2.17.2011

creative composition: tornado style

Remember a month or so ago when I said I was going to try and be more creative photographing my kids? Well, I did one post on it...got busy...and forgot! Something has really been bothering me lately with my photography; especially my Party of Three shots, but I couldn't put a finger on it. I think I had a light-bulb moment today.

One of my favorite photographers is Keli at Kidnapped by Suburbia. I follow her blog, I admire all of her pictures on Flickr, so I thought to myself...besides her super cool processing, what is different between her pictures and mine? I think I figured it out! She takes pictures as if she's quietly observing what's going on in the room. With many of her indoor shots, I feel a sense of calm and quiet...and I love how there's not always interaction between her and her daughters as she's photographing them.

I take pictures like a camera-wielding maniac, often times 6 inches from your face. I wave stuff around, I try to get TT to look up and smile............WHY??!!

I thought I'd try a different approach today.

See? Here I'm being a silent observer from the hallway.
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Try focusing on something other than your child; just get them playing in the background.
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Snap pictures of the little details, rather than 20 of the same shot of your child's face. (I'm totally guilty of this - LOL!!) ;-)
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Here's something else I discovered. Usually I'll tidy up a little if I know I'm going to be taking pictures in a certain room. By doing this, my pictures can look plain and boring. AND staged. Look how all the clothes hanging in the closet behind Livia add a little color and interest. (When I saw TT coming, I almost jumped up to close the closet doors. I'm so glad I didn't! It is a child's room after all).
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Something else that totally sapped my creativity...I got all caught up in facing the light, facing the light, facing the light. I usually have my back to a window, with my kids facing the light to get those big catchlights in their eyes. Look at the picture below. I love that little bit of side-lighting coming in from the window and falling on her left cheek, don't you? I would have missed that if I was between Livia and the light.
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I went way overboard with facing the light.

Here I am again, low to the ground, observing from a ways back. I could have composed this differently; maybe closer to TT from the waist down. Just for a more artsy effect.
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More of the little details.
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I was trying to do some more creative shots like just hands, feet, etc...but I was using my 50mm 1.4 and my DOF was too shallow. (That's not a lens I normally use, and I need more practice with it). My shots were kind of a blurry mess, so I'm going to try again. (For those of you with the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 L and the 50mm 1.4, do you notice your shots being softer with your 50mm?)

Don't be afraid to get a little hint of furniture in your shot, like the shadowy part of the dresser you see on the right side. It shows where you are in relation to your surroundings and looks like you are peeking in the room.
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The next 3 pictures are how I normally take pictures. Livia facing the window, me right in front of her. I don't dislike them, but they don't reflect what I was practicing..."quiet observation from afar." ;-)
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I wanted to include them anyway because I love TT's sweet little face. :-)
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I've always liked getting down really low and shooting up at my subject. Just make sure your subject is somewhat looking down so you don't see up their nose. (Seriously). ;-)
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Can you tell I like my Mickey Mouse idea? - LOL! There's a much better example of this here on Brooke's blog. Very creative!
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And that's where my attempt at a different perspective ends.
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I had all these ideas I wanted to try with Livia in the crib...
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...but not surprisingly, she wasn't in there for a millisecond before plotting her escape.
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Two of my blog friends that are exceptional at thinking outside the box when photographing their kids are Stacey and Naomi. If you photograph this way too, or know of a photographer who does, I'd love if you linked me to their blog in a comment. I'd love the inspiration!

For those of you that are new to my blog, I apologize that I'm not able to visit everyone back that leaves a comment. But please know how much I value every word! ♥
Have a wonderful Thursday! :-)

45 comments:

Diana said...

These are amazing! I love your face-shots of Olivia. I feel like almost all of my photos are like the ones you posted because my son refuses to look at the camera!

Karen said...

I love the "little details"! The flipped up curls & the little finger pointing. I'm not a photographer, but just a friend who always loves stopping by visiting. You captured some treasures!

SKC said...

Adorable images. The "little details" are wonderful.

Sheri said...

Wow!! What fabulous shots Karli!! You achieved exactly what you were referring to, they are just full of serenity.

jess@notyouraveragemommy.com said...

Oh Karli, these are truly amazing. I love reading about your thought process behind the camera. I love your new "thinking out of the box" but I love your style too. I also like how you captured her in her her, in her element...just perfect!

Melissa said...

Love these photos! So pretty. Thank you for sharing the links!

Mom of M&Ms said...

Great job...see why I do very little posing... It adds to the story I think.. All of life is an art...

the mickey shot rules..

Chic Homeschool Mama said...

I love how you told the story & thought process about each one. I often feel the same- like I am stuck in a rut. I love being the quiet observer & there is so much I have to learn. One click at a time :) Thanks for the inspiration. I am always looking not only for that but also appreciate someone like you who shares the process in creating the shot as well. It is incredibly helpful to us newbies :) Thanks for that.

I often get my inspiration from Traci at http://threepeasandabean.blogspot.com/

Laurie said...

Gorgeous pictures...(don't we all say that?) :) I'm your new follower, referred by Amy from MimiBeth Photography. I really liked your ideas in this post of getting creative and shooting from different angles...doing what you don't normally do. I love the Mickey shots...when you can see someone in the background of a pic like that, you automatically think, "What are they doing?" Great composition. I just got my first dslr a week or so ago, and I'm concentrating on learning all I can...

Good job!

Jaime said...

Love them all...but especially the one of her feet!! Love the observer approach...I oftentimes forget the same thing.

Jaymi said...

I love these! What a great lesson on portraits! I love the details shot that just shows her legs and the back of her neck, and I love the one with her playing on the ground, with the window light on her face! beautiful!

Cecily Healy said...

Hi Karli-- I have both of those lenses but don't use the 50mm as much as the 24-70. I find that my images are soft unless it's a closeup of 1 person. I've been frustrated by it but I also haven't really figured out all the functions of my camera so maybe I'm doing something wrong. I have a 7D. what do you shoot with?

Sara said...

Okay I feel like I just read the story of my life! I always face my son towards the window and have my back to it! And he promptly turns his back on me. I have tons on pictures of him looking down or just playing, and your point of view has totally made me rethink these pictures. I am constantly making noises to get him to look at me, but maybe I should rethink this... Thanks so much for the insight, and wonderful photos as always. You will see me stealing your ideas in the near future on my blog!!

Colleen said...

I love this post. I need to reconsider my photo taking strategies. It's always fun to see things from a different perspective.

happy me said...

I too love Keli's photos!(I cannot replicate her Keli-Effect to save my life; I've tried).

You nailed it Karli!!! I absolutely love these photos of Livia. The one with her back to the camera sitting in front of her bookcase!!! You HAVE to be thrilled with that one!!!

I'm amazed (but not surprised) that you can try a new style like this and do it so well!

Lynda said...

There are some great shots here! You've given me a lot of tips and inspiration for my child photography.

I wish any part of our house was decorated. :)

Jill said...

These are wonderful! I am so guilty of bad composition. I'll take a million photos of just my kids heads and never think to take pictures of the little details. Thanks for the great reminder!

Adeena said...

Wow!! Really love how they turned out. :D

I have the 50mm, and a kit lens. The 50mm doesn't come off. ;) So, I'm learning to work with it... although I'd love a bit of zoom sometimes. And a macro. You'll have to tell me which lens I should save for. ;)

Jen B. said...

What wonderful advice. And beautiful pictures! You illustrated your points well in your photos. This is always my goal when I shoot...to capture the "real you." If you want, come visit me!

http://jenuineimpressions.blogspot.com

Ashley Sisk said...

Absolutely wonderful post today Karli - I think I have to be constantly reminded to shoot from different perspectives. When I do try it, I'm always happy with what I capture. And in this case, I love the new perspectives. Great job my friend.

Naomi said...

Aww, thanks Karli for the mention! So sweet of you. And I love your little details! These turned out great! I really like the one where she's not in focus, so great! :)

Casey Martinez said...

I love that you have such a creative eye and that you always challenge yourself to take your photography further. I like to do that to and today you have inspired me to step outside the box more with my pics too;0! Thanks for the ideas and what great pictures of your little princess!

Stacey said...

Yay!!!!!! I was so thrilled to see these GREAT photos, Karli!! After every little piece of advice I was literally nodding my head....YES!! Loved that you didn't stage anything, that you didn't crop out that shadowy part of the dresser, and that you had one of her not in focus (gasp!). :-) They are great.

Thank you for the mention. Really.

And I only shoot with my 50 1.4 so I can't compare with your 24-70 (would love that lens, btw). What aperture are you shooting at? I've kindof embraced the softness and shooting more wide open with my 50. But I guess that's all I know! :-)

Amazing job, friend!

keli [at] kidnapped by suburbia said...

beautiful shots, karli!! the light and colors and tones are absolute perfection ... simply wonderful!

thank you for the sweet mention, xo.

Jennifer @ Studio JRU said...

What a fantastic post! I love the quiet observer idea. These shots are wonderful. My favorite... the mickey ones! :)

Brooke said...

HA! That Tiny Tornado is so darn cute - she dresses better than me. Seriously!!!! So, I feel like I am more of a silent observer type photographer...but not because I want to be.... because that is all my kids will tolerate. They have pretty much taken to completely ignoring my camera. If I try to get them to look/smile/cooperate in any way... they freak! Bribing is my ONLY currency at this point! :D

Kristal said...

Great job.... I was just thinking today how I don't often get pictures of just every day life.

Liz said...

I love how you are so aware of your stengths and weakness. Not that I think you have. But I understand where you are coming from. I too look at other more advanced photographers and ask my self what is the difference between our shots. I am so willing to learn and grow and improve.

I think this is great for you a new challenge. It will be nice to see different angles and such with your captures.

But your front facing shots are great, your children are so good looking. I love the one in this post of Livia and her back curly hair, it is a soft shot. I bet she can`t wait to get a big girl bed.

You are great and how ever you capture a shot they all will be awesome. You are one who inspires me. So keep up the great work.

elizabeth said...

i love these shots karli
sometimes my favorite shots are those when everyone is not looking at the camera -
they tell so much about what is going on at that moment
great job

LivingFree said...

Gorgeous pictures and great post! Thanks for all the tips to being a silent observer. I'm guilty of the in your face and my kids are quickly revolting on me. Truly inspiring!

Susan said...

Thanks for sharing your revelation. I'm not great at shooting the details, but I love when I see it from other photographers, so I need to practice that. They seem so much neater with younger kids though, so I will have to think on how to capture those details in my bigger kids. I have the 50mm 1.4 and find it very sharp. But I mostly shoot at 2.8 or 3.2. I think they say a lens is the sharpest at almost a full stop above it's lowest. I almost never shoot at 1.4 And it depends on your focal distance too. I have a nifty app for my iphone that is a DOF calculator. I love it. (But I don't have your coveted L lens to compare it with! LOL) Off to check out those other links.

Susan said...

You are so much fun! I just love, love stopping by. I have so much to learn, but you sure make it interesting and fun.

No matter what angles or lighting you use, your girl is just gorgeous!

Ashley said...

These are GREAT and such great tips.

Audrey @ TheDailyWyatt.blogspot.com said...

Oh karli... First of all THANK YOU FOR YOUR SWEET COMMENT! (they always mean a lot.) and Secondly... I do the same thing. get in a slump of doing the exact same pictures and then BAM one day its fresh new and so much fun. I usually fall in love with the pictures that are more artistic then the regular face shot of mr wyatt man but then I see the face on shots of his pretty blue eyes and I cant resit. These are great photos. I love seeing the books on the floor and the closet open plus digging the pink room. * you should check out this blog... http://bunchofbarrons.blogspot.com/ I think its what your looking for. SHE ALWAYS INSPRIES ME!

Sarah Halstead said...

These are amazing!! I would love to try this approach with Dustyn. I make the same mistakes you do. I love Keli's photos also. I think they are wonderful.

Jill - FNA Photography said...

I missed these yesterday! I was out literally all day until around 8pm. I love them and the sweet editing you did to them. Great job!

xoxox

Jill - FNA Photography said...

You know I love my 50mm 1.4 lens and it is NEVER soft - I set it around f/4.0 and if my shutter speed is anything below 1/50 i use my tripod to ensure tack sharp shots.

You know I sent the 24/70mm L lens back and don't miss it at all. I'm ordering my 5D today and will be emailing with questions I'm sure!

Lots of love - who loves to change perspective of shots too! :-)

urban muser said...

great photos. looks like your new perspective is paying off!

Carrie said...

I love everything about these, but then again I just love all of your photos! We have a Mickey Mouse fan in our house too. So those are def a fav :)

♡ Ambrosia said...

Such beautiful photos. I love the down low and peeking perspective! And the soft color on her walls make the pictures really sweet to look at. So lovely sweet girl!

Tiffany said...

her outfit is stinkin cute I must go shopping soon for the kids spring clothes since warm weather popped out of no where! The shots look great and colorful!

Zondra Art said...

Adorable images and very cute girl!
Kisses and happy weekend.

Michelle said...

Karli -- you never cease to amaze me!!! :)

I love how you admit where you want to improve, and then, even if it may be a bit, you work on it and totally blow me out of the water!!

These are all adorable!! I love this new perspective -- I think these shots are just as priceless as the "in-your-face" ones. While they do show everyday-life/activities/reality (clutter/doors open, etc.) you've turned them into portraits!! I'd love to put these into a collage and having them hanging up (well, if TT was my kid!! lol! Maybe I'll need to post a series like this of Storm... .lol! Now THAT would be funny!!)

In the words of my sister (oh, watch out!) "you rock my purple llama socks off!!" -- well, how bout beige fuzzy socks off (cause that's what I've got on!)

Have a wonderful day lady!! Chat soon!

~Michelle

Natalie said...

Woo hoo! Go Karli! Trying new things! Don't you love it?! I love the girly softness to all the shots! Pink curtains/outfit/bedding! How sweet all those shots are of her in her 'natural' environment!

Tara said...

She's so darling!! YOU are so talented, not only with photography but with home decor! Beautiful family, beautiful home, beautiful life! God is so good...

I found you awhile ago via a link from Nat's photo blog & wondered if you were the same Karli from years & years ago! :D (Ahh, the old days of the Hills!) I must say you haven't aged a day! I enjoy your blog very much...great pics & so funny!

P.S. One of these days, I'll be asking you about paint colors & where you buy your artwork... :) Very Pottery Barn-ish!