Thursday, August 20, 2015

Taking Your Own High School Senior Portraits. A Maine Photographer

A few years back a friend of mine asked me to take her sons' senior portraits.  She shared with me that when referring me to her friends she was kind of shocked and saddened to find many families were forgoing the past tradition of having senior portraits done professionally and were doing it themselves.  This friend viewed senior portraits as a right of passage, something you do with your child prior to their senior year, no matter what.

I'm grateful that some families still think this way, a little job security for me :)

But I also know, for many reasons, why some folks choose to do it that is why I thought I would publish a few DYI tips right here on my blog.

Last month I talked about photographing your child in good light...not too much sun...avoid dark shadows and squinting, and best of all make sure you can see their eyes.

Today I want to offer a few more basic tips.
If you find a nice shady spot, be sure you don't have sun speckles all over their face.  These can be fun, but personally I believe in keeping the senior portrait a bit more sacred.  So, although this example is a nice photo of my son, he does have distracting sun spots on his face.
Big advice next.  Pay attention to your background.  I think this was one of the hardest things for me to learn.  When I first started taking photographs (for money) I was so focused on my subject and making sure I got that part right, I may not have noticed the tree branch going right through his head. Some backgrounds can be distracting and compete with your subject.
See what I mean?
Doesn't it look like that door hinge is about to stab him in the head?

In the next photo below I pulled him away from the background, I also centered him off the backdrop so he wasn't near the distracting hinge, and I opened up my aperture to blur out the background a bit.
I do teach all about aperture in my digital photography class starting September 16th, so please, if this is something you are interested in, sign up at this link!

if you don't know how to use the aperture on your camera yet, you can use the little portrait symbol on your scene mode.

 the scene modes on your camera are there to help your camera understand what type of photo you are taking.  If you pick the portrait mode...that's the lady with the hat, then the camera knows what is most important in the photo is the person, and the settings used in the scene mode soften the face and blur the background, as much as is possible with the lens being used on the camera.

In my first example below I have moved my subject away from the background and blurred it out a bit to emphasize my subject.
in the next example there appears to be a branch traveling through his head...but because it is blurred, I think it looks kind of cool :)

A couple more notes about backgrounds.  Be careful of brick walls...unless you move your subject away and blur out the background, there can be some pretty good competition between your subjects face and the lines between the bricks.

And one last trick.  Sometimes a photo might seem completely ruined by a distracting background.  Before you toss it out...try making it black and just might be surprised by the results.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Senior Portraits Chelsea. A Maine Photographer

I recently posted on my Facebook page Minor Moments Photography that I would start a blog series here about how to take your own High School Senior Portraits.  Over the next few weeks I am going to share some easy, very basic tips on how you can take a better individual outdoor portrait.  I also want to share with all of you who may be interested that I am going to teach another basic digital photography class this coming September, for 5 consecutive Wednesday evenings beginning September 16th at the Westbrook Community Center.  Lastly, I want to let you know that I would love to photograph your high school senior for you if this is a subject you have absolutely no interest in at all :)

First basic tip.  Avoid photographing in the hours the sun is the brightest.  Best time to photograph is before 10am and this time a year I would hold off until after 4pm.  Find some shade.  Watch out for sun speckles on your subjects face.  Make sure you can see your subjects eyes and that they are not hidden in a shadow.  Don't make your subject squint.  If it's overcast outside then rejoice and go out and take photos...that kind of light is the best!  No squinting and no harsh crazy shadows :)

So, today Chelsea and I had a date to do her senior photos.
We were so happy the weather was going to cooperate.
When you do this for a living you can't reschedule because the sun is too bright...that would be crazy right?
I told her to bring a variety of her favorites to wear.  We were photographing at her grandparents house.  I had been there before and I knew it was a photographers dream...

but...I was breaking so many of my own rules!
We started our session at 9am...but already the sun was so bright.  There was not a cloud in the sky, and shade was hard to come by.

We had a blast.

Chelsea, thank you for being such a good sport as I fiddled with my cameras, my flash, and my reflectors all morning long, conquering the sun and searching for the perfect shot.  I hope you love them as much as I do!

Beautiful location, beautiful Chelsea, happy happy I could do this all-day-long Joanne :)


Sunday, June 28, 2015

Color Games and Seeds of Peace. A Maine Photographer and Mother

Today I want to share a story with you about my son Joshua.  He's packing today, readying himself to attend a 17 day experience at a little camp in Maine called Seeds of Peace.  Joshua attended two summers ago, and to say the experienced changed his life may seem a bit overstated...afterall...he was just 15 years old the first time he went, and his life was not particularly difficult...but...this two week experience from the summer of 2013 set him on a new challenge on how he can change the world...or at least his town...or just maybe his attitude at a time.

Josh was offered the opportunity to go to Seeds of Peace as a student of Westbrook High School, not because of his grades, but because of his community service.  As his parents, we filled out the application, applied for scholarships, and wished him well, not really comprehending how this two week experience would change his outlook...change his life.

Josh's favorite part of the two week program was how the experience ended, with an event called "the color games".  He talked about how much fun it was.  How everyone participated...and I can't even recall if he was on a winning side or not, I just remember how he smiled talking about it.

Fast forward to Westbrook High 2014.  Bad press.  Student parties.  Suspensions.  School officials and school staff and elected officials in the press.  Lots and lots of negativity.  Joshua believes his school could benefit from a day of color games.  He brings the idea to a few key people at the school. It's a no-go for 2014, just not enough time to pull it off, however they give Josh the green light, if he can raise the money for it and plan all the games, they'll give him full cooperation and an entire school day to hold the games in 2015.

And now here we are...on the eve of Joshua's return to Seeds of Peace.  The Westbrook High color games have come and gone.  Hours and hours of meetings, planning, and business door to door fund raising.  He surrounded himself with a core group of friends who stood by him throughout the planning.  He pulled it off, despite numerous set backs.  He never gave up.  He is an inspiration.

...and yes...I am his very proud Mom :)

He invited me on game day to document.  Here is my 4 minute recap.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

My Anniversary Celebration! A Maine Cat Photographer

I like to photograph Everything.
Let me make that clear.

But, this blog post is all about the CATS!
This month marks 5 YEARS I have been photographing the cats at the Animal Refuge League.

I have photographed 1000 cats per year.
This month marks 5000 cats.
That's a pretty impressive number don't you think?

So, I wanted to throw myself a party!
But, what kind of party does one throw for oneself to celebrate the photographing of my five thousandth cat?
One thing is for sure, it must include cake!

Soooooooooo, help me out!  Let's celebrate.  Any cool ideas out there?  I'm listening!

Until then, I invite you to share a photo of your cat over on my facebook page.
It's a business page, so you don't need to be "on" facebook to visit!
I'm going to start a post and I want you to share your cat photos in the comments!

Here are a few photos of current cats available for adoption at the ARL.  Check them out!  Then come visit me on my Minor Moments Photography Facebook page!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Welcoming Summer, a Maine Photographer

Every once in awhile it's good to do "nothin"
For me that was last night.
Last year on summer solstice eve a group of us got together and just hung out at Pine Point beach and enjoyed each other's company along with a variety of comfort food.
This year we planned to do the same.
I did grab one of my camera' that I am not afraid of taking to the beach, even when I am consuming adult beverages and kicking up sand.
I enjoy playing with my camera.
That's what I do.
Here are a few of my favorites.
Welcome summer!  It was a long time getting here!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Tribute to my Mom friends and their Graduating Boys

Without a doubt, the best part of my life is being a Mom. 
I didn't always feel like this. I do at this time in my life. 
I am dedicating this blog post to some of my Mom friends, who have sons graduating tomorrow. When doing Senior photos, I always try and remember to ask the Moms if they would like to take a photo with their child. Many say no, they are not prepared...and although I certainly want to respect their wishes, as each day passes and I see how life changes in an instant, I will continue to ask my Moms if they would like a photo of themselves with their child. 
It's my thing. 
It's a Minor Moment. 
Here is a special shout out to some particular Mom's, who said yes to a photo. Don't judge them. They didn't dress for the photo. That is not the point. It's a Minor Moment. It's a once in a lifetime. ..and when possible, I think every son should have a photo taken with his Mom. I can also add, that these five boys, I have watched them grow, and photographed them as the years have flown by...that is why I have two photos of each, a young photo, and a current photo. Moms change too :)     

Kelly and Parker

Andrea and Michael

Mary and James

Mark, Jackie and Chad

Trish and Patrick

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Happy Mother's Day from a Maine Photographer

Here is a little something I started last year, here in my home town.
I know I'm not the only Mom who finds herself missing from a lot of the family photos.
I thought it would be fun to go to the park, before the prom, and offer the Moms a chance to be in a photo with their child.
I can say I'm doing it for them...but I'm doing it for me too.
As a Mom to two teenage boys I know these photos will be forever treasures.
Thank you to all the Moms who took a moment to capture this whirlwind of a time with me :)
All photos will be available for online sharing and purchasing shortly.  Please just come back here in a few days and I will post a link for you. the meantime...
Happy Mother's Day


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