Fall Mini Portrait Sessions Are Here

Fall Mini Portrait Sessions Are Here

Yay! It’s that time again! Fall Mini Sessions are here, and we’ve got the perfect locations for them! I’m so excited as I love this time of year. How about you?

Mini Sessions are perfect for creating unforgettable holiday gifts and artistic holiday cards! Great for families, kids, and even you and your pet (or just your pet!).

Your choice of our East Bay studio or one of the three locations.

Lohr Mini 7 WEB - Fall Mini Portrait Sessions Are Here

Fall Mini-Session Package Details

  • 20 minute portrait session good for pets, kids, or the family
  • Online ordering gallery within 7 days of session
  • Your Choice – 10 edited and print ready digital image files or $175 product credit
  • Early Bird Price: $195 (Early Bird Offer Expires on October 4th, when the price goes up to $225)

*Sessions are non-refundable.

3 Dates 3 Locations

  • Heather Farms Park – October 13th
  • Jack London Square – October 27th
  • China Camp – November 10th
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Kid Dog5 - Fall Mini Portrait Sessions Are Here

Fantastic!

★★★★★

"Cyndi is fantastic and her photos and ordering options are terrific.  She works wonders with humans and dogs alike to make everyone feel at ease.  We couldn't be happier with the results.

~Lorelei, P. - Emeryville

HOW TO LOOK GREAT IN ALL YOUR PHOTOS

HOW TO LOOK GREAT IN ALL YOUR PHOTOS

You don’t have to

Be a professional photographer to take a good picture, nor to be photographed well must you be in a studio, but there are few tips you should remember whether you are snapping pics with friends or working with a pro.

Camera Angle

 

If the camera is at your eye level or slightly above, the image will be more flattering. Below the eye level or shooting up at you and you risk looking like you have an extra chin. If you need to, bend your knees or sit so that you are at an even plane with the camera or looking up at the photographer.

Stick Out Your Chin

This may seem funny and feel weird but push your chin forward more than you normally would. In fact, imagine a string attached to your forehead that is pulling your face forward. This will make you look like you have a longer, thinner neck.

Turn Your Head

Most of us have asymmetrical features, i.e. one eye is larger than the other, or one ear is lower. Pose with two-thirds of your face toward the camera. Any asymmetrical features are less obvious this way and this also has a slimming effect as the viewers eye is drawn up and down instead of left to right.

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Lean In

We tend to stand tall and lean back in photos, but instead lean in. Stand tall, chest forward and lean toward the camera just a bit.

Put the Smile in Your Eyes

Make sure your smile makes it to your eyes. In fact pay attention to what you do with your eyes. Wide open makes you look like “deer in the headlights”. Show a little attitude, raise or lower your eyebrows a bit and
squinch your eyes. Squinch is a term coined by famous headshot photographer, Peter Hurley. He describes it as “action of squinting your eyes in such a way as to portray confidence and self-assurance as opposed to the fear and uncertainty that you project when you stare wide-eyed at the camera”.

Don’t Stare into the Lens

Try not to look directly into the camera, instead look off to the side, just slightly or just past the lens.

Try the “Red Carpet” Pose

Put your hand on your hip, angle your body to the side a little, jut your hip toward the camera and turn your head back towards the camera. It is slimming and sexy.

5 Tips to Get Kids to Smile

5 Tips to Get Kids to Smile

As a photographer,

Having your family photos taken is exciting and I understand that you’re probably imagining all the things you are going to do with the beautiful images that you will have of your family. This is normal, and I encourage it! However, it’s important that you don’t arrive at the session with preconceived notions of how the session will go (especially with toddlers). It’s the job of an experienced photographer to set the children (and parents) at ease and have a good time. Sessions with little ones should be fun, enjoyable, and natural. Forcing kids to sit still for too long usually creates forced expressions and often makes children less cooperative. A good photographer will have you all moving around, being playful, and interacting as a family. Don’t put any pressure on your kids or yourself and everyone is more likely to have a good time.

Don’t Ask Them to Smile

 

My first tip is, don’t ask them to smile. In fact, don’t even talk about smiling ahead of time. If you have young children, tell them a day or two before your session that you’re going to a park with a friend and she’s bringing her camera. It’s going to be really fun, and you’re really excited. When our kids know that we’re excited about something, generally they’re more likely to get on board. Overly preparing them for how they should (or shouldn’t) smile or behave doesn’t always work. In fact, in my experience, it can often make it worse. They come into the session with pressure knowing they’re supposed to behave in a certain way, versus coming in and just having fun. No expectations, just fun.

 

Don’t Set Expectations

As important as quality and expertise are in finding a photographer, you will also want a professional who has a style that resonates with you and your life. Take time to consider the style of images you desire. Do you want classic in-studio portraits or do you prefer on-location with natural light, and if so, where?

It’s key to choose a photographer whose portfolio reflects what you are looking for. Check out photographers’ websites, blogs and social media channels. You should be able to get a feel for whether they maintain a style and have mastered it, or if they jump from trend to trend.

Regardless, make sure you really assess what you want your outcome to be for your finished products. Try not to be swayed by “what’s hot” as whatever is trendy today might not really make sense for your long-term keepsakes. You don’t want to invest in family portraits that will look dated on your walls and albums in a few years.

Once you have selected a few photographers that you believe meet your quality, expertise, style and vision goals, initiate a conversation with them to discuss planning your session, and your goals. You will want them to understand what you are looking for so they can let you know if it’s something they can accomplish.

Ready To Book A Session?

Have Fun

Parents, this tip is for you! If your children see that you’re having fun, they’re bound to jump in and have fun too. Don’t be afraid to be yourself in front of the camera. Be goofy. Dance and sing with your children as you normally would at home. The more comfortable you are in front of the camera, the more comfortable your children will be too. This is when their true personalities will shine, and your photographer will be capturing it all.

 

Roll with the Punches

want you to know that photographers have seen it all. If it hasn’t happened with my own child, it has happened during a session. Trust me, nothing your child does during our session will surprise me. I’m not here to judge your parenting or your discipline skills. I’m here to have fun with you and document this stage in your lives. Sit back and relax. I promise that even if it seems like it’s going terribly, if you roll with it, you’ll be surprised by the beautiful photos we get.

 

Don’t ask them to say Cheese

Seriously. Just don’t. I have words for whoever came up with the brilliant idea to teach every child age 1-10 to “say cheeeeeeeeese. The only thing this does is produce super fake, super forced, painful smiles that parents sigh at when having photos taken of their gorgeous, beautiful-natural-smile, children. Don’t ask your kids to say cheese during your family photos. Please and thank you. There you have it. My best tips for getting rid of ‘cheesy smile syndrome’.

 

7 Steps To Choosing The Right Family Photographer

7 Steps To Choosing The Right Family Photographer

Choosing the right family

Photographer can be a daunting task. If you do an internet search for a “Family Photographer” in your area, inevitably you will be barraged with hundreds of options. Not to mention the studio that you’ve seen downtown, or those family photos your friends were tagged in on Facebook from their own session. Plus there’s always that cousin who says they can take your photos because they’ve got “a great eye” and a “nice camera.” So where do you even begin your search?

Start with Quality & Expertise

 

Quality should be the driving factor behind your selection. No matter how great the deal, you barely have time to do it once, let alone extra time (or money) to do it over again if you are unhappy with the results.

How do you know if that family photographer you’re interested in produces “quality” work? One of the best ways a photographer can demonstrate quality is to have a strong portfolio and a broad representation of client galleries to show. All of their images should have a consistent look, with similar tones, exposure, and editing style. There shouldn’t be a light and airy image alongside a dark and dramatic photo within the same session (or portfolio!). The subjects should be in focus and captured with flattering light and angles. Most of all, images should be inspirational and reflect the unique personalities of the subjects.

While “style” may influence the overall appearance and presentation of the final gallery, a level of technical expertise should also be demonstrated by the photographer. Being able to CONSISTENTLY deliver high-quality portraits despite changing conditions requires significant experience that is usually beyond a hobbyist who might get a few good shots out of one hundred snapped.

Think about your style & vision

As important as quality and expertise are in finding a photographer, you will also want a professional who has a style that resonates with you and your life. Take time to consider the style of images you desire. Do you want classic in-studio portraits or do you prefer on-location with natural light, and if so, where?

It’s key to choose a photographer whose portfolio reflects what you are looking for. Check out photographers’ websites, blogs and social media channels. You should be able to get a feel for whether they maintain a style and have mastered it, or if they jump from trend to trend.

Regardless, make sure you really assess what you want your outcome to be for your finished products. Try not to be swayed by “what’s hot” as whatever is trendy today might not really make sense for your long-term keepsakes. You don’t want to invest in family portraits that will look dated on your walls and albums in a few years.

Once you have selected a few photographers that you believe meet your quality, expertise, style and vision goals, initiate a conversation with them to discuss planning your session, and your goals. You will want them to understand what you are looking for so they can let you know if it’s something they can accomplish.

Your Keepsakes

How will you enjoy your images and what are you looking to accomplish with them? If you just want a Facebook gallery of images or digital files for you to post on Instagram, a “shoot & burn” photographer will be your best bet. These photographers typically supply you with a download link to your images or a USB drive with your session for you to DIY your memories on consumer sites like Shutterfly.

However, investing in professionally shot portraits likely means that you want to enjoy your memories long-term in high quality-albums, gorgeous framed photographs and canvases. Full-service photographers have relationships with professional labs, album binders, and framers to make it easy for you to come away with art you can fall in love with, enjoy each day, and pass on to your children. Many families consider these heirlooms their most valuable possessions, and they grow more valuable over time!

Some of the most collectible products today include:

Framed Wall Galleries

Enjoy art of your family every day of your life! Custom designed galleries tell your story while adding a gorgeous wall of decor that instantly infuses any space with warmth and memory. Having your portraits framed through your photographer means that you don’t have to stress about printing high-quality prints or hunting down that perfect frame. Your photographer will help you each step of the way from choosing your favorite portraits that tell a cohesive story to designing and framing your wall galleries.

Gallery Wrapped Canvases

A collection of canvas portraits allows you to enjoy art on a larger scale, without mats and frames taking up extra space on your walls. Your images are professionally printed on canvas and then wrapped around a custom-made wood stretcher frame; perfect for any decor style. If you want to make a statement with one gorgeous large-scale image or cluster a collection as a wall gallery, using canvas is the way to go.

Heirloom Albums

Albums are the perfect collectible to feature ALL your images in one place and can be passed down through the generations. Forget those old school photo albums with the plastic slip-in covers, a keepsake album from your photographer will feature professionally printed images on real photographic paper, custom bound and hand finished for a product that is unique to your family alone.

Acrylic Blocks

A fun way to showoff a print, these are small tabletop display’s with a big impact. Acrylic Blocks feature beautiful photo prints face-mounted to 1″ thick plexiglass with hand polished crystal clear edges. Prints stand solidly on end on any flat surface.

Gift Prints

Don’t forget about your families and friends! They’ll want to enjoy your images too. Simple prints, either framed or loose, make the perfect gift for the most special people in your life.

 

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In it for the long haul

When it comes to the professionals you hire, do you play the field or just stick with one? There are perks to developing a LTR (long-term relationship) with your photographer.

1- They’ve got you. They know you, your style, your likes and dislikes. Your kids and your partner get to know them and are comfortable with them. You’ll never have awkward moments in your photos, and each interaction builds more trust and more creativity. Have a shy kiddo? Why take time to build a rapport with a new stranger every year when instead they can look forward to seeing their old friend? That excitement shines through in your images too.

2- Products. They have a strong product lineup and you can get the same frames this year to add on to last year’s wall gallery. They know how many holiday cards you send out, the size and color of the albums you are collecting, and who is on your gift list. You’ll never have an unpleasant surprise and you’ll always get what you need.

3- Reliability. We all love knowing what to expect and appreciate those we can count on. When you go steady with a family photographer, you will know the whole process; from shoot to final delivery, you will be able to relax and enjoy the process.

 

Full Service Studio or No Studio

Consider your needs. Do you prefer a high-touch experience with a studio manager and support staff in a retail location? Do you want to be able to drop in and pick up your products on your own schedule? What about office hours? What are your expectations?

For creatives like photographers “business” comes in all shapes and sizes. Many photographers are one (wo)man shows who work on location, edit at home, and deliver products to you. This offers the pro more flexibility to work on their terms and sometimes you get extra perks since they are not running a large retail studio and employing a staff. Maybe they offer ordering sessions at their cozy home studio, with homemade cookies and easy parking for you. When you call, you know your photographer will be the one answering the phone and you like that relationship. Does that feel like an experience you appreciate?

 

Value

Price should be the LAST thing you consider when you select your photographer. I know…I hear that collective groan:

“Really? What if I come up with a list of photographers I can’t afford?”

First, you have to define “afford.” No doubt custom photography is an investment, but it is also a luxury expenditure. Everyone has different levels of either saved or disposable income that can be allocated to a session. When defining your budget, determine if you’re more likely to save versus splurge, or if you’ll be flexible and make that decision once you see your images. Then, think about what your product goals are: wall art, a few select prints, a keepsake album. Understanding what you really need as well as what you want, will help you determine what you can spend with a particular photographer.

You may have a budget that will allow you to purchase ALL images from one photographer of mediocre quality or SOME images, but exactly what you need, from an exceptional one. Try to not get locked into the idea of “all” before you know what “all” looks like.

It’s with hesitation and a sigh that we say that with most budget photographers, “you get what you pay for.” But more often than not, if you aren’t investing in someone who has experience and offers quality, expertise, style, and vision, you will receive images that reflect just that. That said, there are talented photographers in every market segment, catering to a range of budgets, and with research and patience and maybe a referral, you can find one that checks all your boxes.

Photography is an investment, make the most of it.

 

7 Tips to Rock Your Smartphone

7 Tips to Rock Your Smartphone

People often ask me

If I bring my “big camera” everywhere I go. While I probably should, I don’t. Like most of you, I’ve come to rely on my smartphone camera. While my DSLR and pro lenses can do a lot of things that my smartphone can’t, my phone’s camera is just so convenient. It’s always in my pocket or bag and I don’t have to think about keeping an eye on expensive equipment when I’m out and about with my friends and family. Plus, a smartphone does a pretty darn good job of capturing the everyday moments of my life. I’ve put together some of my favorite tips and tricks for making the most out of your smartphone camera. I hope you enjoy them!

TIP #1

If you feel like your smartphone pictures lack sharpness, the solution could be as simple as holding your camera with two hands and standing still.

We’ve all held our phone out in front of us with one hand to take a picture. Sometimes we even do it while walking. Stop! Whether you’re shooting in portrait or landscape mode, holding the phone in two hands and resting your elbows against your torso for stability will give you the best chance of taking a sharp picture.

The camera shutter isn’t released until you take your thumb off the shutter button on the touchscreen. Try pressing the shutter button before you frame your shot and then gently release the button. This is especially helpful when shooting indoors in low light because it eliminates the impact of your finger pressing the button and potentially making the camera shake.

Try This: The volume + button on the side of the phone can also be used to release the shutter and greatly decrease camera shake.

TIP #2

Chances are, at one time or another you’ve had your smartphone camera focus on something other than what you would like it to focus on or miss focus completely. The result in both situations is a blurry image. To help prevent this from happening, tap and hold on the spot you want the camera to focus until you see the yellow AE/AF Lock alert. Once that pops up, the automatic exposure metering and automatic focus metering have been locked on your subject and will not change.

Try This: Take one image without locking focus – then try pressing your screen to lock focus.

TIP #3

When you point your smartphone camera at a subject or scene, it does it’s best to get you a properly exposed image. You’ve probably noticed though that sometimes it does a better job than others. Sometimes our smartphone cameras want to make our images too dark (underexposed) and sometimes they’re too bright (overexposed) When this happens, you can fix it before taking the picture by adjusting the yellow exposure slider next to the focus square. Just tap the spot on the phone screen where you want to change the exposure and then use the sun icon to increase (slide up) or decrease (slide down) the exposure.

Try This: Take a photo at Sunset and increase the exposure by tapping on the screen.

Proper exposure will make a huge difference in your smartphone photography!

Turn off the Flash

While the flash on smartphones has improved quite a bit over the years, you can’t change the fact that it’s just a small and not very powerful LED light. If you’re shooting at night, whenever possible, turn off the flash use the camera app’s exposure slider to brighten the photo.

If there’s no available light, you may have no choice but to use flash and that’s ok! A flashy photo is better than no photo at all!

Try This: Take a photo in low light and then take the same photo using the exposure slider to compare.

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TIP #4

With the limited setting on smartphone cameras, the amount of available light also plays a part in taking sharp pictures. The more light there is the better your smartphone camera will be able to combat shutter lag and freeze motion. It’s difficult to take a sharp picture of a baby crawling in a dim living room but if you move outside during the day, you’ll get a nice sharp image. If you want sharper, less blurry pictures go somewhere with good, natural (from the sun, not a lamp or overhead light) light. You don’t necessarily have to go outside. Move close to a window or an open door.

Good light makes all the difference between a mediocre and a great photo. I would go as far as to say that good light is more important than an interesting background or subject. If you’re shooting a portrait, avoid sunny and direct light on faces. This kind of light causes harsh shadows and squinting. If this is the kind of light you have to work with, try putting the sun behind your subject. This will give you the opportunity to play with sun flare and create backlit images. When possible, look for open shade along the side of a building or under a tree.

Try This: Put the sun both in front of and behind your subject and compare the two images to see what a difference the right lighting can make to an image.

While the flash on smartphones has improved quite a bit over the years, you can’t change the fact that it’s just a small and not very powerful LED light. If you’re shooting at night, whenever possible, turn off the flash use the camera app’s exposure slider to brighten the photo.

If there’s no available light, you may have no choice but to use flash and that’s ok! A flashy photo is better than no photo at all!

Try This: Take a photo in low light and then take the same photo using the exposure slider to compare.

TIP #5

Burst mode is great for when you are trying to photograph a moving subject such as a running animal or toddler or a someone playing a sport. By snapping images in quick succession, you’re more likely to get a shot that’s in focus and you may even have several keepers to choose from.

Burst Mode is available for iPhone 5s and up. To access it, just hold down the shutter button (or volume + button) and the iPhone will continuously take pictures until you lift your finger again.

Try This: While holding down the shutter button, you’ll see a counter at the bottom of the screen that tells you how many images you’ve taken.

Auto HDR

iPhones have a feature called High Dynamic Range, or HDR. HDR allows you to take pictures that have high contrast light sources (for example, a bright sunset against a dark mountain) and better capture both the light or the dark area of the picture without losing details. The idea is that the resulting image will be truer to what the eyes see. It does this by does this by taking three pictures, low, medium and high contrast in quick succession and then blending them to create a final HDR image. HDR is a good choice for stationary images with interesting lighting. Don’t try to use it for action shots though. There’s a good chance that when it blends the three images together, it won’t be sharp.

You can manually turn HDR on or off from the Camera app, but if you have an iPhone 5s or newer, you can just switch it to HDR Auto mode. In HDR Auto, when you point your camera at something, the iPhone’s camera sensor will determine if the image might need HDR correction.

Try this: Take a photo without HDR and then take the same image again using HDR. Compare the images side by side to see the difference.

TIP #6

The composition is one of the most important aspects of photography and also, probably one of the most taken for granted. How you frame your subject and compose your shot ultimately determines how memorable and interesting it is.

A lot of times, we see something that we want to take a picture of and take 15 images of the exact same thing from the exact same spot. Moving a few feet to the right or to the left, getting higher and getting lower can totally change an image and give you a series of unique and interesting images instead of dozens that are almost identical.

Changing your perspective can also help eliminate distracting background elements like cars and other people. It’s important to pay attention to the whole scene. Nothing ruins a portrait faster than a lamp post or street sign coming out of the top of your subjects head! A few steps to the right or left or getting a little higher or lower is all you have to do to get rid of distracting background elements.

Try This: Take a photo – then move a few steps one way to try and eliminate distractions in the background. Compare the images to see how a few steps make a big difference.

**Get Closer **

Sometimes the surroundings are part of the story and we want to include them in the image. Your best friend in front of the Eiffel Tower, your daughter playing in the waves at the beach, etc…Sometimes the surroundings aren’t important though and can actually be distracting. Are we looking at the couch? The clutter on the coffee table? Is it the car in the background? Or is it that cute baby? Getting close to our subjects and filling the frame with them can make the resulting image more intimate and help clearly define them as the focus.

Try this: Stand where you would normally stand to take a picture and take one. Now take two steps closer. Take another shot. Now, try getting as close as your smartphone camera will allow you to get and take another. Look at your shots. Which is your favorite?

TIP #7

There are a lot of apps on the market that can be used to edit images on your smartphone. Many people use Instagram or other apps that apply filters to the entire image. While there is nothing wrong with using filters if you’re putting them on top of an image that is not exposed properly or with incorrect white balance (color) your picture won’t look as good as it could. Two of my favorite editing apps are Snapseed and PicTapGo. Snapseed allows you to correct exposure and color for the entire image or to make adjustments to specific parts. PicTapGo includes filters that correct exposure, contrast, and color.

Try this: Take your favorite iPhone photo and run it through one of the apps above. Share your photo with others to see what they think!

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