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Monday 06 August
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Hi guys!  For this installment of the Photo Technique series we're going to focus on a basic composition rule called the Rule of Thirds.  For some reason, it is more visually appealing when the subject of an image is positioned to one side rather than right in the center.

This first photograph shows the apple in the center.  It's just ok.  Nothing exciting happening here.  

Here is the same photograh with gridlines dividing up the image into thirds.  It's clear that the apple is positioned right smack in the middle of the image.  In order to make the it a little more dynamic and appealing, it would help to set up the photograph so that the subject (the apple) is located at one of the points where the vertical and horizontal dividing lines cross.

 

It is important to note that the center or focal point of the subject should be placed where the dividing lines cross.  If positioned somewhere between center and the third, then the image looks imbalanced and it is unclear what you are trying to achieve.

This is the final photograph with the subject on the lower-left third.  

 

If you have an SLR and you are using auto-focus, there are a few ways to set up a photograph in-camera so that your subject is located on the thirds.

1 - Focus Points - Digital SLRs usually let you change which focus point you are using at any given time.  Many cameras have at least the center focus point and other focus points that are located at the third above and below center as well as to the right and left of center.  Check your manual to learn how to change the active focus point.  It is good practice to have a quick way to change the focus point and to learn how to do it without taking the camera away from your eye.

2 - Focus-Recompose - Using the center focal point in your camera, focus on your subject by pushing the shutter button down halfway.  When the subject is in focus, keep your finger in the same position on the shutter button and recompose the photograph so that the subject is located on one of the thirds.  Then push the shutter button completely to take the shot.  If you've never done it before, it might take a couple of tries to make sure that you've got your finger in just the right place to hold the focus as you move the lens.

3 - Autofocus Lock/Backbutton Focus - This method may sound a little intimidating for those new to SLRs, but it really isn't that scary.  Your dSLR should have an autofocus lock button (located on the back of the camera for Canon users - hence 'backbutton focus').  When you push this button, it sets the focus in the same when you release the autofocus lock button, you can recompose your photograph and take the shot without having to worry about the half-shutter press.  The autofocus lock will stay locked until you release the button.  This is a great tool for situations that require foresight and a quick reaction.

So there you go!  Rule of Thirds.  Love it.  Don't forget to change it up once in a while if you notice that you're always putting your subject on the same third.  

Have fun!

 

Other posts in this series: Editing an Image

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Thursday 14 June
By Kristin Kozelsky
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How to prepare your space for a commercial or promotional shoot

Five things to consider when getting your business ready for a photo session

 

Over the last couple of years, we have been doing quite a bit of work in our clients' spaces for their websites, brochures, and print advertisements. We love doing this because it helps to tell the story of the business and give the viewer a little bit more information about what to expect.


In order to create great photos in your business's space, we recommend that you take the following steps prior to your shoot:

1 - Schedule an onsite visit. It can be very helpful to us to see the location first, suggest areas that would make good backgrounds, assess the quality and color of light, and get a good idea of what your thoughts are.

 

2 - Tidy the areas we select for photos. There are so many things that we don't notice on a day-to-day basis that may end up being very distracting in photos and make the environment look cluttered. Keep an eye out for water bottles, stacks of paper, cords, containers of hand sanitizers, tissue boxes, sticky notes and cards posted on computers or walls, anything that is a bright color that doesn't *need* to be there, etc. It sometimes helps to have someone else help tidy the area who doesn't work in the space every day because they will be able to see it with fresh eyes.

3 - Ensure that surfaces, desks, windows, floors, and walls are clean. We can photoshop out some skid marks and stains, but we can't save everything!

4 - Open the blinds! We love natural light and are probably going to open up the blinds all the way!

5 - Note where nearby outlets are. In case we bring in additional lighting, we will need to plug it in. We always have extension cords, but it will be helpful if we know where the outlets are and don't have to go hunting for them.

Lastly, be sure that all team members know when to arrive and what to wear so that we can get started on time (if you are requiring team members to wear company shirts, it might not be a bad idea to have a few extras on hand just in case! Also, if some of your team routinely wears a hat, let them know ahead of time that they may have to remove it for the photo and should plan accordingly). We know it can be disruptive to everyone's day to do photos at your place of business, so the better prepared we are, the sooner we can get wrapped up and let you get back to doing what you do best!

For more information on what to wear for business photos, check out this post!

 

 

 
Thursday 08 June
By Kristin Kozelsky
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Is there something missing on your picture wall? You've got the family photos, the vintage portrait of grandma, those silly photo booth shots you barely remember. But what about your furry friends? For some of us, our pets are our hobby, our kids, our lives! 

 

Immortalize your sweet pup or kitteh by scheduling a professional portrait session. Choose inside the studio for a more traditional, sleek background, or the studio backyard for a natural outdoor look.

 

puppy malinois 

cat portrait

wedding dog

 

 

Want More? How to prepare your pet for a shoot!

Check out more exotic animal photos from my trip to the zoo!

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Thursday 08 June
By Kristin Kozelsky
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How to Prepare for your Pet Portrait Session

Hey there! Although pets aren't always super excited about cooperating for a photo session (squirrel!), when we are patient and prepared and then get that perfect shot, it's always awesome. :)  Here are a couple of tips to help you get ready for the session:

 

1. Wardrobe - Fancy or Laid-back?

How formal would you like to be for this session?  Think about how you want your photos to feel when you look at them and that will help you decide which direction to go. Many people like to wear something one or two steps more formal than their everyday clothes, but the decision is totally up to you.  

Do you want to wear and elegant gown or tux, adorning your pet with a bow tie or collar full of bling? Or are you more of a casual type, wearing your favorite tee and jeans, matching the pooch with a bandanna or simple collar? Be sure that the collar harness you bring is clean and in good condition. If your pet normally wears a harness or a collar but you'd like the photo without his or her normal gear, be sure to bring a brush to help the fur settle into place once that harness or collar is removed.  Be sure your pet is comfortable wearing whatever item you choose by familiarizing your furball with the items before the shoot. 

Choose colors that complement the room or space where you plan to hang the photos, and give consideration to your pet's natural coloring as well!

 

2. What NOT to Wear

There are some colors to avoid if possible. Bright red and hot pink can be difficult for digital cameras to translate in certain lighting conditions, so I’d avoid solid pieces in those colors. Muted red/hot pink or red/hot pink patterns, or secondary colors are fine. Also, a couple of pointers for women specifically: 1) if you are sensitive about your arms, be sure to wear long or 3/4 length sleeves, avoid tank tops and short sleeves; and 2) while loose-fitting clothes may seem comfortable and like a good way to hide your midsection, boxy shirts and dresses actually tend to make you look bigger in photos, so stick with something that is a little more form-fitting.

I would recommend that you do not match each other in the photo - a sea of white shirts with a white ball of fur in the middle makes it harder to distinguish each pet and individual (not to mention the fact that you might get stepped on by your pet and end up with paw prints all over your white clothes!). Instead, opt for a family of colors. For example, choose from warm colors (e.g., brown, gold, pumpkin, maroon, tan, and purple) or cool colors (e.g., blues, greens, aqua, and grey).

 

3. Grooming and Preparation

Be sure to set up any appointments for yourself and your pooch ahead of the session. If you color your hair, ensure that the roots are touched up and schedule any nail or other appointments you'd like. Appointments for skin or facial treatments should generally take place no closer than two weeks prior to your session, depending on the treatment. Check with your aesthetician or dermatologist for more detailed information. I would advise against spray tans or Botox for photo sessions; neither tend to translate well to camera.  

Give your pup a bath or set up a grooming appointment if he or she requires a bit more primping than just a bath. Ensure claws are filed or trimmed and bring a brush with you if your buddy has long fur. Lastly, it is essential that all animals that come into the studio are up to date on their vaccines, so check with your vet if you are unsure whether your pet is current.

 

4. Picture Time!

When it's time for the session, you'll arrive and have a little bit of time to allow your pet to get acclimated to the space before we start working. If he or she is high-energy, it might be a good idea to give them some time to have a good play shortly before you arrive. Depending on the animal and its personality, I may not greet him or her when you first enter the studio.  

Patience is key when working with animals. Sometimes they are just going to do whatever they want to do, which is totally okay. We understand that's how they work, and so there's no pressure for them to constantly direct their full attention to the camera throughout the whole session. Lastly, I do not use flash so you don't have to worry that the sudden pops of light will spook your pet.  

 

Dogs:

When your buddy first comes into the studio, don't be surprised if I don't play with or greet the him or her; in fact I will most likely be a little standoffish toward your dog in the beginning. This isn't because I don't love or welcome your pup! This technique works to our advantage for the shoot because the session is usually a bit smoother when the dog thinks of me more as an uninteresting piece of furniture rather than his or her new best friend... but after the session I fully embrace all the cuddles, tail wags, and playtime! :)  

While it may seem like a good idea to bring treats or toys for dogs, I actually suggest leaving them packed up and hidden away until after the session. Once we bring the treats or toys out, dogs can get very excited or food-focused and it is usually so distracting for the our furry friend that we are unable to regain his or her attention. Instead, I've found that it's better to just be patient and know that dogs will be dogs - we can let them take breaks and do their thing from time to time, and then we'll be able to get their attention more easily or snap some fun natural photos when they're ready! 

While taking photos of your dog(s) alone, I may or may not have you inside the actual studio with me (but don't worry, there are some windows if you want to peek in!). Sometimes dogs work better when their owners are out of sight, and sometimes they work better when their owners are in the room.  We'll just have to see!

 

Cats:

With cats, it's best for the owner to stay in the room and help because kitties don't usually like to stay put. We may have you help place the cat and keep your hands on him or her until we're ready to take the shot. It is also helpful to have a fishing pole toy to catch their attention once we get him or her into place. It is important to work very quickly with cats; our sessions will be planned out in detail before we bring kitters into the shooting space so that we can get as much done as possible in a short amount of time. 

 

Everybody Else:

Bring 'em!  From snakes to horses, we're ready!

 

5. When in Doubt, Ask.

I'm always happy to give advice for whatever you might be unsure of. I've been doing this for a long time, so I'm game for really new ideas or keeping it simple. Let's have fun!

 

P.S. - Our floors are concrete, most of the furniture has washable covers on it, and we have paper towels.  So we're prepared for any 'mistakes' that may happen! ;)

 

Want More? Inspiration for your pet photoshoot, this way!

Check out more exotic animal photos from my trip to the zoo!

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Saturday 22 April
By Kristin Kozelsky
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For an adult, trying to come up with a Mother's Day gift that's more unique than the last 30 years of Mother's Day gifts is anxiety-inducing. Every year we are compelled to thank our mothers in the form of flowers, brunch, candles... They deserve all these things and more for putting up with us. But what do moms really want? 

Along with all the other things going on in their lives, mothers want to feel close to their children. Whether new moms or grandmothers, they want to make good memories with their loved ones. Particularly because photos are especially hard to get with fully grown children, booking a photoshoot with mom is the best kind of gift. When was the last time she saw you and your siblings in the same room? 

This Mother's Day don't just send your mom a card, create a family heirloom. Imagine how endearing it will feel to be able to give these photos to your own children one day.

 

Family photoshoots are customized to reflect your family and their unique personalities. Book your shoot in the month of May and get $50 off. Call or email me for details.

Find Portraits of Moms in My Real Women Series

 

 

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