May Wrap-up & June Assignment [updated with viewable pics]

May was another great meeting as we welcomed 5 new Mamas to our ranks! I’m posting my notes as well as some photos of our brave “models” from the amazing hands-on demonstration that Mary Grace gave us at the meeting!

Mary Grace began by telling us her philosophy about photography. She believes less is more in photography. When shooting, you want to have feeling in the image, and the best imagery is when you can communicate that emotion universally. When she meets a client, she takes a moment to shed her thoughts and preoccupations for the day and then does her best to be fully “there” with the subject. If you are fully there when you are taking the pictures, your subject will give you your photos. She believes that being a photographer is like giving a person a pencil: everyone has an amazing story to tell, and their own perspective.

For portraits, Mary Grace likes to shoot with her 85mm lens, setting her aperture at F/1.4, getting the closer eye in focus. For women, she says that the pleasant blurriness is like giving a facelift to her older subjects. The low f-stop is appropriate for older subjects, but wouldn’t work for a moving subject like a baby, since it would create focusing errors. She prefers to overshoot, then edit down.

One of our brave mamas, Toni, volunteered to help Mary Grace demonstrate how she photographs her more pose-able subjects. Thanks, Toni!! Because we were getting sunset light in the studio, she set the aperture to F/1.6 for these photos. She set the ISO to 600.  She asked Toni to lean forward to get her facial features in focus and then have the other features more blurry, it is a beautiful effect!

She likes to do her portrait sessions in Aperture Priority (Av) mode. The shutter speed while you are in Av mode should be over 1/60, if that’s not the case then raise your ISO. If you’re photographing a child then aim for a shutter speed that’s faster than 1/250.  With children, she likes to get a shot where their eyelashes are in focus. She demonstrated this with Toni as well:

As far as posing your subjects, she says to let the client tell you what is real and natural for them. If you put them into a pose that feels unnatural to them then you’ll end up with stiff pictures.  Let them do what they’d normally do with their hands. Mary Grace quickly caught Suzanna in a natural sitting position where her hands framed her face nicely:

With children she also mentioned that she takes little 20 minute breaks to let them reset, and also gives the children the camera to see through, which gets them engaged in the session. Here are some beautiful that she took with Kellie and baby Erin!

Other tips from the Q&A:

-She shoots with a Nikon D 700, she likes the great ISO quality at higher ISOs. She always shoots in Raw, she shoots primarily with her 85mm/1.4 and her 24-70/2.8

-She uses the single point focus to focus in the center and then reframes the shot.

-She does the majority of her outdoor shoots at the Arboretum. In aperture priority mode, she’ll set the depth of field according to how many people are in the portrait. In general she’ll stay at f/4.0 outdoors, for 4 or more people, she’ll be at f/5.6 and for a big grouping she’ll set the aperture at f/8 or f/11. She leaves the ISO fixed at a chosen level in Av mode, as opposed to letting the ISO set automatically.

-She’ll occasionally use a flash as fill light when shooting outdoors if necessary. When she has a flash on, she’ll put her camera in manual mode, and she uses a Gary Fong Lightsphere (clear) to diffuse the light. She demonstrated how she uses the light meter to determine what the settings should be in manual. Since she demonstrated how to set the camera using the light in the room, I thought it would be more useful to link to a tutorial I found on the subject.

-In shutter priority mode, you shout be higher than 1/250 to photograph a moving child or sports activity

Tips from Circle time:

Glazer’s is having a huge sale June 11th-12th

-Also if you are buying camera gear, you can go on Bing Cashback , and B&H photo participates in this cash back program. You can end up getting 2-2.5 % cash back on your gear! Me likey! 🙂


Mark your calendars for June 21st, our next meeting. There are two assignments to choose from for next meeting (or, do both if you can!)

-Assignment #1 (from Mary Grace)-  Choose one week and shoot for 10 minutes a day each day for 7 days. You don’t have to shoot your kids, just shoot at whatever is calling to you at the moment. To share the assignment, you can pick out a highlight image from each day that you’re shooting.

-Assignment #2- Father/Child portraits. Since Father’s Day is around the corner, and will have just happened the weekend before, I thought it would be fun for us to share portraits that we’ve taken of our kids with their Dads!

Also, I sent out invites for people to join our Google Group- this is an email group that will allow you all to get in touch with each other more easily for gear information sharing, organizing group shoots, etc! Leave a comment if you are a member of the group and would like to participate on the email list! You will continue to get the regular information on the blog even if you aren’t on the Google group.

Happy shooting everyone!


3 responses to “May Wrap-up & June Assignment [updated with viewable pics]

  1. Pingback: beautifully real blog

  2. Janelle Graves

    I just signed up for the Intro Workshop and would love to join your Google email group. I am so excited for the workshop and am really looking forward to meeting everyone!

  3. Pingback: Next meeting 6/21: Shooting in Manual Mode and Flash Techniques with LaRae Lobdell | Mamas With Cameras

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