A baby is a blessing... that is certain! A few weeks after this beautiful girl was born, I was so lucky to do a lifestyle session with her and her loving parents. She was quite content to be held by her mom and dad, even smiling a few times for me. Then, like clockwork, she went right to sleep when I laid her down to take a few posed portraits. And because this sweet girl is a rainbow baby, we had some fun doing some colorful shots too! Check it out!
Those last few months, last few weeks, last few days before your baby arrives are filled with excitement, anticipation, nervousness, wonder and a little exhaustion. And usually those feelings last for the first several months after baby arrives! I know they did with me. I especially love photographing new families, like this own, experiencing all these feelings for the first time with their first born babies. This beautiful couple were in awe of their beautiful baby girl and their love came right through with these photos. They were calm, kind and joyous... and not a bit exhausted or nervous... a photographer's dream. :) Take a look and see!
It's no big secret that every newborn session is different, whether it is in-home like the following session or in-studio like this session or a combination of both. You never know how the baby will do... will he sleep? Will he cry? Will his siblings want to cuddle him? This was one of those newborn sessions where the (1) the baby slept (2) the baby was happy as a clam and (3) his sisters could not get enough of him... a perfect kind of session! This beautiful family had been through a lot in the weeks prior to the session with one of the children being hospitalized and needing an emergency surgery right after the birth of the baby. But this amazing family powered right through it all and when everyone was recovered, we had one awesome session. Take a look and see!
If you follow me on Instagram, you know I love visiting Louisiana, especially for a good family session. I recently traveled to back to this beautiful spot in Louisiana to capture a wonderful family and their baby girl who was about to turn one. A few weeks back I did another one year old session and I have to say this again... one year is the perfect time to capture your baby. Give that little another couple of months and they are officially a big kid! This session was so special because the older brother and sister were so loving with their baby sister and wanted to make sure she was the center of attention. That is so rare and so special! I absolutely love this beautiful family. They remind me why I love family sessions!
A pair of beautiful sisters recently welcomed home a brand new, tiny baby sister. They were very careful and sweet with their newborn baby and made sure to tell me how special she is. When you meet a group of sisters as kind and gentle as these, you know you are in for an awesome newborn session. I actually shot these as two sessions, first a newborn session about 7 days after the baby was born in my studio and then a separate family session in the family's home about a month after the baby was born. You can really see how much she grew over just three weeks!
It's time to mix it up and find some new shooting locations for child and family sessions. I'm always finding fun spots, but this new one might be my favorite. Because this location had a hill suitable for rolling, rocks suitable for throwing and a pond suitable for splashing, it has been approved by the McLendon children.
At least for moms, a child's first birthday has got to be the most memorable of birthdays. The twelve months leading up to that special day were filled with all those important firsts, days and nights of round-the-clock care and SO MUCH LOVE. After that first year passes, your baby slowly becomes a big kid, so a child photography session to capture those chubby cheeks and pudgy hands at twelve months is important. This first birthday photo session was so much fun for me because we got into the studio and were able to focus on all the special baby features of this birthday boy and we also were able to capture his sweet, charming personality. If your little one is rounding up on twelve months, schedule your session here ... because your baby will only turn one once!
Those first few days home from the hospital with a newborn are both exciting and exhausting. Everything happening is so special and new and it seems to go by so quickly. Newborn photography is so important because it allows you to freeze every little yawn, finger grip and sleepy smile you see. When shooting a lifestyle newborn session like this, I like to take my time and let the baby direct how fast or slow the session goes. I love to look around the nursery and capture the baby's little world and all the important bits and bobs of babyhood. If you follow me on Instagram, you know this beautiful new mom is my cousin. But maybe you don't know, and I hope these photos truly show, she has taken to motherhood like a pro. I was so proud to capture this in these pictures.
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If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I love visiting my home state of Louisiana, especially for a good family session. Last weekend I traveled to Natchitoches, Louisiana to shoot a few family sessions at the Oakland Plantation. The rows of beautiful old oak trees and historic plantation home and outbuildings created the perfect setting. The beautiful children of this Louisiana family helped me explore and pick out the perfect spots for all our pictures. We climbed trees, picked flowers, collected acorns and took some amazing pictures. A perfect family session!
We are getting so close to welcoming a new baby into our family. My cousin is expecting her first and this little boy is just about here. To celebrate her upcoming arrival and capture this important time in her life, it was so necessary to do a maternity session. We shot these picture in my favorite spot in The Woodlands and also in my studio. I loved shooting this maternity session and finding new and fun ways to shoot for this special and fleeting moment of motherhood!
These pictures are a reminder that studio sessions can be a lot of fun. Sometime the simplicity of a black or white backdrop is just what you need to best highlight your subject and everything that makes them special. And there is so much that is special about this little lady!
Camera & Settings: Canon 6d, 50 mm 1.4, f/1.4, 1/400-600, ISO 320 (inside, afternoon, with lots of light coming in from the window and two studio lights on subject). All edited with a VSCO pack 1 preset, with some minor adjustments, in Lightroom.
Inside lighting tip: some people say they do not like to mix real and artificial lighting. Well I do! I sometimes use my Canon speedlight with a bounce card, but for in-studio work, I like to turn on some studio lighting and open up the windows to let lots of extra light in. I find the mix works just fine as long as you watch your white balance. If enough light is coming in, I will keep use the "cloudy" white balance preset on my Canon, but if its mostly studio or indoor lights, I will switch to the "tungsten" white balance preset to keep it from looking to yellow. If I still don't like what I see, I will do a manual white balance setting, but I usually don't need to bother with that.
My favorite place to take pictures is my the grandparents' house. They have the most beautiful flowers growing year round. It is late summer, early fall and the most beautiful flowers and lemons are growing. Makes for a pretty perfect backdrop.
Camera & Settings: Canon 6d, 50 mm 1.4, f/4.5, 1/400, ISO 200 (outside, midday, very cloudy). All edited with a VSCO pack 1 preset, with some minor adjustments, in Lightroom.
Sometimes it is totally worth it to wake up early, play in the fog and find a grasshopper or two. We are always finding the most beautiful places to take pictures in The Woodlands. Next time we will wear our rain boots so we can splash in the little stream too.
Camera & Settings: Canon 6d, 50 mm 1.4, f/2.8, 1/640, ISO 160 (outside, in the early morning with a deep fog filtering all the morning sunlight). All edited with a VSCO pack 1 preset, with some minor adjustments, in Lightroom. I also added layer of highlights to make my fog look a bit more dense because my eye seemed to catch that more than my camera.
Tip for taking pictures in the fog: meter off the skin of the person you're shooting or whatever you want to be properly exposed. Fog really illuminates the sky, so if you you meter somewhere in the foggy background, you might end up underexposing your subject. Also, sun coming through the fog really makes for some nice back-lighting, so be sure to try that too!
Shooting newborn sessions doesn't have to mean an indoor session with the heater on full blast. In the South we are lucky to have warmth practically year round, allowing for an outdoor newborn session. We headed out early for this session to avoid the heat, but we didn't expect getting swarmed by mosquito's. Luckily we had mosquito spray and mosquito netting on hand to protect this beautiful baby girl. Everyone was in a happy mood and I made sure to give big brother lots of tasks to help the session run smoothly. With sessions like these, the newborns are usually the star of the show, but big brothers and sisters are what keeps the shoot alive.
Here are some tips for involving big brothers / sisters on newborn shoots:
- Find something for them to hold ... I suggest a little rock or leaf. Tell them that it is important and you want to make sure they take good care of it.
- Tell them in advance that the baby might cry (they know that well enough) and that when it happens, you will need big brother/sister's help in calming down baby.
- Ask them if they want to take a picture of the baby or mom and dad with your camera. They really love this.
- Make sure to get some important shots of just them by themselves and just them with the baby.
- Ask them if there is something cool they can do ... like jump really high, run really fast or make a funny face... and get lots of pictures of that.
- When the shoot is over, make sure they know they did an awesome job!!
Meryl McLendon of All the Gold Photography is a family and child photographer based in The Woodlands, Texas. Meryl loves doing newborn sessions like this one here.
So here is how you take some quick but lovely family photos. I took the following pictures in under 3 minutes. So, first, know that toddlers are wild and free. That is great for getting some lifestyle shots of them being wild and free, but if you are looking for some nice posed family shots, my best advice is to have a parent, usually the mom, scoop up the toddler, cuddle him/her and tell them a funny story about the lady taking the pictures. Don't expect to hold the toddler for more than 5 minutes, he/she will get heavy and probably cranky... totally understandable!
And for the photographer attempting to photograph a toddler, while that toddler is being held... for what will most likely be for just a couple of minutes... move around as much as possible. Move in, move out. Go the left, go the right. Climb up high on a step ladder, get down low on the ground. Chances are you will quickly get some good pictures. I sure do love these darlings from Louisiana...
Galveston. It may not be the most beautiful beach, but its the only beach that is driving distance from us. We live in The Woodlands, which is about an hour and half from the Galveston beaches, a short and worthwhile drive for a fun beach day. And to the kids, it makes no difference! And you know what... it doesn't make too much difference to the camera either! I love how these photos turned out.
For these shots, here are my settings: Canon Rebel xsi (my old camera that I don't might getting messy), 28-135 mm lens. For shots with just one person, I used f/5.0, 1/1000, ISO 100. For shots with two persons, I used f/6.3, 1/800, ISO 100. I edited all photos with a Kate T. Parker preset and touched up everyone's face and skin with a highlight/exposure brush.
See TIPS below for shooting at the beach!
TIPS: SHOOTING AT THE BEACH
Don't take your favorite camera: So, I love the beach, but hate what it could do to my camera. I don't take the camera I love, I take an old DSLR (digital single lens reflex) camera, specifically an old Canon Rebel xsi.
Protect your camera: I don't want to carry a camera bag on the beach because I have enough to carry... kids, towels, beach buckets... so I take a waterproof bag (this one is my favorite). It has a little padding and keeps out water and sand.
Be careful with your lens: keep your lens cover on when you are not shooting and don't change your lens while you are there. I like to use my Canon 28- 135 mm. If I get sand on my lens, I never rub it off, always blow it off.
To capture a bright blue sky, underexpose your pictures a little so you don't blow out the sky. I underexpose one stop down on my light meter and then I touch up faces in Lightroom.
If you are brave and go a little into the water (or if you are smart and have water housing), keep in mind that the water reflects the water and will brighten up your subjects quite nicely. Watch that light meter and meter off their skin to make sure you don't blow them out.
Find a private spot. I always feel more comfortable when we have the beach to ourselves. I won't have to photoshop strangers out of my pictures and I won't have to keep watch over my camera when I'm not shooting. Plus, your subjects, whether it be family or friends or clients will feel more at ease to be themselves.
Have fun! Duh! ;)
Here are some of my favorite shots from a recent child/family session in The Woodlands, along with some tips for shooting in direct sunlight.
I shot this family and child session at Rob Fleming park in The Woodlands recently and we had just as much as fun as we could. We shot in the early evening, so the kids were not too tired, but the sun was just right. When the sun was the brightest, we found some shade in the beautiful trees and shot some awesome silhouette shots and sun flare shots. When the golden hour emerged, we took to the pond and played in a little canvas teepee. These shots are a combination of lifestyle, fine art and portrait photography. Shooting with four kids and one beautiful mom, we were able to get lots of beautiful shots as a group and individually. These four children have an amazing bond and I was so happy to capture it. And afterward we all had ice cream!!
Also, when you have to shoot earlier (to avoid getting too close to bedtimes or that is just the only time you have), here are some tips for shooting outdoors in the direct and bright light:
- Find natural elements to diffuse the light. Look for trees and pray for clouds. Cloud cover is a perfect and natural way to diffuse the light and keep everyone from looking blown out and squinty-eyed. But if you cant will a cloud your way, head to the trees. A nice canopy of trees can give you a semi-bright area to shoot. And if you can find a spot where light is pouring through branches, you create an amazing glow.
- Sunglasses and hats. If you are shooting in direct light in mid-day (vacation, trip to the zoo or other outdoor trek), put a hat or sunglasses on your subject. They will probably than you!
- Re-position your subjects. Shoot your subject with their back to the sun and you will get some nice back lighting. Or shoot with the sun to your subjects side. You might be able to create a nice silhouette.
- Shoot somewhere that is covered. Find spots that have an overhang or portico that provide a little amount of shad. Or if you are around a building or house, find the side of the house away from the sun and shoot there!
So this happened about two months ago, but due to summer dragging me down (in such a good way!), I am just now getting around to posting these. They are all shot in either our darling Paps' farm or his home. I leave Mer Rouge feeling so jealous of all the beautiful wide open spaces. Our backyard is feeling extra tiny and pitiful now!
All shot with Canon 6d, 50 mm 1.4. For the farm shots, inside the corn stalks, I used f/3.2, 1/500, ISO 500. It was bright as could be outside, but lots of shade inside the corn stalks. In Lightroom, I touched up their faces with the dodge brush by about 35% & also took some of the green off their faces with a bit of magenta on that brush. For all the shots outside the corn, I bumped down the ISO to 150 so I would be blown out.
For the garden shots, I also used the Canon 6d, 50 mm 1.4, but I used mostly f/3.5, 1/250-320, ISO 800. I hate to use that slow of a shutter speed, but it was getting quite late and just a little sun was coming through those beautiful pecan trees, so I had to make adjustments, including that higher ISO.
For the shots where I am trying to capture Paddy being tossed in the air, Paddy running and Bop running, I used back button focus to try and keep them sharp. It helped a little, but its definitely something I need more work with!
My tips for taking pictures on vacation:
- I use my Canon 6d on a daily basis, even vacation, so I usually tuck it into a padded waterproof wet bag & then inside my purse. This one by Jaq Jaq is what I use. It's good for beach because it keeps out sand and water
- I use a compact, light weight lens, the Canon 50 mm 1.4
- I keep a lens hood on to give a little extra protection to my lens and because I'm usually shooting in bright sun during the day time.
- I bring an extra memory card, an extra battery and my battery charger
- Know what you want to shoot before you go... get on pinterest to get an idea of the kind of shots you want to get at certain spots you are visiting.
- Camera settings: I usually kept it on about f/4.5, 1/500, iso (pretty dang low for outside).
- Sometimes you might feel silly or annoying when you want to stop everything and get a picture somewhere unconventional... well, moments after you take the picture, the awkwardness or inconvenience has passed and you have that picture you wanted. So just take that picture you want to take! You'll be glad later. ;)
These are my pictures from our family vacation to Hawaii. We were there for my sweet cousin's wedding and I took a ton of pictures. We stayed on Oahu, on Waikiki Beach. My favorite activities were (1) the wedding, of course! (2) Pearl Harbor (3) paddle boarding and swimming in Waikiki (4) swimming on the North Shore and visiting Turtle Cove (5) eating fresh Malasadas (akin to a donut) from Leonards, (6) climbing Diamond Head (extinct volcano), (7) driving a Jeep around the North Shore, (8) the Dole Pineapple Plantation (9) spending time with family. Dreaming of another trip already... I wish!
I have garden envy. And I wish Gram & Pawpaw would come work their magic on my garden… because everything is dead or dying! These flowers were just amazing. And also there is Patrick with his pineapple. Oh, Paddy.
Canon 6d, 28-135 mm, f/3.5 (for the most part, some f/4.0), 1/640, ISO 200 (outside, mid-afternoon, sunny day, moments of bright, bright sun and some overcast moments). All edited with a VSCO pack 1 preset, with some adjustments for shadow, in Lightroom.