Tag Archives: Travel

How to document the lives of our kids through photography – without stress!

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Today I would like to share some thoughts about the way we use photography today. In particular, photographing and documenting the lives of our children.

Years back – before the digital era – we ”saved” the use of our cameras for special occasions such as birthday parties and holidays. We did not post our lunch to Instagram, and everyday life with our kids would usually remain undocumented because each single photo had a cost so we couldn’t just shoot away as we can today.

I think it’s safe to say that things have changed. Never before has photography been so available to everyone. Thanks to digital cameras, smartphones, ipads etc. most people have the possibility of taking photos constantly.

There is however a negative side effect to all this. I believe that a lot of us (myself included) have become a little too obsessed with documenting and capturing everything. We have become so scared of missing even just one little Kodak moment. No matter what we do or where we go with our kids we always have our cameras or smartphones with us and as soon as they do something special, cute or funny the first thing we can think of is this: Photo opportunity!

Birgitte_Br_ndsted_16How many times have you stressed yourself because you felt that you should be taking photos of your kid doing one thing or another? Have you ever watched him/her dance/sing/do school plays/blow the candles etc. through the display on your smartphone? I know I have.

When we decide that a certain moment or a certain event is so important to us and our kids that we have to capture it in order to be able to relive it over and over again ironically enough we actually loose a part of the original ”live” moment. We can never be 100% present and attentive in a situation if at the same time we have to concentrate on taking photos or filming it. And I think that our kids notice. They would rather have us concentrate on them and their performance. I have been asked more than once by my daughter to put away the iPhone or the camera. And I can see why. They ask for our attention and we pull out the camera or the smartphone…

All this is of course natural. We want to save every little detail in our kids’ lives, we don’t want to miss a thing. I’m not saying we are bad parents because of this.

However the thing is this: We do actually miss out on something. We miss a part of the present and the funny thing: How many of these photos or films do we actually really use/enjoy/look at afterwards? I mean except for right after the event, where we have to look at them in order to see what was actually going on, because we were too busy filming or photographing it 🙂

I shall be the first one to say that photos are important. Even lots of them. But how many of your photos do you actually print either as a photo book or to hang on the wall? And how many of your photos turn out well? Do you tend to just shoot away, until you get the right photo thus ending up with a lot of useless stuff on your memory card?

I think we need to slow down a bit and start to focus on the quality instead of the quantity. Both in terms of the actual photos but – more importantly – in terms of when we pull out the camera.

Below are a few changes I have applied within my own photography – both on a personal and professional level. I like to refer to them as my ”Slow photography behaviour” 🙂

Take less photos
It’s actually very simple. I know you can take as many photos as you like with your digital camera without spending a penny but I suggest you stop doing that right away. Try to act a bit more as if you were shooting with an old film camera with only 24 or 36 frames. How would you use them?

When you take a photo give it some time. Concentrate as much as you can. Try to ”see” the photo before you take it, make sure the light is good, wait until your kid stops moving in order to avoid unsharp photos. In short: Do your best and only when you believe you have the right photo do you push the shutter. If you are satisfied with the result then stop. You don’t need 10 more photos that look the same.

Delete bad photos
If on the other hand your photo turns out wrong then delete it immediately. No need to fill up your phone or your computer with bad photos. You won’t be using them again. An idea could be to ask yourself the following question: ”Would I pay to have this photo printed?” If the answer is no then I would let it go.

Reduce the number of situations in which you take photos
Once you start to learn how to reduce the quantity of photos you can begin to reduce the number of times you pull out the camera. Think twice: Is this really something I need to photograph? Do we already have photos from similar situations? I already have tons of photos of my daughter having fun at the playground, so that’s a place where I have more or less stopped bringing my camera.

Birgitte_Br_ndsted_11I have also made a decision to limit photography when we are together with other people. When we go to other kids’ birthday parties or similar events I prefer to just participate, relax and hang out with her and the other guests. Sure I won’t have any memories from the day but I enjoy myself so much more and no one gets stressed.

 

Take your photos – then put the camera away
I am sure we all have some special occasions where we just won’t say no to photos. Our children’s birthdays eg.

What I do is this: I take a few photos in the beginning and then I put the camera away for the rest of the day. Sure I don’t get to document every single minute, but I will still have a few photos from the day and most importantly: I get to live the moment 100%.

Make photography fun
As a photographer I obviously love photos and I do find it very very important to take them on a regular basis. However I prefer to keep things a bit separated. When I take photos I like to be able to concentrate 100% on the photography. Sometimes I will grab my daughter at home and ask if we should do some photos together. She won’t always say yes, but when she does we do these little photo sessions and we have great fun while doing them. Other times I will simply grab my camera and start photographing her while she is drawing or playing or even during breakfast – usually without even interrupting her. This kind of photos often turn out to be the best, they are spontaneous, they are easy to take and they don’t stress any of us.

Print your photos
Ever since my daughter was born I have made an annual photo book with all the best photos from the past year. This is such a great way to actually use the photos. I write a few lines to accompany the photos and I give a copy of the book to her grandparents who obviously love it.

Birgitte_Br_ndsted_12We live in a very digital time but I beg you: Don’t just keep your photos on the computer. Have them printed. That’s what they were meant for. Make photo books or have them framed. There are so many options. A photo is not a real photo until you can feel it between your hands.

So tell me: Do you recognize some of these things from your own life? Or do you already have a balanced relationship with your camera? How do you actually use the photos you take? Do you print them? I would love to hear your experiences and opinions!

Birgitte Brøndsted is a Danish photographer specialized in kids, family and maternity portraits. She lives in Florence with her daughter who is 4 years old. You can see her work on http://birgittebrondsted.com

Firenze Mom

June 6, 2013

idenity

Mom’s you should know for Traveling outside Italy  If you did not know read this before you travel:

The EU changed rules about a year ago and you are not allowed to travel with your children on the passports anymore.

Make sure that any children travelling with you either have their own passport or ID card or are registered on your passport. However, from 26 June 2012, children will need to have their own passport or ID card to travel (even if they are still mentioned in their parent’s passport, which remains valid).  from: europa.eu- Documents you will need

You must have a passport for the children and/or carta’d’identita if you are resident in Italy.  If you are EU national then you can use the E.U. national ID’s.  If you are traveling from here to the US and back they will definitely stop and question you say in Germany,  if you only have US passports for your children.  So your best is to get the carta’d’identita for your child as well if you are a resident here and if your children are dual an Italian Passport as well.  On the identity card they put both parents name on it.

More Related Articles:

Documents you need-Non-EU family members

Documents you need-EU nationals

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Why I love public transportation | Girl in Florence

Why I love public transportation

I know what you might be thinking. Is this girl crazy that she actually likes taking the bus/train/public transportation in a country not known for its efficiency? Then you might be right and if you follow me on twitter, you probably have heard a rant or two about my feelings on the bus that morning/day/night. That doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the service.

via Why I love public transportation | Girl in Florence.