6 Tips for Taking Better Photos of Your Kids

better photos blog post LUMINDEO

So you want to get better photos of your kids? I’ve heard it countless times: “well, if I had a nicer camera…” or “if my kids would hold still…” or “i just don’t know how to get good lighting”.

My theory is that anyone, with a little help, can take fantastic photos of their kids/pets/cars/food/what have you. Even if all you have is an iPhone! It just takes a keen eye and some practice.

1.Get on their level!

better photos blog post LUMINDEO

Obviously, kids are smaller than you. Try getting down low and take a look around, see how they see. Look them in the eye. Kids are more comfortable with you when you’re on the same level. Try to imagine how big things look to them. Perspective is everything.

2. Rediscover everyday moments.

better photos blog post LUMINDEO

There’s magic in the mundane, I always say. Try to look out for ordinary moments that you will someday forget. Not just the big milestones, or the staged activities. Sleeping babies, messy nap-hair, spaghetti-covered faces, they way they stand up on their tippy toes to reach for things. These are the magical moments to capture.

3. Take advantage of stillness.

better photos blog post LUMINDEO

We all know kids move at break-neck speed 99% of the time. Try to notice the few times they are still. Like this capture of my daughter’s ballerina bun. Good luck trying to get a photo of these details while she’s running around. But when she stops for .837 seconds to eat a clementine, voila!

4. Be subtle.

better photos blog post LUMINDEO

It’s common knowledge that the very moment you try to catch your child in the act, they will notice and move. SO MANY TIMES I’ve tried to snap a photo of something crazy or adorable happening, and then, like a butterfly, they sense my presence and bolt! Wait till they are at ease, casually sidle up and, all non chalant, just snap a picture before they notice. Or, if they know you’re there, try snapping while you’re asking them something like “what did you dream about last night?” or “what should we have for dinner?” Then hopefully they won’t move because they aren’t concentrating on your photo-taking.

5. Use the natural lighting.

better photos blog post LUMINDEO

Turn off that pesky flash! Especially if you’re using an iPhone. The drama is all in the shadows.
Look around your house at various times of day. Notice when there’s a nice stream of sunlight through a window, or when your playroom is the brightest. Try to catch your kids when they’re facing the light. Don’t be afraid of low lighting either. Try cranking up that ISO. If you’re using your camera phone, make sure you tap on the part you want to focus on to adjust the lighting.

6. Don’t ask them to “Say Cheese”!

better photos blog post LUMINDEO

If your kids are like mine, if you say “Say cheese!” they will immediately make either an insanely over-the-top toothy grin, or a look just like Chandler’s grimace from Friends. Instead, try telling a joke, or asking them about something they love. Like “You don’t like Star Wars, do you?!” or “Remember that time sister dropped all those eggs all over the kitchen? Wasn’t that funny?!” At the very least they’ll give you a thoughtful look instead of the cheese face.

So there you have it. Try these out and let us know if you have other ideas for taking better photos of our kids. Happy picture taking!


Filmmaking Lesson #3: The Slate Piece is Gold

slate piece blog

Slate’s are a lifesaver. OK, not the slate itself.

In fact, with the advancements in digital filmmaking a lot of small crews aren’t even using a slate, opting to clap their hands to sync the sound instead. Whether you use or don’t use a slate is up to you, but in case you’re interested I added this nice little video below from No Film School on how to use a slate like a pro.

In this post however, I want to talk about the precious few moments of time that happens when the camera rolls before the slate and after the director yells ‘Action!’ This few moments is called the ‘Slate Piece.’

On a typical set the camera rolls along with the sound for a few moments before everything is ready and the slate person then goes up to do their job. Often times the cameras are already pointed where they need to be with the actors or subjects in focus, and usually, in my experience, it is a perfect candid relaxed moment; the director hasn’t yelled ‘Action!’ so everybody is chill waiting for the clapboard to come and go. These are gold moments. 

During the editing phase of one of my first films I came to this intense scene between two actors and I realized I needed a cutaway shot from one guy to the other, but in looking through the takes I couldn’t find a sufficient cut. I was completely stuck. I needed a moment where the actor looked at his hands, adjusted his shirt, looked around the room, or scratched his nose; something, anything. But in every take the actor was flat and I couldn’t find anything to cut to.

So what to do? Go back and shoot the scene again? Not an option. (Most of the time this isn’t an option.)

So I went back to the raw footage of the shots before the slate entered and started scrolling through the takes and suddenly, there it was.

The actor, waiting on the crew to finish, looked over to the corner of the room and rubbed his forehead. A perfect unscripted, unplanned moment. I snatched it up, placed it in the film, and the scene played out well.

Since then, I have made it a habit to roll the cameras early. Of course if you are shooting on actual film, then this might not be an option for you (film is expensive!). However, if you are shooting digitally you can do this all day. Roll early while the actors are settling in to their first positions. You never know when they might do something interesting that later on will be a huge blessing in the editing room.

lumindeo blog writer

Gift Ideas for the Camera-Lover In Your Life

camera-lover gift ideas

Just one week until Valentines day and if you’re anything like me, you’ve waited till the last minute to shop! We have a few (or 10) ideas that will hopefully help you find the perfect gift for the camera-lover in your life.

1. Absolutely anything from Artifact Uprising.

Screen Shot 2016-02-08 at 9.18.12 AM

Seriously, these guys know how to make a beautiful print.
And you really need to print out some of those awesome photos you’ve got sitting in your phone.
I personally love the wooden clipboard calendars. A beautiful keepsake your Valentine can enjoy all year long for $29.99.

2. This adorable Canon SLR-shaped USB flashdrive.

camera shape usb

It’s just fun, and who doesn’t always need more flash drives? (There is also a Nikon version.)
$8.99 right now on Amazon.

3. Sterling Silver Camera Necklace from ALWAYZWITHLOVE on Etsy.

camera necklace

Simple and elegant camera-lover jewelry, $40 for any MomTog in your life.

4. Personalized Leather Camera Strap from Viveo on Etsy.

custom camera strap

Choose different colors or styles. $44 to make a custom gift everyone needs.

5. instax mini 90 NEO Classic camera from Fuji film.

instax camera

I have one of these, and I just love it. It’s a great throwback to analog cameras with a variety of shooting modes that gives you the ability to use light creatively. Also, who doesn’t love the part when the little photo pops out and you wait for you photo to show up? Tons of fun for $135 on Amazon.

6. The OlloClip 4-in-1 lens for iphone.

olloclip camera lens

With 4 lens options (fisheye, wideangle, macro 10x, macro 15x) to choose from, this little lens takes your iphone photos to a whole new level. An awesome deal for $79.99.

7. The new GoPro HERO4 Session.

gopro hero4 camera

With GoPro’s newest, smallest camera, you have endless video possibilities.
It’s waterproof, durable, and has an easy one-button control. So much potential is such a tiny camera for $199.

8. This ONA Bowery Camera Bag.

ona camera bag

This stylish bag holds one camera body and two lenses, moveable dividers, and several pockets for wallet/keys/accessories as well as being waterproof and durable. Get one from B & H for $149.

9. Have Their Favorite Instagrams Printed with Social Print Studio.

instagram camera prints

I’ve used this service many, many times. Several of the walls in my home are covered in my instagram photos.
My favorite products are the squares and mini squares. I even have a couple magnets!
They have great quality for not much expense. I suggest using their app to order your prints.

10. A Vintage Canon Moleskine from The Print Bee on Etsy.

camera moleskine

Everyone needs a handy journal to jot down all your brilliant ideas. Especially one that fits right in your back pocket!

So there you have it. I hope you got some good ideas for your special camera-loving someone.
Let us know in the comments if you can think of any others to add to the list!


Why I Love my Job and Other Thoughts on Filmmaking

‘Do you like your job?’

Every so often people ask me about the things I love and hate most about my job as a filmmaker so I thought I would share some of my answers to these commonly asked questions.

What do you love about your job as filmmaker? 

Filmmaking is all about creation. I love creating things, seeing something where there was once nothing. I love being surprised by how things come together, and they always do come together, even though more often than not there have been problems and difficulties that looked unsurmountable. I love stepping back and watching the final product, seeing all that hard work come together in a nice polished way, seeing the story unfold before me as a whole. The outcome is always unexpected. I like wearing jeans to work every day. I love the crazy chaos that goes into productions. I like the changes in scenery, the surprising places that you end up for film shoots. The most fun part though is working with fun creative people. In this line of work you come into contact with some of the most fun, talented, creative people. There is no such thing as lone-wolf filmmaking. It’s about teamwork and using the talents of all the people around you to bring a story to life, and when you get a bunch of people’s grey cells churning on how to tell a great story, amazing things can happen.

What do you dislike about your job as filmmaker? 

Details are the worst. I am not a detail oriented person, I am more a big picture person, but in this line of work you have to deal with the millions of details like it or not. Details are everywhere, in the workflow, in the production, in the never-ending paperwork, even in sharing a project with the world there are details. So your only choice as a filmmaker is to get them done, like it or not, because they have to get done and unless you’re J.J. Abrams, no one’s gonna do it for you.

What does a typical day look like for a filmmaker? 

No day is the same. That’s one of the things I actually love about this job. It changes every day. Most of the time I am working in either pre or post production. Production weeks are super fun, being in the field, out of the office, working with cameras and people, and getting to say, ‘Action!’  Most of the time though, you are either preparing for a shoot, (locations, props, actors, writing, etc) or polishing a project (editing, coloring, recording, music, rendering, etc). It might not be the most glamorous job on the planet but each step is rewarding in its own way.

Where do I see the filmmaking industry going in five years? 

There’s never been a better time for filmmakers. The movie industry is more and more pushing towards individual selection online, meaning people are only viewing/paying for the channels they want. Cable networks are suffering as companies like Netflix and Amazon are growing and producing more and more original programming. The reason that this is good is because programs that people like will get picked up and promoted and more and more work will be created for a filmmaker who finds a supportive audience. Programs that no one likes will get dropped faster and stop taking up space because the viewer demands the content, not the big networks. So as a filmmaker the goal is simply to tell a great story and get it out there. If it’s good, the audience will come.