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- The Perfect Gift for Mother's Day
By Monte Zucker
Day is one of the truly special picture days of the year. And who better
to write an article about how to make wonderful images than legendary
portrait and wedding photographer, Monte Zucker. Here are some priceless
tips from a man who has spent a lifetime creating lasting, loving images.
Remember, you can always see Monte "in person" in the video programs at
www.ZugaPhoto.TV and on the "How
to Take Great Pictures" DVD. And now, the master?
you take pictures, yourself, or go to a professional photographer, it's
up to you. The bottom line is that there's no more perfect gift for mom
than family portraits. They'll be treasured today, tomorrow and forever.
There'll be no "returns" on these gifts. That's for sure.
professional portraiture has an edge on most all do-it-yourselfers and
should definitely be your first consideration. This is especially true
now when studios have digital capabilities and training. They can, at
the least, create images that can be framed, hung in the home and in the
office?and have them ready for Mother's Day regardless of how late you
are in planning.
now there are so many people with their own digital cameras, it’s
a good idea to get some ideas as to how to really take advantage of
their capabilities. Whether you’re the mother, yourself, the
father/husband, or one of the kids, here are a few ideas that will
definitely help you get results that would be the ideal present for
the clothing for everyone in family pictures very carefully!
To keep the picture
simple, unified and effective you have to plan clothing. When you dress
everyone in similar colored clothing the bodies all blend together and
you're attracted to the faces. All light or all dark colored clothing
works great. Stay away from bright colored clothing, prints or anything
about the clothing that would attract your attention away from the faces
and to what the people are wearing.
be tempted to put a huge bow on the top of your baby’s head. It
will take attention away from the baby and stand out much too much in
light and background when shooting outdoors.
Going outside for
really good family pictures is easy, but getting good results takes careful
The best location
for an outdoor picture is a place in which there is no light coming from
overhead. . Where the light comes from a single direction, and where you
get light into the subjects’ eyes. An ideal place would be under
a covered porch, under a large umbrella, under the outside edge of a tree,
or simply close to your house…. where the light would have to come
from the opposite direction.
Photograph from the
shadowed side of your subjects out towards the light. When you do that
you’re creating photographs with roundness to the faces, a feeling
of depth on a flat piece of paper, and using light to separate the figures
from the background. By photographing from the shade out into the light
you won’t blend the edge of the subjects with the background.
Editor's Note: Monte
Zucker is just one of 12 great professional photographers that appear
on the new ZugaPhoto.TV DVD entitled "How
to Take Great Pictures."
basic controls on your digital camera.
Setting the white
balance to automatic is not the best way to go. Instead, use the simple
signs that direct you to sunlight shade or flash. You’ll like the
results much better. When using daylight inside the house keep your white
balance on shade. It will make the skin tones look beautifully warm-toned.
If you’re using flash, then of course set the white balance to flash.
If you’re in
bright sunlight, set the ISO to 100. When you’re photographing in
lower light level, set your ISO to 200 or even 400 if it’s a really
low light level. This will definitely help you have a better chance at
getting a well-exposed picture with plenty of detail throughout. BUT when
working in low light levels keeping the camera on a tripod is a MUST!
Otherwise, you’re almost certain to get blurry pictures. You simply
have to have a steady camera if you’re expecting to get good results.
You can set the exposure
to automatic, if you like. That usually works well for starters. Fortunately,
you can see the results immediately on the back of the camera. If you
feel that your subjects may be moving around and not holding still, set
your camera to shutter priority. Check your instruction book to see which
symbol that is.
Editor's Note: Once
again, the DVD "How to Take Great Pictures" is a one-stop source
for inspiration and great instruction. It's great to watch pro photographers
in action. And in addition to being able to watch Monte make family photographs,
he does a special section on "everything you wanted to know about
digital photography!" A must for every shooter.
Turn off your
flash. Use available light in the shade whenever you can
off your flash when photographing in low-level light. It flattens
everything out and takes away from the naturalness of your subjects.
this portrait I looked for a simple background that wouldn’t
take away from the subjects. There was really no great background
there, so I got my camera up high, using just the grass behind the
family group for a background. I backed myself up to a light colored
building. Even the light in the shadows of the building was bouncing
off the wall onto the faces of this family group. That’s what
put the light into their eyes.
A pileup like
this is fun for everyone…. especially the kids. The little
boy in this portrait was very active. He would never have sat still
for a posed picture. So, I put the father flat down on his stomach,
piled the mother on top of him. As soon as he saw his mom climb
up on his father, he ran to jump up on top of her. The rest is history.
window light inside the house…. but use it wisely
Inside your house
it’s possible to take gorgeous photographs simply by using the light
that’s coming in your window. There are a few things to look for
when you’re doing this.
First, keep your subjects
at least 3’ from the window. It’s really not necessary to
stay close to the window. As a matter of fact, your pictures will look
much better when you’re NOT close to the window.
Make certain that
the light is getting into your subjects’ eyes.
Turn your subject
to the light, but keep the side of the face that’s closest to the
camera in shade. When you photograph into the shadowed side of the face
you’re creating beautiful depth in the photograph.
fun way to get children together for mom’s surprise picture
is to simply pile them up. It’s certainly a great way to start,
because everyone is having fun and it gets you off to a great start.
Here the oldest is on the bottom with each successive brother or
sister piled on top as they get progressively younger.
the picture before you begin. SPOIL the children until after you’ve
finished the picture session!
not a bad idea to include the mother, father or both with the children.
Sometimes you have better control of the children with the parents
included. Whatever you do, keep the picture session fun. Picture time
is not control time. Let them get away with murder when you’re
working with them. You can "kill" them afterwards!
When working with groups it’s a good idea
to first place the center person and then try to get the others
to lean into that person. Try to connect them with the way they’re
leaning into each other and/or the way you get them to touch one
Work with a composition
of faces in mind. A group of four can be two in front, two behind
– heads in between each other….not on top of each other.
This group of five is three in the front row, two behind and in between….all
facing almost directly into the window light. Try to keep all the
heads equal distance from each other. Keeping all their clothing light
and using a light background blends all of their bodies together with
each other and with the background. The attention, then, goes straight
to their faces.
Expressions are the most important ingredient in
often sisters and brothers don’t even want to TOUCH each other,
much less hug each other. This is another time to spoil the kids.
just once for me!” “Do it for mom!” “Just
The way I got
the expressions from these three kids was to simply ask them to
“SQUEEZE!” Of course, afterwards they ended up choking
each other, but that was with my approval.
good plan to try keeping the heights of their heads according to
their ages. The oldest should be the tallest in the picture. It’s
not always the case that it works out this way in real life, but
everyone loves it in a picture when it shows up that way.
your picture taking FUN!
in this family group that everyone was having a great time when
the picture was taken.
See how nicely
all their bodies blend together with all of them wearing grays and
black. To simplify the background you can sometimes bring your camera
up high and shoot down towards a plain carpet, as was done here.
necessarily look for a “pretty” background.
Quite often people look for the prettiest background
they can find when taking their pictures. The result? The background
quite often takes away from the subjects.
The location for these portraits was on the front
steps of a church. The diagonal lines of the steps provided an easy
way to create an interesting composition. The people aren’t
just standing in a straight line.
See how they’re all grouped together, so that
each of them looks good individually and they all look good as a
family group. Did you notice the handholding?
Here in the same
location two little sisters were photographed wearing plain colored
dresses or nighties. When photographing small children full length
leave plenty of room around them in the picture, making them appear
small in a large world. Get the feeling here?
cousin of the other sisters really looks her age with all that space
around her, doesn’t she?
you’re fortunate enough to have three generations together
at the same time, it’s a perfect picture taking opportunity.
No careful posing
was necessary here. Just keep heads close together and your fingers
crossed that you can get everyone smiling at the same time. What
a lifetime memory for all for of them, huh?
how about a mother’s day pictures of all three cousins together?
Keep the camera on a tripod and hope for the best. Be ready for anything
and take advantage of any opportunity that comes you way!
Keep it simple!
Keep it fun!
The simpler the better!
The more fun you’re having when you take your pictures, the more
fun will show up in them. You want to have memories that become priceless
treasures for years to come? Start now. No better time to begin than this
Mother’s Day. For more tips, articles, and to watch some great photography
shows from the only photography network in the world, stop by and see
us at www.ZugaPhoto.TV!