Family Maternity Shoot

With just 2 weeks to go until my due date, I wanted to get some family pictures to commemorate this stage in our family history. When I was pregnant with my first child, a friend of ours offered to take some maternity pictures. She did a great job, and you can check them out here. With my second pregnancy I asked my mum to take some for us, but I wasn’t really prepared. We just made it up as we went along. Although we did get some nice pictures (see them here), this time I wanted to be a lot more organized.

To prepare I went online and searched for images that I liked, saving them to my phone so I wouldn’t forget and could access them quickly during the shoot. I also planned what I was going to wear, and exactly where I would take the pictures. I decided to simply use my tripod and the self timer on my camera instead of trying to instruct someone else on what to do. I used the same method last year for our family photos, and it worked well.

The biggest challenge is always keeping the kids cooperative. My son especially quickly loses interest. I promised them an icy treat if they did what I asked, and also split the time I needed them for pictures with times when it was just me or me and hubby. That meant they could run around for a bit, which made them more willing to come back and sit still again for a few more poses.

So we started with a traditional group shot of the whole family.

The first one is pretty standard, nothing special. Although I love the look on my son’s face, my daughter was still a little moody from having her hair combed (something she hates). So I immediately moved on to getting them more involved, as you can see in the second picture.

I decided to continue this aspect of having them focus on the bump, something I had seen and liked when researching images online.

As you can see, the two pictures in each of these pairs are very similar poses. I therefore decided to keep my favorite of each pair in color, and converted the other to black and white for a little variety. The color version of the top pair is one of my favorites. The ones of the kids kissing my bump didn’t come out quite as well as I had hoped, as you can’t really see their faces or exactly what they are doing. If I could do this shot over I would instead have them with their ears to the bump, as if listening to the baby, so you could see their faces. Alternatively I would shoot them one at a time from the side, so you could see that they are kissing the bump. Lesson learned.

We kept the focus on the bump going. I had found a wonderful image online of everyone’s hands on the bump, with nothing else showing, so that’s what I tried to create next.

In the first shot the angle was all wrong. The problem with using the self timer is that you don’t have much time to get everyone into position. However, when I reviewed the picture later, I found that when it was cropped it was actually quite a cute picture of the kids, so I kept it. Once I figured out the right positions for everyone to be in, I got exactly the shot I wanted. I knew it was going to look much better in black and white than color, but the sepia version turned out even better. This is another one of my favorites from the shoot.

We were done with the standing group shots, so I let the kids off to play and took a few of just me and hubby.

The first one was a pose I had planned, another quite traditional ‘couple’ shot, but one I like. The second one was my husband’s idea, and I was happy to comply. Since it was more of a fun shot, I edited it to reflect that. It’s a subtle effect, but I think it works well. The third shot was another version of something I found online, and then back to  more traditional poses in the last two.

Time to bring the kids back in.

Two more of my favorites, and I have a hard time choosing which I like best. The second pose is slightly more traditional, which is why I think I prefer the first one, as I tend to go for something a little different to what you normally see. Both of the kids have to take a family picture to school this week, and I chose the second one for that. Do you like Edward’s robot dog slippers? He insisted on wearing them, and I knew it was easier to let him have his way than argue. Besides, I think they’re pretty cute, and they reflect his personality.

Time to focus on mommy.

This is another shot I found online that I was excited to try. As I mentioned above, I like shots that are a little bit different from the norm, and I thought this was a beautiful way to showcase the bump. I enlisted my husband for this, because I needed more than 10 seconds to get into position! I ensured he took several shots, and I was really pleased with how they came out. As before, since the pose is pretty much identical in both shots, I left one in color and converted the other. This time I converted the one I liked more, and chose sepia instead of black and white. I also softened both the images a little, then resharpened the eyes to make them stand out. I love the results, and I’m currently using the sepia version as my Facebook profile image.

Throughout the shoot I also took a few fun pictures.

The first shot is another that I found online, and I love it. The kids thought it was hilarious. For the next two shots I changed into a t-shirt that hubby bought me during my first pregnancy. For the third one I told everyone to act like they didn’t know I was pregnant until they saw the shirt. Again the kids had a blast acting that out. Unfortunately I caught the sun right on the logo, which makes it a little hard to see. I also wish I was turned more towards the camera in the second shot so that the logo is easier to read. Again, lessons learned.

And that’s it. Overall I was extremely pleased with the results, and I’ve been getting great comments on my Facebook page. I made a collage of my favorite shots and had it printed and framed. Now all that’s left to do is await baby’s arrival. 12 days and counting…

Backyard Treasures

I love sitting in my backyard and seeing what wildlife comes to visit. Two of my favorites are the squirrels and the hummingbirds. I spend a lot of time sitting with my camera at the ready to catch a hummingbird in the perfect position at the feeder. These are the best I’ve got so far this year.

My 4-year-old son calls them ‘angel hummingbirds’  because he thinks their wings look like angels’ wings.

Here’s the squirrel I caught stealing my apples:

Originally the color image was my favorite. I had converted the other one to black and white, and on a whim decided to see what it looked like in sepia. That one ended up being my favorite!

My First Wedding Shoot

I don’t claim to be a wedding photographer. I don’t have the experience or the equipment I feel is necessary for such an important event. However, when my nephew asked me to be the official photographer at his wedding last fall, I was honored and excited to accept. The day went beautifully, and I was very pleased with the results I got (and I think the happy couple were too!). I thought I would post a few of my favorites, and explain why I like them.

Final Touches

I caught the bride, Lauren, applying the finishing touches to her make up. For a slightly different result I decided to focus on her reflection on the mirror, and I love the result. I thought this shot would look great converted to sepia.

Don’t spill it!

I kept my camera ready at all times, so I was able to capture this fun shot of the bridesmaids attempting to keep the dress free of any spills.

Beautiful Bride

I just love this shot. Lauren was standing below me, and was back-lit with bright sunshine coming in through the front door. It surrounded her with a luminous glow as I looked down on her. Her smile and gaze are just perfect too.

Amazing smile

Another one taken from above. Lauren is sitting on some stairs, now lit from the front by the sunshine, and I leaned over the railing to get the shot. I love the look of joy on her face, and I think the black and white finish is a nice choice.

Mirror, mirror…

This was a shot specifically requested by the bride, and I love how it turned out. Again I focused on the reflection, keeping the back of the bride also in the frame. This time I left the reflection in color with the rest of the image in black and white. It almost makes you feel that the reflection is the real person, and makes you study the picture for a while to take it all in.

Relaxing

I love the lighting in this shot. Once again the sunlight is coming in behind Lauren, but this time it’s muted by the net curtains so it’s not so overpowering. I love her relaxed pose on the couch, something she did naturally, and I really like the muted colors and the glow behind her and catching on her dress. It gives the picture a very serene look.

The Ring

Another one of my all-time favorites. Such a simple shot, but it came out beautifully. Once again we have the lovely lighting from the window. I softened the whole image, then re-sharpened just the ring. It really makes the ring stand out.

Sneaking a glance

This is near the beginning of the ceremony. I love the sneaky glance Mike, the groom, is giving Lauren.

The view from the back

I love this shot taken from the back of the church, as it shows off the beautiful architecture of the church, as well as capturing the bride and groom kneeling as they prepare to make their vows, and the guests in the pews. A little bit of everything.

The kiss!

They’re husband and wife! Another shot that just came out perfectly. All I had to do was soften it and convert to black and white for that classic wedding image.

She’s all mine

This was another unplanned shot that came out beautifully. We were waiting around outside for everyone to get organized, and I asked them to sit on the steps for a few pictures. This was the first one I got. I love the natural pose, the bright colors, and of course the look on Mike’s face!

Memories

Time to move on to the reception, and I wanted to make sure I captured all the little details that went into the event. This is another simple shot that will prove to be a cherished memory of the day.

Time to party!

Of the many photos I took at the reception, this is one of my favorites. Mike and Lauren look so happy and relaxed. I love the lighting, too. I turned my flash off and just used the disco lights, and it worked much better than I expected.

It was a wonderful day. Although I worked hard, I was still able to enjoy the celebration of my nephew’s marriage. And the hard work was worth it. I ended up with over 300 hundred great shots for the couple to keep. I have no plans to start doing this professionally, I prefer to stick to portraits. But if another friend asked, I wouldn’t say no :)

My Bump and Natural Light

My brother got me this book for my birthday in June. It’s all about using natural lighting for portraits. It really inspired me to try out the techniques described, so I decided to try and get some nice pictures of myself as I hit month 8 in my pregnancy.

I found a place in my house where we get a lot of nice natural light, by the patio doors at the back of the house. I cleared all the clutter out of the way and hung a white sheet at right angles to the window for the backdrop, then set up my camera on a tripod opposite the sheet and set the self-timer.

First I took some full body shots:

I tried a couple of different poses, looking thoughtfully into the distance, and gazing down at my bump. I was pleased with how they came out. I took a few more than this, these are the ones I was most happy with.

Next I tried some closeups of just the bump:

I was really pleased with these. The last one is my favorite, and the first one is a close second.

What did I learn? I’ve always preferred using natural light, and most of my professional shoots in the past have been done outside. I think I’m off to a good start using natural light in a more traditional indoor studio setting too, and I’m looking forward to experimenting some more.

There are a couple of things I would do differently if I did this shoot over again. First, I would iron the sheet I used for a backdrop. It had LOTS of creases, and I ended up spending a lot of time in post-editing trying to hide them. Secondly, I would move the camera so that it was facing into the room more, as opposed to being at right-angles to the window. I think that would help eliminate some of the shadows on the right side of the frame, and just overall light the subject better.

In a couple of weeks I’m going to try and get some family pictures of us all before the baby arrives. I’ll be doing that out in the back yard in the shade of the trees. Here’s hoping big brother and sister cooperate!

Shooting Stars

Lots of pretty stars, but no meteorites.
(Click to enlarge)

The night of Sunday August 11th was the annual Perseid Meteor Shower. This is usually the best meteor shower of the year, and I always make an effort to stay up and watch it. Once again I was not disappointed. Well, maybe a little. I saw many bright shooting stars with the naked eye, but I did not manage to capture any with my camera. I spent about an hour watching, but only ended up with lots of pictures of a beautiful starry sky. Oh well, there’s always next year :)