Guest Post | Capturing Family Connections With Rebecca Cooper (+ Giveaway)

In addition to the wonderful guest post below Rebecca is giving away 10 copies of her ebook. Please leave a comment to enter. Comments will be closed at 8pm Pacific tonight.

Hi everyone, my name is Rebecca Cooper. I'm a wife and a mother of four and I'm originally from Canada but our little family is currently living on an island in the Caribbean. I am a photographer, a scrapbooker and I have a blog where I write about our family's daily adventures, share photography tips, scrapbooking & crafting ideas and much more called simple as that.

I'm so excited to be joining Ali on her blog today and talking a little bit about something that I love a lot and that is, photography. More specifically photographing the people in my life that I love the most, my family.

With family gathering for the holidays our thoughts turn towards enjoying time with our loved ones, renewing special family bonds and celebrating the connections we have with each other. What better time could there be to grab your camera and set out capturing these special connections between loved ones. Today I'm going to share a few ideas on how to capture these meaningful photos and give you a few tools to capture those photos in any lighting situation.

5 Tips for Capturing Meaningful Connections:

1. Allow your subjects enough space. It's definitely harder to relax and be yourself when there is a camera in your face. Why not try taking a few steps back and allow your subjects to interact with each other rather than with you (the photographer) and see what happens. Consider using a zoom lens for this very purpose, allowing you to give your subject(s) some space but still giving you the feeling of being right there.

2. Your subjects are going need to get close. Now a little bit closer. Without the luxury of words the connection you set out to record with a photograph need to be visible. A hug, an arm around a shoulder, or simply a loving look. When I photograph my children I like to encourage them to 'snuggle up' or even sit facing each other nose to nose for a moment. This almost always guarantees a few giggles and a precious photo is never too far behind.

3. Have your camera readily available. Special moments of connection do not usually happen on demand so keep your camera handy. I keep mine in a kitchen cupboard where its safe from little hands but easy to grab in a hurry. You never know when that sibling rivalry will take a backseat to laughter and snuggles so don't miss that moment because your camera is inaccessible.

4. Learn to observe. Catching a moment of connection on camera is sometimes a practice in patience. Be ready to watch and wait for the moment to come to you instead of chasing after it and you'll be so pleased with the results. An un-posed, genuine moment of love expressed between two (or more) individuals priceless.

5. Know your camera. Boring, I know, but pull out that camera manual and get to know your camera inside and out so you won't miss capturing that special moment while you adjust settings, etc. Practice, practice, practice and soon enough you'll find that you can switch settings as needed without so much as having to look at a dial.

If you find yourself indoors trying to capture some of these meaningful relationships among your family members here are a few ideas that might come in handy:

1. Find as much light as you can. You'd be surprised how much of a difference opening up the curtains, the blinds or a door (if the weather allows) can make on the amount of light available in the space where you'll be taking photos. When possible shoot photos as close to one of these natural light sources as possible.

2. Change your camera settings - to compensate for less light try increasing your ISO. Read up in your camera manual (because every camera is different) and learn how to do this. When you change your ISO you are adjusting your camera's sensitivity to light. The higher the ISO the more sensitive it's going to be which is beneficial when you aren't working with a lot of light. Just be careful you don't set it too high because depending on your camera, higher ISO settings also mean an increased chance of grainy photos.

3. Switch to AV (or A) mode - you can also adjust the aperture on your camera to compensate in low light situations. Switch into AV (or A) mode where you can adjust the aperture and the camera will automatically take care of all the rest of the settings for you in order to achieve a properly exposed photo. Change the f-stop to a smaller number. The smaller number =  a wider aperture (the size of the opening inside your camera lens) and in turn allows more of what light is available to enter your camera.

4. Let go of high expectations - I personally would rather trade a slightly soft image that is naturally lit for a sharp image using flash 9 times out of 10. I prefer the more natural light. I like the mood it creates and the softness of it compared to a harsh, shadowy photo that can be the result of using flash. If you're working in low light just keep in mind sometimes it won't be possible not to use your flash and still get a super sharp photo - and sometimes that's just fine.

5. If you must use a flash - bouncing the flash off of a wall or other reflective surface. To 'bounce' the flash simply point the flash away from your subject towards a reflective object (could be a wall, the ceiling, a mirror, etc.) and the flash will bounce off of the reflective surface and light your subject. The result will be more ambient light created and a photo that doesn't look quite so shadowy as it would by pointing the flash directly at your subject(s).

I hope you've found these tips useful and are able to have some fun this holiday season as you set out capturing family connections with your camera. Enjoy the time with your loved ones and Happy Holidays everyone!

For more quick and easy to follow photography tips check out Rebecca's eBook 40 Top Tips for Better Photos from Ella Publishing. In addition you can follow Rebecca on Twitter or join her on Facebook.

Today Rebecca is generously giving away 10 copies of her ebook.

TO BE ENTERED into this giveaway please leave a comment below (if you are reading this post on Facebook please come to my blog to leave a comment). Comments will be closed at 8pm Pacific tonight (Monday) and the winners posted shortly after. Please be sure to check back or subscribe (click here to get posts delivered to your email box) to see if you are receiving one of the items this week. 

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