There’s beautiful scenery in Cornwall?

Like many others I was a tourist with a camera, so why do I only have a couple of landscape images from a week in Cornwall?

11856381_10153500596515097_8435150649577575050_o

I stand in awe of a great scene as long as the next person but I’m no landscape photographer. I stop and appreciate the land form, the colours and the history but I know the images will be archived and never viewed by me again. The other two hundred images I took will however be viewed with great nostalgia and memories as they include my husband and my son.

My passion for capturing life is heightened for my own family and I reminisce quite often. My little one is only twenty months old and growing up at an amazing rate so I love looking back to see how much he’s changed. I also like to keep photo year books and scrap books of the things we’ve done and places we’ve visited. Looking at my hard drive he’s been a very busy boy 🙂

11845111_10153500584420097_4876514362348290169_o

Don’t get me wrong I’ll include some of the landscape in my images (sometimes, maybe) but I’m sticking to what I do best.

Advertisements

Lesson 2 – Use mums and dads to your advantage

Parents are a great resource on set, use them to your advantage!

I’ve noticed on numerous occasions parents so desperate for their little one to smile, laugh and giggle on demand that they’ll jump up and down, sing and make faces on the sideline. But that’s exactly where they are, the sideline. While they have the child’s attention they’re not looking at the camera. But how do you address this without discouraging them from getting involved?

At first I felt uncomfortable but if I didn’t nip it in the bud I could just render all the images useless at the end of the session. I just tried ‘That’s great. Now let’s try something different. How about….?’ And that seemed to work pretty well. You’re not criticising what they’re doing but indicating that you’ve got what you need on that shot and to move on.

It doesn’t always have to be songs and silly noises, although they are pretty effective. Shiny or sparkly toys works really well for smaller children and babies. Attach them to a make shift fishing rod so the parent can dangle it just above the lens. That way parents are able to get the baby looking in the right direction without them invading your personal space or you trip over them. A good game of peek-a-boo behind the camera works a treat……not so much for teenagers. Although it’d certainly get their attention!

Parents are also very handy on set for wiping noses/faces. Well that is a parent’s job after all, isn’t it? 😉 As a result of one photo session where this didn’t happen I spent far too much of my time editing out dribble. Save yourself some unnecessary editing time and keep those wipes handy.

If the child has numerous outfits leave the parents to be the hair, make up and wardrobe department for the whole session. Feel free to make suggestions on what you think works well and what doesn’t. This downtime will allow you to take another sip of your much needed coffee which has been cooling steadily.

If you need a reflector of some form held in position parents are great for this too. This has much better results than if you attempt to hold it and take pictures at the same time, trust me. It’s also a lot less cumbersome than having it on a stand which would just be yet another obstacle for you to hurdle and the little one to trip over.

Just consider, both you and the parents want the same thing, fantastic results. So in most cases you’ll find the parents will be willing in anyway they can to achieve this. So just ask!

Lesson 1 – Be prepared for anything

When working with children be prepared for anything!

You’d think wearing a pair of jeans and flats are preparation enough, wouldn’t you? Jeans for rolling around the floor assuming a variety of yoga positions to get that crucial shot. Flats for jumping and running around after these energetic little creatures. However I hadn’t thought about wellie boots for jumping in muddy puddles.

During one of my portfolio building photo sessions I had the privilege of a lively three year old who was shy at first but it turns out an absolute natural in front of the camera. We spent a little time on set but while the sun was out so we took advantage of the local parkland and had a lot of fun. Some of the route was what can only be described as sludge. As I sashayed around puddles and tiptoed through the mud trying not to sink I remember thinking ‘if you’re going to fall, sacrifice your dignity, land on your bottom and save the camera’!

After plenty of running and playing ball we made our way back to the house with a full memory card, but not before making the most of the biggest, wettest, muddiest puddle!

Next time I’ll take more suitable footwear…….and maybe a spare pair of trousers just in case.

Black backdrop for a black belt

I rarely use anything other than a plain white backdrop for children but it worked quite well for my niece’s karate session.

A plain white backing is light hearted and bright, drawing the viewers eyes to the subject and can sometimes create great contrast. I tend to only use dark blues and blacks for corporate shots or images requiring a formal look.

I had considered that with my niece’s karate gi being white the probability of it being lost was pretty high. Adjusting the backdrop to a shade of grey wouldn’t give the image the striking impact I wanted. Black not only provided the drama but from an artistic perspective allowed the achievement of a dan grade to flow from the belt throughout the portrait.

10988306_10153071266585097_5829900232781465694_o.jpg

The percentage of black in the frame, the stance and the serious expression completely represents how seriously my niece takes her martial arts.

She takes it seriously but has a lot of fun too!

1596931_10153071266290097_180083148654161340_o.jpg

 

The Portrait of a Pug

Dogs should be easy to photograph because they’re so obedient, right?… Not if you’re photographing a pug!

I had never photographed my two pugs on set before and thought ‘I’ve got a free hour or two, why not?’

Betty and Daisy are four years old, sisters and very excitable. It took me at least ten minutes to calm them down once they saw the photo set. Easily excitable I know…or they just realised their opportunity to be mischievous!!

‘Lazy Daisy’ didn’t take long to calm down. She is a fawn pug, as wide as she is tall and when she finds a comfy spot that’s it, it’s hers. You just then have a struggle getting her to move at all. Luckily for me she chose a spot right in the centre of the backdrop.

The only difficulty was making her smile for the camera!  This is her happy face by the way 🙂

1560380_10153225392530097_3845487534735711562_n

Getting both Betty and Daisy to sit together on set and wait patiently was a challenge. If they’re not snuffling for crumbs they’re wrestling! So that’s where some bribery came in useful. I packed my pocket with little biscuit treats and waited for their attention. It’s amazing what a pug will do for food.

Once they settled I shifted them around slightly into the best position. They might be small dogs but my goodness they carry some weight. I told them to ‘sleep’ and they put their heads down, I kept my fingers crossed and they stayed like that until I’d taken a few shots.

10553701_10153225392650097_2880700601365190022_o

I must admit they did really well for their first shoot and I was really pleased. Now I just need to find the energy for their second photo session.  I’ll keep you posted.

Catherine Dawn Photography – About me

For as long as I can remember I’ve had a love for art and photography, however almost twenty years ago I chose accountancy as my career path. The Corporate world became my life and I just about managed to squeeze in ‘normal’ every day things like relationships and time with family and friends. I’m sad to say my passion for art took a back seat.

Since having my son in December 2013 I began to rekindle my relationship with a camera. I bought myself a DSLR and began to take advantage of my little, perfect muse! I’ve taken advantage of every opportunity to capture our life whilst learning new techniques and most importantly having lots of fun along the way.

I finally decided to see where an adventure in photography would lead. I chose to specialise in family photography because of it’s importance in capturing life and preserving those special moments for us all to cherish…..not to mention little people are so much fun to spend time with!

Let the adventure begin!