Tag Archives: self portrait

Self-Portrait of the Photographer {Portrait Photography, San Jose, CA}

Ewa "Mom Photographer":

Who’s up to a challenge? :)

Originally posted on Ewa Samples Photography:

Taking pictures is my passion. It is a passion of every photographer out there, at least this is what I believe in.

We spent hours on end shooting, editing, thinking about locations or location hunting, visualizing sessions with clients, browsing the Internet and organizing our Pinterst boards. Everything for one purpose – to become a better photographer and to serve our clients better. Many of us have mastered and memorized all the techniques of encouraging our models to feel comfortable in front of the camera. We know a lot about posing, how to make people look good, how to use the light and how to use every bit of space as a good spot for a photograph.

We take tremendous amounts of pictures weekly… Don’t we.

But how many pictures of ourselves, with kids, with spouses or without them, do we have?
How many times when somebody said, “hey you’ve…

View original 220 more words

Tips for photographing kids and for family self-portraits

Haven’t posted any tips for self-portraits during the last several weeks. 
Time to change it. 

Today I’m going to focus on the entire family: How to take pictures of yourself plus your family members. 

My last photo session with my family taught me a few lessons, and I want to share them here.  

Last week we had No.2 B-day, and I had this neat idea for some cute pictures which of course ended up not as I had planned. I mean, TOTALLY not as I had planned. Well, this should be a lesson for me and for all of you out there who plan photo sessions with kids and husbands.

Most of the ideas that you have probably won’t work out!  

Here are pictures from the session. 

Family portraits used in this post are from the same day, but about an hour earlier when everybody wasn’t hungry, tired and cold. The best thing would have been to stay at the same place and continue with my ideas, but I had different vision in my head and the only place I saw in that vision was the second location. So we had moved, and by the time we got there the weather had changed from nice to not VERY nice :) – cold and windy.

Before dragging all those balloons and the basket (which is kinda heavy), I tried it at home, and No.2 was very happy to sit in it. She actually didn’t want to come out. Every time I took her out she would climb back inside.

Guess what she did during the photo session?

The very first second after I put her inside she got the hell out of there and she did not want to get inside. From there my entire vision was ruined and I was ready to go home. In addition the wind tangled all the balloons and it was a TRAGEDY. 

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So, the conclusions are:

- do not expect a lot while planning session with kids – at least have more than one back-up plan!!! 

- do not use balloons in windy days – or at have a good plan where you’re going to place them. 

- have plenty of food for the kids – and for the adults as they tend to get the same grumpy when hungry! 

- have warm clothes, no matter how warm the weather is when you start the session.

- one location is probably enough. 

- give everybody a break from the camera.

- do not panic – which is hard when you take pictures for money at the session turns into this kind of mess!

- do not get angry - which is hard when you take pictures of your family (kids and husband)!

So far I’ve made all those mistakes and probably will do them again! 

As for the family self-portraits. 

Well,

First of all you must have a partner  who does not want to kill you (or you him) during the session.  

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Second of all plan your session according to the endurance not only of your kids but of your partner also! I figured that for my husband one locations is already ONE TOO MANY! And a session that is 2 hour long is about 1 h 40 min too long for him.

Knowing that you are going to take some family shots WEAR SOMETHING NICE. Make it a reason to pamper yourself a little. Do not wear or let your husband to wear anything that later will be a reason to reject the pictures.

Prepare yourself to run back and forth, from the camera to the family, many, many times.
Prepare yourself that most pictures are not going to be pretty, and I am not talking about “pretty looking” but pretty as “technically correct”.

In addition, if you have a dog who acts like it has fireworks shoveled up her/his rare end… well… then it is extra hard!  Probably it’s better to leave her/him at home.

If only the light wasn’t shining on N-o.1 face I would consider this picture as the best one:
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and probably this one IF (again), the dog wasn’t looking like she just saw a squirrel, and No.1 is making very silly face:

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Finally we moved to a different place and this I consider a good shot, although the dog is not in it:

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1/160 sec., f/2.5, ISO 320

and No.1 is a little out of focus as she started to wiggle like a worm. 

To be sure that all members are in focus even if they move a little, use smaller aperture – f/3.5 (and up), and faster shutter speed – 600 sec. for example. At this point you might have to bump up the ISO also.
In case if you have people standing in front of each other, using aperture f/1.4, f/1.8, f/2 simply won’t work. There will be always somebody out of focus.

Of course, if you have a perfect light and a great gear that allows you to bump up your ISO to 1000 and up, then you could set your shutter speed to above 2000 and that would make easier to take photos with less blurriness.

During my year of self-portraits I found out that my 18-55mm f/3.5 – 5.6 lens doesn’t produce very stunning shots, the background is not as pretty and and the depth of field isn’t blurry and shallow, BUT it is more likely to take pictures where I am in focus even if the focus was a little bit off from the start. While with 35mm f/1.8 you have to be very precise with the focus if you want to get a sharp picture. 

One rule that is very helpful in taking family portraits is to keep everybody close to each other. KEEP IT IN A TRIANGLE. Bring the family together! 

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Considering that there is nobody standing behind the camera, waving, making silly faces or using his/her voice to catch the kids attention the best way would be to use something like those lens creatures for the kids to keep looking at the camera:

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Simple, “Hey, Smile at Elmo” would do the trick.

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Of course, I did not take it with us, what is very clear looking at all the pictures here. 

And as I always say, “do not expect perfection”, but if you still have the time and the energy, and if you haven’t killed each other already, try for better picture, again, and again, and again. It is free.

Finish the entire session with a nice dinner in your favorite restaurant 

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That will calm everybody down, and the frustration will go away with the first sip of a hot coffee!

Nurture Photography Challenge - Spring 2013 Edition

Photo Art Friday, b-day girl and spiders

First of all…

No.2

is

ONE

YEAR

OLD

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This young lady origins from the grumpy kind (my blood).

Very recently she has learned to climb on mom’s bread machine.

She walks like a pro, but sometimes she still prefers to get on four – mostly when she has to keep up with her Big Sis.

She loves to blink at mom and dad. 

She wears sunglasses like a real star. 

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And not like her sister, she eats almost anything

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She makes a great bunny

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and she loves to be her Big Sister’s partner-in-crime – or it’s the other way around… (probably).

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This week’s theme for Photo Art Friday is “shadows and/or light”. I’ve missed last few weeks :(
I dug out this picture from my archives:

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and this one is from few days ago:

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I finally finished my shawl, something I wanted to make for a long, long time, but always thought it is too complicated to make. 

And I must share with you those few shots of baby spiders we saw the last weekend. What an awfully great experience ;) 

Photo Art Friday: Self-portrait

Well, I feel a little bit challenged. This week’s theme for Photo Art Friday is: “self-portrait”
I bet, many of you expect of me something great here, but I have been feeling a little (or a lot) under the weather lately, and all my plans for some real self-portraits photo session that I had in mind went to hell… 

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Today I’ve decided to get a little creative with those few shots I managed to take this week and this is what I ended up with:

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In addition I took a few self-portraits for my giveaway that is going on my facebook page, and this is one of them:

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oh… and how could I not share the latest news with you.
No. 2 is walking:

Hope everything is going well in your corner! 

Tutorial: “How to take self-portraits”, Part II – Focus without a remote and a tripod

While creating this video I was working with about 20 minutes of pictures and short movies. I knew that making one video out of it is going to be way too long, so I’ve used only part of it to make the one I’m sharing today, and the rest of it I’ll use later.

I say it again, achieving a reasonable good focus when taking self-portraits wouldn’t be such an issue if I had a remote, but I don’t have it and that’s why I want to prove and show you that YOU DON’T HAVE TO own one to take good self-portraits.

I know that many people get discouraged when it comes to self-portraits just because they don’t have a tripod or a remote or because they don’t want to deal with all that stuff all together. And I totally understand that.    

Sometimes the best opportunity comes spontaneously and having a camera with you should be the only thing required to take on that opportunity. No tripod unfolding and folding. No looking for the remote in our already cluttered bags…

Nope.

Nope.

Nope.

btw, if you haven’t seen it HERE is PART I of this tutorial.

Have a wonderful day, my friends.

Tutorial: “How to take self-portraits”, Part I – Basic Tips

When I was brain storming about from where I should start this tutorial, the topic of FOCUS came as the most important. It wouldn’t be as important if I had a remote, but this is the point here: I want to show you that not having a remote or tripod should not stand on your way to take on some self-shooting. 

I know that lack of remote was my biggest concern when I had decided to start the 365 Self-Portrait Project, but as it appeared later it wasn’t really that big of a deal.  

So, yes, focus… 

Well, when I started putting together the presentation for Part I, which supposed to be about focus, I noticed I keep writing very general info/tips that have nothing to do with focus, but are actually an important part of the kind of self-portraiture I’ve done.

 So, before we go anywhere further, here is Part I of the tutorial: Basic Tips. 

I hope you guys enjoy it. 

Questions and suggestions are welcome, VERY :)

Introduction to a new series: “How to take self-portraits”

I have finally decided to start a series of posts about how to take self-portraits. btw, this post is long, so please grab a coffee/tea and enjoy! I was writing it for almost 3 days!!! 

I am not a pro. I do not claim I am one. I am still learning and I hope to learn even more by doing this series.

The 365 Self-Portrait Project has taught me how to overcome a few obstacles that many people come across when they want to start taking self-portraits:

-          Lack of remote

-          Not having a tripod (I have one but believe me, in 366 days of 2012 I used it less than 10 times)

-          Having two kids around all the time

-          Low self-esteem/Shyness

-          Posing

-          Creativity (lack of it, I meant)

-          Boring life

-          Lack of time (how can you have a boring life and a lack of time at the same time?)

I could think off a few more things but as for now those are the biggest problems I remember I encountered at the beginning. I still have some issues with those things, believe me. I do struggle with focus, what probably will force me to get a remote in a few weeks (I already found one that I would want to get). I do struggle with creativity and my posing sucks; I do have a funny story to tell about it, though.   

Having taken on this project (365 Self-Portraits in one year), in a very difficult time of my life has given me something than many self-portrait artists don’t have to go through while creating their portraits.

This past year was terribly hectic. I was pregnant, and then I wasn’t. I was mother of one child, then all of a sudden I had two of them. I was ok with my pregnant body and I really enjoyed to take photographs of pregnant me, but after the baby was born, immediately, I got very aware of my post-pregnant shapes, and jumping in front of the camera was the last thing I wanted to do.

With two little kids, where one is a “never wanting to let off the booby” kind, it was even harder to get creative or be on my own, in peace and quiet, having all the free time, trying this or that, until I am happy with the shot. I actually had limited time, limited opportunities, and limited energy (VERY limited energy). Many pictures were taken “on the run”, literally. My camera was always around and I would take it every single place we went. I just couldn’t afford to lose a good opportunity to take a self-portrait while doing…, well, while doing anything.

As a family we do not have very active social life so we are not in many situations that other people would take a photo of us and our kids together FOR us. Even if … I am always not very happy with pictures that strangers take for us while we are out and about. I hate that most people do not know how to handle a DSLR set on MANUAL. My camera is always on MANUAL, so if I forget to change it or at least explain a few things to the person it means that most of the pictures we are going to be on are overexposed or underexposed, and that somebody will be out of focus, read WE, the family, will be out of focus (and I know it from my personal experience). The outcome is predictable: those pictures are always deleted, what makes my husband really mad. And don’t you agree that those pictures always look the same. Boring. Flat. They look just like any other family portrait taken by a stranger where the only difference is the background (and outfits).

Do those pictures look boring:

what about these:

 

ok, the last example is not the best. I have to admit I did a poor job encouraging my husband to get into the picture in this project. I will have to change that this year. 

Anyway, when it is you who is in charge of taking pictures as well as posing in them you can control EVERYTHING! Don’t like it? Do it again. Something is out of focus? Re-focus and shot again. The picture is overexposed? Change the settings and DO IT AGAIN. Don’t like the perspective/angle? Move the camera, refocus, check the settings, and take a few more pictures. You can repeat the process until you’re happy with at least one photo. Sometimes it takes time but the more you do it the better you get in doing it right in less time. At the end it is you and only you who decide how much of you people are going to see.

The thing is, if you do it on your own, in your own time frame, surrounded by things you like, and maybe listening to a favorite music, you will feel more comfortable to just be yourself in front of the camera. To make a goofy face, to have a natural smile, to be more playful, or romantic, etc. The sky’s the limit.

 

Being honest with you, I do not have the entire plan for this series lined up in front of me. It’s not like I already have done the creative thinking and I have written all the topics and dates for them. NO. To make a good and informative post with a few examples and explanations I need time – sometimes I don’t have it (time), that’s why I don’t promise to publish “one post a week” with a new topic on how to take self-portraits. I will try to do my best, though. I think, it probably will be one post a month.

I enjoy doing it and I do it because I want to do it, not because I must do it. I want it to stay that way. I want to keep it healthy. Healthy for me. I had been through a period where blogging, getting comments and new followers would take over my personal life, my mood. I based my happiness on the number of comments and visitors to my blog. So no, I will not allow myself to slip into the same situation again.

You have to be aware; this is different from just taking a self-portrait and posting it here with a few words describing the photo. This series is my next challenge. Normally photography is a very intuitional process to me. Here, in order to explain things I’ll try to go into more technical parts of this process: f-stops, ISO, light, post-processing, lenses.

It is going to be a self-educating process. If there is one person out there who will learn something from it as well, I’ll be thrilled.

So please, if you don’t understand something I am going to talk about, just be patient and ask questions. It doesn’t hurt to ask and it could teach both sides (me and you) something new. I appreciate all the questions. I do want to help women to get out of the closet and be comfortable with their own images, no matter what age and shapes.  

To stay updated with each post from this series you can simply follow this blog, my Facebook page or Twitter, but being honest with you, I am not a Twitter person. I tweet rarely, and mostly those are updates from my posts, nothing else. The best way to stay in touch is to follow my Facebook Page.

I will not be giving any assignments or self-portrait themes, and I am not going to create link-ups. If some of my posts inspire you to go out there and to experiment with self-portraits, I encourage you to come back to my blog and leave a link to your post with self-portraits in the comments section of the most recent post from this series.

To check which is the latest post from this series if you just mouse over the button where is says “Self-Portraits”. Do not click on it. A small list will show up. 

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Now there is only one thing:  “365+1 Self-Portrait Project”. Clicking on it will take you to the whole year of my self portraits. Post after post. 

After this post is published I’m going to add one more option: “How to take self-portraits”. Clicking on it will take you to posts from this series ONLY. 

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My next post, actually first in which I give some real advice, not just plain talk, about “how to” take self-portraits is almost ready and will be up on the blog next week. I am going to talk about achieving reasonable good focus without using the remote, as well as how to do it all without a tripod. 

 So lets the fun begin! 

 

A little bit of this and a little bit of that…

… so as my 365 Project came to an end I faced a decision what to do with this blog. Before this project there was a lot of cooking and baking in here but that won’t be the main topic here as I do not cook or bake like crazy anymore. 
From now on it probably will be an every-day-life photography blog with a new recipe now and then, and as you will see in this post, self-portraits are going to appear as well. 

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I plan to participate in Photo Art Friday, that’s for sure. Digital art is not my niche but now when I’m not stressed about 365 Project I have more time to play with my pictures and exercise my imagination. This week theme, for example is: “entrance or exits“, and here is my attempt to it. 

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I know I was saying about preparing some kind of series of post with self-portraits tutoring but as for now I don’t know where to start from and what to consider as important. So as for now I’ll just keep taking them and meantime, free of the stress and pressure of having to take a self-portrait each day, I will write down some advice how to take self-portraits (with examples of an actual picture).

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Good news from this week: I finally received my business cards. I am not very happy with them but they will do for now.

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And I could not write a post without a few shots of my precious NOT angels:

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Many of you know how I used to complain that our No.1 has no interest in playing or sharing with her younger sister. So these days they’re becoming more like partners in crime.

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I’m trying to self-educate these days. Being honest with you: from the day I decided to go pro with the photography business (two months ago) I have learned way more then during the last few years. I do watch online workshops, read tremendous amount of posts about photographing kids and working with families, tips and hints, and I crochet more in order to have more props for newborn sessions. 

Today I had spent my day watching creativeLIVE workshop “Lightroom Mastery with Ben Willmore”. Gosh… my brain is about to explode. This workshop is free if you watch it LIVE… so, all day today I had struggled to remember things and make some notes while handling the kids… Tomorrow is going to be the same, and on Saturday. ugh…. 

ok, last thing… sneak peek from my latest session:

mom photographer, siblings photo session

warm hugs my friends

 

365 Self-Portrait Project (week 50th)

I promised to myself that the last few weeks of this project I’m going to take the most creative pictures EVER. Yeah, right. This week’s series is terribly ordinary. Hopefully our road trip brings new and fresh inspiration. 

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Friday:

Feet time ;)

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Saturday:

Believe me or not, it’s me.

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Sunday:

Me and my eye(s)

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Monday:

We had a sick baby on board this past week. Nothing very serious, but being very clingy in general, being sick made her even more glued to her momma.

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Tuesday:

Not very proud of this picture. After almost a year of taking self-portraits I should be better than shots like this one. Arm’s length? with no twist to it, with no fish lips, with these tired eyes of mine, with no texture. Nothing! Shame on me! Seriously!

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Wednesday:

I finally set up skype on the computer I’m using now. 

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Thursday:

Just laying on the grass time.

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The idea of today’s picture has not entered the smallest brain cell of mine, yet. There is too much laundry to do, to think about anything else. 

If I am not around, I do want to wish to all of you Warm and Happy Holidays! 

 

365 Self-Portrait Project (week 49th)

One more week behind. It’s getting closer, and closer to the end of this project. Sometimes I can’t wait… sometimes I’m sad about it.

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Last Friday:

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I definitely need a haircut!!!

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On Saturday I had a newborn/family session. I got very lucky to be able to photograph such a beautiful family:

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On Sunday I spent most of my day processing the newborn photos but first COFFEE,

mom photographer, self-portrait 338 with bananana (as No.1 says it) pancakes

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Monday was park day.

mom photographer, self-portrait 340 The weather was gorgeous. mom photographer, gorgeous fall weather

At some point I and No.2 got tired and while this picture is not really the best, it tells the real story of a mother trying to relax. I bet many of you know the plot.

The sun is shining on my face and warms up my entire body. My Little Darling just dozed off while eating. I feel like my eye are getting heavier as well. It is nice, relaxing, comfortable. I wish, I was laying in a hammock right now, but in this circumstances I am happy that the playground is empty, just us. It is quite, peaceful. I closed my eyes…

- MOOOOM!!! MORE WATER, please!!!

Gosh… it felt so good for a few second… but not anymore.

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“Mooom!!!”

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The next day was a park day, too. The weather is too beautiful to sit at the house. We walked to the park and here is the entire walk captured.

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Speaking of motherhood captured. Here is one more example:

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This wasn’t the hardest hit I’ve received from her… but it got me by surprise, that’s for sure.

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This picture is called: “I’m going to shoot myself” ;)

On Wednesday I received a package from Poland and it had my old, old, old, analog camera. The one that I love so much.

At the same time, I know that it needs some repairs and general inspection, and that will costs some money. The conclusion is: I am happy and frustrated at the same time. I have my cameras but to be able to fully enjoy them I will have to wait, and that is KILLING ME even more than not having those cameras with me!

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Today’s shot was a small practice for Saturday family photo session. Love the light on my Little Ones face!

If the weather stays as gorgeous as the last several days I am not planning to be shooting indoors on Saturday, that’s for sure!

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So, I think that would be it for today.

Hope you guys are staying warm and happy!

embrace the cameraBlack and White Wednesday