I don’t like to dwell on loss and death, particularly on a business website which celebrates love and life through photography but I thought I might share this personal story with you to inspire you to make more out of the photographs that you and your family may have taken a lifetime to collect.
Last year my father sadly passed away, and having organised most of the funeral arrangements, I wondered about his eulogy.
Dad was keen to speak at a number of funerals I’d attended with him, his brother’s and his wife’s (my step mother) particularly and I understood he felt it the right thing to do on such occasions.
I’d thought about what I might say at his funeral, but kept hitting something of a block. I’d shared many memories with dad, but didn’t have the feeling that I needed to share any these stories with other people, for some reason. I felt some guilt and a certain amount of pressure to do or say something at this funeral service, rather than leave it to someone who didn’t really know him very well.
With so much to do after the death of a loved one, I put it to the back of my mind, at least in the short term, until the date was looming and it became more pressing to organise something suitable.
As part of clearing out his house, I’d come across Dad’s old photograph albums, he loved taking photos and lots of them too. As I started to go through them, the idea came to mind about doing a presentation of his favourite images for the funeral, a kind of collage of his life.
I spoke to the funeral directors, who in turn spoke to the venue and after a day or two they said it would be fine to present on a screen at the venue, if I forwarded the slideshow ahead of the day, which I did.
The more I thought about it, the more it made sense to celebrate Dad’s life with photos of his life, shared with the family he loved, many of whom would be at the funeral. It would give them a chance to reminisce the good old days, and to feel part of the day rather more than they would at a funeral.
It turned out to be a nice surprise for many of the people attending the funeral service, and seem to go down well with all.
I liked the poem by LInda Ellis called “the dash” so incorporated it into the slideshow because we were celebrating Dad’s dash after all.
Hope it inspires you to make the most of those precious memories that you’ve captured in the past and are going to capture years into the future.
Baby’s first photograph can be an ultrasound picture. In later years, your children will be fascinated when looking at pictures you took of them as a baby. Undoubtedly, you will, too. They are among the few kinds of pictures you never tire of looking at. You will believe then, as you probably do now, that your baby is unquestionably the most photogenic subject on the face of the earth.
But babies turn into toddlers and then into teens pretty quickly. You shouldn’t put off taking their pictures until “later,” because babies change so quickly that they will frequently not look the same at all when “later” comes. You should bring out the camera whenever an opportunity for a good baby picture arises, because if you don’t you will regret it later.
In fact, there is no reason why your baby’s picture series can’t begin with a picture of the pregnant mother. We even know of proud parents who keep ultrasound photos of their soon-to-be-born in the family album and even framed and displayed on a wall in their home.
Is there anything more beautiful than a soon-to-be-mother? She is just getting her baby used to having his or her picture taken.
A baby’s look of joy when mom peeks into his carriage. You can’t start too soon, and you can’t shoot your baby often enough, especially in the first three years of his or her life, when change occurs so rapidly.
Can you shoot too many pictures of your baby? Undoubtedly, you can, but don’t ask us to cut out the ones that are no good. You will have to be the judge of that. The funny thing about baby pictures is that you might not think a particular shot is very good just after you have taken it, and then years later, it becomes your favorite. So, be cautious in what you cull out.
Don’t leave dad out when the baby pictures are being taken. You won’t often catch such a look of pride and happiness.
(1) Don’t use flash close up to avoid startling newborn babies. They have been through enough recent surprises
(2) If there is insufficient light for your normal ISO 100 or 200 speed film/sensor setting without needing flash, use a faster film/higher sensor setting, ISO 400 or even 800.
(3) Black and white film can sometimes surpass color in capturing the peaceful innocence of a sleeping infant, or the gentle mood of a new mom lovingly cuddling her new bundle of joy. And if the room in which you are shooting is lit by fluorescent lights, with B&W film you avoid the sickly green effect it gives to many color photographs. If you’re using a digital camera, you can always convert your images to black and white, in post production, using editing software such as photoshop.
(4) There are generally two types of “newborn” baby pictures – those with one or both parents, and those with baby alone. We suggest shooting both, so long as mom is comfortable with it. You will never have a better chance to capture baby alone just after birth, and also to photograph the combined look of pride, wonder and love that suffuses all new parents’ faces.
(5) If it is daytime and mom can carry the newborn to a comfortable location by a window, the natural light coming in will usually produce a more pleasing picture. Choose a window that does not have the direct rays of the sun streaming in for softer, more-diffused lighting.
(6) Speak softly and do nothing to startle mother or baby when you are suggesting how she can hold her newborn for a better picture.
A wide-open aperture (for shallow depth of field) will throw the background out of focus
Don’t expect much more animation than a great, big, healthy yawn from a newborn infant.
(7) Have a little patience. Don’t expect much animation from the newborn, who will likely have his or her eyes closed most of the time you are there, but be prepared to capture the movement when it happens. It might be a yawn or a bunched-up face as baby begins to awaken or simply an expression that occurs during a dream.
(8) A medium telephoto lens (a portrait lens) can be very useful. You won’t have to personally get in close to fill the frame, and the fact that you remain somewhat distant from your mother-and-baby subjects may encourage mom to express intimacy with her baby that you would not otherwise see if you were “in her space.”
(9) If mom or dad should hold the baby up for a picture of the baby alone, try using a shallow depth of field (a wide-open aperture) to throw the background out of focus, suggesting a soft environment and drawing the viewer’s eyes directly to the baby. Make sure you focus on the baby’s eyes and have sufficient depth of field to have both in focus, if not the the entire face.
(10) If you photograph the baby alone while he or she is lying on a bed, make sure the baby is on a clean and comfy-looking blanket or soft quilt. You can’t surround a baby with too much softness. And don’t stand directly overhead for all of your shots. Try getting down to the baby’s level. Your picture will be much more intimate than one that looks like the photograph was taken from an aerial balloon.
(11) A close-up with dad’s strong hands holding the newborn is always a powerful image, and don’t forget to shoot when mom or dad lifts the baby so they can look straight into each other’s eyes. Although you will be strongly tempted to ask mom to look at you and smile while holding the baby so he or she faces towards the camera, try to avoid it, at least for a while. That kind of shot is okay and will look all right, but the best shots are usually those that make it look as though the photographer was an unnoticed observer as the parents interacted with their new child.
(12) If you are using a basic point-and-shoot camera, you may find that you have to get quite close to fill the viewfinder frame because babies are so small. You will want to check your camera’s minimum focusing distance (which is typically around 20 inches) and then be sure that your camera is at least that distance away from the baby to ensure sharp focus. If you can’t get in close enough to fill the frame, bear in mind that pictures can always be cropped later to remove extraneous items around the baby. Having the picture in focus is more important than filling the frame.
A word about your camera’s flash: Since the flash may be triggered automatically with many point-and-shoot cameras, check to see whether yours has an override switch or setting that will let you turn off the flash before you take a picture of a baby, particularly a close-up.
(13) If you can’t be there to take pictures during the daytime and the ambient lighting is inadequate – in other words, if you have to use flash – then avoid direct flash and go instead for either bounce-flash off a white surface or diffused flash through a white sheet or tracing paper to keep the light soft.
(14) Permit mom a free moment before shooting her picture to freshen up so she will be pleased about the way she looks. If her hair can use a combing or her outfit needs to be straightened, point this out and then give her some free time to attend to herself. You and she will both be happier with the resultant pictures.
(15) Finally, remember what mom and baby have just been through, and that they can tire quickly. If they need to rest, stop shooting, pack up and leave, even though you may feel you didn’t get the shot you wanted. Come back at a suitable time when they are rested, and mom feels fresh.
TIPS FOR YOUR NEWBORN’S FIRST PORTRAIT
(1) Have mom hold her baby so the little one’s face is placed in natural light.
(2) You may need a high ISO setting if light levels are low.
(3) Get in close to fill the frame with the baby’s face, and take a number of pictures as the newborn’s expressions change.
(4) Watch out for the thumb in the mouth, and have mom gently remove it just before you take a shot.
(5) Don’t rush, wait for little changes in expression and take plenty of pictures. You won’t regret it years from now when you open the family album and re-live the moment you were introduced to your new son or daughter.
Pointers for Baby Pictures
General Hints & Advice for Photographing Babies
Direct sunlight causes strong, harsh shadows which work in this picture only because the baby’s face is not the centre of interest.
1. THE BABY’S CONDITION IS IMPORTANT
Babies must be rested, look healthy and be comfortable (dry, warm and feeling secure) to look their best when their picture is being taken.
2. CLOTHING AND APPEARANCE
You may be tempted to dress your baby in the latest designer outfit or a costume that is brightly-colored or boldly-patterned, but odds are that you will get a better picture if the baby’s clothing is more neutral, because nothing should draw your attention from the baby’s face and eyes. Gentle pastels, whites, blues or pinks are usually fine. Patterns in both the baby’s dress and surrounding blankets or comforters should be compatible with babies, not garish or bold. Simplicity is usually better than a busy setting. After all, the baby should be the center of attention, not the clothing.
A bib is a good idea for baby to wear to protect his or her clothes, but should be removed just before pictures are taken.
Be sure that bonnets and hats don’t create too dark a shadow on the baby’s face. Tilt them up or remove them altogether if they do. Be sure to have a soft hairbrush handy to straighten to ensure the baby’s hair is tidy, and keep a washcloth nearby to catch any run-away drools.
3. BE PREPARED TO DEAL WITH A BABY’S REACTION TO YOU
If the baby does not know you, be alert to the baby’s reaction when you meet. Some babies may find you with your camera to be a curiosity and others may be frightened by what to them is a strange sight.
Take the time to establish a rapport with the baby so that you don’t appear in any way threatening.
Don’t move suddenly or make loud noises. Speak in a soft, reassuring voice, and establish friendly eye contact with the baby. Say and do things that will elicit a happy reaction.
You may look as imposing as this to a baby who is not familiar with you or your camera
Natural indirect light coming through a window is ideal for baby pictures. Mom or dad should be nearby at all times for the baby’s reassurance, and should remain handy throughout the session.
Having mom or dad stand behind you and attract their baby’s attention will often produce the bright-eyed looks of joy that can make a baby picture great, but be prepared to hear a lot of strange sounds and unadult-like noises right in your ear. We are all guilty of throwing our inhibitions to the wind and acting silly when babies are involved, and parents are the guiltiest.
4. PLACE THE BABY IN SOFT LIGHTING
If shooting outdoors on a sunny day, the baby should be placed in open shade, away from the direct rays of the sun, but still brightly illuminated. Ideal outdoor lighting occurs when the sky is lightly overcast (bright illumination but no direct sunlight). The baby can be placed just about anywhere that is safe and provides an attractive setting, and the overall diffused light will be soft, without harsh shadows and without the baby having to squint.
Natural, indirect window light indoors remains our first choice for baby pictures, as it is for many portraits where you wish to have soft, surrounding illumination without strong shadows. You may not have a lighting choice sometimes, and will have to take your picture in whatever illumination there is. Be sure to take your light meter reading from the baby’s face, the center of interest, so that it will be properly exposed.
Although soft lighting suits a soft subject. sometimes high-contrast light will produce a fine baby picture, too.
Introduce babies who can sit up to something new that will intrigue them, and you will probably capture a series of neat photos in a sequence that goes something like this:
(1) an absorbed, interested look at the item;
(2) close examination, maybe a taste test or a good eyeball and touchy-feely scrutiny;
(3) joy in discovery of its features;
(4) holding it up with a big smile to show you their great discovery;
(5) and, finally, playing with it.
Let a little one play with the phone after you disconnect the line, and he or she becomes absorbed in pushing the buttons.
There is nothing worse than taking lots of different pictures on your mobile phone or camera, and then leaving them on the memory card or hard drive, never to see the light of day again. Photographs are designed to be printed or displayed and enjoyed.
If you take lots of pictures using your mobile phone or camera, make sure you do something useful with them. We are now providing access to our professional digital printing services and expertise, so you can have high quality printed products displayed in your home, with pride. We will maximise the quality of your images, colour correct where necessary and provide a finished product you can show off to friends and family. If the quality of your images is not high enough, we will advise you so that you don’t waste money on inferior finishes.
We can provide the following products, using your images:
Slideshows and videos, burned to disc or mp4 (can be viewed on mobile device and put on social media if required).
Luster Prints, at all standard sizes
Prints or digital collages
Prints or digital images with captions (fun)
Prints or digital images with motivational quotes
Canvases, acrylics, high quality framing
Coasters, bags, phone cases and other accessories
Digital photo frames in a variety of sizes
In fact, there’s not much we can’t supply, so if you have something you would like to have done with your photos, drop us an email and we’ll advise you what we can do for you.
When it comes to learning something new, developing a skill, or achieving a GOAL, such as becoming a better photographer, there are three things you need to consider, these are:
Acquiring the relevant KNOWLEDGE
Finding the appropriate level of MOTIVATION
and moving forward in a PRODUCTIVE manner
The WHY is the most important aspect of your journey. This is what drives you forward. When you come across obstacles it’s THE WHY that will help you to overcome them. Make sure you’re doing what you’re doing or about to do what you’re about to do, for the right reasons. Don’t do it for other people, do it because you passionately want to do it yourself.
I’ve put Motivation at the bottom of the pyramid, in the illustration above, for the simple reason that it’s the basis for any progress forward, without it you just aren’t going to follow-through.
As well as finding the drive to move forward, there is a force that is actively working against you. This force is FEAR, fear of failure, fear or moving outside your comfort zone, even fear of success. Carefully look into your psyche and examine what is stopping you biting the bullet and taking the next important step towards your goal, you’ll inevitably find some form of fear is the culprit.
The HOW is next for us to take a look at. Acquiring the relevant knowledge is our next consideration in the process. Knowledge acquisition is twofold,
finding reliable sources and
obtain accurate information from them
When it comes to finding reliable sources of information, the best advice I can give you, is to find someone who has achieved whatever you’re aiming to achieve. If you want to learn about photography for instance, then who better to take advice from, than a professional photographer? Someone who makes a living from the very thing you want to learn about.
Consider finding a mentor who is willing to devote some of their time to helping you out, also consider mastermind teams or role models as sources of information. On the subject of learning photography, I have lots of free information on this site to help you do just that. Alternatively check out my one to one photography tutorials which are designed to hold your hand through the learning process.
So in summary, finding someone who offers advice and knows what they’re talking about, is the takeaway from this section of the article.
Last but not least is, the WHAT and WHEN. These are the fundamentals of productivity. Productivity is not about being efficient, it’s about being effective, and there is a big difference between the two. It’s about getting the most important things boxed off. Find the one, most important thing that can be done to get maximum impact and do it. Ask yourself, “What’s the one thing I can do now such by doing it, everything else will be easier or unnecessary.” The difficulty is often identifying what your priorities should be, what’s important and what’s not. Again our one to one photography tutorials will get you over this problem and set you up on the right path.
So there you have it, stick to the Get Results model outlined above and that is exactly what you’ll get, RESULTS. Check out the get results model here for more information, well worth a look, and never forget to enjoy the journey. Life is not a destination.
We all spend way too much time staring at our mobile phones these days, simply because you can do so much with them. If you love photography there are new and exciting apps becoming available for your phone on a daily basis, although many of them are rubbish. I will keep adding to the list below replacing with improved versions as and when I find them, so keep checking back to keep up-to-date with the best Apps available.
Lots of tools and filters This app brings to your mobile device the power and control of professional photo editing software, previously only available on the desktop. Now with the tap of a finger you can retouch, adjust perspective, re-edit, and more.