you help your little sister blow bubbles by holding the wand with her?” or “can you put your arm around his waist?” It can feel awkward to ask people to get closer, and it can feel weird. It’s ok to acknowledge this and to reassure them that it will look good.
3. Tell them what to think
Sometimes I wish I had magic powers to change how my kids think (no thank you, screaming at the top of your lungs inside isn’t hilarious). But no, this isn’t that. Whamp whamp. This is you evoking a genuine emotion, and then hopefully capturing it in a photo. Let’s do a little example together, and you’ll see exactly what I mean. Close your eyes…. No wait. You can’t read while doing that. Ok, forget that part. But just picture in your mind putting your nose against your newborn’s hair. You can feel how unimaginably soft and downy that little hair is. Picture yourself breathing their smell in. They are peacefully asleep, and you can hear their tiny breaths and feel their tiny body moving rhythmically in your arms. Now think about how you feel. When I think about this moment in my life, I have a small grateful smile, and I feel wistfully nostalgic. If you could see yourself, this sweet calm would be all over your face, and I’d take a photo of you. So, it depends on what kind of images you want to take to determine what you will tell people to think about: joyful and full of laughter or maybe calm and sweet.
With kids I will ask one kid to tell their best joke, to whisper a secret in their sibling’s ear, or to imagine snuggling up right before bed. With parents, I sometimes ask them the same things I would ask of their kids, or to close their eyes for a moment and just breathe in their baby-but-not-a-baby-anymore.
They say that the majority of communication is in our expression and body language, so I utilize this in taking photos all the time. My other bonus tip is not to forget about eye contact - eye contact with one another, and eye contact with you, the photographer. Tell your kids to look at one another, and not at you most of the time (you will have to remind them of this a lot, it’s ok).
Try these ideas out, and let me know how they work for you (or don’t!); I can’t wait to see the beautiful images you create!
My husband and I like to joke about going to a website or a blog post to find a recipe, and how the writer will go on and on first about how she has memories of her great grandmother making this cookie recipe, and how just before she passed, grandma gave the writer the recipe.
While I appreciate the stories, I really just want to get to the recipe!
So, let’s get to it - let’s talk about light for photography, and how you can best use it to take your own beautiful photos.
I like to keep things simple.
With photography, there are two kinds of light: natural light (i.e. the sun) and artificial light (anything not the sun). I prefer natural light.
I’m going to quickly give you some pointers for utilizing natural light to your advantage to create beautiful images:
1. Make sure the flash on your camera is off, and if you are indoors, other indoor lights are off. We don’t want to mix different kinds of light (natural and artificial).
2. Find shade. While natural light is the best, too much of a good thing…. well you know the rest of the saying. Direct sun on someone creates harsh and sometimes unflattering shadows, so I suggest setting up the person you want to photograph under a tree, on the shaded side of a building, or pull the sheers or curtains over your windows if you’re inside. You can get creative with finding shade!
3. Aim for early morning or late evening if you’re going to be out in direct sun. These times of day are called “golden hour” because of the golden yellow colour of the light just an hour or so after sunrise and an hour before sunset. You don’t need to wait for only these times of day, but try avoiding the harsh sun of the middle of the day, if you can’t find shade (say you’re at the beach… these cold winter days have me dreaming of beach days!).
4. When all else fails, put the light of the sun behind your subject. Photographing into the sun can be tricky, but I know you can do it! It creates a sort of false shade, where the person you’re photographing doesn’t have harsh direct sun on their face. This can also create some fun and interesting sun flare in your photo.
So, try employing these quick pointers in your photography, and let me know how it turns out!
Do you have any questions? Let me know, I’d love to help you take beautiful photos of your family!
I have a big goal: I want you to have GREAT, natural photos of your kids.
Whether those photos are ones that you take, or ones that I take, or maybe a combination of both, I think it’s important that you and your children have the gift of real, natural photos.
We all have that one photo from our childhood that we can bring up in our minds. There is that photo that brings a smile across your face, and you can bring yourself back to that moment it was taken. For me, it’s a photo at Halloween and I’m probably around four years old. My mom dressed me up in a little red devil costume and put makeup on my face. The photo is of me absolutely melting down in tears. I can remember exactly how I felt in that moment: I hated Halloween! “I hate makeup! Why would anyone ever wear this? It feels so gross!”
I look at this photo, and it makes me smile at the little sad girl I was on Halloween. I am so grateful to have this photo, because it is more than just a document of how I looked, but it shows me the real FEELING of that moment.
Take photos of your kids, take photos of the good and the bad.
I want to share with you how to take great photos of your kids!
Here are four tips, for taking Great and Natural photos.
I can’t wait to see the photos you take!