family portraits

Tiny Person Photoshoot: Baby Weston by Amanda Liew

A few months ago, I brought my camera along for fun to the joint baby shower for Amy & Renee. Fast forward to late August & imagine just how ecstatic I was when Amy asked me to take photos of the newest addition to her family: Baby Weston! One of my goals for this year is to branch out in terms of subjects, and I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to photograph such a cute little nugget! A tiny person photoshoot - what an adventure, right? Because Amy didn’t have a specific plan or style in mind already, I originally planned to capture photographs that were gentle, intimate, and peaceful. Hilariously, Baby Weston had a different plan in mind. I certainly learned a lot of pointers during the shoot, that’s for sure. A few nuggets of wisdom on photographing the nuggets themselves:

  • Because of babies’ extreme short-sightedness (only a few feet at this point!), it required quite a bit of extra maneuvering and positioning to try and capture his gaze. This meant lots of squatting, jingling things, and shooting nonstop.
  • Many babies find running faucets extremely soothing which isn’t too far fetched, but it was pretty amusing to watch Weston go from crying to “in the zone” the minute we leaned him over the sink. It made me wish I had a waterfall easy access all the time for when I'm stressed (how nice would that be..)
  • Cuddly and textured blankets are your best friend. It was so easy to spread one out on the floor & still have it large enough to capture straight down shots & angled depth of fields without catching the edge! You don't get this luxury with "big person" photoshoots, so take advantage of it in this instance.
  • Keep the camera on the entire time. I was able to capture so many tender moments between the family just while they were arranging themselves, comforting Weston, or changing his outfit. Some of the photos of Weston clinging to Amy’s shoulder are so much more precious than anything we could have pre-posed.

One thing that I definitely want to improve on is shooting in low light settings. Even with a f/3.2, I had to bump up the ISO quite a bit & the graininess definitely comes across. As I continue to develop as a photographer, I'm starting to consider different equipment options (reflective surface probably would have come in handy here).

Aside from the photos themselves, this photoshoot was the 2nd time that I tried out my new donation-in-liew-of-payment method (get the pun..get it..?). A few months ago I first tested this out by asking Sarah Jane to donate to Krista’s mission trip, and similarly I asked Amy to donate to our church’s new women’s ministry which I strongly believe in. It’s continued to be a win-win-win for all involved: beautiful photos for the “client” // an implied valuation attached to my time & effort that doesn’t commoditize my art // an extra donation to a worthy cause! Beyond that, it’s been wonderful to connect my clients with those in need of the donations, thus helping to form a stronger connection within our community. If anybody else has unique payment systems, I would love to hear them!

Beginning a Photography Journey... by Amanda Liew

I purchased my first DSLR (Nikon D3100!) right before Thanksgiving, so I had a mighty fun time playing around with it for the first time when I visited my cousin’s family in upstate New York! Fun fact: my dad is the youngest of 12 siblings all from one mom and dad. Aside from my dad, there was only one other son… and 10 sisters!!! Insanity! My uncle is one of the oldest, so his kids are only slightly younger than my dad. Therefore, THEIR kids are only slightly younger than I am! Even though I’m technically a generation older, Olivia is only 6 months younger. Nevertheless, staying with the Lees is always a good time. I got to practice out my photography skills while they got some cute family portraits! Luckily, my cousin’s family also had Nikon DSLRs and taught me a few things. My cousin recommended first shooting in the “A” (Aperture) mode rather than “M” (Manual) to start with. 

Here are some more cousins that I actually met for the first time! I’m the baby of the family, as you can tell.
Thanks to Christmas shortly after, I got to practice even more with my own family back in San Diego! With my brother away in China for two years and myself in school 3000 miles away, it’s been difficult to get some family pictures of all of us together. I came up with a great idea for my grandparents’ Christmas gift, though: a collage frame and a photoshoot to fill it up! We finally got some great family portraits. I, of course, enlisted my lazy brother to share the cost and agree to hanging the large frame up in their apartment! Meanwhile, I got even more practice and tried out a tripod with a timer for the first time. 
Aren’t my grandparents adorable? I loved their matching Christmas outfits!imageimage
I definitely struggled with shooting in artificial lighting. Comparing the pictures between my cousin’s family and my own, I’m realizing how much of a difference natural lighting makes! Over Christmas break, I’ve been searching for some basic DSLR tutorials online. I found a really great one by Aimee at It’s Overflowing. She runs through Aperture, ISO, Shutter Speed, and Metering very thoroughly and simply! I’ve found that a lot of tutorials online make a lot of assumptions about your photography background which can be very frustrating. Aimee, however, does a wonderful job of explaining every step and even assigning little “assignments.” If you want to check it out, click here.

I found out that one of my high school friends has a Nikon D3100, too, so we’ve decided we’re going on an adventure throughout all of San Diego to practice! I’m really excited and loving my camera so far!