Instagram inspirers – who you should follow

Instagram is an amazing resource for finding photo inspiration.  I follow a number of photographers ranging between wedding photographers, adventure photographers, portrait photographers and more.  Below is a small list of some favourites on Instagram that you’ve GOT to follow.  And in return, please share some of your favourites with me!

Andrew Knapp – @andrewknapp

Andrew is from Sudbury, Ontario (just like me!).  He and his dog, Momo, travel around and take the most beautiful adventure photos and dog portraits.  They have two published books called Find Momo (get them here) that include gorgeous photos with Momo hiding in each shot. Hint: this is a great gift idea for a photography-lover.  More photographer wishlist items can be found in another blog post of mine here.

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Alex Strohl – @alexstrohl

Alex Strohl’s adventure photography makes you feel like you’re right there with him.  He’s a contributor to @stayandwander which I also highly recommend you follow.

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Caroline Ross – @carolinerossphotography

Caroline is a photographer-friend of mine!  She’s originally from Sudbury, Ontario and has lived in some interesting places including St. Maarten and Vancouver.  I owe a lot of my photography professionalism and knowledge to Caroline, who has been a friend and mentor of mine for years.

Caroline’s work is stunning.  Her love of colour and brightness really translates into her photography of weddings, fashion, families, cityscapes and everyday lifestyle photos.

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David Clark – @davidavidavid

If you’ve never heard of David and his wife Amber, you’re about to develop a huge crush on them both.  David, Amber and their two beautiful children seemingly have the coolest life of all time.  David’s family self-portraits are so candidly fun and full of life!

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Logan Cole – @logancolephoto

Logan Cole’s portraits and wedding photography posts are simply stunning.  I love his attention to light and how he uses light so naturally in each of his shots.

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Michael O’Neal@moneal

Michael O’Neal is based in San Francisco, a city I just visited for the first time in November of this year.  Michael’s style is simple, elegant and really, really beautiful.  His photos make me feel comfort, like that feeling on a bright Sunday morning when you’re sipping coffee and wrapped up in a big blanket.

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Ryan Longnecker – @ryanlongnecker

Ryan Longnecker’s photos are super vibrant.  They’ll make you say “WOW!” and feel inspired to go on a huge outdoor adventure.

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Tyson Wheatley – @twheat

His bio says it all – Tyson Wheatley is a commercial, travel and lifestyle photographer that I’ve been following for some time now.  His deep tones, really generate mood in each of his shots.

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Tips & tricks for photographing children

Children are so fun to photograph, but the process can also be challenging.

Kids don’t usually understand why we want them to sit still and smile genuinely for us as we click the button on the camera.  Accomplishing this is super tricky, and I’ve seen (and tried) a variety of ways to get kids to smile at the camera: dancing behind the camera, bargaining and bribing with candy are only a few.

Here are a few of my own tactics to get great portraits of children:

  1. Change your expectations. Children don’t want to sit still; they want to play!  In my opinion, the best photos of children are the ones that capture their personality rather than a stale smile to the camera.  So change your outlook on the session and approach it with the goal of capture the child for who they are rather than forcing them to do something they’re not happy doing.
  2. Choose your environment wisely. My favourite place to capture photos of children is in the home.  Giving your subjects an environment where they’re most comfortable makes all the difference!
  3. Win them over. If the kids want to go downstairs and show you every single toy they have, go!  Make them comfortable with you and excited that you’re there.  Those initial 10 minutes you give to them will make your job easier for the rest of the session.
  4. Play their game.  Forcing kids to do something they don’t want to do will not result in a photo of them smiling.  Instead, try letting the kids decide the agenda.  Let them jump on the bed or make huge piles of teddy bears in their rooms.   It’s fun for them and an amazing (and unique) photo op for you.

Here are a few recent favourites of kids being kids!  What are your tactics for photographing children?

 

2016 wedding season wrap-up

First of all: where on earth did 2016 go?!  Time has flown by this past year, and a lot of fun has been had.  Below are only a handful of weddings I had the pleasure of shooting in 2016 across Ontario.

Ali & Marc-Andre are SO IN LOVE, and every fine detail of their wedding was beautiful. So naturally, I took almost 6000 photos!

Julie & Dev are high school sweethearts.  I’ve known them for years and am so excited to have been a part of their big day.

Melissa & Scott‘s wedding was held in the Distillery District in Toronto, ON.  Their wedding was such a dream to photograph, every single detail was truly beautiful and tailored to them perfectly.

Miranda and Andrew‘s wedding was at Fifth Avenue Golf Course in Lively, ON.  Luckily, we beat the rain and completed all of the family and party formals before the ceremony.  The gloomy side of the sky helped their pastel colours pop, making for some really vibrant photos!

 

A photographer’s wish-list

Have a photographer or photography-fanatic on your holiday gift list?  Not sure what to get them?  Look no further.  Below are some gift go-to’s any photographer would love to receive.

Photography books:

  • Find Momo – ($13.71 on Amazon) Find Momo is a project by Andrew Knapp and Momo the hiding border collie.
  • Simply Beautiful Photographs – ($15.02 on Amazon) Simply Beautiful Photographs is a photography book featuring some outstanding photos from National Geographic.  I received this as a gift years ago and it still sits out on my coffee table today.
  • Humans of New York – ($17.99 on Amazon) A classic, Humans of New York is a #1 bestseller, featuring amazing photos and stories of everyday people in NYC.

Knick-Knacks:

  • A thermos… that looks like a lens – ($12.59 on Amazon) This is a hilarious gift fit for the photographer in your life.  An amazing (and less expensive) alternative to gifting an actual lens.
  • Snack Cap Lens Caps – ($10 from PhotoJojo) Your photographer-friend will never lose a lens cap again with these adorable lens caps decorated as donuts and burgers.

Or, for the low price of $4,499, you could gift the new Canon 5D MK IV……………….. for me, please.

Learning more online

Just get your first DSLR?  Or looking to dive into your manual settings for the first time?  Learning to take full advantage of your camera and creating amazing photos can be really fun.  For me, it was all about trial and error, shooting with photographer friends and learning on YouTube.

There’s so much information online to help you grow as a photographer.  For example, check out Tony & Chelsea Northrup’s YouTube Channel.  They’ve got tons of content, but keep things relatively short and sweet so you get the information you need without all the fluff that other extremely long YouTube videos sometimes have.

Another sweet online resource is The Great Courses.  The Great Courses takes some of the world’s greatest professors and courses and makes them available at your fingertips through streaming video online or downloading the course videos to watch offline.  The platform lets you subscribe monthly/annually to take multiple courses (on all types of subjects), or purchase and take one at a time.

There are lots of different photography courses with The Great Courses that are notable including some taught by National Geographic photographers.

Finally, we can’t forget about editing.  There are millions of videos online to help you figure out how to do different actions in your editing.  As a primary user of Adobe Lightroom, I recommend Anthony Morganti’s YouTube channel.

Now what? Printing, posting and more

So, you’ve got your family photos back from the photographer… and you love them – how great!

There are so many things you can do with your photos.  You can:

  • change your profile picture on Facebook every single day for nearly a year,
  • drive your followers nuts on Instagram with 20 posts per day,
  • print a bunch of 4×6’s at Wal-Mart and keep them in that little envelope in a drawer, or
  • keep the photos on a hard drive (or worse, in a folder on your desktop) and decide what to do later.

All viable options.  As some alternatives, feel free to peruse below for my recommendations on how best to display your new beautiful photos:

  • Make a photo book.  Ever heard of Shutterfly, MyPublisher or even photo books from Apple?  These are perfect gifts for family and amazing coffee table books for you!  I’ve used MyPublisher year after year to custom-create photo books for my parents each Christmas… great deals and quick shipping, but watch out for duty charges.
  • Post a photo album on Facebook, but only choose your top favourites.  Facebook etiquette is a thing!
  • Create holiday greeting cards.  This can be done super inexpensively online with VistaPrint or ShutterFly, or you can scope out some awesome local resources.
  • Print, but do be sure to make an album or frame your beautiful shots for the world to see!

Dogs + Photography: Capturing the best of your pet

I LOVE DOGS.  And I love photographing dogs – as many of us do.  I’m sure you’ve come across many dog owners who, at a moment’s notice, can pull out their phone and show you a solid 500 shots of their pet.  (Yes, I am one of those).

I’m sure you’ve also noticed that it can be quite frustrating when trying to capture how adorable dogs truly are – especially when they they are so easily distracted or really hate sitting for the camera.

After years and years of practice, I think I’ve finally got it!  Below are a few of my favourite dog photos with a brief description on how I was able to achieve the shot.

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This is Mac.  He’s a Labradoodle, although he totally looks like a monster here.  This shot took a ton of patience.  I was holding his Kong (the most precious item in his life) and had him sit a few meters away.  On my command, I’d yell “OK!!!” and he’d jump up while I lobbed the ball in front of me.

On the technical side of things, I made sure to have my shutter speed at at least 1/200 to ensure his quick motions could be frozen in time.  Even then, I should have gone a stop or two more since his ear is a bit blurred with motion.  Shooting at a faster shutter speed is okay in a brighter environment (like a frozen lake on Manitoulin Island!), but you’ll have to adjust your aperture and/or ISO if lighting is more dim.

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Here’s Mac again (surprise, surprise).  Similar to the first image above, this required quite a few attempts before getting the perfect shot.  Again, I paid close attention to shutter speed here to make sure his quick movements were frozen in time.

Another challenge to consider in shots where the subject is running away from the camera is the focal point. When he’s flying through the air, trying to quickly focus can be quite frustrating.  For this shot, I locked my focus on a stick or a friend’s hand reaching out a meter or so in front of me just a few moments before Mac took flight.  My point of focus was broad enough that it captured a good chunk of him flying through the air.

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This photo warms my heart!  This was shot in the early evening with no direct sunlight in sight – perfect for soft, even lighting.  I made sure he was facing in the direction of the light source – even if it meant I nearly rolled off the dock, camera in hand.   The brightness of the sky was reflecting off the water, which made for a perfect source of light to hit him evenly with minimal shadows around his eyes.

In terms of posing, I’ve learned to let Mac do his thing.  If he’s super hyped up, I’m not going to force him to lay down and stare at me – that’s no fun for him and it’s nearly impossible to get the shot (this is, however, a great opportunity for capturing him soaring through the air as pictured above).  In this moment, Mac was relaxed and hanging with me on the dock, so I captured him in his natural essence by laying down and shooting at his eye-level.

I hope these notes were helpful in showing you a few of my go-to tricks for capturing the best shots of your dog.  I can go on and on about these shots (…and photography… and dogs) – so please reach out with any questions you have about capturing the best of your pet!