Family Portraits

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My apologies (Nicola) with the delay with this amazing post from a new guest blogger of ours, Tasmin…without further a do.

“Firstly let me introduce myself as someone you will be hearing more from over the next year as I ‘adapt and survive’ to having my first child in March.  My name is Tasmin and I live with my husband of 5 years and lovely Labrador Cali in the heart of Sydney.  I currently work full time as a project manager for an engineering company, but will be taking a year off to learn to be a stay at home mum.  I have read many versions of this new career description and anticipate it with excitement and serious concern for the crazy woman I may become with no sleep…but so it goes.

In preparation for the baby (in addition to all the inevitable painting and purchasing), I am resurrecting my parents’ yearly tradition of the Christmas card family photo.  This was of course before the age of Facebook and even before most people had email.  My father would dress us up in our Christmas best (often involving ugly festive sweaters) and we would gather round the tree in late November with wooden blocks to show the year.  My mother would lovingly mail prints off to every known relative with a newsletter of our family activities for the year.  In later years, visiting some of those relatives as an adult, they would teasingly pull out a stack of these shots from a shoebox – especially those from my awkward teenage years. Remember Perms?

But it really is a way to take a snapshot of your family in time.  Combing through my grandparents shoeboxes of yellowed black and white pictures was always so interesting – to see how they lived and what they wore.  In this digital age it’s so much easier and less expensive that literally anyone can take their own quality family picture and share it instantly with an update of their lives via Facebook or email or good ol’ fashioned Christmas cards.  And because it’s so easy, I could leave this project until yesterday, the week before Christmas to take THE photo.

So although I did take this with a ‘proper’ camera, you could get something quite similar with even an iPhone since the resolution needed for a good shot on email is so much less that the kind of portrait you blow up on your wall on canvas.  Here are some tips:

  • Have someone hold the camera steady & level.  You don’t need a tripod, just prop it on a table top or on top of a pile of books/boxes/etc
  • Use the Rule of Thirds (Google it).  Here our heads, feet, hands and dog fit a “node”
  • Wear similar coloured clothing that you won’t be embarrassed about in 20 years
  • Take it outside on a cloudy day and if you use a flash put on the “red-eye” feature
  • Teach your dog to sit, and then have someone behind the camera with a treat telling them to do it – instant attention (Note: this works with children and squeaky toys as well)
  • Take LOTS of different pictures with different poses.  It’s digital and therefore basically free to take 2 or 200.  People blink, kids wriggle, certain angles just aren’t flattering.  You can look through them all and always find a good one.
  • Use a creative effect to make it look fancy – I’ve made it B&W with some vignette.  If you use Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop you can use presets or actions found for free on the internet, but for everyone else there are MANY other options.  My favourite iPhone apps are Instagram (free) which has filters and Quadcamera – Multishot which takes pictures like a photobooth with colour effects ($2.49).

The bottom line is that your babies grow up so fast and taking photos is the best way to capture those memories for yourself and for all of those other family members that can’t be with you on Christmas.

Merry Christmas


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