by Amy Rhodes

I love this months Blog Circle theme.  Simple.  We were given the theme for August right after our July post, so I have had plenty of time to think about what simple means to me.  I thought of taking pictures of simple objects, but that's not me.  If I am going to take pictures I want there to be a connection to the subject I am photographing.  The more I thought about it, the more I had the desire to photograph my own children.  

When my kids were babies I would set up little photo shoots with them all the time.  I would go into our spare bedroom, throw a white sheet on the bed and just practice.  I have thousands of pictures of them when they were little.  I love them.  Not only are they pictures of my favorite little people, but they show the progress of my photography.   I still take lots of pictures of my kids, but they are more lifestyle shots.  They are pictures of them doing things I want to remember.   

I decided I was going to do a simple photo shoot with my kids and I want to show you how to do one with your kids, too. When I say simple, that's exactly what it was.  I didn't use any special lighting contraptions, we didn't worry about a fancy wardrobe and I didn't drive them to a special location.  We did it in our messy family room. 


The most important element in this photo shoot was the light.  I wanted to use the beautiful morning light pouring through the windows.  When you do this in your own home look for light that isn't intense. North facing windows are usually the best.

I wanted photograph my kids around the couch.  I wanted a darker background and I loved how the chocolate leather reflected the light.  Notice how I have placed my couch?  It is angled to the light.  I did that so the light would be soft.  By placing my subject at a 45 degree angle it allows the light to create more depth with shadows and highlights.   

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One thing I want you to notice is how the couch has a brighter side and a darker side.  I wanted my kids to be in the light.  Both of the pictures below are straight out of the camera. I did nothing to enhance or edit them.  I wanted you to see how being aware of where you place your subject in regards to the light does make a difference.  You can actually see how the light has a stronger reflection on the back of the couch on the top picture than the bottom one.  You can also see how more light is reflected in my daughters eyes in the top picture.  I always try and capture light in the eye.  


That's it.  That's all I did to set up this photo shoot.  See how simple it was?   I am in love with the results.   I would love to see your results, too.  Feel free to post a link to your pictures in the comment section below.  

All of these images were taken with an 85 mm lens, ISO 640  F 1.6  1/125. 

This is what I get when I tell her I want a serious look.  Sometimes her ability to look "pouty" frightens me.

This is what I get when I tell her I want a serious look.  Sometimes her ability to look "pouty" frightens me.

Taken right after the serious shot.  Proof she has a sense of humor. 

Taken right after the serious shot.  Proof she has a sense of humor. 

My favorite. I love them so much it hurts.

My favorite. I love them so much it hurts.

Make sure you visit all of the teachers' blogs.  Next up is Elizabeth Wendland.  She is an fantastic sports photographer in the Portland, Oregon area.  Click on her wesite to see how she interprets simple.


by Amy Rhodes

Summer.  I live in Las Vegas, so sometimes "summer"  is a curse word.  It's HOT!  The kids are home from school and my job as a taxi driver morphs into cruise director.  We try to swim a few days a week, but there is only so much public pool time we can take!  I decided to focus today on what our summer looks like outside the pool. 

Summers are... 


Lazy mornings eating cereal - enjoying the peace and quite until big brother wakes up.


We spend lots of time at the library.    


And Target becomes an experience, rather than an errand.   


Bikes and scooters come out as the sun sets on the horizon. 


And freckles make their debut due to the over-abundance of sun.  


What does your summer look like?  Head on over to Beth's Wendland's blog. She is an amazing sports photographer disguised as a hazelnut farmer.  

Water - Playing With Light and Water

by Amy Rhodes

It's time for our blog circle again.  I love this months theme.  Who doesn't love water in the summer?  Today I wanted to give you 4 different ways you can play with light while you are photographing your summer vacations at the beach this year.

1.  Look for that magical light - The ocean is beautiful, but when the light shines just right its downright gorgeous!  Don't be afraid to shoot into the sunset. My son LOVES the beach and it doesn't matter one bit that this water was freezing cold.  It couldn't stop him!  I love the way the light hits his red hair and highlights it.  I also love how the water droplets are frozen.  if you want to freeze water motion, make sure your shutter speed is high.  The high shutter speed will also help with the bright sunlight.  For this picture my ISO was set to 200 because of the bright sunlight, but my shutter speed was also 1/1250.


2.  Be a rule breaker!!!  Let them look at the bright light (if they can handle it)!  Usually when you take a picture you don't want the subject looking directly at the sun.  This picture was not planned.  I was walking on the beach with my daughter and I loved the way her hair was fighting to get out of her braid and blow in the wind!   Even though her face is bright it doesn't matter one bit to me!  Capturing the way her copper hair was shining in the sunshine was worth breaking the rules! 


3.  Look for the reflections.  My daughter loves to play in the sand, but she doesn't like to sit in it.  She spent 75% of her time on the beach in this position.  I loved how when she was in this position her reflection appeared in the glossy sand.  Next time you are on the beach with your family, look for the reflections!


4.  Look for silhouettes.  Silhouettes are my favorite type of picture.  I have them hanging all over my walls and I capture them whenever we go on vacation.  To get a silhouette you will need to expose your camera on the brightest part of the picture.  For this one I exposed on the sky.  When it is exposed properly your subject will appear as a shadow, or black.   


I can't wait to see how all the other teachers interpreted this theme. Head on over to Tina Leann Photography to continue the circle.  She is a fantastic photographer from Wisconsin who has the best accent ever if you ask me!  I wish you could hear her talk, you'll just have to settle with seeing her amazing pictures. 



by Amy Rhodes

I am so excited to see what everyone's take on REFRESH is.  We had such a great refresh retreat with all the confidence teachers, but I'm not going to lie.  It was intense.  We learned so much and sometimes when you learn a lot about your craft and yourself your head feels like it may explode.  In a good way.  

When I came home from the fabulous retreat I went right back into busy season.  The weather here (Vegas, Baby!) is only nice for so long before it turns ridiculously hot.  Everyone wants their pictures taken when it's 79 degrees, not 119 degrees.  Go figure. 

I knew I would be keeping up the busy pace until the last weekend in May so I knew we needed to schedule down time.  As a family we decided to take a 4 day weekend and celebrate my husbands birthday.  I was excited to be able to spend time with my family doing whatever we wanted.  I even contemplated not bringing my camera but I did have a last minute session scheduled in Utah. I figured my client wouldn't appreciate me pulling out my ipone instead of my Nikon.  My plan was to not touch any of my equipment until my scheduled session.  I just felt like I needed a little breathing space between me and my camera!

Then we arrived at our hotel and walked in the room.  

The moment we walked in it was as if a "REFRESH" button was pushed.  As a photographer one of the first things I notice anywhere and everywhere is light.  The light in the room was beautiful. I couldn't wait to pull out my camera and start playing with the late-afternoon sunshine spilling into the room.  It was new light - new inspiration.  It was exactly what I needed.

I used my 24-70 mm lens and set my camera to ISO 640 F 2.8 1/80 (80).  Because I kept my shutter speed relatively slow I was able to get that magical light from the window.  

I used my 24-70 mm lens and set my camera to ISO 640 F 2.8 1/80 (80).  Because I kept my shutter speed relatively slow I was able to get that magical light from the window.  

My son was having inspiration of his own.  He is currently into comic books and has written a few of them.  After we got all our luggage put away he immediately went over to the chair and began writing down ideas for new characters.  


Then he caught me!


My daughter was exhausted.  We had spent the prior evening with friends and stayed up way past bedtime.  All she wanted to do was crawl in bed and relax.  


My very favorite thing about hotel rooms are the black out curtains!  Not only do they allow my kids to sleep in, they provide a great way to manipulate light.  Both of the following pictures were taken using a 6-8 inch opening in the curtains.  Have you ever played with black out curtains?  It is SO much fun!


Walking into that hotel room was the perfect refresher for me.  I needed some inspiration and I found it in the unlikeliest of places!  

Keep following along on this months blog circle!  Check out how the amazing Kelli Kalish interprets "REFRESH."  She is an fantastic photographer who specializes in Black and White.  AND she has 4 boys - she's a rock star if you ask me!

Blog Circle - New Life

by Amy Rhodes

New Life.  There are so many ways this term can be interpreted. I am choosing to focus on a season I look forward to every year.  Spring.  I still have friends posting pictures of recent snowstorms but here in the desert we are already in the thick of Spring.  Our popcorn trees have already lost their blossoms and have been replaced by new, bright green leaves.  

To celebrate the start of spring this week, I decided to take my kids on a field trip to the nursery.  What says new life more than rows and rows of starter plants waiting to be planted in the ground, watered and coaxed into growth?


Here are some quick tips for capturing authentic images of your children on a spring excursion to a nursery or at any other place you may choose to go.

1.  Anticipation - The key to getting great images is to stand back, wait and be ready  You know your kids, you know their habits.  I knew before we even stepped foot into the nursery that at one point or another, my daughter would hop in the wagon and my son would pull her around.  I was anticipating the shot so I was ready when it happened.  I also know my son well enough to know he wasn't going to miss out on the action.  Sure enough, he wanted a turn and hoped into the wagon and insisted Clara pull him.  

The best way to get these shots is to give them space to be themselves.  I positioned myself far enough away from my kids so they wouldn't be distracted by the camera and feel like they had to perform for it.  I let them take the lead.  I was using a 70-200 2.8 lens so I could zoom in on the action without getting in the way.


2.  Framing - Framing is a way to draw attention to your subject and it's as easy as it sounds.  When composing a picture, use other objects in the image to frame your subject.  


3.  Tell the story - When my friend dropped off my daughter after preschool, she jumped out of the car wearing these dress-up high heel shoes.  I found out she had smuggled them in her backpack and took them to school.  I think she made the switch in my friends car, but who knows!  She asked if she could wear them into the nursery and since I am the cool mom I said, "yes."  About 20 minutes into shopping she was regretting her decision. 


4.  Get up close - Don't be afraid to get close up shots.  You don't always need to see the setting.  Take a shot showing the entire scene and then zoom in and get a close up of the subject.


Would you love to see how all the other Confidence Teachers interpreted New Life?  Click here and read about how Me Ra interprets the theme, then follow the link on the bottom of her blog to visit the other teachers.  They are all fabulous!

Would you like to attend a workshop?  From now until March 31, you will receive a 20% early bird discount.  Click here to find out more.  


by Amy Rhodes

Red is my favorite color.  I have a purse that's red, a few pairs of shoes, pants, pans and towels.  A few months ago I was talking to a friend of mine and he accused me of playing favorites to red heads in photography portfolio.  At first I looked at him trying to come up with something clever in my defense, but I realized he was just speaking the truth.   I DO love to photograph red heads.  I've actually always had a thing for red heads.  My grandpa Joe was known as "Red" to everybody in the family.  My Dad had red hair. The first boy I kissed after my high school homecoming dance was a red head with a TON of freckles.  It shouldn't surprise you I married a red head.  I hit the ultimate jackpot with my 2 kids, both of them are Gingers.  During the Summer I often make them sit in front of me so I can examine their face and count the new freckles that seem to multiply during the season.  I make such a big deal about the freckles. I want them to be just as excited to see them pop up as I do.  

Since Sunday is St. Patricks day I thought I would do a special post dedicated to a few redheads I have photographed. (Get it?  St. Patricks = Irish People = Red Hair = I'm Brilliant) In no way is this all of them, just a few that I pulled out of my archives this afternoon.  I hope you enjoy their beauty as much as I do.  


Back when I blogged...

by Amy Rhodes

When my daughter was 3 months old I started a blog.  I did a really good job on it for quite a while.  Then I noticed a trend, each year the amount of posts got smaller and smaller.  I would say I was going to start up again and I never made it past a post or two.  My old blog actually reminds me of my journals I kept from the time I was young.  There are always entries that start out by saying, "I can't believe it's been so long since I have written" or "I've made a decision to be better about journaling." They were always followed by another entry made about 6 months later.  The same statements were always the first line of the entry.

I am starting to get the bug again.  I have so much I want to write about. I want to write about the pictures I take and the joy I feel when I work with a family I really connect to. I want to start writing about the crazy things my kids do that I should discipline, but secretly laugh about.  I want to write about the mundane things along with the profound.  

Today was a pretty good day.  My son had Superhero day at school.  I was thrilled when he told me he wanted to go as Captain Underpants.  I love his confidence and his sense of humor.  I love the fact that he is growing out his curly red hair and doesn't care that it is poofy.  I just love him!  


While he was at school I worked on editing for a couple hours with my daughter at my side.  She was busy playing the Ipad and constantly telling me we needed to go have lunch at Subway because they had $5 footlongs.  

I had to turn my Anti-social program on to get my editing done in a timely fashion (do you know how hard it is to get work done on a computer when facebook and pinterest are only a click away?).  Luckily, I had last night's episode of the Bachelor to listen to while I smoothed skin and sized images.

Here is a taste of what I worked on today...

As you can see, she is very convincing. 

As you can see, she is very convincing. 

Blog Link-Up - What Low Light Looks Like...

by Amy Rhodes

I love light.  I am constantly looking at it and for it.  When I first started photography light was something I was intimidated by.  I felt like the only time I could get a good shot was in perfect lighting conditions - which "they" all said was an hour before sunset.  Yes, "they" are right, and hour before sunset is a beautiful time to shoot, but there are many other lighting conditions that make beautiful images as well.  .  Over the years I have learned a lot and my definition of perfect lighting conditions has changed.  Good lighting is any lighting condition where you can create a picture your happy with. 

Today Me Ra Koh and a few of us CONFIDENCE Teachers have decided to do a blog link up.  The theme is, "What low light looks like."  When I heard the theme a few weeks ago I was actually excited because I love the grainy look of a black and white photo and low light is the perfect condition to shoot these images.  

This is the room I was shooting in.  I wanted to give you an idea of just how dark it was.  I took these images around 5:45 in the afternoon.  The sun was already behind the mountain and we were deep into the "blue hour."  I positioned my son on his bed and just had him look towards the light.  Because the light was fading so fast I was using my 50 mm lens at 1.8.  I had my ISO bumped up to 1600 and my shutter speed around 1/60th of a second.  All three of these settings allowed me to maximize the limited light available.  


My favorite thing about these 2 pictures is the way the shadows create the contours of my sons features.  


If this is something you would like to try, take your camera and use a lens that will allow you to drop down to a low aperture.  If you only have a kit lens, use it.  You will be able to create these images, but you will probably need to use a higher ISO or lower shutter speed.  If you are worried about camera shake, use a tripod.  I used the cheapest lens I have, the 50mm 1.8.  This was the first lens I bought after my kit lens.  It allowed me to practice playing with low apertures.  If you are using something small like a nifty fifty you will be able to drop your shutter speed down to about 1/60th of a second without worrying about camera shake.  Play with your ISO.  Start at 800 and then keep bumping it up until you get the look you want.  It's all about what YOU like.  

Good luck and have fun!


To see what the other teachers interpret as "low light"  click here.  This link will take you to Kelli Kalish's blog.  She is amazing. She specializes in black and white photography and her images are simply breathtaking.  I want to be just like her when I grow up!