April Photo Challenge(s), and upcoming dates!

Hi Mamas!

We had so much fun at last night’s meet up with Nicole from Orange Anchor Photography on the subject of COLOR! The big take away, you don’t TAKE photos with color, you make them! You do this by thinking about the location and coordinating the colors and accessories on your subject to be at the opposite end of the color wheel from your back drop (aka a magneta dress against green grass). Use a color wheel to determine contrast.

Image Source: http://www.iheartnaptime.net/how-to-choose-a-color-palette-for-your-home/
Image Source: http://www.iheartnaptime.net/how-to-choose-a-color-palette-for-your-home/


Vivid color in photos is achieved by being thoughtful about the backdrop and outfit coordination, but also about being intentional about how you touch up the photos in post-processing. Nicole did a demonstration in Photoshop to show how she increases the contrast in her images, draws the eye to the center, and makes colors pop.

This month we have two photo challenges: one from Nicole’s presentation and one from us!

Photo Challenge #1) Portrait with COLOR! Urban and Natural

Take a portrait of your kid(s) where they pop out of the frame! Think about your backdrop and dress them in colors that contrast with that backdrop. If you have young ones, let them choose whatever outrageous outfit they’d like to wear. If you are thinking of a portrait for a wall in your house, think about colors and accents in the room and how you can pick them up with the clothing choice. Shoot in both a natural environment (like a park) and an urban location to get practice. Bonus: play with Photoshop Elements (you can download a free trial) or other post-processing software that you may have (Lightroom, Aperture, etc) and aim to make really make the subject pop.

Photo Challenge #2) Mama’s in the picture!

In celebration of Mother’s Day coming up in May, we challenge you to use the month of April to try and get a portrait of YOU with your kids. Use this board to arrange swaps with other mamas. Bonus here: Yes take your typical photo of “here I am smiling at the camera with my kids” but then also give us a peek at your life as a mom with some lifestyle shots of you in “action”! (Heck, use elements from challenge #1 to style your shoot! Make it fun for you! And an excuse to buy some cute boots ;-). )

OUR NEXT MEETUP: Mark Your Calendars for April 28th at Mosaic Coffeehouse in Wallingford (6:30pm)

Let’s face it, we don’t always have our “fancy cameras” on hand when we need them! Sometimes we are so weighed down with kids and gear that all we have are our camera phones. Camera phones can be a great way to have a small moment of creativity in a busy day! Come to our April Meetup where Cecile Tinder of Ava Kai Photography will be presenting on ways to harness the power of your camera phone (iPhone or Android) and Instagram to get more beautiful, artistic photos of your kids.


What better way to celebrate Mother’s Day than by giving yourself (or your favorite new mom) the gift of de-mystifying your “fancy” camera! Our next Introduction to Digital Photography is coming up on May 10th, and registration is open! We hope you can join us for a fun Mother’s Day weekend treat. Drop your hints now :-)!

Happy shooting, everyone!

Holiday Shooting Tips -Twinkle Lights, and November Wrap-up Notes!

It was so fun to see a full house at our monthly meet-up for November!

Lindsay Kennedy was our speaker and we had so much fun with her! Her entire slide presentation is linked here if you missed it and you want to review her awesome tips! I am also pasting my own notes at the end of this post as well.

But first! Our PHOTO EXERCISE! We have a fun twist this month-  a contest! Print one 8×10 of your favorite photo assignment result and bring it to our January meet up for a live photo contest where we’ll be giving away a Black Rapid RS-W1 women’s strap!

Photo exercise: Twinkle Lights!

Capture a photo or series of photos that incorporate holiday lights in an abstract or “thinking outside the box” way. Bonus points for having a composition with interesting layers of foreground, middle ground and background.

Have fun with this one, Mamas!


After our last meet up I was inspired and brought my camera to the Woodland Park ZooLights to get my twinkle on. True confessions here, this type of light is not what I usually photograph, and while figuring out the settings I had a bunch of blurry, awful photos on my memory card. But it was a fun process to figure out and as I was doing it! Here are some tips for you mamas:

Jack up your ISO! Mine was at 1600

Put your camera in M (or at the very least P, to suppress your flash)

-Make sure your shutter speed is slow enough to let in enough ambient light from the twinkle lights. My best lit photos were between 1/40th and 1/60th of a second.

-Focusing can be tricky. A lot of times my camera was refusing to focus because there was either not enough light on my subject, or because the twinkle lights were too bright to create a focal point. I has the most success focusing a few inches off of the twinkle lights. In this photo below, my focal area was the bushes to the left of the twinkle lights that are in the same horizontal plane as my little guy.

The settings for this photo in Manual were ISO 1600, Shutter 1/60, Aperture f/2.2

If you go see the Zoo lights, be sure to post your photos up on the Mamas With Cameras Group page on Facebook!


We have our last Introduction to Digital Photography workshop of the year coming up on December 8th, just in time for capturing those holiday pictures!

Or, if Santa is getting you a DSLR for the holidays and you want to add a workshop to your wish list (or give one as a gift!), our first Introductory Workshop of 2013 will be on Saturday, January 26th! If you have want to give a gift certificate without registering for a specific class, we can do that too!  Contact us directly at mamaswithcameras [at] gmail.com.


Linsday has so much information on the web page she created for us, but I am including my notes from her talk in case it helps out the folks who couldn’t make it out!

-She shoots with a Nikon D700. Full frame sensor.

-Recommends having a 50mm/f 1.4

Part of telling a story is capturing details.

Shoots in aperture priority (AV or A mode) primarily. Keep an eye on shutter speed. If the shutter speed gets too low, there will be blur.

General rule of thumb- take the Length in mm of your lens and turn it into a fraction, that is the lowest shutter speed that you’ll want. 50mm lens, no less than 1/50th.

For a big group of people, shoot at f/8.

Shooting indoors, shoot in aperture priority

Manually change ISO, raise it if you want shutter speed to go up.

Holiday Lights

-What are different ways to use the holiday lights? Pull subject away from the tree (5-6ft) shoot at f/3.2 to get the tree blurry. ISO 1600 f/3.2 1/80th of a second.

-Christmas lights are a great way to have beautiful catch lights in your child’s eyes during the day. Put yourself in the tree and shoot through the tree.  What layers can you have? What is in the foreground? What is in the background?(Like a present.)

-Take pictures of reflection of child in the ornaments.

-With ISO you want to stay as low as possible to keep the grain down.

-Tell a story, wait for a funny or goofy face


Lower ISO, aperture priority f/2.8. If backlit, use exposure compensation to overexpose by 1 or 1.5 stops. Or you can spot meter on the face.

-Think about where you’re shooting from. If you get down on the ground, or up high.

-She likes to shoot an hour before sunset, hour after sunset, or an hour after sunrise- it’s the best time of day

– To get yourself in the picture, use self timer (setting where it takes one every couple of seconds) or stand in place and then hand off the camera with settings prepared.


-Lindsay never uses pop up flash. The closer the light source is to the camera, the more fake it looks.

-Switch to manual mode- set shutter speed between 1/160th and 1/200th of a second. Set aperture to f/2.8-f/3.5. Adjust the ISO until you can’t see any ambient light in your image (ISO 200-400).  You can shoot at f/8, you aren’t using aperture for light anymore.  Your flash is one temperature, the light in the room is another temperature, so by doing this you block out any existing light

-Her flash recommendation: Speedlite 580EXII, or other shoe-mount flash.

-Set white balance to “flash”

-Point flash over your shoulder to bounce the light off the wall.

-If you don’t have white walls, adjust white balance to compensate. If you bounce off a red wall, it will give a red hue. Don’t use windows or mirrors.

-Have your flash exposure compensation set to -1.3 to 0.3

Tips on getting photos of siblings

  1. Ask them to squish their cheeks together
  2. Sing a song with the wrong lyrics “twinkle twinkle little DUCK!”
  3. Get their heads close together- have them seated, or get one to lean over.
  4. Silly faces.
  5. Fake laugh (with older kids)- make them fake laugh and then wait for real laugh to come
  6. Dance party.
  7. Bum wiggling
  8. Let them do what they like doing together (read books). Look to catch moments happening .

 Ideas for documentary style holiday photos:

-Baking cookies together or other holiday traditions- get detail shots of little chubby hands on measuring cup

-Have your kids capture what the adults are doing

-Take photos incognito, when no one is paying attention to you.

-Be patient and watch for moments and laughter.

TIPS FROM THE “MAMA CIRCLE” (this is the group sharing time after the speaker)

Fun places to take pictures during the holidays:

Cougar Mountain Zoo- allows you to take your own Santa photo for a donation.

Woodland Park Zoo- “Wildlights” exhibit is open through the holidays

Greenlake Pathway of Lights- December 6th

Swanson’s Nursery has reindeer photo ops! And a sleigh that you can pose your child in!

Teddy bear suite in the Fairmont Hotel – go on a Tuesday or Wednesday

UVillage- Menorah Lighting is on December 12th

Opinions on Holiday Card Printing 

Vista Print- cheap, there are a lot of options.

Tiny prints- beautiful designs, thick, high quality quality paper (but it isn’t photo paper, so it will have a “soaked” look)

Minted – similar to Tiny Prints, a bit more high end

Shutterfly-good customer service, they don’t do as well with color corrected photos

MPIX is doing holiday cards (cheaper price point than Tiny Prints)

Paper Coterie– higher end, fun holiday cards

Photo affections – DO NOT use! Horrible customer service!

Tips on Getting your Child to Pose with Santa:

-You can have santa peeking out behind the chair

-You can sit in the chair with them if they’re scared of Santa

-Spend some time desensitizing to Santa before your photos (saying hi to lots of different santas, walking by the photo set up at the mall etc).

A Cool Gift Idea: 

One mama created a Photo Board book for Kids- name of the company is called Pint Size Productions – a custom one is $20.


July Meeting Details & Assignment, June recap!

Hello Mamas!

Hope you all are having a fantastic summer, and shooting lots of great summer photos of your kids! Read on for updates about our July Meeting & Assignment, and notes from last month’s meeting:


I’m excited to share that we have heard back from Sandra Coan, a local Greenwood area photographer who spoke to our group two years ago. She is thrilled to be sharing her tips and tricks for how she captures classic, beautiful images of babies, twins and kids of all ages! She has generously offered to host our Monday, July 25th meeting at her studio in Greenwood, so mark your calendars for 6:30pm! For those of you who are aspiring pros and have an interest in pursuing maternity photography, Sandra is also launching a two-day maternity workshop in September, see details on her blog!


..And for those of you who are NOT pros and who are still a perplexed by the settings on your camera, there are still a few spaces left in our August 6th workshop! We would love it if you’d help spread the word! Please email me if you are willing to help out (especially if you are on the Madrona Moms email list , we had a mama who would post the workshops to that list for us but she recently moved to Arizona. Boo.)

Here is some text if you are willing to share the workshop details with friends: (or you can also post the eventbrite link  to your Facebook!)

Mamas With Cameras Workshop: Introduction to Digital Photography!
Are you a mama with a digital SLR camera, but you have no idea how to use it outside of the automatic setting? Does the idea of reading an instruction manual make you nauseous? Are you interested in taking amazing pictures of your kids, but feel a bit intimidated by the technology behind your camera? With an investment of just a few short hours, we’ll get you grounded in the basic definitions and controls on your digital SLR camera so that your photos of your child’s big milestones can be as beautiful and moving as the moments themselves. Come join a hands-on workshop where you can learn, explore and shoot with your camera alongside a bunch of other fellow mamas!
Date: Saturday, August 6th, 1-4:30pm
Workshop space is limited and is on a first come, first serve basis.
About “Mamas With Cameras”: We’re a community of shutter-happy mamas who share a love of photography. Our goal is for all members to develop the ability to take amazing digital photos that document cherished family moments and milestones. We host monthly meetings that are open to all interested mamas. See our blog at http://mamaswithcameras.wordpress.com!
Assignment # 1:
Christina Mallet gave the following assignment at our June meeting, and as a plus she is willing to give feedback (and a cute pdf of your image as a polaroid) to anyone who does the assigment:
“Create an image that captures a funny, interesting, beautiful, disgusting, or bizarre juxtapostition. Imagine it’s going to go on a polaroid card. Your image can be of objects, people, people and objects, you, whatever. It should be an image you’re proud of. [Wish I had the image to paste here but the example she showed was an image of a little girl from the waist down, lifting up her white skirt to show off pink rain boots.]
Email your favorite image using the following conventions:
Send to info[at]katrinkas-secret.com
Subject: Your Name, MWC Assignment
jpeg, no larger than 2 MB named as: firstname_lastname_MWC.jpg
What is the title of your image?
Where did you capture this image?
What Camera settings (ISO, Shutter, Fstop) did you use?
What are the light sources in your image?
What drew you to create this image? Why do you like it?
What sort of post-production, if any, did you do?
Christina talked to us about her boudoir photography and the ways she allows her creativity to shine through in her images.
Creativity- overall, her encompassing banner is not to plan out a session, just go with it.
-Know the rules so you can break them with confidence
-Always climb up on things. Climb a tree, get down on the ground.
-Love your mistakes (remember lens flare used to be a big taboo, now it’s the new hip thing!) Some blurry images that she created were seen as edgy & creative.
-be a ruthless editor of your own work. She waits 24 hours, and then asks herself- is this a good picture? is it captivating?
-Be looking at other people’s work whom you admire. She looks at:
Photo District News, Real Simple Magazine, W, Lucky, Vogue. Rip things out of magazines and try to recreate them.
-Show and don’t tell (eg. in boudoir, having someone do a sexy pose and look right at the camera is too ‘obvious’. )
-Make your edits clean and simple, don’t over saturate the eyes.
-She shoots in Manual Mode and is always rolling the settings up and down to experiment.
-She has a newfound love for blurry images, they don’t always have to be tack sharp.
-In fashion magazines, the cutting edge photos are thought of as weird.
-Flattering angles: shoot from above, avoid overhead light.
-Outdoor spots: she shoots in Pioneer Square, she likes texture and variety. She believes that you can find a great spot to photograph kids if you go deep wherever you are. Look for texture in the background.
-If you are going to invest, invest in lenses. She has a 70-200 L series Canon, 24-70mm and 50mm prime lenses.