Creating fond memories

The postman delivered my son’s first dressing up outfit a couple of days ago and the excitement for me to test it for size (on my son of course!) had been too much to handle.  I had an hour to spare and my son was in a patient mood. So why not?

The outfit had enough room for at least a  few months of wear. Apart from the hat, that is. I’m sure he’ll look back in years to come and think ‘oh mum, what on earth?’ But having seen some of the costumes out there I think I’ve been relatively kind. Mickey Mouse is a classic after all!

There were some funny images and some cute ones which but don’t be fooled into thinking that photography’s an easy ride. It’s certainly fun, I love spending time with little ones and it’s a breeze compared to a life in the boardroom…..but it can be challenging.

You have to time the session perfectly making sure they’re fed, watered, not lacking in sleep and most importantly to let them be themselves. And if that means not wanting to participate throughout the whole session regardless of how hard you try, then so be it. Photographs that have a story behind them are the ones you look at fondly (or laugh at) in years to come.

This is one from the Mickey Mouse session which will continue to make me laugh! It suggests he would have preferred to be Donald Duck.

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Until the next costume!……

A Woodland Walk with Mushrooms and Monkeys

This Sunday afternoon we spent a couple of hours strolling through Hurtwood, near Pitch Hill….and what a perfect opportunity to take the Canon out for a walk.

The weather was perfect, our son had plenty of energy and I needed some fresh air. Pitch Hill is on our doorstep and although we’ve lived in the area for two years and passed it many times we’d never managed to visit.

It was pretty busy as there was an MTBO (Mountain Bike Orienteering) event and as a result my son’s new word is bike! He loved watching the cyclists pass and was more than impressed as a few of them raced up a ramp at speed and flew through the air.

I love this time of year and woodland walks are great for all your senses. The autumnal colours of leaves on the trees, in the air and on the ground. The damp undergrowth is a fantastic environment for moss and as a result creates a wonderful contrast to the thorny brambles. There were plenty of fungi at the base of trees and to the side of the path but I was pretty exited when I saw this Fly Agaric mushroom. It stood in solitude on a bed of bright green moss in beautiful sunlight.

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Towards the end of the walk there was a pond, together with bulrushes and dragonflies and a perfectly positioned bench to rest weary legs. I didn’t manage to capture any images of dragonflies but may be next time.

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The walk in itself was probably an easy one hour round trip but with little legs and inquisitive eyes (both me and my son!) it took two hours. We came home with arms full of brightly coloured fallen leaves, images of the fun Sunday afternoon, knowledge of a new place for family walks and a very tired boy.

I wonder where our next adventure will take us!

The Baby Bump

I’ve recently been experimenting by viewing my subjects from different angles to create an alternative perspective.

In this weeks maternity session I captured the baby bump from above and it proved to be a great success. Definitely one I’d create again. With feet slightly out of focus the bump demands immediate attention.

A maternity session is all about the bump after all so why not make it the feature of the image?!

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While trying to achieve this perspective I realised a small step ladder just wasn’t going to give me the height I needed. Luckily I had a large A-frame ladder to hand. Whilst perched precariously at the top of the ladder, on one leg, carrying a heavy camera I considered investing in some crash mats for future shoots!

Super heroes and Disney princesses

I’m starting to feel so out of touch….ok, old. I have no idea which is the most recent or popular Disney princess and it took me months to realise who Elsa was. And I STILL haven’t watched Frozen.

A couple of months ago I spent some time taking some family shots for my sister. It didn’t take much encouragement for my niece and nephew to dive into their dressing up boxes and find an outfit. It was pretty predictable that my nephew would appear as a Marvel superhero and my niece a Disney princess, but which superhero and which princess?

It turns out Spiderman and Elsa are the latest craze, or at least in their household. I had Elsa floating around in her sparkly dress and Spidey crawling the floor, better that than climbing the walls I guess.

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The outfits not only changed their appearance but also their confidence levels in front of the camera. Incorporating their dressing up outfits into the session might just help them take on another persona and feel more at ease. Even if their living room has been taken over by tripods and lighting, their outfits should provide conversation in the hope of breaking down any barriers.

In that case I’d better start learning who all the superheroes and princesses are! If you can’t get hold of me for the next month or so I’ll be on the sofa, watching Disney films and making notes.

With love on Father’s Day

A week before Father’s Day I started to think of some ideas for a photo session for my son.

I thought about finding an item of my husband’s clothing for my son to wear. A tie was the perfect size, it worked pretty well and he enjoyed playing with it during the shoot so that kept him entertained. I chose this tie as there’s some history behind it. It’s my husband’s Vincent’s Club tie so I was sure he’d love an image of our son wearing it.

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I just love panoramics and have used them on a few occasions. The rule of thirds doesn’t quite apply here but the panoramic is a clear favourite of mine.

I rarely use a black backdrop for young children but I took some time to experiment and see how effective it could be. I had the time available and then quickly hid all the evidence before my husband came home. I was surprisingly pleased with the results however I wouldn’t use such a dark background for clients as they tend to want something more vibrant and lively.

There were no distracting clothes, patterns or colours and the most important aspects were highlighted, my son and the tie’s motifs.

 

I loved these images so much I couldn’t resist showing my husband that evening. I’m just useless at surprises. I had to come up with another idea and quickly.

In my treasure trove of props I had some wooden letters to spell ‘dad’. I had planned to stand the letters in front of him but they kept falling over. To overcome this I had him hold each letter and then merge the three images together. The letters kept him occupied which was perfect at keeping him in one place.

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I realised that a special, meaningful image for a parent can be for any day of the year, not just Mother or Father’s Day.

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?

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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 🙂

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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.

Lesson 3 – Take your time

I’ve always placed a large amount of pressure on myself to achieve in whatever I’m doing. At this point in my life, alongside being a mum I’m putting immense pressure on myself with photography, both technically and composition.

My sense of achievement is fulfilled by an image that I’d quite happily display on a wall at home or a shot at which I’ve taken numerous attempts until I feel a sense of satisfaction.

There’s a temptation to take as many photographs as you can during a photo session in the hope to capture ‘the one’. I know I’ve done it.

It took a while for me to realise how counter productive this actually is. After settling down in the evening with a cuppa and the plan to start editing I find myself with hundreds of images to sort through. This is not only due to shooting in RAW + JPEG and in continuous mode but also being ‘clicky happy’. I’ve ended up with at least six of the same image and in the worst scenario six of the same unfocused image!

I’ve since learned that the best approach is to move or direct your subjects until you’re satisfied with the composition (if you have to), focus, shoot once and check. This limits the number of files and flashes.

Also remember that your camera is portable so move yourself too! You don’t have to remain static throughout the session. Shooting from a variety of angles can give you some fantastic perspectives and something slightly different.

Stop rushing, take your finger of the shutter button and take your time.