On The Day Baby Kellan Was Born

The thought of shooting a birth has always been very intimidating to me.  I’ve never even experienced it myself having c-sections with both of my kids.  Yet, I was so intrigued by it.  With a wedding you get to document some pretty powerful emotions, but after shooting so many you know what’s coming next.  You know what to look for.  With a birth you can’t control anything.  The light.  The timing.  The raw emotions.  It seemed like it would be a challenge.

When my long time client and friend, Ashley, approached me about it she couldn’t even get the whole question out before I volunteered to shoot it.  She’s the perfect birth client for me.  She’s easy going, works as a postpartum nurse, and I’m so comfortable with her and Tyson that I knew it would be a once in a lifetime experience for me.  And the fact that they didn’t know what they were having made it that much more exciting.

I’m so grateful to Ashley and Tyson for allowing me to share it.  I went into the day thinking I was just going to document it.  I was going to sit in the corner and not say a word.  I wanted it to be all about them and I just wanted to be a silent observer.  That didn’t last for long.  All of their family and friends were so welcoming and I felt like a part of the family.  We were laughing so hard over You Tube videos.  It was just the greatest day.  I’m so happy Kellan decided to make his appearance when I was able to be there. 

I love telling people’s stories.  That’s why I’m a photographer.  And this might be my most favorite story I’ve told.

 

 

Awkward

My kids are so awkward.  They taught themselves how to ballroom dance.  I have no idea where they learned it.  I think they watch too many Disney movies.  They have their dip down.  He’s only dropped her flat on her back once.  That I know of at least.

I always thought those brother / sister ballroom and ice dancing couples were so odd.  Now I kind of get it.  I might just have to sign them up.  They are naturals after all.

*** Canon 5D Mark II, 50 1.2

F  2.8 , 1/160, ISO 800 (for all shots)

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ballroom dancing | momtog.com

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ballroom dancing | momtog.com

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ballroom dancing | momtog.com

ballroom dancing | momtog.com

Teaching Photography To A Kindergartner – Part II

Teaching Photography To A Kindergartner momtog.com

*** For Part I, see this post.

When teaching photography to a kindergartner, I taught the very basics.  Because, well, they are kindergartners.  My goal was to give them confidence and to teach them to have fun with photography.  Not necessarily to teach them to be the next Ansel Adams.  I feel that kids naturally have a gift for seeing things differently than adults.  They see things that we miss, so I wanted to encourage them to do their thing and not give them too many rules.

I also wanted them to be excited about photography.  If they are excited about it then they can start to understand why their parents want to take pictures of them.  Photography is awesome because it can freeze time.  Cameras are magic like that.  I know when I taught Brayden that I was making a memory rather than just taking a picture he was happier about being in front of the camera.  If your kids can share your love of photography with you it will make taking pictures that much more fun.  For everyone.

Onto the lesson.  I taught the kids that there are only two rules in photography.  First, whatever you are taking a picture of should make you feel something.  It should make you happy or even sad.  It can be pretty or maybe even ugly.  It should just make you think.  And, second, have fun.  There’s no point in taking pictures if you aren’t having fun with it.

And, while there are only two rules, there are a few things that we can do to make our pictures look better.

-  Hold the camera still.  If you move the camera your subject will be blurry and we won’t be able to tell what you are taking a picture of.

- Hold the camera level.  No, not all pictures have to be level.  But, I feel that if you want to take those funky, intentionally wacky pictures, you first must learn to take pictures correctly.  Then you can get crazy with it.

- Point of interest.  Your point of interest is whatever you want to take a picture of.  And that is what we call our subject.  Know what you want your subject to be and make sure you can see it through your viewfinder.

-  Background – Look at what is behind your subject.  If you are taking pictures of a pretty tree do you want a parking lot behind it?  Probably not. Try walking around to see if you can get a prettier background behind your subject.

-  Perspective – Where  you are standing will change how your picture looks.  If you get really close to your subject, it will become bigger.  If you get really far away, it will get smaller.  Try laying on your belly or even on your back to get different views.  The cool thing about being a kid is you are shorter than most adults, which means you see things very differently than we do.  Kids can take amazing pictures because of all the things you see and adults often miss.

-  Lighting – Your camera is like your eyeball.  It needs light to be able to see.  When you get up in the middle of the night you probably have a nightlight in your room, which helps your eyes see in the dark.  Cameras have a flash, which are just like nightlights that help your camera see when it’s dark.

When it’s not dark you want to either pick all light or all shade for your picture.  Otherwise, your camera might get confused and not know if it should take a picture of the bright light or the shade.

After the short lesson (about 10 minutes) we went outside and took some pictures.  I had 3 Fuji Instant Mini cameras and that worked out perfectly because there are 3 teachers who each have a group of 9 kids.  When it wasn’t their turn to take a picture the kids could practice seeing through the viewfinder with their cereal box cameras.

Last night the kindergartners had an art show to present their pictures and drawings.  Imagine my surprise when I saw that I was quoted alongside Picasso and Van Gogh!

I was really impressed with what some of the kids came up with!  We didn’t talk about leading lines or framing or even the rule of thirds, but I was surprised to see how many of them used those concepts naturally.

*** Some iPhone shots from the Kindergarten gallery.

Teaching Photography To A Kindergartner momtog.com Teaching Photography To A Kindergartner momtog.com Teaching Photography To A Kindergartner momtog.com Teaching Photography To A Kindergartner momtog.com Teaching Photography To A Kindergartner momtog.com

Teaching Photography To A Kindergartner momtog.com

Teaching Photography To A Kindergartner momtog.com

Teaching Photography To A Kindergartner momtog.com

Whether you are teaching photography to a group of kindergartners or just your very own, have fun.  If you have fun they will too!

Teaching Photography To A Kindergartner – Part 1

Brayden’s kindergarten class is learning about art this month and his teachers asked me to come in and teach a photography lesson.  I teach adults a lot.  I’ve got that down.  But, kids?  5 and 6 year olds?  They scare me.  I know these kids.  I see them everyday.  And they are a great group of kids.  However, the thought of getting in front of them and trying to teach them about photography?  That scared the crap out of me.  And most of all, I was worried about Brayden.  Would he be embarrassed?  Would I traumatize him?  Would I ruin his life with this one photography lesson?

Of course I couldn’t say no.  I lost sleep over it and put off planning it until a couple of days before and then I came up with a game plan.  I decided to use the Fuji Instax Mini as the camera for the lesson (I have one and a good friend lent me two more).  I loved that the kids would have the instant gratification of getting their prints right then and there.  I know my kids like to have something tangible right away.

But, I needed something for the kids to practice with and keep them busy while they weren’t taking pictures.  I wanted them to be able to think about what they were going to take a picture of before they got their hands on the real camera.  I searched and searched for something that was affordable (I needed 27 of them) and durable (because we know how careful 5 and 6 year olds are) and I came up empty handed.

Feeling defeated, I ran to the grocery store for avocados when I walked down the cereal aisle and spotted the little cereal boxes.  The kind that come in a variety pack.   They are affordable and just the right size.  I rushed home and created the template and with a little bit of tweaking in Photoshop it worked.  And as soon as I saw Brayden’s reaction I knew it would be a hit.

DIY kid camera from momtog.com

Want to make one for your little Kidtographers?  Here’s what you’ll need:

-  The template (you may not sell the template or duplicate it in any way, shape, or form).

-  A mini cereal box.  I used the variety pack from Kellogg’s.  Other brands might vary in size so be careful if you opt to use a different kind.

-  Scissors

-  X-acto knife

-  Glue (I found that Aleene’s Tacky Glue worked best.  Elmer’s was too runny)

-  Yarn and a stapler if you’d like to attach a strap

Step 1 – Print out the template.  I tried a thicker stock paper, but it doesn’t fold as well.  Regular, old paper works best.  Fold it under the blue and cut a bit off the right side.  You might have to cut a bit from the top too.  It just depends on the way your printer is aligned.

DIY kid camera from momtog.com

Step 2 – Put glue on the box.  I’ve found that less glue is more with this project.  Dot, dot, not a lot as they say in my daughter’s preschool class :)

DIY kid camera from momtog.com

Step 3 – Put the print on a table with the camera face down and line the sign of the box that has glue on it with the camera (the fold that you did in step 1 will help you align it properly).  Apply glue to the bottom and other side of the box and fold the paper around the box pulling it snug so there are no wrinkles.

DIY kid camera from momtog.com

Step 4 – Put glue on the top of the box and fold the side without the shutter over.

DIY kid camera from momtog.com

Step 5 – Add a little more glue and fold the other side over the top.

DIY kid camera from momtog.com

Step 6 – Fold the ends like you are wrapping a present.  Add a little more glue and secure.

DIY kid camera from momtog.com

I then stood the box on the side and put my old iPhone on top (anything with a little weight will do) for a few minutes to make sure those ends didn’t pop back up.

DIY kid camera from momtog.com

Step 7 – When the box was dry I used an x-acto knife to cut the viewfinder (the grey boxes on the front and back of the camera).

DIY kid camera from momtog.com

Step 8 – The last thing I did was secure yarn with on the sides with a stapler for a little strap.

Did I mention that these kids were so excited that they each got one?  It was like I was Santa Claus as I handed them out!

Want to know what I taught these kids?  I’ll be posting what they learned on Wednesday!

DIY kid camera from momtog.com

Our First Born

Some may think Brayden is the oldest.  However, he’s actually the middle child.  Hauggy, our miniature schnauzer mutt, is our oldest.  He just turned 11.  We happened upon him at the pound right after we got engaged.  Just a tiny two month old, scared, little puppy.  For 5 years this guy was king of the house.  He got to take pictures with Santa.  We threw a graduation party for him when he finished obedience school.  And he always had the best Halloween costume.

And then the kids came.  And his whole world was flipped upside down.  While he might not get enough attention from me, the kids more than makeup for it.  They love that grumpy, old dog more than anything.  And he loves them too.  Most of the time.

When I told Brayden that it was Hauggy’s birthday he insisted we throw him a party.  Because we are always looking for an excuse to eat cupcakes.  Brayden and Kennedy even made Hauggy his own birthday cake (we used the peanut butter receipe from here).  I think Hauggy appreciated the gesture.  Even if he doesn’t look thrilled.

*** All images taken with Canon 5D Mark II, 50 1.2

F 2.0, 1/160, ISO 1000

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F 2.0, 1/200, ISO 320IMG_1066 copy

F 3.2, 1/200, ISO 400

I made my aperture more narrow (increased the f stop number) because I wanted all three of them to be in focus.  If I would have shot this at 2.0 and focused on Hauggy, only he would have been in focus.

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F 3.2, 1/200, ISO 400

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F 3.2, 1/200, ISO 400 IMG_1126 copy

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F 3.2, 1/200, ISO 400IMG_1187 copy

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F 3.2, 1/400, ISO 400

IMG_1227 copy F 3.2, 1/400, ISO 400 IMG_1324 copy

F 2.5, 1/320, ISO 400 IMG_1365 copy