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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Cherise- Graduation Portrait Session

I am so proud of my friend, Cherise. She just graduated from FIU with a Masters Degree in Occupational Therapy. We had a photo session to celebrate this fabulous accomplishment. She is such a beautiful person, both inside and out.  Many years ago, I was her and her sister's babysitter.  Now they dote upon my girls. It has been my pleasure to watch her grow up over the years. 
Love you, Cherisie!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Taking Better Pictures of Your Kids...

Like many people, I first really started taking pictures after the birth of my first child. My first DSLR was a Christmas gift from my in-laws five years ago, when Emily was one. My husband and I wanted to document every aspect of our new little miracle. My mother-in-law, Dale also gave me a few books, which changed the way I took pictures forever.  They did not turn me into a professional photographer, but they did start me on the path of taking beautiful pictures of my babies. Here are a few of the most valuable things that I learned that you can use with any camera…
1. Try to limit distractions in the back ground by focusing on your subject.
 Fill your viewfinder with what you want to capture, your child!
2. Use natural light as much as possible, such as window, an open garage, or a porch. . The built in light on your camera should only be used as a last resort.
Truthfully my first studio was my back porch, with a tablecloth as a backdrop…
3. When shooting outside, the lighting is best around sunrise or sunset. If you are taking pictures in the middle of the day, find a shady spot so that your subject is indirect sunlight.
4. Take pictures of your baby playing or engaged with something. I also used to take pictures of Emily when she was watching Baby Einstein. There were certain spots in the video where she would laugh on cue, so I would just sneak in front of the TV and take a picture.
5. Try to take pictures at a time when you are alone with your child, so there are little distractions. Also having a full and rested baby helps.
6. It is all a numbers game, the more pictures you take, the better odds you have of getting the perfect shot. With digital, you can always just delete the bad ones.
7. You can buy how-to videos for most DSLR cameras through AMAZON, etc. They cover all the main features of the camera, and for about $25 it is an awesome investment.
8. Post camera cropping can take an OK picture and turn in into a great one.
9. Make sure you hand your camera over to someone else, so you can get in some pictures too.
10. Have fun and take pictures of all of the precious little things.                                                                                                                                                                                                                       You will need a lot more than these few tips to truly learn how to use your camera.  My friend, Rosie Hernandez, is offering a one-on-one workshop for any one interested. I so wish I had an opportunity like that when I first got my camera.  Here is her link.                                                                                                                                                                                       My snapshots were definitely not award winning photographs, but they are souvenirs of beautiful memories.  Here are a few of my first pictures of my girls from around our house... They were taken with an entry level DSLR with a kit lens. 

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Printing, Printing, Printing

I can never say enough about how important it is to use a reputable printer when developing your images. Most one-hour photo labs and the ever-popular mail order labs deal with amateur snapshots that have not been edited with programs such as Photoshop or Lightroom. Their computers and printers automatically have a default setting that edits the snapshots, and for the most part it improves most images taken straight from a camera. Unfortunately that same automatic default setting can wreak havoc on an image that has already been edited with a professional editing program. They often become over sharpened, oversaturated, and have odd coloring. I have tried Publix, CVS, Walgreens, Target, and Costco for fast images. Out of those, the only one I consistently go back to is Costco, and I can USUALLY get my prints to match my computer screen as long as I turn off the “auto correct” setting when I order. It is on the last screen when you click on printer settings.

My neighbor, Kerri, had me take her family holiday portraits for her this year. When she ordered the images from CVS her family looked like orange aliens, but the same images printed out perfectly from Costco with the auto correct off, (one of her pictures is the family below.) Kerri’s CVS experience is just one example of poor printing I have seen over the last month. I personally was even unhappy with my holiday cards from Costco, because when I ordered the cards, I could not change the computer generated “auto correct” option. I studied almost every holiday photo card that came to my house and my neighbors. Some were home-taken snapshots while others had professionally taken images. The printing was poor on most of them. A few had awesome printing. Tiny Prints, Snap Fish, and Smug Mug were hands down my favorite three printers for holiday cards.

Smug Mug is the company that hosts many other professional photographers’ websites, as well as mine. My friend Rosie Hernandez, one of the BEST photographers I know or know of, only orders from them. The good news is that images taken by Katherine Shamoun Photography can now be purchased directly from Smug Mug’s professional lab Bay Photo at very reasonable rates. Here is a little more about them:

Bay Photo, a professional lab located in Santa Cruz, California, has been catering to top pros since 1976. At Smug Mug, Bay Photo is available exclusively for Professional subscribers for prints and canvas.

A true pro lab, Bay Photo offers pricing that includes hand color correction of each print. Their experts will fuss over each order, ensuring superb color and consistency from print to print. All prints are carefully flat-packed — damage during shipment is almost unheard of. Bay Photo carries more sizes and papers, including panoramic sizes and GiclĂ©e watercolor prints. Smug Mug will continue to add products geared specifically towards Professional photographers.

I just ordered 5x7 New Year’s Cards. It was fast, easy, and you can even use PayPal. I LOVED the printing, and received them in four days! I also ordered several large prints and a canvas. The printing of every piece was fabulous. Below are the proofs of the cards.

I know I send customers a free disk of their images, so this is truthfully nothing to do with money. Getting poor prints at a cheap rate from, a cheap printer just isn’t worth it. Paying a tad more is worth it for getting consistently beautiful prints from a pro lab. ;)