What to Wear for your Family Photo Session | Guest Blog Post

I am so pleased to share a guest blog post with you from Kate with Undeniable Style. I told her that my clients often ask what to wear for shoots and, though I can provide guidance and am good at knowing what doesn't photograph well, I'm at a loss when giving suggestions on adorable clothes for kiddos of all ages. Kate graciously stepped in to create a special post just for you guys!!!! Without further ado, here is Kate:************************************************************************************* Undeniable Style Blog | Brooke Bryand Photography Hi Guys! I’m Kate and I’m the blogger behind Undeniable Style. I’m the kind of girl who will wear stripes with floral, gold with silver, and 20 layers at a time {unless it’s over 80 degrees}, and I’m here today to help you guys find a look that’s right for your family fall/winter 2011 photo sessions.

What to wear for photoshoot | what to wear for photo shoot | San Francisco photo shoot | Brooke Bryand Photography

My goal is always to make the outfits cohesive, but I’m not really interested in matchy matchy! And absolutely, the most important piece of advice I can give is to make sure you are Comfortable and True. To. You.

What to wear for photoshoot | what to wear for photo shoot | San Francisco photo shoot | Brooke Bryand Photography

Lucky for us, in San Francisco, it’s always a layering kind of season. Layers can be a great way to add dimensionality and personality to your session with Brooke!

Below, I’ve included some links to some of my favorite fall-hued kids clothes out there today. The pieces are meant to be mixed and matched to create the perfect outfit, layer by layer.

Boy:

T-Shirts starting at $9 (1 & 2), Button down shirts $9.95 (6 color options! Alternate option here), Jeans $9.95, Boots $29.95, Beanie $7.95, Vest, Jacket $44.94, Sweater $24.95

Toddler Boy:

Button down shirts starting at $14 (1 and 2), Sweater $19.94, Zip front Cardigan $19.94, Vest, Cords $26.95, Shoes $14.94

Girl:

Drop waist floral print dress $39.90, Faux Fur Vest $44.95, Sweater Vest $29.94, Chunky Cardigan $39.90, Tights $10.50, Boots $29.94, Knee Socks 3 for $10!, Ear Muffs, $9.90

Toddler Girl:

Skirt $17.90 (alternate option $16.90), Top $25.90, Sweater $48, Jeans $29.95, Cardigan $26.94, Shoes $39, Tights $9.94

Thanks for letting me guest blog, Brooke! ************************************************************************************* It's Brooke again...I just want to say thank you to Kate for putting this together!!! I have a few other tips and examples on my website under "Details" > "What to Wear". Note that the items Kate offered are for layering and stay true to keeping outfits simple (i.e. not distracting)...for example, there may be a graphic on the tee, but it's actually covered by a great-looking sweater or vest. I hope this helps you in determining what to wear for your session. As always, feel free to email me links/photos of outfits you're considering and I'll provide feedback!

Where to take your family photos in San Francisco? | San Francisco Family Photographer

Let me start by saying that I love when my clients let me give suggestions on where to take photos. I love being able to incorporate somewhere that is special to them that also showcases our gorgeous city elements. What I've realized over the years is that, while clients know we want a beautiful backdrop, it's not common knowledge that photographers also want shaaaaaaaaaaaade! Lots of it. Not only is it next to impossible to get a toddler to give you a geniune smile while squinting into the sun, but the colors and gorgeous depth of a photograph is so much more pronounced when taken in the shade.

As busy holiday season begins, I thought I'd share some of my favorite spots to shoot family photos in San Francisco. If you have others to add, please include them!

1) Presidio / Lover's Lane: This is an awesome location because it has beautiful greens/blues/browns...is fairly secluded and provides a dozen backdrops in a very confined location. Here are some examples of shots taken in the Presidio: Brooke Bryand Photography | San Francisco Family Photographer | Lover's Lane Presidio Photograph Brooke Bryand Photography | San Francisco Family Photographer | Lover's Lane Presidio Photograph

2) Crissy Field/Palace of Fine Arts: The plus side? Gorgeous golden colors all around the Palace of Fine Arts. The challenge? Weekend crowds!! Dozens...and dozens...and dozens...and dozens of wedding parties being photographed each and every weekend! But if you don't have to drive or can shoot early, it's worth all of it! Brooke Bryand Photography | Palace of Fine Arts Photography | San Francisco Family Photographer Brooke Bryand Photography | Palace of Fine Arts Photography | San Francisco Family Photographer

3) Ferry Building / Bow & Arrow {Embarcadero}: I love this combo because there are so many gorgeous colors in the Ferry Building, coupled by the beautiful Bow & Arrow structure with the Bay Bridge in the background. Caution: you'll want to shoot this early in the morning or late afternoon as there isn't much shade cover near the Bow & Arrow! Brooke Bryand Photography | Bow and Arrow Embarcadero Photography | San Francisco Family Photographer Brooke Bryand Photography | Bow and Arrow Embarcadero Photography | San Francisco Family Photographer

4) Land's End/Sutro Baths: Ahhhh...I love these locations. They are gorgeous, tons of shade, dozens of backdrops and iconic San Francisco...fantastic! Brooke Bryand Photography | Sutro Baths Golden Gate Bridge Photography | San Francisco Maternity Photographer Brooke Bryand Photography | Sutro Baths Golden Gate Bridge Photography | San Francisco Maternity Photographer

5) Baker Beach: This one gets its own because you can easily do an entire shoot just at Baker Beach. First, it's a bit of a hike to get down to the "end" of the beach where the rocks are (beware if you have toddlers/carrying kids!). Second, there are a dozen (or more) areas behind Baker Beach that are fabulous photo locations too...from awesome trees to winding paths, Baker Beach has a ton of fantastic photo opportunities. Brooke Bryand Photography | Baker Beach Photography | San Francisco Maternity Photographer Brooke Bryand Photography | Baker Beach Photography | San Francisco Maternity Photographer Brooke Bryand Photography | Baker Beach Photography | San Francisco Maternity Photographer

6) DeYoung Museum/Botanical Garden: Similar to Baker Beach, I'd suggest either early morning or late afternoon for these locations. Shade is definitely available, but not as prominent as I'd like (if I could walk around with a giant sun shade, I would! Are you sensing a theme here?). Awesome leading lines, great colors and a huge variety of backdrops make this a great spot for photos. Brooke Bryand Photography | DeYoung Museum Photography | San Francisco Family Photographer Brooke Bryand Photography | DeYoung Museum Photography | San Francisco Family Photographer Brooke Bryand Photography | DeYoung Museum Photography | San Francisco Family Photographer

There are dozens...dozens of other locations that are great in San Francisco. We are so fortunate to live in a city that lends itself to us daily! Some more favorites include:

  • Alamo Square
  • Buena Vista Park
  • Dolores Park
  • Legion of Honor

I hope this was helpful to you! Most of all, Happy Shooting!!!

How to decide which "big camera" (DSLR) to purchase | San Francisco Family Photographer

This is such a difficult question and one that I am asked several times a week from friends, clients, and strangers alike. People know their cell phone camera and point-and-shoot cameras aren't cutting it to take pictures of their lightning-speed kiddos, but aren't sure which "big camera" to purchase that will give them the results they want without putting them in the poor house and the camera becoming a dinosaur before it even arrives in the mail.

So here are some points I emailed a friend yesterday that I thought might be helpful to other people too:

1) "Nikon or Canon? Nikon or Canon??": Let me start by saying I'm a Canon girl through-and-through. I use Nikons in my 101 Workshops, but I truly can't speak to which body is better than any other. What I can say is that my professional photographer friends who shoot Nikon are beyond pleased and I'm sure whatever Nikon you choose will be fantastic. Having said that, I can only recommend Canon because that is all I have experienced. It's not to say that whatever Nikon you have or are considering isn't equally fantastic.

2) "Which Canon should I buy?" Check out this YouTube about Canon Rebel comparisons and note that the big take-away is that if you don't care about video (you'll use your cell phone, your point-and-shoot, your Flip, etc. to capture video), you might as well save some money and get the Canon Rebel Xsi.

3) What about the lens? I want the blur": "Blur" is actually called "bokeh" and you get that effect with shallow depths of field (an entirely different blog post and part of my 101 workshop) When you decide which body to purchase, ignore the lens they sell with the body. It's usually a 3.5 or even 5.6 and won't give you the "blur" that you would like in portrait photographs. In fact, if you can buy a body without a lens, do it. Put that money toward the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Camera Lens...nicknamed the "nifty 50" because it's an awesome lens for right around $100. Buy the $5 Tiffen 52mm UV Protection Filter too (protects the lens from dust/dirt/fingerprints).

I can say that whatever camera you decide on is going to be a huge, humongous, awesome improvement. What you'll notice quickly is that babies...even little ones...are FAST little guys! They blink, they rock the "startle reflex" (where they jerk their arm up for no good reason and scare you half to death), they turn their heads at the wrong time, etc. etc. etc. A point-and-shoot, even the latest-and-greatest ones...just aren't going to cut it. You need a DSLR (like the ones you're looking at, or even a lesser version) to get those moments.

Another note, I buy ALL of my gear on Amazon. Yes, there are cheaper places but I love Amazon. Great customer service, great returns, great quality. And, for a little while longer, no sales tax (at least for CA). Feel free to buy through B&H or any other reseller...I'm just telling you what I've found to be the best solution for me. Here is a link to my gear (not that you need this gear...just want to share what I use): http://astore.amazon.com/brookebryandphotography-20

Good luck in your quest and don't hesitate to contact me with questions. I feel like I need to put a doctor's statement here that the views and opinions expressed here are mine only. Brooke Bryand/Brooke Bryand Photography can not be held liable for the photography items you purchase.

Most importantly - GET OUT THERE AND START SHOOTING!

How to Take Great Photos of your Kids this Summer {Workshop Tips} San Francisco Family Photographer

Tired of returning from vacation, downloading 1,000 photos and realizing Little Johnny is squinting or has his eyes closed in most of them? Find it daunting to flip through them and figure out what to do with the other 999 of them? Here are some tips to make taking photos of your kids this summer a little easier (on everyone!):

1) Find Shade: Although it's a common misconception that sunny days make for beautiful photos, it's actually the opposite. Cloudy/overcast days are ideal for photos, both because the subject isn't squinting and because the cloud cover brings out gorgeous color tones in your surroundings that are often washed out when the sun is beating down. Try to take photos in the early morning or late afternoon, and if you need to take them mid-day because you're at a picturesque lunch, find shade to snap that shutter.

Brooke Bryand Photography | San Francisco Family Photographer | Photography Tips

2) Play Games: Most kids rate having their picture taken right up there with having a tooth pulled. Why is that? Because many parents make it about the picture...but if you make it about the kiddo, all of a sudden it's not so bad. Find yourself in a gorgeous setting and want to capture it? Play a game with your child (depends on their age, but it's as simple as singing a song or playing peek-a-boo or asking ridiculous questions like, "Do you think Mommy should eat a spider for lunch?")...they are much more likely to engage with you and have a genuine smile on their face if you make it about them.

Brooke Bryand Photography | San Francisco Family Photographer | Photography Tips

3) Put Away the Camera: If your child thinks that your iPhone is an extension of your fingertips, put it away for a few hours. Cameras on cell phones or actual cameras are used so much on kids these days, they are either immune to them or they are really annoyed by them and our constant harassment ("look at mommy! look at mommy!"). Put the camera away for a bit and just enjoy the freedom of doing nothing together. When you take it out again, they're more likely to be refreshed and ready to go!

Now...when you get home...that is the other part of the challenge. What do you do with 1,000 photos? The quick answer: delete! I recommend deleting 75% of the photos taken. Yep, I said it. Delete! The truth of the matter is that an overabundance of photos weighs heavily on all of us. We think that because digital photography is "free" (i.e. no film to develop), we should keep everything we've ever shot, lest we risk missing 10 seconds of our cutie-patooties lives.

Here are my quick tips to free yourself from digital photo overload:

1) Organize: When you download your photos, put them in folders and sub-folders (yes, sub-folders). So if you took a week vacation to Hawaii, the folder would be: 07.13.2011 - Family Vacation Hawaii and then you'd have sub-folders according to date and activity (i.e. "07.14.2011 - Snorkeling" and "07.15.2011 - Luau"). Taking the time to organize photos from the point of origination (i.e. download) will save you lots and lots of time later.

Brooke Bryand Photography | San Francisco Family Photographer | Photography Tips

2) Star & Delete: If you use a program like Picasa (my favorite for consumers...free from Google) or iPhoto (very similar), there is a rating system (either stars or numbers). When you load your photos into these programs, go through and star your favorites. If there is a numbering system for selecting favorites, go through and choose all of your "1's" (i.e. anything that has a chance of being salvaged) and then number some of your favorites "2's". My process is then to go back through the "2's" to edit my favorites of those and making them "3's" which are those I'll share with family. I may then select my top 10 images as "4's" which are the ones I'll share on Facebook. Nobody needs to see all 50 family photos...just pick the very best-of-the-best. And what to do with all of the pictures that didn't make it to be a "1"? Delete. Let 'em go. Adios. When you want to go back at the end of the year to create a calendar/Blurb book/etc, you'll be grateful that you just need to flip through your BEST 25 images from that trip to Hawaii and not all 1000.

Have questions? Let me hear 'em!

Why Custom Photography Costs More {Marketing}

I sometimes hear friends/acquaintances talk about photographers and the high costs associated with hiring someone to "just click a few photos". I came across this article today by Marianne Drenthe of Marmalade Photography and I found myself nodding my head in agreement. I am so grateful to ALL of my fantastic clients, but I do think this helps explain a little more of the "behind the scenes" of what goes into each and every shoot that I do:

Check out full article at ProfessionalChildPhotographer.com

I also really loved this story (excerpt from the same article as is linked above)...so appropriate for a zillion situations in life, including photography:

There is an old story about a ship that cost a company millions of dollars. Something went wrong in the engine room and the ship was stuck in dock. They called various "experts" who spent weeks trying to fix the issue to no avail and at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars. Finally a older gentleman was called in who simply brought in his small tool bag and a hammer. He set about pinging on various parts of the vast engine with his hammer, finally settling on one area. He spent a few minutes pinging in that area, took out a few tools and fixed whatever what was wrong. After a few moments the man straightened up, looked at the captain and instructed him to "start her up." The captain disbelievingly went to get the engines started while the man sat in the engine room listening as the engine roared to life. The man tipped his hat as he exited the ship to the staff who sat dumbfounded because they had seen all the experts come on board for days with their expensive equipment only to have the ship not fixed. This man did it in a few minutes with a few pings of his hammer! A few days passed and the man sent the shipping company a bill for $10,000. The accounting department contacted him immediately. Why all the rumors mentioned that this man had only spent "a few minutes" fixing the ship "with his hammer and a few other random tools". When questioned about why his bill was for $10,000 – did he accidentally leave an extra zero on the bill? The man confidently responded: "In fact the time was worth the $1,000. The other $9,000 was for the years of experience and the ability to discern the issue as quickly as possible for the company."