Meeting on Monday January 24th, Registration is Open for the March Intro Workshop & Notes from our Last Meeting!

Hello Mamas!

Wow, December went by like a flash (no pun intended 😉 ) and now it’s time to get back in gear!! We have a lot of fun things coming up, and also a recap the notes from our last meeting of the year for those who couldn’t make it.

1) Registration is now officially open for our March 5th Introduction to Digital Photography Workshop. We gave priority registration for those who couldn’t make it into our January 22nd workshop, so there are currently just NINE spaces left! If you have friends who have been wanting to get in on the fun, it’s a good time to register before we go live on the mom’s lists! See our Eventbrite registration page for more details and to secure your space.

2) Be sure to mark your calendars for our first Mamas With Cameras open meeting of 2011! Our next meeting is coming up on Monday, January 24th, 6:30-8:30 at Studio R! (Everyone who is signed up for the Intro workshop on January 22nd is more than welcome!)

This month, we have another amazing photographer on deck as our guest speaker. National Geographic photographer and Pulitzer finalist Natalie Fobes will talk to our group about how to incorporate compositional rules and color into your photographs.

Natalie is nationally recognized for her magazine, wedding and portrait work. She is a co-founder of Blue Earth Alliance, a non-profit that raises awareness about endangered cultures, threatened environments and social concerns through photography. She has published three photography books and teaches multiple workshops and seminars in the Seattle area. We are really fortunate to have her as our speaker, so I hope folks will come enjoy her presentation!

For those of you who paired off at our November meeting to do Jennifer Loomis’ assignment of swapping kid portraits are more than welcome to show your printed photos during the circle time portion of the meeting. We will also take some of the circle time to swap ideas, resources and tips about producing different FINISHED photo products.  Whether it’s albums, canvases, t-shirts , brag books, framed pictures– we want to kick off the year by getting our art off of our computers and out into the WORLD! Bring in any sourcing ideas that you may have: local frame stores, websites, discounts– then next month everyone can bring in their finished products!

3) Some of the Mamas have kicked off the New Year by signing up for the 365 project! It is an exercise where you take and post one picture per day for a whole year. You can start anytime. If anyone else wants to be connected to the other mamas who are participating in the project, check out the latest posts in our Google Group.


Our last meeting of the year with Jennifer Loomis was chock full of great tips and information. Special thanks goes out to our very own Nikonista and notetaker extraordinaire Wenmei Hill! She wrote up these great bullet points that I’m posting below. On a side note, be sure to check out Wenmei’s cool new website logo and Facebook page that she launched for her photo BIZ.  VERY cool stuff. You go, Mama!

Jennifer Loomis: “Finding the Light”, Notes from meeting on November 29 2010.

About Jennifer:

  • She shoots in film (although uses digital for editorial shoots)
  • Nikon F100 camera
  • Lens:  28-70mm f/2.8 and 85mm Lensbaby perspective shift lens (gives a sharp center with soft edges)
  • Filters:  UV (to protect lens), “Carmex” filter (rubs Carmex/chapstick around rim of filter to soften the edges), color polarizing filters (circular)
  • ISO 100-3200
  • Primary shoots between f/5.6 – f/8 (f/4 if using strobes)
  • Usually uses spot-metering (sometimes center-weighted when outdoors, but never matrix – not enough control!)
  • 15 years as a photojournalist taught her to capture moments as they happen.  Also taught her that you have to care about your subject,  or no one else will.
  • She buys her equipment from Freestyle Photographic Supplies (
  • She shoots 36-38 frames per session

The Art of Seeing goals:

  • Turn flash off, see light the way a photojournalist sees it
  • Empower you as photographers and historians
  • Learn how to see and capture light
  • “You don’t take photographs, you make photographs”

Finding the Light

  • What time of day is it?  Is there enough light?  Where is the light coming from?
  • Window/door light is good = diffuse
  • Skylight/sun is bad = too direct
  • Locate Diffuse vs Direct light
  • Stay in diffuse light as much as possible
  • Can create diffuse light in a window by covering with diffusion gel or vellum/wax paper
  • Use soft box or diffuser on your flash
  • Direction of light = slightly off-center (don’t position yourself directly in front of the light)
  • Backlight vs Sidelight
    • Don’t use matrix metering for backlighting
    • Meter on the subject
    • For digital cameras, recommend underexposing 1/3 of a stop
    • Q:  Can’t you just slightly over-expose instead of metering on the subject?
    • A:  Over-exposing can be tricky in digital, because if you blow out the highlights, that information is lost and cannot be retrieved.  That’s why it’s recommended to underexpose 1/3 of a stop.
  • Indoors vs Outdoors
    • Outdoors
      • Look for a big tree (without much dappling in the shade)
      • Cloudy day
      • All sun (i.e. no shade) – except when the sun is directly overhead, to avoid raccoon eyes
      • Use fill flash, diffused for a softer light
    • Indoors
      • Look for where to find/create diffused light
      • Pay attention to sidelight and backlight
      • What is your background?
        • Keep it simple!  Solid colors or subtle patterns, move furniture, toys, plants out of the way.
        • Create a basic backdrop using black fabric, c-clamps from Home Depot, and a curtain rod.
      • Use a reflector or white board (foam core works) to bounce light back on the subject, especially under the chin
        • If you are alone, balance board on a chair
        • If the other side of your board is black, it can be used to detract light too

Identify what you are looking for:

  • What qualities of your subject are you trying to show?  Ask “What do you like best about your child?”
  • Ask parent “Show me how you hold your child”
  • Capture interaction between partner and child, child and siblings/pets, partners with one another
  • Try to catch facial expressions, especially a series of facial expressions.  This can be used to tell a story of the subject(s).

Preparing your subject

  • Schedule for the time of day when the child is in a good mood
  • Clothing should be minimal – less is more.  Avoid branding and patterns.  The photo should be about the baby, not the clothes.
  • Include props (pillows, special toy)
  • Start off by shooting the child with the parent(s) so that the child can relax and get to know you before you shoot him/her solo
  • CONNECT with the child!  Really plug in with him/her.  Make sure your own energy is good (children will feed off of your energy) and that you are fully engaged.  It’s the connection with your subject that makes the photograph.


  • 18% gray – cameras are calibrated on 18% gray, so you need to meter on 18% gray to set the baseline
    • Use a gray card
    • Find a color that is 18% gray (when outdoors, green grass in the shade is 18% gray)
  • Meter for 18% gray, then underexpose just a bit (adjust for your personal tastes)
  • You should only need to meter once, unless the light changes
  • Q:  Can’t I meter off my subject’s face instead of finding gray?
  • A:  Yes, as long as you’re not interrupting the setting by metering off your subject’s face.  Sometimes metering on the subject will disrupt the action.  In those instances, look for something in the same light with 18% gray to meter.


  • Amount of light equivalencies:
    • 1/15 @ f/22 =
    • 1/30 @ f/16 =
    • 1/60 @ f/11 =
    • 1/125 @ f/8 =
    • 1/250 @ f/5.6
  • Not recommended to go below 1/60 if you are hand-holding the camera


  • Rule of thirds
  • Rule of diagonals/triangles
  • Cropping in your lens (wide/medium/tight)
    • Shoot all three if you can

Capturing the moment

  • Henri Cartier-Bresson:  “The decisive moment, it is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as the precise organization of forms which gives that event its proper expression.”
  • You are making the decision of when and what to photograph
  • When you are beginning, shoot shoot shoot!  Start to limit how much you shoot as you learn what you like and how to capture it

Be prepared

  • Good photography is about planning and making decisions before you begin
    • Plan for background, prepare your subject, and find the light
    • Once those are all set, all you need to do is meter and start shooting
  • Make a Checklist for your camera bag:
    • Camera/digital cards/batteries
    • Where is the light?  Make decisions about how to use it
    • Clean up background
    • Position your subject in the setting
    • Meter
    • Framing/composition
    • Make your photograph
  • Create a Photo Journal: log information about your photos
    • Time of day
    • Light condition
    • Aperture & shutter speed
    • Subject’s mood
    • ISO
    • Your own mood or thoughts
      • The journal can help you become aware of how your own mood affects the quality of your photos

Manifesto: “Passion and love must drive your world.”   (Quote from Mario Garcia, a professor of Jennifer’s from the Poynter Institute)


  • How to meter when shooting 4 boys?
    • Meter on the darkest face, then stop down 1/3.  Stop down (under-expose) because for digital, less light = more detail (it is the opposite for film).
    • Find your personal ideal metering setting by using bracketing and determining which you like best.
  • Recommended lens?
    • 50mm prime lens
  • How to shoot with backlight?
    • Use fill flash (softbox by PhotoTech or diffused flash)
    • Use rear shutter sync for direct or fill flash (not when bouncing light)
    • Use TTL mode in your flash
  • Tips for working with clients
    • “How do you hold your baby?”
    • “Mom, Dad, you look at me.  I’ll worry about the baby.”
    • “Only ONE person talks to the baby at a time, and that person is ME right now.”
    • Watch what they do while you are not photographing, b/c that’s often when you can catch the best moments
    • Use Sophie the giraffe, a charm bracelet or other noise-maker, or black & white patterned clothing to get baby’s attention
    • Take a break if necessary
  • How do you present your images to clients?
    • Online, because clients are all over the country
    • Would prefer to do it personally and try to do that if possible
  • How do you adjust white balance indoors, especially with colors coming from hardwoods?
    • Put white piece of paper on the floor as well as leaning up where the subject will be sitting.  Use white paper to adjust your WB setting.

Thanks for sticking with me through this first post of the year, I look forward to seeing some of you at our workshop on January 22nd, and to seeing ALL of you on Monday January 24th at 6:30! Be there or be square! 🙂


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