photo shoot tutorial and tips

Because you asked for it... how about a quick tutorial on photography? Nothing fancy, I'm not that fancy of a gal. I did get my degree in secondary education and teach graphic arts, mind you. I taught freshmen and sophomores how to use a camera just like this one... exactly like The Secret Weapon taught me on. I still have my trusty Pentax K1000!


You don't need a fancy camera to take really swell photos of your friends and family. This is the camera I use:
The Canon Power Shot S5. Veto got it for me last year with his World Perks Points. See? Nothing fancy. It's all I need. It's a decent camera, but not fancy. It only has the one lens. We have some pretty fancy cameras in this family, but I use my Canon most of the time.


And if this is all you have, so be it. I call these "purse cameras". With digital photography and some simple photo editing software, you'd be shocked at the quality of photos you can get. I'll show you:
Oh, but before we start: quantity is key! This is true no matter what format you use. Do you ever see on TV the photographer shooting away, click-click-click? That's sort of true. The more photos you take, the more you will have to choose from. Get at least a 1GB memory card for that camera of yours, set the resolution to the highest your camera will allow (meaning your photos will contain lots of information - this is good) and start shooting!

The keys to great shots are: quantity, lighting, posing, editing... and finally... styling.


All of the photos I take of Loopy make use of natural light. I don't own photography lights (hint, hint, Veto... they have some very affordable ones at London Drugs) so I make use of the best light of all - sunlight. If we are indoors, we are near a window (above) and the light becomes very directional.

If we go outdoors, the light is more general but can still be directional... so watch out! I like to shoot outdoors on overcast days. Back when I used to take wedding photos, I wished for a slightly grey, rainy day... the brides didn't understand... until they saw the photos. Nobody was squinting into the sunlight, there were no harsh shadows. Plus, your subjects don't get too hot!


Avoid shooting outdoors between the hours of 11:00 am 2:00 pm if you can. Otherwise, look for a shaded area... just not too shady, that won't work at all.


I love shooting in the early evening... when the light is low. Especially in the summer, when the days are long and the sunsets are so cool, you get the best light. It's very flattering. Remember the pictures I took of Marlys? That was late afternoon on a summer day.

You can see above the shot of Loopy - the light is low and behind her, illuminating her hair. It wouldn't have looked like this earlier in the day. The light would have been too bright and her face would have turned into a shadow. Has that ever happened to you when trying to take a photo in front of a window? The only person I know who pulls that off is Pepper, for her Christmas photo every year. Maybe she'll give us some tips for that.

Let's talk briefly about posing...

Do you remember the first photo shoot of Loopy in May? I decided to keep it very low-key, I didn't want to put too much stress on her. We worked inside the house, with the natural light. I stood up on the coffee table and "shot down" for most of the pictures. Very flattering.

Are you wondering where to take your subject for a cool background? Just find a wall. An alley wall will do. I love shooting Loopy against walls....


Walls are easy because they are everywhere, every style and facing every direction. You'll always be able to find a nifty wall with the right light.



Just play with the angles of the wall, the subject and your camera. You can't go wrong, really...


Like I said before, keep shooting... quantity is key... move around the subject and nearer and further to the wall. Interesting things will happen.


Above, the light was too harsh on that one side... but no matter... I kept shooting until...

I got the "money shot" as I like to call it. Also, don't worry if your subject/kid/model isn't smiling. Smiling isn't imperative for a perfect photo. Besides, people don't go around smiling "cheeeeze" all the time, do they? Don't worry, just keep shooting...


Another example, this one I took in Chicago two years ago. Just a quick snapshot with my "purse camera" but look how cute she is, looking away like that! I was just able to capture a moment, that's what photography is all about, man.


More posing, more backgrounds... this series was taken outside of the quilting store. Yes, at the strip mall. The light was good, she was in a decent mood, and I had my camera.


The giant posts were neat for her to lean on... and gave her something to do with her hands. Hands can be tricky. When in doubt, leave 'em out.



See? I'm just moving around, moving and shooting, moving and shooting...

Walls and posts... moving and shooting... she's getting a little irritated but I'm working quickly.


Still moving... still shooting...


... and the money shot again! I edited it a bit, I'll get to that later. But one more important point about shooting kids:


Keep it light, fun and silly! Buddy comes out, like he did last night, as an assistant. Mostly his job is to stand around, making stupid jokes and making Loopy laugh, or distracting her. He got her going with the umbrella last night... that's another little secret.


Once you get going, you might want to shed extra light on your subject, you can do this with a reflector or an umbrella. I'll show you this trick another time. And by the way, I only bought a reflector about four years ago. Up until then (for years) I used a piece of white cardboard. Nothing fancy, I told you.

Now that we've talked about quantity, lighting and posing, let's talk about editing. Do you remember this photo shoot?


The single most dramatic way to improve any photo is to crop it properly. This means to cut out any excess or distracting material in order to highlight the subject as much as possible. See what I mean:


I mean, really... I'll tell you all of my secrets if you want...

This photo was taken in front of our sofa, with some crumpled socks in the foreground. Gross.


... and voila! Cropped. Do you see what I mean? If you have access to photo editing software... try it. You can crop away all of the distractions... like socks.


See how the crop tool and the blur tool are your friends? Meet the filters.



Okay, I admit... this one was more heavily edited than the others. Now we're talking about styling your photos, and that begins with your wardrobe choices, too. Loopy and I are on the lookout for styled looks for pictures all the time now. She found this picture on the Urban Outfitters website:

It was our inspiration for last night's photo shoot. We weren't too far off, but we weren't close, either. We have a model, some light, some style and a wall. We took 80 pictures in about 15 minutes.



Go ahead and give it a try. Let me know if you post your pictures, I'd love to see them. Just remember to take lots of photos, keep it fun and use your crop tool.

25 comments:

Oliver Rain said...

Thanks for the tips. I'm always trying to take better photos with my own purse camera. This girl of yours gets more beautiful everyday. This at 13! She will be a stunning woman.

Jerri-Lea Kardal said...

You rock! I'm so glad I found your blog, I check it at least once a day... okay it seems like I'm stalking but you are so darn funny and creative. Maybe I'll run into you one day in our fine city!
Thanks for the tips.
Have you started planning Halloween yet? I'm embarrassed to say that I have.

Jen r. said...

Cool. Thanks for the tips! I am going to try them out next time! Jen R

Angela said...

Yeah! You are so sweet to do that for me, since I asked... thank you very much!

I do believe that I will do a little research to get some inspiration and plan a photo shoot with my kids very soon... now, just to get them all in one place and content with one another!

Thanks again, you are the greatest!
Angela

Christina said...

Thanks for all the tips! I'm sure you already know I'm a picture taking FOOL! LOL I love it. Just need to practice more. Yay for me!

MamaMia said...

Thanks for visiting.

I will definitely have to try some of those tips you mentioned.

Saucy said...

Usually by this time of the year, we are way into Halloween planning. I'm up to my eyeballs in some other important things (inspiredfriends, high school reunion, and more) and Loopy hasn't decided what she wants to be yet. I might talk her into Audrey Hepburn in "Breakfast at Tiffany's" because she has enough hair, her bangs are the right shape right now, I've got the dress and the shopping bags!

Let me know what you're up to!

Starshine said...

Oh, what a great idea! I wonder if Hubs will be a willing model!

The Inept Aspirant said...

Beautiful Loopy- I could look at your pictures of her all day.
I would like a tutorial on graphic design for dummies, I mean beginners. How 'bout it?

Amstershiresauce said...

Oh Saucy, you are da bomb! Thanks so much for the tute. When I grow up I want to be just like you. I've already got the hot husband and beautiful kids (if I do say so myself). Now I just need the upgraded style sense and magical house flipping skills. Oh and the scratch to buy a flip house. That would be sweet.

Junie Moon said...

This information is very, very helpful and I appreciate your taking time to share it. One of the many things I learned from this is the idea of shooting down a bit in terms of capturing a picture of a person; I never realized that people look better in photos shot from that perspective.

Mrs. Staggs said...

Well, I for one can't imagine a "bad" photograph of Miss Loopy. She's so beautiful.

Thank you for the tutorial. I appreciate it!

Brenda Kula said...

I like the ones of her "looking away." They are reflective and pensive.
Brenda

Emily said...

Very nice! I loved this. I love to crop photos too because we all know that we have fallen victim to the background garbage can now and again.

Bravo for old walls, there are a ton of totally neat-o ones in my area that I am dying to use, if only the heat would die down a little bit, then I could get my kids out there!

Kim - ScrapToMyLu said...

great tips! I can always use any help I can get.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

I am thrilled to learn so much and to see Buddy! He lives! He's photogenic too!

Pepper said...

The best tool for shooting directly against the window is a really good flash. You gotta have the power baby! (Be careful of flashback though....don't aim it too high...)

The ticket to eliminating shadows is to use your "fill" flash. Don't be afraid to use it outside too....ball hats, under trees, etc.

Great Tutorial Saucy!

s. said...

thanks SO much! this is my first time to your site and WOW i learned so much. i really do not take the greatest photos and have been wanting to take a class or something...but now i am just going to try all the things you mentioned here and practice practice practice them! thanks bunches...this was really helpful!

Elizabeth said...

Thanks for the tutorial. You have some great portraits here. I am going to try out some of your tips!

Ele at abitofpinkheaven said...

You are AWESOME for sharing your tips. Thank you!!! I'm going to try some of these with my dd.

alittlebitofscrap said...

I love love loved All those photo tips! Thanks :) and the pictures of Loopy are precious. She's very pretty.

A New England Life said...

Very nice post Saucy. A girl can always use a few new tips for getting that perfect picture! Loopy is a wonderful model too, helping to make things a bit easier ; )


So many times I've told my daughter that she doesn't need an $800 Canon camera to take good pictures. A $300 Minolta with lenses works very well at her age. I think she is finally figuring it out.

Anonymous said...

I Love it! ;D

best blogging! =D

blaze said...

it sounds like i need to get photo editing software. :)

mblaise3@yahoo.com

LoveMeKnot Creations said...

great tips and advice, thank you so much! I'm thinking of going to school for photography and am trying to learn everything I can :)