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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Photo Tips & Tricks from a Local Pro

By Katie M

It’s pretty obvious photography is important to moms. We see it all the time here at Triad Smarty Pants. Any give-away on our site promoting free or discounted sessions with local photographers gets the highest number of participants. We are constantly receiving the cutest pics from moms who blog for us or who enter our contests. So whether you capture images alongside a professional or behind the camera yourself, it’s always important to know the basics so you can be sure you’re getting what you want. No one knows this better than our newest Smarty Sponsor – Triad photographer Abigail Seymour.

Abigail has been featured in Real Simple magazine, The New York Times, The Knot, Weddings Unveiled, Southern Weddings, Martha Stewart Weddings, and on Style Me Pretty, the Ultimate Wedding Blog. Her portrait images are also used regularly by in their promotions. And now she is not only offering tips and tricks today for all us shooters out there, but she is also offering TSP readers $25 off her workshops designed for the budding photographer in all of us.

“There are few things I love more than talking about photography, so creating a way to share the things I have learned is a treat for me,” says Abigail on her web site. “I’ve been shooting weddings for six years, portraits for four, and have made every small business mistake imaginable along the way, which I hope to help you avoid! I’ve been lucky enough to have had my work recognized in print and online, and one of my images was selected as a PDN Top Knots winner this year.”

Abigail's beginner workshops, called Shutterbabes, are offered every so often for those who have rarely or not yet used a digital SLR camera. Topics include How to Get Comfortable Using Your Camera’s Basic Functions, How to Best Use Natural Light, What to Do with the Images Once You’ve Shot Them, The Best Lenses for Photographing Children, How To Make Any Location into the Perfect One, Next Steps if You Are Interested in Learning More, and Recommendations for Printers, Vendors, Equipment, Web Site, Books and More. All this for just $125/ticket, and just $100 for TSP readers!!

Just check out some of these "Before and After" pictures taken by moms before Abigail's workshop, and after:

Her July 24th workshop is already full, but the next class is in the works for September and Abigail is taking names to be added to the waiting list. Additionally, Abigail is introducing Shutterbabes 2, an intermediate class for former and new students who want to dig a little deeper into what they have learned. If interested in either of these classes, you can email Diana at Workshop tickets can be purchased online as classes are announced.

And now for some quick tips, check out this Q&A we had with Abigail:

As moms, why is it important to learn to take good photos the right way vs. just shooting as we do?
Digital technology and access to images and sharing has improved so much in the past few years, so families are empowered to be their own archivists. People no longer have to rely entirely on the old-fashioned indoor or mall studio for family portraits (although I certainly think hiring a professional at least once a year is a great thing!). An entry-level digital SLR camera (a Canon Rebel, e.g.) is not too much more expensive than a pocket point-and-shoot, so learning how to use them is the next step.

What do we need to think about in terms of lighting, background, subjects?
I encourage people to shoot in natural light only, reserving flash for "snapshot" moments (like at holidays and such) where you just have to go with the moment. By keeping backgrounds simple, choosing clothing without logos, and getting as close to your subject as you can, you'll see a big change in your images. One of my favorite quotations is by a photographer who once said, "If your pictures aren't good enough, then you aren't close enough."

Why is it important to buy a good camera – and in regards to your workshops – a digital SLR?
One of the main aspects of what we talk about in the workshop has to do with upgrading your lens -- point-and-shoot cameras do not have detachable/interchangable lenses, so your creative options are limited. Without a good lens, you are driving a Ferrari with old Honda tires on it! You can spend as little as $99 on a quality lens and see a dramatic improvement. I provide a number of different lenses during the workshop for people to sample, and participants can take advantage of a discount offered at a lens rental company in order to test them on their own, too.

What are some things moms typically do wrong in taking pictures?
The easiest mistake to make is to take photos in bright sunlight -- it looks so cheerful to our eyes, but the camera doesn't translate it well. The three most important things to remember are: shade, shade, shade! :)

Are there things we can do with our children to help us with our picture taking such as setting them up, keeping them still?
Most kids, with the exception of babies under 6-9 months, will never stay still (as moms know well!) so the key is having a camera that has a very fast shutter (like the SLRs) and a lens that can capture all the finest details.

And if moms can’t afford digital SLR cameras, are there things we can do to maximize our shots on the cameras we have?
The main thing to do is find the button on your camera that turns off your automatic flash -- miracles will happen if you do!

What do we need to look for in buying a good camera – digital SLRs and others?
The easiest thing to do is not stray from Nikon and Canon -- they are the strongest brands and have the most quality lenses. Lenses stay with you forever, so as you upgrade your camera body you can still use the same lenses. I have lenses that I've been using for 15 years, even though the camera bodies have advanced and progressed and I've gone through at least 10 of them. As someone once said to me, "invest in glass" (i.e. pay more attention to your lens than the camera body)

Thanks, Abigail for all these invaluable tips! I know a lot of moms, including myself, have been looking for this type of information. And I can’t wait to find out the dates of your upcoming workshops. Keep us posted!

And don't forget to register to win a family four-pack of tickets to see Peter & the Wolf, compliments of Eastern Music Festival. Two TSP newsletter subscribers will win four tickets each! To register for these tickets, click here. This giveaway ends Friday, July 9. Good luck, Smarties!


Thaddeus said...

Thanks for this interesting and informative post. With the digital revolution and so many excellent (and inexpensive) cameras out there, it is very helpful to have advice from someone who uses them all the time, and SO beautifully. Three cheers for TriadSmartyPants and for Abigail Seymour Photography!

Summer said...

This is a GREAT post!! This workshop sounds like it is right up my alley! Especially the lens rental and trial. I have been wondering if I've been got the right equipment, I find myself using the 55-250mm lens almost exclusively when I'm taking pics of the kids. I would also really love to understand how to manipulate depth of field to my advantage, and improve my straight out of camera shots. Does Abigail also do a workshoop on editing software as it pertains to mommy photographers?

Anonymous said...

Do we just email you if we want to get on the September waiting list?

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