How to Take Magical Photos by the Christmas Tree | Photo Tips

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How to Take Magical Photos by the Christmas Tree | Photo Tips

I LOVE Christmastime. From the music, to the spirit of giving, the food (lots and lots of food), and the beautiful lights, there is so much to love and appreciate about the holidays. During a time of year when it is dark early, Christmas lights provide the light we so crave. They are also a perfect opportunity to photograph my children enjoying the magic of Christmas long after the sun has gone down.

However, photographing busy kids can be tricky, let alone when you’re doing it in low light. That’s why I’m providing you with some easy tips to help you capture magical photos by the Christmas Tree.

Turn off all lights besides the Christmas tree.

When it’s dark so early, it might seem like you need to turn on all the lights to make up for the lack of light. However, we want the Christmas tree to shine and be our only light source.

  Lens:    Sigma 35 1.4 Art     ISO 4000, Shutter Speed: 1/100, Aperture: f/1.8

Lens: Sigma 35 1.4 Art

ISO 4000, Shutter Speed: 1/100, Aperture: f/1.8

Make it a fun.

Whether it’s eating a candy cane by the tree, singing Christmas Carols loudly, or even reading a favorite story, make it more about the fun and less about taking pictures. My kids favorite thing to do is play I-Spy with the ornaments. It’s a fun way to get them looking around the tree, keeping that light on their faces. They even play now on their own (even when I haven’t prompted them), giving me plenty of chances to capture them by the tree.

 Lens:  Sigma 35mm 1.4 ART    ISO: 2500, Shutter Speed: 1/160, Aperture: f/2.0

Lens: Sigma 35mm 1.4 ART

ISO: 2500, Shutter Speed: 1/160, Aperture: f/2.0

Experiment with Techniques and shoot from different angles.

Of course, get the obvious shot of everyone looking up at the tree. However, play around with different angles. Stand on a chair so shoot from above, or maybe sneak behind the tree to to capture that light on their faces, with the tree only in it a little bit. Even wait for your kids to move around the tree so they are on the side of the tree instead of between you and the tree.

Another fun thing to do is play around with different techniques. Free lensing creates gorgeous bokeh with the tree lights. (Please only try free lensing if you have had instruction). You could also try shooting through something, like special Christmas 3D glasses.

  Sigma 35mm 1.4 ART  - Freelensed  ISO: 2500, Shutter Speed: 1/60, Aperture —-

Sigma 35mm 1.4 ART - Freelensed

ISO: 2500, Shutter Speed: 1/60, Aperture —-

  Sigma 35mm 1.4 ART  - Shot through 3D glasses  ISO: 5000, Shutter Speed: 1/160, Aperture: f/1.4

Sigma 35mm 1.4 ART - Shot through 3D glasses

ISO: 5000, Shutter Speed: 1/160, Aperture: f/1.4

Get in the Frame

The Christmas tree provides a great opportunity for you to jump in the frame. Using some of the tips above you can keep the kids all snuggled up with you for a few self portraits.

 Lens:  Sigma 35mm 1.4 ART   ISO: 2500, Shutter Speed: 1/60, Aperture: f/1.4

Lens: Sigma 35mm 1.4 ART

ISO: 2500, Shutter Speed: 1/60, Aperture: f/1.4

Photograph the tree during the day too.

We have our lights on all the time to soak up the Christmas season. As the kids play, having the tree in the background adds a bit of sparkle while helping tell the story of our holiday season.

  Sigma 35mm 1.4 ART   ISO: 1600, Shutter Speed: 1/320, Aperture: f/2.0

Sigma 35mm 1.4 ART

ISO: 1600, Shutter Speed: 1/320, Aperture: f/2.0

  Sigma 35mm 1.4 ART   ISO: 1600, Shutter Speed: 6/40, Aperture: f/2.0

Sigma 35mm 1.4 ART

ISO: 1600, Shutter Speed: 6/40, Aperture: f/2.0

In the end, just have fun with it and capture the magic that is the holiday season. I love the creative opportunity to capture my kids when the evenings are dark early. I cannot wait to see what you capture. Make sure you’re tagging #nlpshootandshare for a chance to be featured.

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Relaxed Lifestyle Newborn Photo Session | Seattle Newborn Photographer

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Relaxed Lifestyle Newborn Photo Session | Seattle Newborn Photographer

You know those people who just exude love? Like you meet them and are immediately just drawn to their love. These are those kind of people. They not only love their kids and each other, but they love the world. This mama was supporting her husband (which meant going on runs pushing her preschooler in a stroller) as he trained for a half marathon right up until the day she went into labor. Then just weeks after he was born, she was right there at the finish line. Oh and did I mention that this half marathon was to raise money for Team World Vision - bringing clean water to people across the globe. Yup, I told you, you love them already.

By the time I had shown up at their house for their newborn session, I had already met their newest addition in the hospital (peak at their Fresh 48 here). Even though it had been a couple of weeks, big brother was still ready to snuggle up with his baby brother, and even sing him a few songs. I could have spent the entire day just chatting with mom and dad while photographing their beautiful boys. It was a relaxed lifestyle newborn photo session full of snuggles and love. I apologize for the major image overshare (okay, I’m not really sorry!).

Are you expecting? Contact me and let’s get your due date on my calendar! (And if you a friend who’s expecting, a newborn photo session makes the best shower gift - hint, hint!)

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A Change of Perspective on Family Photos | Snoqualmie Family Photographer

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A Change of Perspective on Family Photos | Snoqualmie Family Photographer

Have you ever noticed how changing your perspective on things can change your mood? A subtle shift can make all the difference in the world. The same goes for having your family’s photos taken.

When a family books a session with me, I stress the importance of talking up the experience to their kids. Of course, I want you to tell them the truth about what you are doing (they are having their photos taken) but talk about the fun you’re going to have. This isn’t something they have to do, but that you get to do as a family. It’s amazing how such a shift in perspective can help everyone’s attitudes.

This family had the sweetest boys, but I’m sure their session didn’t go as mom and dad expected. When they arrived, their youngest had fallen asleep in the car, and continued to nap even after being taken out and carried down to the river. And their boys wanted to run and play not sit still for photos. Let me say it again, I’m not sure it’s what mom and dad expected for family photos, but it’s exactly as I expected them to be (all about playing, fun, tickling, spinning, snuggles, laughing, exploring). So I wasn’t worried one bit. In fact, as I clicked my shutter I knew this would be one of my favorite sessions this fall and I was right. Their gallery is so full of life, so full of their love, so full of their “right now.”

Does this sound like the family photo experience you’re looking for? Contact me to get on the calendar for family photos.

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Why I am a Photographer

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Why I am a Photographer

Before Neyssa Lee Photography

Growing up, I always had a camera in my hand. I had no idea what I was doing, but I loved the click of the shutter. I loved that I could capture those things that were important to me. I could document my life the way I wanted to. However, photography was never going to be a career for me because you have to be creative and an artist to be a photographer - and I did not see myself as either of those things. I had a dream of becoming a director of film or more likely, I wanted to work for Disney in their marketing department.

After I graduated from college, I found myself with a degree in business, working at Starbucks, with no desire to sit at a desk job. The irony is that I had never imagined owning my own business. In fact, during my entrepreneurial course that was required to graduate, I often thought. "Who would ever want to run a business?" It was my husband who encouraged me to start Neyssa Lee Photography and even found me my first client.

Motherhood Changes You

In the beginning, I was preserving a piece of a childhood I missed out on for the kids of the families that hired me. I was capturing them with their parents who loved them, and it brought me great joy.

Then, when I became a mother, my life was turned upside down. I experienced first-hand how fleeting each stage with my baby was. In the blink of an eye, he went from newborn to infant to toddler. The passing of time left me longing to hold onto my tiny baby, while celebrating each milestone he passed. This paradox of motherhood made me reach for my camera even more.

With my son’s growth, my photography changed. I was no longer clicking the shutter for the children, but for the mother who just wanted to hold on a little longer. Suddenly, I understood the details, the moments, the looks that all mattered.

 Photo by Megann Robinson - My girls meeting their baby brother for the first time.

Photo by Megann Robinson - My girls meeting their baby brother for the first time.


Life Happens and Makes You Stronger

Over the course of the next seven years, I had four babies and four miscarriages. I was fortunate to have had my first two children without any problems. But it took a year and a half and three consecutive losses to bring our first rainbow baby home. When I thought I had endured enough as we tried for our fourth child, we lost a baby girl at 14-weeks gestation. We had already announced we were going to be a family of six, we had already told the kids, we had already heard our baby's heartbeat. Those years of struggle and grief made me a better, more compassionate photographer.

I see each newborn as a true blessing, whether I know the entire story behind his/her arrival or not. I know the heartbreak of loss, how that baby always stays with a family. I know the sheer bittersweet joy of a rainbow baby. I see the gift each child is for a family, whether adopted or biological.


Photographing is Healing

Photography helped me heal a broken childhood, hold onto a family that gave me a family. It has helped cope with how fast my children have grown and move through the pain of grief. It is more than a creative outlet, it is a lifeline. I know how important photography is for myself, my journey, and my family. I bring all of that to each session, knowing it's important to you, too.

Why I am a Photographer, Self Portrait, Neyssa Lee Photography

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