year one baby portraits
Apr 2014

Year One Baby Portraits

One of the things I love about being a photographer is following people through their lives. One lady I photographed as a child is about to graduate from college. Um, what?

Recently I captured an adorable (expressive!) baby whose parents I not only call friends, but I photographed their wedding, along with many other folks in their family at various points in time. I am like their official life documentation. It’s a good gig really. Continue reading…

Dec 2013

Neon Splash Dash Denver Flashback Portraits

Note: Tickets to the race were provided by Neon Splash Dash. Samsung Mobile provided me with a Galaxy Camera.

This summer Neon Splash Dash came to Denver for the first time. I don’t do too much running unless I am chased, but the thought of glow in the dark photography was super appealing to me.

The event itself was super fun, because we were with our best friends and the general idea was super fun. The actual execution on the ground was a bit disorganized (for example, there was a massive storm right before the race and there was no information about delays via their social media channels… or there was a parking fee that was not listed on their web site and we had to leave to find and ATM). If we went again next year I would ask if they were looking for families to attend or if they wanted a party atmosphere. Personally, it’s a night event, I would rather leave the kids at home, serve drinks and let people dance while they are crazy covered with paint. Continue reading…

Nov 2013

Wedding Portraits:Amy & Dave

I am so honored when I get to photograph a wedding. I don’t do it often because, as a solo shooter, sometimes it is a hard to find the right fit of style and size.

It was an extra perfect fit to photograph my friends Amy and Dave last month, during the last gasp of Denver summer. They are friends, and very special people.

AmyDave_PreWedding_16 AmyDave_Portraits_29BW
AmyPortrait AmyDave_Ceremony_30
AmyDave_Reception_11 AmyDave_Reception_72

Amy, Dave and family –
Thank you for letting me share your special day!

Jul 2013

How To Tag Photos In Instagram

Something that is alternatively great but also irritating in Instagram are hashtags. They are a wonderful way to find like-minded and local photographers. But it is also full of spamming these days.

Here is how I handle tagging my photos, which is by no means the only way!

1. Do not tag much in the the upload.
I hardly ever tag the comment that goes along with the photo. This is the comment that most people see as they scroll through their stream, and if it is full of hashtags, honestly… it’s annoying.

2. Do add tags as the second comment or in later comments.
When you put the tags later, they either get buried in comments or the photo has already passed through your friend’s stream and it does not bother them. I like to go back and tag photos in batches later, from way back in my stream. Unless…

3. If something is timely, tag it right away.
Obviously you want a holiday, an event, a concert, etc to hit a stream in a timely fashion, so don’t wait to tag them.

4. Tag appropriately.
Nothing drives me more nuts than seeing photos of NYC on the Denver hashtag. Yes, the technique of spamming a hashtag has hit Instagram, and it is dumb. That doesn’t mean we should not tag things. Think through what the photo really is about and tag that!

5. Tag for communities.
There are some great photo communities and memes on Instagram, where you can find some great photographers and participate in cool contests. Probably the most awesome is JJ’s Forums.

6. Tag for you.
I have very specific tags for me, my kid, my favorite photos – so I can find them at any time on Instagram. This is probably my FAVORITE reason to tag photos!

How about you?
How to you use hashtags on Instagram?

Jun 2013

Intro to Photography for Kids (and Adults!)

Note: This is not a sponsored post in any way.

At the end of Dex’s school year, they asked parents to come in and give workshops on topics they were comfortable with. Since I didn’t think the kids were ready for Blogging 101, I did a basic photography class.

I ran through some slides and then we did a photo walk around the school. I was so proud of the photos they took, and how they changed their perspective in one quick session!

Check out my slides + notes below and I would love to see some of your recent photos in the comments!

Introduction to Basic Photography
(for DSLR, Point & Shoot & iPhone)

1. What is Photography?
Came from Greek words:

  • “Photos” for light
  • “Graphos” for drawing
  • It is not what the eye sees
  • It is what you paint with a camera!

Why do I mention this? Many people think the camera will catch exactly what they see and honestly, nothing could be further from the truth. First, we should accept that the camera will catch the scene based on the combination of factors in front of it, plus its own settings – and then we learn to manipulate those factors!

    2. How Do We Hold The Camera?

    • Standing people or headshot = Vertical
    • Group of people or cropped in on people = Horizontal
    • Crop people on natural body lines (chest, waist, knees)
    • Hold the camera straight (unless you are getting funky)
    • Look for the horizon or buildings to help you line-up
    • Hold the camera still as possible, especially in dark light
    • Use a tripod or place the camera on a table
    • Lean on something steady (a person, a wall, etc)
    • Spread your legs slightly and lock elbows in (become a human tripod)

    The take-away from this, however, should not be to just always hold your camera horizontally or vertically. Think about moving it around, taking photos from above, below, and from all sorts of interesting angles.

      3. Get the Three Types of Shots.
      If you want to “cover” a scene really well, the following are the three types of photos to get. I tend to move back and forth between them to really get everything within the moment.

      • Close-up
      • Medium
      • Way Back

        4. Go for Depth of Field.
        Depth of Field or “DOF” is when one area of the photo is in focus and the rest is out of focus. Technically, it refers to the area that is in focus, meaning a photo like below has a “small” depth of field. But in common language, small depth of field makes the photo attractive (especially for portraits where the person is in focus and the background is blurry), so many people just refer to the effect as “depth of field” in general.

        The way to achieve this on a DSLR is to shoot with a low f-stop like 2.8, 1.8 or 1.4. This setting is completely dependent on the type of lens you have, not your camera body. On a point and shoot, the “portrait” mode best mimics this. On an iPhone, or other smartphones, you can touch where you want the phone to focus and then force the background to be blurry.

        5. Look for “Framing.”
        Framing is a way to make your photo interesting by using the surroundings to lead the eye into the photo. You can do this with Depth of Field as mentioned above, cropping, composition, and just generally looking for interesting angles for your photos. I am a big fan of shooting “through” things, as you can see below, where I took a photo of the wedding couple between the strings of their wedding balloons.

        6. Use the Rule of Thirds.
        Most cameras these days have a grid system you can turn on. There is a reason for that. Designwise, if you move the focal point of a photo to line up along the cross-section of the lines, it is more visually appealing than always placing your subject in the center. Of course, you will develop your own style, but using the rule of thirds is a great way to experiment with composition.

        7. Shoot A Lot – But Stay Safe!
        The great thing about digital photography (especially for kids) is you can just photograph and photograph and not spend any more money unless you print the photos. Of course, you need to take the time to edit or delete the photos – which can be laborious if you need to find something specific and it is buried in millions of photos.

        The other thing kids should remember is that safety is more important than “getting the shot.” They should not go into the street, they should stay out of a thunderstorm, they should not climb a tree with a camera, or otherwise compromise their safety or the safety of others.

        8. Play With Modes
        There are a lot of pre-made settings that can help you take great photos! Check out the following, especially portrait (people), macros (close-ups), landscape (far away), night (dark), and sports (fast-action). The other modes like Beach, Snow, Foliage can really help with color correction when shooting in those types of situations. Also, with 4th of July coming up – definitely try the Fireworks mode if you have it. It holds the camera lens open longer to catch the whole stream of the fireworks! On your DSLR, take baby steps towards manual mode with P, AV, TV. Aperture Priority is great because you can set the f-stop and your camera will do the rest for you.

        9. Play with iPhone Apps

        We all have our favorite apps, and below are some of mine. Which ones do you like to use the most?

        One thing the kids noticed was missing was Instagram. I told them all (10-11 years old) that I felt they were a bit too young for it yet, which was met with a round of groans. Much like the groans I got for my teen cell phone contract, but oh well. This subject is fodder for another post, but I have seen a ton of questionable judgement with kids this age in terms of what they are posting, what they are saying to each other and who they are following – not to mention the vast amount of copyright infringement. I would just caution parents to make younger kids private and tightly monitor their accounts.

        Sidenote: We have found an app called Squarehub that allows us to have a private family social network. It is a great place for us to teach Dex social media etiquette while he still gets some freedom.

        10. HAVE FUN!
        OK. For reals. I don’t want to end on a down note. Photography is way fun and I love that digital photography makes it accessible for kids to express themselves so quickly and easily. It is really about fun and experimentation and I hope they have a blast!

        Note: This is not a sponsored post in any way.