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January 27, 2011

Newborn Photography| My Tips and Tricks |Show Low, Arizona Newborn Photography

I am at a loss for words that ya'all requested newborn photography tips... I'm honored, but yet I feel so unqualified since I feel I have so much to learn myself. But I will gladly share what I do... what I have learned from others... and some links for some inspiration.

 It's amazing the amount of equipment and props that get lugged around for a newborn photo session! It completely fills my mini van... seriously! And that's not taking softboxes and backdrop stands, etc.

One of the most essential items I use is a vinyl bean bag chair. If you had the budget I'd recommend a Shoot Baby or similar product. But for starters, it seems to work just fine.

Next, you are going to want lots and lots and lots of blankets. When buying blankets look for three things: texture, color, and size. You are going to want several large blankets that will cover your entire beanbag and be able to use the fabric behind the beanbag to stretch up high and wide. You can use masking tape to secure it to a wall or you can use a backdrop stand and clamps to stretch this fabric or an assistant if you're lucky. You are going to want several smaller blankets for swaddling and for stuffing around baby to get the perfect pose. When looking at colors remember that a baby's skin reflects color very easily, and unless you know how to correct this with post processing, I would stay away from bright colors and stick with the more neutral colors. If you shoot natural light only, have a good supply of white and light colored blankets, they are great for reflecting available light which helps avoid harsh shadows. Naked babies have been known to make a mess of a blanket so keep a good, clean supply always available.

When looking for other props, consider the stability of the product and the size. Have a good assortment of items. Baskets, luggage, antique soda crates, doll cradles... etc.

To make the most out of available light, use a prime lens. A 35 1.8 if you're on a tight budget... an 85mm 1.4 if your not (those are Nikon sizes... I'm not sure about Canon). An all around great portrait lens is the 50 1.4. This makes a world of difference. It really does.

Another way to make the most of available light is to shoot in RAW format. This will allow you to fix highlights and shadows in ways that JPEG just can't.

I like to start the session with an almost naked, freshly feed baby. I have the room extremely warm. I warm my beanbag with an electric heating pad underneath the blankets. I have a sound machine with White Noise and Heartbeat... either one, I have found, works. Crank it up loud. Trust me. Lay the baby on the bean bag and let them chill. Most will fall asleep under the magic spell of heat and noise. Some need a pacifier for a couple minutes but I try not to because it can leave red marks around their mouth that I have to fix later in Photoshop. Snap a picture of them. Whatever position they fell asleep in, just get it. Then proceed with the poses you want. If they are asleep on their back on the beanbag, lean them forward, supporting their chin with one had and the back of the head with the other, and slowly curl them forward. If they are new enough, they don't have any complaints about this. Some babies can hold that chin in hands pose without support, others need it and you have to do some photoshop magic afterwards. Make sure the light is washing over the baby,  sometimes I find it helpful to hold a white blanket on my lap while I shoot... It seems like just enough reflection to fill in some shadowing on the face. With each pose change, take your time. Be patient. I have found that putting one hand on their head and another on their bum or holding their legs crossed in position really helps quiet them and keep them in the pose I want. If the baby is fast asleep and comfortable, try simple changes like adding a headband or hat. Be sure to change your angle frequently and get those macro shots of feet, hands, ears, etc while they are so peaceful. I often find myself laying on the floor to get the shot... or climbing a step stool to get above. When baby just won't sleep, that is a great time to include mom and dad. If they aren't prepared to be in the picture, drape them in a black blanket and just capture their hands supporting their baby. Or completely cover the dad or another assistant from shoulders to toes and have him cradle the baby with his arms beneath the blanket. Whatever you do, don't stress out about getting every prop used and every pose imaginable. Go with the flow. Adjust to the baby. Relax. Babies sense fear... and they can also smell mom's milk if she is near... so if a first time mom seems nervous, send her out of the room completely. Otherwise, make sure the mom is several feet away at least.

When shooting, you'll want to spot meter off the face. And you'll want your focus point to be the eyes. I like to shoot in manual mode when doing newborns, but shooting aperture priority mode seems effective as well.

The internet is full of resources and I find that most photographers are willing to share their tricks and tips.
If you do something differently, I would LOVE for you to leave a comment below and share what works for you. I am so thankful for this community of photographers. You are all so incredibly talented and such an inspiration to me!

Search for videos of behind the scenes Newborn Photography for great tips on posing, lighting, and more!! 

                                                                         THANK YOU

Hawkins Wedding | Tucson, Arizona Wedding Photography

While it was snowing up in Show Low, it was a beautiful day for an outdoor wedding at the Reflections of the Butte in Tucson, Arizona.

Ryan and Krystal-December 23, 2010

January 20, 2011


I'm having a special!! If you are still looking for an affordable and yet incredible Valentine's gift... look no further. Create a memory that will last a lifetime with photographs that will be treasured and cherished forever. 

Only $50 if you act soon!

January 10, 2011

How to make a custom Photoshop brush

I know that many of you already know how to do this... but for those who don't, I'm going to show you just how simple it is to make a "brush" in Photoshop that will make adding a watermark to your photos super easy.

 First, you should know that you can make a "brush" out of any graphic or text. I scanned this piece of scrapbook paper into my computer at 1200dpi... and then I cropped it so it's mostly the graphic I want...  

and I saved it :) 

Then in Photoshop, go to NEW.. for size, I used landscape 4X6 at 300, white...

this is the most important step... You can't just open an image and define a brush.. it has to be on a layer :) 
I don't know why... I just know it does (otherwise the only option is define Pattern... which is wicked cool if you have a ton of scrapbook paper you want to scan and make into patterns... I feel another tutorial coming)

So then hit the new layer button... or Layer>New>Layer... or Shift+Ctrl+N

and then File>Place    
select the pic you want to turn into a brush... and stretch over the background. Click the chain link to keep your proportions correct

Using the Magnetic Lasso Tool... select the graphic.... and then hit Ctrl+J and deselect.
This puts your graphic in a layer all it's own. 
Click the eyeball of the middle layer to make it disappear

To clean it up, Add a layer mask... in the layers pallet it is the square with the circle in it... 
Use a black brush at 100% to "paint" all the icky stuff off so you have a nice clean image. 

Then Flatten the Layers 
Under Edit, you will find Define Brush Preset... 

And tada! You have a brush... 

And that's the basics of making a brush!

Now you can use your brush and some text to make yourself a watermark!

Brushes are so much fun! You can change the color, size and opacity!!!! 

To make a watermark brush:

New> Photo> 4X6, 300, white... just like before :) 

Add a New Layer
and find the brush you want to use... There are TONS of free brushes out there, or you can use the brush you just created... 
 Add some text... it really doesn't matter what color everything is since it saves brushes in shades of grey

This time you don't have to flatten :) Simply go to Edit>Define Brush Preset

And you have a WATERMARK brush that is all your own!!!
(and you didn't even break a sweat)

Too fun!!!

Pat yourself on the back... You are one freaking awesome designer :) 


January 4, 2011

How to add a custom landing page to your Facebook Page

Adding a custom and professional looking landing page for your Facebook page is SO EASY and yet I see so many pages without one.

First things first... You need to make the graphic for the page. In Photoshop, create a new document that is 520px wide and as long as you feel necessary. Set your resolution at 300px and I like to start with a transparent layer (not that you have to). 

Then I build my design with various digital scrapbooking elements, fonts, pictures, storyboards... whatever you want to convey to people who have never seen your page before. Wow them. There are tons of freebie stuff out there... simply google "Free Digital Scrapbook" and you have hundreds of options. 

This is my final design that I want to be a landing "Welcome" tab for a Photography page...

Cute, huh?

Save As a PSD so you can change things later if you want and then SAVE for WEB & Devices...

Then go to (log in if you have one... create an account if you don't... it's FREE) You can even log in with Facebook :) 

Upload the jpg you saved for web and devices....

You are going to want the copy the HTML code. So under the Share this photo click on that option and it will turn yellow and say "copied".

Now on to Facebook... 

In the search box you can type Static FBML and it will take you to their page. Like the page and then click Add to my Page which is under their profile picture. It should either come up with your page.. or it will say application... it's done both to me. I don't know why.

Editing the FBML Tab

Now that you have added the application, Go to your page. In the ‘Edit Page’ menu you will see an ‘FBML – FBML’ entry. Click ‘Edit’ for this entry and then add the Title which will appear on the Tab.
In the content field you can paste the code you copied from Photobucket.
Click ‘Save Changes’ when you are finished.

To make your new tab the default landing for people who have never seen your page before...

Go to your page and click on Edit page again... this time go to Manage Permissions and you'll see the drop down for Default Landing Tab, simply put this on your new tab! and you're done!

Let me know if you have troubles... I couldn't give you accurate screenshots since I already use the application... so I didn't, it would only confuse you more I think. 

I can't wait to see what you come up with!! Please send me a link if you do this!

January 2, 2011

Drum Roll Please.......

And the winner is....
Comment #2!! Which is Leah Cox!!
Please send me an e-mail to and I will get that shipped to you!! ENJOY!

Thank you ALL for your support! It has been an amazing year and there are great things to come!
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