When you tell the kids to scream! Snow Magic

When you tell the kids to scream! Snow Magic, Fort Mill, SC, Tega Cay, SC, Charlotte, NC

When you tell the kids to scream inside of a portrait studio what do you think their first instinct is? 

Did you guess scream? Did you guess hesitation? In my boys case it was hesitation. I’ve also had kids turn and look at me or just smile like crazy. Smiling like crazy is always good but in this case we also actually wanted the screaming. It’s so funny when you expect one reaction and get a different one. Kids are the best aren’t they?

What do you get when you add a couple of over dressed boys and a little digital magic?

A whole lotta fun! We live in South Carolina so creating a snow filled winter wonderland is never a promise I can make with Mother Nature in charge. If we get snow it won’t be for a while yet, and it’s never guaranteed. 2016’s big snow was about an inch and really not deep enough for any sledding. My little guy has been talking about when it snows and when the snow comes for months! So I thought why not create a magical winter wonderland portrait of my boys. And guess what they loved it. What do you think? Would your little ones just love seeing themselves in a Winter Wonderland? I’m planning for ours go over the fireplace for the Holiday season and maybe use this as our Holiday card as well. 

When you tell the kids to scream! Snow Magic, Fort Mill, SC, Tega Cay, SC, Charlotte, NC

Would you like to create some Snow Magic for your kids? Contact me and we can have them screaming in no time! Seriously though let’s make some magic for your kids. 

-alicia

803-336-5125 or alicia@insleyphoto.com to grab your Snow Magic Appointment before the end of November!

How talking about your family helps create amazing family portraits, Tega Cay, SC

Family Gallery Wall, Tega Cay, SC Portraits, Fort Mill, SC, Charlotte, NC

Family Wall Gallery

The C family came to see me for family portraits and asked me to create a family wall gallery series for their home. I love to help families prepare for their family portrait session. It’s so much fun to sit down usually with Mom and talk about their family dynamics. Who doesn’t love to talk about their kids, right! But why you may be asking do I want to know all about your family. Well so I can learn what makes them laugh, smile or what gets their attention. There is nothing better than making a little one smile and knowing the topics she cares about ahead of time makes it so much easier!

How to make it easy!

Can you imagine for instance if your little one is into my little pony and loves to read about horses? Now imagine we are in a portrait session and she and I are talking about ponies and how they love to run. Can’t you just see her face light up? Now lets think about this same scenario a little different. Say I didn’t ask those questions ahead of time and we are already in the studio trying to get this little one to smile. And all I keep talking about is Disney princesses. Well she could care less about Cinderella or Ariel,  see where this is going? While I have enough experience to try something different, if I know ahead of time what she’s into the process goes much faster and more smoothly. 

And even easier!

What else can make the process even easier you guessed it, didn’t you? Well if not here’s a hint. Knowing what dad is into? I mean come on if I’m all did you see the Panthers last Sunday and he’s a baseball fan I’ve lost him already. But if Dad likes to rebuild old cars and I can ask him about his latest project. You know I’m gonna get his best smile. So when you are ready for your next family portrait remember I’m gonna ask you all about what your family loves and the more you share the better the outcome!

Leave the C family some love in the comments.

You can see it in the photographs these girls were all about laughing and having a great time! Thanks again C family for letting me capture your little miracles and create your family wall gallery. 

-alicia

Studio Maternity Portraits, Fort Mill, SC

fall studio maternity portraits Fort Mill, SC Tega Cay, SC Charlotte, NC maternity portrait

Studio Maternity Portraits

Aren’t these guys just the cutest? Two dapper young men are ready to add to their crew. One more little man is joining this adorable family. It was so much fun to celebrate this time in their lives for them. Pregnancy portraits can be a little nerve wracking for expecting mommas. I totally get it and aim to make all mommas feel super comfortable in my studio. And you can see that here she looks comfortable and happy doesn’t she?

Creating wall portraits for her family was awesome these portraits just naturally fit together in and cohesive story telling way. Telling the story of her family is the goal. Are you ready to tell the story of your pregnancy and your journey? Get in touch and let’s have a chat about your story.

-alicia

PS want to learn my 8 best tips for new parents? Grab my free guide.


 

Why I could kick myself for selling digitals, Print is better!

framed cd on the wall no one wants this fort Mill sc photography

Why I could kick myself for selling just digitals!

Back when I started out on my own in 2004 digital was still kind of new. Everyone assumed digital was archival. I mean we could back it up and make unlimited copies. Archival is a term often used by photographers meaning a print or film can last in the archives. For reference those color prints your parents got at the department store when you were kids should last at least 50 years if properly stored and cared for. The newer papers and printing processes used today are guaranteed a bit longer. Most about 100 years if properly stored. That digital file I started out selling on CD back in 2004 is a big old question mark ? Because there are so many factors.

First off that CD we used to give digital files on is lasting 8-10 years. If it was written on with Sharpie or printed on with an adhesive label more like 5 years. Why so short? Well as it turns out the ink from that sharpie actually eats away at the CD material. Ok so I’m human I screwed up. Now we use USB drives. Well those things just keep changing. eHow says a usb drive may last ten years depending on how many times it is used. So really not much better than the CD was. Crap.

So the moral of my intro here is Print, Print, Print is better.

The only thing we know will last at least until your baby is an adult is a print. The best part about prints they can be copied. They are the only guarantee. But hey as a new mom on a limited budget I know you might be thinking well I just need it to last until I get back to work or we can save to print them later. But let me just tell you about my slap in the face wake up call I got this year. 

framed cd on the wall no one wants this
Is this what you want for your memories?

The slap in the face!

Now she didn’t mean to do it and I totally thanked her for my wake up call. But here is what went down. I went to visit my friend who shall remain nameless. She lives 4 hours from me and has several kids that I have been photographing for ten years. I even photographed her maternity session before her first was born. But we haven’t lived in the same town since college. So visits have just gotten more and more chaotic the more kiddos we had. But my latest visit I came alone with just my gear for updated family and kid portraits of course. And after the kiddos went to bed we were sitting in her new living room talking. And she lamented to me “I’ve just been so busy I haven’t hung up any photographs of the kids in this place!” So I said “Well I’m here to help where are your frames (I’m thinking they are still in a box) let’s hang some up!”

And she said here comes the slap in the face part! “oh they are all on CD or flash drive. I’ve never printed any of the photographs you’ve given me.”

Wait What?!?! I wanted to die right there on her couch. But instead I had an epiphany. I’ve been photographing friends and clients alike for years and just giving them digital files. I thought I was helping my friends by gifting them the files and letting them print what they wanted. And my clients I thought I was giving them what they wanted, what they had been asking for. Boy was I wrong. 

No one wants to come for a portrait session and leave with homework. Especially homework they don’t have time to do!

My clients newborn clients or worse, those who are expecting a baby and thinking about the millions of things they need to do to get ready. They don’t need or want digital files to do-it-yourself print as homework. They just end up tucked away in a drawer or maybe even downloaded to a computer that may or may not work in a year or two. What new moms really want is a beautifully framed print of baby hung on their nursery wall. Or a framed canvas collection of baby’s first year decorating the stairwell in their home. Let’s get real what new mom do you know that has time to order a print online, wait for it to arrive, take it to the local frame shop, along with baby and  baby’s older brother who refuses to ride in the cart, get it framed, come back in a week to pick it up and then wait some more for dad to have time to hang it, once she has finally decided where it should hang?

No mom I know has time for that.

Ain’t nobody with little kids got time for that. And putting together a photo album online, nobody has time for that ever. I’m changing my ways as of right now. No more diy, homework feeling digital only packages from me. Photography studios provide a service, right? For Insley that means planning, creating and printing your beautiful artwork of your family. And installation of your artwork is always included! This is why Print is better!

framed baby portrait sitting up boy black and white, print is better!
Or does this help you remember when he learned to sit up on his own?

Are you ready for a different photography experience? One where we do it all for you? Are you tired of leaving your memories in a drawer? Ready for archival prints? Are you ready for a better way? Get in touch today. 

-alicia

What is an au pair?

Alright friends new this year I am going to be featuring some guest posters to talk about things you all may be curious about. First off we have Cultural Care Au Pair to tell about What an au pair is and what they do. I personally did not know all the details of an au pair. Of course I was curious to know more, so without further ado!

What is an au pair? 

An au pair is a young adult from overseas who lives with your family on a legal visa for up to two years.  This person is here to provide childcare in exchange for room and board. Plus an opportunity to become part of an American family. Au pairs can care for your children on a schedule that works for your family’s personal needs, making it a very flexible option. They can also help with household duties related to your children, including laundry, cooking and room pick-up. He or she can work up to 45 hours a week, no more than 10 hours per day. The extra set of hands they provide is often just what busy families need to make their lives more manageable and more fun!

What's an au pair infographic, learn more

Cultural Care

Our program works best for families who like the idea of welcoming someone who becomes an extended family member into their homes.  And for families who have a genuine interest in cultural exchange. Your au pair will share her own culture and language with your whole family. He or she will also want to learn more about America. Most host families and au pairs keep in touch beyond their au pair year and often visit each other again in the U.S. or overseas.

Au pair program is regulated by the Department of State and only few agencies can bring au pairs into the US. We handle all of the logistics and paperwork.  Many parents are surprised how affordable and flexible this type of childcare is. 

Learn More

Want to learn more about hosting? Please fill out this interest form www.culturalcare.com/mzacharova.

Thanks so much Marcela for sharing about au pairs and how they can help your family. I’m feel more informed. It sounds like a great service for busy moms. Marcela’s website link is here if you would like to learn more.

-alicia

what's an au pair? learn more

Ten tips to take better Halloween Photos of your kids – Charlotte, NC Kid Portraits

ten tips to better halloween photos of your kids

Everyone wants cute Halloween photos of their children. But lets be real, parents are busy and on Halloween kids are even busier. If they aren’t running away from the costume they picked out and insisted you buy, Or bouncing off the walls with anticipation Or crying because the dress is itchy Or the dragon costume is too hot – I unfortunately can’t do anything about the costume debacle and in truth my toddler will probably go as himself this year (he refused to be Spiderman for our first photo shoot attempt.) But what I can do is offer you a few quick tips to take better Halloween photos of your kids this year.

ten tips for better halloween photos of your kids, Charlotte, NC child photographer
Refused to wear his Spiderman costume but is still precious.

Ten tips to take better Halloween Photos

  1. Camera setting tips: raise your ISO in low light, settings between 400-1600 are your best bet. Above 1600 you are going to get a lot of noise in your images. Some cameras are better than others at higher ISO’s but to be very safe stay at or below 1600. Shutter speed is a big one with kids. The rule of thumb is to never photograph anything without a tripod below 1/60 of a second. For me, in practice, if you are photographing a toddler don’t go below 1/125 of a second. Two year olds are fast and they are never still. Quick side lesson: the smaller the number, 1/125 in this case, the faster the shutter opens and closes and the more it freezes the action.
  2. The easiest way to get great Halloween costume photos of your kids is to take them before dark. I know that probably won’t work for a lot of parents or kids. But like @it’s always autumn suggests. Do a dry run before Halloween. This even gives you a chance to make sure everything fits and works for the door-to-door trick or treating. Plus it is a great way to get awesome Halloween photos without competing with trick or treating.
  3. Take a lot of close ups. Find your focus. By that I mean find the subject of your images and cut out the clutter. Grab those cute expressions all in furry cat ears or vampire makeup and crop out the background noise.
  4. Don’t forget to take some images without the mask on. There is nothing worse than looking back at family photos and thinking I’m not really sure who this little spiderman is.

    ten tips to better halloween photos of your kids, Rock Hill, SC Spider-man, Kid portrait
    finally got this kid in costume
  5. Avoid on camera flash if you can. If you are taking photos indoors or hanging out at a Halloween party this tip is especially for you. Yes I know your camera came with a flash, and you are asking yourself aren’t I suppose to use the tools I’m given. Yes and sometimes on camera flash is the only choice you have.
    ten tips to better halloween photos of your kids, Spider-man, Ironman, Fort Mill Child Photographer
    bounce flash at dust

    But for those of you inside turn off that flash or manipulate it. The easiest manipulation for on camera flash is to bounce it off of a white surface. The ceiling or a white 3×5 card and tape are both easy cheap options. In the cases where you are outside and the only way to get the image is with flash soften, diffuse, or scatter the light so you can avoid the red eyes, glasses glare and harsh shadows like in this photo above. Softening the light can be just as easy and cheap as using a Kleenex and a rubber band to soften the flash. Or you can get something more fancy like this on amazon for under $10.

  1. Use available light when ever possible. By this I mean move those kiddos under a streetlight, or a porch light, photograph them looking into candles or playing with glow sticks. This adds interest to your Halloween images and avoids the dreaded flash.
  2. On that same note don’t forget about your flashlights. 95% of the time ghoul lighting is not what you want in snapshots of your children. But at Halloween dressed as actual monsters ghoul lighting is fun and fitting.

    ten tips for better halloween photos of your kids, Ironman, Ghoul lighting, Kid Portraits Rock Hill, SC
    Ghoul lighting with a flashlight on Ironman
  3. Carved pumpkin tip. If you are taking photos and want to see that light from inside your pumpkin shine through this tip is for you. First add more light. Most times for a carved Halloween pumpkin one candle is typical, but for photos add a couple more. Or consider a battery-operated light. I’m thinking led will be my best bet and I tried it here. ten tips for better halloween photos of your kidsUse backlighting when possible. For example a dim porch light or side window light will help if it is totally dark outside. An even better idea is to take them at dusk. If you can do this before or after the big night, that way you can get the good light without missing something else photo worthy. The idea behind photographing your pumpkins at dusk is that the outline and orange color will still show. And the beautiful light of dusk won’t over power the candlelight. (Which flash will do).
  1. More of a reminder than a tip but don’t forget to check your camera batteries. Nothing like grabbing your camera on the way out the door and realizing it won’t turn on or you don’t have the right size battery in the house.
  2. Last tip take tons of photographs. Don’t be afraid to try different angles, different perspectives even having the kids turn away from the camera can make for a fun and interesting image. It’s a holiday for kids so have fun with it. The beauty of digital is that we can delete all the bad frames. woohoo!!

Tell me what did you think of my ten tips to take better Halloween Photos? Let me know in the comments below

-Happy Halloween Alicia

 

Sweet Sibling Portraits Timeless in Fort Mill

Sweet siblings in Studio

These sweet siblings came to see me in my home studio forever ago and somehow I never got them on my blog. So sorry S & L. lets make up for that right now. This family was one of my first portrait clients back when I was just starting out. I believe the first portrait session we did together was a maternity session before S was born. Seems like yesterday I was a there home photographing his baby session. I still remember the Winnie the pooh nursery. I’m sure the kids don’t remember that but their parents always will. And I am so thankful that his parents gave me a chance as a photographer way back then. I know they have their own memories from the baby portraits but for me they are extra special. For S it was my chance to break out on my own and start Insley Photography. Then when L was first born she was one of my first newborn babies when I decided to specialize in newborns.

Now look at them both big kids in elementary school. These two sweet siblings are always full of smiles and laughter. They are also the best of friends. It is truly inspiring to watch these two interact. I predict these kids will be world leaders one day. I can’t wait to see you guys again soon. Sweet sibling portraits are some of moms favorites, just ask any mom with multiple children 😉 

Call me today to book your sibling portrait session 803-336-5125

-alicia

Before and After: Charlotte NC Maternity Portrait Photographer

maternity portrait session fine art black & white

Before : a maternity portrait session

Miss A called me just before her son was due to arrive. She said “I just came across this Before and After image of a pregnant mom and then the same mom with her baby. She of course included an image example. Any chance we can do this before he arrives?” having already photographed miss A’s maternity session very early in her pregnancy I said of course I can. So without further ado here are some of her Before images from this second maternity portrait session.

There will be more to come from this family in the next week or so. Miss A delivered a beautiful baby boy the following day. I cannot wait to meet him and of course take his first professional baby portraits. I just loved this idea for a before and after composite and the final product should be just as beautiful as these before portraits did.

Please don’t wait until 40 weeks

Just a word of caution while we are on the topic of maternity portraits. Please don’t wait until the last minute to contact your maternity portrait photographer. You could miss your chance just like I did with my first pregnancy.  It’s best to contact your maternity photographer during your second trimester. Maternity portraits are best created between 28-32 weeks

Also if you have ideas about your final images please don’t hesitate to share your ideas. As an artist I love to be inspired and to know what you love too. stay tuned.

-alicia