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!

Protect your digital photos! Meetup on 5/20, Notes from Jessica Peterson!

Hi Mamas!

Mark your calendars for May 20th at 6:30pm, Mosaic Coffeehouse in Wallingford, for the next Mamas With Cameras monthly meetup!


Do you have thousands of photos clogging up your laptop computer? Are you one crash away from losing months or years worth of precious memories? Protect your photos with some help from Molly Bullard of Seattle Photo Organizing.  She will discuss the technical components of your computer and hard drives that house the data and a give you workflow ideas on how to organize and create a backup of your file sets.

We hope to see you there!


And a reminder, our Shooting in Manual Workshop on June 8th is open for registration! (Mary is going on maternity leave in late summer so this will be the last opportunity to take this workshop until at least late fall!) We hope you can join the fun! 🙂

Check out the beautiful image captured by Carrie Sievers McClinton during the photo exercise portion of the Manual workshop!


APRIL WRAP-UP: Baby’s First Days with Jessica Peterson

Jessica Peterson, the speaker for our April Meetup, did a wonderful job talking us through how she approaches her labor & delivery photography, and how she captures memorable photos of baby’s first days. She had a gorgeous portfolio of images to share with us, and was kind enough to share her notes, and one of her photos with us for the wrap up this month!

Baby’s First Days- Jessica Peterson’s Notes

Day One

  • Hospital, birth center, or at home
  • The Newborn Exam Can request to wait for photographer. Or do again. Or stage. Weighing, measuring, footprints
  • First Meetings/siblings
  • Find the light Daytime, use hospital windows, use isolette light (at night esp.)
  • To flash or not to flash. I flash a lot. But bounce only. If you don’t have an external speedlight to bounce,  don’t flash directly. Increase ISO, find the light.


Days 2-5

  • Snuggle and rest – Seriously!
  • Best for lifestyle approach
  • Use people as props
  • First bath  


Days 7-14: The Newborn Session

  • Lifestyle or posed or both? I do a mix at every session, sometimes more of one or another depending on light in the home. A mix provides interactive family shots and some focusing just on baby.
  • Session environment

Baby’s want it WARM. 85 degrees

You need light, find a window with no direct sun

White noise machine (app on phone works)

  • What to bring

Beanbag – target works great, tie the bottom if it’s not full enough

Or just use couch cushions with boppy on topBlankets – texture, matte, washable

Absorbant, waterproof pads, chux,

Portable heater


Wraps for baby! Cheesecloth, knitted, crochet, stretchy fabric, scarf

Hats or headbands

  • Setting up for sleepy baby shots

Beanbag so baby can be 45 degrees to window.

Build your nest (heating pad or not?)

Layer lots of blankets, protect the ones you want to use.

Stretch blanket backdrop smooth and out, not just up.

Clamp blanket to backdrop stand or dining chairs with NO WRINKLES

Have diapers, wipes, rags on hand. You will need them!


  • Working with newborns

Think about the womb. Harvey Karp’s Happiest Baby on the Block
They want to feel secure, like movement, warmth, white noise (loud),

Bounce and sway!

Full tummy first.

Challenges: wiggly when awake, color issues, funny faces/grimaces, eye contact is hit or miss, and they want to be on their mamas 

  • Posing – You could do a whole workshop on posing, which I haven’t done, but I’ve learned through trial and error.

Safety first! Don’t try hanging baby, chin on hands – those are composites
Respect a baby and don’t force a pose – they’re all different.

Don’t shoot up the nose. Don’t let light shine up the nose. Watch expressions and hand positions. Gently press to get hands or arms where you want them.

Start swaddled/wrapped. Then unwrap as you go.

Easy poses on side and tummy

Patterned or special blankets for baby lying on back


  • Lifestyle Snuggle, adore, soak in the love.

Find the light in the home, or go outside

Use the bed – it works for whole family, mama or dad, siblings

Shoot through the crib (move it if you need better light)

  • Siblings I love watching them discover their new sibling



  • What’s your style?  Mine is minimal; I enjoy color and contrast.
  • Get it in camera  Especially for newborn skin, this is crucial.
  • My basic edits  Curves, to lighten midtones (skin!), curves to increase contrast (S curves)
  • Trouble shooting  Jaundice, flaky skin, skin smoothing.

One Tree Photography

Thank you Jessica for a wonderful guest presentation!


Hope to see you all next week!

March Meeting Wrap-up! Upcoming Workshops & Meetups in April & May!

Hi Mamas,

Lots to post about today because there is just so much going on! We had a great meeting with guest speaker Della Chen, who inspired us with her unique documentary-style imagery. This month’s assignment and my meeting notes will be at the end of the post! But first here are some important dates for your calendars:


Next Meetup! April 22nd, 6:30 pm at Mosaic Coffeehouse:  Guest speaker Jessica Peterson presents on “Baby’s First Days.” She’ll discuss her tips of how she gets those special newborn photos right when the baby is born (either in a home or hospital environment), and early setups and poses that you can do whether you are photographing a friend’s newborn or your own!

May Workshops!  


Did you buy a digital SLR camera but 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?

Give yourself a Mother’s Day Weekend treat! 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.


If you have thousands of digital pictures that have never been seen outside your computer, this is the workshop for you! Learn how to use Blurb to make beautiful, compelling photo books that will engage and delight your family and friends, and preserve your most beautiful photos! In this hands-on workshop, you’ll be guided on how to gather photos beforehand and make real progress towards finishing a book that you’ll treasure.


Inspired by Della Chen’s talk, our photo assignment this month is to share 3-5 printed images at the next meeting from “A Day in the Life” of your child(ren). The guidelines of the assignment:

1. Pick an “ordinary” day to tote around your camera with you- the goal will be to capture pictures that capture daily rituals like getting dressed, eating breakfast, playing in the yard etc. Cull down to your favorite 3-5 prints to share with the group at our April Meetup.

2. Extra challenge: if you are up for it, go to Glazers or Borrowlenses.com and rent yourself a lens that is wider than the lens you currently use- so if you are currently shooting with a 50mm portrait lens, try renting a 24mm f/1.4, or a 24-70mm f/2.8. The wider angle helps to get more of the surrounding environment and contributes to the documentary feel of the photos.

3. Extra EXTRA challenge: if you really love the idea of this assignment, Della advises that a great thing to do would be to actually trade a few hours with a fellow Mama With Camera and take turns documenting each other’s quiet (or crazy!) moments!




During last week’s presentation Della shared many of her professional and personal images and answered lots of questions from the group. Below are my notes that I took as she was speaking- because of the nature of the Q&A we skipped around a lot so there are many different categories!


Della Chen Notes

-Worked at a newspaper for 5 years, has a documentary background. Doesn’t tell people to smile or pose, doesn’t work in a studio. She shoots wedding in a journalistic setting. She does documentary- “day in the life” sessions with families. Life changes so fast, your Saturday afternoon will look different in a year than it does now.

-She does families, weddings, editorial and commercial work. The documentary/editorial style is very specific.

-She is a fly on the wall, steps in when she needs to get close.

-Working as a journalist, you learn to be prepared at all times.

-Always looking for good light, good texture.

-Likes to crop in squares.

-Shoots at people’s homes. Beaches & parks are ok, but if they’re  not part of your routine, doesn’t make sense.

-Tends to do more black and white than color.

 What’s in Della’s Camera Bag?

-shoots with Canon 5D Mark II

-24mm/f/1.4 and 50mm/f/1.2


Shoots very wide which means that she gets very close to her subjects

-When shooting wide, set settings, go in and frame the shot, then take picture quickly.

-Typical settings- portrait f/2.8 or lower. f/8 for big room


Doesn’t use a flash for family shoots, only for wedding receptions

-Shifting from photographer to “mom”. In Mom mode, Della has snacks. She always keeps a camera in the kitchen, with 24mm f/1.4 on the camera.

-Likes to shoot very low, gets on the ground, lays on belly

-Shoots a lot of “hail marys” (not looking through view finder)


Q: Are there problems with distortion on 24mm? A: No, no distortion, at least not on the Canons.


-All done in lightroom. Very little in photoshop. Just dust removal/burning & dodging. Uses Visco filters.


Most of the time, moments “in between” are her favorites. Usually the ones you don’t mean to take.

-Asks her clients: What kinds of activities are happening in your life? Soccer game? When are naps?  Go with the flow. Be aware of what people are feeling. Little bit of planning and a lot of playing by ear.

-5 hours of shooting in a “day in the life” session= 2000 images. Edits down to 300. Presents a slideshow of 70.

-Uses a shower cap to protect equipment in the rain.

-She shoots in manual all the time.


-In houses with low light- open all shades, shoot at ISO 3200, convert to b&w


-How long does she spend in post-processing? For a 1 hr shoot, 45 mins. Use key system where she stars, she batches and adds the metadata in bridge. Doesn’t do a lot of effects, usually basic b&w.

Dressing for shoots: recommends against thin  stripes. No matching outfits (white shirts, khakis) For babies, just diapers.

Her style has improved with digital. She takes more risks. Shoots a lot.

Advice: the more you shoot, the better you get. Weddings=lots of frames, many scenarios.

Tries to shoot everyday, at least with phone.

Advice on editing? Tough to edit our own kids.  Too much of the same scenario dilutes the impact of the image. Biggest pet peeves= 15 images of the same scenario on a blog. Dilutes impact of the moment.

Keeping things fresh with kids= sometimes changing lens helps. Changing perspective.

Focal point, uses single point focus. Focus/recompose.

Documentary style- have to anticipate what happens next, have to move around a lot more than if you were just a straight shooter, have to listen a lot, be in tune with what’s happening. Rolls on the floor a lot.

Family/wedding/editorial/commercial is all similar. Do the same kind of lifestyle/storytelling. Doesn’t want commercial work to look different than portrait work.  Doesn’t work with lights. Heavy lighting=not the right job.

 -Sunny 16 rule= set aperture at f/16 and double your ISO to determine shutter speed (if ISO is 100, then shutter=1/200)

-When shooting subjects with glasses- adjust so sun isn’t hitting the glasses.

-Lightroom actions= VISCO supply company.  Presets mimic what film looked like. Adds grain, different hues. Favorite is Canon triX 400: adds grain, very contrasty.

-In the winter, she mentors for youth in focus, after school program for kids, all manual, all film, develop own prints.

-For prints- locally uses Moon Photo and Panda Lab- down in Mercer. For clients, uses White House Custom Color. Large exhibition prints= Moon Photo .

-Favorite place for camera maintenance= sometimes Camera Techs in Ballard. Became a member of Canon and sends in camera for regular maintenance.

-How do you keep things challenging? Does 10 x weddings a year, 50 portraits, 10 family documentaries, works with Redfin Real estate.

– Uses external drive that automatically backs up to another external drive, then online at mosey.com


Who inspires her?

Wedding work= Wi Wynn (photojournalistic wedding) Anna Cuperberg (SFO) Jenny Jimenez (photo JJ) Sergio Matola (19 years old-very talented) Group in CA called Images Found- interesting, creative portraits. Not documentary style but artsy.


We look forward to seeing everyone next month!