, , , ,

When is the best time to photograph your baby?

What is the time of the day, when your baby is likely to be calm, relaxed, not move too much, and give you the best chance to photograph all their adorable features?

, , ,

What we do, as parents, photographers, and why it matters.

What we do as parents, photographers – matters. Documenting the little moments in our family lives, the quiet ordinary moments that make up the fabric of our lives – they matter. They are the ones that in years to come will bring the smile back on your face and floods of emotions.

, , , ,

Holidays by the pool? Learn how to take great underwater photos and capture the fun!

Want to capture your kids under water? Not as hard as it looks! We explore equipment options, technique and composition – ready? Splash!

, , , , , ,

Simple and modern baby photos – getting started

 

 

 

Welcoming a new baby into your life and your heart often means a beginning of a little bit of baby photo obsession. Trust me. I’ve been there, done that, got myself into photography business 🙂

But all too often, the great kind of baby photos seem elusive. We end up with hundreds of phone camera snaps but not so many of the better quality ones, suitable for printing. And I know that often parents start with their ‘proper’ cameras, only to become disappointed with what they get out of it, where in reality, sometimes a few very simple tweaks is all it takes to make the photos look great.

With that in mind, we created a guide in which we explain 10 beautiful, modern and simple baby photos which you can achieve with almost any camera and no fancy props beyond a simple blanket laid out on your bed. The guide is free for you to download and put into practice  🙂  It’s a non-technical guide, meaning we don’t go on about specific camera settings, instead focusing on how to capture the images, using almost any camera, where and how to position your baby, what shooting angle to choose and what common pitfalls to look out for.

Below are a couple of pages from the guide to give you an idea what you’ll be getting:

 

 

, , , , ,

5 tips for taking great photos of your children in the bluebells

 

 

Are you getting out there with your camera today?

If you want to make the most of the bluebells while they’re still in full bloom, here are our best tips for seriously beautiful photos:

An important caveat here : bluebells are an ancient wildflower but they can be vulnerable to habitat destruction so make sure that when you go exploring your local woods, you cause as little harm to them as possible = don’t pick, don’t trample, leave them as little disturbed as possible. 

 

1. You want LOTS of them

Pick an area where the bluebells are nice and dense – the strength of a flower carpet is in the sheer volume of the photos – give yourself the best advantage by finding somewhere that has an abundance of flowers! Here is some help finding bluebells near you from the Woodland Trust. Our student Sarah Gannon used the abundance of flowers beautifully – by focusing on the logs in the front, she made the bluebells melt into background, creating a beautiful scene, rich in colour and with subtle texture.

Sarah_Gannon_bluebells

Photo by student Sarah Gannon

2. Think big picture

Before you zoom in on the photos, consider the overall magical scene with the gorgeous flower carpet that’s painted in front of you and shoot that as well – make your photos high and wide, choose a wide angle focal length and picture the whole scene.

bluebell_woods_2013-31-2

3. aaaand the detail

Once you’ve got those wide images, don’t forget to explore the delicate nature of the flowers by going closer in and creating tighter frames. Putting the wider shot and the detail together can give you a really beautiful collage.

DSC_0403-2

 

4. Get your angles right

Most people shoot from where they stand, without varying the height of the angle and you can make such a difference by getting a bit lower to the ground, you know, where your subject is. Try shooting low, at around the flower height, get your kids to crouch down or sit down amongst the flowers to get the most of it. By shooting low,  you allow yourself to develop a good depth in the photo, almost multiplying the volume of the flowers. Shooting from above and into the ground takes away the sense of flower abundance. In the photo below, the little girl is crouching among the flowers with some at the front being out of focus and some lovely and sharp ( for those of you comfortable around a camera, that’s playing with a shallow depth of field)

bluebell_woods_2013-79

5. Bluebells as foreground

Don’t just think of the bluebells as a gorgeous background. Bringing them to the front and either keeping them sharp and your subjects blurry or just using them as a bit of a blurry background can bring a real 3D dimension to your images, lifting them from ordinary, to something a bit more special. Our student Valsa Shah kept the bluebells sharp in the foreground which adds lovely texture to the image. The silhouette of father and a daughter in the background has the perfect blur which means our eyes don’t go there first, focusing on the flowers instead, but at the same time it’s delicate enough to make it clear who they are.

photo by student Valsa Shah

photo by student Valsa Shah

 

 

 

Camera settings:

Choose a shallow depth of field for creating varied texture in the images – ideally you want some flower details around your subject that further melt into the background into a blur of colour and light. You can create it either by picking a wide aperture ( the smallest possible number on your camera), getting close to your subject and zooming in ( ideally all 3 ). Don’t just think background when it comes to creating a texture in the photo – shooting through the flowers brings in a great candid dimension to the photos.

And above all – have fun and mess around with your kids – let them play and  capture the joy! Get them to hide behind logs and flowers and examine the flowers from up close! Play pick-a-boo behind the flowers and encourage them to explore by themselves. When they have fun, beautiful photo opportunities will always follow – you just need to capture them!

Happy snapping!

Want to learn more of what your camera can do? Check out our photography courses, designed especially for Mums and Dads with a passion for photographing their families – just like you! Pick from face-to face, London based classes and Online workshops.

check out our courses

London classes

online_classes

 

 

 

 

, , ,

How to take blurry background photos?

Love the look of that soft, glowy, blurry background in portrait photos? You can achieve it too! Follow our 4 foolproof steps!

, , ,

5 things to do to make your snow photos look great!

“Did you SEE that Mummy! We can go an build a snowman! And play snowballs and …”

Here are out 5 top things to do if you want your snow photos to look beautiful.

1. Change your White Balance to ‘cloudy’ 

Your camera doesn’t really understand pure white ( and pure black for that effect ). Because of that, it tries to bring it down to a pale shade of grey and we all know how attractive grey snow looks. If you leave it to its own devices, the effect will be greyish, blueish photos. Changing your White Balance ( WB) to cloudy – warmifies the image, making it closer to how we perceive it.

2. Overexpose.

I know, counter-intuitive, but hear me out. This is again down to the whole not understanding white thing and trying to bring it back to grey which essentially ‘dims’ the picture. Find a button on your camera with a +/- on it ( that’s your exposure compensation button) and use the scroll wheel ( if you’re on DSLR – this might differ for bridge cameras) to push the meter towards +1. Take a few test pictures to double check and adjust as necessary but you should find them looking better than on ‘correct’ setting. Just don’t forget to bring it back to zero later!

3. Keep your shutter speed fast for pictures of falling snow unless you want them to look like lines.

Start from 1/250s and adjust upwards if necessary to preserve the roundness of the falling snow flakes. Go even faster for the obligatory snowball fight  of course! Just make sure your camera is nice and safe (snow = water = trouble)

4.  Think of your background and foreground.

Want to make it clear in the picture the snow is falling around your subject? Make sure your background has something dark in it ( trees are good) so that the bright snow flakes have something to stand out against. Using a shallow depth of field will help to blur some of the snowflakes in the front creating a layer of depth.

5. Think of the larger picture as well

It’s easy enough to zoom in on the red cheeks, excited smiles and snowflakes settling on the eyelashes but get the larger scene as well! Head out to the park or a wide open space and show the beauty and calm of the snowscape. If your child is wearing contrasting colour – even better – it will make them stand out against the background and draw the eye.

And above all – have fun!

, , , ,

Love the look of those festive lights in the background? Here is how you get them:

I really really really love Christmas. I cheer up instantly pretty much from the 1st December or as soon as the fairy lights start going up all over the place. They’re such a lovely accent among the doom and gloom of the winter, I really couldn’t be without them.

But photographically speaking – if there is such a thing – they are great because they give you fabulous opportunities to get some beautiful BOKEH.

Bokeh is a real word ( I promise), it comes from Japanese and describes the light circles we can get on our photographs, usually in the background. Like the ones below ( all our students photos).

The great news is that they are actually not difficult to capture and they bring such a lovely festive feel to your photos. Follow our 3 steps and you’ll be bokeh-in all over your photos.

The process:

Before go go any further, make sure your camera is set right:

If you’re shooting on auto: set your camera to Portrait or High Sensitivity.

If you’re shooting in semi-auto or manual mode : set your aperture to the widest available setting ( smallest number you have) and ( unless you;re using tripod or something else where you can just set your camera steady by itself) up your ISO to 800 – 1600 ( or until you’re able to get a shutter speed above 1/60s).

If possible, try to make sure that the subject you’re photographing is facing a window or another source of light.

To make bokeh as attractive and as effective as possible, we are essentially trying to throw them out of focus as much as possible. And here is your 3 step plan to achieve it.

Step 1. Distance to the lights

The closer your lights are to your subject, the more in focus they will be. So to give yourself a chance of getting it right, move your subject a little distance from the lights.

xmasbokeh-page-1

Step 2. Distance to your subject.

The further you are from the point you are focusing on, the more everything in the frame will be in focus. Easy way to test it – grab your camera and hold one arm in front of your lens. Take a picture focusing on your hand. Now without moving an inch from where you are or changing anything on your camera, focus on something a bit further away. If you compare the two pictures, you’ll see that one has comparatively much more blur in the background than the other.

xmasbokeh-page-2

 

Step 3. Zoom in

The more you zoom in on your subject, the more you compress the entire space in your frame ( trust us on it) and the more your lights will be thrown out of focus. So use as much zoom as you can in the space you’re in – longer zoom will require you to be physically further away from your subject or it won’t let you focus. Yes, I know in the step above we made a point of saying – get close to your subject – this means, get as close as you can with your zoom stretched out. Try to zoom in so much that your subject occupies at least half the space in the frame.

xmasbokeh-page-3

 

 

 

 

IN SUMMARY

1. Get your subject away from the lights

2. Get close to your subject

3. Zoom in on your subject

Good luck and a very happy Christmas from The Photography for Parents team!

Feast your eyes on more wonderful examples of bokeh from our students!

 

 

 

, , ,

{ Fresh start } – creating a healthy photography habit

Are you looking for ways to up your photography game? Would you like to make a commitment to getting better at it? If you answered yes to both of these, read on.  Photography is a funny business: intensely visual and cerebral and very physical at the same time, both reactive and proactive, incredibly creative and really technical, relying on instinct, but based on solid foundations.

There is no other way to grow your photography than to truly commit to practice, practice and practice some more and nothing is better for that, than creating a healthy photography habit. Here are our 5 steps to building one:

1

Dust the cobwebs off your camera

And I mean, literally. If you’ve not used your camera for a while, there’s bound to be some dust on the lens and elsewhere – get it nice and sparkling. Charge your battery ( and the spare one if you have one – you’ll thank yourself). Download all the photos from your existing memory cards and reformat them in your camera ( you’ll find that option in your menu) – this will help make sure all the data from the card is really gone and prolong the health of your card. Check your settings – especially the bits that may have got changed along the way like exposure compensation, white balance, file format etc – you want your camera back to neutral so you don’t have to worry about getting odd results.  A reset back to the factory settings can be a good thing if you can’t remember what you’d done to your camera in the past.

2

Set yourself some goals

It’s up to you what they are, just make sure you have some. Pick short term goals ( I will learn and practice a new technique this month ) over long term, lofty aims ( I want to be like Annie Leibovitz one day). Having goals focuses your mind and makes getting out and about with your camera more purposeful ( = more likely to actually happen). You could join a 52 or 365project group online ( committing to upload one photo a week or a day – we are running one of these for our alumni students)  to keep you shooting frequently. Do a course to skill up in a specific area or systematise your knowledge. Make sure to make yourself accountable for it in some way – don’t just take the photos – at the very least download them back onto your computer or upload to the internet – online photography clubs are great for this as you always get lots of encouragement and help along the way.

3

Look at photos

No, not just yours, although review is an important part of this process – look at what other photographers are doing and get inspired. Critically evaluating other’s work helps you find styles which speak to you more than others, find photographers who share a vision you have for your own photos and learn from them. When you come across an image that makes you pause, ask yourself – why am I drawn to this image? What makes it more attractive to me than the others? How was it achieved? Lots of photographers post their work on sites like Flickr or 500px and you can review the settings they used to take a photo but most photographers will be thrilled if you contact them to ask more questions about how they arrived at that image. Use a Pinterest board to gather inspirations from the net and see if you can recreate some techniques or styles.

4

Find your “go to” shots and grow beyond them

.
We all have them. Have a look through your photo archives – I can almost guarantee you will find a lot of photos that look very much alike. Perhaps you favour a head and shoulders portrait – look carefully, you’ll find almost identical shots in a range of sceneries with a range of facial expressions. Or maybe you only ever shoot at a really wide aperture and forget that the range or apertures on your lens was put there for a reason. Nothing wrong with having a ‘go to’ shot as such, but wouldn’t it be great to try something new? See something new? Get a fresh perspective? Challenge yourself NOT TO do your favourite thing for a day or a week or to the the opposite of where your normal style takes you – shake things up! Even if you end up going back to your default style afterwards – you’ll have learned along the way.

5

Get organised

I know, yawn, boring, but oh so necessary. I know so many aspiring photographers who neglect that and end up never sorting through ( or sometimes even downloading!) the images they take, never learning from them, never having the chance to display their work proudly.  It’s enough to fall back behind a little and with today’s possibilities of taking a few hundred images per shoot, the prospect of wading your way through hundreds of images sounds just south of exciting. Get in the habit of downloading ( and backing up) your photos as soon as you get home from shooting. Select and review your best images. You don’t even need a big system – axe the obviously bad ones, flag or star the good ones and put them in a “best of shootX” album and archive the rest. You’re never going to want to look through the ‘just OK’ photos – keep your time and attention for the best!

 

Photography is such an amazing discipline. It keeps you learning and growing and gives you another language with which to process the world. Give it a chance, catch that photography bug, truly SEE the beauty around you!

Let your photography take you places you never knew existed.

Ania and the Photography for Parents team xxx

, , , ,

New creative exercise – the colour challenge

Feeling like you’re taking the same children’s photos over and over again?

It’s so easy to fall into a routine with anything, photography included. We tend to be drawn to the same poses, the same angles, the same perspective and before we know it, we’re in possession of hundreds of photos that only vary ever so slightly. If that rings a bell, it’s time to set yourself up a challenge and see how what you see through your lens, changes – and with it – your photos.

Today’s challenge, if you’re willing to accept it is COLOUR.

It’s amazing how a choice of colour can make or break a photo. Use it to accentuate a point of interest and that’s where everyone’s eyes are drawn. Usea toned down palette of similar pastel colours and your photo goes from boring to dreamy. Use contrasting background and make things ‘pop’ agains it.

Your challenge for the weekend is to pick a colour or a colour palette and  try to incorporate it into your children’s photos you’ll be taking throughout the weekend – be it in the background, as an accent element or just recurring splash of colour. Think about how it dominates or defines parts of your photo. Observe how using it in the background or the foreground makes a difference. Match it with similar or contrasting colours. Whatever you do, it has to be in every photo you take.

Some inspiration for you below: