If you are at all squeamish, it's a challenge to photograph a bris. I must admit to looking away at the crucial moment. But it's an honor to be allowed to shoot such a beautiful and meaningful ceremony. Here are a few images from the Kogut family's new son's brit milah, held at Minyan Ohr Chadash.
How to Get Great Photos of Your Kids (With Any Camera!)
1. Get Closer. You can often capture a more intimate expression if you come in closer and lower yourself and your camera to the level of the child. You don’t need to include their whole body each time. Experiment with closeups of your child’s face, or even their hands.
2. Background. Watch for distracting items in the background: people, trees, toys and other items strewn around. Often if you move a few inches to the right or left, you can get a cleaner background and a better image. Always check that nothing is “growing out of” your subject’s head before pressing the shutter release.
3. Use Natural Light. Always use the best light you can find. If you are indoors, try to shoot near a window, and turn the overhead lights off. Photographing outside, your best light will be in the early morning and late afternoon. Avoid strong midday sunlight, because it creates harsh and unflattering shadows in your subject’s face.
4. Hold the Cheese. Rather than pose your children and ask for an unnatural smile, try to capture them being themselves. Shoot from a variety of angles.
5. Keep Your Camera Ready. Use your camera regularly--not just on vacation. Everyday activities are usually more revealing of your child’s personality than planned events. If you are comfortable using your camera often, you will have a better chance of capturing those revealing moments.
I recently had the chance to participate in an exciting project--photographing the three looks for Emily Austin’s nomination for Northwest Hairstylist of the Year. Although I am a portrait photographer, I don't usually photograph fashion, but this opportunity was too intriguing to turn down.
We spent a full day together with Makeup Artist Michelle Benisti; Art Director and All-Around Helpful Person Erin MacCoy; Assistant Tea Maker and iPhone Handler Eric Martin and our three snazzy models: Dr. Paul, Kassie and Emily.
As you can see, the results are stunning. These are not professional models, but they were all three very relaxed and flexible in front of the camera. I learned a lot about photographing models for hairdressing awards: No stray hairs! Cutting lines must be even! No "holes" in the hairstyle! No odd shadows on hair! But Emily was hardworking and calm and everything went smoothly. Emily for Hairstylist of the Year. Yeah!
George and Mary Vance Wickstrom--I barely knew you. But I was honored to be invited to your funeral at Arlington National Cemetery. George and Mary were my cousin Walter’s parents. George served as a Captain in the Armored Cavalry during WWII and saw combat in France and Germany, including the Battle of the Bulge. Although George lost his vision many years ago, he and Mary led a busy life and retired in 2000 to be near my cousins in Tonasket, Washington.
Mary passed away in 2006, followed by George in 2013, and arrangements were made for a military funeral with full honors at Arlington National Cemetery. It was to take place while I was in Washington, DC for my niece’s bat mitzvah, and when I was invited to attend I immediately accepted. George and Mary were to be interred with George’s first wife, Bonnie, and their son, Greig.
It was a beautiful day in Arlington. I joined the extended family group for the excursion. We were awed by the spectacle. The procession was accompanied by a huge band, horses, caisson, a flag-covered casket. We silently followed on foot through the cemetery. Lots of uniformed officers with white gloves. A firing party. An intricate folding and presentation of the flag to Walter. Beautiful words remembering George and Mary by the Rev. Rachelle Birnbaum, who knew them well. The mood was somber, but not too teary. Poignant and funny George and Mary stories were exchanged on the bus back to the hotel. Thank you to Walter’s family for including me. It was a huge honor.
So when my cousin Talia contacted me about photographing her soon-to-be-mom friend Gabriela I said sure! And when she revealed that Gabriela would be dressed as a bird for the session, I wasn’t even surprised.
Talia and Gabriela are both former Elves (as in the Seattle Sugarplum Elves) and I expected nothing short of Unusual and Creative for a maternity shoot involving them.
When I arrived, Gabriela was getting the finishing touches done on her makeup, and the set was being arranged. I love being around Sugarplum Elf energy. As if the bird makeup, wings and tummy painted like an egg weren’t enough, soon-to-be-dad Ben agreed to be dressed up as a worm, to be photographed and Photoshopped as an, um.....accessory. Fortunately, Elf Samantha Fisher is a Photoshop wiz and she created the final photo featuring Ben the Worm. Or, as I would say, Ben the Good Sport.
THIS JUST IN: The photo of Gabriela on the nest (wormless version) won the People's Choice Award in ParentMap's Bump to Bundle Photo Contest, April 2014!!