Saturday, October 22, 2011

Children's Photography

I was lucky enough to do my first children's photo shoot with an adorable almost one-year-old little girl name Aubrey. She was the cutest thing I'd ever seen and she was a pleasure to be able to photograph. Her photography location was Memorial Garden - Concord, NC.

Taking photographs of children is a challenge and there are a few rules that are just a given that you must follow:

1. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes that you don't mind getting dirty.

With Aubrey, I was done on the ground with her shooting photos, standing in water to get the right shot, and being anywhere and everywhere I needed to be to get some great shots of her.

2. Always have the parent or guardian bring the child's favorite toy and/or snack to combat fussiness.

You can see Aubrey brought her doll for comfort

3. Always be prepared to capture the little moments.

Sometimes its hard to get a child to pose, but if you stand back and let the child interact with the setting, you can usually snap the cutest moments.

4. If you don't know the child, get to know the child.

Photographers do not always know the child or the family they are shooting. So, it is important to build a trust with the child before shooting. Luckily, I am related to Aubrey and have seen her at the few family functions she has attended in her short life. But, I still let her get to know me again. I helped her walk around, talked to her, and really encouraged her to smile.

5. Make the photo shoot fun!

You've already seen the photo of Aubrey splashing in the water, but I was also fortunate enough to snap some other photos of her for her 1st Birthday! We set up a mock birthday party set on the stone seating/entrance to Memorial Garden.

Being a photographer and photographing children takes a lot of patience, time management, and the ability to take each moment at a time. You never know when you're going to get the child that's going to do all the wrong things during the session, but as a photographer, you need to know all the right things to do in order to stay cool and get the photos.

Starting with my five tips for successful children's photography, you can mold those tips with your own experiences and attitude to get the most out of photography your children or the children of others.

Sloan Park - Mt. Ulla, NC

Sloan Park has been located less than 10 minutes up the road from my house, since I was nine years old. I visited the park many times, but it wasn't until recently that I really began to appreciate the park for more than just the playground. There are many nature trails to hike, a gazebo, stage, volleyball nets, a creek, and Kerr Mill.

I want to start my post out by highlighting some of the locations on the other side of the park that I wasn't able to use for my photoshoot.

A covered bridge on a nature trail

The Pond

Overgrowth and vines as covered seating

My absolute favorite is the stick-tree backdrop

Kerr Mill

I was lucky enough to shoot some graduation photos of Jess at this location and the opportunities are truly endless for the type of photographs you can take. You can even use the trees:

Jess wanted to get some photos at Kerr Mill so we tried to go for something more edgy and unique:

We also took advantage of the bridge and the creek behind Kerr Mill:

The Bridge

I suggest that you go explore Sloan Park before you next shoot to really find all the great nooks and crannies. There is always something to surprise you, but you can really use this park to shoot some great photos of anyone for any occasion. You just need a little imagination!

Park Hours:
January -May, and October - December
Monday – Friday 8:00AM to 5:00PM
June – September
Monday - Friday 8:00 AM to 6:00PM

Sloan Park
550 Sloan Road
Mount Ulla, NC 28125

Castle Craig - Meriden, CT

My fiance and I were lucky enough to take a road trip to visit a friend from college over the summer in Meriden, Connecticut. Neither of us had ever visited the New England area and wanted to make the most out of our trip. We took a lot of adventurous chances that we wouldn't have otherwise done, like making the 13+ hour trip or battling the monstrous mountain at Hubbard Park to see Castle Craig.

Hubbard Park

Hubbard Park Trails

I was under the impression that it was a little hike up more of a hill to get to Castle Craig, so I wore flip flops, shorts, and a 3/4-sleeved cardigan. My camera was around my neck, and I was ready to go take some photos. Boy was I wrong!

The little hike up the hill was fine. I made it with no problem. We even reach a walk-through bridge that crossed the interstate. Of course, I had to stop and take some photos of the bridge and the area surrounding it.

So many photo opportunities could be had in this covered bridge/tunnel, but the last photo was the best photo opt for me. I had envisioned a couple standing to the left of the frame kissing or holding each other smiling for the camera. If I would have known what was to come, I would have suggested that my fiance and I snap that exact photo. However, I assumed we could get it on the way back. I assumed wrong.

Crossing the bridge begins your unexpected mountain climb. Yes, I mean mountain climb with no exaggeration at all. My outfit and shoe choice were not cutting it at all on this adventure.

My fiance climbing up the mountain

Me lagging behind because it was hard for me to make the climb in flip flops

The hike was miserable going straight up, but there were some interesting locations for photographs along the way. My first rule is use any and every rock you see for photographs.

I would have loved to have my friend that joined us on the hike pose at any of the rocks above, but we were extremely hot and sweaty after taking on the climb. However, it wasn't very far from the last photo above and we were at Castle Craig.

Above is the paved path leading up to Castle Craig. Guess what? The paved path also leads down the mountain to the parking lot of Hubbard Park. We could have driven up to the Castle. I guess it was better we got the exercise.

Castle Craig is a lovely place to take photos. You can use the outside and inside of the tower, the backdrop of the forest below, and even the American flag.

Castle Craig

View from Castle Craig

Beautiful stone everywhere

The view was beautiful and the hike was well worth it. On the way back, we decided to take the paved road back. It was even longer to get back to the car that way, but a lot less scary. We found a nice reservoir at the base of the mountain.

Overall, getting to Castle Craig was worth it. I highly recommend anyone visiting Connecticut to make the trek up the mountain to for the beautiful view and to take some photos along the way. Or, if you are in the area, schedule your next shoot at the covered bridge and scope out some of the rock structures. I still think this would make an amazing couples shoot or a wonderful bridal shoot (if you drive the bride to the Castle.)

Castle Craig at Hubbard Park
199 Notch Rd
Meriden, CT 06451

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

20 Free Photo Prints at CVS


I was super surprised to see that CVS is offering such a great deal for Facebook users that "LIKE" their CVS fan page.


Once you "LIKE" CVS on Facebook you can click 'Get Coupon' under their Special Offers tab to the right. Your coupon will be delivered to your email address provided. Print it out and take it to your local CVS and get your prints from the Kodak Picture Kiosk.

Offer is only valid until October 23, 2011. Limit one offer per customer. Valid in-store only.

Hurry and grab your FREE PRINTS today!

Patriot Park - Pigeon Forge, TN

Over the summer, my family decided to break from our yearly tradition of heading to the Outer Banks. Instead, we headed west to vacation by the creek in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

I was excited to be able to explore the mountains and to bring my camera for some unusual photos. Plus, it gave me an opportunity to scout out local areas for photo shoots. After some pre-vacation internet searching, I decided that sometime within the week that I would go to Patriot Park.

Let me first explain to you my biggest issue with shooting this location -- any and all directions or addresses that I found online did not get me to Patriot Park. I ended up driving past Dollywood because of a map with the wrong road name; but, when I back tracked to head back to the vacation home, I happened to pass Patriot Park.

Patriot Park is located on Old Mill Avenue off of US-441 Scenic. If you're coming US-441 from Gatlinburg, TN, you will come to Stoplight #7 and take a right on Old Mill Avenue. Cross the bridge and you will enter the Old Mill Village. Keep going straight and you will see the Trolley Depot on your right. Right behind the depot is Patriot Park. Luckily for all visitors, parking at the Trolley Depot is free.

Unfortunately, the weather was gloomy the day I shot this venue. I didn't let that stop me from getting some great shots of a place where family can play sports in an open field or picnic for the day.

Patriot Park is in essence an open field with a track-like walking park surrounding it. The open green grass acts as a great backdrop for sitting photos.

The huge bell is suppose to symbolize liberty and patriotism. It sits on the left side of the park in a chain link fence. I assume this is because the bell is mostly a lighted prop and perfect for a night shoot with the proper lighting.

Be sure to take a walk around the track. You will find some nice shrubbery and flowers to use for photos, as well as, my favorite part of the park -- the gazebo. I had so many ideas for gathering friends, family, couples, etc. to this spot and taking really nice photos here. The white of the gazebo and the tree covered background would work perfectly for a more formal shot.

Finally, be sure to take advantage of all of the patriotic emblems the park has to offer. The track is lined with flags and would be perfect for wide angle shots. Also, look for the soldier and war memorial statues at the front of the park. I apologize for not having any photos of these great photo opts for the park. At this point in my shoot, it began to rain and the abrupt change in temperature shocked my camera lens. I thought for sure it was broken for good; but, luckily after it dried out and evened out in temperature, it works just fine.

These patriotic spots are perfect for military families, enthusiasts, or just proud Americans who want to snap some photos.

I hope that if anyone visits Patriot Park for a photo shoot or some snapshots that its simplicity and possibilities are appreciated as much as I appreciated them. Also, I hope that no one has to drive around lost looking for the park with my directions posted above.

Patriot Park
Old Mill Avenue
Pigeon Forge, TN

*Remember Patriot Park is behind the Trolly Depot beside of the Old Mill Restaurant

Monday, October 17, 2011

Free MyPublisher Mini Photo Book on Facebook

I finally came across a really cute absolutely FREE deal on Facebook. All you have to do is log-in to your Facebook account and "LIKE" MyPublisher to get this great deal:


Just remember that in the fine print it does say that this offer is a one time use only for new customers. And, I have to mention it again FREE SHIPPING@

MyPublisher's deal would be perfect for a gift, since the holidays are just around the corner, or you could make your own mini photo book that you could treasure forever.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Sports Photography

Recently, I have been able to attend some local high school football games. I have been cheering my team for victory and snapping photos whenever I have been able to. Now, taking photos of a sports game isn't easy because there are a lot of factors that you have to consider.

1. Your location in the stands

Most of your photos will be taken from the stands. Only in special circumstances will officials allow you around the perimeter of the field for photos, but this is highly unlikely because both teams usually have their own photographers placed in this area. Sometimes it's not really the more the merrier when taking photos.

I suggest getting as high as you can in the stands. One would think sitting down near the field would get more action packed shots, but in reality you will have to deal with more people being in your way and missing play shots because you are at eye level with the field.

2. Bring a tripod or monopod

I always bring a monopod with me when I shoot anything. Not everyone has nerves of still or can take photos without camera shake every single time. Plus, when shooting high speed sports you will definitely need stationary device to hold the camera due to the high shutter speeds that you will be shooting at.

This photo was taken of a football player doing wide receiver warm-up catches. I shot this photo at a shutter speed of 1/1000 second. Anything less would have captured the image but I would have been more likely to see camera shake.

However, the next photo was shot at a shutter speed of 1/60 second. Here you can see significant camera blue because of the low shutter speed.

3. Keep in mind the time of day and lighting

If you are watching an afternoon game that will continue after the sun sets, keep in mind that you will need to adjust your settings to compensate for the loss of light. Shutter speed, aperture, and ISO will all need to be adjusted to allow more light to enter your camera. Don't forget that your shutter speed will need to remain fairly high 1/250 second or greater to continue to get stop-action shots of the players.

4. You can pan your shots

Sometimes you are following one player on the field to get a nice action shot for your collection. When you pan a player, this mean that you follow that player on the field with the lens. In the midst of all the action, you have focused on this one player and taken a photo. The photo will turn out something like the example below:

Notice how #50 is more in focus than the rest of the motion blurred players on the field. I panned the camera lens on him throughout the play to cause this effect.

5. Take continuous shots of a play or action

At a football game, you have the cheerleaders down on the track cheering your team to victory. During and between cheers and chants, these girls usually show off their gymnastics ability and do some sort of jump or flip. This is no different than if you were trying to capture the kick-off in a football game or the winning catch.

When trying to capture that winning moment or the cheerleader in mid-jump keep in mind that you need to adjust your camera to continuous shooting mode. This mode allows you to continue snapping shots without having to refocus the camera. You may get quite a few shots that are blurred or not the position you were wanting, but if timed correctly, you will get the shot you were looking for.

So, if you're out shooting any kind of sports game remember my above tips and you're sure to get some great shots of the team or your special player. These game shots can be great memories for years to come or great for those photo gifts that keep on giving.