We’ve been planning this session for a year. First we thought we would take maternity photos. Unfortunately, the ideas Czybel had in mind would not work at that time of year, so we postponed until baby would arrive in winter. Again, with winter not really being winter last year, another great backdrop was lost and we ended up postponing until little baby LJ grew up a little. And I am glad we did. Seeing the love and interaction between two brothers is something we would miss otherwise.
We chose Rainbow park, a place where most of the locals hang out on nice sunny day, as our location. Luckily mornings are not so crowded and we had some privacy during our session. The biggest challenge was avoiding the bright sun but luckily there are quite a few shaded spots around.
Mike called me couple months that he would like to surprise his wife with family session for her birthday. We had an awesome chat about his family and also about the ideas for the session. The details were kept for last-minute so Tyla could join the conversation. As our location we have chosen Green Lake spit for a few reasons – it is a local hangout and never too crowded. Mike and Tyla’s family have never been to this spot and they come to Whistler quite often. Also their dog Crosby can freely run around, which he definitely took advantage of during our session.
Another great family session in Pemberton. North Arm Farm definitely became one of my favourite location to photograph at. There are so many opportunities for kids to play or pick up berries. And having Mt.Currie as a backdrop to those pictures is a sweet bonus.
The strawberry season came early this year. As usual I planned a day to pick up some so I could freeze them for summer smoothies later. Coming here for years to pick up local fruit or veggies, I have never thought of this place as a location for a family session. For me, it was a beautiful farm and amazing setting where I came to relax and pick up fresh and organic berries. It was only last year when I thought of bringing a family here. Now it is my favourite summer location to photograph at. Beside Mt.Currie as a background, there are also swings for kids, mini house and small tractor for kids to play on. The options are endless.
In this family session we took little Maia for her first strawberry picking. First she wouldn’t let us eat any of them and kept pointing at the basket. As we collected quite a few she sat down in middle of the field and started to snack on strawberries.
As most of the family shoots they happen during the day when sun is high. This is not ideal for photography and portrait as most people are either squinting or the position of the sun causes harsh shadows on their faces. The best solutions on mid day sunny photo session is find the shade. In this case we were in middle of the open fields so I brought a reflector to bounce some light and get rid off dark shadows.
It was until very last minute when we confirmed the details of this family shoot. With no snow and spring like conditions in the valley we have decided to take the Whistler gondola up to alpine to get fun and snowy family pictures. From the moment I met these guys in the village, I knew this would be an exciting shoot. Everyone was full of jokes and laughs on the way up to Whistler mountain. Once we were at the top, we passed the Green chair and Peak to Peak Gondola to get away from most visitors and skiers to find this semi private spot. The kids were all over the snow and most of the session ended up developing around snow fights. Those are the moments I love to photograph the most, when the family have a blast together and forgets I am around taking pictures.
In today’s world everyone takes photos. When we see an oportunity, we snap a photo then add a filter on Instagram and post it. And then we wait. We wait how many people will like our post. But slapping a basic filter without any other adjustements or just posting a photo won’t make our photos pop among tousands of others. Even when your composition is great a little bit of editing can go a long way. There are so many great applications out there that can help you edit your photo either on your phone or you can choose to use simple software on your computer to do the same thing.
In the picture below you can see how much an image can improve if you take your time to edit them. I did the edit in Lightroom software on my computer, however you can apply most of these changes on a phone applications as well.
Before I make any adjustment, I look at the picture and think what is it that bothers me. In this case, I found the picture too dark, muddy and without any vibrance in it. To change it, first I lighten up the image, then added saturation ( more colour to your picture) and more contrast to make white even whiter and dark parts of the photo darker. At the end I just added a bit of vignette to darken the corners and bring more attention to the happy boy. And what a difference this little adjustment makes!
Last week I wrote first part of How to take better photos of your kids. I focused more on kids behavior and how to engage them in the photo shoot, and here is the full post if you are interested to read it. Today, the focus is on photo tips and how to take a better picture of your child.
1. Get on their level – There is a reason why I listed this is number one tip. You are much taller than your child and by kneeling down to their eye level you allow them to look straight into camera. Chat with them for a while and engaged them before taking a photo. You are not only going to get a better photo, you will also gain their interest and trust. This way they feel acknowledged and respected and it would make them more receptive to what you are trying to tell them. When the moment is right, take a photo. I am sure you’ll see the difference right away!
2. Focus on eyes – There is one thing that good photographs of people have in common. Their eyes are in focus. If they are not in focus, the image won’t be as strong. When photographing a portrait, I usually focus on a nose bridge in between the eyes with a really wide aperture. The focus is sometimes hard to achieve when your kids are running around the playground. If that’s the case I just make sure my aperture is not too wide, making sure if I focus on any part of their body their eyes would be in focus too.
3. Use long lens – If you have a longer lens, use it. Try to distance yourself from your kids, so you are not right in their face.
4. Zoom in – If you don’t have long lens, zoom in. By zooming in you can back up a bit and gain distance between you and your child. You are also able to cut off the unwanted background and make it blurry at the same time. By zooming in or using long lens you will separate you child from background and they will stand out more in the picture.
5. Keep the aperture wide – you can either blur your foreground or the background with wide aperture. That will help you to isolate your subject even more.
6. Let them be – Take photos without them knowing. When they are playing, chasing each other, distance yourself if you can by either zooming in or by using a long lens and keep snapping. It takes some patience, but it’s rewarding when they burst into laugh and you get a picture of it!
7. Get low – And I mean really low. Lie down. You would be amazed how different pictures can be when you change your angle.
8. Bird’s eye – Again, change your angle. Climb up above the kids and shoot directly down with wider lens as they sleep, play or having a bath.
9. Watch your background – Before taking the picture, make sure your background is not ruining your shots. You don’t want garbage bins in the background or pole sticking out from the head of your subject. Sometimes it only takes a small step to avoid the big disappointment later.
10. Avoid the harsh lighting This tip might take some of you by surprise. When taking photos of kids on a sunny day, take them into shade. They won’t be squinting and the pictures will end up looking much better. If there is no shade, make sure the kids are facing away from the sun. This is called backlighting. It is important to note that you have to expose for your child’s face which will result in overexposed background. Otherwise you will end up with silhouetted subject. It might take a few practice shots, but once you figure it out you will love this technique.
How many times did you try taking photos of your kids and got frustrated? You saw that sweet moment but by the time you turn on your camera they are doing something else and don’t want to look at you when you ask them. Then you ask them again but all you can see it’s annoyance on their face. They are not interested and they just want to continue doing whatever they were doing. Sounds familiar? As a professional family and kids photographer I still find photographing some of the kids very challenging. The toughest ones are the todlers who either love to explore and run around for hours or they are too shy to show their personalities. In this post I am gonna talk about kids behaviour and how to get them engaged in a photo shoot.
I only have an hour or two to meet and photograph the whole family and become a friend with their kids. I can get a feel for their mood in first 5-10 minutes of my family private sessions and I have to adjust fast. As a parent you already have one advantage – they know you and they feel safe and confortable around you. Anytime you go outside with your kids bring your camera with you. They are growing fast and you don’t want to miss a great opportunity. If the kids will see you using the camera quite often they will act naturally around it after a while and you won’t have to worry about cheesy smiles anymore.
The best tip in my opinion is to just play with your kids. Get involved. Chase them around, pick them up throw them in the air. This is the best way to get them laughing and act naturally. In the photo below mom was chasing her little boy and picked him up once she got him. In other case she would put him on shoulders and they would chase daddy.
Direct them little bit however let them play. I always draw a start and finish line when they chase each other or ask an older sibling to help me entertain their little brother or sister. By asking for help, kids feel more important and are more likely to help you. In the pictures below I asked Sophie to jump in the puddle and hopefully we would get her little brother attention as he was running around without stopping. After that she started to pull on a wagon and Finlay wanted to do the same. The result is this great picture of little Finlay trying to pull the wagon with his big sister in. The younger kids love to repeat after their older siblings and sometimes it works when you ask the older one to help you out.
Tip: Get on their level. Kneel down and chat with them.
Don’t force them. If they are not into it, they are not going to smile and things could get worse. You have to come up with new ideas, be creative and let them be. In the photos below, Finlay would not sit on the car. After couple of tries we just moved the car where he played with some rocks and got the series of shots with him playing around the car (even sitting on it). In second photo he just refused to stand or do anything, so I asked the whole family to stand around him for something different.
Here is another example when the boy runs from one parent to another.
Look for the details: tiny hands, cute bracelets, favourite toy or anything else that catches your eye. I loved Finlay’s little red sneakers so I made sure we’ve got a few pictures of those too. I usually offer some water or quick snack to keep them sitting /standing still for a second.
And sometimes, no matter what you do, they are just having a bad day. It’s ok to take a few photos of them being cranky. At the end, it is still a great memory showing your kids personalities and you will most likely laugh at those pictures years later.
It was one of those days when you wake up in the morning and you can’t believe how lucky you are. The snow has fallen all the way to the valley for the first time of the season. It’s been a lazy start for winter this year and instead of snow storms we received tons of mm of rain so far. I have never had to cancel a family shoot because of bad weather. Even on those rainy days we can get some beautiful shots as long as everybody is willing to commit and have a good time. For the first time in more than 10 years of photographing families I was watching the forecast every few hours thinking we might have to cancel. But it was the day before the shoot that the temperatures finally dropped and instead of rain storm we’ve got snow instead. And then it cleared out. We decided for a quick family reunion shoot for early morning so most of them could still go up the mountain to enjoy the fresh powder. I don’t think people realized how fortunate we were to have those perfect conditions to shoot in. Despite the fact that Whistler is famous ski resort we still don’t get too many sunny days. I can count the number of perfect sunny days with fresh snow in the valley on one hand. Maybe we didn’t get the sun but with all that white beauty around us we were pretty damn close.
Every time I book a session I get asked the same question: “What shall we wear for the family shoot” I already wrote a post to answer the most common questions, however pregnancy photo session is little bit different. In general, the idea is the same as the regular photo shoot however there are a few extra things you might want to consider if you are planning to have a maternity photo session.
This session is all about you and your belly. Consider choosing an outfit that makes you feel comfortable and will show off your figure at the same time.
Before you think about your outfit, think about what kind of photos you would like to get. My focus is on outdoor lifestyle. Each season is different and I would suggest different colours for winter than for fall or summer. Try to compliment each season with the colours you are wearing. Tight and stretchy tops are the best. Bring a few of them so you can change the outfit. If possible, choose solid colours or lightly patterned and logo free tops and a couple of shirts in colours that look really great on you. Don’t forget to bring items related to your baby (booties, letter blocks or any other items of sentimental value) that you might like in the photos.
Wear pants that are comfortable and not too tight around your belly, medium-coloured ( denim, grey, brown, etc..) would be a great choice.
Accessories – necklaces, bracelets, earrings, feminine scarves that can help add texture, interest, and depth to your images. This is something completely up to you. A few accessories can look great, however no accessories is a good option too. The session is focused on your belly and accessories are not as important as they would be in a regular family photo session.
Skip the florals and other big patterns. You want to be able to look back at these pictures in 10 or 20 years and still think the photos look great. Whereas really stylized clothes can get dated, solid neutrals are timeless.
If you are still not sure, feel free to ask for an opinion or bring a few outfits with you and I can help you to choose what would look best on you.
As for the shoes – heels, nice boots, flip-flops are awesome. Avoid running shoes.
What about my husband/boyfriend/partner?
Jeans and a medium coloured shirt or a white shirt make for a great starting point. As a second option, it would be a good idea to bring a second shirt that compliments whatever you decide to wear. Think about what fits your style as a couple and dress accordingly. Try to avoid bold logos.
Here are a few samples:
I love the short white dress and simple light colour outfit for your man. I personally prefer the lighter colours as they look more airy and soft than dark ones.
Karin and I talked about her pregnancy photos and we decided to go more bold and with added contrast. We talked about this red wall for a while as a simple background and chose the black and white top to make a statement in these simple photos. I would usually choose a medium colour sweater however the black works great in this scenario.
Here is a different look for the fall maternity session. With reds and yellows around we decided to compliment the fall season with similar colours. Karin chose a red top and Jan went for a nice plaid shirt with a bit of red in it to flatter Karin’s outfit.
Light and neutral colours are my favourites. They look pretty much awesome in each season. Marie Michele and Alex are wearing blues and greys that go really well together. The mid tones are great as they are not overpowering the image but compliment the greens in the background.
Jenn wanted industrial look and colorful walls in her pictures. I love the red top to go with the red wall in the background as well the leather jacket to go over her tight top. If you want to show your belly but not feeling great about rest of your body ( arms, hips, etc..) This is the best way to dress up – choose tight top to show off your belly and add a jacket to hide the parts you are not so confident about.