We don't really live by any family. We have Bryan's sister and her family that live about an hour away. We don't see nearly enough of them but when we DO see them we live it up. And I absolutely LOVE getting to take pictures of the kiddos. These are the two oldest. Their REALLY close in age. Which one do you think is older?
As I mentioned previously (ages and AGES ago), three things are involved in learning how to take pictures with your camera in manual... which in my opinion is the ONLY way to get a picture to look the way you want it to look. One of those key ingredients is aperture. Aperture (commonly seen as "f/" or "F Stop") is basically what is in and out of focus. So, if you like the look of the background being out of focus, you will want to shoot "wipe open" as they say, or in other words, with a low aperture number. What that will do is help you create an image with the subject in focus and the background out of focus. You need to make sure you are focusing on the subject, of course. :) Something else you must remember is that aperture is just one corner of the "triangle". If you are properly exposed (you have the right amount of light coming into your camera so that your SUBJECT is lit nicely) and you mess with the aperture, it will "pull", so to speak, on one corner of the triangle. If you change your aperture, you will need to adjust your shutter speed and/or ISO to keep your triangle balanced.
In the picture above my aperture was set at 1.4 (you will often see it like this: f/1.4). That is as wide open as that particular lens will go. Aperture is based on the lens, NOT the camera. (Shutter speed and ISO are dependant on your camera, unlike aperture). If you look closely, you can tell that I focused on the subject's right eye (my left). It is clear and crisp. Because I shot so wide open, even his left eye and ear are slightly out of focus. You also can't tell what is in the background (which in this case is a good thing :)). The red arrow is pointing to the arm of the couch that is he sitting on. You can't even really tell that's what it is.
Shooting wide open is a great thing... as long as you aren't shooting TOO wide open. People seem to think "the wider, the better". Not always. In fact, for me, rarely is wider better. You have to think of what you want in focus. I like my entire subject's face in focus. Both eyes. Mouth. Stuff like that. So, I generally stick around 2.8 or tighter. I DO like the background out of focus. Especially if you have nice pretty light back there. Bokeh is a beautiful thing.
You have to think about pictures you are taking of two or more people as well. If someone is standing slightly in front of the other person, you need to take that into account when setting your aperture. If I'm taking family pictures I NEVER shoot wider than 5.6. (Only made that mistake once.) So, my aperture number will be 5.6 or higher. You want to make sure that everyone is in focus. (there are, of course, exceptions.) I know if I was a client there's no way I would pay big bucks to have a fancy picture of my family if two of my kids were slightly blurry.
Ok, in this picture I focused on the same spot (can you tell he was annoyed that I was taking time away from the Wii?) The difference in this picture than the previous one is that I changed my aperture to f/13. That's much tighter therefore much more will be in focus and there is not nearly the amount of light coming into my camera as when I was shooting wide open. Because I tightened my aperture, I had to adjust my other settings to make sure he was still properly exposed. I changed my shutter speed slightly but most of the change came from the ISO. It went from 250 in the first picture to 4000. BIG change. But, that's what I had to do to make sure he wasn't nearly black. You can also tell much better what is in the back ground since I shot tighter (remember, more in focus). Obviously, both eyes are not in focus. There's a wadded up purple Tinkerbell blanket just past the arm of the couch. And who can miss the hubby's drying hoody? (laundry day.) Big difference from the first picture, right? In this case, I like the wide open shot better. :)
At the end of the day, aperture is a powerful tool. It is so much fun to play with and can completely change the mood of your image. Play around with it. You'll be shocked at how much more you'll like your images once you have a better understanding of it. Good luck and here are some more examples of shooting with a wide versus tight aperture. Notice the arrows showing you where the big changes are when the aperture is changed.
As photographers we are always (ALWAYS!) looking for fun places to shoot... places that will inspire us... places that are unique and all our own... places that when people see the images they say, "Where did you take these?!?" Well, look no further! I'm here to give you a few tips on location hunting and finding those prime spots that will be all yours!
1. Always be on the prowl. When you're out and about, watch what you're driving past. You just may find a hidden jewel you've seen a million times.
2. Don't look for the Taj Mahal. Some of the best places I have ever discovered have been dinky places on the side of the road.
3. Don't be afraid to ask! If something is private property give it a try! It's amazing what people will do for a warm plate of chocolate chip cookies!
5. Ask fellow photographers to go location hunting with you. Raise your hand if finding an awesome new place makes you pee your pants just a touch. (Trust me, everyone's hands are high in the air). Your photog friend may see a vision that you would have otherwise missed!
6. Watch the light. Light can be sneaky! Always moving around on us! Sometimes an otherwise boring location turns into a magical photographer's oasis at certain times of day. There are places I won't shoot at in the evening (you know, during that blessed golden hour?!) because they just don't work with the light the same as they do in the morning.
7. Don't be afraid to move things around. Break a sweat and drag that tree trunk across a field to where the light is yummy!
Here are some images of a shoot I did a while ago. My photographer friend and I found this location on the side of a busy road... there was even a bright blue dumpster there!
I really love photographing twins. I love photographing identical twins even more. My amazing sister has identical twins that I photograph at every possible turn. These twins (Sarah and Mary Kate) are just as darling (although twice the age as my nieces!) They were so cute together making each other laugh and driving each other nuts! It was just perfect!
My identical twin nieces are just darling. They have more energy than a pack of wild animals and I am fairly certain can, in fact, bounce off the walls. They were the first born grandchildren on my side which makes them all the more special. Last summer, while we were on vacation in Utah at Aspen Grove (love that place!) we went out for a few minutes up Provo Canyon and took some pictures of them in their baptism dresses. It was so much fun to see them all dressed up and ready to pose for me!
Last year I went to an awesome photography retreat put on by the one and only Kelli France. It was so much fun getting to know some really sweet girls and learn about how they run their photography businesses and what has worked for them. I learned a lot and it made me want to actually take pictures again. (I was pretty emotionally drained and was NOT into working at that point.) We had a few sessions set up which was perfect for me! This session in particular of Kelli's brother-in-law and his wife was so fun! They're young and cute! They were up for anything. And they're stunning. All of those qualities coupled with amazing light... it was perfect. As a randome side note, this darling girl makes SUUUUUPER cute hats for babies. Like, we are talking, crazy adorable. Go check her out HERE.
I just adore these girls. They are not only beautiful but they have the sweetest personalities. I had a lot of fun taking pictures of them. The older two babysit my kiddos from time to time and the sweet youngest one, showing off her baptism dress, is a good friend of Carter's. They have been in the same class since Kindergarten. We were lucky enough, in the dead of winter, to have a nice day to take pictures on as well as finding a location that didn't look as dead as it actually was. :)
While we were in Arizona last spring I took some senior pictures for my oh so beautiful sister-in-law. She's so amazing and is now finishing up her freshman year at BYU (go Cougars!!). It was so much fun (I so rarely get one-on-one time with her) and the light was PERFECT! We had so much fun talking about all kinds of things and I'm so greatful I was able to hog her for an entire evening!!! She is now about to head off to Buenos Aires, Argentina on a mission for our super awesome church.
I'm really going to miss having Naomi to pick on. She's the youngest in Bryan's family so she gets MORE than her fair share... but she can take it... and she dishes it. So, it's only fair (although I'm sure she doesn't see it that way.)
I will now start taking applications for the suitors she will undoubtedly have when she comes home. But for now, she's serving the Lord and growing up from a high schooler to an actual woman. (Seriously, how old does that make ME?? Pretty sure I'm still only 25...)
Nellie is seriously the coolest. We have a blast together. She is one of Bryan's youngest sisters so when she told us that she was getting married we all told her that 12 year olds were NOT allowed to get married. Turns out she's NOT 12 anymore. (I shed a tear or two over that one...) We aren't even going to discuss how long ago they got married. Life got busy. Summer happened. (Yeah... that long ago.) She married an amazing Samoan man who we all adore. I have a special place for the Samoan culture that dates back to my days spent in New Zealand. (Don't even get me started on that country... I love it so much!) As I have mentioned before, I am not a wedding photographer. I did some pictures of Nellie and Justin in their wedding attire and had a lot of fun. Newlyweds are the best because they can do googly eyes at each other for hours on end. :)
Side Note: They got married so long ago that Nellie is now pregnant with a cute BIG baby girl. Can't wait to meet her in a few months!
Way back when... Seriously it's been MONTHS, I was lucky enough to take this cutie's senior picutres. She's only a few months from graduating right now and I gotta say, I'm kind of bummed. She's super cool. She's a great babysitter. She's an amazing example to those around her. She's just Melissa. I had a lot of fun taking pictures of her and getting that *real* smile to come out. (I'm not a fan of the fake grins. ;))
In March Bryan's mom came to visit. It was so much fun having her here. (She left the day before Carter was diagnosed with cancer.) Before we took her to the airport we went to the park (on a blustery day) to play. I brought my camera so I could take pictures of each kid with their super sweet grandmother.