Little Cowboy!

Whenever you have a client who tells you that their little one is really into cowboys and horses, you do a little jump for a joy inside! When Anna and Joel arrived for Anna’s maternity session, we had to do a little set of Joel (the little one!) with his rocking-horse! These are two of my favorites.

I placed Joel just inside the shadow from the barn to the right in order to get as much as I possibly could from the sun while still keeping the background and subject as evenly lit as possible. With a shot like this, the trouble is making sure you have enough light on the face while still trying to minimize the highlights in the background — in this case, the columns winding their way behind him. I had to do some Photoshop and Lightroom work in order to make sure that I didn’t lose any detail in those columns. You may not be able to tell, but I had to do some Selective Leveling, for sure! The image straight out of my camera had those columns all hot and bothered!

Something else that I did was add a couple different tones into the Shadows. If you look at that column in the extreme right of the shot that’s engulfed in shadow, you can see what I mean: there are definitely blues added in there, and that was to cool down the shot. The grass was EXTREMELY green once I uploaded this into Photoshop, so I toned down the highlights in the greens as well as added in some cyan into the shadows of the greens, so that they wouldn’t pop quite so much.

All in all, I’m very pleased with this one! The other side of the barn was COMPLETELY shaded, so from a technical perspective, that would have been the most logical place to shoot. But I REALLY wanted those rustic columns that you see in this shot. So I sacrificed a little bit, knowing I was going to have to do a little more editing on it, and I’m really pleased with the result.

Let me know what you think in the comments!
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First Editing Video

Facebook Live has taken the world by storm (or so it seems), and the possibilities of what can be accomplished with it are undoubtedly still in the freshest stages. Such an awesome new medium tends to get us all excited and bouncy about what it can do — sort of like the latest gadget.

In the spirit of Facebook Live’s ingenuity, I created a [very not-ingenuous] video of my photo-editing process in which I put on full display exactly how I edit a typical portrait. Below is the finished image from that editing video._MG_9705 copy
If you would like to check out the video in full, you can take a peek at it here: http://facebook.com/timothymarseephotography. Make sure you like my Facebook page as well as click the “Turn On Notifications” button so that you can keep up-to-date with my goings-on!

Happy shooting (and editing)!

To Wear or Not to Wear?

When it comes to clothes for toddlers, I sort of regret our past. Those of us who were born in the ’80s and grew up in the ’90s all have some things in common in most professional photos taken of us (I’ll only talk about dudes here, since that’s my experience!):

  1. Knee Socks. No need to go crazy here, but for all those ’80s moms out there — WHY? Didn’t you like our cushy leg rolls? Why cover them with two feet of thin, itchy lengths of the thinnest material known to mankind? It’s not like my legs are already super short. Why emphasize it? Sheesh.
  2. Giant Collars. Ok, this one was kind of cool as far as it went. But I’m not talking about those ’70s collars with the bright purple paisley print. I’m talking about those neck-wrapping deals that looked like they came right out of a painting of Henry VIII. Were those in style?
  3. Shorty Shorts. No need. Just no need.

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See what I’m saying? I have some questions to ask my mother…

Little boys today have it MADE! Just walk into any Janie & Jack store to see how awesome little dude clothes have become. I admit, I’m a little jealous.

And I’m so happy to have had the opportunity to photograph a couple outfits for one of these awesome-outfit stores! Lucy & Leo is based out of New York, and they make wonderful outfits for kiddos out of recycled materials! Here’s a blurb straight from their website:

“Lucy & Leo organic clothing is known for its soft color palate and classic design with a modern twist. As our brand grows, we stay true to our vision of creating unique, adorable and comfortable outfits for your child in an eco-friendly fashion. We are proud to be one of the first organic and USA-made clothing brands in the children’s industry.

Our mission is simple: to provide your child with the finest, highest quality clothing on the market. Our garments move and breathe, are durable and very comfortable.

Lucy & Leo garments are designed and manufactured in New York. We are committed,  to bettering the world. We do that in three basic ways. We manufacture in the USA to support our local economy. We use only environmentally sensitive and organic materials, and for every garment purchased, we plant a tree with Trees For the Future.”

So there ya go! It was my pleasure to photograph Amos, who was adorably representing Lucy & Leo in this styled shoot:

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Just Sit Still!

Today, I’m going to deal with something that most of us deal with. I say “most” because if you don’t photograph kiddos, then this may not apply to you.

This difficulty in photography can be summed up in one word:

TODDLERS.

Did you just shudder? I actually had to stop and take a deep breath before typing it. But why is it that some photographers — particularly newer ones — struggle and stress over photographing these tiny humans? Here are some of my reasons:

  1. They’re Emotional. Look at things from their perspective: this world is HUGE! Why does it have to be so big? And what’s even worse, toddlers are so SMALL! And to add to their troubles, everything is so NEW. I’m not saying that these aspects of the world around us are to blame for all of their little explosions of emotion, but knowing them beforehand can help us to have empathy toward these little subjects of ours.
  2. They Just Can’t. Have you every tried to tell a toddler to sit with their legs crossed, their head turned to the left with their chin slightly toward the horizon line, only to have them get up immediately and start chasing that cat that keeps coming around during your shoot? Here’s some relief for you: that’s SUPPOSED to happen. Some toddlers can sit well, but many, MANY, many can’t do it. And that’s ok. It’s ok, because they’re normal and you can chill out a bit. And it also helps us with our creativity…

With brings me to the HOW-TO of this post!

  1. Just Let Them Be, with Limits. That toddler is most likely going to get bored with that pose pretty quick. So you need to have all your settings on point so that you can get their giggle, release that shutter, and move on after three or four shots. Then, follow them for a little bit (unless, of course, they’re heading toward danger. PLEASE stop them!). What are they interested in? What’s captured their attention? The image that I’ve featured in this post was one of those shots where I had to be patient. I posed him next to a fence, and don’t get me wrong: those fence shots were cute. But then, he became mesmerized by these dandelions! And he DESTROYED THEM! And it was ADORABLE! If I had not have had my camera settings ready and my eyes up, I would have missed it. So follow their interests. Watch their eyes dart around and become interested in what has captured their interest.
  2. Be Patient. Your best shots will most likely come when you don’t expect them. Pose them, but don’t be a slave to that pose. If they aren’t going to sit, then let them stand a bit. Just make sure you don’t take a ton of shots of their backside. Get to where their eyes are. This will require some hustle and sweat on your part, but it’ll be totally worth it!
  3. Shoot with a Telephoto Lens. This is simply my opinion, but when I have a good distance between my subject, myself, and the background, the images are a THOUSAND times more lovely. When I photograph toddlers, I put them roughly where I want them — which is usually a field of grass or flowers, if I’m being honest — and then back off and photograph them with my Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L lens. This separation allows them to be more natural, in my opinion. Big smiles aren’t always what we want. Let them be a little, with limits (remember: DO NOT ALLOW DANGEROUS SITUATIONS!). Those sweet moments happen better that way.
  4. Your Settings Should Be Ready Beforehand. I can’t emphasize this enough, no matter what type of photography you do. If you’re sitting there fiddling with your settings in the middle of the shoot, your clients will eventually get annoyed. You need to have those settings ready to go before you start to shoot! And make sure to do plenty of variety in each location. When you move into a new lighting situation, you’ll need to adjust your white balance, shutter speed, etc., accordingly. In a future post, I’ll explain how I meter on my camera before I even take a single shot. But if you’d like to know before I get that one published, send me a message or comment! I’ll be glad to divest some wisdom! 🙂

Please be patient with these sweet little ones. Clients who see how you care for their children will be all the more impressed with you and super thankful. Think about what those parents went through to get that toddler up from bed, fed, dressed, entertained, and then transported to that location for their portrait shoot. Have a large dose of empathy, and above all:

BE A SERVANT.

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My Daughter’s (Extremely Belated) Easter Session

How does the saying go? The cobbler’s children had no shoes?

I completely agree. Only I’m not a cobbler — I’m a photographer.

The photographer’s children has no photos!

How many of you fellow photogs out there can relate to this? You spend so much of your time photographing other people that when you’re not photographing someone, your camera (which you spent a good deal of money on) sits in the bag unused until your next session.

That’s my experience.

So, over two months after Easter 2015 has come and gone, I finally get around to editing my daughter’s Easter photos. And I’ve included my favorites for you here.

I hope you enjoy!

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Feel free to leave me some comments or LIKE this post! If you’re interested in having your children’s portraits taken, send me a Contact form from the Contact page of my website: Timothy Marsee Photography