When people learn that I am a night photographer and light painter they get that look on their face that says “I don’t know what that means but I think I want to hear more.” Rather than explain it, I usually show them this photograph:
That’s when I’ve grabbed their attention and they start asking questions. Unlike shooting during the day, night photography is about immersing into a series of moments and recording everything that happens. It reveals a world of rich color and motion just beyond the ability of the naked eye. It often means you’re out there alone, under the moonlight, listening to some great mood music and absorbing your surroundings in what I can only describe as a meditative state. Like Batman, it involves quietly slipping into and out of places unnoticed by passers by and not raising the suspicions of the neighborhood watch or concerned citizens. I knew I had successfully mastered the art of melting into the darkness when I began scaring coyotes. Continue reading
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As a professional portrait or wedding photographer, it is imperative to be able to produce beautiful images at any time of day. While a beautiful setting an hour before sunset with photogenic and relaxed clients is every photographer’s dream, this scenario seems to present itself infrequently. In fact, the most common shooting scenario that I encounter involves the rather harsh light that occurs around the middle of the day and more than an hour or two separated from sunrise and sunset. Colors flatten out, unattractive shadows are cast awkwardly across faces overexposing some faces while hiding others, or the dreaded raccoon eyes come into play; forcing me into hours of Photoshop trying to salvage a photo and turn it into something presentable. Clients often squint towards the camera, are uncomfortable in general, and the whole portrait event devolves into something rather unprofessional immediately. It’s a bad way to start.
One of the biggest transitions in my photography career came when I came across a simple solution: when the light isn’t perfect during the brightest daylight hours, shoot towards the sun. Putting the sun roughly behind the subject so that their entire face is in even shadow, and then exposing for the face seems to always do the trick. Light is even on the critical features of the subject, the sun serves as a natural kick light highlighting hair and providing a subtle drama to the photos, and the colors in the background jump out as the sun passes through translucent foliage and takes on more color. You can turn your subject 30 degrees away from the sun so it is still roughly behind them and the face is still shadowed, and have a little bit more light bend around one side of the face to create more depth to your portrait as well, while still getting all the benefits of vibrant color. The only caveat to this technique is that the sun has to be low enough in the sky to provide some amount of directional light. That means that at high noon at some points during the year when it is directly overhead it’s incredibly hard to get it reliably behind the subject and raccoon eyes come back into the portraits.
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Rachael Harms, Professional Photographer (left) : I have always been fixated on preserving memories. When my stepdad put my first 35mm in my hand at the age of 10, I discovered I had the power to literally freeze a memory. I was obsessed. Ever since then, there has been a direct correlation between how happy I am and how many photos I’m taking.
The first photo I was proud of was a crooked picture of a distant windmill, viewed through a dusty cabin window. Unlike so many other forms of art, despite my style shifting and talent growing, I’m still proud of my original work. When my dad got me my first digital camera when I was 13, I was able to take far more photos which lead to typical teen-photographer phase- taking pictures of my feet and abandoned stuffed animals in an alley trash heap (thinking that was rather artsy). Despite not having much experience or a large portfolio, I was very fortunate to have my interest in photography validated when I was able to showcase my work at age 16. My best friend and I were on the good side of Rob, the owner of Rob’s Vintique, so he let us put our art up on the walls. This absolutely fueled my desire to pursue photography.
I enjoyed film during this time as well, working for my dad’s wedding videography company and producing highlight tapes for my sports teams. I entered college with the intention of majoring in film, but someone (with my best interests in mind), told me I should really put my time towards something that uses my brain more. After loving a psychobiology class my first quarter, I switched my major to neuroscience. What better subject to study to use my brain than – well – the brain?
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In the years since I started Marmalade Photography, photographing primarily children and families, I’ve come to figure out some tried and true techniques that I do session after session to create expression filled, fun and interesting children’s photography.
Because my clients tend to seek a more emotive style of photography and being a bit of an observer in life I find that this type of photo style suits me very well. However I do love giggles and smiles, silliness and playtime so I will share with you a few quick tips on how I operate before, during and after the session to create really fun and expression filled captures with the littles set.
Most photographers (at least in the child/family photography genre) can relate with this scenario: meet a family at a location and the mom looks stressed out, the dad looks like he’s checked out, their 3 year old is acting up pulling on mom’s pants and wanting attention, the 5 year old is running around totally hyper, and the 6 month old, while adorable is screaming his head off. What do you do here? I mean it’s so easy to get frustrated because the harsh emotions of stress do rub off on everyone that comes in contact with a stressed person. Add a screaming baby, recipe for disaster, right?
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