What is Your Subject?

The first step to creating better photographs at home is to know what your subject is. That sounds way too simple to be a legitimate tip, right? However, knowing your subject as a photographer isn’t as simple as just pointing the camera in the right direction.

How many times have you taken pictures of your family and wondered why they just don’t seem to capture the real essence of the people you love? All the right people are in the photos, but something is missing. 

When photographers talk about finding their subject, they are talking about focusing in on their subject and making it the focal point. Let’s say that you are taking pictures of your kids opening their presents on Christmas morning, you are going to want to get up from your chair and get on the floor, down to their level, and get close! You don’t need to get the whole living room in your picture. The further away you are from your kids, the less likely you are going to really be able to capture those priceless expressions of joy and surprise. 

Let’s look at an example. I just went out in my yard with my iPhone for these photos, and there is no post procession (editing) done to them. This is what photographers call SOOC (Straight Out Of Camera). For my subject I chose my water hydrant; not an interesting subject, I know. 

In this first picture you see the typical shot you would get if someone was told to go take a picture of that hydrant. It is far away and located smack dab in the center of the shot.
Why would someone even take this photo?

In this next picture I pulled in a little closer to the hydrant. While it is now a little bit clearer what the subject of the photo is, it is still not an interesting photo by any means.

Still boring

In this last photo I got in really close to my subject. I decided to place the sunset behind it so that the hydrant is in silhouette. I also off-set it a bit to add interest, but more on that in a future post. This really brings some interest to what was a terribly boring photo of a water hydrant in the yard. 
Much more interesting, even without the additional editing I would normally do on a photo

I combed my photos from Christmas to try to find another example and managed to find a shot where I took a photo from across the room, then another one where I got in close.

This photo is too cluttered with different things that draw your eyes away from the subject. We will discuss more about backgrounds in a future post, but there is just too much going on in this photo.

It's just too far away to be interesting.

In this close up we can now see that my nephew is working on a new Lego set that he was given for Christmas. It's not a perfect photo by any means, but it is way more interesting than the previous shot.

He's captivated by his new Lego set!

 Here are a few more photos that show how focusing in on your subject can really help make those snapshots special!

My Dad is definitely a tool man! 

When you are in a room full of people, it is important that you get in close
to keep other family members from drawing attention away from your true subject 

What they are looking at is way less important than this moment between a great-grandmother and her great-grandaughter!

How sad would it have been to miss this face by being too far away?

Now I want you to grab your camera and go put this into practice. Test it out by taking those wider shots that include much more than your subject, then take another one where you pull in close. Sure there are times when a wide shot makes for a great shot, but that doesn’t usually apply to family photos. Share your results in the comments. I'd love to see your photos and read your comments and questions!

Be sure to come back for future Tips for Your Snaps!

If you are near the south-central Missouri area and are looking for a professional photographer, please contact me at Gifts of Nature Photography. Like my Facebook page for more photos, tips and information!

Getting Better Photographs at Home

Taking pictures is easy, right? All you have to do is point and shoot. Today, cameras do it all for you. They are completely automatic. You don’t have to learn about shutter speed, ISO, focal length or white balance; your camera can make all those choices for you. However, even if you never take your camera off the fully auto settings, there are still a lot of things you can do to make your photos better.

These photos were taken with my iphone 5. These were quick snaps without any set up or plan. Even so, I was able to get some good shots. I will be talking about some of the reasons why and how you too can learn to quickly grab those fleeting moments!

You have to be quick with a 4 year old if you want to catch the moment!

This was taken quickly while on my way to work,
but it still turned out to be a pretty good sunrise photo! 

I’m going to take you through some easy tutorials that are designed to help you get the most out of your point and shoot camera or even your camera phone! Be sure to follow the blog and check me out on Facebook and Instagram to keep up with all the great Tips for Your Snaps!

What would you like to know how to do? Ask questions or leave comments and maybe a future post will be dedicated to your question!

If you are near the south-central Missouri area and are looking for a professional photographer, please contact me at Gifts of Nature Photography.

What to Wear on Your Photo Session - Senior Girls Edition

Everyone wants to know what they should wear on their photo shoot. While there are no hard and fast rules, I've got some great tips for you! 

The Quick Change -  The first thing I tell my senior girls when they ask what they should wear is to wear a cami or bandeau so that they can easily change tops. Often we are out in a field, on the river, or in a back alley - places where a bathroom (or any private place to change) is hard to find or not close by. Wearing a favorite pair of jeans and bringing along several different tops, as well as shoes and accessories, makes it easy to quickly change your look on the go! Because who wants all of their senior portraits to be in the same outfit? I’ve also had some girls wear spankies or a similar small, tight pair of shorts so they can do complete outfit changes anywhere without feeling too conspicuous.

What Makes You Feel Beautiful? - Always choose outfits that make you feel beautiful. Maybe that means you found a beautiful new dress, or maybe it means pulling out an old favorite from your closet. Don’t get hung up on the need to buy new clothes or have something special for the day though. Everyone owns at least one outfit that makes them feel good about themselves!

Be Yourself! -  Sure it is fun to have at least one really special outfit, one that makes you feel sexy or especially beautiful, but what really matters is that you bring outfits that represent who you are! Trust me, 10 years down the road you will regret wearing something in your senior portraits that wasn’t the real you. Do you have a favorite shirt? Do you normally wear your hair curly or straight? Have at least some of your portraits taken wearing a casual, everyday outfit that you love. I have had some of the most beautiful girls wear some gorgeous outfits (and man, are they knockouts in those outfits), but the photos they tend to love the most are ones with them in jeans/shorts and a favorite top.

The Hair?!?! - I know this is a huge issue for some of my girls. I have had some that spend hours on their hair prior to getting their pictures taken. Others tend to leave it more natural. There are definitely two ways to look at this: You want to feel beautiful. AND You want to look like yourself. Okay, maybe that is just two things combined into one; either way, I recommend not getting a major cut or color prior to your photo session. By all means, touch up your roots and get a trim, but I would stay away from a major color change or new hair style. I would, however, bring the necessary tools to do a hairstyle change in the middle of the session. Maybe you want to put your hair up or curl it for part of your photos. A good photographer should allow time for these changes.

Lari went from straight to curly in the same session which adds a big change to her photos.

Accessorize! - While I am not one who wears much jewelry myself, accessories can be another great way to change up outfits or add a little something special. Bring several different earring and necklace choices. Add a sparkly headband. If you love hats, wear one in a few of your photos! Scarves are a great way to add a pop of color, and if you are like me, you have lots of them that you could bring along to help change up your outfits!
Jandale has on the same outfit
but with the addition of a scarf and a quick hair change, she has really changed up her look!

What NOT to Wear! - What not to wear is almost as important as what you should wear. People will say that you shouldn’t wear things with big and bold patterns, and while that is true, that is not the most important thing in my opinion.  The most important thing to me is to never wear something you wouldn’t normally wear. Let me tell you a story: a million years ago my brother had his senior pictures taken. I’m not sure whose decision it was, his or our mother’s, but he wore his class ring. Not a big deal, right? Debatable. That giant ring (those boys’ rings sure were huge) stands out in all of his photos. Maybe it doesn’t look odd to strangers, but I can’t remember him ever wearing that ring in his everyday life. It just looks odd in those pictures. If there is something like that a parent is insisting you wear, do so for a few photos, but not all. And, oh yeah… don’t wear big, bold prints!

I would also be careful of the following:
  • Bright or crazy-colored nail polish - Those blue nails might look good, but I’m guessing you will be sorry in 10 years…or 10 months
  • Anything that might be too short or too revealing. - You should have an outfit that makes you feel fabulous, but don’t pick something that you are going to have to constantly monitor to make sure you aren’t showing too much for Dad and Grandma!
  • Stripes - Man am I a fan of stripes. Half of my tops are stripes. It’s bad enough that people have noticed and commented on it. However, stripes are not always the most flattering pattern. They can highlight every bump and curve as well as any bunch or gathering in the material when you are in any pose that isn’t just standing up straight. 
  • Bright colored underwear - Nothing is worse than forgetting that you put on your hot pink bra, except remembering that you also wore the matching underwear! Wear a nude color so that it doesn’t show through any of your outfits. And remember to pack that strapless bra if you are going to need it for a dress or top.
I hope that these tips help you prepare for your session. If you have any other tips, please share them! 

If you are near the south-central Missouri area and are looking for a professional photographer, please contact me at Gifts of Nature Photography. Like my Facebook page for more photos, tips and information! 

Ask the Expert

What would you like to know about taking better snapshots of your family and friends? Your questions help fuel the blog posts, so ask away!

If you are near the south-central Missouri area and are looking for a professional photographer, please contact me at Gifts of Nature Photography. Like my Facebook page for more photos, tips and information! 

Capturing the Moment

Obviously, I LOVE taking pictures, especially of those I love. My family says that they are blessed to have someone in their family that is a photographer and can capture those every day moments. But you too can be your family's photographer! All it takes is a little extra knowhow. Composition, lighting, and knowing your subject are so important. I am going to help you to capture those special, every day moments in your family's life. Be sure to follow my blog on How To's and Tips to help you be the one to truly capture those special memories in your life.

My grandmother and my niece at Christmas

My niece and her best friend holding hands while searching for Easter eggs

My niece giving me "the look" while digging through her stocking

A friend's kid after eating the chocolate found in her Easter egg

A friend and her little girl watching the 4th of July Parade

A friends little boy at our 4th of July party

One of my best friends and another friend's baby girl at the 4th of July party

A friend's little girl with her "prizes" from the 4th of July Parade

A friend and his granddaughter at our 4th of July party

You too can have great "snapshots" like these. Yes, I used a pro-DSLR, but there are lots of tips on how to get great photos like these with your point and shoot camera!

Be sure to follow my blog for tips on how to capture moments like these!

If you are near the south-central Missouri area and are looking for a professional photographer, please contact me at Gifts of Nature Photography. Like my Facebook page for more photos, tips and information! 

Senior Portraits

I LOVE taking senior portraits! If I could make a living doing nothing else, I would (unfortunatly, I live in a small, rural area, so that isn't likely). Seniors are so much fun, and senior portraits are such an important part of a senior's life. I love being able to truly capture a senior. They are so much fun to work with. Scroll down for a few examples of my Class of 2015 seniors.




If you are near the south-central Missouri area and are looking for a professional photographer, please contact me at Gifts of Nature Photography. Like my Facebook page for more photos, tips and information! 

I'm Back...and the Format is Going to Be Different!

So I am back to blogging about my photography after about 3 years away. I am so excited to be doing this "new" adventure.

There are going to be some changes to the blog. No longer is it going to be just posts of my photos. I'm sure there will be some, but no. Mostly, this is going to be a blog to help people with their own personal photos as well as how to prepare for a session with a professional photographer.

I have spent the last 3 years building my photography business, Gifts of Nature Photography and working on becoming a professional photographer. That time has been well spent, but I am now ready to help others! I am going to mainly focus, for now at least, on helping people prepare for their photography sessions as well as those looking to take better candid photos of their family.

I think it is very important that people are prepared for their photography sessions. I take more senior portraits than any thing else right now. Seniors are definitely my favorite (and probably why I teach high schoolers!). While I have learned to be able to work with any situation, it is so much easier when the client already has a vision of their own. I am here to help you be that client, to gain a vision.

I also want to help you get the most out of those family snapshots! While professional family photos are great to really showcase your family once a year, it is those snapshots of every day life that are so important! I want to help people create stunning snapshots!

My Niece - Just a snapshot of her playing in the corn crib

Be sure to follow my blog for posts on how to do all of these things. And more!!