Thursday, December 29, 2011

Family Fun Photos

Dragging along post-Christmas this week. I hope all you Mamatographer's out there had a MERRY MERRY with loved ones!
We had an eventful First Birthday celebration for Safi prior to and I'm FINALLY taking the time to edit my shots from our trip to Disney World.
It's been 10 years since I've frolicked down Main Street USA and though cliche, I felt like a kid all over again basking in the JOYS of being a first time mom!

Jumping to the technical, here's some details on my techniques for photo editing and correcting. I use Adobe Lightroom prior to retouching in Photoshop.
If you're not already on the Lightroom train, this is a preview of what the interface is like...

Here, I am able to batch correct my shots. If I want to make one shot brighter, more saturated, etc. I only need apply the settings to the first shot of a series and either create a "Preset" or copy and paste the setting to the subsequent shots.
Presets have become extremely popular especially in the realm of portrait photography.
I see ALOT of overuse of this technique. I think the results can be quite helpful and beautiful..but I'm a bit of a purist. I tend to keep the reality of my shots intact...there's no right or wrong, just my opinion.

Here's some notes on my editing workflow using Adobe Lightroom:

1. Upload photos from my CF card to computer; back up on an external hard drive

2. Organize Photos in Adobe Bridge; "Flag" the Best Shots

3. Move the Best Shots into a "Best" folder

4. Open Adobe Lightroom; Imports only shots from the "Best" folder to cut down on my editing time

5. Begin exposure and color corrections

6. Additionally eliminate any photos that are not worthy of "Final" status

7. Export photos from Lightroom into a "Final" folder within the original shoot folder
*I do 2 exports; 1 Low Resolution for online posting and viewing and a High Res export for printing purposes
DO NOT PRINT LOW RES EXPORTS, they will appear pixelated/blurry

8. Back up the Final folder on an external hard drive and burn a DVD of the shoot

For further editing tips using Lightroom, check out my webinar series here:

Happy Shooting!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Taking vacation!

I'm en route to Disney World for my daughters First Birthday!
Very excited to capture some family memories of my own for a change. Just picked up a new spare battery for my D300. It's important to keep two batteries around at all times and my original died from over shooting, yes they have a "click life".

Can't wait to share some of my Mamatography upon my return back to work on Mon 12/26.
Until then, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

Happy Shooting, Vicky

Friday, December 9, 2011

Mamatography has been published again!

It's nice to see MY MISSION in Black & White. BIG Thanks to the ladies at Mom Incorporated for featuring me on their blog this month. I'm a huge fan of this book and recommend it to all aspiring Mama business owners. Read the featured article here:
Image curtesy of Photography by Sarit

Pick up a copy of Mom, Incorporated on Amazon (see right of this page)

Happy Weekend! Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Latest & Greatest

What a busy couple of weeks! I FINALLY published my first book and NOW ebook, Photo Basics and Beyond; A Camera Bag Companion.
Here's some preview pages:

If you find them helpful, please buy and download the FULL version HERE for just $8.50.

It's taken me years of acquiring the knowledge for the text and many months to lay it all out. It's always great to output the fruit of your labor. It's easy to get lost in the immediatecy of social networking, email, BLOGGING, etc. But nothing beats seeing your work in print!

Secondly, aside from photoshoots, I've been prepping for the Mamatography Holiday Workshop that I hosted at my house this past Friday. I put a lot of sweat into it and I think it all payed off by the joy I saw on the faces of my fellow Mamatographers and their kiddos. I can't wait to see their shots! Mine coming soon...

Last week I had my first Thanksgiving as a MOM. Words can't express what it was like to feed my baby girl a Turkey Dinner with all the fixings! We played in the yard for a while and I finally got the chance to take some of my own family pics. Danny (Safi's Daddy) pushed her in our cloth swing while I experimented with different camera settings. It was difficult to get a shallow depth of field because she was in motion so the plane of view was constantly changing. I'm glad for the few where I was able to capture sharpness in her eye. 
But ya know, on these occasions it's about remembering the moments as they were happening. So that motion blur THING is totally excusable, it's real! Take some time to enjoy the REALITY while shooting, because otherwise the moments will pass you by…just my advice.

Big thanks to my little brother (Uncle) CJ who is a huge photo buff and took our first holiday card photo.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Holiday Photo Workshop EVENT

I'm excited to host a Self-Shooting Portraiture workshop for the holidays in a couple weeks at my house in Delray Beach, Florida.

Bypass the portrait studio at the mall this holiday season and TAKE YOUR OWN PHOTOS!

I am going to be arranging a variety of backdrops including a white seamless for a pro photo touch!
Here are some ideas I pulled from Pinterest:

Source: via AKSO on Pinterest

There will be pro lighting gear on hand to help perfect your images.

Book your session at

Happy Holidays!

Monday, November 14, 2011

My First Book is NOW AVAILABLE!

I'm so excited to present my FIRST BOOK: 
Photo Basics and Beyond; A Camera Bag Companion

This has been a project that has really taken years of accumulating information and editing all my knowledge down to one basic principle:
What do I wish someone would have told me as a new shooter?

There is a cluster of information overload on the web and in the many photo books that have been published over the years.
I wanted mine to be as quick, direct and colorful as possible because I know as a Mom our time is sacred..who has time to read a textbook these days? NOT ME!

But I did once. Many of them! So, I tried to lend a favor to all my fellow Mamatographer's that didn't start shooting as a single college girl. I BALLED up all the basics of an SLR camera (Fstops, Shutter Speeds, Iso), lenses, some stuff on flash and also talk about digital photo files and editing software to bring readers into the present.

Here's some images from the book, now available on my website,

It is FULL COLOR and measures 7x7"
I have a Self-Print ebook and iPad version which will be posted shortly...stay tuned!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

My first Video Tutorial is up! Check it out to learn about using FLASH.

In this first of many to come video tutorials, I talk about starter flash info and techniques.

Here I recommend different flash models including Nikon SB700 or SB800 and for Canon shooters I suggest the 430EX to get going with brighter, crisper shots.

If you enjoy this video, please subscribe to my YouTube channel and this blog for free photo tips and tricks. For One-on-One Webinars on this and other topics go to

Friday, November 11, 2011

ISO aka Film Speed :: Book Excerpt

ISO is the first and fundamental camera setting. Photographers all have there go to practices for starting out on a shoot. Mine however, is to first place judgment on my lighting conditions. By doing so I am able to determine this first camera setting of those I’ve mentioned on the previous page.

ISO’s are numbers listed as “stops” within your camera’s menu that tell it whether you’ll be shooting under bright light or low light conditions.
Below are examples of ISO settings. Following, you will see how I have adjusted my ISO according to what strength of light I was shooting under.

{Bright Available Light} 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 2200 {Low Available Light}

All Images ©Vicky Scesa
ISO 400: I was using 1 strobe light and a gold reflector

All Images ©Vicky Scesa
ISO 800: I had Low Available Light

All Images ©Vicky Scesa
ISO 200: This was a very bright day with ALOT of Available Light

Please note that all camera settings may have different increments than I have described but these are the settings I recommend changing between, as these are whole stops, which will give you a visual difference in exposure between settings.

The problem with high ISO’s in most cameras is that when the number is increased the picture gets grainier. Now, in the digital age, this YUCK, for lack of a better word, is referred to as “digital noise” So, proceed with caution…

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Been busy shooting!

Tons of mentionable things going on in the world of this Mamatographer! If only there was enough time in the day between jobs and baby to tend to the fun stuff like this BLOG.
Well, I did have a whole LOTTA fun at today's shoot.
A good friend of mine and fellow designer is a very talented dj/musician and he hired me for a GLAM shoot for his album art. The location was a private jet hanger and I had a blast directing on a project of such grandeur!
I have to give thanks to my friend and fellow Photog, Sarit, who lended her talented hand and equipment to get the job done.
I'm working on permission to post shots so stay tuned...

I'm EXHAUSTED but super excited for a group workshop w/ new Mama friends and a saucy photo shoot waaaaaaaay down south this weekend.

Happy Shooting!

Friday, October 28, 2011


I woke up this morning with a nagging idea to freshen up the look of the blog. I love experimenting with typography. So here's the new header I created above!
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of meeting some new friends through offering free ad space here to get things moving. I reached out to some of my Mom's groups on Facebook and I received tons of feedback!
It's so great to have a supportive community of women in business for themselves.
Also, I wanted to mention the Amazon ad I have here for gear I recommend. This company has saved me tons of money not just on camera equipment but diapers, food, etc. So I am shamelessly presenting my Photo Must Have's available on Amazon. These are products that I recomend to my students all the time. There are items for all shooting levels, and price points. Starting out, you may not need a $1,000 lens so I've given you some 3rd party options that will give you crisp shots on a budget!
Feel free to write to me anytime for a recomendation when shopping around. I shoot Nikon but most of my students have Canon and they offer very fine products as well. I have shot both and both have a touch of a little something different to offer.
Right now they have both been targeting advanced point & shoot models which are great to throw in your diaper bag!
I stand by the unsurpassable quality of an SLR, but to each their own.

Me and Safi are off to "Boo at the Zoo" this morning at the Palm Beach Zoo. The weather's looking a little iffy, but crossing my fingers that I get some fun shots to share here!

Next lesson could be, how to shoot your kids at the zoo in the rain...Stay Tuned!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Capturing Fall Moments

I have been planning for weeks to take Safi to Bedner's Pumpkin Patch in Boynton Beach, FL.
One of my students filled me in on this once "best kept secret". Well, the secret is out!
I had never heard of this spot before probably because I was living out of the country the past couple Fall seasons and I didn't have a little one for whom I am constantly seeking out shooting spots these days.
This thriving family fun spot was SMOTHERED with Mamatographers! I was so busy with my cranky girl that there was no time to solicit photo lessons ; )

Here are some tips for shooting in a busy pumpkin patch:

1st, don't go at mid day! 
The best light is going to be early in the morning or late afternoon.
I like the technique of a soft gleaming sun coming through my lens so Safi's back was always to the sun.

With that said, I experimented with Flash for filling in shadows. This gave my shots a nice saturation in the sky, pumpkins & her shaw.
**Invest in an external flash, you won't be sorry you did**

As far as beating the crowds...we booked it to the back corner of the farm where they had laid out cucumber plants to serve as imitation vines for the pumpkins. (It's very unlikely to find naturally growing pumpkins in South Florida). I tried to be mindful of my background and avoid capturing other patrons or farm workers in the frame. This gave my shots a feel of peaceful isolation so that the focus was ONLY on Safi.

I brought my Mom with me to help with Safi. Of course she wanted to eat dirt and gnaw on the bright orange pumpkins so it helped to have Grandma as a "Baby Stylist".

Here's some varied lighting examples...

Without Flash~

With Flash~

Happy Fall Shooting!
xo, Vicky & Safi

Friday, October 7, 2011

Depth of Field {Book Excerpt}

Depth of field is that recognizable quality of a photo that many associate with being more "professional". That quality is the painterly blurry background with a razor sharp foreground of any subject. This quality is controlled by your lenses APERTURE/FSTOP.

For portrait purposes, typically, you want that sharpness to include, if not anything else, the eyes of the person you're shooting. This applies especially to babies as they move so much. The true skill lays in capturing those sharp eyes of little ones. This technique is considered as "Shallow Depth of Field". This is controlled by using a WIDE APERTURE/FSTOP i.e. 2.8 or 3.5.

In contrast, if you're shooting, for instance, a landscape, or group portrait, the goal is to create what's called "Great Depth of Field". Meaning everything in the frame (picture) is sharp in focus. This is controlled by using a small APERTURE/FSTOP i.e. 8, 11, 16, etc.
For this example I love to use the photo legend, Ansel Adams as an example. If you're familiar with his work, you should recall his shots pretty vividly because that's what they were, VIVIDLY DETAILED. Every tree branch, every hillside and mountain peak were RAZOR SHARP. 

Here, I depict a more subtle version, two somewhat contrasting portraits of my daughter Safi.

The first, I used an aperture (fstop) of f2.8 (wide) to create a lot of blur of the wallpaper. The next, I wanted to capture just a little more of the wallpaper, a subtle but visible difference, so I used an aperture of f8.

This technique is really the core of portraiture. Remember that the lower the number (i.e. f2.8) means that the opening of your lens is WIDER. The HIGHER the number (i.e. f8, and above) your lens opening is smaller.
Know that all lenses and camera models have a slightly different range of apertures, but I recommend changing them in whole stop increments as I've shown on the diagram.
Don't feel overwhelmed if the numbers don't process right away, they will.
Try it for your self!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

An Introduction to Mamatography

As a chronically inspired and busy new Mama I am always seeking short cuts in learning new skills. I was fortunate to have started photography as a teenager in the former age of film and even so into my professional career. However, there were no quick detours in the darkroom. Every session under the red light was a painstakingly slow process.  I loved every minute of it! With that said, I love that photography has become something tangible and real to REAL people. 

Through my years of shooting, processing and teaching I've come to the conclusion that knowing how to use a camera (well) may be just as important as using a computer, an oven, etc. etc.. It's survival in the modern age of gadgets and social networking. This is why I have founded Mamatography™ Photo Workshops.

Whether you're capturing moments of your little loved ones, selling products on the web or pursuing your own business as a shooter the foundation for any photographer hasn't changed through time. Before the reward comes the process...and the process can be just as rewarding.

Use this blog as a go-to photo guide, or as a companion to my video tutorials, live webinars, or local workshops, to get you where you feel your photography needs to be, lightning faster than the process was for me. 

I'm thrilled to share my passion with other Mamatographers!
Happy Shooting,