Friday, June 28, 2013

carolee's photo tip of the week: taking family pictures

i was recently asked the following question:

"i have a digital [camera type] and I want to take a big group family picture. each year I do this, the camera won't focus on all of us. any tips or suggestions so I can get a better picture this year? thanks!

taking a family picture can be a major challenge. when possible my first recommendation is to hire a photographer that you trust to take the family picture for you. but if you're wanting to do it yourself there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure that you get more consistent and successful results.

the first thing to pay attention to is the direction of the light. large multi-family photos are best taken outdoors. avoid shady spots with splotchy light. also avoid direct sunlight, no one is happy with squinty photos. regardless of the time of day you can usually take a successful back-lit photo. just make sure you adjust your exposure for their faces and not for the overall scene. adjusting for the overall scene can result in underexposed photos.

now let's get to the heart of this question: focus. how do you make sure that everyone is in focus? one of the key elements to determine this is aperture. when you have multiple people in an image (more than 4) it's best to have your aperture (or f/stop) be greater than f/4. for even larger family groupings try shooting around f/8. this will ensure (if focused appropriately) that no matter what depth the family members are in the image that they will still be in focus.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

travel thursday: an italian monastery

an italian monastery
in my early 20's i spent some time
wandering around europe, italy, france
sleeping in monasteries turned hostels
finding myself lost in the tuscan hills
with my brother as my travel companion and friend
the memory of that time is littered with images
taken with a plastic toy camera
i remember eating a delicious italian meal here
and wondering about the wine,
but refraining from tasting because i'm mormon.
the smells and sites are so vivid in my mind.
like a sudden rainstorm that leaves its mark.

monastary hostel, italy, 2004, "love, holga"

Friday, June 21, 2013

carolee's photo tip of the week: photograph for you

photography is contagious. because of this, in our digital age, photographers can seem over-abundant. 10 years ago there weren't near as many photographers, or maybe there were but we didn't know so much about everyone because the internet wasn't even close to what it is today. between consumer-grade digital cameras, social media and even smart phones--literally anyone can create through the medium of photography. the act of capturing what we see and experience may not be unique but what we see and how we choose to capture it should be.

so the question is: how do you get to a point where you can create images that are unique to you?

stephen voss, a really respected documentary photographer, said the following about being true to the photos that you take:

"the most damaging idea for a photographer is following a preconceived notion of the kind of photographer one is "supposed to be". this trap that imposes limits and a rigid framework on your work. truth is, on a basic level we all get to choose what kind of photographs to make, it's completely our choice and our responsibility to figure out what we want to say. while external influences exist, those best, most important photos are the ones that reflect upon the photographer himself in an intimate, thoughtful way."

so my tip? don't worry so much about what other people are creating. focus on capturing what you see and how you feel about it. that is when you're going to find yourself being the most true to who you are. and your creative flow will thank you for it. so step away from the blogs, your instagram feeds, facebook and anything else clouding your mind with images that show other peoples inspirations. step away from it all and get in touch with what inspires, motivates and speaks to you. start photographing what matters to you, not what you think will matter to others.

here's an example from my own life. more than 2.5 years ago i found out that i was pregnant. long before that i knew that i wanted to document my pregnancy in a special way. i owe the inspiration to my brother's lovely wife. she mentioned to me, when she was pregnant, that she received weekly emails showing the size of the baby in relation to fruits and veggies. she's not a photographer, but mentioned that if she was, she thought it would be cute to take pictures holding an avocado or something. that idea was planted circa 2007 or there abouts... in early 2010 my first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage. so there wasn't any documentation of that. but by christmas of the same year i was pregnant again and so i committed to take a progress picture every week. now in 2013, these types of progress pictures are not really unique, but when i started my series i honestly had never seen anyone do anything like what i was doing. i didn't follow blogs or see other "progress" photos. it was only after i started sharing what i was doing for me that i became aware of what was out there. the lesson? when you photograph for you- others will feel your sincerity and will appreciate what you do more than if you try to photograph to please everyone else. find your own voice! come up with a personal project that is meaningful to you. give yourself time to work on it. you'll be happy you did.

7 weeks, blueberry

Thursday, June 20, 2013

travel thursday: the sienna window

the sienna window
a decisive moment occurs between the camera and her master.
peering through the view-finder, a decision must be made:
to push the button or to wait.
one frame left, toy camera in hand.
seeing, observing, waiting.
connecting white on white.
waiting for them to align.
the moment presents itself before my eyes.
am i ready?
my finger presses down on the plastic trigger.
and then the moment is past.
deep inside i know.
and the memory of knowing fills me with euphoria.

sienna, italy 2004, "love, holga"

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

hue & hum at home

caitlin & robbie are the cutest couple. you may know caitlin as lady hue, an incredibly talented artist based in provo, utah. and her hubby, robbie is a guitarist in the band fictionist. here they are at their home in provo.

Friday, June 14, 2013

carolee's photo tip of the week: histograms

what is a histogram? in photography a histogram is a graphical representation of the distribution of values. a histogram shows you the quantity and range of highlights to shadows. it's an excellent tool to understand how to use because it will help you see the accurateness of your exposure.

if you're like most people with digital cameras, you look at the pictures you are taking on your camera's lcd screen just after you've taken them to assess if you've exposed it correctly. this isn't really considered cheating but it is known as "chimping". chimping basically means that you're not trusting yourself to expose your image correctly but instead are relying on your screen to see if it looks right. why is this a bad thing? well lcd screens can vary in brightness and can be somewhat unreliable. plus the images on the screen are significantly smaller making it difficult to get an exact idea of how successful the exposure really is. if you've ever finished taking photos and then after downloading them to your computer have noticed that they appear lighter or darker than they seemed while taking them, you have experienced the unreliability of this approach first hand.

so what do you do?

learn to use your histogram.

here are a few tips on how to read a histogram:

the whole histogram shows the various levels of dark and light values present in the specific photograph. the left of the histogram graphs the dark values and the right of the histogram graphs the light values. this ranges from very dark, to dark to medium, light and very light. when the peaks of the histogram are higher on a specific point of the graph, there are more values present at that tonal value. the main thing you want to avoid when using your histogram is the loss of too much information in your highlights or the lack of information in your shadows. histograms can assist you in keeping your photos properly exposed.

above is a histogram of a photograph that is completely overexposed. there are hardly any values at all showing in the image. you can have histograms that favor one side of the spectrum, while still maintaining proper exposures.

Friday, June 7, 2013

carolee's photo tip of the week: depth of field

depth of field is an incredible tool used to achieve specific results with your photographs. when you shoot something with a shallow depth of field your focus is extremely selective. one point on the entire image will be in focus while the rest is a beautiful blur. this can add depth and layers to your images. shooting with a deep depth of field also has a specific look and feel to it that gives you the ability to have every possible point in focus. how do you achieve these results? what do you change to control the depth of field in your photograph?

the answer is your aperture or f/stop. both of these terms refer to the same part of your camera: the lens opening. the smaller the number, the larger the lens opens and the larger the number, the smaller the lens opens. here is an illustration that helps clear up any confusion on the topic, since it can seem somewhat backwards.

in future tips i may expound upon this extremely valuable tool. but for now, focus on understanding what these numbers mean and try to control your aperture, taking portraits with the lowest aperture possible.

portra 400
styled by: megan beckham
models: rachel carter, lindsay teter
hair and makeup: lexi millet

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

utah maternity session: precious moments between mother and child

with every new baby comes excitement and happiness. but there can be, and often is, a little bit of fear. this emotion is slightly different the second time around. everything changes for a family when a new baby is introduced. the change seems a bit more simple when it's just for two parents. but add into the mix an only child who now becomes an older sibling and the truth is that nothing will ever be the same for them again. this is bittersweet and it was my honor to photograph some precious final moments between this lovely mother and her little girl before they welcomed a sweet little boy into their family.

in addition to these tender mommy-daughter moments, this sweet mother allowed me to capture on film just how stunningly beautiful pregnancy is. she was near the end of her pregnancy here and just a few days before this session a lovely mother's blessing was held for her. the beautiful henna is from that wonderful evening. i am in awe at her grace and beauty.