Friday, October 28, 2011

Fridays

 Copyright 2003 Monica L. Shulman  A flea market in Barcelona.  January 2003.  I'm kicking myself for  not picking up one of these puppies back then.  Shot with Kodak Tri-X Pan Black & White Print Film ISO 400

Not that I don't normally do this but I am definitely welcoming this weekend with open arms.  Talk about a productive week.  There are a few exciting things on the horizon.  For starters, this week I got confirmation that my business cards will be in the celebrity swag bags for both the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards next year.  I'm still pinching myself!  And, as if that weren't fabulous and crazy enough, I also confirmed the location and date for a show here in New York City in December with a reception in January...you are all invited!

I also got a new(ish) scanner this week and so I'm inspired to start scanning some of my old film work.  I've spent the last few days going through my archives and I'm really excited to share some of the photos here.  And...AND...I'm going to dust off my old Nikon and start shooting film again.  I know we still have a way to go before it's time to start making new year's resolutions so instead I've been looking back and thinking about all of the things I've learned in 2011...one of the simplest lessons I've come to terms with is that sometimes you just have to get back to basics.  So, that's exactly what I think I will do.

All in all an amazing week that will require some major celebrating.  We're heading out of the city for a few days of peace and quiet in East Hampton.  And you?

In the meantime, here are some great links from around the web to get your weekend started right...

Halloween photography tips...boo!

The PDN Photoplus Expo is going on in New York right now...are you going?

A playground for grown-ups!

Focus, people.

Blog how you want to live.  Amen!

Busy being lazy.

Apparently spending more than five minutes in one spot to take a photo can land you in jail in Washington, D.C.  What the what?

Did you catch my simple tutorial on taking better photos of your kids? 

Alison Turner

The new mural at Bowery and Houston.  

Sharon Montrose has new prints in her shop and ohemgee are they fantastic!  Lucia has four of her prints in her nursery and she loves them! 

Get photos to your iPad straight from your camera!

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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Tips for Taking Photos of Kids

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I got so much great feedback about this post that I knew I just had to do a follow-up. Time flies because I first shared my tips for photographing babies when my girl was 10 months old! She is now a whopping 16 months young and she is a full-fledged big girl.  To me she will forever be my baby and I'm in no rush for her to grow up but it's amazing how fast time flies and this is scary and exciting (but mostly scary) at the same time.

If you have kids and you're like me then you probably feel like you want to record every single moment. I never want to forget how much Lucia loves her little plastic animals, the face she makes when she's focusing on something, her confident run even though she just learned how to walk and the countless other things that make up her enormous personality. So I try to record it all with my camera and along the way I noticed a few things that make all the photo-taking fun for her and for me and importantly for everyone, simple.

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So here are some tips for taking better photos of toddlers and big kids...

1.  Use your stories to get great photos

If you are a parent and someone asked you what you do all day with your child I'm sure you'd have a long list of the various activities that you create to entertain him or her.  I'm adding "professional fun-times creator and inventor" to my growing list of titles!  We have a lot of playtime and down time around here.

We can spend an entire afternoon talking to our animal friends, figuring out puzzles, reading books, running back and forth in the living room, doing the laundry (and by doing the laundry I mean knocking down the bag of clothes in her room that needs to be washed, taking everything out, putting everything back in, hiding our toys under big piles)...the list is endless.  Lucia is fascinated by the simple act of taking whatever random things she can find from her magnets to her spoons and hiding them and finding them all over our apartment.  I've also started showing her crayons and how to scribble with the different colors and she's really into it and we've been playing with stamps and stickers too.  These are the quiet (or not so quiet!), every day moments that are the stories of your life!   Get your camera and photograph them.

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Playing with our friends.

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Running for running's sake.

Copyright Monica L. Shulman
We love apple juice.

2.  Give direction

If you have a big kid or a toddler who is good at listening then you can try to set up a shot that you want to get.  Lucia is a great listener when she feels like it but most days lately she looks right at me and gives me a coy smile when she knows she is about to do something that I prefer she wouldn't.

This can also mean indirect direction.  huh?  For example with a baby or toddler you can set up some toys in front of a window so that you have access to the great light or you can give her a new toy to play with and see what happens.  You can also hand your baby a favorite toy and record her reaction when she sees it.

Along the same lines, you can distract a kid or try to entertain them so you can get your shot.  How many times have I belted out a fun rendition of Old MacDonald or Twinkle, Twinkle  or YMCA or Rolling in the Deep because I knew it would make her laugh or dance? 

3.  Don't give direction

Just let your kid be a kid and marvelous things happen.  I have lost count of the number of times I have caught myself just staring at my baby in amazement.  It's like I'm momentarily lost in my own thoughts of sheer amazement.  It is fascinating to me that she talks to her animals and tries to make their noises to imitate her dad and me, or that she flips through her books and reads to herself and then figures out that the book is actually upside down but who cares we're having fun!

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I love so many things about this picture.  The way she lined up her toys, that her back is to me but she still knows I'm there, the dimples in her tiny hand.  I want to cry just thinking about it because this is every afternoon and one unique moment all at the same time. To anyone else looking at it it might be just a "nice moment" but to me, her mom, it's everything about our life.

I've definitely snuck up on her and taken photos of her doing all of these little things when she least expected it.

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Copyright Monica L. Shulman

4.  Fix (and learn) your camera settings

So you have this fancy camera and you're shooting on auto all the time.  Yes kids move quickly so sometimes auto is best, but if you take the time to learn about such things as speed and exposure, you can really take your photos to the next level and spend more time thinking about how to take photos that are unique and that really capture moments rather than just mindlessly hitting the shutter and hoping for the best.  Often times, when you don't think about all of the elements that go into preparing to take photos, you can end up frustrated that the shots are either blurry or blown out, or too yellow or not yellow enough or just not right.

Perfectly imperfect is the best way that I can describe my life with my family and it's something that I want to achieve in a lot of the photos that I take.  Perfection is not something that you can measure or even define since it means different things to different people.  And, you don't have to obsess about your settings but nowadays there are a million resources out there that can help you to learn how best to use your camera (your manual is your friend) and experts who can teach you the basics about settings.  Ultimately, this will help you to become a better photographer.  Some great places to start are digital photography school, clickin moms and pixiq.

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A bit blurry but this photo shows my daughter how she is...playing to her tune and having fun no matter who is watching.

Precisely because things move so quickly with kid photography is why you have to learn your camera and be on your toes (um, like being a parent!)  I know what it's like to put the camera down and chase after a baby - I spend the majority of my day running after her and sometimes I have the camera and sometimes I just can't.  Remember to be safe and obviously not put yourself in a situation that you can't immediately get to your baby.

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5.  Think, observe and see

One of my favorite child photographers, Rachel Devine, who incidentally has a new e-book out on this very topic, has said this before and I'm borrowing it from her.  I'm paraphrasing but basically the conventional wisdom in digital photography seems to be to go out and shoot as much as you want because hey it's free and why not keep shooting so you don't miss anything.  Well, while it might not cost you cash to do this, it does cost you time.

Basically, you could miss out on countless other moments by obsessing with just one.  At the same time, you could miss out on learning what it is that makes a truly great photo.  I have totally been guilty of this and like Rachel says, while my camera might not have been on automode, my creativity was.  Do you really need 20 photos of your babe doing the exact same thing?  And then how do you even choose which photo to keep when they all look the same except for a small difference that only you can see?  Think of all that time spent on your computer that you can spend doing something else.  Wow.  Now that I think of it I've done this so many times and in fact, it was my mantra, at least when it comes to photographing kids and families, to just shoot and shoot and think later.  I know now that it's a big mistake but it's a lesson that I've had to learn the hard way.

If you're too busy shooting away at one little thing in particular, you will miss out on so many other moments because you didn't take the time to really observe.  You know your child best and I'm sure you've gotten lost staring at them, like me, so every once in a while, take your camera and capture that moment and along the way, take the time to think of other ideas for capturing your kids.  In photography, like in life, it's important to think before you speak, or in this case, shoot.


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This was meant to be.  We were at the park, she was running and wearing this little striped dress against this striped background.   I saw it in black and white right away.

Copyright Monica L. Shulman She looks so grown-up here.  I always wonder what she must be thinking about when she looks at me and she seems so serious and deep in thought.

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Apparently Mommy's lens cap also lives in barn.

 Do you have any tips for taking pictures of kids?

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Silliness in the afternoon light.

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Seriously, what is it about Elmo?  We're getting a new table for our television and we're bolting it to the wall because the fascination with the tv, even when it's off which is more often than not, is too much for my blood pressure and nerves when she gets so close to it.


Copyright Monica L. Shulman

Copyright Monica L. Shulman

Copyright Monica L. Shulman

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

When the lights go down in the city

Copyright Monica L. Shulman

Recently I went for a walk on the High Line at dusk. Everyone always talks about how pretty and serene the park is, and it is. I would liken it to an urban oasis and it rises above the dark(ish) and very loud streets of the Meatpacking District and Chelsea and a bit further north on the west side of Manhattan. But the last time I was there, when the sun was about to go down, it was lovelier than usual.


Copyright Monica L. Shulman

I didn't focus too much (or really, at all) on the beautiful greenery and wild-looking plants and trees that grow in the park itself. Instead I found myself looking up (or out, as it were) at the lines and shapes of the skyline. The face of our city is always changing and it's so apparent when you walk on this elevated park. Obviously it's a different angle but it's not just that.

The colors, the shapes, the shadows - it looks so...magical.  Plus from up top you really see the old mixed with the new and it's inspiring to think of how far we've come but also remembering where we first started. I love thinking about this in the context of the High Line because really, it was one of the very last places in Manhattan that was untouched for a very long time. This amazing place was left abandoned for years - it was beautiful and ironic that in a city like New York this was even possible (you can see photos of the High Line pre, during and post-development here). It seems like every corner of New York is somehow groomed or polished, and this is truer than ever today in the age of non-stop construction and starchitects changing the face of our town; but, the High Line was overlooked forever.  It was only a couple of years ago that it was open to the public and I love that finished/unfinished look that it has. Anyway, everything is so rich at dusk and the city looks like it is about to wind down but really it's the calm before the never-ending storm that is New York.

I love it.

Copyright Monica L. Shulman
Copyright Monica L. Shulman
Copyright Monica L. Shulman
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Copyright Monica L. Shulman
Copyright Monica L. Shulman
Copyright Monica L. Shulman From way above the High Line at the Standard.

Copyright Monica L. Shulman
Copyright Monica L. Shulman
Copyright Monica L. Shulman
Copyright Monica L. Shulman Underneath the High Line. Copyright Monica L. Shulman Underneath the High Line. Copyright Monica L. Shulman
Copyright Monica L. Shulman

Copyright Monica L. Shulman
Copyright Monica L. Shulman
Copyright Monica L. Shulman
By the way, have you checked out my new website?
Also, remember I was in the running to be one of the top 25 photographer mom bloggers on Circle of Moms? Well, I'm number 8! Check it out, if you please.
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Monday, October 24, 2011

Instagram Weekend

Copyright Monica L. Shulman Tribeca light. 

My girl was a bit under the weather at the end of the week but she bounced back by the end of the weekend. This little girl is as strong as can be...and as you can see, fiercely independent. So the weekend was mellow and it turned out to be pretty perfect.

And you?

Here's a glimpse at my weekend via Instagram.

Copyright Monica L. Shulman  
Fall is here.

  Copyright Monica L. Shulman Old New York. Tribeca.

Copyright Monica L. Shulman Light flares in Tribeca.

Copyright Monica L. Shulman Magic light.

Copyright Monica L. Shulman  
She was feeling better so I put her to work. Kidding! But seriously, I'm not quite sure what her fascination is with the Swiffer.

Copyright Monica L. Shulman Chasing birds in the park. Being happy.

Copyright Monica L. Shulman Purple broccoli at the Farmer's Market.

Copyright Monica L. Shulman Showing off her new coat...and looking very proud.

  Copyright Monica L. Shulman  
And just for fun, since it's been a while, a photo of me from early last week with my brand new haircut.

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