Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Baby Photo Tip #6

Make a scene.
Kids are amazing. You can feel their tenderness when you're close, and you can see the independence of their spirit, even at a distance. Try creating a scene around your child, or rather, plop the child right into an unusual or beautiful scene. Don't be afraid to step back and show the landscape - your child's figure silhouetted against a special backdrop will forever conjure memories of when she was that small.

Landscapes from rolling hills to parks to cityscapes are wonderful backgrounds to use, particularly early in the morning or as the sun goes down in the evening, when the light is most angular, and thereby, dramatic. Think creatively about real-world scenery in which your child would be distinctly juxtaposed - something outside the playground and a little unexpected. Live near the mountains or the ocean? Immerse yourself and your child in the views that surround you, and create for yourself some memorable experiences and keepsakes.

Click here for tip #5, "Turn off the flash."

For more, please check out Sarah Sloboda's Photo Teleseminar for Moms.

Baby Photo Tip #5

Turn off the flash.
There certainly plenty of good reasons to use the flash on your camera - to ensure you have enough light, to make sure the light is pointed at the front of your subject, to stop motion, etc. However, I recommend experimenting with having the flash turned off. The coolest thing about shooting sans-flash is that you get to see exactly the way the scene looks with existing light - which means you can be deliberate about your composition.

Most point-and-shoot digital cameras have a flash off setting under "menu." It looks like a little lightning bolt with a buster sign through it. Another adjustment you might want to make while trying this setting, is manually selecting the white balance. You can identify the white balance options because they'll usually look like a sunshine, a cloud, a lightbulb, a shadow on the side of a house, etc. Just select the white balance that most accurately depicts the kind of light in which you are shooting. One other tip: hold your breath while you're shooting, and hold the camera as steady as you can - shooting without flash can require longer exposures, so unless you're still as you can be, they'll be blurry (which could also be cool! See tip #4.)

Alternately, if you find you can't break the flash habit, cut a little piece of a dryer sheet and tape it over your camera's flash. This emulates "diffusion," the filter movie-makers use to soften the lights they point at starlets.

Click here for tip #4, "I meant to do that."

For more, please check out Sarah Sloboda's Photo Teleseminar for Moms.

Baby Photo Tip #4

Repeat after me: "I meant to do that."
Many a trick of the trade were developed in quite a surprising way - by mistake! Don't try too hard to "get it right" because taking risks and being uncomfortable are the very things that will help you learn. Edit slowly at first, taking time and going through all the photos you've shot, and try to notice what captured moments create a sensation of some kind - good or bad. Take note of any photos you too quickly try to discard because of an imperfection; within them may lie the seed of something special.

Experiment with your camera settings, and when you get a shot that is strange or unusual in some way, own it! By noticing the results of your explorations, you are learning how to achieve different results. Even if the shots are flawed, you are learning to have some control over the way the shots turn out, and you are doing it in your own, unique way. Over time, you will use your favorite "shortcuts" to achieving desired results, and this will develop into a style that is yours alone.

Click here for tip #3, "Find a rhythm."

For more, please check out Sarah Sloboda's Photo Teleseminar for Moms.

Baby Photo Tip #3

Find a rhythm.
Put on some music! Try creating a little portrait session in your living room with some music on, and notice how the music creates a flow for both you and your little subject. I recommend the Beatles or a live jazz recording from the 1960s or classical music - something you will enjoy more than the latest Elmo song - because it's as important for you to find a rhythm with the camera as it is to amuse the baby. Allow the flow of the music to inspire you, and follow the instincts that surface about the moments you feel inclined to press the shutter. Over time, you may find you can achieve this rhythm outside with the birds chirping, or with no music at all.

Finding a rhythm while behind the camera is a very personal experience, and each camera brings its own challenges for doing so. For instance, many point-and-shoot digital cameras have a delay between when the camera's shutter is pressed, and when the actual photo is captured. The best advice I have for this, is to keep shooting, and keep paying attention - you can learn the timing of any camera, with patience and practice.

Click here for tip #2, "Act normal."

For more, please check out Sarah Sloboda's Photo Teleseminar for Moms.

Baby Photo Tip #2

Act normal.
Ever notice how trying to get your child to make a certain face through encouragement often leads only to a loss of energy on your part, and not very successful photos? I recommend taking the pressure off completely, so that by the time the child is four or five, she still acts natural in front of the camera, instead of taking on the habit of needing to force a particular face. Yes, this means you sometimes get serenity, seriousness, or even frowns, but it teaches your child that she can be herself while the camera is out, and no special facial contortions are required.

Let's be honest. Your kid is incredibly smart, and can tell when you are up to something unusual, and will respond in kind. Even though you are laying on the ground, or contorting your body in some strange way in order to get the shot you are looking for, breathe normally, and exude confidence that what you are doing is not out of the ordinary. This also leaves room for spontaneous joy to unfold, and you'll have the camera ready to capture the most genuine smiles possible.

Click here for tip #1, "Don't be shy."

For more, please check out Sarah Sloboda's Photo Teleseminar for Moms.

Baby Photo Tips - Tip #1

I'm starting a new feature on the blog, offering photo tips especially for moms who want to take better photos of their kids - inspired by the free photo teleseminar for moms I'm giving. (If you're interested, click here to sign up!)

Tip #1 - Don't be shy.
The trick is to get low - you want to be on the very same level as the child, as you would if you were sitting down to have a dinner conversation with an adult. This might mean putting the child on a couch or a bed, or it might mean you have to lie or sit or crouch on the floor. Yes, you'll feel a bit ridiculous at first, but once you see that you have achieved the exact right angle to capture your baby's most expressive faces, you'll start to feel less silly on your elbows and knees.

I also recommend getting as close as your camera's focal length allows (some cameras can't focus closer than a few feet). Getting closer creates a more dynamic, real-life image than zooming in from afar, plus you emulate the feeling of the baby's perspective when you show get in close and show some surroundings. Zooming in flattens the space which is great for a soft, soothing sense -- if you want to create energy in the frame, zoom out and get close to your subject.

Click here for tip #6, "Make a scene."

For more, please check out Sarah Sloboda's Photo Teleseminar for Moms.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Photo Workshops for Moms

Complimentary Teleseminar to Introduce “Photo Workshops for Moms,” this Thursday, April 8, 2010, at 12.30 p.m. EST.

Photographing their kids is a fantastic way for moms to explore and nurture their own creative side while spending high-quality time with their kids. Moms are empowered as memory-makers these days, with all kinds of new tools for recording family moments. As a kids’ photographer, Sarah Sloboda has learned the rhythms, flow, and composition skills to let a child’s story speak through the images she captures of them. She is now teaming up with moms across the U.S. to help them learn the skills they need to use the family camera to truly tell the family story.

Sarah Sloboda prides herself on the creation of meaningful family archives, and it is her mission to inspire people with photographic evidence of their lives working beautifully. By teaching moms the skills to document their own lives, she hopes to exponentially increase people’s ability to cherish and honor the moments in time that make up their lives.

She is committed to helping you take better photos of your loved ones, using the camera you have. She'll cover tips on things like the way you interact with your child while the camera is out, easy-to-follow suggestions for changing your camera settings for more artistic images, and composition ideas.

Sign up now
for the complimentary teleseminar, "Photography for Moms," taking place at 12.30 p.m. EST on April 8, 2010.

Starting in May of 2010, Sarah Sloboda will offer 2-day photography workshops for moms in a format doable for a family schedule. Each 4-hour workshop day will focus on techniques to support moms in their desire to more authentically capture their kids in their day-to-day lives and for special occasions.

A note from Sarah:
“Ever since I was a child myself, I found there to be a lot of wonder in the world. It’s easy as an adult, to forget the fascination that exists in the simplest of things through the eyes of a child. I photograph children to remind myself and others of the child’s unique perspective – to return to the part of myself that is truly intrigued to be alive.”
Click here to download Sarah Sloboda’s free photo tips for parents, and to register for the free teleseminar on April 8, 2010.

Call will be recorded, and last about 45 minutes.
Click here to begin a 6-point countdown of baby photo tips!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Baby Photos

People have been asking specifically to see some of the work I've done with babies, so I created this slideshow of some of my favorite baby shots.

Baby Photos by Sarah Sloboda - Images by Sarah Sloboda

Click here for a full-screen slideshow.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Insight of Children

For me, photography centers around fleetingness. I know that time inevitably passes. I remember experiencing that revelation when I was just a child. Having the vivid memory of what I call my "5-year-old existentialist crisis," when I realized my memory was finite, gives me a lot of respect for the minds and spirits of children.

I know it's possible and even probable that we are communicating with them on a level not represented accurately by their level of mastery of language and vocabulary. We can hear where they're coming from if we really listen. And, in doing so, the child is honored; the child understands that she has an important, unique voice, and it's her life's work to learn to communicate it authentically in the world.

So, when we photograph children from a place of honoring their opinion, we are holding it up for ourselves and everyone else to see. We are saying, "Look at this marvelous and special perspective that has taken the form of this child!" We are telling the world how important it is to be an individual.

(Moms - check out this post on my facebook page about photography workshops, just for you!)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Back in the Day, I'd Have Been a Newspaper Gal

The rush of news that has to go out. The challenge of finding the words, and capturing images that tell the real essence of the story. The time-constraints. The politics. The pressure.

Heck, I don't mind pressure. In fact, I love it! I've been known to break down in tears after a pressure-filled week ends because I don't know how to fill my time! I spent several years exploring the anti-dote to this love of pressure, assuming it was an ailment to be exorcised. I studied shamanism and other ancient cultures, to see what they had to say about the way to be in the world. I practiced yoga and meditation. I learned to calm what appeared to be external chaos, by tapping into my ability to control my own mind.

Several peaceful years were spent, blogging, exploring, thinking, pondering, and observing. I loved every minute of that, too! Did it alleviate my love of pressure, though? Not in the slightest. Constraints are wonderful for creativity - as I've always known, particularly when I was younger and resources for my dreamed-up projects were scarce. Opening up so much mental space was certainly a wonderful exercise in accessing a broad sense of possibility, but now I find myself wanting to pin down specific goals - and it's the channeling of energy towards specificity that allows me to see my own whims become manifest. So, here, then, must be another use for pressure.

A sizing down of possibilities. A narrowing in on specific actions to yield desired results. Last year, the American economy broke all kind of precedents, and lots of us opened ourselves to other possibilities, as doing business the usual way seemed no longer to work. What I'm feeling in the air now is a buckling back down. A re-dedication to desires made manifest. To results. Period.

It feels like finally sinking one's teeth into something again. It feels like hanging on tight and going for a ride, instead of being knocked off ones feet or flung around aimlessly. It feels like it's time to dust ourselves off and see clearly again. Maybe with a more enhanced vision, blending open-mindedness with determination - neither one any longer in danger of falling victim to naivete, but having the other there like a system of checks and balances.

A wise shaman once told me that the predictions of 2012 weren't literally that the world would end - but that human consciousness would shift at such a heightened rate that we'd hardly recognize it. I certainly see myself evolving at warp speed these days. You?