Ask a photog – Tips for photographing kids

They say kids and puppies are the bane of show business. They aren’t wrong.

Here are a few pointers for keeping your sanity around the wiggly ones and getting some great photographs. Bring some wetnaps, a comb and the power of mom-spit: it’s going to be messy.

Shooting kids – with a camera that is

Tip #1  – know your kids

The first thing you need to do with kids is get to know them. Sit on the floor with them or run around the park and play for a while until they are comfortable with you. It’s good to have your camera with you, take a few shots and let them get acclimated to your presence.

Tip #2 – get down

Shoot on their level. Get low to the ground or shoot with extreme angles. You really want to avoid the “god” shot with kids, looking down on them from heaven. Go ahead and zoom in – we recommend getting really close to their face and getting interesting expressions … don’t forget to focus on their eyes. A good rule of thumb for checking focus in your viewfinder … check out the eyelashes. If you can see distinct eyelashes, you’ve got it!

Tip #3 – play

Shoot at a playground or outside where they can run around. Or if you’re in a studio, bring a toy or have the kids play with something they like. (You can keep those toys in the shot if it works).  Basically, you want them to distract their focus from the camera (and keep them entertained) until you’re ready. Jangling keys over your lens …. totally works.

Tip #4 – k.i.s.s {keep it simple … silly!}

Keep your equipment easy and simple. You’ll have enough to handle with your subject. If you have crazy equipment bring in a friend to help as a second pair of hands. Heck, bring a friend anyway.  Also, if you have a setting like “sports” or “child” use it. A fast shutter speed and a fast recycle time will help you get more shots. If you have a camera that “thinks” before it shutters, hold the shutter half way down until you see the shot you want to take – no lag time.

Tip #5 – go outside

Shoot outdoors when you can – the light is right. If you’re indoors try bouncing flash or opening a lot of curtains.  Always keep an eye out for the background. Trust me, I have seen my share of palm trees growing out of heads. Don’t let your children become victims to the ‘head pole’ menace. Use what you find outdoors in your shots too. Have your kids climb trees, or look through fence holes, or play on the swings … use these elements to frame your shot.

Tip #6 – plant those kids

Here’s a favorite trick for the wiggly ones. Stick those kids in a swing, a bucket or even (ala the dreaded Anne Geddes) a tire or flower pot. Sometimes you do what you have to do. And, hey if we have to take the Anne Geddes shot it’s not terribly lame – it’s cool … um, right?

Good luck!


Happy Mother’s Day!

Happy Mother’s Day!

It’s been quite a week. I finally dug into an old chest of my mom’s photos – all gems.

What else could I do? I’ve scanned them all in, and I’m currently editing every single one. I can’t wait to make some new photo books of old treasures.

Here’s one of my favorites of my Oma, in honor of all flexible women everywhere!



R.I.P. mom. I love you!

Annika’s First Communion

A mini-session with my beautiful friend Annika, who celebrated her very first communion yesterday!

Congratulations Annika!

On the way to church with her dad.

Ask a photog – blurry photos?

Because I’m a pro, I never forget to bring the proper equipment.

Okay, you got me … because I’m a pro, I have a lot of tricks up my sleeve! 😉 I always get the shot, even if I leave the tripod behind. Here are a few tricks for stabilizing your camera when you don’t have a tripod.

Honey I left the tripod at home

{Don’t forget that if your shutter speed is lower than 1/60th (maybe 1/40th if you are steady) then you will have an unfocused photograph.}

Tip #1 – increase your ISO

The easiest is the best. Can you change your ISO? An increase in ISO will let you shoot at a higher shutter speed thus eliminating the need for a tripod all together.

Tip #2 – hold your breath

If your shutter speed is between 1/30th – 1/50th you may be able to steady yourself. Check your camera settings, step wide (about two feet – make yourself a tripod), press the camera to your face, take a deep breath and hold it, then take your picture.

Tip #3 – find a friend

Find a friend! Have your friend step wide and step wide yourself. Get nice and close until the two of you almost create a quad-pod. Use your friend’s shoulder or head and press down with your camera. (Avoid hurting your friend.) Both of you should take a deep breath and hold it – release the shutter.

Tip #4 – find a flat surface

Find a flat surface nearby. Tree stumps or tree “Y’s” are useful – as are barricades, fences and balconies. You can use these surfaces to steady yourself or your camera as you take your picture. If you can let go of your camera use your self-timer.

Tip #5 – use your flash

Use your flash. The use of a flash “stills” action. This will work if you are taking pictures of people or something within about 3-10 feet of your camera. If you are taking a wide shot, or a landscape photograph, this won’t work for you.

Tip #6 – use your self timer

Use your self-timer whenever possible. The act of pressing the shutter shakes the camera and as we all know, every bit helps.

Tip #7 – buy a faster lens

If you’re fancy-schmancy SLR shooter like me, get your self a great fast-lens. My 50mm 1.8 works great, and quickly, in all light sources.

Good luck!


{Nope – this image isn’t photoshopped. This photo was a team effort. How did we do this without a tripod? Easy, we followed some of the steps above. We each took turns holding the camera on a steady flat surface. Our camera was on “bulb” setting, which means the shutter stayed open until we manually closed it. Then, we each took turns “flashing” each other in front of the lens. Neat, right? Now, it’s your turn.}

The new family

Hello Baby Ian. You are so loved!

Here are a few shots from our recent full-session:

h&e got married …

Sometimes you need a little Photoshop.

I love this photo from our wedding day! However (as much as I love him) our friend Erick’s butt in the middle of our best photo, finally got to me. I didn’t have much to work from – but I think our new pic looks great! What do you think?

Ask a photog – get in the game

Sports, Camera, Action!

Tip #1

Sage advice … arrive early and stake out your spot. Look for good angles, overviews and sidelines of the game. It’s a great idea to stay at the corner of race tracks, or slightly above the basket/goal, to get interesting perspectives.

Tip #2

Check your camera settings. You’ll want to up your ISO (so you can catch the action). Keep your shutter speed as fast as you can (so you can catch the action). Don’t shoot in raw, these files take a long time to register. (again … so you can catch the action)

I had a professor once who photographed a greyhound race with a low shutter speed. After developing her film, she realized she had 36 beautiful pictures of the race track. The pups were faster than her shutter speed … so they were invisible!

Tip #3

Anticipate! Follow your  player and keep your eyes on the ball. A good photojournalist will get the ball (or a face) in every shot. Anticipate shutter lag if you have a more basic digital camera. Keep your shutter half activated so your camera is always ready-to-go.

Tip #4

Take a ton of photos. If you are shooting digitally you have no excuse. The more photographs you take, the better your chances of getting a great one.

Tip #5

Don’t forget the sidelines, bench, scoreboard or the fans. A reaction shot can be a safety net if you aren’t shooting what you like from the game.

Tip #6

If you are inside a gymnasium, and are close to the action, you may be able to use your flash. You’ll probably need a professional DSLR and decent flash to get this to work. There are two important flash rules to remember: always make certain you are allowed to use your flash, and never distract the players (this can be very important in games like golf).

Tip #7

Get in the mindset of a player; practice, practice, practice.

Waiting for Ian

Alicia & Brian are waiting for someone … any day now.

Here are just a few shots from our full session this week. Love them!


This is my favorite capture of George – from a recent mini-session.

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Ask a photog – blink

How to take photos of someone who blinks … every time.

Blink 1 2 3 (No, not the band)

Attempt #1

Get comfortable with your subject. If the person who you are photographing is enjoying themselves and not feeling self-conscious about the picture taking, they’ll relax and give you a better photo.

Attempt #2

We hate to say it … but count “1, 2 … 3” Always take the picture at “2”, before they get a chance to resist! (Counting isn’t a move a “pro” should ever make on the job – but, if it works …)

Attempt #3

Have your subject close their eyes. Tell them to open their eyes when THEY are ready. This implies, YOU are ready  too. If you count before the subject opens their eyes you run the risk of  awkwardly open “surprised” eyes. This tactic is tricky.

Attempt #4

This should always work. Hold your camera steady in one hand. Engage your subject. Take your free hand and wiggle your fingers over your lens, or take two vertical fingers and wave them to your lens. A moving eye doesn’t blink.