Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Mummer's Parade in Hagerstown, MD

My hubby and I are not much for big crowds.  That said, we have been avoiding parades for years and have only gone when one of the kids was in one.  Luckily for us, our children were involved in sports that never marched in parades.  Many years ago our oldest attended a Montessori school during her Kindergarden year and they participated in the annual Rodeo Parade, we lived in Texas at the time.

This year, after five years in this town, we were invited by good friends of ours to hang out on their street and attend open houses in the neighborhood, all scheduled during the preparations for the Mummer's Parade.  We agreed to go because the big crowd thing was not a problem, we had, after all, a place to retreat to if it got to be too much, and good company and free food were helping with our decision.

That said, we were in a perfect spot.  Oak Hill in Hagerstown is the street that all the bands and other assorted organizations line up to march.  Neighbors had their houses open and the feeling of community was wonderful.  We had the option of walking down just a block or two to see the full parade, but decided to stay where we were, simply because it was fun to see the nervous energy generated by the participants.  I had taken my camera and got some good shots of the 'behind-the-scenes'.

We were also astonished to hear that Hagerstown, MD hosts the biggest night time parade on the entire East coast with this event.  It was fun to see bands from Baltimore, Ellicot City, Hancock, Virginia and the local surrounding areas as well as Hagerstown's own.  I will only post a few images here, you can see a few more on my facebook page.   I also added some photographs to my website under the outdoors impressions album.


shiny brass

State Flags

someone is not paying attention:)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Shooting with animals

I thought I would take a bit of a detour and talk about shooting animals and how best to go about it.
Contrary to what you might think, I find it easier to work with cats than with dogs.  In the beginning I thought this might be the case because we have cats and I know how to treat them, but I grew up with dogs, so I really don't think that that is the reason why.

The only 'animal only' shots I have done have been of my cats because I can pull the camera out when they do something cute.  I have worked with some owners and their pets and think that this is the only way to go when the animal is not your own.  Here is why:

The owner will help calm the pet, he/she knows the pet well and can interact with it, this makes great photos.
I will attach some photos I got out of a cat/owner session and a dog/owner session.  The cat was herself, she likes to hiss and I caught it on film, a great shot.  The dog had just come home from the groomer, since the owner wanted her to look her best.  This turned out to be a bad idea.  The dog was very excited about seeing her owner after several hours away and would not sit still.  We got some cute shots, but nothing as special as with the cat.
If you own a well trained, older, calmer dog, the shoot will go well, as long as the owner is in the room with the pet.  Let's face it, that pet does not know you, and though an animal is the best judge of character, they do not warm up to strangers as quickly as humans do.  Some pets don't want strangers in their house and are reserved when they are in a different location.
Cats, as well, have different personalities and many hide when a stranger appears in their territory.  Take our youngest cat, Rascal, you will meet him shortly, he runs and hides when the doorbell rings, whereas our older female cat, Diamond, whom you will also meet shortly, comes and greets everyone who walks through our door.  She is my guide to whom I can trust; if she does not come up to a stranger, I better watch out:)
Rascal would never sit for a photographer other than me.  I would have to interact with him and be in the shots, to get anything worthwhile.  That is how little Rosie is, whom you will meet as well.  Remember the hissing picture I mentioned, that was her:)

So, do you want a great professional photograph of your pet?  If so, ask your photographer to stay in the room with your pet or if you may interact with your pet during the shoot.  You will get great photographs and your pet will act well for you.
Meet Rascal, the shy little loverboy:)
Here is Diamond, who loves boxes of all sizes...
Feeding her treats finally calmed our little poodle down
Here is the great little hissing moment
and shortly after a cuddle with mommy.  I would not have gotten any of those shots without the owner's interaction with her cat.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Photo shoots with little ones

Photo Shoots with little ones, i.e. pre-schoolers can be a lot of fun if both you the client, and your photographer are prepared.
From the perspective of the photographer:  When I meet with my clients I explain about how long the shoot will last and what the process will be.  The last time I had a shoot with little ones, it was a set of siblings, one 2 years old, one 4 years old.   They were precious.  Before I booked the appointment I asked the mom when nap-time was for both of them and we scheduled right after they would usually wake up.  This guaranteed rested children who would be more patient and had a smaller chance of being grumpy.
It is also important to have well fed children in your studio.

The above mentioned are little things that can have a big impact on how well the session will go.  In my last shoot I also explained that I would be using dress-up props and the mom prepared the children for that particular 'fun' aspect.  They came over excited and ready to play.  The session proofed to be a success.

As a photographer of little ones, it is also important to be ready for anything.  Tempers can flare, good moods can swing very quickly even if all of the above mentioned has been done; the key is to be patient.  I am also ready to end the session as soon as the children involved are tired.  I start as soon as the little ones are settled in and get the best shots in the time I have.  Sometimes I get a lot of them, sometimes there are fewer.   Some children, as some adults, do better in front of a camera, and those are the easy ones, but I never know how it will go.  Photographing children is rewarding, but a lot more stressful than photographing adults.
This little one reminded me a bit of Shirley Temple, it's the cherubic cheeks, I think:)

Little Tinkerbell, this was toward the end of the shoot.

Shot at the little one's home, always a good idea!

Monday, October 11, 2010

communicating with your photographer

It's been a couple of weeks since the last installment.  So here I go:
This week I will discuss the importance of communication with your photographer as far as clothing and colors you will be wearing to your shoot.
Many studios, especially the very commercially oriented ones, use grey, white, or blue-marbled backdrops for most of their shoots.  Given that these colors are neutrals, your choice of color that you will be wearing does not make a big difference.  If you book an appointment with a smaller, more detail oriented, and personalized studio, you should communicate with your photographer about the color choices you will be making in your wardrobe, so he or she can select the appropriate backdrop for your session.

Lighting is also heavily influenced by your color choices.  If you decide to wear black in particular, light will be absorbed and it would be a good idea to inform your photographer that you will be wearing it.  He/she will light you in a way that still shows your body against the backdrop.  Personally I love black clothing for dramatic effect, especially when I decide to go black and white.  Black satin shoots better than black cotton, velvet and fur in black is gorgeous when lit correctly.  White is also quite stunning, but as it reflects light, especially in satin, it is lit a bit more indirectly to show well.

If your session is to be held outside, choose solids rather than prints, as the natural background will lend the patterns in your pictures.  Since these discussions are related to personal portrait sessions, not editorials, large patterns should be avoided in any setting, as the photograph should be about you, not your clothing.

Here are a couple of samples to illustrate my point:
The model in this image is wearing a simple satin blouse, it enhances her skin tone without distracting from her lovely features.
As you see, the blouse has a slight pattern, but still works well with the natural setting behind the model.
In this image, the model is wearing a pattern, but since the setting is naturally simple and the pattern on the dress looks earthy, it works well for the mood that was created here.