July Meeting Wrap-Up and August’s photo assignment

It was another great gathering this month, with a special treat. For our first meeting we had three pregnant moms in attendance, and this month two of our mamas came back with their adorable newborns! We can only assume that Wenmei was at Swedish since we didn’t see her ;-). 

This meeting we had a great session with Janet Klinger all focusing on “catchlight”. What is catchlight? I had actually never heard the phrase before personally but now since I’ve learned this I’ve been seeing it all over. It is when you can see the light reflected in the eyes of your subject. Through many illuminating demonstrations, Janet treated us to a veritable light show, teaching us how to identify, harness and move the light into and around our subject’s eyes to give the photo that “full of life” quality, and also how to make the light soft and flattering. Here I’ll summarizing some tips from my notes and link to Janet’s full blog post with the August assignment text. She is encouraging everyone to submit shots from last night and also the assignment by August 3rd, and she will post and offer comments on her blog! Also Valerie would love to see photos of baby Lauren, our beautiful pink ‘flower’, so please post your favorites to our Flickr site! 

OK onto the round up on some of Janet’s great tips:

-Pre-planning is the key to success with portraits. Planning the time of day, your child’s favorite props, the direction of the light, all of it is key. It is like how they say the game is won or lost before the players are on the field! 

-It is helpful to bounce some light back into the eyes of your subjects. A bounce will soften harsh shadows, and since the eyes are liquid the bounce will make them shiny. There are lots of tools that you can use to do this.

1) Wearing a white t-shirt

2) Draping a white sheet opposite the light coming in from the window. Janet also had a nice array of colored sheets to use as well. Using a darker sheet underneath the subject can also have a more flattering impact, reducing the appearance of Ye Olde Double Chin! 

3) A white piece of paper (which was an amazing demonstration just on its own)

4) You can buy little reflectors at camera shops that fold out like a fan, but can fit in your camera bag, the silver, gold or white colors that these come in all have different effects on the quality of light hitting your subject.

5) If you have a pop up flash, even holding your hand or placing a kleenex in front of the flash can create a little “soft box”. The smaller the light source the harsher the light, so if you can diffuse a smaller flash, even by taping a white piece of paper above the flash, it will help.

6) A handheld mirror, held by you or a helper, can also be used to redirect light towards one eye of your subject for a great effect. 

7) She even uses a clamp light (the kind you can get at a hardware store) around on a belt to position light on the fly while she’s shooting!


We then did a hands-on shooting exercise with our adorable baby models. Above you can see how she is using props, like a feather and tinsel, to grab the attention of our little model. Janet’s preference is to let as much light in as possible, so she recommended to set the exposure compensation on our cameras higher (+2 in our exercise) to let in more light. 


This was one of my attempts during our meeting, Janet has posted some of her shots of baby Lauren, and some really nice words about our group on her blog, definitely check it out, as it has the full text of the August assignment as well.  The assignment for august is to pre-plan and set up a photo session to capture portraits of a single subject, focusing on light, and practicing some of our newfound ‘catchlight’ techniques! I, for one plan to have an assistant (aka Dad) to help me corral my zippy crawler.

Please post your portrait on flickr and also send a copy to info [at] janetklinger.com . And don’t forget to bring prints of your portrait, and your other favorite picture that you’ve done lately, for our next circle time! 

Our circle time had some useful tips from our mamas:

-post-processing, one of our members recommended Lightroom if you don’t want to go all the way up to say photoshop.

-Momtog (seen on our blogroll here) is a great resource from a mama photographer, so check it out! 

-You tube: if you put your particular camera model on You Tube there might be some tutorials up that you can use to learn some of the functions on your camera! Brilliant! 

Finally, our gracious host, Ronald Dean of Studio R, has set up a forum specifically for our group on his new photographer networking site, it will be a place where we can post technical questions and get answers from professional photographers! So nice of him! He also arranging to have Glazers and others do videos about what cameras and gear are best for photographing kids and tutorials on capturing action. I think it will be a great resource for us all!

Happy shooting!


3 responses to “July Meeting Wrap-Up and August’s photo assignment

  1. Hi ladies! I’m sorry I didn’t make it on Monday, but I’ve been having lots of contractions and I was put on “modified bed rest” for the duration of my pregnancy (which could be anywhere from 1 day to 3 weeks). Sounds like you had a great meeting and I’m really sad that I missed it! I hope to be at August’s or September’s, probably with a newborn strapped to me. 🙂

  2. Hi Ladies (and visiting gents),
    Send your “catch-light” submissions to info@janetklinger.com (no “photography” in the address).

    I wanted to mention one more “planning” item. Remember the first child model wanting to eat when we 1st began. I didn’t waste more than a minute determining this to be the case and knew we had another baby present. Break time!
    The conclusion- if you know there is an obstacle between you and success, don’t hesitate to change course. (That might be feeding, changing, swaddling, singing, new props or otherwise making your model happy.) In a studio session I would simply ask the Momma, “do you think he may be hungry?” Taking time to care for our models has them feeling the love, which will show in your photos. See the assignment on my blog for examples of pre-planning. It really is a gift to yourself, your model and your art collection.
    Send in your work. I’d love to post it!

  3. Hi all,
    I thought I’d give my email in case you would like to email me photos of baby Lauren. Mine did not turn out so great. Any appreciated. Thank you!

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