Loretta McKenzie's Photography blog

Loretta McKenzie's Photography blog

Tips for inside photography Part 1. (look for Part II in a day or so)

Cold weather is finally here, if you have small spaces to photograph your children inside like I do,  there is hope!  I use the highest aperture possible (to blur the background) and natural lighting if I can, but don't be afraid to bring out the flash.  I much prefer a flash bouncing off the ceiling or behind my shoulder.  I always like to remove as much clutter as I can to keep the background clean.  Don't be afraid to shoot close up.

Here are some ideas!

When they get bored show what they like to do!


 Children love baking cookies, and you get that cool reflection in the oven!


Looking out the window wishing it wasn't so cold gives an insight  into their magical personality.


Playing the piano, or banging on the keys.  A keyboard, play guitar, any instrument play or real would do!


When they get out show them exercising with friends!


Our kids love taking photos of us with their iphones, play taking photos of each other!


Show them inside their play area!



Reading on a recliner on YOUR Ipad <3


School or church events!


Showing off their craft they did with you today!


What excitement they see at a museum!  That look of wonder...


With one of your favorite collectibles, your child will cherish the photo always!


In bed holding a favorite toy!


Dressed in their favorite PJ's and accessories!



Tips for photos at the pumpkin patch!

We have always taken our daughter to the pumpkin patch, and I have gotten sweet pictures and memories each year.  Now she is in school, and during the school trip she will definitely be more interested in running with her friends and not interested in photos.  So, we took  her yesterday just my husband and I.  Fun for her. and some photos for me.   I highly recommend going as a family, and not with a large group if you want  photos.  We had to go before soccer practice, and the light was harsh.  First, she wore what she wanted, not a cute Halloween smocked and embroidered dress I would have picked.  When they get older let them pick their own clothes for an event like the pumpkin patch.   Keep the cute embroidered and smocked outfits for when you have a chance of winning.  

I saw a cute spot. The sun was harsh, I planned for a black and white photo.  I knew I would come back to the area when the light was better on our way out.  


Next she played and had fun.  That's what is about, right?



She played in the cornfield, the sun was behind me and harsh, however, what a precious memory I would have missed if I didn't take this photo.

Next, the hayride and the pick your pumpkin time.  Look at the precious love and excitement she has for picking her own pumpkin!  I used some photoshop tricks, as well as tricks working with natural light.  I wouldn't miss this photo for anything..  Look for emotion and capture it!


Now the light was a little better, so I looked for small places I knew would work.  I played with her and would run through  the corn mazer,  then we would  take a picture for a memory and Mommy. There were a few bails of hay and I asked her to sit where the light would compliment the photo.


I saw a barn and it was perfect for a picture.  I could tell she was too interested in playing to go to the barn.  Then I saw the goats there.  So we had a visit with the goats, before we went to the barn for a photo.


We walked to the other side of the barn and let her pose her wayl

She took a photo for me by the pumpkins   The setup wasn't going to work well with a standard size print.  That's okay, there are places that will print, and frame a custom size photo should you choose.

Again, I saw a cute spot, however, it would need her to stand in an exact spot to cooperate with the sun.  I just explained it to her, and voila.

We had a snack, made sure we were full and happy, then I took a few photos on the way out, that were in good light.


So, A quick summary.  Let them choose their clothes.  The pumpkin patch is for the kids.  Go in a smaller group if possible, so it's easier to get a child's attention towards the camera.  Get the emotion!  When you see a nice place for light, do your best to use it!   When light is not cooperating, work with it  your best and take the photo!. Explain the lighting issues to your child.  They understand more than we know.  These memories are precious and pumpkin patches are open only certain times a year.

Tips on taking youth soccer photos!

I want to add some soccer photos from the game on 9/26/2015.  If your child is in these photos I hope you enjoy and pass the word to other parents so they can see their child playing soccer!  Soccer is a great sport for young kids as it promotes team cooperation, social skills, teaches them rules and how to play.  Photography tips I have figured out will be included to help inspire and help you to photograph your child playing soccer!  Comments and suggestions are welcome!


The U6 Turquoise team before the game in Bryantown Md!  

The next several images are of the kids playing the game.   These images were captured with a F 70-200 2.8 lens with a higher shutter speed and aperture than I normally use.  This way it is easier to capture action shots and I can be far away from the game and not noticed.  I highly recommend a telephoto lens.  Enjoy experimenting with higher aperture and shutter speed.  


There is only one soccer ball in the game, so follow it! Get the action!


I like getting the kids playing and very few edits, so it shows the spirit and exactly how the game went.  Parents can feel like they are right there.


It's great to get faces when you can, but not essential.  It does help convey the emotion of the game.


Images from the side and back work great too!


Watch the background when you can, it's great to have some photos with an uncluttered background.  Those are the ones I would print.  I always say an uncluttered background means everything.


Don't forget the coaches and the mid break bench shots.  They always show emotion and interaction with the children and the coach.

I like including both teams!


Try and get full group shots, so you remember all the kids in the game.

Anticipate action and set yourself up so you can get clear photos.


Don't forget the coach looking on the game!


Don't forget the referee either.  Sometimes it's hard to get a good shot without a lot of background disruption, and you don't have time to clone or edit out distractions.  Do your best to edit so you capture the emotion anyway.


Get happy action shots for the families to enjoy!


Look for emotion with a coach and child.  It warms the heart.

Look for moments of good sportsmanship.  It teaches the children so much.


Parent with child after the game focuses on the memory, and can be amusing for the parent.


It's always fun to add the posed shot with  your child after the game with a good clean background.


Fall and Christmas mini-sessions!

Please contact me for Fall and Christmas mini-sessions.  Let's get them taken now while the weather is good.  Mini sessions are available at some great spots near my home!  If you live near me, I'll come to your house  Mini-sessions are an inexpensive way of having professional photography and editing done.  Five to six full resolution images for $100.   Refer a client and get 25% off your own mini-session!  I am happy to design and order Christmas cards for you, and consult with you on wardrobe and prob selection.  There is a free consultation in person, by phone, or email with every session!



Tips on taking beach shots and mini beach sessions!

If you are interested in scheduling a session please contact me through my website http://lorettamckenziephotography.com.   Or write me at info@lorettamckenziephotography.com


We won't be going to the ocean this summer, and we will be visiting some local beaches on the Chesapeake Bay.  The good news is there are nets so the kids won't be swimming with jellyfish, and it's a lot less expensive!  The bad news is the water isn't as gorgeous, and sand not so fluffy.  Enough of chatter, now for tips!


This photo was taken about 6:30 p.m., and you can see clouds were coming in, yet it was still blue.  Late afternoon is great, so the sun wouldn't be harsh.  Backlit photos would be ideal at sunrise and a little after.   This was good timing as Gods soft box was there, (the clouds on the sun behind me), yet there was blue sky in front of me.    Since the sun was behind me, the light was on my subject.  Not as pretty as backlighting, but very nice.  I wanted her to stand and pose for me, but being 5 she had little interest in that.  The sand and water were on her mind.   Here is one I did get of her looking at the camera.  I exposed for her face and did some photo editing to adjust and dim the sky.  I also used spot focusing and exposed on her face to make her stand out.  I used a 70-200 2.8 lens on 200 to get better depth of field.   I also angled myself so no other people were in the photo for the effect I wanted.  I did edit out the nets :)   I bent down so I could use the sand in front of me for some depth also.  I used actions from htttp://paintthemoon.com for processing.  At the end, I'll discuss the mini beach sessions I will do, so please read on!


The sky was so pretty, and  she looked so angelic, I wanted to remember that.  The sun was bright on her eyes, so I suggested she look to the side.  She didn't want to wear the hat here.   Squinty eyes are such a cute part of childhood, so I have lots of photos of those.  Again. I used the 200 on the zoom, a low aperture, and spot focused on her face.  Since she didn't want to do this for long, I was thrilled to get this photo.  Water and sand are not something she sees everyday, and her mind was not focused on me or my camera.   She needed to play :)   To follow the rule of thirds, this photo has two thirds sky, and one third water.  Again, my job was to angle the camera for background and composition.  Her eyes are in the upper third of the photo, which is what you try for.



She was playing with her Dad, and it was Father's day, nothing could be more precious!  Again as a photographer, it was my job to wiggle my camera angle to keep the background simple, and only have them in the photo.  I focused and exposed on him here, since she was in the same plain she is in focus too.   I used a low aperture so I could get some depth with the sand in the front.  I shot using 200 which meant I was at a distance, and they didn't know I was taking the photo.   The sky had to be dimmed.



Most important, she was able to be herself and I got a picture from far away and she wasn't aware of me.  She was doing what she loved, and was happy!




I will do beach mini sessions at a beach in Calvert County Maryland to be decided.   You can be happy and feel great, and I will deal with the rest.   It would be ideal for families, children, or friends that will have to part after the summer.   The price will be $100 and you'll get 5 or 6 edited high resolution digital images.   I would  like at least 4 or 5 local families to express interest then we will deal with the rest.   Please contact me on my website at http://lorettamckenziephotography.com or write me at info@lorettamckenziephotography.com.   Thank you!

Are the eyes the window to the soul?

Please contact me on my website to schedule a session.   www. lorettamckenziephotography.com


I always try to capture a close up photo of in focus clear eyes to show the subject's soul. To me, that is the kind of photo I am interested in putting on my wall.  Here are a few examples.
















On the other hand, a lot of folks value emotion, interaction, and action photographs more.  I have heard photos from the back or side make one feel like they can imagine themselves in the photo better.  They often tell a story better.

Here again, are some examples.













Please comment on my blog and tell me your thoughts.   Do you want your photographer to keep working till they get that perfect eye shot?  Are you unhappy with a session if it just doesn't happen?   Are you more thrilled with a photo that tells a story, or shows an action or interaction?  Do you expect both type of photos, and the eye close up photo is what you'll display?  Other thoughts and comments, please? I am not talking about detail photos here, that's for another blog.  Thank you for reading and this is of a lot of interest to me!



Do remember, some of the best photos of children are from the front and tell an awesome story!


Five tips to take photos of your children in the snow.

 Are you enjoying the snow?  Do you want to get great photos of your kids?  If so, keep reading.  First and foremost expose for the children.  I overexpose in the snow, so I don't get perfectly exposed snow and underexposed children.   Always always focus on their faces, never on props or the snow.


1)  Dress kids for the weather.  Make sure they are dressed so they are comfortable. Kids don't want to smile when they are too cold.  Cute outfits are great, but let them wear a coat, please.


2)   Don't worry about using difficult lighting.  Keep it simple and have fun!  


3)  Let kids be kids and you'll come up with the best photos.  Let them play and do what they do best!  Always think ahead and try to get your composition right.   Get far enough back, so you are not amputating little hands and feet.   Don't forget about the rule of thirds, ever!  It's fine to break it, try and keep it in your mind. 



4) Remember snow reflects light.  Watch out for harsh shadows and squinty eyes.   Be as brave as possible and shoot with a low aperture to get a nice soft effect.


5) Use props to help keep kids still!  They like to run and play.  Make sure you get your portrait chance!  If you are shooting in the open use a low aperture and focus on the faces, never the props.  Do your best to keep trees separated from your child.   A low aperture and keeping your child at  distance from the trees helps  Watch for the hot sun spots from the trees.






Taking photos at the playground!

Do you want to take better images at the playground?  

Hint 1:  Shoot wide open and focus on your subject's eyes.  Keep distracting objects out of focus.

Hint 2:  Let the sun be your friend.  Expose for the skin.



Hint 3:  Focus on the story you're trying to tell, crop it to rid of distracting objects.  

Hint 4:  Avoid chopping off fingers, and hands at all costs! 


More about taking pictures during bright sunshine in open shade

I wanted to give some more examples of photographing in open shade to help folks taking pictures in the summer season.  The sun always makes taking pictures a challenge, yet fun for me.  I like getting pictures with nice lighting and avoiding harsh sun or hot spots. Here are two more examples of photographing using open shade during bright sunshine. Open shade is shade that is illuminated by a reflective surface from the front.  She was sitting in the shade with the light facing her, as well as a reflective surface.  Here, that surface included rocks, wood, and mulch. I was standing with my camera in the sun.  I did not have a reflector with me. The light in front of her and behind me was enough to bounce the sunshine onto her.  So, the pretty eye catch lights and color in the photograph. The second photo was taken earlier, so the light was brighter.  The diagram is my first try with animating using photoshop.  I hope it helps!  It is how these photos were done.  An awning, umbrella, tree etc, can block the sun coming from the other way too.




My midday sun day taking pictures

I almost never photograph midday, I just prefer not to have to work with the harsh sun shadows and hot spots.  Sometimes you have to photograph outside midday.  It's your only chance, that day, to get your subject to cooperate.  A lot of activity, no naps, usually make for rough evenings. Look at the hot spots on the path around her feet, and her blown out skin on her arm. Not so nice.  It can also be your only chance to photograph someone or an event, there is no choice. Reflectors and diffusers work great to create shade. Taller people holding them over little people, and keeping those taller people out of the viewfinder, helps a lot.  I am almost always by myself, so it isn't so easy.  I use my speedlight to help and even out skin tone when I take pictures in the sun.  Today I didn't carry it around.  I also spot meter on the skin.  I found, in harsh sun, using my AE lock on skin, with spot metering helps me blow out the background and keep the subject nice.  Otherwise I get too many silhouettes.  Also, bright sun also makes things a bit too yellow for my taste, and I am always reducing yellow during post-processing.  With all that stuff said, it is so much easier to photograph right after sunrise (my favorite) or before sunset.  Sometimes, when you can, waiting for a cloudy day is the best!


I looked for a nice shady nook.  When I took the picture,  I kept my eye on the hot spots, trying to keep them out of the viewfinder as much as possible.  The trees have filled out a bit, so we found a shady spot that was narrow but pretty even.  I was in full sun taking this picture, she was not. I don't find this works well in winter or early spring. Too many leafless trees, hot spots galore. I also adjusted my white balance for shade. It is not the picture I or she wanted because we were very limited in this nook. I just wanted her skin evenly lit.


I also used myself in combination with shade to block the sunny hotspots from her skin and eyes.  


Personally, I like to use fences and textured structures that create shade and shoot close up with a very low aperture.  I love barns! To me, it is easier to keep sunny hot spots out of the viewfinder and adds some drama.  I used the sun to help light up her eyes naturally, and blocked it using myself, so it wouldn't bother her eyes so much. It wasn't easy getting her to stand in the right place.   The shade was very narrow. It is so much easier to take natural shots of her on cloudy days, early morning, or before sunset. She is happier, she can go wherever she wants. Then the natural shots are much easier.


Then wouldn't you know it, clouds came up abruptly and we got a nice picture using God's softbox, clouds!  I quickly got my camera.  It was locked in my car, we were at a festival when the clouds came out for a half hour or so.  We went to a place I knew the background wasn't distracting.  She flopped herself down with her balloon.  Now you know why I get so happy when the clouds come out and I get to take outside pictures!   Early morning doesn't last long enough.  Really, to me, that's the color I like and hot spots can be the easiest to work with.




Spring is finally here

We have been enjoying working in the garden.  I do not have a green thumb, but have been giving it a go to plant new annuals and perennials. We have been also been having fun modeling pretty clothes, and enjoyed Easter.

The next picture was taken with bright sunshine.  I had to move the scooter to the right spot so she could sit on it and be lit nicely.



Enjoying fall!

Fall started with a stop in Disney on a trip!  Taken inside Cinerella's castle and the Crystal Palace!


New Camera!

I got a Mark 5d III, so many possibilities!  The last few photos in my blog are taken with it, I'll add one more here. I am in love with the sharp sparkly eyes in this photo, I could look at it forever!



I had a blast with my nephew at his baseball game.  This kid can do everything, pitch, play catcher, bat, and outfield.  Doing this progression shot of a pitch was so much fun!


Pixie dust!

In keeping with my morning's post on the simple things.  Caroline blew pixie dust (sugar), and had a blast.  She didn't want to stop. So, blow surar back to Caroline, post here! Thought it would be fun.


The everyday things in life!

The best pics are the cute everyday things in life.  I  love this little scruncy face when she just got her hair trimmed!

Happy Mother's day weekend 2012

To all Mom's out there have a great Mother's day weekend!  It is so pretty here in Maryland this morning.  We  had some fun outsidel


The eyes have it!

We took Caroline to see the Fresh Beat Band in Virginia she had a great time. I got this photo of her eyes after the show. Close up of clear eyes that shine through to you are one of my favorites to photograph.  I love it!


Happy Easter! Photo contest!

I think it would be fun to do a cutest child photography contests!  The prize would be a free photo session and an 8x10 and 5x7 of your choice!  Contact me if there is interest and we'll get started! I hope everybody has a very great week and weekend ahead. 

We took our little girl to get her bangs trimmed, and she fell asleep while my husband was getting his haircut.  I got such a cute photo!


Rainy weekend

It rained all weekend, but I managed to get a cute picture of my little girl inside.  I thought it was really sweet the way I got her looking at the flower.  I did some editing on the background so it wouldn't be distracting.  With two year olds, it is hard to get backgrounds set up before they give you such a cute pic as this.


Getting Started

I am now retiring from my mathematical statistician position and soon will be a full time Mom and a photographer!  I live in  Waldorf Maryland  ( Southern Maryland ) about 20 miles from Washington D.C. and am very excited about photography.  Right now I am setting up my Web site and trying to get it recognized by search engines.  I know this takes some time.  I actually have some...  You see, I broke my mid-foot, and had surgery.  It has gone well so far and I want to be up and about soon!  I love taking photos.  Please look at my portfolio! I can't wait to take more pictures!  As you can see I have a favorite subject my little girl.  Getting my camera has made me want to photogragh and cherish every moment with her.  I know life goes by fast but feel great pictures are the next best thing.  I am also a doll collector and have found it very important to keep up to date photographs available for insurance purposes.  I have bought and sold on eBay and love taking photographs for listings! I am very enthusiastic about photography and hope to help make your memories into beautiful portraits!  I can be emailed at loretta@lorettamckenziephotography.com and my website is lorettamckenziephotography.com. Looking forward to having a blog!


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