Photo tips for creating your birth announcements

I have to say, I have completely enjoyed becoming a mother of three! Of course there are moments where life is complete chaos, but I’ve found it to be a good chaos. I think the main reason is not so much the new baby, but the realization that this is okay. I can now accept that there will always be toys on the floor, five more loads of laundry, and dishes in the sink. As a mom of three now, I’m cool with that!Photo Tips

Of course, the transition wasn’t easy….I remember the day my 3-year-old pulled frozen peas from the freezer and stomped each one into the floor. I also remember the day my 5-year-old got so mad, she put a hole in the wall from slamming the door. Ha! We definitely had a “transition” but hey, what family doesn’t? Imperfections and all, I’m loving this life.

When Justin was born, I was pretty excited to be able to send birth announcements, but you’d think I would’ve been all prepared with my favorite designs well before the baby was born…not so much. That’s the problem with working for a company like Pear Tree – there are ALWAYS new designs, and it was nearly impossible for me to narrow it down.

The most important step for me, besides choosing the design, is choosing the right photos, so I thought I’d share my process and a few photo tips for organizing and editing them with you.

First, I copy all the photos that I might use to their own folder – this keeps everything separated and easy to navigate. Then I start the editing process. I use Picasa, a free service that is really simple to use. There are tons of free systems online – I like this one because it helps to organize and identify the people in the photos. For each of the 10 or so photos that I really like, I do the following:

  1. Brighten with Fill Light. I love to do this because it removes the imperfections easily and adds a glow to the photo.
    Creating your birth announcements from photo tips to birth announcement designs #peartreegreetings
  2. Contrast with Shadows. Depending on how dark or light I want my photos, I’ll play with this until it looks right. With the original photo here on the left, you can see that adding a bit of Fill Light and Shadows really enhanced the image. I don’t do any Cropping at this stage because I may need some of the outer edges of the image for the card.
    Creating your birth announcements from photo tips to birth announcement designs #peartreegreetings
  3. Next I might try making it a Black and White photo, which is as simple as a single button. Sometimes there I’ll play with the Fill Light and Shadows again to make sure the photo looks perfect.
    Creating your birth announcements from photo tips to birth announcement designs #peartreegreetings
  4. And last, I add a Blur photos to really draw the eye to the moment of the photo rather than the patterns and textures around the edges.
    Creating your birth announcements from photo tips to birth announcement designs #peartreegreetings
    Creating your birth announcements from photo tips to birth announcement designs #peartreegreetings

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How to take great Fall photos

Capturing great fall photos can be challenging. We’ve all seen rich, colorful, New England fall photos; the white birch trees turning a golden yellow, dusting the tops of white picket fences along winding roads. While we’d all like to be able to capture iconic images like these, the truth is those moments are magical, and the vast majority of us just aren’t magicians. However, there are great fall photos everywhere you turn. To prove it to you I headed out this morning determined to show you how to capture a great fall photo.

I only had one shot of getting today right, and by today I meant a few short hours. The sky was 100% overcast – no sunshine in sight. It was late morning so all that moody mist had long since disappeared. The leaves had started to turn, but the deep reds and oranges just hadn’t yet blossomed. Knowing that the conditions were less than ideal, I needed a subject. I grabbed my black lab, Stanza, and headed out. [Admission: Stanza is well trained. She'll sit and pose for photos if I ask her to (especially if I have treats in my pocket). But, she's not ideal. Kids, spouses, friends–they all make great subjects for photographs, and are generally more appealing than a slobbery dog. So, if you have an opportunity to put real people in your photograph, you're already one step ahead of me!]

Portraits

Pumpkins, dried corn stalks, and leaves. Incorporate these elements into a photograph and let your background set the mood for you. Keep your subject the primary focus! In this particular occasion, I didn’t have much to work with. I found some yellow and orange leaves on the opposite side of a creek and tried to make do. I knew Stanza wouldn’t sit still unless she was tired, so I let her run around and splash and do all those things labs love to do. Plus, it’d make her a more interesting subject with some wet fur (on a sunny day this would be much more difficult because the water on her coat would end up being blown out highlights). Today, though, a wet dog was a good dog.

I tried some different angles of this shot, but the best ended up being not showing the creek at all. I laid down to change the perspective (I ended up with very soggy knees and elbows), blurred the background, got my subject sharp, and snapped away.

Fall Photo

The key to portraiture is to make your subject work with your background, not compete with it. I knew my background elements weren’t strong, but I introduced enough color to make it seasonal. If I had kept the leaves sharp, the photo would have been too busy. Also, tighten up on your subject and have fun with them! If they are enjoying themselves, you’ll get better photographs (even if your subject is a dog).

What to do when you don’t have anything

The most challenging part of taking great photos is making a photo happen when you just can’t seem to find anything. Today I had adverse conditions, and stripped of my model (who was now rolling gleefully in a pile of dead leaves), I had to make something happen. When you don’t have great conditions, get up close, real close.

These seed pods were interesting to me. They had a sort of wizard-like quality to them and hinted at a rebirth to come after a long winter. I set up shop next to one that had a some color behind it (to warm up the gray of the pod) and snapped this photo.

Fall Photo

If you’re ever lacking fall color, look for moisture. Find a lake, a creek, morning dew, go outside just after a rain–just find colorful leaves when they are wet. As I had mentioned, the red leaves hadn’t turned yet, but I found this cluster of fallen leaves swirling in a pool of water. I ended up precariously about 4″ from the water for this shot, but I got the fall color I was looking for.

Fall Photo

Fall is a great time to take photos. There are always photographs to be taken, but sometimes you have to work a little harder to find them. Hopefully these tips can help you capture some great shots. Remember, you’ll never get great photos unless you go take the pictures. Get out there!

- Wyatt enjoys wearing tweed caps and his size 13 Chuck Taylors, especially while hunting down great photos with his black Lab, Stanza.

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