Tips, Tricks and a Challenge

Hopefully you caught our feature on Excelsior Lake Minnetonka Chamber of Commerce’s Facebook page. SO FUN! Our chamber has my heart. They are beyond dedicated to supporting small business and have been incredibly committed to finding creative ways to bring our community together during COVID-19. If you missed it you can re-watch it HERE.

I was thrilled to get to participate in this episode and am excited to launch our 20 20 in 2020 Challenge! I miss seeing your faces and can not wait to start shooting again. Until then, let’s play a game, shall we?

Here’s how to play:

You will have $20 (per subject) and 20 minutes to take and submit 5 photos to our private Facebook group. You’re welcome! I just gave you a reason to get out of the house and spruce up your spring wardrobe. Target has some great looks out right now that everyone will love getting into. Then get your crew dressed, get your phone out and set a 20 minute timer. I have captured some of my all-time favorite photos of my kids in only a few minutes. To keep it fun for everyone keep it short and sweet! So there you have it, $20 of shiny new clothes and 20 minutes of family fun capturing this oh-so interesting season we find ourselves in! But let me give you a few tips to ensure you kill this!

Tips To Taking Awesome Photos With Your Smartphone

For your clothing I recommend keeping it simple and clean. I want my kids to look great framed on my walls for years to come. I tend to gravitate towards a neutral color palette and stick to softer colors. White, kahki and denim work great with my gang of 4 and never go out of style. Alternatively you could go bold and make a statement. The biggest trick is to make sure that the colors and patterns coordinate with each other and don’t distract from the subjects faces. Remember, you want to remember expressions and the emotions of your family, not their clothing. Adding accessories such as a bowtie, a scarf, head band and fun jewelry is a great way to add style, current trends and layers to the images.

Here’s what I found at Target last week:

Make sure you are honoring the personal preferences of your kids or subject. Uncomfortable clothes that the the they hate will impact how they feel when you photograph them. We want to celebrate their personalities, even at the expense of my personal preferences! Oh how it pains me to say that!

Most of all here’s what to stay away from: logos, cartoons and graphics, crazy patterns, text on the clothing, unicorns (truly… no unicorns), you get the point. Simple always wins!

Likely you have pulled out your camera to get the perfect photo on more than one occasion and been met with the dreaded stink eye. Or worse, the eye roll and hand in camera combo. As a photographer my kids have been abused by my love of capturing them on camera. I confess! But, I’ve learned a trick or two about making it FUN and the art of the sale!!! Yes, this is where I tell you to break every household rule on bribery and give them the world!

Worse case scenario… embrace the chaos! I have more than one photo of my child rage-crying framed in my home. I love all the emotions and with a little time, your child can look back at the moment and find it as hilarious as you do!

You’ve heard the saying “location, location, location” when it comes to home buying. In the world of photography it’s “lighting, lighting, lighting”! Undoubtedly, your camera roll is bursting with, let’s be honest, really bad photos. Chances are 90% of those are caused by poor lighting conditions.

For a good photo you need good light. Sources of light can be the sun, a window, a flash or ambient light. Generally speaking, you want a large, soft light source. For me, I love window light. Tip inside a tip: south and west facing windows are the BEST!

Below you will see my lovely model, Cooper, with light coming from different directions. Most of the time, back lighting is tricky to work with (especially on a phone). Side light can create dramatic shadows that can be really beautiful but sometimes not always the most flattering. Flat light is well… flat. When your working with little light and little direction from that light it’s just kind of dull, IMO! My personal fave for phone photos is direct light. To get this I put the light source (a window or the sun) behind me.

For pro tip four let’s dive in to post production! First you will want to start by getting rid of all of the photos that didn’t turn out. Your storage space will thank you! I am a self diagnosed “over shooter”. If I see a moment I want to capture I take about 10 photos of it. I’m looking for the perfect expression, lighting and composition (framing of the subject). So after this challenge don’t hate yourself if you have 137 photos on your camera roll. But for the love… don’t keep them there. Go through and delete anything that’s not awesome. Hoarding is so last year! Once you have your very faves narrowed down you will want to use an app or your camera’s settings to moderately enhance the images. Key word: moderately! I cry a little inside when I see my sisters filtered photos of her kids on FB. (I love you, Katie). In my humble opinion, filters distract from the very thing you wanted to remember, the moment! If you view my personal IG page you’ll see I keep my edits pretty simple. I like bright, clean and true to reality images. I steer real clear of funky, soon to be dated filters.

Sally’s Final 5

Seriously. Aren’t they the cutest babes ever?!? [Insert personal bias] So first things first. I love/hate these photos. The LIGHT, that very important first step just wasn’t rockin’ this day. Also, my darn phone always casts a orange tint to skin tones. Lucky for me, I had to invest in a new iPhone 11 Pro and am hoping to get better results. All critique aside… here is what I LOVE:

I got to spend time with my favorite little humans

Everyone laughed and had fun with the challenge

The kids got some really cute new digs

I have a new portrait to frame for my new at home desk

I found some new everyday spots around my home that make for a great back drop for photos

Needing to get their clothes from Target required me to leave the house which resulted in me putting on make up and something other than spandex for the first time in weeks!!!

All this leads me to my final tip…

I know, I know, shameless plug! You guys, capturing your family is like SO important. It happens to be one of my favorite things to do! There is nothing more rewarding than documenting forever this very fleeting moment in time. I want you to remember the way your daughter laughed, your sons awkward smile, the way your kids looked at each other…. I could go on and on.

iPhones are awesome but just to prove to you the power of professional I took my kids to the studio immediately following our in home challenge and spent a few more minutes with my professional camera, in a real photography studio….

So pretty, right?!? I take portraits of my children every year and we also indulge in a professional family session each year. To me, this is where I will invest in art for my home and memories for a lifetime. I love seeing the progression of my children’s lives year after year. When I look at this artwork I am moved each time. I am brought back to sounds, feelings and memories that move me. Time is so precious. Capture it, people!

Okay, enough!

Here’s how to enter

Alright, want to play? Here’s how to enter:

1. Complete the challenge following the rules above
2. LIKE my Facebook Page
3. Join our La Vie VIP Group
4. Post your favorite 5 photos from the 20 20 in 2020 Challenge
5. Sit back and have another glass of wine!

While you’re in the group make sure to vote for your favorite photos from other group members. This challenge will be open through May 21st, 2020. I will calculate the votes and announce the winner on May 22nd, 2020.

The winner will receive a complimentary Classic Session valid through August 30th, 2020.

Challenge or no challenge… I would LOVE to capture your family this summer. Let’s make some memories, shall we?