Lately, I’ve been working on defining my brand and figuring out what I’m best at. I’ve been devouring business blogs and attending free webinars like nobody’s business. I’m kind of obsessed. One of the things that I’ve come to understand is that some of my most favorite images are of families having fun. Not the posed, happy, smiling shots, but the messy, meaningful chaos that happens when you finally let go.

Capturing the Crazy - A Fun, Outdoor Family Session

During this fun outdoor family session, mom mentioned that the boys love to wrestle. A lot of clients would have balked at the suggestion to have them roll around in the grass. “They’ll get dirty!” “Someone will get hurt.” Luckily, I work with families who are real and embrace the chaos. They WANT to capture the messiness that results in genuine laughter and smiles. Here’s a perfect example.

Capturing the Crazy - A Fun, Outdoor Family SessionCapturing the Crazy - A Fun, Outdoor Family SessionCapturing the Crazy - A Fun, Outdoor Family Session

Imagine the stories these images will conjure up when they are looked at years from now. That’s the best part about photography. You are transported back to a time that hopefully makes you smile. My job is to make those memories mesh with your family’s story.

What do your children do that you’d want to capture on film forever?

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It’s really very simple, but there’s one tip that could help you get the most out of your prints.

Frustrated with how your prints look from a consumer lab? Here

 

 

Often times, clients will take their digital images and make prints at a consumer lab like Target, Walmart, Costco or Shutterfly. If you were to print the same image at all of these places, you would get very different results. Why? Some things you have no control over – the paper they use, the type of printer – but, there is one thing you can change that will help you get the best prints possible.

Consumer print labs will take your image and ‘enhance’ it by adjusting the exposure, contrast, and saturation. They will try to correct skin tones and sharpen your image without even asking. You don’t have to stand for this!

The next time you are having prints made at a consumer lab, look for an option that asks to ‘auto-enhance’ or ‘auto-correct’ your images. UNCHECK THAT OPTION!! Shutterfly calls this option Vivid Pics. Do not choose this option.

If you are printing images from a professional photographer, they’ve spent hours editing your images to fine tune exposure, color, and contrast. Allowing a consumer lab to add to these edits will alter your image and you’ll end up sad and annoyed.

Now that you know the secret, your prints will thank you.

 

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Looking for a family photographer in NJ? I

Perfect is boring. I don’t do perfect. I want to photograph families who are unique, and fun, and full of life. I don’t want perfectly behaved children dressed in perfectly matching outfits. I like the mess. I like the chaos. That’s real life after all.

So don’t hire me if you’re going to yell at your children for acting silly or get angry when they roll around in the grass. If those things happen, it means we’re having fun and that’s my goal for every session.

Yes, I want you to look nice, but it’s ok if your shirt gets untucked or you didn’t have time to find new shoes. I’ll tell you how to pose and put you in position, but I don’t mind if your children aren’t looking at the camera. It’s ok if they get bored or complain. I’d much rather you be relaxed and enjoy this special time with your family. If the kids are doing something they shouldn’t be, let them off the hook just this once. I’ll tell you if we need to reign them in.

The idea that family portraits need to be perfect is so old school. Families are loud and messy and that should be celebrated. When I get an email from someone and they describe their child as energetic I know they’re worried. They’re wondering how I’ll get any good shots if their kid won’t sit still. This is my point. They don’t have to. Just let them be who they are and the images will be beautiful. Why? Because they are authentic. They are real. They are perfectly imperfect.

What is Back Button Focus? NJ Family Photographer - Stacy Mae PhotographyGesualdo_7741WEBMcQueen_4081WEBmom and little boy snuggling

 

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Why I decided to become a photographer. www.stacymaephotographer.com

It started as a hobby. When I was a kid, I would set up my dolls and snap pictures of them using a bed sheet as a background and a pile of books as a prop. I loved the Kodak disposable cameras and would take selfies in my room as a teenager. I collected books and devoured magazines just to look at the pretty pictures.

When I became a mom, my hobby turned into an obsession. I felt this insatiable need to capture every single moment of my daughter’s day. If you were to go through all of the photo albums in my house you’d see the results of my obsession. It was around the time my second daughter was born that I felt a desire to capture those everyday moments just a little bit better. I spent my days reading photography blogs and practicing with my DSLR.

The more pictures I took, the better I got. And people started to notice. I was asked by family and friends to take pictures of their children. And then I got my very first paying client. It felt so good! That paying client eventually turned into a thriving business and something very interesting happened. I stopped taking pictures.

As my business grew, I stopped taking pictures of my own kids. I would pull out my fancy camera for special occasions only. The first day of school, a birthday, a dance recital, school performances. But I stopped recording the every day stuff. Saturday mornings when my girls would climb into our bed.  The times we were together doing ordinary things – getting ice cream, taking a walk, going on a bike ride. It felt like a burden to bring my camera everywhere. I had client galleries to edit. I didn’t have time to work on pictures of my own kids.

It was my cell phone that actually helped me rediscover why I first picked up my camera. Because it’s with me all the time, I’m using it to capture the every day moments again. Dinner dates and playing with the dog. Going to the movies with friends or playing at the park. All of the things that I want to remember, but don’t want to lug around my fancy camera for. You see, it doesn’t matter which camera you use, as long as you use it.

I pick up my camera to capture life as it happens, but I also know when to put it down. I don’t always want to experience things through a lens. I want to be there and be present. And see things with my own eyes.

Yesterday, my youngest daughter rode her bike while my husband and I walked the dog. I took out my cell phone and snapped a quick picture of her because she had on mismatched clothes and cowboy boots. It was so her. Crazy curls peeking out from under her helmet and the hole in her smile after losing another tooth. After that, I stuck my phone back in my pocket and enjoyed the summer sun.

I pick up my camera to collect moments and store them away for a time when my memory fails me. Why do you pick up your camera?

 

 

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August will be here shortly and once it arrives, the back to school countdown begins. I’m sure you’re already noticing the flood of back-to-school sales in your inbox. It’ll be here before we know it so I wanted to share some photo tips for capturing that first day of school.

Have everything ready! Your kids will carefully choose the perfect outfit for the first day back-to-school and you need to do a little prep work too. Have your camera battery charged and an empty memory card ready to go. It’s also a good idea to know ahead of time the photos you want to capture. Don’t just wing it that morning because there will be too much going on.

Don’t forget the details. New shoes. New clothes. New backpacks. The pencil case they picked out themselves. Their lunch bag. What’s inside their lunch bag. All the fun stuff that comes along with the first day of school. If you’re allowed in the classroom with your child, take a quick snap of their desk too.

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Don’t stop shooting. If your child walks to school, stay a few steps behind and snap some pictures. If they ride the bus, grab a shot of them piling on. Maybe even their cute little face in the school bus window.

Back to School Photo TipsBack to School Photo Tips

Start a tradition. Choose something to do the same way every year so that you can document the big changes that happen over the course of a school year. We always took a picture on the same set of steps in the front of my house (until we moved!). You could do the same. Or, make a sign for the kids to hold that says the year and the grade they are entering. Learn from my mistakes though and do a quick background check before snapping the pictures. Those bikes should not be there!

Back to School Photo Tips - www.stacymaephotography.com

The idea is to take pictures that tell a story from beginning to end. Kids love to look back at pictures and remember certain things about their childhood. While writing this blog post, my 8 year old was looking over my shoulder and said, “I remember that backpack!” And don’t worry if you don’t have a fancy DSLR to take pictures. Your cell phone will be fine. Just remember to print the pictures once you’ve taken them!

 

 

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