Friday, August 1, 2008

The Buzz August 2008

The Buzz August 2008
It’s August 1, 2008. Are you ready for Back to School? Are you ready for berry picking? Are you ready for our short, soggy summer to turn into fall?
I can’t believe my son is going to be a 5th grader. I look at him and I think to myself, how have you grown up so quickly? Here are a couple of pictures I did of him a few days ago when I just wanted to practice a bit in the woods:

For some reason, we didn’t go berry picking last year. But this year I am into canning and preserving foods so I am going to make some yummy stuff. I hear there’s a bunch of great places on base, so you’ll probably see me there!

The rain for the past couple of weeks was annoying, to say the least. Noah was in the midst of the rain at Cub Scout camp last week, but he had a good time! We actually spent time outside last week, too, in the wetness (rode from the car care place on base to the Gov’t Hill gate on our bikes in the rain, went to a church picnic in the rain, etc) but it was still fun. I have found that despite the weird weather we have up here, that to really enjoy the Alaskan experience, you just need to do it and “get your feet wet”.

In this month’s newsletter:
Tips: Find out how to photograph your children’s first day of school!
Tricks: Getting your dog to pay attention when doing Fido’s photos.
HBP’s Special of the Month
Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep (NILMDTS)
It’s not too early! Plan your holiday card photo shoot NOW.
One of my favorite things!
I’d like to thank!

How to photograph your children’s first day of school
Have you photographed your child’s first day of school, and ended up getting red eye, missed expressions, and a blurry mess? Here are some tips and ideas for making your First-day-of-school photos a fabulous success.

1. Don’t put pressure on your children as they get ready in the morning. Plan ahead the evening before with their outfits, book bags, stuff required by the school district, and breakfast!

2. Make sure you have fresh, or recharged, batteries for your camera and flash head, plus a memory card or film in your camera. Turn off your red eye button; this feature is the one that makes your camera really slow, plus most basic photo editing software offers red-eye-removal. If you find that you are missing the peak of the smile or expression, it is probably due to your having the red eye feature turned on.

3. Make a list of what you want to capture. Even family photographers do this, when interviewing with the parents to make sure they don’t miss anything. You might include capturing your child peeking out the bedroom door, or the front door, or catching your child putting that big piece of pancake in their mouth. One that was important to me when Noah was in 3rd grade was I was in the front door hallway, with the front door open with Noah walking away from me. I’d show it, but that photo is buried somewhere.

4. Allow yourself plenty of time. Don’t try to make your kids look and smile at the camera the whole time.

5. Are you accompanying them to the class the first day? Go in with them and photograph them talking to the new teacher, get a shot of your baby by the front door, see if there are friends in there from last year and get a small group shot and have them say “We’re back in school” instead of “cheese”. You’ll get better expressions.

6. Remember to use your zoom. I wouldn’t suggest the 12x optical zoom too much, your images will often turn out blurry. Try to get as close as you can, but when you can’t use your zoom. Remember to keep your feet planted on the ground and hold your elbows tight so there is no camera shake. Also bend down to your child’s level. Often times what may seem like a cute shot as you are taking it looks distorted in your finished product. Getting down to the desk level or your child’s eye level will make your photos look better and tell the story from their perspective.

7. Good luck and I hope that it works out well for you!

Getting your dog to pay attention when doing his photos
Have you noticed that your dog runs away from you when you pull out the camera and you can’t get a good shot of him or her? It’s because they can hear the sounds caused by the sensor that measures from the camera, to your subject, and back to the camera. My dog runs when he sees the camera so I have to be really sneaky or else get action shots like this one:

Following are some things that I know work with most dogs. I used these tricks when I worked at The Picture People in Ohio and Texas, especially during the “Pets are People, too” event.

1. Keep the dog calm and happy, maybe a little tired. Have a run right before the photos are done so they are more apt to pay attention.

2. Bring treats… and hold one up at a time. Use them to get the ears up and the jowls together, and when the picture is done, give the treat to your dog.

3. Bring a squeaky toy, but don’t *squeak-squeak-squeak* it. Do it once or twice, really loud, to get the dog’s attention. Instruct everyone else who’s in the photo that they need to be looking and smiling and tell them to say something funny, like Bumpy dodgekins or lammy wammykins. (Watch the show, “The Secret Show” on Nicktoons Network; they have a guy who, for security reasons, changes his name daily, like “sweaty ears”. This show may not be suitable for kids under 8, but I do find his new names very funny and the humor is clean, a bit British and appropriate for tweens.)

4. Whistle! Either with your mouth, or bring a dog whistle. I used one a couple of times and it worked.

5. Be in an area where it will be hard for the dog to get distracted.

6. Look for the dog’s expression where the ears are up, the eyes are bright, and the snout area appears to be a smiling position. This is what I call the “happy dog expression” and is most appealing.

7. If you are photographing the dog by itself, then what you need to focus on are the eyes. When the eyes are in focus, the whole picture looks good. Photograph from a 45° angle above the dog, so the snout stays in focus as well. If you photograph straight on at eye level, you will see more of the underside of his chin than his face.

8. Turn off your red eye! That extra flash to reduce the pupil makes the dog nervous and that’s what you DON’T want to do. Like I said before, the basic photo editing programs usually have a red-eye tool.

9. When going for action shots, look for the peak of the action. In other words, if your dog leaps in the air to catch a Frisbee or toy, time it so you get the dog mid-air, with the object in his mouth. You can make a nice montage of taking advantage of the spurt button, which allows you to take several pictures in a row by keeping your finger down. Make sure you are at a good angle from where the action is, try to have the person throwing the object at a good distance and throwing in the same general area every time. Practice makes perfect on these shots. It’ll be fun for your doggie!

10. I hope these tricks help you in getting better photos of your dog, and other pets.

HBP’s Special of the Month!
Since we’re discussing back-to-school, and that is everyone’s focus right now, I thought that I would offer FREE mini-sessions to families. This is a half-hour shoot, usually at $35, and I can do a couple of family shots, some of just the kids, and then their individuals in “school fashion” so you can finally have “school pictures” that you really like.

Unlike the big corporate company that has a contract with nearly every school in Anchorage, I can offer multiple images, minor editing adjustments, and *color correcting* (did you notice that last year’s looked green from that company?).

I am also offering a package special, 2-8x10s, 4-5x7s and 16 die-cut wallets (all sprayed) for half price, a $120 value for only $60! AND you can do up to 2 images with that! This special is valued at $155, and you can purchase as many of the specials as you want!

This is for natural light only, preferable outdoors while the grass is still green and everything looks good… (it should after all that rain LOL). This way, your kids will be in outfits that you like, you can be there to check their hair and clothing and you know you’ll be VERY happy with your back-to-school photos!

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep (NILMDTS)
I have joined another organization called Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep (NILMDTS). This is a service for photographers to join, to photograph families when they have miscarried or have a terminally ill baby. If you, or someone you know is experiencing this, please visit to find out more information. There are many photographers in the area who provide this service. It is completely free and the recipient receives a disk with all the photos on it for no charge.

Sandy Puc’ (pronounced putch) did this for a friend of hers several years ago and together they founded Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. It helps families who go through this time to have photographs to treasure of their precious babies, with either the mom or the whole family. Upon receiving the disk, I have read that many families are able to go through the grieving process a little bit easier. When I found out about this organization, I knew in my heart that I, too, wanted to do this and I hope that I could help someone’s burden a little easier with this service.

Before you go to this website, please have tissues handy because the images are very touching. The photos are beautifully edited and are generally done in black and white. There are no scary photographs on this website.

It’s not too early! Plan your holiday card photo shoot NOW.
I know… it’s only August! BUT if you are a planner, then I know you are already thinking and shopping for the holiday season. This should also include your holiday cars as well!

I did a poll on-line at CafeMom about what scenes or sets would be popular for cards. Here are the categories:

1. An elegant snow setting, in front of trees dripping with snow and a vintage red-velvet couch. This session would require you to have many layers on under your outfits and no jackets; best for families with older kids. Blankets would be provided while posing until set up is done and they would be removed right before the picture was taken. This session is done in about 15 minutes and is only the entire family.

2. Originally, the second option was a Christmas backdrop mixed with your own furniture, but the background I was looking at in the size I’d need is over $1,000. I’d be charging a fortune to use this backdrop, so it quickly went out the window. So instead, I would photograph you in your home environment, with your tree already up and decorations all around. I would use professional studio lighting for this session.

3. An urban session in downtown wintry Anchorage starring YOUR family. Visit spots like the Arts Center and other places that have holiday décor. Dress nicely, but casual and wear nice coats. This could also be done in the fall if you want to bypass the wintry stuff.

4. Studio style portraits with a professional Santa. Nobody voted for this, even though I insisted that these wouldn’t be the horrid ones at the mall where you wait in line for an hour and by the time you get to Santa your child is in an awful mood. I have in my mind something dreamy, talking with Santa, going over the list, eating a cookie together (how do you think Santa keeps his great figure anyway? LOL) and many other little activities.

5. A classic black-and-white photograph, contemporary style on a white seamless backdrop with nothing but your family. This would be perfect for those who like to display these cards all year round.

I will be offering folded cards this year on linen stock in sets of 24, for $50.00 for 1-2 sets. Each additional set will be $45 extra. This is a 4x5.5” size card, with your favorite image on the front, a secondary image inside on the right, with a custom-designed sentiment on the right, ie: “From our family to yours: Hope your Christmas is as snowy as ours!” or something like that.

You are welcome to comment to this newsletter, and add your vote as to what you think would be a great holiday card for you to send to friends and family.

One of my favorite things!
I have actually two things to share this month!

The first is by one of my clients, Irene A., and she has the website She makes the cutest and most clever little photo albums and other gifts; she makes lunch box tins, keepsake houses, caterpillar albums, and much, much more. She PCS’s soon, but offers shipping of your purchases. Please check out her super-cute items! And I believe she might be having a workshop before she leaves; you can contact her through her website! These albums would be perfect for your 4x6s that you purchase from me!

The second is Bows for Baby by a new friend, Kel, and her bows are absolutely adorable! They are twirly, curly, and perfect for your daughter’s ‘do and you can request custom colors. Here is her website: These bows would look super-cute in your daughter’s hair in portraits that I do for you!

Please let both these ladies know that I sent you!

I do not receive endorsements from any products or services that I highlight in this section of my newsletter.

I’d like to thank all the families who contacted me in July for family portraits. Most of you are folks I’ve never met before, but I have enjoyed working with you! Please view their images in my July blog posts.

Thank you for subscribing to The Buzz!

No comments: