Friday, October 19, 2012

Holiday Cards - Friday With Friends - Mrs. George Eastman

A Word from Mrs. Kelly:

Hi ladies, I'd like you to introduce you to my friend, Mrs. George Eastman. 

Some people know her better as Erin May of Erin May Photography.  Mrs. Eastman and I went to high school together and have been friends for years.  She's got mad photography skillz and I am so happy that she can share some tips today for how to get great holiday cards...and really, just how to capture better photos in general.  If you have a moment, you should check out her website, for some gorgeous images.  But, before you do, read on!

Passing Notes Today:  Mrs. George Eastman

Dear Ladies, 

It's October - leaves are changing, temperatures are dropping, and the holidays are right around the corner.  That's right, folks, Christmas is a mere 67 days away. It's that perfect time of year to be thinking about updating your family portrait and prepping for the ever-so-popular photo holiday card.  For starters, here are seven ideas/suggestions to make your holiday card endeavors run smoothly whether you are doing them yourself or hiring a professional.

1. RELAX. We all know that our kids feed off our energy, so if you're stressed or anxious about having your pictures taken, your kids will know it.  And they also know it's picture day, so if they're a little more "excited" than usual, that is completely normal and natural and your photographer will understand that. 

2. COORDINATE, DON'T MATCH. Planning outfits is one of the biggest concerns for my clients.  The number one thing I always suggest is make sure everyone is comfortable. If you're wearing something that makes you uncomfortable, it'll show in your images - maybe in your expressions, or posing.  My son is very picky about what he wears and if he's wearing an itchy sweater or a stiff button down, he will be pulling at them and distracted by his clothing, rather than snuggling with me for a portrait or happy about the experience.  Also - pick a color family to build your outfits around, versus black shirts and jeans or white shirts and khakis.  Granted there's nothing necessarily wrong with everyone wearing the same thing, but if you're looking for images that reflect you and your family, would you normally all wear the same thing? Consider color families like earth tones or jewel tones to dress your family. Another suggestion is to pull colors from one family member's outfit to coordinate with the rest of the crew. For example, let's say your daughter has a dress with a floral pattern on it with cream, blue, burgundy, and green. Maybe mom wears an oatmeal sweater with a brown skirt, dad wears a blue button down and khaki's, brother wears a burgundy polo with jeans.  Pinterest is a great place to search for outfit ideas as well.

3. SCHEDULE YOUR SESSION WHEN EVERYONE IS HAPPY. This may seem obvious, but if your daughter needs a nap around 2, don't schedule a 1pm session. Also, make sure everyone has a full belly.  The less distractions during a session, the better!

4. IF YOU HIRE A PHOTOGRAPHER, LET THEM DO THEIR THING.  If you've spent the money on an experienced photographer, you hired them because you appreciate their work, experience, and skill.  They have some tricks up their sleeve to get great expressions from your kids that are natural and not forced.  Kids get confused when the photographer is telling them one thing and mom and dad are also giving instructions too. It'll all work out, I promise!

5.  PLAN AROUND THE LIGHT.  I plan my outdoor sessions around sunlight and as a rule of thumb, my morning sessions are within an hour after sunrise and evening sessions are about 2 hours before the sun sets.  I find the sunlight to be most pleasing to the eye during those times of the day. The sun can create some pretty harsh shadows on the face and make kids have squinty eyes during the middle of the day.  If your only option is to take pictures of your kids when it's pretty bright out, put them in a shady spot, like the shadow of a building or the shade of a full tree (that doesn't leave dappling sun on their faces) to take their pics.  Not sure where to take their pics, find an open spot of grass at a park, near a picket fence, by a garden, etc.  Please don't stick them in front of a tree. :)  

6.  PAY ATTENTION TO BACKGROUND.  When you're taking pics, really take in the background of your location.  Is there a bright red fire hydrant behind your son? Are there people in the background? Any other objects that might be distracting?  When I first started out learning how to take pictures of my own kids and family, I really paid attention to background and felt like my images improved dramatically.

7. WHAT IF YOU'RE NOT HAPPY WITH YOUR IMAGES?: Ok, so you spent all this money on outfits, your session, and your three year old is having an off day and is melting down during the entire session. You get your images and you're not happy because your otherwise happy three year old looks miserable in the images. Talk candidly to your photographer about your feelings. Let them know what is on your mind and he/she may be able to help you either do a re-shoot or help you with choosing your images. From my personal experience as a photographer, I can't fix something if I don't know it's a problem. My goal is for my clients to love their images or at least be happy with them. Also, remember, your photographer is a person too, so please be nice. :)

Oh yeah, did I mention try to relax? Yeah - taking pictures of your own kids can be kind of hairy.  I know some people who are great at it, but personally, they are my most challenging subjects to shoot.  Bring snacks and don't be afraid to bribe them with a treat.  Yes, I do too - whatever it takes! 

Remember to keep snapping away.  Sometimes the pictures you think you won't like, end up being some of your favorites...

Once you have a great set of images, I think websites like tiny prints and minted are great for nice photo cards on card stock.  If you are on a budget, shutterfly has some great photo card options on photo paper. Ultimately, whatever you decide to do, whether you hire a professional or take them yourself... or buy your cards from tiny prints or shutterfly, just remember it's the thought that counts.  Aunt Sally isn't going to judge you on your photo composition, or the fact that your little guy is wearing his favorite hotwheels t-shirt instead of the Crewcuts sweater you bought for $80.  All she cares about is seeing all of your beautiful faces and admiring how much your little ones have grown since last Christmas.

Good Luck,

Mrs. George Eastman

Mrs. Kelly Comment:  Thank you Mrs. E.  Your photos are so beautiful.  The tips are really helpful.  I laughed about the white shirts / khaki pants suggestion...uh, definitely have one of those floating around somewhere!!  It probably helps here that your subjects are gorgeous.  I love the one of your little guy throwing some 'tude to the camera.  Can't wait to see your holiday card this year!
PS Way to throw that 67 days before X-mas in if we weren't already stressed!  :)

Mrs. Williams Comment:  Thanks for passing notes (and photos) with us today Mrs. Eastman.  Thanks also for the advice on not matching outfits.  Where were you a few years ago, though?  You see, I thought it would be so cute to have the family in matching outfits for a photo session, turns out, I was totally wrong.  Instead of looking like a cool, hip family, we ended up looking like the total dorks we are.  I won't do that again, or show any of you the photo.  It's different clothes for all of us from here on out!  Thanks again Mrs. E.

Mrs. Gosling comment:  Awwww ... I will take an order of fries and the cuties in the shots, please!  What good little subjects.  I love the advice.  I would like to say that I have matching outfit pictures of our kids, but the real dork here ... is me.  We don't even have those.  But I can't wait til Mrs. Eastman comes back into town and then we can have kickin' pics!!!  Thanks for sharing!   


Erin May (aka Mrs Eastman) said...

Thanks Mrs Kelly, Mrs Williams, and Mrs Gosling! I should've confessed in my post that I, too, have a family picture with khakis and white button downs. :)

Moe said...

Great advice, Mrs. E.! But does this mean that Rodney and I need to put the kibosh on our plans to have our portrait taken in our matching Norwegian sweaters that his mother bought us? Haha, I'm kidding. Sort of.

One of my favorite tips of yours, one that I wish more photographers followed, is to not immediately discard the "mistakes." You are absolutely right - those are often my favorite shots. I've taken the kids to get their pictures done just at JC Penney or wherever, and I've learned to tell the photographer not to go through the photos and throw out the ones she doesn't think are good. I'm the mom who buys the pictures of her kids accidentally caught arguing on camera, or of Atticus flipping himself over the prop sofa (yeah, I really did).

On a related note, I would totally rather see a kid photographed in his favorite Hotwheels tee than dressed up in a way that makes him look not like himself. Like you said, not only will the child look uncomfortable (because he is), but isn't getting a special portrait done all about capturing who they are at this particular stage of their life? I say, if they're all about Hotwheels, put the kid in his ratty old t-shirt, set up the track, and snap away. The photos will be brilliant and he'll look HAPPY! It reminds me of an essay I read a couple of years ago by this father whose daughter was going through a phase where she loved to wear her bicycle helmet. Every day she would get dressed and then put the helmet on. She even wore it to school and the teachers humored her because, seriously, kids could be obsessed with worse things. But then school picture day rolled around, and the dad's essay was all about how much he struggled to get his daughter to take the helmet off for the picture. I remember reading the article and thinking, "Are you KIDDING?!! Let her wear the helmet! You will look back on this and laugh your butts off and it will probably end up being one of your favorite school photos of all time!" If nothing else, it would have been a totally genuine portrait that really reflected who that little girl was at the time.

Anyway, I digress. Thanks again for the wonderful advice. And I'll be sure to send you a 5X7 of Rod and I in our matching toggle sweaters for your mantel. ;)

PS - Your models are so adorable!

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