The First 90 Days

I’m sure you, like me, at times feel as though you may have “lost your way”. When that happens, we can either keep struggling on or we can decide to make a change. Well, on the first day of 2018 I decided to make a change. I realized I had put my photography above everything else I did, or should have been doing. So, at the beginning of the new year, I decided to reorient myself to where I believe my focus needed to be. My faith and my real calling.

I didn’t start out with a time limit for refocusing, I just decided that I was going to focus on only my spiritual habits and ministry, (I’m a volunteer youth minister), and lay my photography down for a bit. In 2017, I really put most of my effort and my focus on my photography as a career, and due to this I became obsessed with always thinking about, watching, listening, or doing, something around photography. It is good to expound on one’s skills, but it shouldn’t have come at the expense of my faith practices.

Many of us start out a new year with a new plan. I honestly had no idea what I was going to do differently up until Dec. 31, 2017…maybe not until the New Year itself.

I am first called to have a relationship with Jesus Christ. My next calling is to my wife. And then comes my ministry life. In my Christ relationship, I had no focus, no disciplines I was keeping with, and honestly, I was not working at building that relationship. In ministry, it was always coming last minute, with planning for lessons, etc, almost to the point that I was ready to say “I was once called, but no more…” and lay that part of my life down so to speak. (Not that I was quitting ministry, it just wasn’t going to be a primary focus)

Some 10 years ago now, I experienced God’s express calling to vocational ministry, and when you go so long with that calling not fulfilled, you begin to seek a way to either fulfill it outside of God’s will and timing, or you deny that calling altogether and go on to something different. I began to seek other ways to fulfill it outside of His plan, and probably wasn’t even coming to Him for His wisdom and plan.

The one relationship that stayed strong was that with my wife. She is so spiritually wise when I am weak. We would have conversations about photography and ministry and career, and she would be the one to continuously try to tell me ministry needs to be my focus…that God has called and is calling me to something.

For the first 90 days of 2018, I had nothing to do with photography at all. Well, actually, the 3rd Saturday of March, I finally got to do a family session with my in-laws and then  on the last Saturday, I photographed our local Joy Prom (special needs prom). During that time, I have had daily bible reading, prayer time (written), listened to various faith based or ministry based podcasts, and put more effort into my work with the youth. This activity reignited my love for youth ministry, and my walk with Christ. I needed this time for sure.

After completing the family and Joy Prom photos, my photography side has been reignited as well. But this time, it will be different. I will still seek to grow in my skills and abilities in an art I love, but I will have balance between my everyday work, my ministry, faith life, and my art. I will not allow my focus to become my photography over the other more important parts of my life.

So with that, I say I am back. I will seek clients I want to work with, and still seek to serve them the best I can. If you are in need of a portrait photographer, for your family or teen, to serve you and provide you with a custom experience, then give me a call.

Improve Your Christmas Photographs

If your family is anything like mine then the Holidays are likely be the few times that you will have everyone together in one place. So many of us want to take advantage of this time together by taking a family photograph. With that in mind, I thought I’d offer you some tips on making a better family portrait this year.

Location

Find a place that offers ample room for everyone to gather.

  • Outdoors
  • Garage
  • Living Room
  • Sunroom
  • Open Kitchen

Lighting

Try to void using your camera’s flash, it isn’t flattering.

  • Don’t place everyone in front of a bright window with their backs to it.
  • Faces towards the light!
  • Ceiling Lights
  • Lamps
  • Setup

When backs are to the window, the people in the portrait end up being too dark because the camera has tried to expose for the brightest scene…the window.

family portrait with everyone
My beautiful family at Thanksgiving

However, natural light from a window is beautiful when lighting the face. If no choice, close the blinds and use the ceiling lights or lamps. Ceiling lights are probably not the best option alone so, add lamps next to the side walls (white walls preferred), to the left and right sides of the grouping area. Place one lamp near the camera (center of the group/behind the camera) as well…this will also provide a nice catch light in the eyes.

Get your lighting setup before you call everyone together if you can. At least get the lighting needed into the room you’re going to take the photograph in so everyone isn’t waiting on you.

Posing

Use seating and standing positions together. Take control!

  • Love Seat
  • Ottoman
  • Chairs
  • Bar Stools
  • Move Furniture

Use a love seat, bar stools, or kitchen chairs for the older folks to be comfortable. Once you get Grandma and Grandpa seated, begin to think like a Tetris master and place everyone else around them.

A family crazy photo
A crazy pic taken first can ease everyone into a better family portrait…it’s also plain out fun!

Don’t just have everyone standing shoulder to shoulder. Have the smaller family groups/couples touching/leaning into one another. Parents can hold kids if needed or sit some kids, (and some adults), on the arms of the chair around the Grandparents. Utilize the floor in front of the chair for some children. The goal is to make everyone fit, and look a part of the family…one that loves each other!

Equipment

Besides just a camera

  • Self timer functioning camera
  • Tri-pod or books to sit camera up right
  • Fast feet and a clear path

You need about 10 seconds to get yourself into place. Oh yeah, you should have your spot chosen beforehand. Set the focus, and then hit the button for it to begin its countdown to shoot. Get in place and have everyone smile/look at the camera.

 

Stress

Don’t expect a perfect photo!

  • Don’t pressure everyone for the perfect photo
  • Just get everyone included in the portrait
  • Not everyone will have the best smile, look, or even be paying attention
  • Capture the moment and memories, not the perfect picture
  • Most of all…

Have a Merry Christmas with your family!