I spent a Saturday evening with this gorgeous family right in their very own backyard. I love photographing families in a place that is special to them. I can't think of a better place, than right at home. I've known mom for many years, long before either of us had our families of five. It was wonderful to reconnect as old friends and I could not have been more honored to be the one to capture the beautiful family that she and her husband have created. I'm so happy that we kept in touch all these years. Our move to Charlotte made this gorgeous family session possible... serendipity, indeed. <3
Balloons, butterflies and lollipops! What more could a girl ask for to celebrate her 5th birthday? Happy birthday sweet girl. May all of your wishes come true and may your birthday be as magical and sweet as you are! <3
I'm back with another beginner photography tip. This week's tip is a useful tip for everyone. Today's tip will improve your images if you are shooting with a smartphone, a point and shoot, or any other type of camera that you can get your hands on. I'm talking today about the composition basic, "Rule of Thirds"...
What is the Rule of Thirds?
The Rule of Thirds divides your frame in thirds, creating nine equal parts. The idea behind the rule is that if you place points of interest at one of the intersections or along the lines, your photo will be more balanced which will allow your viewer to interact with it comfortably. Studies have shown that people, when viewing images, are naturally drawn to the intersection points.
In a portrait, I will often put the subject's eye right at one of the intersections as the point of interest. I like to bring my viewers right to the subject's eyes, because as they say, "the eyes are the window to the soul." I also often tend to compose to the right, since our natural tendency is to read an image from left to right...
Even in a center composition, I still use the rule of thirds to guide me and often place a center of interest along one of the lines...
Here is an example of a vertical headshot using the rule of thirds. Notice that her eyes are not at the intersection points, but they are along one of the lines. She is still placed to the right of the frame, but I didn't want to cut out all of her pretty hair...
The Rule of Thirds is especially helpful with landscapes. I will almost always put the horizon line along one of the lines and any objects of interest at one of the intersections...
Chances are, your camera has a "rule of thirds" grid to guide you when composing an image. After a little practice, adhering to the rule of thirds becomes second nature. Once you really understand the rules of composition, they can also be fun to break!!! So while rules are important for well-balanced images, sometimes breaking them can create a striking image.
There are many, many composition rules in art and photography. The rule of thirds is just the most basic one to understand and truly easy to apply to your image making. I hope that this tip has helped. As always, feel free to email me with your beginner photography questions!
I am passionate about printing images. I always urge my clients to purchase professional, heirloom quality prints over digital images. Having said that, I get why people want the digital images and I do offer them. Sometimes you aren't sure how you will want to display your images. Hopefully your photographer will discuss that with you and together you can be sure that your session will fulfill your desire for a wall gallery or album. Hopefully you won't be left with a CD of images that will end up stashed in a drawer somewhere. Hopefully!
The unfortunate truth of digital images is that the technology needed to access them may not be around in the next 15 years. Computers being sold today are already sold without the CD or DVD drive. The only sure fire way to preserve your memories is to print them. So you have a CD or USB of images from your photographer and you are ready to print them. This is when you might become aware that you can't print everything as an 8x10 or even a 5x7. I hope that I can help clear up some of that confusion.
So here is the deal. The camera creates images at a 2:3 ratio, which is the equivalent to a 4x6 print. Not all print sizes are a 2:3 ratio. Depending on what size you wish to print your images, part of the image may be cropped. A 5x7 and an 8x10 will lose part of the image as you can see below...
You might find that some images are better cropped as a 4x6, 8x12 or a 16x24 in order to preserve the whole image. 8x10 seems like a framing standard, but you can now find 8x12 frames almost anywhere.
I hope that my cropping guide will help you as you prepare to print all of your images. To get a free copy of the guide mailed to your inbox to print for reference. Please sign up for the newsletter. Happy printing!!!!
It has been a while since I have posted a photography tip. Some of you have been asking for more tips, so I wanted to give you a super easy fix to improve your photography instantly. This tip applies to all photos taken by any camera, by anyone. Yes...even when you are taking photos with your iPhone camera if you follow this tip, your images will be more pleasing to the eye. But first, if you've missed my first Tuesday Click it Tips here are the links to those blog posts:
Take Control of Your Camera with Manual Mode
Learn How to Meter on Manual Mode
The Nifty Fifty
Today I wanted to address a very common mistake that many photographers make, limb chopping. This tip is also great for anyone who loves to take pictures of their kiddos and even your selfies. : ) Limb chopping is basically cropping images in very awkward places, such as through the fingers or feet, at a joint, or even through the head that cause the image to be distracting and uncomfortable for the viewer. Unfortunately if you are cropping so close in camera, there isn't much that you can do to save the image. The easiest way to fix this problem is to back up and let more space in your frame. Let's see what I mean...
This doesn't always mean that you can't come in closer, just be careful where you crop and leave enough space in your frame so that you do not chop any heads, or fingers, or feet.
And since both of those images are cropped as center compositions, I'll talk about the rule of thirds next week. Composition is one of the most important elements of photography. Photography is a visual art and the placement of objects within a frame can make or break an image. The human brain responds more positively to pleasing composition.
As always feel free to email me with all of your photography questions. One on one mentoring sessions and portfolio reviews are available. Please contact me here for more information.
I wanted to take a moment to help you when you are looking for a photographer. Photographers are a dime a dozen these days. In your community, you might search for a photographer and there are so many choices that it can become overwhelming. It can be impossible to figure out who is worth your time and money and who isn't. I hope that I can provide you with a few questions to ask as you begin to sift through all those Google results.
1. What is your experience and education?
When you book a photographer, you are making an investment. With that investment, you have certain expectations. You want a photographer who has experience in creating beautiful, artistic images. A good professional photographer has probably spent a great deal of time and money on education. This is extremely important. While equipment is also important, I would argue that experience and education are more important. Unless your photographer has studied light, composition, color, technique, editing etc., you will most likely not be getting a good return on your investment. Knowing how to combine all of the elements to make a great photograph that you will be proud to display as art in your home, comes from years of experience and education.
2. What products do you offer?
The first question that I usually get from a client is, "do you give the digital images?" I'm about to tell you a little secret. It's the wrong question. Digital images are nice to have, but your photographer should be providing you with products. It is part of the service that a professional should provide for you, given your investment. When I first started my business, I gave digital images to my clients and they just didn't have the knowledge about paper types, crop factors, substrates, and color management in order to use those digital files and turn them into fine art prints, wall galleries or albums. Professional photographers take great care in not only creating the images, but also creating the tangible product. My clients eyes light up when I deliver their wall galleries or albums to their home every single time.
3. Can I see some of your recent work?
A professional photographer should know how to consistently create professional results. An amateur might get a good shot every now and then. Ask your photographer to see an entire session or two of images or a compilation of images from different sessions to get a sense of the depth of their work. If you wouldn't frame more than one or two shots, then you probably aren't dealing with the right photographer for your family.
4. How should I prepare for our session?
A professional photographer should be able to give you tips so that you can feel comfortable and relaxed at your session. This is when you should discuss clothing choices and colors. Consideration into where your images will be displayed in your home might determine your clothing color and style choices. Ask your photographer how he/she will handle a fussy child and if it's possible to schedule around nap times. It's also important to know how long the session will be and if there will be time for breaks if needed.
5. What is your style and/or specialty?
There are many different styles of photography. Your photographer should specialize in one or two areas. Lifestyle photography focuses on the art of everyday. Your images will depict your family in everyday situations and capture your connections in an artistic manner. A portrait photographer will aim to capture your personality using effective lighting, backdrops, and poses. Make sure that your photographer's style matches what you are hoping to achieve with your session.
I hope that these questions will help you as you are sifting through the sea of photographers in your area. Spring is right around the corner and I'd love to chat with you about what a session with me would be like. Please contact me here for spring bookings.
Ah Asheville. It's my kind of town... with a vibrant arts district, great food and a laid back atmosphere, I felt right at home. Last Friday we explored the city, had dinner with friends, and laughed a lot. I can't think of a more wonderful way to spend my time than with the loves of my life exploring...
On Saturday we strapped on our hiking shoes and headed about 20 minutes south to the DuPont State Forest. We decided to come in February in hopes that the waterfalls would be flowing. They did not disappoint. There is a lot of history in this area. Formally owned by the DuPont Chemical Company (not a fan), this area was almost developed as the Cliffs Community. I'm super thankful that it instead became part of the protected State Forest for us to enjoy.
The bottom of High Falls...
Some people explore, others take pictures, this kid plays flip bottle...
View from the top of High Falls...
This sweet girl grabbed a hot chocolate and joined me for sunset over the Blue Ridge Mountains...
This is definitely my idea of romance... a weekend away with the loves of my life exploring our beautiful world together! Every moment with them is a little bit like heaven on Earth. Happy Valentine's Day!!!! <3
When you have chosen to live a creative life, you might often find yourself asking, "why?" Why do I paint, write, dance, draw etc. What is the purpose? In fact I was asked this question while I was creating this series, "What is it for?" My answer was, "Well, nothing and everything." When I say "nothing" I mean that it's not for money, fame or promotion of brand. I think much of "work" is focused on those things. As a personal rule, if art becomes work, I stop doing it. When I say "everything," I mean that it's my joy, my heart and it brings me closer to the feeling that I am living a life that is authentically me. It's my purpose.
Not long ago I read this quote by Silas Farley. He is a dancer at the New York City ballet and he also happens to be on faculty here in Charlotte at the Charlotte Ballet Academy...
“I was first exposed to ballet at the age of seven when a traveling company came to my church in North Carolina. By the time I was eleven I was practicing six days a week. It became my all-consuming monastic devotion. I eventually made it to the New York City Ballet. I’ve always seen ballet as my way of serving God. I think it’s what God has called me to do. You can call it frivolous, or superficial. But you can stretch that argument to infinity. Why do we have painting? Why do we have architecture? I think it’s all a form of worship. In a secular age the theater becomes the cathedral. There can be such a lack of empathy and collaboration in this world. But in the theater we see beauty and order and harmony modeled for us-- two hours at a time. And it took a lot of sacrifice to make that possible."
When I read that I became instantly inspired. I feel that way when I am creating anything with my photography. Whether I'm creating a fine art ballet series or if I'm capturing the beauty of everyday family life, I believe that is why we are here, to create.
Creativity is part of what makes us human and differentiates us from the rest of the animal kingdom. If you look around, beauty is everywhere in God's creation. It is through each one of us that we can bring that beauty into the lives of one another with our own creativity. So as I set out to make this ballet series, inspired by Silas' words and my own "all-consuming monastic devotion" this is my way of serving God. And I won't shy away from saying so. Because in a world that is filled with so much fear, we need art now more than ever. It gives us hope...
Thank you for looking. <3
After two magical days at Walt Disney World, it was just a short drive west to Clearwater Beach, FL. We have been coming to Clearwater since before my youngest was born. I have recently printed the pictures from the first two times that we did the Disney to Clearwater to Home loop. This time, the drive was much shorter than the last two times. Living in the South has it's perks! We are so much closer to fabulous places to vacation. I am fond of Clearwater because I used to visit my grandparents there as a child. It may be our last visit there, however. We have decided that if we want to have adventures, we need to try new places. So while we loved our five day stay here, it will probably be the last time as we look forward to finding new winter beach destinations!
We spent five days relaxing without any schedules. It was refreshing. My camera only came out on New Years Eve and the morning that we left. I captured enough images to jog our memories of the vacation. The rest of the time, I was too busy napping by the pool.
The hotel that we stayed in was brand new and on the very southern tip of Clearwater. It had a private beach that was sort of small, but the great thing about it was that we were in sort of a cove. Pods of dolphins were constantly jumping just off the beach. They were so close that you probably could swim right out to them. There were baby dolphins swimming with their moms. We would be sitting at the hotel's roof top lounge and they would be out there, leaping and playing. The locals said that it wasn't a "normal" thing for them to hang around so much, but we loved it. It was beautiful being so close to them!
As the sun began to dip low in the sky on New Years Eve, Natalie and I walked down to the pier to grab a few quick dance shots and capture the last sunset of 2016...
Maybe it was because we were headed home that day. Or maybe it was because it was a New Year. I'm not really sure why, but I felt like stopping down and was feeling the black and white. (Stopping down is photographer speak for closing down the aperture).
That's a wrap. Back to work, school, schedules, and more. As we begin the New Year we begin every single day with a grateful heart! Happy New Year friends!!! <3
So I love the Magic Kingdom because I will never get tired of themes like, "a dream is a wish your heart makes." Walt Disney and I are kindred spirits, obviously. But actually, I love Epcot even more. There is no other place on Earth that you can step into the future, go back in time, and travel the world in less than 8 hours. Epcot embodies innovations and embraces the heritage and arts of the entire world. I'm an art lover, so I think that definitely draws me in.
My personal favorites:
Ride: Soarin' followed closely by Test Track
Restaurant: La Hacienda de San Angel (make reservations way in advance).
Everything in Epcot is authentic. Again, Disney's attention to detail is mind boggling. Our server said that they actually fly the water and dough in from Italy to make the pizza. No joke!
If you are a Frozen fan, Epcot is a must. One of us still belts out "Let it Go" on a regular basis. She was thrilled to learn that we would travel to Norway to meet Anna and Elsa in person. The new Frozen Ever After ride, her favorite ride of them all, is a Fast Pass must!
Two full magical and very exhausting days. We had a such blast! I'm very thankful for Disney photographers for these two images. Mostly because I got to jump in them!!! : )
Our feet were super tired. So it was time for a little rest and relaxation. Two days of magic was enough for the five of us. The next day, we headed west to the beach. Yes, west to the Gulf of Mexico! Because seeing a sunset over the ocean on New Years Eve is especially epic. : )