Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tips About Props for Children Christmas Photography

I always very excited during the  time close to a Holiday like now. Prior to this and a few weeks before, I started to look for props to do a Holiday theme photo shoot indoor. I'd be sure that I have what I need in order to do a Christmas indoor photo shoot. This mean I must have ;
~ Backdrop
~ Lighting
~ Crhistmas props
~ A  space near a window or door with a good natural light source
~ SD card 
~ Announcement about the mini session photo shoot on Facebook and I also put on Craigslist.com.

When I know I have these ready; I can start booking clients.  It is just me that I like start much earlier than people anticipated. The reason is I like to give my client enough time for them to order and pick carefully their Holiday cards if they choose to do so.


I bought my backdrop from Ebay (here). I am not ready to spend a good quality backdrop since I am new shooting indoor. But so far the backdrop does the job perfectly.  Before I bought the backdrop; my husband Steven made me a backdrop from pvc pipe got it from Home Depot. This backdrop came in handy.  And for one particular shoot; I need two backdrop to hang the props. In the future I am planning to buy the same professional looking one from Ebay. But with only USD 15.00 you can create a backdrop as well. Off course you need someone who can cut to size to create the pipe into a perfect photography backdrop. And I can assure you it is not that difficult.

I also bought the lighting on Ebay. Again, I love them very much. For the price what I have paid for, I am one happy photographer shooting with these soft lighting umbrella. (here) I like to be prepared since the weather is not always good. Good lighting makes a huge different in the picture. So I like to prepapare myself in advance.

I don't know this idea just came into mind that I want a strings of Christmas ornaments balls as a backdrop. So I bought 50 Christmas balls in one plastic box for USD.9.90 at a Dollar store near my house. I tied them with 4 or 5 inches a part on a clear plastic jewelry string bought from Michaels. Just to warn you that this took me almost 2 hours to do. But after the last 3 strings I got the hang of it that I did it quicker. You want it to cover the entire white cloth backdrop horizontally. And I hung these strings of Christmas balls on the pvc back drop placed about 1 feet in front of the white backdrop cloth.

I also bought other toys related to Christmas like teddy bear bought at Ikea. A small christmas tree decorated with christmas ornaments bought at Ikea. A  few fake presents also good as props. Usually these present won't stay pretty very long as the kids will pull the bow but that is the beauty of photograph toddlers because they are curious and often you will ended up with good pictures as if they are opening the real presents.

Also as seen on last pictures; I also bought a small white christmas lighting. Again instead of hanging strings of christmas ornament balls I hung strings of these lighting. You might need 4 boxes of 100 light bulb each. They cost about USD 4.99 per box. I got them at a Dollar store as well.

If you do not have a studio dedicated just for photography; you need an extra space about 10 feet by 15 to 20 feet open space to put the backdrops and where you are shooting from.

And a good SD card. I bought mine from Best Buy.

There are ton of samples on google search (here). If you are good with basic Photoshop, you can do it yourself. I also look for graphic images on graphicstock.com to decorate the announcement card.
I created the announcement the next day I took the children's photo so that I will be on time to announce the mini session. I just like people to be prepared way a head so that they can take time to create the holiday cards.  I asked the parents if it is okay for me to post 2 or 3 of their pictures and use one of them for my Children Christmas mini session announcement on Facebook or have it written as a part of the contract. Usually they do not mind at all. Then I created using Photoshop Elements. I also put the announcement on craigslist.com a long with 2 pictures of the kids.

Like mentioned before, the metal backdrop bought from Ebay is where the white cloth is hanging. And the second backdrop stand from pvc is standing  in front of it where the strings of christmas lighting or strings of christmas ornament balls are hanging. The props must cover the entire white cloth horizontally. I did not cover the lighting a cross  as I was just testing to see how the pictures turn out to be.

 Soft box lighting will be put at 4 and 7 o'clock from the subject.

 Create different sizes of fake presents with different pattern/color of paper christmas wrap. Tie them neatly and nicely with a pretty ribbon.
Having different sizes with different paper wrapping creates drama and a feel of christmas mood. Try not to put too much props because they can be distracted and will take away the beauty of the subject(s); in this case, the kid(s).

Miniature christmas tree is lovely. But be prepared that the kids will pull the ornaments out of the tree. You will have to decorate the tree again for next round of a photo session. Remember to have a break so that the kids can have a drink or snacks. And continue on after.

I have not incorporated the lighting background on any kids. This is going to be for my next client. But it is always good to test it before hand. Playing with the aperture is crucial because it has a great impact on the look of the light itself. Below picture was taken with slight larger aperture like f/2.8. You can clearly see
the wiring of the light. The larger the aperture is the clearer the background will look.

And below picture taken with approximately f/2.0. The wiring less noticeable.

On below picture I deliberately lower the exposure. The reason is because I wanted you to see a string of clear plastic stars hanging next to the second row of lighting from the left right above the teddy bear left side head. I am planning to put many more strings of these clear plastic stars alternate them with the lighting. Experimenting with different kind of material is always good. You can store away the props for next year.

And here is the lighting I am going for. It creates dapple circular lights and it is so lovely. But this will perfectly work with lowest aperture like f/1.8

A box of 100 white christmas light is USD 4.49. And the clear plastic stars contain 10 stars per pack is USD 1.00 at a Dollar store.

Remember always plan your session a head. And don't forget to test it. Use a toy or an object to replace the kids. This way you will see what works and what is not. Think outside of the box to create props and backdrops. The sky is the limit!

Thank you so much for stopping by!
Happy Tuesday Everyone ?

ELLA + CHRISTOPHER + THOMAS //Children Christmas Photography Indoor//

This is the first time I have taken pictures of children for a Holiday theme.  I must admit that I love doing it so much.

Taking picture of kids within the age of 2 to 5 is not the easiest. But somehow I love capturing children's expression when they are happy or cranky. It takes a lot of patience when taking picture of children in these age bracket because they aren't always in the best mood.

When they seems not want to cooperate - you as a photographer must not force the kid to pose or do what you want her/him to do. The trick is try to get their 
attention like giving them a new toy, try to act funny (I always ask the parents to do this), and by calling their name. So you must always have an extra soft toy with you but do not let them see it all. You can give it to them one by one to buy time so that they always feel surprise and excite seeing the new toy. Inform the parents that they must have their meal just before the photo shoot it always help. Because feeding the kids during the photo shoot will give you an extra time to edit because you will finally see their picture with some crumbs on their lips. This happened on one of the children's pictures. I did the painstaking job, brushed off the crumbs out of his mouth during editing. Telling the parents to feed the kids at home  before shooting is now my top priority.

Toddlers are the most adorable human being to be photographed. I love their candied expression. That's why as I mentioned above sometimes you will get a great shot when you let them do what ever they wanted to do. It unexpected and the result always the cutest.

All and all the shooting was a fun day for me.  I selected and created the backdrop myself (I will talk more about this on my next post).

So take a look at these adorable kids. First group are Ella and her brother Christopher. And the second group is Thomas.

Thank you so much for reading!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Vintage China Table Setting

I have been collecting vintage china for 10 years. But for the past 3 years I am slowing down quite a bit. Not only they are hard to come by but right now I have  quite a lot of them. I particularly love the blue band one. Any china designed with a blue band and floral I seems to love very much. I used to scour Ebay to bid one by one until where I am now. But I found that it is getting harder and harder to get the pretty blue band china now a days. If there is, which is quite rare it is quite costly that I can't even afford any more. Last posted here and here.

Over time, I collected many dinner plates, salad plates, bowls, desert plates, serving dish, etc. Although they are not in the same pattern; they all are blue in color. I really like it that way. It is unique and pretty when put them together as a table setting for a dinner enough for 6 or 8 people like showing on these pictures. The key here is that I keep the color all in blue to tie them together. Surprisingly the table looks really pretty.

This dinner table setting is for 6 six people. It was during the time when my son and his girl friend was visiting us. We invited a couple that we are quite close with to introduce my son 'Buck' and his girl friend to them.

The truth is for me, entertaining dinner at home is very important. I want the food as equally good as the table setting. Thank God that night everyone loved my cooking. That they kept on mentioning that each course was so delicious. Even my son and his girl friend kept on coming to the kitchen and spoon some of the dishes out before the guests are coming.

Days after dinner they were eating the Beef Brisket left over until it was all gone.

Planning a dinner like this one is very exciting to me. I love planning the menu, buy the flowers as the center piece, setting the plate, etc. I do these days before the dinner time. And 2 days before I started to buy ingredients. And a day before I started to set up the table. This way 1 day before I can start to cook some of the meals. That leave me only 1, 2 or 3 meals to cook during the dinner day. 

I was very excited because my mother in law gave me this silver ware that I totally had forgotten about. She gave me when were still living in our old home. Prior to this dinner I told my husband that I need to buy a new silverware. He then told me why don't I use the silverware his mother gave us. I was so thrilled and happy to see it again. It was so beautiful. I do not know anything about antique silverware but Steven my husband told me that this silverware is  very expensive. I was curious that I checked on Ebay and I was shocked by the price. I could not believe that silverware can cost that much! I am honored to own it and that this silverware used to belongs to Steven's grand mother; his mother's mother.  This silverware really gives the vintage/antique luxury to the whole dinner table setting. 

I also collected wine goblets that has an etching to them. I love Fostoria brand. But it is getting more and more costly on Ebay.  I can only afford 2 or 4 of them. So they are not in a set.  To me, they do not need to be in a set. I think it is more interesting that way. Overall, I really love the table setting.

So what do you think? Would you use different mix and match dinner plates, salad plates and bowls like I do?


Have a great week end Everyone?

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Sunday, November 2, 2014

BUCK & DESSY // Miami, Florida // Part Three {the end}

While Buck and Dessy were here; we took them to our home in Florida for a couple of days. Steven treated us to see an NBA game in Miami. My son Buck loves basketball game. So we were thrilled to spend time in Miami and watching the game. It was so much fun watching Miami Heat played against Washington Wizards. My son was so excited that I could see it on his face. He lives in Jakarta, Indonesia so he could not watch the game alive as often as he wanted to. So this is one of the highlights of his trip. As for me this is my first NBA game as well.  And I loved it. The energy was electrifying. I would want to watch another NBA game alive in the future.

The experiences with my son and Dessy at home was lovely. My son has grown in to a man. I do not get to see Buck often as he lives across the globe from us. Therefore when he is sitting next to me, I can not stop staring at him. He is a handsome man. His face features are so beautiful; his eye brows, lips, and nose are so unique and different in a handsome way. I almost could not believe that he is my son. Occasionally I hug him for no reason. And I love his voice saying I love you while kissing my shoulder when we were hugging. I think it is important to show love to your children. I don't care what others might think if they saw us; I just wanted my son to know that I love and miss him.

I never imagine the day is coming for me to see that my little boy is in love and another girl is in love with him. I can't describe the feeling; I am happy for him to see him glowing like this. I wish him a happiness in what ever decision he is making for himself.

I feel blessed to have Steven as my husband. His understanding is beyond my expectation. I must admit that because of him everything in my life seems to be happy and brighter. He is a kind, gentle man who always wanted to help and have a good advise to any one who knew him.

Very nice......!!

We were having drinks and snacks at Tropical Cafe in South Beach Miami when a Guy with two Parrots came to put the birds on Dessy's and Buck's shoulder. And took pictures. I can't help myself to snap some photos of them too.

Hey, I want to be photographed too!

Ahh....what a sweet pictures. It is a little out of focus.

On the way to American Airline Arena to watch the NBA game. Testing my camera to snap a picture of Miami skyline.

A mother and a son moment at the game.

The face only a mother could love.

On our last day in Florida, we were surprised by the gifts given by my son and Dessy as a thank you from them to us. They knew they did not have time to get us anything as that day we are flying back to New York and the next day early morning is their flight back to Jakarta, Indonesia.  Something that they do not have to do but we are happy for their kind gesture as a thank you to us.

In the plane on the way to New York, I held my son's arm for as long as I could knowing I might not seeing him in a long time.

This morning  I got a text message saying, mom we arrived safely and in the car on the way home.
Thank you God for protecting my son!

Thank you so much for reading! Have a nice Sunday evening Everyone?