Birthday parties- Party Girls!!

Birthday pictures are memories that you will always take you back in time to that special moment of fun and excitement. Creating happy birthday pictures can be a challenge, so here is an important list of successful tips to help you succeed. Plan your party place and set up ahead of time. Whether it is your dining room or a picnic table outdoors, to get your best shots, prepare the setup and be ready to shoot immediately upon arrival of the children.
Have pleasing lighting planned ahead of time, if outdoors, make sure there is no harsh light to cause harsh shadows and an unpleasing effect. Under a tree might be good as long as there is enough sunlight to create a nice smooth skin tone.
Have children dressed and ready to go before they are allowed to see the party area. It will keep their genuine enthusiasm for the picture and that is what you want to capture.
Have some props that are simple and will add amusement to your photo. I actually had teacups for this shot that did not work out. The children were really too young to appreciate the concept of drinking from a teacup, and played with the cups and saucers and knocked them over several times before I canned that idea. With older children, it can be a fun idea – these two sisters are 1 and 2 years old. The balloons worked beautifully, as they were a compliment to the picture and the children were thrilled to play with them.

Some fun music in the background lends itself to a party atmosphere, encouraging the children to dance and clap.

Don’t say “SMILE” instead, engage them in conversation that will make them react with a smile.

such as “Wheeee – isn’t this fun? Yay, Whoopee, Let’s dance!”

Most of all, shoot quick and don’t get discouraged. I took these photos in just a few minutes, the mother was sure we didn’t get anything because Savannah – age 2, was running in circles most of the time, and the baby – age 1, had a bad cold and was not smiling as much as we had hoped. However, once you edit down to the bare bones, there are a lot of cute pictures!

Greek Goddess

Hello Everyone,
I have been remiss with my blog, but I am starting up again and hope you will join in with my words and insights in the photography world!

Today I’m discussing this beautiful college student , Michelle, that I photographed last week.  
To begin planning a photo shoot, it’s important to create and build on an idea you have in mind. I search all sorts of magazines and sites to spurn new ideas. Michelle reminded me of a renaissance painting, a sort of goddess from greek mythology, and I began to plan accordingly.
I wanted a garden with a grand vista and we took off for Old Cutler Road and landed at Thalatta Estate. We walked down to the water just before sunset, which is a wonderful time to photograph people, as the light is low and will illuminate the eyes and highlight the face with just the right amount of shadow.  
Here you can see that Michelle looks gorgeous with a simple summery dress which I added a swirl of gardenias plucked from my gardenia bushes in my front garden to set the stage for a goddess. Any flower will serve it’s purpose, but these smell divine and I wove them together with a thin piece of beaded wire I purchased from JoAnn Fabric.  
This late in the day overcast sun softens the skin and brings out the beautiful blue in Michelle’s eyes. She naturally has smooth, creamy skin, which is emphasized with a soft glow of the late afternoon sun.

I asked Michelle to do a few twirls and we caught this wonderful feeling with the magnificence of the Thalatta gardens. Then for some close ups I had her lean over the railing with the sun bouncing back up into her eyes. You can see from this 30 minute photo shoot, that we captured the grandeur of the garden in the largest photographs, and the magnificence of Michelle’s facial features by moving in very close to show off her eyes, mouth, and glorious hair.  
We returned to my studio for one last close up, I didn’t want to waste such great hair and makeup, and she changed to a lace dress which is mostly covered with long curls, for one last beautiful shot with a dark blue backdrop. You can see that a little shadow on one side of the face creates depth and makes the picture more interesting.

Until we meet again- have a wonderful, happy day!

Taking beautiful pictures with your baby

What makes a gorgeous mother and baby picture? There is no step by step combination, however, here are some brilliant ideas to make your next mom and baby picture stand out and be worth framing.

Step one is to research your photographer. There are many skillful photographers, each with their own individual style. Check out websites and actually call and talk to the photographer to find out if you click with their personality, then discuss what sort of picture you are looking for and how you can achieve your best ever pictures.

Take notice of pictures you like from magazines, internet, and tv ads. The clothing is always important, and usually a simple style and plain colors are the secret to making the people stand out.

Clothing does set the mood, so if you are looking for soft and innocent, choose light colors, pastels, creams or white. For a stronger statement, dark background and stronger lighting can accentuate your subjects. Bright colorful outfits can bring life and gaiety, hats and balloons can create a festive look as well.

I like to focus on smooth, soft skin tones, clear, defined eyes, and mother – baby eye contact. Think of what makes a mom and baby so special, the way you connect, smile and coo with your baby is what takes the viewer into your loving moment.

Don’t think you always need to look at the camera, the warmth and love of a mother and child is displayed in the eyes, hands, smiles and caress. Focus on your baby, a good photographer will direct you in a friendly manner to get the best pose and feel in your photograph.

Plan your photo shoot at a time and place that your baby will be comfortable. Whether in a studio or outdoors, all of the elements such as time of day, warmth and hunger will effect your baby’s mood. Make sure your photographer will have plenty of time to take delightful pictures with patience and no stress. Try to meet your photographer ahead of time and create a relationship that will make your picture day easy and fun.

The treasures of today’s expert photographs, will last throughout time. From the present when you adore your own baby, to the future generations, a breathtaking photograph will keep your tender memories alive for all to enjoy.

Senior beauty and elegance 

Sometimes young ladies can totally surprise you! Put them in jeans and a t-shirt and they look sweet, young and innocent. Change them into an evening dress, a little hair and makeup – and Whoa! the beautiful teen became an elegant mademoiselle!  
Presenting Megan – in the palms with her jeans and then fresh and girlish face, also dressed in a 60’s flowery wreath. 

She looks gorgeous with doe like eyes and smooth creamy skin. I captured these special qualities by placing her in partial sun, although the clouds were in and out, and using a silver reflector just about chin height to create the stunning catchlights in her eyes.
Then with a change of clothes and studio location, she playfully jumped and twirled in this cocktail dress, and later we had her lying on the floor to capture her in a captivating pose of allure and fetching magnificence.  Studio lighting was done with one beauty light and reflector on the opposite side and a reflector underneath the chin, to create a dramatic appeal and smooth creamy skin.

Teens and senior portraits are one of my favorites to photograph, as there is so much diversity from charming innocence to exquisite sophistication!

Senior Pics

It’s the end of another school year and the juniors are becoming the seniors of next year, and the seniors are moving onto college! Where does the time go?
This is a wonderful time to remember this momentous event with some fabulous professional pictures. The time in our lives when we shine so brightly and look so young and vibrant. A beautiful, fleeting instant that in a blink of an eye is soon the next stage in our lives.
Featured here is a delightful young teen, Jessica, also known as Jess to her friends. She is easy and confident in front of the camera, probably from the experience she has had in cheerleading and drama at school.

I wanted to take some natural summery shots of Jess, so I put her in the back of our jeep with a cool drink and cut offs. I directed her just to smile and enjoy herself, and here we have the first pictures of the day. I started out full length, and I always like to come in closer to eyes and face.In the shade of a large tree, I used a reflector and a bit of led, hand held light to brighten up her face and give a little punch to these images.

For her second outfit, I looked around the yard for natural light and found this soft morning sunlight in an eucalyptus tree. The lowest branch was rather high so I had her balance her super high heels on uneven ground by grasping the branch for balance. Then I asked her to climb the tree and lay on the branch, where I caught her amazing blue eyes with the sun shining softly through a hint of shade. To avoid a squint, it is important to make sure your subject has bounced light unless the sun in super low and can be directly in the eyes. I like to focus on clear, crisp images where the eyes are visible and unshadowed.  

This last pictures here are in the studio. I used a large soft box on the bright side and a smaller soft box on the other side. With a reflector underneath to bounce light under her chin. Always use a flash close enough to soften the skin and make is appear smooth and creamy. This short dress is perfect for today’s proms, where almost any length is in style. With her long mane of hair and stronger eye makeup, we captured a beautiful day in the life of an upcoming senior girl.  

Quinceañera – My 15 year old photo shoot!

 If you have ever known a young girl coming into her 15th year of life, then you should understand that almost every girl at this age still wants to feel like a  princess. The Quinceañera parties and photo shoots honor this tradition, which is largely Latin American, American society waits to celebrate the “Sweet 16”.  

Quinceañera photo shoots generally have several outfit changes, a formal and a few more casual pictures. 
This beautiful young girl was totally alive in every picture, she was a delight in front of the camera and was willing to jump in the water with her fabulous Quince dress. We went to Bayfront park at the end of the day, with the setting sun to capture this dance on the beach. The late afternoon light gives a glow to her face and dress. Since Nicole was also musically inclined, we brought her violin to offset her talent in a beach scene.
It is best to take beach photos during the week as over the weekend the beach is full of people! With summer around the corner – it would be best to beat the crowds by arriving early morning at sun up instead of sun down.   

With Nicole’s other great love being horses, we took her to a stable near my house and studio, as I live in the Redlands, which has horses and stables everywhere. When we arrived at this horse farm, I looked around for pretty light and a pleasing background; when I saw this bougainvillea, I knew it would compliment this radiant teen. The lighting was soft and I had someone hold a white card to fill in the shade with an extra bit of white light on her face.

We gave Nicole a minute to cozy up to this magnificent stallion and he generously cooperated as we took these gorgeous shots. Working with horses is tentative, and we had to coax and cajole him a bit to take part int he excitement. I took these in less than 15 minutes as the horse was a little antsy and quickly ready to retire.

All in all, it was great fun photographing this young lady, and she and her mother were ecstatic with the outcome.