Cold Weather Portraits

How many family photographs have you taken outdoors in the cold weather? Do you find that most of your photo album is filled with images from warmer seasons? Consider pulling your camera outside when your kids are playing in the snow, you are cross-country skiing, or your family is hanging holiday lights. Cold weather portraits make wonderful memories.

As I write this, I am remembering a photo of me learning to walk in the snow. In the photo, my mother is wearing one of those big fuzzy hats that was popular in the seventies. It is the kind that pulled down over your ears, had pom poms under the chin, and looked like a soft fuzzy lamb. This image is one of my favorite childhood pictures. I was wearing a bright pink coat that matched the color of my nose and showed off my marvelous tight curls. (The same curls that are a bane to me now!)

There are many reasons we may not want to take pictures outdoors when the weather turns cold. One is that our fingers are too numb to press the shutter. We are concentrating on staying warm, dressing up for the weather, and not inviting frostbite. Another is that we may find winter wear unappealing for good “portraits”. But good children’s portraits first rely on a child’s expression or body language. A child having fun and just being a child makes the most appealing photo no matter what the attire. And as for the photographer’s clothing, plan ahead as with any winter activity and you will be just fine.

My daughter will remember her first taste of snow and her first snow angels because her daddy captured those moments with the point and shoot camera. I suspect we’ll also document her first real sled ride, her first time on skis, her first snowball fight and all her other first time winter activities too.

Though the “traditional” outdoor natural light portraiture season ends when the leaves fall, you may want to consider a non-traditional portrait session. Capture a marvelous expression and the way a knit hat. Capture a little pink nose and cheeks peaking out of an overstuffed coat. Photograph snow angels, catching snow on the tongue, snow ball fights, and footprints through the snow.

Whether you hire a professional photographer or want to take your own unique snapshots, make sure that the outdoors plays a part in your winter photo album. You will document memories that will last a lifetime and maybe even make the cold a little more bearable with another fun winter time activity –photography.

Cold Weather Portrait Tips:

– Your camera should work fine in cold weather. Protect against condensation when going from cold to warm by putting it in an airtight plastic bag until the camera reaches room temperature. Batteries will run down faster in the cold. Keep spares on hand.

-One of the biggest problems with winter pictures is getting snow to look white and not gray. A camera “reads” a scene as “middle gray,” making the most dominant part of your picture a gray tone. With an advanced camera, this is easily remedied by overcompensating, opening up your shutter to let more light in. Your camera thinks it is overexposing the image, but really it is getting it just right. With a point and shoot camera, an exposure lock feature will allow you to compensate by first focusing on a dark area and locking in the reading. (See your camera’s manual for assistance.)

-To stay warm, wear thin moisture wicking gloves. Wear a second layer of warm wool gloves. The kind on which the fingers fold so you can easily manipulate your camera’s buttons are ideal. I also stick a pair of chemical hand warmers in each palm and in each waterproof hiking boot. Don’t forget your scarf, hat, long underwear, and heavy coat.

Holiday Portraits: The Good, the Bad and the Funny

If your holiday portraits are starting to look a little stale from year to year, it might be time to revamp your approach.

Spice things up and try out-of-the-box ideas for memorable and lasting photos each season. Whether you’re showing off the little one in a greeting card, making invitations for a birthday party, or taking on a formal family shot, there are always new things to try that will make your pictures special.

Read some tips below if you’re ready to take on a fun and festive photo shoot this holiday season. We’ve got you covered with good ideas, not-so-good choices, and even a few downright adorable picks for four beloved holidays.

Winter Holiday Portraits

The winter months bring about lots of family holiday portraits-which can, in turn, lead to stressed out families during the most wonderful time of the year. Try a new approach to your winter pictures this year that will keep everyone jolly.

The Good: Take a close-up shot of your child or family decorating a Christmas tree or lighting the Hanukkah menorah. Make sure you get a good shot of someone putting the star on top of the Christmas tree!

The Bad: Red Sweater Fest-the ones Aunt Mildred knitted for the entire family five years ago.

The Funny: A red nose and antler headset for Fido. Or better yet, for Dad.

Birthday Photos

Birthday photos give you another good excuse to take a picture of your growing tot or child. Use these pictures in a birthday invitation for a personalized creation.

The Good: Go crazy with colors. This is the perfect opportunity to get wild with bright clothing colors, decorations, iced cakes or presents, and the more props you have for this shot, the better. It’s all about the birthday boy or girl here, so make people pay attention with fun visuals.

The Bad: A birthday photo with your child’s favorite cartoon character. This kind of photograph will not stand the test of time, because one day this character will be in, the next day it will be out.

The Funny: A little boy having fun and eating his cake too on his first birthday.

Halloween Shots

Halloween is a holiday that’s often neglected when it comes to holiday portraits, but it’s one that offers the biggest opportunity for creative shots.

The Good: A photo of all the kids in their Halloween costumes. Face makeup and props are a must for these!

The Bad: Severed anything. Try to keep the costumes cute or comical; avoid the gruesome.

The Funny: A pet popping out of a scary jack-o-lantern.

Valentine’s Day Pictures

When love is in the air, it’s always a good time for a holiday photo. Grab your honey and start making some memories.

The Good: A backs-to-the-camera shot with the two of you crossing arms and looking at each other in a way that creates a heart-shaped outline.

The Bad: Any photo taken right after a major scuffle. There’s no need to immortalize that special moment.

The Funny: Giving your significant other a cute smooch on the cheek while he or she chows down on some Hershey’s kisses.

Don’t be afraid to try new ideas when it comes to holiday portraits. The more ways to show off that pretty face, the better!

Pet Memorials and Keepsakes

The death of a pet is a solemn and difficult event. After spending years loving and caring for an animal, enjoying companionship and friendship, you are faced with the emptiness of loss. Finding ways to honor and cherish the memory of your pet is not only a good practice for helping you heal and grieve but also gives closure and respects the memory of your animal.

One way to honor your pet’s memory is to purchase a headstone or marker commemorating your pet’s life. These markers can be made of stone, marble, granite, slate or even quartz. Laser technologies allow a picture of your pet to be etched into the marker if you so desire along with an epitaph. These markers or gravestones come in various sizes and shapes and can be customized to suit your needs. Stones may be displayed outdoors to mark the grave of your pet or indoors on a decorative stand. Also available are garden stones that can be designed as pawprints, decorative headstones and rock markers to set among the flowers and shrubs in your yard.

Another product that is available to commemorate the life of your pet is glass keepsakes. Ornaments, stained glass pet portraits, and pendants are designed to honor your loved one. Ornaments are delicately created to house a small portion of your pet’s cremains and can be lovingly displayed on mantels, hung at holidays or placed among other treasured items. Remains are handled with dignity and care and forever encased in a beautiful ornament.

Artwork in the form of sketches, paintings, and stained glass can be created using photos of your pet. Oils, pastels, pencil, pen, charcoal, acrylics and water paints are all mediums that can be used to create a beautiful portrait of your pet. Pet cremain artwork is also available where your friend’s ashes is mixed respectfully and tastefully with oil and acrylic paints and used to create a masterpiece on canvas. Stained glass pet portraits are created by using your favorite photo of your pet and duplicating it using glassworks. New technologies utilizing traditional glass art design and glass fusing methods help to create a lasting glass portrait that can be proudly displayed.

Customized jewelry is also available as a pet memorial. Similar to the ornaments, pendants, beads, and glass jewelry encases a small portion of your pet’s cremains allowing you to hold a piece of them close to your heart. Each piece is hand-crafted and can be custom ordered. Photo tags, charm bracelets and photo necklaces can also be created with your companion’s picture.

Musical and poetic expressions can also be created for your deceased. Various companies now offer creative services in order to compose a song, poem, or story using details of your pet’s life to compose a customized expression. You will be asked to answer a few simple questions and in return, you will receive a thoughtful, quality composition to honor your friend.

Other classy items include photo blankets, plaques, magnets, photo books/scrap books and keepsake boxes. Photo blankets will allow you to continue to curl up with your companion while cherishing their memory. Plaques, magnets and photo books display your favorite pictures of time spent with your friend. Keepsake boxes come in a variety of designs and allow for you to store a pet’s favorite toy, leash, and photos as well as cremains in a separate compartment. Art renderings of your pet can be painted or etched into the boxes or a photo can be attached to the box.

Urns are a common option for a memorial for your pet and come in a variety of classic styles and designs. Urns can be handpainted, custom-designed or chosen from a wide selection of options. Wood, ceramic, glass, and biodegradable options are available to store your precious pet’s cremains.

There are many ways to commemorate the life of your pet. As you mourn, try to choose something that will capture the personality of your companion and will give you a long-lasting memory of the years you shared together. Keep in mind that you can customize most products to ensure that the process is one of respect and honor for the life your pet led.

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