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Photography Tips for You and Your Family – Part 2

Hello again.

I’m Simone Ballerini a professional photographer based in Florence. You can find my work at www.simoneballerini.com
I specialize in maternity, family and kids photography and this is part two of the shooting we discussed last week.

Done with the outdoor session we decided to move indoors for the last quiet portraits of the couple and some picture of the soon to be mom by herself.

When shooting indoors we are presented with a lot of challenges both of technical and aesthetic nature.

We need light, of course (remember photography means writing with light) and we need to find a nice, meaningful spot to place our subject in.

The main source of light in a house or a general building is coming from the sun pouring through the windows.

Even if it is cloudy outside or there’s a storm coming you still have a lot of light coming through shining on your rooms and reveling forms and details.

This could be beautiful, rich, free light absolutely gorgeous for portraits or many types of photography.

With window light you can run into two options: the first one is when you have a window on a wall facing north or south (or east in the afternoon). This way you have no direct sun coming through and all the light outside is filtered by the frame of the window resulting in a directional soft light very gentle with the shape of a human body or details for a still life or food photo.

1 In these pictures I posed the couple at the end of a long studio room. We had  the entire wall at camera right completely covered by windows so plenty of late afternoon warm light is coming in from that direction.

This kind of set up reveals a lot of details and enhances the forms of the bump, faces and clothes because the light coming in from the side is lightning the left side of the subjects leaving the right side in shade.

Sunset and late afternoon is the perfect time for taking pictures with a warm intimate feeling with the light coming from the sun becoming warmer just before fading to the blue and black of the night.

The second scenario you can find yourself in when dealing with window light is direct sun coming through.

2In this pictures I had the setting sun directly in the frame of a small window in the living room, the perfect call for a backlit portrait with mood and some attitude.

I asked the couple to sit on the floor and just talk. Soon they started to connect more and reach for each other forgetting about the camera and me, reveling a soft and natural moment of their relationship.

Direct sun produces very strong and unflattering shadows making it hard to handle if you don’t know how to make it works.

As with the sun on an outdoor portrait you have to pose your subject correctly deciding whether to put the sun behind, on a side on even in front of her.

I almost didn’t see the cat laying on the window staring at the couple inside. It was an happy accident that gives the picture something more.

On the aesthetic side you can either photograph your subject in a friendly and pleasing environment or decide to avoid all the distractions and go for a plain solid color background using a wall, the sky or a canvas.

3If you decide to put your sitter in an environment you need to be carful to chose the right one for the message you’re try to communicate. Sometimes removing pieces of furniture or simply moving your angle of view is enough to hide something unwanted and have a clearer shot.

In these pictures I had a window on the right and decided to add meaning with props and composition.

For the first one I placed a tiny pair of pink shoes on the bump of the future mom deciding to include in the frame part of the couch and the pictures on the wall to lock down the photo in a specific environment, in this case the living room.

In the second photo instead I removed as many element as possible to emphasize the pose of legs and feet, cutting out the upper part of the body to let the bump emerge from the black of the floor.

Having some energy left we let go of all the romance and posing for a fun final portrait. With the help of the last light from the sun and a pencil we wrote the word beer and baby on the bellies of the couple and shot a couple of frames.

4Sometimes all the thinking and planning in the world can’t make for the spontaneity and the fun of a true moment captured in between your direction or the moment you’re waiting for.

There’s so much in photography of the unexpected, happy accidents and moments of truth, we just need to be ready and curious about life in all its manifestations.

Related Articles:

Photography Tips for You and Your Family – Part 1 – Firenzemoms4moms.wordpress.com

Photography Tips for You and Your Family – Part 1

We live in a really visual world. Every minute we are surrounded by thousands of images and we certainly play a major role this with our facebook, twitter and instagram feeds. Taking pictures today is easier than ever before. Our phones take amazing photos, really cheap point and shoot cameras can record an insane number of megapixels and there’s almost no end to how much you can spend on a digital reflex.

This is also the time of the year when our cameras awake from the cold winter post in the back of the closet to start again on their journey toward storytelling and beauty.


I’m Simone Ballerini, a portrait photographer based in Florence. You can find my work at www.simoneballerini.com
I specialize in maternity, family and kids photography and for the next weeks I’ll be sharing few tips on how to improve the pictures you take.


Whether it be your family, your kids or the monuments of the city you’re visiting, taking great and meaningful pictures is just a matter of having a curious eye, keeping some basic principles in mind, practicing and most of all having fun!

Technically taking a picture means letting some light hit a photosensitive material closed in a box. This hasn’t changed since the beginning of photography, no matter how fancy or expensive your camera is.
Pro DSLR and point and shoot cameras are all designed to do this. The only thing that has changed is the amount of control you can have on the process.

To expose a photograph you need to set three variables: aperture, shutter speed and ISO. Manual cameras allow you to set all the numbers and be in full control. Auto point and shoot devices instead take out the responsibility and sometimes the headache of choosing the right setting.

I know this sounds a bit technical and boring, but some time should be spent learning how to use your gear. It takes a bit of practice and some upsetting results at the beginning, but you’re in for the long run and the reward can be compelling and beautiful pictures.

Let’s start and see what happens when we photograph people.

This newly wed couple is aspecting their first child and I’ve been so lucky as to be called to document this delicate, meaningful and beautiful moment.

We decided to start with some pictures outside taking advance of the setting sun and then to move the shoot inside for few others portraits.
1When shooting people outdoors you need to pay attention to the direction the light is coming from and where you put your subject in relation to the sun.

If you put her directly in front of the sun she’ll be well lit for sure, but it’ll be hard to find any pleasing expression or interact with her squinting the eyes try to avoid the harsh light.In these cases it is best to put the sun directly behind the subject so you can have an even light on the face avoiding strong shadows on the eyes and under the nose and chin.


Another great tip for taking great photos in bright sunlight, perhaps if you’re shooting at noon when the light is considered not particularly flattering for portraits, is to look for open shade to stand your subject in. Sheltered form the sun she can now benefit of a great amount of beautiful soft light, free to move and interact with the camera.


Another way to interact with the sun is to have the light coming from the side of the subject. This way you can reveal forms and shape in a more 3D look.

This is great for maternity or details shots where you want to enhance the curve of a bump or the texture of an object or fabric.


All the numbers and settings of cameras are useless if used as a cold technical exercise. The purpose of a photography is to tell a story. Whether it is your family, a stranger, an event or an inanimate object, there’s always a reason you bring the camera to your eyes and shoot a frame. Learning the gear and the components of photography must serve this purpose.


To look for the inner moments of a son playing, your spouse reading a book by a window, a beautiful landscape or some action happening in the street, everyone of us has something that moves us and we want to freeze in time.
All the knowledge about aperture, shutter speed or photoshop can’t replace a curious attitude toward life and the people we love.


Next week we’ll find out what are the challenges when shooting indoors.

In the meanwhile there’s a picture waiting somewhere five meters around you, take your camera and go out looking for some beauty.