I Heart Faces Photo Challenge: Summer Fun | Santa Clarita Photographer

I haven’t entered an I Heart Faces contest in quite some time, honestly because I just haven’t had the time.  I was checking my emails this morning and saw the theme of this contest and knew I had just the image.  This image is of my son.  We had spent months re-landscaping our backyard.  This was the first day post-landscaping that the kids got to go out and play and boy, was my son in Heaven.

Pin the Photographer on the Camera

This past weekend, my husband and I packed up the kids and headed to Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure for two days (we had a total blast!).  Being a professional photographer gave me a unique perspective when visiting the parks.  As I walked around, I noticed that LOTS of people have DSLRs; A LOT.  The more I watched, the more I realized that these people could be placed in distinct categories and some of them are pretty darn humorous.

Please note, none of this is meant to offend, it’s just simply what I observed.

This photographer isn’t really interested in the functionality of their high-end camera.  My guess is that it was a very generous gift from someone, because this photographer is perpetually on auto and rocks the stock kit lens.  This photographer is thoroughly enjoying the time spent with their family and snaps away at the designated photo spots in the park.

This photographer has a slightly nicer equipment setup. Although I’ve noticed that she likes to give the perception that she is an expert, she doesn’t exactly know how to use it and fumbles slightly.  She poses her kids in precarious positions without regard to safety because she thinks this will make the best image.  Once said kids are balanced precariously, she has her husband block foot traffic so no other foreign persons are in her perfect images and shrugs off an dirty looks from any other park-goers.  She starts firing the shutter and – uh oh – up pops the on-camera flash, a dead-giveaway that she’s likely shooting in auto, versus using her camera to it’s fullest capability.  The kids are yelling and crying now that they are falling from their precarious positions and the momtographer throws up her hands in frustration, starts yelling at her kids that they can’t do anything right and they all walk off in utter misery.  *I did not witness any so-called dadtographers, though I’m sure they do exist.

While the momtographers I witnessed were all women, the “experts” I witnessed were all men.  These “experts” were oh-so-willing to jump in and tell their female counterparts what they were doing wrong with their camera, despite the fact that they were giving inaccurate advice.  And I [loosely] quote two conversations I overheard.  For the purposes of this blog post, I will assume that these couples were husband and wife.

Actual Conversation #1:
Wife: I just don’t understand why all of the pictures I take on Night Mode come out
Husband (Expert):  That’s because you’re using the LCD screen to take them.       Sharpness is created by the viewfinder.  Although it’s much harder to take a picture though the viewfinder, because it’s not as accurate as the LCD.

Actual Conversation #2:
Wife:  What would I use Continuous Mode for?
Husband (Expert): That’s for when YOU are moving the camera continuously.  It keeps the pictures from being blurry.
Wife: When I use it, it takes more than one picture at once.  How is that supposed to help blurriness?
Husband (Expert): You must be doing something wrong.  It shouldn’t be taking more than one picture.

The Habitual Snapper
This photographer takes pictures of anything. And EVERYTHING.  S/he snaps photos of his or her kids, but also the various sights of Disney, i.e. the castle, Main Street USA, etc.  However, this photographer takes it farther.  A fence becomes an unwilling victim of 20 snaps. A bush, grass, clouds…these all become digitally memorialized by The Habitual Snapper, in order to properly remember his or her vacation.  I literally witnessed a man taking a photo of a rock.  There was nothing special about this rock, it was literally, just a rock.  I also witnessed a man walking around with his camera on video.  I’m not talking about standing in a spot and filming the sights.  He was filming his WALK though Disneyland, as in, the pathways and an occasional ride.  He continued to do this for a full 8 – 10 minutes before we took another pathway and split off from him.

The Pro
There were two types of Pros.  The Equipment Master and The iPhone Wielder.  Let me explain…

The Equipment Master
This photographer has their large and very expensive camera equipment out for the world to see.  There is nothing “stock” about it.  We’re talking, pro camera, speedlight, lens, and a professional camera bag/backpack.  This photographer is maneuvering through the hoards of people, bending down, holding their camera over their head, and balancing themselves precariously and then snapping one shot which, of course, is perfect.  Repeat. Repeat.

The iPhone Wielder
Okay, so this photographer doesn’t carry a DSLR, but I felt that this category still deserved honorable mention. The iPhone Wielder isn’t bogged down with equipment, but still knows that they have a powerful photo-taking weapon.  Although this photographer only has this small device, they have 3 – 5 camera apps to make their images more interesting and/or jazz them up (what’s a photo without editing?).  Because they understand lighting, composition, and whatnot, they manage to have the images come out halfway decent, despite the absence of manual camera settings.  They still miss the comfort of manual settings and don’t love to let the camera control them.   They are very vocal about this.

Did I miss any?  Know of another category? Share it!

So which category do you think I fit into?


It’s Been a Fab 2011!

WordPress put together a super-cool presentation about the Cristen Farrell Photography Blog in 2011.  So much fun!  I’m looking forward to a spectacular 2012 with all of my friends, family, and clients!  Happy New Year!

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 6,800 times in 2011. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the full presentation!

The Magic of the Season | Los Angeles Photographer

My holiday decorations are up and my kids are in a festive mood.  Their excitement got me thinking… What makes these holiday decorations so special and we look forward to decorating each year?  The more I thought, the more I realized that each one had a special meaning for me and these are things I want to pass on to my kids.  Here are some holiday items special to me…

This was the first holiday decoration that I ever bought for myself!

This was the first holiday decoration I bought for the first home we owned.

These figurines belonged to my late mother-in-law; she was obsessed with Boyds Bears and Cherished Teddies!

I reindeer that was my husband’s when he was a little boy.

Our monogrammed stockings and stocking holders. My husband gave these to me as a Christmas gift in 2006.

The first decorations I bought when we bought our 2nd (and current) home.  I was thrilled to finally have a staircase to decorate!

The advent calendar that my husband grew up using.  This is my kids’ favorite of all of the Christmas decorations!  They get a huge kick out of moving the mouse each day.
















When I was a kid finding out just how much I loved art, this was one of the first few crafts I made for fun.
















The first holiday gift I ever received from a client just because.
















Our very first “Christmas Tree”.
















The frame that holds all of my kids’ pictures with Santa over the past 8 years.
















My mom gave me this snowman the first year we lived in our current house.  She was so thrilled that she had found this handmade item! Makes me laugh when I think about how excited she really was!
















We don’t have our Christmas tree yet, but I’ll be sure to add photos of that also!  We have so many special ornaments too…


Trust Your Photographer

So you’re all dressed up, you have your hair done and your high heels on and your photographer asks you to…climb into a planter?

The best thing about using a professional photographer is his or her unique creative vision.  What may seem strange and just plain silly to you might be part of your photographer’s master plan.  As a photographer myself, I really do think that I see things in a unique way.  When I start a session, the first thing I do is survey my surroundings and unfailingly, it’s like the pieces of a puzzle coming together in my head…click, click, click.  Maybe I’m looking to photograph with a certain angle of something in the background and standing in that planter happens to be the only way to get that angle.

In the same respect, I don’t think you’ll find a great photographer that doesn’t bend himself or herself into a pretzel to get a shot, get down on the ground, climb through planters and underbrush, climb a tree, stand on a table…you get the idea.  I often joke that I should be in fantastic shape with as much manuevering as I do when I’m out photographing (except I’m not – LOL).  In all seriousness though, I do what it takes to get the shot I want and my body often feels the pains of it the next day.

So what’s the bottom line? If you have a photo session set up, be prepared to place your full and complete trust in your photographer.  What he or she instructs you to do (or does himself or herself) may seem odd at the time, but if you have chosen a true professional with creative vision and raw talent, the end result will likely blow you away.  You being comfortable in those images is what will truly put them over the top.

Be you!

When Photoshopping Goes Too Far | Los Angeles Photographer

It’s a common question I get from clients: “Can you Photoshop Me?”  Well, technically, I can; I do know how to do it.  However, my answer usually depends on what I am being asked to Photoshop specifically.  Let me explain:

Why do clients choose to make the investment in professional pictures with their families?  In my experience, the answer to this question is resoundingly that clients want to preserve the memory of their family at this particular point in time. So why then would you want to make yourself look like someone else?  This is YOUR memory – you should look like YOURSELF and be proud of it!  Embrace who you are and what you look like because this is how your family sees you…and LOVES you!

If a client asks me to color gray hair, completely remove wrinkles, or thin out their waistline, my answer is no about 99% of the time – I am not in the business of creating fake people.  That said, I do soften wrinkles and such that may have been made more obvious than usual in an image depending on lighting, posing, etc.  When you have your photos taken by me, you can expect your images to look flattering, but not fake.

There is a twist on this. I once had a client tell me that her daughter got hit in the face while playing sports at school and had a black eye.  Obviously, she doesn’t always look like this, so I had no problem Photoshopping her black eye out of the images. Sick kids with runny noses? I can fix that too.

I never want anyone to look at a photo I have taken and say, “that’s obviously Photoshopped”.

I found this video online and I think it is a great depiction of the reason I stand behind these principles. *
* There is music, so please turn down your volume before clicking Play if you do not wish to hear it.

The videos contained in this blog post were not created by Cristen Farrell Photography, nor does Cristen Farrell Photography endorse them in any way.

I Heart Faces Weekly Photo Challenge: Let Them Be Little | Santa Clarita Photographer

I couldn’t help but think of my own little one when I saw this week’s photo challenge.  My 2 year old daughter is full of innocent spunk and sass and laughter.  Where her brother has always been well-behaved and easygoing, she has always been one to test our limits. I was snapping pictures in the backyard one day and she ran up and made this face at me, happily screaming at the top of her lungs, a true testament to her personality.

I Heart Faces Weekly Photo Challenge: Tickled Pink | Santa Clarita Photographer

A few months ago, I arrived to a session location early and wandered the grounds to scope out some great spots. After ducking down a pathway, I discovered that all of the trees were in full bloom…bright pink and soft pink flowers…and they were gorgeous! Now, when the family I was photographing arrived and they were coordinated in hot pink and black, I just knew that it was going to make for some fantastic images.  This one is my favorite, just because it really shows how playful and energetic these two kids really were. Loved them!

Full session blog post coming this weekend.

I Heart Faces Photo Challenge: Hands | Los Angeles Photographer

It’s been a while since I have entered the weekly I Heart Faces Photo Challenge, but when I saw that this week’s theme was ‘Hands’, one image immediately came to mind.  This image was taken at the hospital in the first few hours of Baby H’s life.  It was taken when her Mommy and Daddy were just learning the curves of her face, her expressions, and just how tiny and fragile she really was. As I was snapping away, her mother touched her foot and that fragility was boldly evidenced by the contrast.