Posts Tagged ‘photography tips’

Back to School Photography Tips

A mom’s guide to school photos

Tomorrow is a big day in our household…. the first day back to school!  My kids are going into Kindergarten and Grade two this year- eek! As I was helping them choose their outfit for the “big day” tomorrow, I decided it was good timing to collaborate with Susan Temme on a post for taking great “First day of School” photos!

Photography Tips:

Lighting is the key to making your photo look pro. When you’re taking your photo tomorrow, choose a time of day where the space you’ve picked is either completely lit by the sun, or shaded. Your best choice is shade. If this means you take your photo after school, no one will know 😉

Utilizing levels is a great way to make your photo more interesting. A common place to take the “first day of school” photo is on the front stairs of your house. If you decide to go this route, grab a chair, step ladder or whatever you need to put yourself slightly higher than your children. By doing this simple trick, you’ll be shooting at a downward angle which will make their faces the focal point of the photograph and their eyes will also appear bigger as they’ll be closer to the lens.


Add some creativity to your photos!

Chalkboards are really popular in “back to school” photography. You can use these to record fun facts about your children. What do you want to be when you grow up? What are you most excited about? Who is your best friend?

You can also have your child write something on the chalkboard. I love this photo because it feels really authentic having the little girl design her own chalkboard- awesome keepsake!



Our final tip, be mindful of your background choice. If you decide to shoot in front of your house and you have a burgundy door, don’t dress your child in red. Consider utilizing neutral backgrounds in your photos as well- brick wall, fences, trees, etc!


Most of all, have fun with it! If you’re having fun, your kids will be having fun and they’ll reward you with their beautiful, natural smile!

If you’re looking to take a great beginner photography class to learn how to use your DSLR Camera, this is the class for you! We’ll teach you how to use all the buttons and functions on your camera and how to achieve professional exposures.

Photographing “Perfect” Cherry Blossoms

Achieving Epic Cherry Blossom Photos

My neighbour has a cherry blossom tree, so I always watch their’s to try and get an indication of when these beautiful trees will be in full bloom. In Edmonton right  now, they’re starting to come out already and it makes for a spectacular display of pink and purple.  The window to capture these in your photos is tight… only around two weeks! Here is an example of a pretty basic shot of a cherry blossom tree that you could accomplish with most cameras, using the auto function.


As you can see with the next picture, we have really given these cherry blossoms a new look! Once you understand your camera’s manual mode, you can completely transform the way something looks with just a few clicks. What makes this next photo look so much more interesting than the first (besides the beautiful model!) is we used a shallow depth of field. To achieve this, you’ll need to practice by positioning yourself so that you’re shooting through the cherry blossoms in the foreground, and then adjust the aperture on your camera to a lower f/stop (ex. less than f/4.0)

edmonton and calgary photography class, how to capture cherry blossoms.

To achieve the effect of this next photo, understanding lighting is key. We cover this (and much more!) in our Portrait Lighting workshop. When you’re photographing outdoors, it is important to understand the magic hour. This is when the sun is at it’s lowest point in the horizon so, you’ll want to plan your shoot near sunrise or sunset. If you get the timing right, you’ll be treated to gorgeous soft lighting.

IMPORTANT TIP:  You might not appreciate how fast the sun actually moves until you’re trying to get your shot so, be ready! You have a narrow window and you don’t want to spend it fiddling with lenses and memory cards 😉 Also, you may need to slow your shutter speed down as it is getting darker, so perhaps plan to bring along your tripod to reduce camera shake.  Most of all, Have fun!

shooting cherry blossoms edmonton and calgary photography class

Do you live in Edmonton or Calgary? We are now offering photo walks in these two cities! So, grab your camera, some comfortable shoes and join us!

Capturing Autumn in Portrait Photography

We’re back from the summer hiatus, so let’s dig in this fall with an autumn topic: making the ‘autumn look’ look good in photography.

The principles are very basic, but easy to forget, and since they look so much better in the autumn, let’s quickly explore why. The principles we’ll talk about here are depth of field (DOF) and bokeh.

Unfamiliar with any terms we use in this article? Take the “Using Your DSLR or Mirrorless Camera” and “Getting Proper Exposures” classes to get a practical education with your own camera in-class, including in-class exercises and homework, to familiarize yourself with these terms.

DOF and Autumn

To read more about DOF, check out this post here. In terms of autumn, we are already looking at a beautiful landscape when we hit the right place at the right time, meaning enough leaves falling on the ground but there are still enough in the trees too before they become ‘too twiggy’. Once we’re in this setting, we’re surrounded by a beautiful landscape. Unknown to most of us, the DOF our eyes naturally see in (comparable to f/3.2-f/8.3) will naturally blur much of this scenery, giving it the dreamy look we associate with ideal autumn pictures. This is because we’ll always be focussing on something in the distance, and when we do, everything far enough in front of, and far enough behind that focus point, blurs outside our DOF.

edmonton photography school
ISO 320, f/4.5, 1/200 sec

The mistake that’s easy to make in autumn photography is to confuse specific backgrounds (trees) with this ‘autumn feel’, and set our subject in front of–and too close–to one of these pretty trees with its fall colours. When we do this, and when we don’t have enough space between our subject and the autumn background, we’ll end up capturing not only our subject but also the autumn trees inside our DOF, so that we won’t blur the background.

The solution is simply to stage the frame with the proper distances from lens to subject and lens to background. Ensure these steps are taken, and you’ll get a beautiful hazy autumn background:

1) Don’t get too close to the background, but instead get quite far from it–many dozens of feet depending on your lens.
2) Don’t place your subject near the tree, but instead bring them many dozens of feet in front of the tree.
3) Zoom in considerably (preferably 100 mm or more on your lens) on your portrait subject. This will likely mean you must be some distance away from them.
4) Shoot at a reasonably shallow DOF, for example f/4 or lower if possible.

edmonton photography school - autumn portraiture
ISO 160, f/4.5, 1/200 sec

Ensuring you are far from your subject, who in turn is far from the tree, helps to ensure a beautifully shallow DOF that will keep your portrait subject sharp, but blur your background into a haze of colour without the ‘twig and branches’ details that take away from the colour haze look we associate with autumn.

To learn how to manipulate your depth of field, take the “Using Your DSLR or Mirrorless Camera” to learn the theory and gain practical experience, and for opportunities to practice in directed homework exercises and have your shots reviewed in class, take the “Getting Proper Exposures” class.