You, Your Subject and Window Light – Top 3 FAQ’s

You really can’t get more perfect lighting then from natural window light. The reason being, that the window diffuses the bright light coming through it, especially at the edge of the window. This will leave you with soft, yet clear and illuminated images and none of those squinty-eyed smiles. For as gentle and beautiful as window light is, there are some subtle nuances to be aware of when shooting subject matter utilizing the natural glow. Below are the top 3 most frequently asked questions of window light shots.

Window Light FAQ #1: Where do I position my subject?

If you are shooting a portrait, start by having them sit just past the window, about 6 feet away from the wall. This will allow the light to gently and fully envelop them. Too close and too direct in the sunlight will have you seeing some real funky dark and light contrasting. Also, have your subject sit with the side of their shoulder facing the window. This allows the light to fall flatteringly across their face, leaving soft natural shadows on the far sides.

Window Light FAQ #2: Where do I position myself?

Although it may seem more natural to stand right in front of them while shooting, what actually is more natural is to shoot closer to the angle in which the window light is streaming. This means that you will position yourself with the side of your shoulder right up against the window. Be careful not to stand in the light, but right at the edge of the window. You will end up aiming backwards slightly, due to the way you positioned your subject, but it will create the most striking portraits.

Window Light FAQ #3: What if I’m not shooting a portrait?

As with the picture below, sometimes allowing the light to shine through the subject matter, can create lovely and dramatic photos. Obviously that doesn’t work with humans, and if it does, they may need more calcium… In any case, it all depends on what emotion you are trying to create. Start by placing your subject in the same position mentioned above. Again, that edge light is the softest and most complimentary. Once you have accomplished that, feel free to move around it and see what each angle will produce. As always, make sure you are zoom checking each shot for tack sharpness.

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BONUS Tip! Ok, so we’ve established that natural window light is fantastic, but did you know that you may still want or need a light reflector? Additionally, and contrary to popular belief, you don’t always want to place that reflector on the shadowy side of your subject. If you want to open up those shadows, try placing the reflector above the camera position. Bouncing the light down onto your subject matter from closer to the window will accomplish the same thing but in a less aggressive way. And that’s what we’ve been talking about all along right? Soft, natural lighting? Awesome, get to practicing and pretty soon you’ll be known as the Portrait Specialist in your ‘hood!

After You’ve Captured the Moment: The Magic of Photo Processing

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Ok, so you’ve done all you can do on the front end. You were incredibly creative and used an old fence post as a tripod when capturing the wild horses grazing. You’ve mastered the death grip and were able to get crystal clear shots of toddlers bounding through sprinklers. What’s more, you know all this because the zoom check is now standard practice for you. Yep, you’re kind of a big deal. It’s time to make some prints and time to make some money. But how, you ask, does one accomplish that so as to ensure what you see on your computer screen conveys to the size print you want?

The tri-fecta of P’s: Photoshop, Paper, Printer. It’s simple but foundational…just like your tripod.

Photo Processing Component #1: Photoshop. Adobe Photoshop, originally developed by Thomas Knoll, could probably also have been titled “The Magic Photo Processor”. Photoshop is the darkroom software that all serious photographers use to fine tune their images. You can clone images. You can combine and crop photos. Color management, motion blur, red eye removal, tonal adjustments, sharpening and so much more.  If you are not at the Adobe Photoshop stage yet, Photoshop Elements is also a great option. It is basically the semi-pro version of Photoshop. There are not as many features and tools, but it all depends on the type of financial and emotional commitment you are making to your art. He has also created Adobe Camera RAW for those of you who are interested in shooting your photos in the image quality mode RAW – but that is a whole different blog post.

Photo Processing Component #2Paper. Although there are a ridiculous number of paper styles and a ridiculous number of paper companies out there, let’s just cut right to the chase. A first choice among many of the pros is Epson Ultra Premium Photo Paper Luster. Obviously you will find what is right for you and probably the most important question to ask yourself when choosing paper is ‘what is my subject matter’? For the natural graces; water, landscapes, birds, flowers etc., you’ll probably want a more textured paper. This will help create that tactile sensation that matches the artsy, painted feel of your image. When printing more serious photos such as cityscapes, architecture, portraits, travel etc., opt for the above Epson Ultra Premium Photo Paper Luster. This will really allow the lines and intricate details of your work to command the attention they deserve.

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Flickr samfeinstein

Printer. So maybe the printer section should have come before the paper section. But really it’s the chicken or the egg situation. If you are going to get a specific printer, you should then plan on using that company’s specific paper. However, how do you know what paper will do your images justice until you’ve done a couple test prints on that printer you are trying to choose…? Confusing right? Well let’s simplify. Epson printers have really been climbing the ladder in terms of exceptional quality. Just like the Epson Ultra Premium Photo Paper Luster, this brand of printers has become the standard for the serious professional photog. It is so, due to the printer’s ability to create truly vivid color output and incredible dynamic black and whites. Enough said.

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Creative Ideas for Must-Have Wedding Reception Photography

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As we mentioned in our previous article, it’s important to create a Wedding Photography Shot List before even attempting to photograph the big event.

If you want to avoid having your shots look “ho hum” (and thus avoid upsetting the bride and groom!), we’ve put together a fun montage of wedding reception photo ideas to spur you on to creative victory. Feel free to add your own spin on these ideas and enlist creative input from the bride and groom as well.

Signing the Marriage License– Experiment with your distance to capture this moment from every possible angle. If you have a second shooter, take turns photographing from different sides of the bride, groom and officiate.

Continue reading “Creative Ideas for Must-Have Wedding Reception Photography”

14 Charming Toddler Portrait Ideas

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Oh, the toddler years! It’s a time filled with endless discovery, curious exploration and growing independence. A toddler’s energy is a force to be reckoned with, matched only by their powerful self-will. Since capturing these pint-sized whirlwinds on camera can be (more than a bit) tricky, we’ve compiled 14 easy to re-create toddler portrait ideas that are sure to bring a smile to both the child’s and their parents’ faces!

Toddler Portrait Idea #1-3 – Close Up

Mommies, daddies and grandparents agree – there’s nothing better than a “close up” of their favorite little sweetheart! It doesn’t matter if the child is smiling or snoozing away, a close up is always a sure-fire hit.

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Flickr: jrishel
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Flickr: vivarin
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Flickr: oaspetele_de_piatra

Toddler Portrait Idea #4-5 – Exploring the Great Outdoors

Little ones just love playing outside! Whether it’s a blooming meadow, a babbling brook or a park filled with playground equipment, each setting lends itself to the mood of adventure and discovery.

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Flickr: joelleim
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Flickr: trebecca84

 

Toddler Portrait Idea #6 – Peekaboo!

It’s the first game a child learns to play which also doubles as a great ice breaker for nervous children and their eager photographers. Playing peekaboo with your hands or with a prop is guaranteed to bring out the giggles in everyone – fast!

toddler portrait ideas playground-brandobean
Flickr: brandobean

 

Toddler Portrait Idea #7 – Off to the Side

There’s no rule that says a head shot must be taken…well…head-on. In fact, jazzing it up a bit by having part of the child’s face just out of view creates a winning artistic touch. Be sure to keep a framed sample copy nearby to showcase this idea to its fullest potential.

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Flickr: beattys

 

Toddler Portrait Idea #8-9 – Walking Hand in Hand

Those wobbly first steps are precious indeed! Experiment with this portrait idea by having the child walk holding their parents’ hands or fingers, or walking along with an older sibling to add perspective and a wisp of nostalgia.

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Flickr: anvuela
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Flickr: fabulousphotosbybrittany

Toddler Portrait Idea #10-11 – Just Mommy (or Daddy) and Me

It’s time for your subjects to pucker up and snuggle in close with this classic parent & child pose. Frame the photo within a variety of settings such as a nearby park or a big cozy chair to kindle that familial bond. Include grandparents or a favorite aunt or uncle to create a beautiful family treasure in minutes!

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Flickr: joelleim
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Flickr: lab2112

 

Toddler Portrait Idea #12 – One Small Step

When you’re less than 3 feet high, climbing the stairs is a monumental feat! Capture this proud-as-can-be moment with a photo of the wee one ascending that magical staircase of victory. Jazz up the scene a little bit with a sparkly crown, fairy wings or even a little super hero cape for added effect. (Be sure to have an adult or parent nearby for safety!)

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Flickr: svenstorm

 

Toddler Portrait Idea #13 – So Curious!

Toddlerhood is a time for asking all sorts of questions from morning ‘til night. A sweet portrait depicting a little one’s ponderous expression captures both the innocence and wonder of this all too fleeting time in their lives.

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Flickr: 37115419@N02

 

Toddler Portrait Idea #14 – Angelic Profile

A little one’s profile is truly a thing of beauty – just as their mama! The contours of their faces are soft and rounded, from their sloping foreheads to their tiny button noses. Be sure to allow for plenty of light across the eyes to create a slightly ethereal look.

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Flickr: foxtongue

 

18 Pet Portrait Ideas

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Whether it’s a dog, a cat or even something more exotic like say – a turtle or a guinea pig, the family pet is a cherished and often doted-upon member of the family. This is why, if you’re not already in the habit of photographing pets, you might want to give it a try. Pet portraiture has become extremely popular over the past few years, providing both the amateur and professional photographer a new outlet for their creativity and a strong conduit for reaching new clients.

We’ve rounded up some of the most adorable pet portrait ideas, complete with props. See how many of these suggestions you can incorporate into your next “fur baby” portrait special!

Pet Portrait Idea #1

Mirror, Mirror – A mirror or sunny window makes a great prop for the curious kitty or pup! Watch as the animal encounters the “stranger” and get ready to take that prize winning comical shot! Just be sure you’re positioned off to the side so as to not interrupt the shot with your own flash.

Pet Portrait Ideas-Mirror Mirror-nick_lee
Flickr: nick_lee

 

Pet Portrait Idea #2-3

Outdoor Chic – Bundle up that little fur ball and get ready to brave the great outdoors! To ensure optimal attention and safety, look for a location that is as free from other distractions as possible (read: other dogs, kids on bikes, cars, etc). Also, ask the owner to either stand nearby (just outside the frame) or directly behind you so the dog looks “up” toward the camera.

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Flickr: ellegphotography
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Flickr: plasticwool

 

Pet Portrait Idea #4

Backyard BBQ – Nothing brings out the “canine” like a juicy burger or charbroiled steak! If the subject’s family is into camping, cookouts or tail-gate parties, a portrait featuring a cooler, picnic blanket, plastic food (ahem), and their beloved companion is a sure-fire hit.

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Flickr: nick_lee

 

Pet Portrait Idea #5-6

Shh! Baby’s Sleeping – If you’ve got a tired pooch or kitty on your hands, don’t fight against their internal snooze button. Instead, opt for a charming sleepy pose! You could wrap the little one up in a blanket or simply capture their afternoon siesta right where they landed.

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Flickr: wishymom
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Flickr: phlora

 

Pet Portrait Idea #7-8

Play Time – Whether they’re chasing a ball, playing tug-o-war with a sock or batting a ball of yarn, dogs and cats of all ages love to play! These silly moments produce plenty of laughs on their own, so go for the candid and try not to “create” the scene too much. In fact, a playful scene like this would be great ice breaker as it eliminates the animal’s anxiety and helps them feel more relaxed.

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Flickr: picturepurrfect685
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Flickr: 51710725@N08

 

Pet Portrait Idea #9

Santa Baby – “Dear Santa, I’ve been very good this year. Love, Fluffy” A portrait featuring the little critter decked out for the holidays not only makes a great gift idea but a fun holiday greeting card image as well. Just add a few glittering packages, a decorated tree and you’re in business! If your subject is a puppy or kitten, consider tucking them inside a stocking for a sweet-as-candy pose.

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Pet Portrait Idea #10-12

Hugs & Kisses – Nothing could be more endearing than a portrait featuring the pet – and “his” child-master! But beware: certain factors, like maintaining both subjects’ attention and ensuring the child isn’t “squeezing” or holding on to their pet too hard, can suck the life out of a staged pet/child photo rather quickly. Instead, go for the candid to capture that, “You’re my best friend forever” moment.

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Flickr: bdwaydiva1
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Flickr: the_napkin
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Flickr: 28045310@N08

 

Pet Portrait Idea #13-15

Am I Cute or What? – A close-up of their favorite companion is guaranteed to make any owner smile! Get to know the animal a bit first, so you can capture their unique personality in the shot. Portraits like these are great for framing and never go out of style.

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Flickr: mims_art_of_life
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Flickr: gideonvanderstelt
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Flickr: kakissel

 

Pet Portrait Idea #16-18

Young ‘n Innocent – It’s hard to resist a sweet pair of kitten or puppy dog eyes staring back at you! Capturing those adorable first few weeks on camera is sure fire way to elicit plenty of “Awwww!’s” from your clients, both now and well into the future.

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Flickr: brambleberries_photography
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Flickr: vonschnauzer
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Flickr: meaganjean

13 Maternity Portrait Posing Ideas

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A lovely set of maternity portraits not only captures the miracle of life growing within, but also allows the woman’s blossoming beauty to shine through. (Beauty in which the “mommy-to-be” might have a hard time seeing amidst the daily throes of pregnancy itself!) Therefore, it should be considered an honor to be asked to photograph a woman during this most special time in her life. Your skills, coupled with a few trusted techniques and posing ideas shown here, are sure to create a one-of-a-kind portrait session that will be cherished long after the little one is born.

Classy Maternity Portrait Posing Ideas #1-3

Back to Nature – Incorporating nature into your shot is always a winning idea. Be sure to look for a location which provides plenty of character, such as a wooden glen on a fall day, a sandy beach, or a flowery meadow.

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Flickr: rsmith4321
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Flickr: coreyann
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Flickr: happylizzz

Classy Maternity Portrait Posing Ideas #4-6

Silhouette & Light – There’s nothing quite like a shot of a new mom in silhouette – either by herself or with the proud daddy! The look is not only soft, but provides a glimpse into the sacred bond between mother and child. Experiment with time of day and location, and be mindful of your position. If you’re seated too low or too close, mom will come out looking a lot larger than she would like!

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Flickr: kristaphoto
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Flickr: gmunroe
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Flickr: jcaputo4

Classy Maternity Portrait Posing Ideas #7-8

Hands & Hearts – A classic photo of loving hands cradling the “baby bump” is both charming and endearing. Incorporating big brother or sister into the photo allows siblings to feel special and connected to this magical event.

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Flickr: kristaphoto
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Flickr: kiermacz

Classy Maternity Portrait Posing Idea #9

Daddy Snuggle – Give the daddy-to-be a moment “alone” with his little one! A portrait highlighting daddy’s love – whether through a kiss or a cuddle on the belly, or perhaps reading a bedtime story to the little bundle – provides a feeling of protection and tender strength. (This idea is especially great around Father’s Day!)

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Flickr: kristaphoto

 

Classy Maternity Portrait Posing Idea #10

Side of the Frame Embrace – Keeping your subjects positioned off to the side of the frame is a great way to take advantage of your natural surroundings and keep things aesthetically intriguing for your viewer.

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Flickr: kristaphoto

 

Classy Maternity Portrait Posing Idea #11-12

Name that Belly – Using a set of alphabet blocks to spell out the baby’s name or initials provides a fun twist to your portrait session! Consider using the blocks exclusively on mom’s tummy or have both mom and dad hold a few blocks to spell out the baby’s name (or just his/her initials). Either way, this personalized look is sure to secure a prominent place on the child’s nursery wall!

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Flickr: blogjunkie
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Flickr: djonesphoto

 

Classy Maternity Portrait Posing Idea #13

Maternal Profile – Few things in life are more beautiful than a pregnant woman in profile. Just remember – location, as well as position, for a shot like this is critical. Therefore, look for a space that has minimal distractions such as the beach, a beautiful tree, the family’s back yard – you get the idea. And as for position, having the mother stand with her belly angled a few degrees toward you is often more flattering than a full profile shot. However, it doesn’t hurts to shoot from both angles, just in case.

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Flickr: caharley72

 

 

The Best Outdoor Photography Portrait Poses: 20 Ideas

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Now that you understand how to shoot based on various weather conditions, it’s time to zero in on the type of poses that will be most flattering to your subjects.

Outdoor portraits tend to take on a very relaxed, easy-going tone even if you’re the one directing the shot. Shooting among the great outdoors is also beneficial when it comes to children. Let’s face it – some kids can be the cutest, most outgoing thing on two legs – until they get into a photography studio! Suddenly it’s wooden smiles, stiff posture, and obvious disinterest.

To make the most of your next outdoor shutterfest, check out these outdoor photography portrait posing ideas for a fresh perspective…

Outdoor Photography Portrait Pose Idea #1

Off Center – Keeping the lush surroundings in focus is always a good idea, especially when in a gorgeous natural setting like near a river, lake or atop a mountain.

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Flickr: ellegphotography

Continue reading “The Best Outdoor Photography Portrait Poses: 20 Ideas”

9 Photography Prop Ideas to Create Unique Portraits

Whether your photographing children, your pet or your best friend’s engagement, the creative use of props can take your photos from “nice” to “incredible” in a matter of minutes. Just remember – the idea behind using photography props is to enhance your photos, not detract or overpower them.  Many household items, as well as those already cherished by your subject can be used in a variety of ways.

Here is a list of photography prop ideas to consider using during your next portrait session…

Photography Prop Idea #1

A Bench – A bench can be dressed up or down to fit a variety of portrait themes. Look for one with a bit of character as it will help spark more artistic possibilities. Experiment with your subject’s placement too – whether sitting on, standing behind or lying underneath the bench itself.

flickr: seanmolin

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12 Creative Portrait Ideas

Chances are when someone hears the word “portrait” they think of something like this: “Plain, monochromatic background. Focus on the face. Everyone look at the camera now and say, “Cheese!””. (Very yearbook-ish, right?)

While a quality portrait should definitely highlight the subject, it should also capture the essence of the subject’s personality and best features.  Here are 12 creative portrait ideas that will take your headshots from “simple” to “extraordinary”…

Creative Portrait Idea #1:

Square Between the Eyes – By cropping in tight against the face, the subject’s eyes become the focal point and seem to fill the entire frame. A square shape provides a fresh twist on the standard rectangular photo.

Flickr: s-t-r-a-n-g-e

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