Monday, December 10, 2012

Holiday Photo Planner :: Mamatography Photo Workshops :: Photography Lessons for Moms

With the Holidays in full swing, there's no end to the photos we'll be snapping. So, this week I've put together a little Holiday Photo Planner to help get you through. The Planner is printable, in high resolution for your enjoyment! 

Just click on the Planner to view it in high resolution.
Then, right click and choose to save the file to your computer.
Open the saved file from your computer and go to File, Print!

The main thing that I struggle with as a Mamatographer I think is simply the age of my daughter Safi. She is a rambunctious almost 2 year old! (Surprise, Surprise) So for her holiday pics this year, I called upon my most avid student, Jodi for her hand in capturing my sweet little "monster".

For these in her Laura Ashley gold dress, I had a particularly difficult time as I didn't have an "assistant". (A Daddy in the same room doesn't count ; )
But I got incredible joy from the few shots where she wasn't sucking her thumb or picking her nose!

Camera Settings f/2.8 at 1/50 Shutter Speed & 320 ISO
I used flash for these as you will need to for indoor, Christmas tree pics.

Camera Settings f/2.8 at 1/60 Shutter Speed & 500 ISO

This month is FULL with fun Mamatography activities, local classes and webinars! For a complete schedule, check out my Facebook Page and "click" on the Calendar.
Happy Holiday Shooting,

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Holiday Photo Book Gifts for Mamatographers by Blurb Books

Click the pic for 25% Off a Blur book!
Happy Sunday Mamatographers! I hope you had a Gobbleicious Thanksgiving : ) The winners from last week's Happy Brands baby foods giveaway are located on the post below, in case you missed it!

Taking a break from the grind this week, but had to share this offer from Blurb Books for 25% off holiday gift book making:

Through Monday, 11/26 create the perfect pesonalized gift and get 25% Off with Blurb when you use promo code HOLIDAYTHANKS. Blurb books are a great way to make thoughtful gifts for friends and family while letting you unleash your creativity. Also, don't forget, with Blurb you can now create a photo book by uploading your Instagram and Facebook images. Don't miss out on these great savings and create your Blurb book today!

Stay tuned this week for a little something I'm putting together to help get you through picture taking during the holidays.

Happy Shooting, Vicky

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thanksgiving Food Photo Tips & Happy Family Gobble Gobble Giveaway! | Mamatography Photo Workshops

This week's photo assignment in the Mamatography Photo Sharing & Critique group was a bit like pulling teeth! (But, I love everyone anyway!)
I asked for the Mamatographers to prepare a Thanksgiving themed dish, shoot it and share their recipe. I guess I'm not the only one that growls at my husband when he asks "what's for dinner"? WHAT A RELEIF!
Fortunately, my mama amiga runs a vibrant food business here in Panama, Express Nutrition. They have an awesome blog with tons of tips for eating WELL and healthy, by the way.
She is hosting an upcoming holiday themed cooking class so was in need of food photos and I as well to contribute to the given homework assignment. 

We gathered in the EN kitchen last Sunday and together, put an alternative spin on a traditional Thanksgiving!

A couple days late, back in the group, the photos came streaming in and Mama was impressed! The common feedback was FOOD PHOTO IS HARD. So here's some tips that I shared with the girls and some others I've learned along the way having shot lots of yummy food and displays in my career thus far…

First, cook something YUMMY looking, pretty but simple. Or buy something from somewhere you know has a style of food worth shooting. Maybe even a few different small dishes to create variety in your shots. Then, clear the room of the kids, open the window shades and take some time to shoot under nice light. Putting your food as close to a window as possible for strong light, consider what time of day is best for this.

Using a reflector will help you obtain light and vibrance in your shots. Definitely shoot using a low ISO, a tripod if you have one and compare a wide aperture, i.e. f1.4 to a small i.e. f8 or f11 and see what you come up with! Your camera's Shutter Speed isn't significant here (unless you use a flash or strobe lights) so you could just use Aperture priority...if you have a tripod. I say this because if you're shooting at a low ISO (to reduce grain) and you've chosen your aperture using shutter priority, the camera may choose a Shutter Speed which is too slow, thus you'll end up with motion blur in your shots. A BIG no, no for food and product photography.

Lastly, enjoy the moment, the look of the food and learn something from each shot as you go. Refer to your camera settings after you've taken a shot. How did it come out? Critique your self, but have fun with it!  

So, I guess you saw the word GIVEAWAY in the title of this post. I love nothing more than to give free stuff to my readers!

For this Thanksgiving themed piece, Happy Family Brands has generously offered these FREEBIES to new & old Mamatography fans.

My daughter Safi has lived on organic Happy Family foods since she first hit solids! 

This month's Mamatography Newsletter headline
Enter below for a chance to win their Gobble Gobble stage 3 pouches, Happy Munchies or Puffs, and a Nutrition Guide with a Happy Family Baby Tshirt.

This year, I am Thankful for my little family, my students and audience for working with and believing in me. Muchos Gracias!
I want to wish you all a prosperous, STUFFED Thanksgiving.
Happy Shooting, Vicky

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Photo Book Making Ideas :: Mamatography Photo Workshops :: Photography Lessons for Moms

I'm sure many of you like me are still reeling from Halloween. It was an interesting one for us living abroad this year. Come to find out, Panama is really into this Americanized holiday and Trick or Treating was a hit! 

Of course, I was snapping away, this being Safi's 2nd Halloween, and I wanted to get the photos off my camera and desktop asap! I find that if I let the photos sit for too long, they loose life and become just another (loved) memory. But, if I make prints and EVEN BETTER design an album, I'll have a kind of closure on a specific event or holiday. There's a sort of guilt that comes with being a Mama-tographer..a 'memory' alone just isn't good enough. I need to reflect, visually, and that usually means flipping through a photo book to get that satisfaction.

So this year, I made a Halloween book right away. I use Blurb for all my books, even my self published title, Photo Basics & Beyond. I have printed albums with soooo many companies over the years and Blurb really takes the cake!

Safi's 2nd Halloween, Panama 2012 | Make Your Own Book

They have multiple interfaces from the most basic for amateur photographers, Lightroom plugin options for pro photographers and InDesign plugins for pro designers and authors.
I have used all of the above and depending on what I'm working on is how I choose the right interface for each project.
For this, my simple little Halloween book, I used they're in-browser Bookify interface. This is the fastest way to design books to print with Blurb

Personally, I first take my fav shots into Lightroom or Photoshop for a little exposure and color correction before I make prints or books. This just assures the quality of the photo once it's no longer in a digital form. Prints show many more imperfections in photos than you'll ever see on screen, so if you're serious about photography, it might be worth your trouble to learn how to use these. I teach both of these in my online, live webinars.

Other books I've made 'just for mom' include this one that came from my Instagram's, how cool is that?! We snap all these shots with our mobile devices, and then what? Well Blurb offers two book options for printing your Instagram AND Facebook photos straight from the source. 

Their software automatically designs a book according to the timeline they were taken and VUELA, a photo book is born!!
Safi took the liberty of adding her own touch to my Instagram book : (
With every Blurb interface, you have extensive options for type, colors, photo layout and more. This was the first quality that I appreciated about their products, CHOICES! With other book makers I always felt pinned in a corner with no graphical options and I need options! If you're a writer or in a business where book making could be an asset for your company, you also have the ability to sell your books straight from their site or your own.

So to sum up this first tip for the upcoming Holiday season…
Output your photos! Don't let the memories collect dust in your computer's 'pictures folder'.
Make books that you and your family can flip through with joy. 

Blurb is offering 30% Off all Photo Books in the month of November! Get this deal HERE : )

Happy Shooting, Vicky

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Ultimate Mamatography 1,000 Fan Giveaway!!

Mamatography Photo Workshops is just a couple of clicks away from 1,000 Facebook Fans! I am thrilled to have reached so many Mamatographers this year and now it's time to show thanks with this HUGE Giveaway...
This month marks the one year anniversary for Mamatography Photo Workshops. Becoming a mom and starting a business in under 2 years has been exhausting, amazing, exasperating…I could go on. I wouldn't change a minute of it, not for anything. The women I have met through Mamatography have left their mark on me forever. Fellow fem-photographers, moms and kindred spirits we are. Many of those I have come to know (typically through Facebook) are often in just the same boat as me. They're starting a career from scratch that they'll love SO they can spend as much time with their children as possible without ever feeling like they're "working". Photography is often that outlet for many of us.

With that, I'd like to show my appreciation to those who have in some way been inspired by Mamatography Photo Workshops and the WIDE world of PHOTOGRAPHY. It's an interesting time to be a Mama-tographer, no matter your skill level. Let us keep on this journey together, sharing our pictures and kind advice.

Below, use the Rafflecopter to Enter to Win FABULOUS prizes from the following sponsors:
  • Blurb books is giving away 2-$50 Gift Codes towards ANY of their PRO Quality printed photo books
  • Matilda Jane clothing is offering a $75 Gift Card towards any of their photographable girls collection  

Matilda Jane is leading all the trends in children's apparel today.
They're also very popular amongst Mamatographers ; )

"Not So Plain Jane" Cake Pops by Savvylicious Sweets
To enter, simply check the boxes in the Rafflecopter below and support these awesome brands and small business in thanks for shelling out these generous prizes!

Your support means the world to me!
Happy Shooting, Vicky

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Introducing the Mamatography™ Affiliate Program

Today, I have some very exciting news to share!
Mamatography Photo Workshops has grown leaps and bounds over the past year and I'm so grateful. Having a daughter under the age of two by my side (literally) most of the time, has both inhibited me and inspired me to accomplish what I have thus far with my teaching business, shooting and so much more. I am so greatful to have a job that I love and can't wait to see what this little engine will become!

With that, it has been a long time dream of mine to partner with an amazing pro Mama-tographer who specializes in children and family photography. 

Well, I found her. Let's give a warm welcome to the FIRST Mamatography Affiliate, Stacey Panassidi of The Memory Studios in Robertsville, New Jersey!

Stacey has signed on to bring Mamatography Photo Workshops to the North East, US and I couldn't be more thrilled!

Her work is utterly inspiring and as a mom of two teenaged boys, Tyler, 15 and Jesse, 12 she has had YEARS of Mama-tographer experience prior to opening The Memory Studio. 

Now, she helps families capture the little moments from maternity & newborn to the full blown events…weddings, parties and everything in between! All so that one day, they can have a legacy to look back on for their loved ones.

On December 1st, Stacey will teach the first Mamatography Photo Workshops class in New Jersey with a 'How To' Holiday Photo theme. In the coming weeks, we will be sharing more information on her workshop. Until then, you may inquire with her directly by email at

Stacey has also signed on to contribute some tips and tricks here on the Mamatography blog for future posts! Here's what she had to open with…
"First thing's first, capture the moment! I always have a camera on me, whether it's my phone, my point and shoot or my DSLR, I don't want to miss anything and even if it's not technically perfect, that's ok. Next, I always look for the best light or open shade. If my kids are doing something outside in bright sunlight I try to direct them to the open shade or I move around them until the sun is at their back.Then, I try to get different angles.
Stacey Panassidi of The Memory Studios
If I have to lay on the ground I will, I'll get up on a chair or table, I'll walk all around the subject to capture the scene from EVERY angle to get what I need. And of course all the close up shots and pull backs (zooming out) to capture the scene and all the details from a days shooting."

A huge thanks to Stacey for diving into this with me, this is an exciting time I think for us both : )

It's my goal to deliver Mamatography™ Photo Workshops wherever there is a need. Whether that be online in the comfort of our homes or in local neighborhoods anywhere. I want to build a team!

If you're an experienced, pro photographer taking pictures of babies, kids or families for a living and would like to teach Mamatography Photo Workshops please email, to discuss how this may work for you and your photography business.

The Mamatography Affiliate Program™ is a brand new concept that provides full, pre designed lesson plans, social media marketing, scheduling/booking assistance and more to photographers anywhere! As a Mamatography™ Photo Workshops Affiliate you'll have the chance to be apart of something new and fresh to offer to your clients. Unique branding is in the works for this program so rest assured that affiliates will have access to modern, creative looking materials for their existing clients and prospective students.

Stay tuned for more about the Mamatography Affiliate Program™ AND next week, the Mamatography 1K Fan Giveaway!!

Happy Weekend, Happy Shooting,

Thursday, October 4, 2012

A Spectacular Family Day & a Story Book Giveaway : Children's Photography Techniques : Mamatography Photo Workshops

This past weekend we had a detour in our plans. For weeks, I've been scheming with a new friend here in Panama to venture to the Caribbean coast so that I could start a photo documentary on the Kuna Yala indians and camp with our families. (My camera having been collecting dust for weeks.) But, the "sicky spirits" had a different intent for us. Both of us and our kids were completely laid up with a mega virus that apparently shows up here at the beginning of the rainy season. There are no seasons here really, just rainy and dry! With that, we wouldn't be venturing on a 3 hour car ride then to an hour wooden boat ride to a remote Caribbean island with 2 sick moms, 3 feverish kids and 2 WELL husbands.

Feeling a little better, Safi's Daddy and I decided to make lemonade out of this situation and take off for an overnighter to El Palmar Beach, a shorter drive on the Pacific side.

There, we enjoyed splashing in the water and just escaping the city. Sunday morning we took a stroll on the sand and had an al fresco breakfast. The light was perfect to snap some shots, so of course I did!

One of our favorite activities to do with Safi is reading. She especially enjoys it at breakfast time. So with the light what it was, I captured her enjoying a good read. 

I have these brand new colorful books that I've been dying to show to Safi. Back in May I attended the Mom 2.0 Summit in Miami and mingled with the best of the best Mama bloggers. There, I met an extraordinarily warm and smiley lady, Leah Lesser. She's the Communications Director for Barefoot Books, an independent children's book publisher with a vibrant twist! This month on their Facebook page they asked "What does storytime look like in your family?" and photos from moms around the world flooded in. I took quite an interest to this concept. So, this is our take on it…
Check out the giveaway that Barefoot Books is offering to Mamatography readers at the end of this post!

Later that day, we took a drive up to the mountains to El Valle for a cool off and to stroll the zoo that was highly recommended by my friend, the co-sicky. An hour drive up, then slightly down into "the valley" we arrived at  Zoo Nispero. It was an ethereal place made from my dreams I tell you! Like The Secret Garden of Panama. All the surrounding mountain peaks were covered in mist and everything was a glistening green. With that, it was PICTURE TIME!

Inside the zoo was a wide open garden with a dreamy pond and of course the backdrop of the mountains. Safi was dressed in her same vibrant orange dress from the morning which was a nice contrast to the green around her.

Now for some shooting tips…

1st, make sure that your shutter speed is always fast enough when shooting under low light conditions. As the clouds rolled in I had to increase my exposure but leaving your shutter open longer isn't usually the best way to accomplish this because you will see blur in your photos as did I. When I reviewed my shots at home, I noticed I had used 1/60 for many of what could've been my best shots. Thus, having to scrap some of them due to motion blur. Don't make my mistake! Stay in the safety zone of 1/80 when shooting off of a tripod and subjects in action.

Next, look for some kind of light in the eyes. This isn't always easy, especially when it's overcast. If possible, use a reflector if only to add a "catch light" to your subject's eyes. This means that the eyes are reflecting some sort of light source coming from the sun, flash or any other reflective service even water can produce this quality. So, always be mindful of additional light sources around you.

Lastly, when you're somewhere scenic, create some variety in your series of photos. Shoot the space you're in! Your kiddos are forever adorable, but don't forget to capture the scene itself so that when you output your photos whether it be in a printed album or on Facebook, etc. you'll always have a memory of that special place you visited with your family.

AND HERE'S THE GIVEAWAY: Enter in the Rafflecopter below to win your choice of a Barefoot Book! Check out and see what's up for grabs.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Safi reading Who's in the Farmyard, another colorful publication by Barefoot Books

Now for an end note, I have some very BIG announcements to make in the coming weeks and have been plugging away on the Mamatography Instructional Photo App
Stay tuned for all the goodness!

Happy Shooting, Vicky

Monday, September 17, 2012

Photography Today - Blurring Genres :: Photography Lessons for Moms and Pros with Mamatography

I'm pleased to share an ongoing feature here at the Mamatography blog showcasing up and coming (or just up) Mamatographers.

These women are perfecting their craft as shooters all while playing their most important rolls as mothers. This one's a little racy mamas! 

I knew I wanted to feature South Florida photographer Sarit Lauro this time around after I caught a glance of a few of her recent boudoir shots posted on her Facebook page. 

Sarit is a diverse shooter which brings me to the topic of this post.

Modern photographers are having to be more diverse than ever before in order to stay fresh and competitive.

While many a Mamatographer may establish an interest in newborn, children and family portrait photography out of inspiration from parenting, kids grow up! With that, so do our interests. Motherhood commonly sparks a passion for life, and in some cases, photography of ALL aspects of it.

Personally, Sarit touched my life with her photography and I'd like to take this chance to reflect on my coming of a mother through these pictures.

I met Sarit when I was about 20 weeks pregnant. She was working on her birth photography portfolio and what better ginny pig than a pregnant photographer! 

One of the elements I appreciate the most about Sarit's work is her knowledge of lighting. Especially artificial light. She's really taken the time to understand all the facets, not limiting the quality of her work.

It goes without saying that Sarit gave me what was probably the second greatest gift next to the birth of my daughter, Safi. She captured it.  
Our First Kiss

Then, after Safi arrived, she relieved me of the heavy lifting and shot her newborn portraits. It's no secret that in my professional life, I wasn't a newborn photographer. So I was more than glad to leave this up to her!

Now, almost 2 years later, Sarit has transitioned her self as many of us have to and WANT to do.

She launched Boudoir by Sarit in conjuntion with Photography by Sarit but wisely divided her Facebook pages and websites. By doing so, she's able to connect with a vast variety of clientele and yet there isn't a conflict of interest between subject matter.

Use a combinations of light sources for silky smooth skin and overall vibrance in your images.

 Her imagery is tasteful and progressive. Here, Sarit share's some technical notes:

"The camera I use is the Canon 5d Mark II and my favorite lens is a 24-70mm f2.8. 
For my boudoir shoots, I use mainly natural light. I try to position my model by a window and then I fill in the light on the face or other areas of the body that I want to accentuate with my new favorite LED light. 
For children and family portraits I have been bringing my Alien Bees lights with a stand and umbrella. It works great for both indoors and outdoor shooting."
Sarit Lauro is based out of Delray Beach, FL where she lives with her 2 beautiful daughters and husband.

Stay tuned to the Mamatography blog for more on advanced lighting techniques.

Happy Shooting, Vicky

Monday, September 10, 2012

Introduction to Adobe Lightroom and Customizing Presets

There's been some buzz around the Mamatography Photo Sharing & Critique group with questions about customizing Lightroom "Presets".

What is Lightroom you ask? Adobe Lightroom is by my own definition, a photo editing and correcting software. Think of it as a more in depth version of iPhoto or Picasa, YIKES!! Many a Mamatographer are entering the business of photography today. Some are not. No matter your cause, we all need to DO SOMETHING with our photos, no? 

Lightroom is a means for that something.

Here, you can import your photos from your camera card or hard drive. Then, create dynamic black and white or color enhanced images. Correct "exposure", color balance, sharpening, noise reduction and MORE!

To the left you will see the Presets panel. This is where you will find Adobe's default presets as well as be able to make your own.

Presets are a series of Lightroom settings whose information is stored as a set of color and correction controls. If you are familiar with Adobe Photoshop, you may of heard of the term "Actions". These are also sets of settings which are recorded and then applied to one or a sequence of photos to save time and produce professional effects to your photos.

Note: Actions and Presets are heavily used today. Enter into your photos with a light hand so that your personal style remains intact!

Below you will see that I used a default preset, an Orange Filter, under LR B&W Filter Presets. These offer a wide range of instant, high quality B&W settings to apply to your photos. Sometimes I really like the infrared, sometimes not! The Orange is natural yet produces tons of depth and contrast.

Below those, you'll see the remaining list of default presets. Play with them! But output them sparingly. Not all of them are fit to print or even display on Facebook for that matter.

Okay, let's make our own Presets now! Below is a list of my few personal presets. I usually name them by what ever project I'm working on. 

This is because 1 recorded preset from 1 shoot won't necessarily translated to another project due to lighting conditions, color temperatures, and general exposure issues. BUT presets are great to use within the same shoot because you can "batch" apply a preset to a sequence of shot saving TONS of time and effort!

This is really the backbone of why pros use Lightroom, to crunch down time while outputting FABULOUSLY styled images!

Can you see why this would be great for moms too? Never enough time in the day to sit down and look at our pics yet beautify them. 

Below is the Presets dialog (located at left in Lightroom). To the right of the box is a plus sign, click it. Note: that you must have a photo selected with adjustment settings (i.e. exposure, color) already made to then "record" a preset.

 Next, this box below will appear. Name your presets and if you'd like, chose the photos settings which you would like to be replicated.

Done! You've now created a custom Preset! Now, all you have to do is click on the next pic or Shift, Click on a series of photos, press on your new Preset and VOIL'A, you've got your self a whole shoots worth of professional, corrected images!

Pat your self on the back : )

Happy Shooting, Vicky