Tuesday 29 May 2012

10 Easy Tips for Photographing your Child

"Smile!!" (see Point 7 below...)
As a mum I know that photographing your child is always a bit of a challenge - you need to have a quick trigger finger so that you can seize that perfect candid shot, or be very, very, very, very patient! 

It is possible to tip the balance in your favour though, and with a little bit of forethought you can get beautiful photos. Plus, now that we've nearly all got digital cameras, you can just keep clicking as many times as you need to - it's OK to delete the ones you don't like (something I need to do more often!). 

So here's a few basic tips that might help:

  1. Candid Photos: Remember, it may not be completely necessary for your subject to look straight at the camera - a candid shot, caught when they were unaware of you can sometimes be much more effective. Rather than telling them to strike a certain pose, or smile, just sit back with your camera at the ready and let them do their thing - but keep your finger hovering on that shutter button! Do what they want to do - enter their world, encourage them to chatter.
  2. Check your background and foreground: Make sure there is nothing obscuring your subject, or that it's not too busy and therefore distracts from the subject. Sometimes all you'll need to do is shift your own position slightly to get a different perspective. Keep an eye on trees, plants, buildings, etc in the background to avoid that "bush for hair" or "speared by a lamp post" look!
  3. Indoor Lighting: If you use a flash then be aware that the closer the subject is to the background, the bigger the risk of shadows. If you're photographing babies or very young children, they can sometimes be startled or frightened by a flash too. Try placing your child near a natural light source such as a window to get softer, more natural lighting.
  4. Outdoor Lighting: If you're photographing outdoors, be aware of harsh light/dark shadows which can ruin an otherwise gorgeous photo. Take note of where the sun is and make sure it isn't causing the child to squint. Don't be afraid to use your flash outdoors too - it can add a little to the overall look of the image. If you're using a digital camera try taking a few shots with the flash and some without - you can always delete the ones you don't think will do.
  5. Try close-up's: Many digital cameras have the ability to take beautiful close shots without losing quality. Check if you camera has this close-up or "macro" function (usually the setting dial has a small flower symbol for close-up shots. I love taking close-up photos of my daughter Amy: her gorgeous skin, long eyelashes and pretty freckles!
  6. Pick your moment!: It sounds obvious, but don't try to photograph young children when they're tired, bored or not in the right mood - you'll both end up cross and with a photo that doesn't look right. Choose your moment - when they are relaxed and happy, and feeling responsive to you. Give yourself plenty of time too, don't make yourself feel pressured because you're trying to take a photo when you should be getting the dinner on!
  7. Say cheese..: It's tempting to tell your subject to smile and say cheese, but this can sometimes give a fake smile effect. Little ones can often be distracted however - try asking them an interesting question that makes them stop and think, ask them to imagine something lovely, pull a silly face or make a funny noise - and be ready with your shutter finger for that perfect reaction! If you find it easier to use a word like "cheese" try getting them to say something else - something a little bit rude can make for some great giggly shots ("pants" works well in my experience..!) And remember, it doesn't always have to be about smiles - thoughtful, quiet pictures when the child's face is relaxed can be poignant and beautiful.
  8. A little trick: A good trick to avoid that slightly glazed expression when you take someone's photo, is to ask them to look down for a count of three before raising their head and looking into the camera. It is just enough for them to alter their point of focus and avoid those staring eyes!
  9. Get down on their level: When photographing children try getting down to their level rather than photographing down onto them which tends to make heads look overly large and their legs too short! Kneel down, sit on the floor or a chair - try to keep the camera at their eye level. (This applies to photographing pets too!)
  10. Hold it steady!: Whilst problems such as 'red-eye' created by a camera flash can be corrected, blurry photos that are out of focus just can't be improved. Avoid smudgy photos by resting your camera on a solid object, or keeping your elbows tucked in. If you're sitting on the floor to take your photo, try sitting so that you can lean your elbows on your knees to stop the camera wobbling, or grab a chair or stool to lean on. Most digital cameras have a 'half-press shutter' which means you press the shutter button half way down, giving the camera time to adjust focus. When your camera has found its focus, click your button all the way.
Happy Snapping!
Sarah x

Thursday 24 May 2012

If you like a lot of chocolate, read my blog!

Oooh, yeah baby...
Pin back your ears, lick your lips, I’m about to take you for a plunge into pure chocolate heaven….

“Never mind about 1066 William the Conqueror, 1087 William the Second. Such things are not going to affect one's life ... but 1932 the Mars Bar and 1936 Maltesers and 1937 the Kit Kat - these dates are milestones in history and should be seared into the memory of every child in the country.”

That’s what Roald Dahl reckoned, and you can’t deny the 30’s were a golden era. In fact, when you look into it, most of the chocolate we know and love today is getting on for 100 years old (and still hasn’t gone beyond the “best before” date!). In 1905 Cadburys launched the Dairy Milk bar, in 1908 came the Toblerone, Walnut Whips followed in 1910, then the Flake in 1920, in 1923 the Milky Way was born, Crunchie came about in 1929, 1930 saw the arrival of the Snickers (or if you’re a traditionalist, the Marathon!), Maltesers in 1936, and I was surprised to find out that Terry’s Chocolate Orange dates back to 1932…

And I suppose as the inventor of Mr Willy Wonka, it makes sense that Roald Dahl should know his stuff about chocolate. But I reckon we’re all Smartie-Pants (excuse the pun), when it comes to chocolate - I’d be amazed if you, dear reader, hadn’t sampled every single one of those chocolates I’ve mentioned and counted yourself a bit of a connoisseur. Ask anyone which they prefer: milk chocolate or plain, and they’ll have an answer for you before you can say “Twix”.

So, here’s the thing: over the last few years there’s been a bit of a chocolate “make over” - magazines tell us that we will be just as satisfied with a square or two of 90% cocoa solid organic chocolate as we would be with an entire Mars bar. That it’s better for us, and because it has more of a cocoa hit we won’t want as much. There’s even - pause for breath - chocolate with the sophistication of added chilli, or salt. Hmm. [presses lips together in slightly in-approving way…]

Well I’m sorry, but that just doesn’t hit the spot for me - on any level! If you’re the kind of person who likes the bitterest of bitter chocolate (not to be confused with plain chocolate, that’s lush) and looks down their nose at the sweet and sugary Cadburys type stuff - well I just don’t believe you. Sorry, no, don’t believe you. Pants definitely on fire. I reckon when you’re in a room, all on your own, you’d choose a bar of Dairy Milk! And anyway, you’re denying yourself two of the world’s greatest inventions: Munchies and Creme Eggs. Or if you still want to be sophisticated, help yourself to a Fry’s Peppermint Cream. We won’t think any less of you, promise.

Right, must dash, the sweet shop is calling my name… (but if you want to leave a comment and tell me what your favourite chocolate is, or indeed if you prefer milk or plain, go for it - we can wallow in chocolate together!)

Sarah x

Wednesday 23 May 2012

I love these THIS much...!

Available in pink or blue!
     New on the website today: "I Love You This Much" personalised prints - perfect for Father's Day!
     These lovely prints are available in pink or blue, and can be personalised with both the recipient's name (eg, Daddy, Mummy, John, Jane, Granny, etc) and the sender's name. 
     Easily adapted for your occasion, they are particularly  great for:
Father's Day
Mother's Day
Valentine's Day

     Just £14.50 including 1st class postage (within the UK). Dispatched within 5 working days. Check the website now for further details!

Sarah x

Freebie for Father's Day!

Psst...fancy a freebie?!

Then sign up to the PhotoFairytales mailing list now by clicking on this link.

Be quick, it's being sent soon!

Sarah x

Wednesday 16 May 2012

The Sound of Silence...

Since being a child, I've always found it near impossible to work in silence - my homework was always done with the sound of Scooby Doo or Hong Kong Phooey in the background! And as an adult, I'm no different. Whenever I'm working I always have the radio on, usually tuned into Radio 4. Now, apparently, the average age of listeners to Radio 4 is 55 - and before you ask, no I'm not! Call me an old fogey, but I've actually been listening to it since I was in my twenties - and favourites include Woman's Hour, The Archers (of course), and the fantastic comedy (if you haven't discovered Milton Jones, The Unbelievable Truth, Just a Minute or the News Quiz - well, quite frankly, you're missing out!).

As well as those favourites, I do end up listening inadvertently to a large amount of news bulletins throughout the day. And on budget day this year I found myself putting orders to one side and seizing on a bit of inspiration that seemed to appear from nowhere. Although, with the budget and politicians whittering away in the background its' actually quite easy to work out where my idea for a series of three new print designs came from!

You can find all three designs in my Folksy Shop, or at wowthankyou.com

Now, Money Box Live has just started, wonder what that will inspire...!
Sarah x

Monday 14 May 2012

Prices Up, Prices Down!

NEW: one of the brand new "Meaning of
Name" print designs introduced this month.
Was £17.50, now £14.50 including UK delivery.
     The introduction of higher prices by Royal Mail, coupled with concerns over their ability to deliver parcels in one piece to my customers, has given me - oh, let's call it an "opportunity" - to reconsider postage and pricing options. 
     I've recently found that many of my framed prints were being delivered damaged, despite being securely wrapped and labelled, and this was causing understandable irritation to my poor customers. To combat this, I would need to significantly increase the packaging which (coupled with the now very high postage rates, rising costs of materials, and to accommodate the loss of replacing damaged items) would mean that I'd have to increase the prices of all my framed prints significantly (taking a £17.50 print to well over £20). 
     Now, I don't know about you, but I just don't think that's right!

     So, I've been spending the last few weeks making steam come out of my calculator and ears, and the result is the following price/product changes:

Framed Prints: were £17.50, now £14.50
This affects the following prints - 
- Were £17.50, delivered 2nd class
- Now £13.95, presented unframed with a quality mount and backing board and presented in a sealed cellophane bag, delivered 1st class recorded delivery.

Family Tree Prints: were £22, now £16.95
- Were £22, delivered 2nd class
- Now £16.95, presented unframed with a quality mount and backing board and presented in a sealed cellophane bag, delivered 1st class recorded delivery.

Fantasy Portraits:
  • Artwork only
    - Was £10 for one person, £3.50 surcharge for each additional person

    - Now £15 for one person, £3.50 surcharge for each additional person
  • Artwork and Print
    - Was £15 (plus additional person surcharge where applicable), all additional prints £5 each, and delivered 2nd class

    - Now £20 for one person (plus additional person surcharge where applicable), additional prints reduced from £5 to £4.25 each, and delivered 1st class.
  • Artwork and Canvas Print- 10"x8" canvas and artwork was £29.99 (ie £19.99 canvas plus standard artwork for one person at £10). Now £33.50.- 16"x12" canvas and artwork was £37.99 (ie £27.99 canvas plus standard artwork for one person at £10). Now £42.50.
  • Artwork and Framed Print: no longer available

Blue Heritage Plaques
- Were £16, delivered 2nd class
- Now £16.95, delivered 1st class

Canvas Prints:
- 8"x8" was £15, now £15.95
- 10"x10" and 12"x24" designs remain unchanged

Letters from the Tooth Fairy:
- Were £5.95, now £6.50
(with Next Day delivery now £12.75, with Saturday Next Day Delivery now £16.95)

All other product prices remain unchanged.

     All frames (the light and dark wood frames) have now been discontinued and replaced with attractive quality mounts and backing boards instead. Prints will be presented sealed in a smart clear cellophane bag. The idea of sending prints in mounts, rather than in frames means that you will now have the opportunity to frame your print in a way that will match your d├ęcor and budget - and it is less likely to suffer damage whilst in the delivery system. The mounts will fit into any standard 10"x8" picture frame, or you can remove the mount completely and the print will then fit into any standard 8"x6" picture frame - giving you two size/budget options. (The personalised Ticket Prints are presented in an 8"x6" mount, and will fit in a standard 8"x6" picture frame.)
     Wherever possible, many items are now going to be sent by 1st class post, rather than 2nd class - and in some cases they will be sent by recorded delivery too.
     I hope those prices are clear, but if you have any questions at all please don't hesitate to contact me and I will be very happy to help.

Best wishes,

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