Step by step, how I got this shot

I love having the chance to show off some of my creative photographs. When I am, I always get asked how I “got that shot.” Today, I wanted to take a more creative photo and explain to you step by step how I got this shot. If you want to see how I made the shot the way it looks now, besides the idea planning and direction (so in Lightroom), watch the video to see the rest!

  1. I knew I wanted to use these string lights I had and I wanted something to do with bokeh lighting (large out of focus circles where the lights are). So I tried it with my cousin, Sam. I knew in order to make the lights pop, it needed to be REALLY dark around us. So it was Christmas Eve and it got dark pretty quickly in the day and it was a new moon that night meaning it would be DARK. So we went into my backyard at my parents house to use for the backdrop.

  2. I positioned the lights to wrap around her so I could get a specific focal point. So in order to do this, I made her stick out one of her arms so when I kept focus on her face, the lights on the arm closest to me would end up being blurry (intentionally).

  3. The way I laid the lights made her face light up as well. I put some in her hair next to her ear as well as wrapped more around her other arm. The arm that wasn’t close to me I had her move it to be close enough to her face to give her more light but far enough to not be in the frame.

  4. Since we were in the dark, I had to keep the camera VERY still in order to keep her face (mainly the eyes) in focus. Once I took a few shots in the same place, I did move to multiple angles, but this one I liked the most and was most in focus.

  5. So once I had my composed in camera photo, I went through the editing process. If you would like to see how this process goes, feel free to watch the video below.

So, overall, what I do when composing a photograph is noticing the lighting around me, location, time of day, what is going to be in and out of the frame, focal points, and angles to name a few. Since I have been doing this all my life, I can pick these points out very quickly during a session. It took many years of practice and I still am constantly finding new things to look out for with each and every photo. Now you can see how I go from a vision in my head to what you see in the end.

Week of Chocolate - A photo collage

These past two years I have been asked to take photographs for the Week of Chocolate. This is a fundraising week (or two) for Life Designs here in Bloomington. Life Designs provides services and supports people with disabilities by supporting them with community living, education, employment, support services, and housing. They are a comprehensive resource for people with disabilities and their families in south central Indiana. They offer services for every stage of life. They aim to facilitate active citizenship, fulfilling relationships, and rewarding employment through inclusive communities that foster dignity and respect.

The Week of Chocolate has many events throughout the month of February to raise money for this program. There is a gallery viewing, a fashion show, a pampering event as well as their main event, Art of Chocolate. Last year, I was on a mission to help my community and Life Designs took a chance on me and let me photograph their events. I must have done a good job because they asked me back again this year. I volunteer my services to help give back to this company. I even help by setting up a photo booth during the Art of Chocolate and each photo booth session cost gets donated to Life Designs.

I wanted to share some highlights from these past few weeks. Thank you again Life Designs for all that you do!

Oxford Yvon Grenzow - My Nephew

Who loves some baby pictures?! I know I do! I wanted to take a second to show off my nephew. Now I normally don’t offer newborn photos, but it’s my nephew. I had to.

Oxford Yvon Grenzow was born very early in the morning on Friday, January 11th, 2019. He entered this world at 9 pounds and 1 ounce at 21 and a quarter inches. The first noticeable thing we learned was that he had a LOT of hair.

Once I came to see him about a week later for his photos, I noticed he had SO much personality already. He was trying to lift his head and roll over AT ONE WEEK OLD. He has the cutest dimples and has so many faces to show off.

So without further ado, here is my wonderful nephew, Oxford.

How to use nature as your props: Winter Edition

For the last season edition of nature of props I am going to tell you how you can use the winter to your advantage. Yes, it may be cold out. However, these winter photos can be magical. I am telling you when I say to go on Pinterest and look at “portraits in the winter” photos, you will be blown away. I am going to give you some ideas on what props you can use in nature during this snowy season.

1. Snow

This comes in so many forms: snow men, snow angels, and playing in the snow. It would be so easy to use this as it is EVERYWHERE! It’s great for kids, families, individuals and couples. It’s great for everyone.

2. Frozen over body of water

Ice skating is where I am going with this one. Only recommend this if the ice is thick enough or if you don’t plan on falling/breaking the ice. If you still want to incorporate this, a good idea is to be cuddled in a blanket next to it.

3. Snow covered branches

These work well as backdrops, or even going right into the branches. One of my favorite things to do is “shove people into bushes/trees.” Meaning, I use greenery to make amazing photos. Having snow on the branches will only help enhance this beauty.

4. Christmas Tree lot

It is about the same as the previous one, but you can also use it to frame the subjects. I love being able to use a tree lot because it screams winter and you don’t need snow for it. I know that the snow likes to take it’s time into late December/early January so this is a great option for when you are waiting for that.

I know this list is small, but it may give you some ideas that you haven’t thought of for your session.

5 ways to make your holidays memorable

It is now the month of all the special holidays that allow family and friends to come together and celebrate. I for one want to make the most of it. Last year, my family and I went through a pretty tough time and it really made me want to cherish the memories every chance I could. I wanted to share some ways for you to as well instead of being caught up on what everyone else is doing (aka being on social media).

1. Only Take photos at events that are posed (i.e. everyone gets together and smile for the camera) and then keep your phone/camera away

I am really big on keeping your phone away during family events. I don’t even like to bring them out on dates. However, these are good times you want to keep. I get that. However, I have recently came to discover that the more you have your camera up, the more you miss what is actually happening. Have you ever noticed that? You are so concentrated on keeping the subject in the frame and in focus that you aren’t actually watching what is going on. You miss those moments in real time. This is why I say you can take photos, but leave it for the posed ones. Then, PUT IT AWAY!

2. Journal after the events

So how will you remember everything if your not taking pictures that aren’t posed or “in the moment?” By keeping a journal. It’s honestly the best way to do that. You will then be able to reflect on your memories. It is also a good way to caption your album or photos later on.

3. Do an activity at events

It may sound crazy, but I honestly thinks this helps a lot when it comes to remembering things. At one of my families gatherings, we get Christmas Crackers (Find out what they are here). Each year we open them after dinner around the table and it comes with some sort of toy/gadget/trinket, two jokes and two riddles and a paper crown. We go around the table and tell the jokes and riddles one by one (some repeat so it doesn’t go on forever). Last year we even got wind up penguins and had penguin races. This is something I look forward to every year and it is so much fun. My family may get a little out of hand with it because by then we have had some beverages and we all love to voice our opinion in everything. (You can even take a look at buying some here!)

4. Stay off your phone

In today’s world it’s something I really want to stress. I can’t tell you how disheartening it is to go to an event and see everyone just scrolling on their phones. It makes me want to scream “go talk to someone", or “how about you help grandma/little child out with something.” I am totally guilty of this in the past and it makes me ill thinking that I missed out on catching up with my family and making new memories. If you don’t know something about someone, ask them. I know it makes my grandparents world when I talk to them and just listen to what they have to say. So put them away for the events. Nothing life altering is going to happen during them. If you MUST have your phone on you, put it on airplane mode or do not disturb mode.

5. With the pictures you do get, add them to an online album (i.e. Facebook, Google Photos, Amazon Prime Photos, etc.)

AFTER you have left the event, add them to an online album. I have my phone set to automatic backup with Google Photos when I get to an area with Wi-Fi. From those photos, I can select the ones from an event and make an album. I can share these with anyone I send the link to and they can download it as well. This way, my photos are always backed up and if I ever want to see them again, they are organized and on a platform I can get to from anywhere with internet.

I hope these ways can help you enjoy your holiday more and have more memories with your friends and family. Trust me when I say it is worth it to be present instead of preoccupied with your technology. Now go make some memories.