Welcome "Monkey-Do's", where you'll find tips from the Tree : )
For the inaugural Monkey-Do blog, I'll be helping you get the best pics possible of your little ones in the incredible Texas wildflowers, because it's that time of year. Here goes!
First thing first: location, location, location! Find a SAFE place, away from traffic. Even in the city there are plenty of places you can go that aren't the median of a major highway! This topic was being discussed on a local message board, and fellow photographer Julie Stratton brought this topic to attention. Thanks Julie!
Westcott between I-10 and Memorial drive has some great wildflower-planted medians, and it's a relatively low-traffic area. There's a baseball/softball park along I-10 in The Heights that has an expanse of Bluebonnets and a parking lot. Keep your eyes open! Parking on the side of 290 with your toddler isn't safe. Don't risk it : ) Ask your neighbors and friends to keep an eye out for the beautiful blooms!
Here's my fabulous grandma to show you how it's done, right there on Westcott:
Bring along a small chair or bench (even a blanket will work) so that your child/baby isn't sitting right on the ground. A Bumbo Seat is great for those babies who aren't quite sitting up on their own yet. You can cover it with a blanket (or a tutu! Cuuuute!) if it's an obnoxiously bright color... which most of them are. Added bonus of chair/bench: your itty bitty ones are that much further away from the ground, reducing the chances of a bluebonnet going in the mouth : )
Here's Reese in Challenger Park (I-45 at FM 528 in League City) in a cute chair I picked up for a bargain price at Marshall's:
Be aware of creepy crawlers this time of year in the fresh bluebonnet fields. Would YOU sit there with bare legs? If not, don't ask your child to do so. These hungry insects have been waiting to feast on something as sweet as your baby. Stomp around a bit to let them know you mean business!
Time of Day: The best time of day to take pictures is when the sun is lower in the sky (sunrise/morning or sunset/evening). If it's an overcast day, you can shoot all day long!
If the sun is bright and your precious little subjects are squinting, there's a simple way to get better pictures: Put the sun BEHIND your subject, and adjust your camera's settings so that the flash fires no matter what (on most cameras, look for the little lightning bolt button). If you attempt sun-behind-child and leave your camera to "automatic" settings, chances are your camera will decide there's plenty of light, and will not fire the flash. You'll need to be relatively close to your subjects with this method (no more than about five or six feet away)... but it will guarantee beautiful colors and less squinting : )
Here's Larkin to demonstrate:
If the sun is directly overhead and your subjects have shadows on their face no matter which direction you turn them... again... use your camera's flash (and stay near to them, zooming out). This will light their entire face and VOILA! Beautiful pictures.
The most important tip to remember is try to get all the bluebonnets you can into the picture. You may need to shoot down at your subjects, but try and get more ground and less horizon/sky in the picture. As an added bonus, your subjects will then be looking up at you-- you'll get wide-open eyes.
While there are no bluebonnets here, you can see what I mean in this picture with Ava, Mia, and Andrew. Notice how we can't see any sky, only grass-- because I am shooting directly down at them:
and don't forget about tilting your camera sideways to capture the image vertically!
What to wear: Remember that the bluebonnets are dark-colored. Dressing your babes in white will make for distraction in the image-- not to mention, it's very easy to overexpose or "blow out" your whites when you have darker things all around in the photo. Go for denim, blues, purples, rather than white (see Reese above in the chair-- who was dressed perfectly for outdoors). Even a good bright yellow or red will work! Choose something that looks great on your child.
If you want a lighter color, at least go for a pale pastel and not stark white. Three of my favorite southern belles, Chelsie, Lindsey and Courtney had a session in their beautiful pale blue smocked dresses. You can see how light they look compared to the darker greens of the natural setting around them:
Super-crazy pattern will distract from the natural beauty of your child and the bluebonnets, so keep it simple. For timeless/classic shots, steer clear of graphic tees and shirts with wording on them.
Feed and water your kids before going out there, and take something to sip along for the wee ones... and yourself. Best of luck, happy snapping!
Please feel free to post any questions or comments here... I'm happy to help : )
If you've found a great location for bluebonnet pics, please share the info here or on our Facebook page.