Sunday, April 19, 2009

Top 10 tips for Photographing Children

Having photographed children for years the photographers at 2Create Photography wanted to share their experience and tips.If you have an accumulation of lackluster family snapshots, here are some great photo tips for kids and adults alike. No matter what your age, you can learn to take better pictures of children–siblings, cousins, offspring, friends–just by remembering to use a few simple children portrait photography tips.

1.Creative camera angles and cropping
Try shooting from directly above.
Digital cameras nowadays make this really easy, because you don’t have to hold the camera up to your eye all the time to see through the viewfinder — you can hold it out at arm’s length, tilted down a bit, and still get a good idea of what you’re shooting from the preview on the back of the camera.When you’re shooting at arm’s length from above the subject, it’s important to:
  • To start with, pick a subject who’s short. (Little kids are ideal.)
  • Always have them look up at you! (Otherwise you’ll just see a head of hair.)
  • Zoom your camera out as wide-angle as possible, but move the camera fairly close to the subject. This will emphasize the unusual angle, and also make it easier for you to keep the subject in the frame.
  • For shooting several people together, you can take picture by leaning over a balcony or stair railing and shooting down toward the floor below. This can make a fun family portrait.

Next, try shooting up at your subject(This usually means “ground level”, as anything lower than that takes a bit too much effort!) Tilt the camera up slightly so that you don't get too much of the ground in your photo.This gives you a completely different viewpoint that normal. This works well if the subject is looking away from the camera, for a more candid look.(Especially if kids are playing and you can take the photo without distracting them.)

Also make sure to get down to the child's level. Bend, kneel or lie down on the floor, if necessary, to get the best shot. You can't get good photographs of busy children from above their heads (at your own eye-level).

Cropping! Try few simple things.
Particularly when you’re taking pictures of kids, photos are usually all about their expression or their activity. The environment generally doesn’t have much to offer — a messy bedroom, a cluttered yard… not exactly National Geographic material. The biggest thing you can do to change this is, zoom in!
Here’s another idea to control your backgrounds even more: Rather than taking a photo from a few feet away as you normally might do, if you
back up twice as far from the subject but zoom in twice as much, the photo will show a much different background around the subject.

2.Go for the candid shots.
Take pictures of busy children doing the things they like to do. Don't expect them to stop and pose for the camera. Eventually they will forget about you and go on with their activities. Be like a fly on the wall. Just look for the best shots as they go about their business. Keep them thinking about everything but the photos. Surprise them with a toy you brought along. Encourage them to race against each other or play games. Have them spin around in circles until they’re dizzy, or start a tickle war. You want the photos to show their genuine excitement and emotion, and “say cheese!” usually doesn’t produce that!

3.Watch your background.

Adjust your vantage point to simplify or alleviate a busy background. A cluttered background distracts from your subject, so think simple. Use a bright blue sky, a green lawn or foliage, a sandy beach, a redwood or whitewashed fence or a plain wall as an outdoor background. Any solid or plain wall, drapes, bedding or carpeting makes a fine background for most indoor photographs. Make sure odd objects such as tree limbs or poles don't appear to be growing out of your subject's head.When photographing children locate your "photo spots", your backgrounds. Scout the area beforehand, alone if possible. If the location atmosphere needn't be in the photo then try to locate areas with plain backgrounds such as the sides of buildings, in front of hedges and trees and large empty expanses. Choose places where you can control the situation. Avoid areas that would distract your subjects. For example, if filming at the beach, locate a photo spot that doesn't have the children looking onto the beach. Kids love the water and soon they will be irresistibly pulled to it - and away from you, the photographer.

4.Dress for success

Select outfits for your kids that will look good in front of the camera:
  • Bright colors work great, and give a cheerful look to the photos. If the children are all wearing bright reds and yellows, take a few pictures against a clear blue sky for an exciting portrait.
  • It’s not important for the kids to all be wearing perfectly matching clothing, but it’s a good idea to have them dressed in similar styles (light or dark colors, long or short sleeves, etc.)
  • You don’t want the outfits to distract from the faces and emotions in the pictures, so it’s best to avoid patterns or designs with too much contrast.
5.Use interesting and unusual props. Colorful climbing toys at the park make great backdrops for creative photography. Take pictures of the children climbing and poking their heads through openings. Use jungle gyms and crawl-through tubes as frames for informal portraits.

6.Get out the camera on overcast days. Instead of harsh, unflattering shadows and squinty eyes caused by bright sunlight, cloudy days mean soft lighting and photographs that can be especially pleasing.

7.Avoid using a flash when possible, even indoors.
A flash flattens children's faces, especially babies, and often causes red-eye. Instead, move the children near a brightly lit window for softer, more natural light. Another option (if you have the equipment) is to use an indirect flash by tilting your flash unit upward so that the light bounces from the ceiling. (This only works with a white or light-colored ceiling.) A third option is to use a digital camera and turn off the flash feature. A digital camera can usually take a decent indoor picture using ordinary lighting; however, you must not move the camera and your subject must remain still or the photo will be blurred. Choose to photograph a quiet activity, such as reading, playing a board game or sleeping.

8.Find the best format for your composition.
Flip the camera to check which format works best: vertical (portrait), or horizontal (landscape). Try both if you're not sure. A close-up or a headshot is great, but for a full body portrait, don't cut off a part of the body, such as the top of a head or the feet, which immediately draws the viewer's eye. And, of course, avoid photographing your own shadow or your reflection in a window. try shooting from directly above.

Shoot photos like crazy.
Camera memory sticks are cheap, and hold hundreds of photos. Don’t wait for the “perfect moment” to magically appear… when a scene starts looking halfway decent, start clicking away like your life depends on it! It’s easy to throw out the “rejects” later. After and hour I usually come away will a few hundred images that I will narrow to 40ish final portraits.

10. Go somewhere different.Give your kids (and yourself) a change of scenery for the afternoon. They’ll be more excited, and it will make your photos more interesting! A park or playground works great, or if you’re near the ocean or a river or lake, that can be a big hit too. Take along props. Simple kid-sized chairs or other things you have sitting around the house can make photos look a lot more interesting!

If you practice using these tips, you’ll soon see great improvement in your child portraits and all of your family photography. For more information and help contact me at

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Make-up Tips & Tricks for your Wedding Day

"My goal as a make-up artist is to make you look beautiful and radiant on your wedding day by creating a look that is a natural extension of you" ~ Dani

Use a professional make-up artist to do your wedding day make-up; there is probably no other day in your life when you will be photographed more than your wedding day. Your pictures will be treasured for years to come. Shouldn't you look your best and have the best record for your wedding day? Bad make-up...bad photos! If you think about it the average wedding budgets are anywhere between $5 - $20,000, don't you think you are worth spending $100 (average price to pay) to be looking the very best that you can. Every face needs make-up when it comes to photographic work - to enhance your natural features.

5 Things you should find out, before choosing a make-up artist for your wedding day:
1. How long has she/he been doing make-up?

2. Have they done photographic make-up before?
3. Where and when did they do there training?
4. What sort of products do they use, are they hypo-allergenic (for those people with sensitive skins)?.
5. Do they do trials? (I strongly recommend getting a trial)

Make sure they use products that have the proper type of sun blocks in them other wise these can make the make-up appear really white with flash photography (we all hate that look where the face looks like its been dipped in flour) and the body a different darker colour), they need to be Titanium/ physical not chemical sun blocks - to avoid this?.

Dani's Top 6 Make-up tips for Brides.

1. Start using a good skin regime at least 6 months out if you can, mind you, even if you leave it to the last couple of weeks you know what they say "better late than never"
2. You don't have to use expensive products, but the minimum you can do is cleanse your skin daily, moisture twice daily and wear sun block everyday regardless of whether the sun is out or not (its amazing how we can burn through the clouds). It's very important to exfoliate. You need to do this at least 2-4 times weekly , it makes a huge difference to how the make-up sits and looks on the skin and also makes a big difference to how long the make-up lasts on the skin (and we all want it looking just as good 10 hours later).
3. It would also be good to have a regular facial if your budget allows. Every 4-5 weeks over a period of 6 months will do wonders for your skin. If that's not in the budget, then at least invest in a hydrating mask and use it at least twice a week if you have normal to dry skin. If you have oily skin, then I reccommend doing a deep cleanse to keep the skin free from clogging, which in turn can causes pimples!

4. Using false lashes can make a huge difference on making the eyes appear larger and more open; I personally love the individuals, as they look the most natural.

5. Start looking in magazines for pictures that you like the look of. It helps when trying to explain to your make-up artist what sort of look you like.

6. Sheen is in! It's lovely to have a beautiful sheen on your skin without it looking shiny and greasy! Having said that, a little bit of powder does need to be used, because even if you can't visually see the shine, it does appear on your photos. The main areas where we don't want to have shine is the forehead, nose and chin (the T-zone). It's quite lovely to have a bit of sheen showing on the apples of the cheeks. For further details or to make a booking, contact Danielle Hanson through 2Create Photography

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Top 10: Tips for Travel Photography

For most people holidays are a time to unwind, relax and soak up the sun. For keen photographers, however, they're also an opportunity to indulge our passion and return home with pictures of a more exotic nature.

Whether you're hiking the Himalayas, braving the heat in India or skiing in the Rockies, there are ways of ensuring that you're fully prepared for the opportunities that present themselves.

1) Packing for Air Travel:  Pack as much of your kit as you can in a cabin regulation camera pack and carry it on board the plane with you. Heavy equipment and over-sized lenses are best packed in a hard case and checked into the aircraft hold.  You can disguise hard cases by placing them inside army style duffel bags.  Memory cards are unaffected by X-rays and you should have no problem passing them through airport security checks.

2) Power up:  Few cameras today operate without battery power. take at least one spare fully charged battery and, when traveling in less developed countries, buy cell batteries before you leave. Universal electrical adapters work in most countries but not all.  For example, South Africa and Botswana use a unique three-pin socket that requires a specific electrical adaptor. For power on the move buy an inverter.  This device plugs into the 12v socket in vehicles used for the cigarette lighter and enables the vehicle's battery to be used to power battery chargers, laptops and other electrical gear.

3) Use a Telephoto Lens:  When photographing people candid moments can be captured with a telephoto lens in the range of 100-300 mm, when the subject is unaware they are having their picture taken and their actions are more natural.  This is a particularly good technique to adopt when shooting people at work, such as fishermen mending nets, or market stall holders selling food or flowers.  Select a relatively wide aperture (ex: f/5.6) to minimize depth-of-field, which will help to isolate the subject from distracting background clutter.

4) Plan Ahead:  The more you research your destination the more time you will have taking photographs as opposed to trying to find suitable subjects.  Look at the pictures in travel books to see what sort of photography is possible, use the internet to identify tourist hotspots, and get in touch with the local tourist office for advice on where to go and what to see. Talk to people who've recently visited your destination for ideas and tips on what to shoot.

5) Ask Permission: When photographing people, particularly in regions of sensitive cultures, it is polite to ask permission.  Many people enjoy having their picture taken and will readily agree, striking several poses and even introducing you to their family and friends, who also may want a picture taken.  If shooting digitally show them the images in the LCD monitor and you'll be amazed at the positive reactions.

6) Avoid Crowds:  It's not always possible to avoid the tourist crowds but getting up and heading out early will often mean you missing the masses at popular tourist spots.  Most tourists venture out after breakfast, so set your alarm clock for dawn and make the most of the photogenic early morning light, when streets are clear of people and other everyday distractions.  You can apply the same rule later in the day, waiting for the crowds to return to their hotels and making the most of directional, late afternoon/early evening light.

7) Look for the Unusual:  keep your eyes peeled for the less obvious subjects that make for compelling images. For example, the displays of food on a market stall or the way light and contrast form designs and patterns on the side of a building.  Abstract interpretations of everyday scenes will make your images more appealing because they show the world in a different and unexpected light.

8) Sunrise and Sunset:  Everybody enjoys an evocative sunrise or sunset picture. Check the local papers or ask the people for the relevant times, which change throughout the year. The best way to pinpoint where the sun will rise and set is to use a special sunrise/sunset compass, which can be purchased via the internet or at any good photographic retailer.  This device points to true north and also gives an estimate of the position of the sun at sunrise/sunset for a number of different locations up to 50 degrees from the equator.

9) After Dark:  Cities in particular truly come to life after dark, so head out with a tripod to capture the atmosphere and energy of night time. You will need a tripod to keep the camera steady during lengthy exposures, and it's wise to use a remote cable release to fire the shutter, minimizing the likelihood of camera shake.  If shooting digitally, when using shutter speeds greater than 1 second, turn on the Noise Reduction function, which can be found in the menu of most current digital cameras.

10) Capture the Moment:  Every picture should tell a story.  Watch for scenes that encapsulate an emotion, such asa joyous moment or funny event, and be ready to capture them in the blink of an eye.  When trying to decide whether a scene is worth photographing, when looking through the viewfinder  ask yourself the question, "How would I cation this image?" If the only caption you can think of is a place name or species name, then the picture probably isn't worth taking. Photography is a form of communication, so try to included as much relevant information in your pictures as possible.