HOW TO.... Holiday Edition

November 24, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

With multiple holidays upon us, family photo shoots book up! Here's some recommendations for getting photos taken, and for taking some of your own. 

 

WHAT TO WEAR? 

My strongest suggestion is to steer clear of everyone wearing black (or white) tops and blue jean bottoms. It tends to wash people out in photos. There used to be a rule that you didn't wear "hot" colors and definitely no patterns. I don't follow that rule. If it looks good on your family and photographs well, then go for it! I do suggest going with a color scheme and spreading it throughout the family members. For example, this family chose yellow and blue. Everyone picked an outfit that was different, but the same shades, and it looks great! I also love that they chose clothes that fit each of their personalities best. It's not worth getting in a fight over clothes with your kids or significant-other before your photoshoot (even a pajama photo shoot can be fun if that's more fun for kids to wear). Here are some guides I found online to help you if you need it:

 

POSED OR CANDID?

Both! The picture above is a nice pose of the family. This is good because you want to see each person's face and how they've grown since last year. There's nothing wrong with some posed photos, but it's always more fun to add some candid's in. They may start as a posed shot, but then something cute or funny happens and you're ready to capture it. Here's another example of a shot that started posed (on the left) and turned out to be a nice candid shot. The image on the right, same thing. I asked Jonah to give his mom a kiss. I did not expect him to hold her face, but am so glad that he did!

PROPS

You don't have to be in a studio or lug around massive props for a good photoshoot (though some props are worth the lugging). Sometimes a simple prop does the trick. For example: a blanket, a stool, some balloons, a teddy bear, etc. Be as simple or as intricate as you want. 

  

"RULE OF THIRDS"

This is a "rule" in photography that I love and appreciate. Imaging a tic-tac-toe sign across your whole image when you're about to snap a shot. Placing your subjects in the center of that isn't bad, but doing that for every one of their photos is somewhat boring. Use that imaginary guide (some cameras show it on your screen while you take your pictures, check your settings) to place your subjects on the lines or at their connecting points. I have a few examples below, but it is something that you will start to notice when you look at pictures now. 

 

THE BEAUTY OF DIGITAL

One of the great things about shooting digital is that, not only can you see your images immediately, but you can take just about as many as you want and it doesn't cost you extra to develop them. I do want to throw some caution to going "snap-happy" though. It may not cost you actual dollars for taking a million shots of the same pose, but it does cost you your time. You will have to go through them all to find the best ones and, most of the time, there will be such a minuscule difference between the images. You will see the difference and drive yourself crazy trying to figure out which one to choose, but no one else will even seen a difference. I encourage you to take your time in getting the best shots and then taking a few of that same pose. Try multiple poses and appreciate that you will not waste film. Experiment and have fun! 

WHERE TO DO A PHOTO SHOOT?

Studios are great because the climate is controlled, it doesn't matter if it's raining or a gorgeous day, the lighting can be manipulated and the photographer is in their comfort zone. I am all for studios, but you don't have to go one to get nice shots if you don't want to. A nice background of hills, trees, a meadow or the beach is always nice. In the photo below on the left, I made a temporary studio in my garage. I clicked together some Pergo hardwood floor pieces, hung a piece of fabric and clipped it tight to the stand, and added a piece of baseboard. It's my favorite way to have a studio because I don't have to pay for overhead. I also used this to take the photo of the same little boy above with the blanket prop. 

Sometimes in the home or backyard is the best place to do a photo shoot because kids, pets, etc. are in their comfort zone. This can make for nice candids, and for some wonderful lifestyle photography. If you are wanting the photographer to come to your house, ask to be sure that they do that. Some photographers may need to see the lighting situation and what they have to work with first. 

NEAR OR FAR?

Don't be afraid to try different angles, zooming in, and moving out.

Get down to the level of the kids and see the world from their perspective. 

Try angling your camera to get an artistic angle.

 

Get in nice and close so the subject is the only focus.

Scoot back and see how things look from far away. (rule of thirds, anyone?)

EXTRA TIPS

If you're taking the photos of your family, don't be afraid to use a tripod and timer, or a remote. You want to be in the photos too! Just be sure that your camera is secured so it doesn't fall and break!
If there is a dog or a baby in the photo, ALWAYS look at the camera and let the photographer get the baby or pet to look at them. Murphy's Law states, "The moment you look at the dog, the dog will look at the camera, and vice versa." Even if it's awkward for the moment, tell your family to just look at the camera no matter what. 

 

HOW TO GET THIS SHOT 

This was one of my favorite photo shoots to do and I am more than happy to share with you how we did it!

I did this shoot on my bed. There is a window to my left and I shot this in the morning before the sun blared in for the afternoon. You can use a car sunshade, or a piece of white poster board or foam board to reflect light and manipulate the light to be where you want it to be.

I used a strand of white icicle lights and clear tape to keep them positioned on the wall (be careful not to pull of the paint on your walls)

I laid a white blanket across the bed and randomly put red ornaments around the foreground and background. 

I bought the Santa Hat at target for a dollar. 

 

I got myself down at his angle and had his mom stand right above my head to get his attention. To get the bokeh (the blurry effect, you want to adjustyour aperture, or f-stop, which controls your Depth of Field (DOF). There are two parts that change the light and clarity of your photos: shutter speed and aperture (f-stop). If you have a faster shutter speed, you'll let less light into the camera and get a darker photo. Longer exposers allow more light to come in for brighter pictures. 

While shutter speed changes how fast or slow the shutter opens and closes, aperture/f-stop affects how wide or how much it opens and closes. A larger aperture (smaller f-stop number) gets you a shallower DOF and vice versa. An easier way to remember this is, the smaller the f-number, the smaller the DOF. The larger the f-number, the larger the DOF. If you want to blur the background or the foreground, you need a shallow DOF. If you want more clarity in your photos so you can see the whole picture, you want a deep DOF.

 

If you have any questions, please let me know. I love teaching photography and am happy to help how I can.


A Few of My Favorite Things...

March 05, 2014  •  2 Comments

This last week was a real doozy. I won't go into details.
I'm training myself to be content in every situation. Something that helps me do that is to focus each day and find the best parts of them, even while the bad stuff is currently happening. 
On really bad days, there are still things to be thankful for.
So this week, I'm sharing some of my favorite positive highlights:

 

An Evening with Addie
My friend and her husband asked me to babysit their daughters while they went out for my friend's birthday. I was so happy to be able to watch the girls. The baby was already in bed when I got there, but I got to spend a couple of hours with their 2-1/2 year old. She is amazing!! We ate dinner together and she was the cleanest eater I have ever seen! After she finished her meal, she asked for a wet towel to wash her hands. My heart melted when she daintily patted her mouth with the cloth. Next, she wanted to dance (be still my heart) and then she read to me for quite some time...A-D-O-R-A-B-L-E!! When it was time for her to go to bed she said, "Ok" and went to sleep with no fuss. Seriously, amazing.


$2 Bowling Nights!
My friend, Amanda Eshelman, took this photo and I just love it.
A group of us meet up and bowl for only $2 a game!
Gotta love that price!! I look forward to those nights every week.


Canine Comfort
Our dog, Koda, passed all of the tests to become a Canine Comfort, and he was also officially registered as a service dog! 
He spent a half hour at a nursing home, with Paws to Heal, bringing smiles to the residents there. One woman had her molars removed the day before and was missing her family. She told me that we "literally made her day!"
A few hours later we went to one of the elementary schools with Paws to Read. The kids loved reading to him!! And he did such a great job! So proud of our boy!

 

The 3rd
This one is bitter-sweet. My husband and I visit our baby girl on the third day of each month with a pink rose.
Despite the heartache, here's why it made my list of positives:
1) We have a daughter in Heaven that we will meet again one day.
2) 
I'm so thankful for my in-laws finding the cemetery where we decided to place Dailee. It's a beautiful and private place. It's close to our home and we can visit her whenever we want to.
4) I love my husband very much and, on the 3rd of each month, my love for him grows! 
5) The love and support we get from friends and family is incredible. 


I hope you're able to stop and think of the positives throughout your day as well.

THANKS FOR READING!!


Home Decor

February 12, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

This last week I made it my goal to decorate our "fireplace" mantle. At our last house this was our entertainment center so we put the TV on the top and the consoles below it. But when we bought our house (woohoo!) it already had a fireplace.; now our fake fireplace is purely decoration. It's taken me a couple of months to figure out how exactly to decorate it, but I finally sketched out my vision, and then made it happen as I found sales. I'm a sucker for a good sale! I like the challenge of being picky, finding exactly what I want, and buying it at a super great price!

So here is our mantle at the moment. It is still in progress, but I am LOVING it so far. 
I continue to add more bright and sparkly things to it as I find them.

I ordered a monogram to go on the wall above this. 20% off of everything in the store!! I'll post that picture once they arrive and are up.
 

Here's a closer look at it:

The vase was from flowers I received for my birthday last month.
All of the hydrangeas and other flowers are from Michael's. They were 40% off and I had a 20% off total purchase coupon on top of that!!
The stack of books is from Half Priced Books and was $10 for the set. They're full of amazing poems. 
The bird is filled with yummy potpourri and it was about $3 at Ross. 

 

The candles are all flameless and are remote controlled- from Costco.
This frame and the dove were a gift for my birthday. I love them!!
Yesterday I purchased a round sparkly frame from Home Goods for $6. (sorry it's not posted)
The burlap is from Joann Fabrics. It was 40% off and I had another 20% off total purchase coupon. I also bought white and plain tan.

 

The short mason jars were also from Joann's and I used a 40% off coupon for that set.
The pint jars were $0.99 at Michael's. 
The stack of books was $20. I was unsure if I really wanted to spend that much, but this describes us so well that I justified it. My husband and I love sports, and this is a vintage set of sports stories. Plus I liked the colors. 
The small "book" on the side held an eiffel tower note pad.

My friend got us coupons to paint 4" hearts at Cafe Art. I made these and cannot wait to see them finished and glossy. These will be added to the display above and will serve as coasters once I glue cork on the bottom of them. 

 

And that's our mantle! I haven't quite figured out what to do with the old console area. If you have any ideas, please feel free to let me know!!

 

Lastly, I wanted to show you the lamps on our night stands. The deal on these made me giddy all day!!

I had this exact lamp in my mind's eye but couldn't find it anywhere within my price range. One day I decided to just check and see if Target had them on sale. They had these in small, medium and large. There were two smalls left and they both came with light bulbs. I held onto those and chose the two shades they had left that sparkle (told you I love sparkly things). You can't see the sparkle very well in this shot, but it's there, and I love it. I pulled out my Cartwheel app (thank you, ToniAnn, for introducing me to it!) and scanned my items to see if they were on sale. It just so happened that each piece was 15% off, plus I received another 5% off with my Target Red Card. Woohoo!!!
I was concerned the lamps wouldn't be tall enough, so I stopped at Michael's to see if I could come up with a solution....
Then I found these small "books" for 40% off! SCORE!! And, of course, I had another coupon to use on top of that.

This picture is of my husband's side. His books are one that says "Explore" and the other says "Italy" since his family is Italian. My books are a gray one that says "Paris" because my family is French, and the other is a blue-ish book with hydrangeas on it because that was our wedding flower. I love how personalized I was able to make everything. I came home and set up the lamps and was seriously on cloud nine! 

 


Angel Babies

February 02, 2014  •  3 Comments

I've decided to add a more personal touch to my blog with the hope that I will blog more often and provide you with a glimpse into my life. 
I still plan to add photo shoots I do, but once a week I will post about one thing that happened that stood out to me the most. 

This week I want to post about my friend's son's (Blake) 1st birthday. This was a unique birthday because Blake is an angel baby. He passed away in the womb the day before his due date, one year ago. Tragic. His parents, Amanda and Zach, are amazing people. I was Amanda's youth leader when she was in middle school many years ago. I had not seen or talked to her for probably a good 10 years after she moved up into high school. We reconnected through tragedy when my husband and I delivered our baby girl, Dailee Christine, still-born as well. I'll talk more about that later, right now I still want to talk about Blake's birthday.
We met at Carnegie Park and Amanda and Zach brought a bunch of balloons. She said a few words about Blake and everyone there, and then passed a balloon to each person. We took sharpies and wrote letters to Blake on our balloons. Some were as simple as "Happy Birthday, Blake" while others were dear and from the heart. 
We all stepped out into the street so the balloons would avoid getting stuck in or popping from near by trees, and on the count of three, we released them. The evening was followed by some going to dinner together, and others continuing their regular evening. 
It's hard to put into words how I feel. My brain is somewhat numb. A day that should have been full of joy, laughter and cake smashing for a one year old's birthday was instead a day of fighting back tears because a little one was not here to celebrate with his parents. But, Amanda and Zach did an amazing job of still making it a joyful event; a celebration of his tiny one. Little Blake is undoubtedly looking down on them from Heaven. He is teaching them and talking to them even when they don't realize it. And the best part is, they will all be reunited again one day in an absolutely perfect environment.

  

We also each brought a gift for a one year old boy. These gifts are being donated to the Livermore Pregnancy Center on East Ave. and will be given to kids in need of them.

 

As much as Amanda did not want us to cry, I had a hard time holding back the tears. Blake not being here reminded me of our own loss and about how our Dailee is not here either. I cried when I thought about them playing together in Heaven. I cry when I think about the joy of being with our babies again.

The publisher of the magazine that I shoot for asked if I would write an article about Dailee. The theme for February's issue is "Share the Love." She asked to use the picture I took of Dailee as well. Of course I said yes; anything I can do to honor our little girl.
I took the picture after I delivered her still-born. We were still in the hospital, so I used my iPhone and an iPad to create the "LOVE" image. We also ordered baby announcements and used this picture for them. Below you will find the article.
Thank you for reading this week. 


The Wilmoth's

July 01, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

I just love this shot of mother and son. I'm excited to post more soon!!

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