Tuesday Tip: Candid Posing

Today we bring you a tip that is for both photographers, and everyone who finds themselves in front of a camera for family photos every year (which should be everyone, clearly!). Two words: candid posing. What? That sounds sort of like an oxymoron?
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Raise your hand if you dream of those pretty photos of your family, laughing together, hugging, and playing in the sunshine. That is what I want my family photos to look like FOR SURE. I want that one perfect “smiling at the camera” shot (or what we like to call it at The Wild Bloom Studio, “The Money Shot”). The rest of the photos I want to showcase our dynamic, our real smiles, and our fun and playful relationships with our kids. I want the movement that turns a collection of photos into a story. These photos bring a gallery wall or an album to life. They take the soul back to what it actually felt like to be there in that moment.Yanez Family Fall Minis 2017-7951

So this is probably why so many people love the candid shots and why so many clients ask specifically for candid only shots. Problem with candid shots? You don’t always get everyone in the frame, and you’ll most likely see less of someone’s face than you’d think. This is where candid posing comes in.

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Photographers – pose the family, “stand here, and here, put your arm here, tuck in your hand here, lean in, etc” and then you say GO! You let the family fall into their space, into who they are. This may require some prompting still, “go in for the tickle”, and other various activities to get the family comfortable and moving.

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Everyone in front of the camera – make sure you GO! This is the time to let go of your camera-ready smiles and perfect posture and relax into the silliness and candor of your family dynamic. Only YOU know that your child loves when you blow raspberries on their cheeks. Only YOU know that at home you like to sing and dance to that certain song your daughter loves. Only YOU know that your husband and boys wrestle like they are in the WWE octagon. Sometimes, you might try one of your tricks and it isn’t working. That’s ok! Keep your smile and try the next trick in the bag. And just know that if your photographer hasn’t told you to do anything different, keep rolling with it!

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Once you’ve finished nailing “The Money Shot”….let loose and be crazy and tickle your kids, or lean into your spouse and pretend like it’s your first kiss all over again, or grab that little one and play the drums on their belly. The magic happens when you are in the right place at the right time and you unleash your real feelings AND your photographer is all set up to capture it. Any photographer worth their salt will never be mad at you for bringing your own special family spice to the shot. Photographers, remember that some families may need the encouragement to do this.

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The pose is just the starting point, to everything that can happen there after.

 

Introducing: Tuesday Tips and Tricks

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Hey all you photographers and photo lovers!

Since I have spent the better part of my adult life trying to unravel the secrets of this little black box in my hands and the magic it can produce when used correctly I thought it might be time to share some of these secrets with all of you!!!! Nothing is too complicated here, I plan on sharing basic tips and tricks that can be applied if you are a photographer or just a person wanting to create better photos. Let’s be honest, we all want to know how to make better pictures- no matter which side of the camera we are on!

So tune in every Tuesday for a little chat about everything from tricks for getting kids to smile their real smiles for photos to how to dress your family for pictures. Post a comment if there is a particular tip you would like me to share and I promise to try and fit it in in the coming weeks.

Until next time…happy clicking you guys!

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5 Tips For Making Your Family Photos a Piece of Cake This Fall!

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We all know what happens…

Every Fall it sneaks up on you and before you know the time is here and you have not gotten all of your family photo ducks in a row. You want the gorgeous updated family photos each year to hang on your walls and adorn your holiday cards… but what you have to go through to get those family photos seems like an impossible chore.

Here are a few tips for making the experience a whole lot easier and more enjoyable this year!

Tip #1- Start the process early!

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It can take some time to shop around and find the perfect photographer. Start looking for someone that fits the style you are looking for and who makes family photography that excites and inspires you, and embodies the feel of your family. For most family photographers, Fall is our busy season and we book out weeks or even months in advance. By finding your ideal photographer and contacting them in the summer, chances are good that they will still have plenty of dates for you to choose from and you can secure a coveted spot on their calendar before the rush.

Booking a date earlier in the fall season also gives you a few advantages. The weather is often unpredictable later in the fall season with cold mornings and chilly evenings. California Septembers still have plenty of warm days. You also get the opportunity to get your family photos done before the busy holiday season when parties and events can make scheduling family photos a challenge and you are worn out. Additionally- you will get a photographer who is still fresh and full of creativity at the beginning of their busy season rather than at the end when they are worn out from 3 months of back to back shoots. You’ll have plenty of time to get holiday cards ordered and take advantage of sales that card companies often offer as incentive to get your cards ordered early.

Tip #2- Make a day of it.

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When booking a date for your session, block out plenty of time before the session so you don’t schedule anything beforehand that will make getting ready stressful. Try to set aside the whole day if you can so that the day’s atmosphere is easy and calm and you enjoy the experience with your family. Take a nap! Eat a delicious lunch! Go out for ice cream afterwards! All of these elements will help you to make family photos a fun outing instead of a hated task.

When choosing a time for your shoot, keep in mind times of the day that your children are at their best. Don’t book a time that conflicts with nap times or meal times. Set the stage for success by coordinating all the elements that will make your children as happy and comfortable as possible so that you as the parent are relaxed as well.

***For best photos try to book the times closest to sunrise or sunset. If your children do better in the morning try to schedule closer to sunrise. If your children function better after a nap think about doing a session closer to sunset. These conditions will give you the most amazing lighting for your outdoor session.

(Below: An example of beautiful morning light which tends to be more soft and cool in color)

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(Below: An example of gorgeous evening light which tends to be more dramatic and warm in color)

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(Finally- mid-day lighting can work great if you have a location that is covered but still naturally lit like in the photo below.)

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Tip #3- Wardrobe plan as soon as you have a date booked.

BennettFamily2015-9220Plan your outfits early and start shopping when it’s fresh on your mind while you are booking your date with the photographer. That perfect dress you found online might take weeks to arrive and this will give you plenty of time to get everything you need without the mad last-minute dash to the mall or having to settle for something that is Amazon Prime.

My “secret sauce” for the perfect family photo outfits for my family is to pick one dynamic piece that I love for one person in the family and the coordinate everyone else’s outfits around that one piece. Pull colors or tones or overall style from that piece and use it as a connective thread in your choices with other outfits. Layer in a variety of textures and fabrics and patterns to give a sense of coordination without being too matchy-matchy. Throw out all the things your mama taught you about what to wear for family photos. Layers are good! Patterns are good! More than one color can be good! If you need feedback on your outfit choices it never hurts to touch base with your photographer. They usually have a lot of insight into what works and what doesn’t and they can give you the added feedback about whether your choices will work well for the location you will be photographed in. Coordinating and taking advice from your photographer can elevate your family photos from a simple family photo to art.

Pick clothing that fits your color or style theme BUT keep in mind your children’s personalities and what they like to wear. You may find a gorgeous tulle dress that you are dying to put your tomboy daughter in, but at the end of the day the fight to get her to wear it is not worth it. You will love the photos so much more if you allow your children to wear clothes that fit their style but that you choose to coordinate with your family photo vision. Children are likely to be more excited about photos if they feel they were involved and have a say in the process. (Same thing goes for the dads, mamas!)

Tip #4- Talk it up!

In the weeks leading up to your session talk to your kids about what will happen in a positive excited way. If you set a tone for family photos being “so much fun” and how excited you are, they will get into the spirit, too. Depending on their age you can promise rewards or incentives to prepare them for doing their best, but I always prefer to just make the experience of hanging out at the park while a photographer plays with us and takes our photos the incentive. My kids and I talk about secret funny inside jokes we can call upon during the shoot to elicit laughs. We talk about what they do want (hugs and tickles) and don’t want (kisses and having to smile for a long time) to happen.

If your kids need an activity in order to cooperate for photos- discuss options with your photographer. Children are not always born models and some march to the beat of their own drum. If that sounds like your child- think about what they enjoy and how you can incorporate that into your shoot. Maybe they love to chase bubbles, or ride their bike, or fly kites? Maybe your session needs to be somewhere they can play tag, or jump in the water, or play with legos. Your family is unique and your photos should represent who you are and who your kids are. That is what makes your family photos authentic to your family.

5. Leave it to the pros.

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After all the preparation and scheduling and worry about if your children will behave…. after doing the best you can to prepare…. the moment you arrive at your session leave those thoughts and feelings behind. If your kids are misbehaving, let your photographer worry about reeling them in (within reason), try to have a light-hearted attitude, and enjoy the time with your kids. Your kids will take cues from your demeanor and will often behave accordingly. If you have selected a good photographer who knows how to work with kids- they will have a bag of tricks to get your kids to do what they need for great photos and that allows you to focus on yourself and making sure you have great expressions and body language. (Remember to keep smiling mom and dad – take a deep breath, no need to feel embarrassed, we’ve all been there). How many times have you gotten your family photos back and not loved how strained your smile looks? Focus on looking your best and let your photographer worry about bringing out the best in your kids.

No matter how busy you are, your family photos are always worth making room in your schedule for. So start searching for the right pro, grab your calendar, and get ready to make some epic memories!!!!

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I still have hope.

Somehow, despite all the hard things that have happened in the recent years in our country….

Despite all the tragedy, the crazy politics, the state of the government, and hard conditions for so many people in the world… I still have hope.

Maybe that is naive. Maybe I am just a wide-eyed optimist. Maybe I don’t want to face it all.

But I look at my kids, I listen to their ideas and thoughts and the way they view the world and I know that while I cannot change a lot of things in the country I live in…. I can give the world these 3 women with strong ideas and knowledge and insights that might make a difference.

It’s not everything. It won’t change the world in the next 5 minutes, or 5 days, or 5 years. It feels small, but it’s not. We are all powerful and we all have that opportunity to change the world through these tiny people. Through small things, big things are accomplished.

“Every generation inherits a world it never made; and, as it does so, it automatically becomes the trustee of that world for those who come after. In due course, each generation makes its own accounting to its children.”
-Robert Kennedy

Photography, Children, Bay Area Photographer, Child Photography, Family Photography, Patriotic, Fourth of July, Future, South Bay Area, Silicon Valley.

When the Clouds Don’t Part

After all these years of being a photographer I know things definitely do not always go as planned. My portfolio would lead you to believe that every session ends in a sunset, every child smiles perfectly, every click of my camera is pure magic….

So what happens when the clouds don’t part? What do I do when, instead, those clouds literally open up and dump endless amounts of rain on my photo plans? Because let’s keep it real, THAT HAPPENS!

The month of March was not good to me this year. What was normally a month of sunny skies and wildflowers turned into a literal mud pit. Every weekend was rainy or so muddy from the week before, outdoor sessions were impossible.

Let me tell you something about myself….. I need sunshine. Sun-flare shots are my jam. Additionally, I have seasonal depression and too many days without my friend, the sun, I get in a serious funk.

Wildflower Minis were scheduled, and rescheduled, and rescheduled again. Easter minis were time-sensitive and they could not be rescheduled. Booking a gaggle of animals for your Easter Minis means that your date is happening rain or shine so as the week crept on and I realized that the rain was not going to pass in time for photos of kids and bunnies outdoors, I had to hatch a new plan.

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My studio is always an option but I just hadn’t thought about what I would do if I had to take these photos indoors. So in the days before when my fate became apparent I started figuring out how I was going to make my studio a beautiful wonderland for my clients. My clients trust me to produce beautiful images for their children regardless of the weather, and sometimes that pressure is exactly what I need to step up.

And so, the day before Easter Minis this year found me out in the rain trimming mustard blossoms from a local field, and cutting eucalyptus branches hanging over the fence into my yard, and filling buckets and baskets full of any foliage I thought might work. Then I spent hours that night at the studio laboring over ideas for how to make the sessions special, and different, and magical for those cute littles who would be coming in the morning(both kids and creatures).

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That’s what we photographers do.

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In the final hour I had a flash of brilliance and realized my window ledge in the studio was big enough to sit a child on. I had never done it before but I could see the images in my mind- light pouring through the window and greenery climbing the wall, almost like a princess in her castle. These are how my big ideas usually happen. Misery and stress before the big idea hits me and it seems so obvious like I should have seen it all along.

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The day went wonderfully. Bunnies and chicks were held and adored by all and the window seat turned out to be my favorite shots.

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It’s not always easy. Rolling with the punches is hard when your vision for a photo shoot is barricaded by circumstance. But, if you are up for the challenge, and you let yourself think outside the box, when things fall apart you can find to create beautiful images for your client no matter the situation.

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XOXO,

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The Wild Bloom Project

So much sadness seems to fill the air lately. It’s hard to avoid the photos of the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, and the most recent Northern California fires. In addition to all of the horrifying natural disasters there are the devastating man made horrors, such as the Las Vegas shooting. It is impossible to escape the heartache. Something as simple as scrolling through your social media feed has turned into a sad and uncomfortable experience to dread… except for the tiny glimpses from time to time into the joy, and fellowship that still exists in the world. The photos and stories that remind us daily that life is still beautiful despite terrible circumstances.

Over the last couple months we’ve been working on something at The Wild Bloom Studio. After several drafts of how to introduce it, and trying to fine tune all the details, it’s time to stop worrying about the perfect words. We want to get this out there, and we don’t want to waste any more time or allow for another disaster to hit. We introduce to you, The Wild Bloom Project.

In an effort to give back and add a sliver of positivity out there, we are gifting photography sessions this fall. While this is not the first time that business owner, Meghan MacAskill, will be gifting a photography session, it is the goal of The Wild Bloom Studio to go bigger. We want to be able to reach more people and open up the opportunity to a greater audience.  We are placing no limits on the amount of sessions we will gift- only that we want to give the gift of photos to those who are truly in need. We are asking that if you know anybody at all in the San Francisco Bay Area that would benefit from a gifted photography session that you share their story with us. This can be anybody you know that has had financial difficulties, illness, loss of loved ones, home displacement, or anybody that has had more than their fair share of negativity. If you feel comfortable sharing your own story and feel that you would benefit from this photography session please feel free to do so! To share a story please email us at admin@wildbloomstudio.com

Please share this post on your social media feed, tell your friends and family about it, and help us spread the word. Help us give back a little bit of happiness and bring the gift of memories to someone out there this Holiday Season.

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Gatsby

He was their first baby. He was their oldest, their furriest, their tamest. He was with them through moves around the country, and babies, and so many adventures. He was robust, and energetic, and so very good.

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Until he wasn’t. Until one day he started to unravel at the seams and he couldn’t be put back together. They knew the time had come to say goodbye. They knew that the days with Gatsby were numbered and the moments left were precious ones. They knew this was the end that all pet-owners have to face at one time or another.

You may know how this feels. Maybe you have lost a pet in the past? As a fellow dog owner I have seen more than one of my furry babies pass away. I still miss them dearly.

In search of a great photographer, Gatsby’s owner Erik contacted SmugMug, a local company that knows great photos and amazing photographers. SmugMug is a photo and website hosting service and their headquarters are located close to Erik’s home. Many of SmugMug’s employees are photographers or photo enthusiasts. SmugMug reached out to me and that is how I met Gatsby, and his family.  Erik and I talked, and laughed, and I felt Erik’s sadness over his dog’s impending death pulse through the telephone as we set up a photo shoot for the very next evening.

Gatsby was everything they told me he was. Gentle, and loyal. Adoring to his masters and with the children he was as sweet as could be. He had soulful eyes that made you feel like he was talking to you when you looked at him, speaking volumes through those chocolate brown eyes.

We laughed and played in the evening sunshine that day, and for a moment we could forget that this was one of his last evenings. For that hour the sun shone down, and Gasby snuck in licks on his Mom and Dad’s faces, and the kids giggled and patted him. It was a gift. An evening spent watching a family be in in the present soaking up each other and giving thanks for the years they had been given with their dog. Moments like that don’t happen every day, and if you are lucky, you are invited to witness them very few times in your life. I feel honored that I was that witness.

The same day I delivered these photos to this dear family, sweet Gatsby passed away. Their two small children will grow not really remembering this dog of their youth but I am hopeful that these photos will cement in all of their minds this day in the sunshine that they played with their dog before he had to leave.

Rest in peace sweet Gatsby.

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13 Years in the Making.

Very few people are given the chance to live their dream. Life is cruel that way. But if you find the thing in life that brings you joy, and challenges you, and fills you with passion…you should run, not walk, towards it and never look back.

13 years ago I picked up my first professional camera. I would love to say that I knew in that instant that I would be a great photographer but that would be a lie. All I knew at the time was that I loved photographs, I loved people, and I loved unraveling the mystery of this camera. With every click of that camera I discovered things. Most photos I captured then were failures with only brief shining instances of success, but something inside me wouldn’t let me quit when I failed over and over again. I toiled over that camera for years. I struggled to learn editing programs, and lighting techniques, and fought for the confidence to direct people into poses. I stayed up late at night watching You-Tube videos on how to use Photoshop. I bought my first lens, and then my second. I attended photography workshops, and asked friends to let me borrow their babies for practice shoots, and I invested in props. I lived, ate, and breathed photography those first few years.

It really is true that you don’t choose the things you love, they choose you. I never intended to be a professional photographer. But as time passed the love of capturing photos of my family and my friend’s families spread. Passion like that cannot be contained, it is like ripples in a pond. And my ripples could no longer be contained in the small circle of my loved ones. They pushed outward, bringing me every day to more people who loved my work and wanted me to be a part of their photos.

When I actually did finally allow myself to say “I am a professional photographer”, suddenly doors opened. Opportunities were presented. I said “yes” to everything. I took every job, big or small. I had finally found my wings and I wanted to see where they would take me. It was such an adventure in those middle years, pushing myself creatively and trying new things. I photographed birthday parties, and weddings, and head shots, and newborns. I worked on corporate campaigns, and magazine covers. I photographed anyone and everything…

…And I started to dream bigger. Dream about what I wanted my future in photography to look like.

You see, I am never content to sit still and continue the status quo. I push. I’m never more happy than when I am growing and working towards that next goal. It’s how I live my life and in my business that translates to constantly asking myself “How am I becoming a better photographer?”.

So I started to dream about the studio I wanted to create. One that provided the quality of images I have cultivated over the years but with a beautiful and finessed package. I wanted to open doors for other photographers by offering mentoring and associate photographer programs. I wanted to create a more streamline process for my clients by redesigning my branding and moving to studio software. I wanted to become more creatively available for artistic passion projects. I wanted to speed up delivery times by outsourcing some of my editing and administrative work.

It took quite a bit for this dream to become a reality, and it was not an easy progression. I am learning that my business will never be “finished”. There will always be something to update, edit, revamp, delegate, or rethink… but that is what I love about what I do. There is no finish line. I will always be looking for that next exciting goal and wondering what I can do to be better.

I have often thought “What if I fall out of love with photography?”. It is a thought that held me back in the beginning. I worried about putting too many hours and too much money into something I wasn’t sure if I would stick with. But at the end of the day, it chose me. I am living the dream I couldn’t have even imagined all those years ago.

I am done looking back. There is only the future and the next goal on the horizon.