Category / Photography

three decades of three generations.

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My mom, grandma, and I started the tradition of a three generation photo around the time I was ten or eleven. We decided to update the picture again when I was in college (again, we can’t remember if I was 20 or 21) and it was so fun to see the comparison (and all-around improved hair styles!). As much as we love these more studio styled photos, this time (I’m now 29) we wanted a more “real life” take on them, so of course I called my talented friend, Megan, (who will be closing up her business this summer to take on a new adventure in a new city). I’m so proud of her but selfishly am bumming hard! It has been such a special experience to have family photos taken over the years by someone who knows you and “gets” you and your crazy family members. 🙂

It was a very special afternoon and the weather cooperated beautifully. We began by sharing a bottle of champagne (everyone is more comfortable in front of a camera that way, aren’t they?!) and we headed out with Megan around downtown Des Moines for lots of laughs and, thanks to Megan, beautiful and treasured photographs. From the outfits (and of course a good amount of bling) to G’s silly props (she brought fake flowers to reenact her wedding day shoot LOL) I can’t wait to share some of the shots in the coming weeks. Thanks, girls, (all three of you!) for such a fun and memorable afternoon…I’m so happy we’ll have photos to help us remember it!

a bucket list check-off and photography dabblings

BabyB

I started to check off a bucket list item this weekend. I photographed a newborn still in the hospital – something I’ve wanted to do for a while. I’m so grateful to our friends for allowing me to photograph some first precious moments of sweet Baby B’s life, even when an unplanned trip to the NICU became part of his birth story. (I am hoping to share more photos from this session at a later date, but for now, I feel like they are his parents’ to share with friends and family, first.)

I’ve been back and forth on this idea of photography. I’ve so enjoyed reading the books and blogs, taking the classes, and getting out and practicing, practicing, practicing. But all the while, I’ve been trying to decide if this is a hobby, or something more, and trying to tap in to what direction I’d like to take it in. I’ve had opportunities to do a few “sessions” at this point, of various subjects and in different environments, and I’ve quickly learned that while the more planned/posed stuff can be fun, it’s the more “real” life events, in particular this session in the hospital, that I’m passionate about. Maybe it’s the photojournalism class I took in college that first turned me on to photography, but I like capturing real stuff, on the move, as it’s happening. Specifically, there is something about these tiny little miracles and their individual stories of how they get here, and I’d love to do more documenting of those stories, whether it’s the first moments after they are here, or capturing the hours leading up to their arrival.

Going forward, I’m hoping to focus in a bit more on this idea of birth story photography. I learned so much from this first session and how to balance stepping in with stepping back and letting things happen while clicking away. It was awesome to start with friends as my learning curve and get a feel for when and when not to be up in their business to capture a shot. I learned a LOT about what might be the hardest lighting conditions I’ve ever shot in (and in the NICU particularly, I had a hunch they’d frown on me using my flash). But aside from all the learning, I just had so much fun and was teary-eyed more than once (although I tried to hide it!) as I got to be a first-row spectator of watching this little family of three interact.

The whole experience was a moving one for me, and what solidified it for me was that I went straight home on a Friday night to edit the photos – and there was nothing in the world I would have rather been doing. What’s that saying? Do what you love and you never work a day in your life? We shall see where this goes… 🙂

How to Watermark Your Photos

How to Watermark Your Photos | Life In Yellow

I’m a big advocate of watermarking your photos if planning to publish them “out there” in the internet world. Once you post photos to your blog, you lose possession of them to a certain extent. Anyone who really wants to, can copy/paste/download the image and use it as they please. Watermarking won’t stop this from happening, but it might deter someone from trying to pass off your photo as their own. At the very least, it makes it harder for them when your name/business is part of the image!

The beauty of a watermark is that it’s subtle. Your name is still on your work, but it doesn’t distract as much as simply laying straight text or icons over your picture. I recently updated the look of my blog and needed a new watermark for my photos that would reflect the new logo. Following are the steps that I think are the easiest way to create a watermark image…

You will need Photoshop to follow along with this tutorial. I use version CS6 but previous versions will work just the same. I believe the steps are similar if not identical in Photoshop Elements if you have access to that program in place of the full version.

Watermark Your Photos | Life in Yellow

Step 1. Whether you’re using an image/logo of some type, or just text with your name/blog name, create an image of it in black and white. If you don’t already have any type of logo, simply open a new document (200 x 200 pixels will be plenty, at 300 dpi) and pick a font and type the text you want, in solid black.

Watermark Your Photos | Life in Yellow

Step 2. In your layers palette, double-click on the layer with your logo/text. The above “layer style” box will pop up. Set your blending mode to Normal, Opacity at 60%, and Fill Opacity at 0%.

Watermark Your Photos | Life in Yellow

At this point your image/text should be looking sort of like the above…

Watermark Your Photos | Life in Yellow

Step 3. On the left hand side of the window, check the “Bevel and Emboss” option, then adjust the Depth, Size, and Soften numbers to 100%, 1px, and 0px. Click “OK” to close the box.

At this point your image/text should be looking sort of like this...

By now, your image should be looking more like this. Depending on how you started, you may have a “background” layer in your layers palette – if so, click on it and delete it:

At this point your image/text should be looking sort of like this...

Voila! You have your watermark! At this point, name the file and save it as a .PSD file (saving it as a JPEG will ruin the whole effect and add a white box to its background).

Screen Shot 2013-03-31 at 10.06.56 AM

To use your new watermark, open a photo and use the “Place” command to set your watermark PSD file on top of the image. Use Ctrl-T or Apple-T to add the border box you see above which will allow you to make it larger or smaller, and use the arrow tool to move it around the image to place it where you like it best. Once you have it where you want it, flatten the image and re-save it (or save a copy) so you now have your watermarked photo ready to upload!

 

 

 

lately…

chillin

Lately, I haven’t been tackling projects at the crazy pace I usually prefer to…and I’m embracing more chill out time with my moving-slower-lately hubby. 🙂 I made a resolution to myself this year that I would learn to slow down a little and chill out more…like, REALLY chill out, not pretend to watch a movie with Page while making my next to-do list.

living room palette

That said, I haven’t abandoned my to-do list altogether, just attacking it a bit more slowly right now. Starting with playing with some new colors in the living room…

camera pillow

…and loving my new camera pillow as part of the new colors! And speaking of cameras, this black beauty showed up at my door this week. Spending a lot of quality time together learning the new bells and whistles that came with upgrading a bit!

new camera t3i

Page and I have both been feeling the urge to get back to some healthy habits now that holidays and then his surgery are behind us. While he’s phasing back into some workouts mixed with physical therapy, I’ve been getting back to running at the gym. It’s a love hate relationship right now, but I know it will get better! We are also tackling our eating habits and for me the key is to PLAN AHEAD so I’m not starving without a healthy option, or eating out for lunch because I forgot to pack something to take to the office. One of my favorite dishes right now is a veggie-heavy frittata, that I can cook ahead of time, cut into wedges, and reheat for breakfasts on the go.

veggie frittata

So that’s what’s been going on around here lately, in a nutshell. Call it mellow March. It’s been a nice change of pace…but I could really use some time outside soon. Come onnnn, Spring. We have trees to plant! 🙂

planning for some down time…

Next week is Pager’s surgery, and while I initially only “need” to be home with him the first 24-48 hours, I foresee a lot of evenings at home in the coming couple of weeks until he’s a bit more mobile on his crutches.

Page is easy to please and will be good to go between his Xbox, a stack of DVDs and Netflix. I’ll definitely get some Mad Men time in with him and I’ll make him play a board game or two with me, but otherwise, I’m embracing the planned time at home to get to some little projects around the house and some hobby stuff I’ve been wanting to spend time on. I’m anticipating some upcoming posts about some (or maybe all?!) of the following!

YHLbook#1. Devour a DIY book. 

I haven’t even cracked this book open yet, but after all the good reviews (who’s surprised, really?!) I’m anxious to dive in and read and get inspired to take on some smaller-than-finishing-the-basement-sized projects.

 

 

#2. Work on some photography skillz. softbox

It’s been a while since I’ve had a little time to just PLAY with my camera and practice trying some new things. (I need more hours in the day!) I’ve been anxious to learn more about what I’m doing with these light reflectors – I bought a kit with silver/gold/white/black reflectors and this softbox in hopes of learning how to use these to improve my photos. I’ve pinned a couple of tutorials (TGFP – Thank God for Pinterest!) and I’ll report back if I discover anything earth-shattering. 🙂

#3. Repaint some canvases? 

I’m pretty fickle when it comes to accents around the house. After a year or so, I’m ready to recycle them somewhere else in the house, rotate them out for a bit with something else in its place, or change them altogether. I loved the way these canvases turned out last spring, but it’s the red that I’m ready to steer away from. I think maybe coming off of the holidays, I’m just ready for a different color vibe in here. I want to keep our green accents…

greenaccents…but contrast them with a different color. Maybe bring in the yellow from our kitchen, or something all together NEW for me…dare I say something in the blues family?? I’m thinking a trip to the store for some spray paint and a sample can of a new color is in my near future. And I’d like to swap out the flower design for something a little more graphic. I’m inspired by this wall!

#4 Purge!

You know it’s THE single thing I love to do best! I’ve recently taken a pass through some storage spots in our house, and my own closet. Some of it has gone straight to Goodwill, some to the consignment shop, and a few things sold to friends. There’s not enough to do a sale (a virtual one here OR in person) but I’m hoping to get a handful of things photographed and listed on Facebook or Craiglist.

#5 Get to the gym.tights

I haven’t been to the gym for a workout since Page tore his knee the end of January. Yes, things have just been busier than usual, but I think I’ve felt guilty prancing off to the gym while Page can barely take a step sideways. I’m going to have to get over that. Part of the new routine in the coming weeks will be me driving him to his physical therapy appointments (3 or more times a week), and we’re fortunate that the place he will go is literally a half-mile away, and right next to the Y that we belong to. So in a way, it will be a great method for keeping each other accountable. I’ll drop him at PT, go work out at the Y, and swing back to pick him up. Shorts season is coming, ready or not, and I’m feeling motivated to get back into a running routine, especially with my new badass running tights! (Whoever says Instagram is not a legitimate marketing tool is misguided. I literally saw these on Shawn Johnson’s feed and knew I needed some for myself.)

There are several other little to-dos that don’t require me rambling on about them, but blogging, doing some refreshing of the blog design, some client freelance work, and trying some new recipes are all also on the agenda!

Guest Blogger Series: Missy Drescher, Professional Photographer

guestbloggerseries

I am jumping-up-and-down excited to introduce you to a longtime friend of mine, Missy Drescher. I’ve known this awesome lady since before she was a Drescher, and we worked together in the scrapbooking business during our college years. Super creative, artsy, fun, and adorable, it made perfect sense to me when Missy and her husband, James, took their craftiness full-throttle and grew their day jobs out of it. Today, Missy is here to share a slice of her artsy wisdom with us as she shares her tips and tricks for photographing newborns! ENJOY!

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Hi there!  I am Missy…my hubby and I own a photography studio in Iowa City. We predominately shoot weddings. James (husband) also shoots football, wrestling, basketball for the Iowa Hawkeyes. We take a handful of family and baby sessions sprinkled in there as well!

I plan to share some advice for taking photos of newborns…my post below is a super easy read that who knows, could be like gold to a single bachelor photographer looking to polish up his baby sessions or maybe you are a seasoned mother with a minivan full of car seats just needing a little refresher. Likely, you will nod along as you read thinking: oh, totally knew that, just never thought of it this way.

So when Liz asked for a bio photo of myself, apparently I see quite a bit of myself in our feisty toddler, Reese, who is fourteen months old. And since the baby topic is pretty appropriate, here is maybe like, one photo of me and about a zillion of Reese.

photographing babies with drescher photography | life in yellow

Lets talk babies!

One of the biggest misconceptions about baby portraits is that new parents think the process of getting pics is blissful and perfect just like in the movies. Ha! Newborn sessions are actually a ton of work (for both the photographer and the client!) because the session is purely controlled by the infant and not the adults.

It takes an open mind, flexibility and tons of patience.

I plan not to go into detail about too much technical talk which is overwhelming but instead provide some tips of little icings on the cake, perhaps that you may not have considered. Let me state first that these are only suggestions and all babies are so different, so some might be trial and error! But here are some tricks we have adapted over time:

– hot hot heat : when James photographs newborns, we dress in layers. In fact, we sweat (a lot) and actually look like we nearly ran a marathon after shoots. It’s because we crank up the heat and also have an indoor heater that we plug in next to baby. I usually wear a tank top (even when it’s January) because we want that baby to be cozy and roasting. A toasty baby is a happy baby! Also babies love. love. love the smell of skin, it makes them feel protected and safe…we have noticed this always calms newborns (so I always keep my collarbone and arms exposed for this purpose too.)

– clothing : sometimes less is more! : one huge mistake we made in the beginning was letting clients bring over a ton of outfits (like the ridiculously fluffy impractical puffy frillies) which is totally adorable but in moderation. We annoyed and messed with babies way too much in the beginning. We tried getting four different outfits done in a couple hours and wondered why it was stressful! Do not mess with the baby…shirts over the head, then buttons, then socks etc. etc. If we want them to stay calm and zen, we must let them be. If you must accessorize, do it with hats and hair bands and items that are not over the head, need to be snapped/tied…nothing that’s going to agitate baby. Put yourself in baby shoes…if you were trying to nap: would you want your mother trying to squeeze you into sparkly skinny jeans? No! You would just want to pass out already! Keep the clothing to a minimum…if any. For best results, just keep the baby naked.

– the jello baby : the poses you see with baby as a pretzel take time, time, time and a whole lot of patience. The trick is to not expect baby to pass out in that position. You must first let the baby pass out…be sleeping for a good ten to twenty minutes (so they are lethargic enough to fall back asleep when you adjust them but not have slept long enough that you half awaking them will result in a little catnap then wired baby). Once they are calm (and full and sleepy) slowly move one limb at a time. First an arm. Then wait. Then the feet. Then wait. Take baby steps. Once you get the baby in the position of your desire, then shoot shoot shoot! Do not wait until baby is in the position you want then get ready to shoot. BE ready to shoot (all set up, lights, props, blankets, etc.) before you begin the process of getting baby there…because once baby is there, you might only get that position for twenty seconds, tops. Shoot like it’s a race, get the shots you need before baby moves or wakes or cries.

– full tummy naps : the best way to get a baby to pass out hardcore is a simple equation. If they have a full tummy and it’s toasty like a sauna, it’s nearly impossible for a baby to stay awake! So if mom is nursing, let the baby really engage (try not for an efficient nursing session but more like an extended super snuggly empty-it-all-out session) and baby will be jello! Just like us adults, a big comfort meal makes us happy, satisfied and wanting to curl up on the couch and do nothing. Same goes for newborns. If baby takes formula, it’s not going to hurt them to take in a couple extra ounces for a nice full tummy (extra ounces or even extra bottles-let the mom make the call. We say the more the better {for the day at least} but make sure to ask run it by the parent.) It is absolutely imperative that baby shows up to the session hungry…that baby eats (binges. chows. we hope) at the studio or place of photo shoot. Do not let baby chow down at home then drive to your studio-let the binge fest happen like right before you plan to shoot (and in the same location as the session set up.)

– pee pee (not in the potty) : expect to get peed one. As in – no matter what nature will call. Babies have absolutely no control over their bowels. Also if they are breastfed you can expect to definitely get pooped on as well. It goes in, it comes right out. Taking their diaper off gives them a chill and alert which almost always makes them instinctively pee. If you are shooting on a precious blanket that came from grandma and is non-washable, this is a bad idea. Anything and everything you use, you must be willing to toss if it’s ruined or be willing to throw in the wash machine. We have tried LOTS of different detergents and yes, sometimes baby poop stains will NOT come out.

– au natural (day light) : do not even attempt to shoot at night or even in the late afternoon. Shoot in the morning. Not only is this when baby has had the evening to rest (happier!) but the outside light is nice. It’s soft and natural. Shoot next to a window. Make sure you are NOT shooting into the light (so if you have a nice big window…do NOT be facing that window) but rather you need to have your back to the window (meaning you are grabbing some of that natural light and utilizing it) and there is no reason you need a flash. Take advantage of the natural light! Thumbs down to flash is my rule for baby. Its way too harsh. Keep it natural.

– the 5S Method : so funny thing about this one, we learned it in a birthing class during our pregnancy! I have used this method more on other babies than on my own!

  • swaddle – swaddled babes feel like they are still packaged up in the womb…an instant calmer. The tighter the better. James jokes that my swaddles look like baby straight jackets because they are tight tight tight! There is no way baby can escape it! Seriously they have been packed inside the tummy competing for air food and breathing space with mom…they are used to being snuggled super super tight so remember that NO swaddle is too tight.
  • stomach – the pose where the baby is laying on dads arm, sprawled like a monkey on a tree branch (tummy down to dads arm) and limbs dangling lifelessly. So this pose babies love as it promotes digestion. You may get lots of poofs and toots out of baby (ha!) as this pose usually calms gassy tummies. I remember when our little one needed to do the duty and we would flip her over to this position and we were guaranteed baby farts every. single. time.  Babies love it.
  • shush – so simply put, just make a shush noise (get pretty loud) right up into their ear. This one is my go to. I can ALWAYS get a newborn client to pass right out with this one. I feel like it always works. Do not be afraid to get loud and right up into the ear. And stay consistent…keep blowing and whispering into their ears and face.

{note for #3 — if client is not YOUR baby make sure to ask the mother first if its ok that you shush the baby. Germs are spread by your mouth and make sure to be respectful to not be all up in the business of someone else. Ask first and make sure the mother is completely okay with it. If not, you can invest in a sleep sheep or a noisemaker to do the similar trick minus your breath.}

  • swing – oh geez the babies go crazy over this one too. If you are wanting baby to fall asleep in a basket, you can literally keep them in the basket and swing the basket (with both hands securely on the handles) back and forth…back and forth. Babies LOVE to swing whether it’s in your arms, in a sling, anything. For our own kiddo, I remember as a newborn (and still as a toddler) she LOVES to be swung (hard and fast) back and forth-it never fails. Oh yes-this one also you need to ask mom first (if baby is not yours) if you have her permission to swing the baby. Nothing bad is going to happen, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
  •  suck – only works if the baby likes a pacifier. If so, you know how this one works. Sucking soothes them. Let them bink until they are out. Do not pull the pacifier out until they are out cold or you will be in serious trouble!

baby after methods: drescher photography | life in yellow

Ok!  I have truly babbled long enough so lets have a recap in case I lost you anywhere!

Helpful tools/items:

  • space heater (crank. it. up!)
  • light breathable clothing (for you not baby)
  • cute hats or diaper covers but not ten piece outfits! (less is more)
  • extra bottles (or full boobs) its encouraged to let the baby overeat at the shoot!
  • pacifiers if baby takes (bonus: if baby likes vitamin drops: put a little on the bink!  Yum yum, flavored pacifier…note: if it’s not your own baby do not offer!  Always let the mother of the baby make this call, she knows baby’s body and tolerations best.)
  • extra diapers (especially if baby uses Pamper Swaddles, the last thing you want is that nasty blue line (yellow line means dry…blue means: change me!) so avoid photographing the obvious plump diaper booty.
  • blankets | swaddles (but only if you are willing to wash it.)
  • BONUS! Bean bag! Any kind. A little secret from the pros…we use bean bags.  Many professional prop companies offer pricey baby wedges but we seriously love our plain jane bean bag (from Target) and also we use a neck pillow (that they sell at airports) to prop baby. We also use a boppy pillow. Do not waste money on the wedges when these above will do the same trick (for less $ too.)
  • noisemaker such as a sleep sheep (try Pottery Barn kids or Diapers.com) and I also have apps on my iPhone (sleep aids) with rain…dolphins…crickets…birds…waves and tons of soothing sounds (works like a charm on the babes.)
  • the largest window in your home (or studio) you can find.
  • last but certainly not least : you will need the following!  Patience, understanding, compassion, an open mind and remember–if the baby is being challenging or things do not go as planned, remember they are only innocent little beings and do not know any better.  If the first round fails, try a different day.  Never get mad at the baby–they have not a clue what we are trying to achieve.

I hope these tips can be of assistance whether you are a new mommy…or carting around a handful of kiddos or possibly a photographer looking to dip your feet into newborn photography…good luck and have fun!

Sincerely…Missy

If you want to hear more ramblings, see some gorgeous brides, new mamas or itsy-bitsy babies feel free to browse our blog and site! 

drescherphotoanddesign.com

blog.drescherphotoanddesign.com

photographing baby: drescher photography | life in yellow

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Thank you so much, Missy! You can view all of the Guest Blogger Series posts here.

starting on the holiday checklist!

I am ALL about working ahead (I hate last minute scrambling) so even before the trick-or-treaters show up, I am starting to think about the later-in-the-season holidays. I came across this list today with tips for things you can be doing now to have a calmer holiday season later on – not all of these items are on my to-do list, but I like that she makes it manageable with one task per day for the month of November.

I am currently tackling item #1 today – thanks to these awesome photos my talented photog friend, Megan, took for us on our five year anniversary.

She has such a great eye and while I am incredibly awkward in front of a camera, she is so good at putting both Page and me at ease. We had so much fun during our session with her – lots and lots of laughs! It is so special to have a dear friend capture moments for you time and again – she also took some photos for us on our one-year anniversary as well. Check out her facebook page for more info and beautiful images. Thank you, Megan!

Photo a Day in August: Week 4 Recap


The last full week of the August Photo A Day challenge has come to a close. I’m definitely more lax by now about getting the day’s theme ON the corresponding day, but I’ve met my overall goal of practicing more on my camera and taking some creative time for myself. So all in all, a success. 🙂 Above is a collage of peeks at this weeks’ photos surrounding the themes: home, pair, path, fresh, dream, tap, clock. You can see the full photos in an album on my Life In Yellow facebook page (along with lots of other tidbits that don’t always make the blog).

Thanks for playing along with me…I’ve already found a different September challenge I want to try (watch for it soon!) — I’m hoping because of who’s running it, I will get more active with my photos! 😉 (hint: Lululemon!)