Check out this awesome post from my talented friend, and SOTD Contributor, Jamie, showing some tips to photograph your best this holiday season!
For our holiday cards last year, I wanted to feature the newest member of our family – and my favorite model – our puppy, Pippa. I usually take most of my photos outdoors, but the weather was chilly and most of the scenic areas by my home were full of dead grass and naked trees. I decided to try an indoor photo shoot, but I didn’t want to use my home as the backdrop. I was looking for a more festive look, so I set up a “faux studio”. Here are some must-haves for creating your own successful photo shoot:
Lighting – I don’t like using a flash indoors if I can avoid it. Take advantage of natural light if you can. Pick the brightest spot in your home for your “studio”. Make sure to turn on any light fixtures and overhead lighting in the room. I also used a construction spotlight (we already owned one from our numerous painting projects) and clipped it to the back of a dining chair. Make sure that wherever you will be standing that you are not creating a shadow over your shooting area.
Backdrop – The perfect affordable backdrop? Wrapping paper! I choose a bright green and red polka dot because I thought the colors would really pop in contrast to my black and white pup. Use the paper to cover an area of wall and floor and secure with painters tape. Think about the size of your subject and evaluate how much backdrop you will need. Also keep in mind that if you are photographing a small child or pet they most likely will not sit still in the middle of your “set”. I used an entire roll of paper, which I tiled, into 4 pieces – 2 side by side on the wall, and 2 side by side on the floor. Tip: try to match the pattern just like you are wallpapering – it will save you later from trying to retouch it to look like one continuous backdrop. I also bought an extra roll of paper just in case – if you don’t need it, use it to wrap presents.
Photo Assistant – I cannot stress the importance of having a helper! My job was to capture the moment, and I needed my hubby to “wrangle” the dog, keep her attention, and keep her on the backdrop. Don’t worry, he’s not hurting her here, only repositioning!
Props – If you choose to use a prop think safety first! A baby or puppy will put everything in their mouth so something fragile or glitter covered is probably not the best idea. I choose to use a red ribbon for Pippa to interact with.
Bribes – Pippa LOVES chicken. My very smart assistant took a piece of chicken and tied it in a knot in the ribbon. Perfect idea to get her even more interested in the ribbon! Have treats, a favorite toy, and something that makes funny noises on hand.
Settings – I used a Digital SLR camera and while I love photography, I’m not so great at the technical aspects. I highly recommend checking out the Kevin & Amanda blog for some awesome photography tutorials. Enjoy Amanda’s amazing photos of her two Boston Terriers while you’re there!
Quantity – If your subject is wiggly, the more shots the merrier! Just keep moving and click click click! Change your position for a variety of angles – move to the right and left, stand on a stool or chair so you are looking down on your subject, and even get down on your knees or stomach. Try to keep your subject on the backdrop and in the frame, but keep in mind you can always crop later. Even if some of your photos aren’t keepers, you’ll enjoy looking at the funny outtakes.
Layout – Can’t pick just one shot or want to show a series of movement? Try a triptych (“three fold”) layout for your photos. I pulled the color inspiration for the card from my backdrop, and of course Pippa. Clever copy that reflects the mood of the photos completes the card.