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How to Take Better Photos of Your Kids in Halloween Costumes | A Simple Photo Recipe

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How to Take Better Photos of Your Kids in Halloween Costumes | A Simple Photo Recipe

It’s that time of year again, where everything is covered in spiderwebs (real and fake), black and orange are found everywhere, and you can buy pumpkin flavored everything. Halloween is coming, which means it’s also time to start thinking about costumes and trick-or-treating.

How can you not want to take photos of your kids all dressed up in their costumes? They are so cute and it is always fun to see them take on the persona of their outfit. I want to help you take better photos of your kids in Halloween costumes with this easy to follow “photo recipe.”

To start, make sure you’ve read through my 5 Tips for Magical Halloween Photos, as they will help you as you go to take your photos this year.

I say this in my 5 Tips post and I will say it again here, because I think it might be the most important tip:

Take photos of your kids in costume BEFORE Halloween.

Halloween is too busy and everyone is too excited to get out and start filling their bags (or pillow cases) with candy. By doing your photos before (or shortly after) Halloween, everyone can be more relaxed.

Canon Mark IV, Lens - 135mm f/2L. Settings: ISO 100, Aperture f/2, Shutter Speed: 1/2,500

Canon Mark IV, Lens - 135mm f/2L. Settings: ISO 100, Aperture f/2, Shutter Speed: 1/2,500

Before you pick up your camera set plan ahead. Look at your weather app, find a day with good weather (or at least without rain), and a day when you do not have a ton of other activities planned. Once you’ve figured out a date, start talking it up with your kids. Tell them you want to do a fun adventure in costumes before Halloween. I will even tell my kids they get to practice trick-or-treating with me, so they know a treat may be involved.

Pick Your Location: Now that you have a date and the kids excited, you’ll want to find the perfect location. This could be as simple as your front porch for tradition, or you can step it up by finding an area with beautiful fall color, or that goes along with your kids’ costumes. (Have an Eeyore or Winnie the Pooh? What if you found a spot in a wooded forest? Or went to the beach to give the photos of your Luke Skywalker a more Tatooine feel.) How much you want to go with the theme of your family’s costumes is up to you. I often just love to find a big pile of leaves and use that to show off the season that way.

Now that you’re ready, let’s set up your camera!

Canon Mark IV, Lens - 135mm f/2L. Settings: ISO 100, Aperture f/2, Shutter Speed: 1/2,500

Canon Mark IV, Lens - 135mm f/2L. Settings: ISO 100, Aperture f/2, Shutter Speed: 1/2,500

HOW TO TAKE BETTER HALLOWEEN PHOTOS PHOTO RECIPE:

DSLR Camera Settings: Set your camera to Aperture Priority Mode (turn the dial to “A” or “Av”). This allows you to select a wide open aperture which puts your child as center focus, blurring out that background beautifully. Select an aperture of 3.2 or lower (or as low as your lens will allow you to go). Your camera will select your other settings for you in Aperture Priority mode.

Make sure your flash is turned off. I also suggest turning on continuous shooting mode on your camera to allow you to take several bursts of photos at once to capture those quick movements of your little characters.

Phone Camera Settings: If you’re using your smartphone, put it in Portrait Mode, again to help your subject be the main focus of your image.

Compose Your Photo: The orientation of the photo is completely up to you. For group photos, I prefer to shoot horizontally to allow enough room to show off everyone. Framing the shot horizontal can also help show off your environment (which you spent time pre-picking out!).

Canon Mark IV, Lens - 135mm f/2L. Settings: ISO 100, Aperture f/2, Shutter Speed: 1/2,500

Canon Mark IV, Lens - 135mm f/2L. Settings: ISO 100, Aperture f/2, Shutter Speed: 1/2,500

Capture Your Character: With everything set, now you get to press that shutter! I would take a few photos from far enough away to see the entire costumes, along with a little closer up show their expressions too. As you move closer and further away use prompts to keep the kids interested. Have them shout “trick-or-treat!”

I also like to get them into character. For my family of cops and robbers, I had the big kids act like police officers, blowing their whistles and the robbers trying to run away. This is the perfect time to let them be silly, and just play. I’m sure you’ll find these more playful shots as your favorites.

Canon Mark IV, Lens - 135mm f/2L. Settings: ISO 100, Aperture f/2.5, Shutter Speed: 1/1,600

Canon Mark IV, Lens - 135mm f/2L. Settings: ISO 100, Aperture f/2.5, Shutter Speed: 1/1,600

Bonus - Get in the Frame: Does your entire family dress up? Enlist a grandparent or your husband and jump in the shot with the kids while you’re dressed up. Since you have already set up the camera for them, it is easy for anyone to snap a photo for you. Trust me, you’ll appreciate proof that you were there (and dressed up) too!

SHARE YOUR PHOTOS!: If you try out this photo recipe, I want to see! As you show off your kids in their Halloween costumes, tag #nlptipsshot so I can see and share what you’ve captured!

Canon Mark IV, Lens - 135mm f/2L. Settings: ISO 100, Aperture f/2.8, Shutter Speed: 1/1,600

Canon Mark IV, Lens - 135mm f/2L. Settings: ISO 100, Aperture f/2.8, Shutter Speed: 1/1,600

Safety Note: Please note, while these photos were taken in the road, it was a quiet country road with adult assistance watching for traffic. My kids’ safety was of utmost importance.

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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.

Want to learn more about photography? Sign up for my newsletter to be the first to know about upcoming workshops!

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Summer Photo Challenge | Part IV

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Summer Photo Challenge | Part IV

Another week has gone by (so fast!), which means it's time for more Summer Photo Challenge Photos! The week's are flying by, and the deadline to submit your photo to be entered to win a FREE Back-to-School Mini Session, is Saturday, August 23rd.  So I knew it was time to kick it into gear this past week, using the photo challenge prompts for inspiration! LOW LIGHT. With Sawyer kicking the nap, I knew I had to take advantage of the days that she just couldn't last any longer. Summer Photo Challenge, low lightOUTFIT: I shared this outfit on Instagram, because, it's so adorable! (Okay, so is the baby!) I was pretty excited to find this in the consignment store!Summer Photo Challenge, outfit, baby girl, 4 months oldCHILDREN:Summer Photo Challenge, children, play dohLAZY: A lazy morning from my camping trip over 4th of July. That isn't my daughter, but I love her relaxed state. And yes, she's playing with a fly swatter!Summer Photo Challenge, lazy, campingCLOSE UP: Just before selling my Macro I tackled the close up photo (you don't need a macro for close up!). Milo was slightly less then pleased I called his name while he was watching Paw Patrol. Gotta love that expression though!Summer Photo Challenge, Close Up, BoyBOOKS: Milo loves reading books with Grandpa! Summer Photo Challenge, Books, Reading with GrandpaFACELESS PORTRAIT: Summer Photo Challenge, eyelashes, young boy, Faceless Portrait

Looking for more Summer Photo Challenge inspiration? Check out a few of the previous articles - Part III, or Part I (which has the photo prompts).

*Neyssa*

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6 Simple Smart Phone Photo Tips

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6 Simple Smart Phone Photo Tips

Improve your Instagram feed with these 6 simple smart phone photo tips! There is so many things that I love about my iPhone camera. Don't get me wrong, I love the quality and control I have with my DSLR. But I love the look and feel of my iPhone photos. I always have my phone on me, so I can capture any moment. Plus, it's small size and fact that it is always around means I can sneak a photo of my kids without their knowing right away. Plus, with a few quick taps, I can share my images almost instantly with family and friends. To make the most of my smart phone camera, I follow the tips below! 1. Use window light to make your subject pop.  Milo loves helping me dust the house (thank you Swiffer Duster). As he worked, I grabbed my phone and got ready to snap an image. I suggested he dust the blinds as the light from the window was bright. I loved how it is lighting his face, drawing my attention right to him. I used a simple black and white filter in Instagram to change my image and share here!

smart phone photo tips, backlighting, photograph everyday moments, preschool boy

2. Capture the Details. Just because you're using a smart phone, doesn't mean you can't take storytelling images. Bath time is one place I often take a quick photo with my phone as I watch my kids play. One day Milo says to me, "look mama, a house-bridge-crane!" This was a detail of bath time I had to capture! Instead of just photographing their cute faces, I used my phone to capture the details of bath time!

smart phone photo tips, photograph everyday moments, bath time

3. Hold the "shutter" for burst mode. One downside of smart phone cameras is that they can be slow when you're trying to capture your fast toddler. However, that's where the burst mode comes in handy. By holding your finger on the shutter you can take many photos right after another. (This is, I'm sure, how Sawyer has take 200 selfies up her nose in a matter of seconds). The images below were all taken as Sawyer was swinging. Pushing a swing while trying to take a picture of someone swinging can be very tricky. However, I held the phone with one hand while I pushed with the other. By holding the shutter I was able to capture the image on the left below. The other two are examples of other images I captured in the same few seconds.

smart phone photo tips, photograph everyday moments, girl on swing

4. Shoot from Above. One of my favorite parts of a smart phone camera is that it is light and easy to try different angles. By shooting from above you add a new element of interest to your image. Other favorite images I've taken can be found here, here, and my all time favorite one here.

smart phone photo tips, photograph everyday moments, bath time

5. Get in the Photo! I can not say enough to get in the photo with your family! The smart phone is an easy way to do so. A few of my favorite photos with the kids (or my husband) are below, and they were all taken with a smart phone! It shows that you were there too. (Plus, I love how I can put as little or as much of me in the frame as I want!

smart phone photo tips, selfies, mom was there too, mother and kids

6. Print your photos! Just because you took the photo with your phone, doesn't mean it has to stay there! I download my phone images right into my LightRoom catalog every 1-2 weeks, so that they are backed up, and added into my Digital Project Life album. (Check out my April album pages here.) But I've also discovered a new and amazingly easy app called Chatbooks. Once I get my first book in the mail I will share more on that! Either way, get those photos off of your phone!

*Neyssa*

P.S. Want more smart phone photo tips? Click here!

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