January Meeting Wrap-up and February assignment!

We started the year off right with over 30 mamas at our January meeting this past Monday! It is so exciting to see our regulars coming back, as well as some new mamas joining the ranks. As usual, I will be posting my summary notes here.

Our speaker this month was Kathryn Barnard, a commercial photographer who wowed us by starting with a slideshow of images from her latest shoots for See Kai Run, Baby Legs, and Disney, among others! She came to the meeting to share her tips for “Stopping the BLUR,” and how she gets the child models she works with to stay in front of the camera long enough to get sharp, beautiful images for her clients.

Shooting Specifics:

*Kathryn shoots in manual mode (M)

*She keeps her aperture at f11 or f10, never tends to shoot at a lower aperture than that. For people who had issues with blurriness, she recommended to “stop down.” a photography term that refers to moving to a smaller opening on your f-stop (e.g. moving from f2.8 to f5.) This will cause the camera to let in less light, and increase the depth of field, which will bring more sharpness to the image.

*Always sets her ISO at 200-400. 100 ISO is too low for her. In a surprise tip, Kathryn says she bumps her ISO up when she is outdoors to brighten up her subjects. (I had always heard to leave it as low as possible!)

*Camera body: a Canon 5D and Canon 5D Mark III.

*Lens: She shoots with a 35mm lens when she is shooting kids, and her other go-to lenses are her 24-70mm and 70-210mm.

*Memory cards: she only shoots with 4 GB cards, and keeps 8 or 10 with her during her shoots. She doesn’t like to have too many images on one card in case it gets corrupted.

Tips when you are in your photo session:

-First off, set yourself up for success with light. Find a location that has a good light source. If you are shooting indoors, she recommends that you go to Glazer’s camera and get foam core (a square with white on one side, black on the other) so that you can bounce the light within the room.

Figure out the lighting and exposure settings on your camera before you attempt to put your child in the setting. This will lower you chance of blurriness off the bat!

Get them interested in something other than what you’re doing. Put something unexpected in the setting- her favorite items are dog toys and cat toys, kids love them!

Food works wonders! In the demonstration, where Kathryn used my 17 month old little guy, she had me put a stool in the center of the area that she was shooting, and she had me stand out of the frame and put one Cheerio at a time at the top of the stool! After a while she would say to stop adding Cheerios, and he then started to look over at the camera and interact with her a bit. I was amazed!

Have a squeak toy by your camera. When she has the child interacting with a prop or food, when they stand in the right place, she uses a squeak toy to get their attention towards the lens!

-Repetition is ok. Let them run around, then bring them back to the area you want to shoot in.  Young toddlers especially are going to want to run around, it’s ok to just keep bringing them back to where you want to photograph them.

-Stickers!! Stickers work wonders too. Put little stickers on the floor, and tell the kids to “go jump on the bug!”

-Be creative. Have a cute prop (eg. something from Anthropologie) in your bag and give it to them as you begin shooting. They will start to interact with it, and then you can have something cool in the photo!

Manually select one autofocus point, instead of letting the camera choose the focus point for you. If the eye is in focus, there is a better chance that the image will look focused.

[Notes from Mary: The above tip doesn’t mean you should turn off the autofocus and focus manually. It means keep the camera in autofocus mode, but just choose which point the camera focuses in on. If you press the button you use to take a photo halfway down, you should see one or multiple red dots in your viewfinder.  You can either manually select which of the red dots is your main focus point, or you can have the camera automatically select it for you. On a Canon, you’ll see a button on the back of your camera that has what looks like a black & white tic tac toe board. If you press that button the “AF selection” screen will pop up .  If you roll the wheel at the top of your camera while looking at this screen until it says “manual selection” and the center box is lit up, then your focus point will be in the center. You’ll then need to focus on the eye in the center of the camera while pushing halfway down, and then reframe the image.]

It was really great to watch Kathryn in action! If any one else took down a tip that I missed, please feel free to post a comment.

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FEBRUARY ASSIGNMENT and NEXT MONTH’S MEETING

Kathryn set our assignment for the next meeting: “FOCUS and PROPS”

-Find a creative prop for a child to interact with, and conduct a photo session with the child interacting with that prop. Experiment with different aperture settings, starting at f10. (If you don’t know how to shoot in manual yet, no biggie, just roll the big round dial at the top of your camera to Av Mode and choose f10!)

Mark your calendars: next month’s meeting will be Monday February 22nd, because of the President’s day conflict on our regular 3rd Monday. Hope to see you there!