And the winners are…

…nearly impossible to choose!  We had 274 entries to our “How do you wear your sweet BabyLegs?” photo contest and ALL of the submissions were cute, cute, cute!  Seriously, you all have amazingly beautiful children out there people :)

In the end, we chose photos that had a compelling subject, were well-composed (in terms of cropping and background), and of course, showcased BabyLegs!

Our prizes again are: 1st Place: BabyLegs Prize Pack valued at $200; 2nd Place: BabyLegs Prize Pack valued at $75; and 3rd Place: BabyLegs Prize Pack valued at $50.  We’ll be contacting all of the winners directly to congratulate and obtain shipping addresses for prizes.

Drum roll please…

Our first place winner:  I don’t know which is cuter…me or my BabyLegs? Pictured: Giana Portugal

Our second place winner: Rocking in my BabyLegs!  Pictured: Aiden Gade

Our third place winner: BabyLegs are so “cool”!  Pictured: Ellis Ouellett

Our other finalists (honorable mentions) include:

Images will be viewable through the end of June on photobucket if you’d like to see the rest of the submissions. 

Thank you to everyone who participated!

Enter the “How do you Wear Your Sweet BabyLegs?” Photo Contest!

Hope you’ve enjoyed the our first two blog entries, and the tips provided have been helpful to you.  Now we’re going to challenge you to put your new skills to the test with our ”How do you wear your sweet BabyLegs?” Photo Contest!

Need some motivation?  Here’s what you can win:

1st Place: BabyLegs Prize Pack valued at $200

2nd Place: BabyLegs Prize Pack valued at $75

3rd Place: BabyLegs Prize Pack valued at $50

How to enter:

  1. All photos should be emailed as an attachment to brittany@babylegs.com.  Photos must be in  JPG/JPEG/ format only and under 450 kb.  In addition to the photo, please include the following in your submission email: contact person’s name and phone number, child’s name(s), and optional photo caption.
  2. Entries will be accepted between May 17, 2010 (12pm PST) and May 29, 2010 (12am PST). In addition to the photo, please include the following in your submission email: contact person’s name and phone number, child’s name(s), and optional photo caption.
  3. A parent or legal guardian must approve submission of the contest photo(s). By submitting a photo, parent or legal guardian grants BabyLegs the right to publish submitted photo(s), child’s name, and any captions submitted on the BabyLegs and Photobucket website and/or marketing materials. Slight photo alterations may be made by our staff in order to fit our site format or email newsletters properly.
  4. Photos containing nudity or children depicted in a derogatory or dangerous situations will not be accepted. The BabyLegs staff reserves the right to refuse any photograph which they deem unacceptable.
  5. If a professional photo is submitted to our contest, BabyLegs will not be held responsible. The parent or guardian must receive rights to use the photo prior to contest submission.
  6. All participants are limited to entering one photo per day.

How to view the entries:

  1. All contest entries will be posted to photobucket.com within 24 hrs of submission.  Here is the link to view entries: http://s869.photobucket.com/home/BabyLegs_Photo_Contest   Photobucket does require that you register with them; we apologize for any inconvenience.  It will be worth it to view the submissions!
  2. Participants and other viewers will be encouraged to rate the entry photos beginning May 24th through polling. These final ratings will be used as a part of the judging process; however, they are not the only determining factor (see “Judging” below).

Judging:

  1. The BabyLegs “How do you wear your sweet BabyLegs?” photo contest winner will be determined by polling results, as well as a panel of Babylegs staff and guest bloggers, with the winnners to be announced on May 31, 2010.  Photos will be judged with no discrimination towards sex, race, or age. All decisions are final.
  2. Winners will be contacted via email and/or phone in order to distribute prizes. Winning photos will also be posted on our website and through other marketing venues.

The fine print:

  1. Our contests are void where prohibited by law. The contestants assume the total responsibility of knowing their local laws in regard to photo contests and are subject to any local, state, national or international laws. BabyLegs accepts no responsibility for making these individual legal determinations.
  2. We reserve the right to limit entries, change rules, etc. at anytime we deem necessary.

Best of luck to all of you!  Can’t wait to see how you wear your sweet BabyLegs!

Five Things You Can Do Right Now To Improve Your Family Photographs

Our next guest blogger is Teddi Yaeger.  Teddi is a professional portrait and wedding photographer who resides and works in the Puget Sound region of Washington (Seattle, Everett, and the Eastside). Since 2002, Teddi has specialized in pregnancy, birth, infant, children’s and family portraits, as well as photojournalistic coverage of weddings.  She is a wife and the mother of two young children – 6-year-old Hayden and 3-year-old Sylvia.

The following excerpt is from Teddi’s “Photography for Mommies (and Daddies)” workshop, which she offers every few months.  For more information or to sign up for the next workshop, please contact Teddi at teddi@teddiyaeger.com, or visit her blog at www.teddiyaeger.blogspot.com.

On a personal note, Teddi photographed my wedding back in 2004 and the pictures were FANTASTIC!  I am thrilled that she agreed to provide her tips here on our blog and can’t wait to take her workshop with my husband so we can take great photos of our new baby later this year.  -Amy

 

Five Things You Can Do Right Now To Improve Your Family Photographs:

 1. Turn off your flash

Professional photographers spend years and thousands of dollars trying to create artificial light that is as beautiful and complex as natural light, but in my opinion, nothing compares.  Ironically, amateur photographers use their cameras in “Automatic” mode, which relies on flash 99% of the time.  The problem with on-camera flash is that its strobe light is bright, harsh and tends to wash the subject out, while at the same time obscuring the background in shadow.  Natural light is softer and more flattering to faces, has more depth and allows the background to play a part in the overall scene.  Sudden, bright flashes of light also spoil your chances of capturing your subject in a wonderful candid moment.   Turn up your ISO to 800 or 1600, if you need to compensate, or place your subject near a window.

           

Nearby window light is all that’s needed to light this mother and son.

2. Have a clear focal point

Open and close your eyes several times in front of your photograph.  What do your eyes fix upon?  Is it the same thing that caught your attention when you took the photo?  If not, try cropping the image until nothing upstages what your photograph is all about.

This image is all about an expectant father’s embrace.  Tight horizontal cropping keeps the focal point on the father-to-be.

3. Move in close, then closer still

Use a zoom, telephoto or your own two feet to move in close to your subject.  Macro modes or lenses are particularly great for close-ups of kids.  Focus on your subject’s eyes and don’t worry if the rest goes a bit blurry. 

The eyes have it!  Ask your child to look through your lens to see a “butterfly” (the shutter) flap its wings.

 4. Be mindful of the background

Keep the focus on your subject by avoiding a cluttered backdrop.  Look for an area with few distractions behind your subject, removing items if you need to, or change your position to the subject to choose the most clutter-free background possible.

A neutral-colored blanket adds some texture but does not take focus away from this beautiful baby girl (neither does the solid brown couch behind her).

5. Don’t settle down.

Probably the best piece of advice I can give anyone to improve the quality of the portraits they take is to keep moving!  Don’t stay fixed in one place – get above or below your subject, move to the side, move in closer, then further back.  There is always another perspective to consider.  If you stay put, you risk missing a position that would have made for a more interesting portrait.

Branches from a tree in the foreground frame this lovely little girl.

We hope these tips have been helpful.  Now start putting them to the test with more practice!   We’re launching a BabyLegs photo contest May 17th, with a chance to win a BabyLegs prize package valued at $200.  Stay tuned for more details!

Get Snap Happy and other Photography Tips for Mother’s Day

Please allow me to introduce Heather Lilly, our first BabyLegs guest blogger!

Heather is an accomplished photographer in the Denver, CO area, specializing in wedding and portrait photography.  I highly recommend that you visit her website: http://heatherlilly.com to learn more.  She also has a great blog of her own, which showcases her work and provides tips: http://heatherlilly.com/blog

With Mother’s Day around the corner, I hope you and your family get the chance to celebrate with your mom. Whether she is your biological mom or just a strong mother-figure to you, it’s time for celebration!

When my husband and I get together with our extended family, we enjoy taking snapshots. I leave my pro-gear in my office and grab our Canon PowerShoot Point & Shoot camera for casual pictures.

While there is a BIG difference between DIY pictures and hiring a professional, I feel these are several tips that will help you improve your at-home picture-taking this Mother’s Day.

Tip 1: Get Snap Happy!

We live in the digital age – so you can get snap-happy and only save the images you want to keep. I realize sorting through over 100 pictures (just from your Mother’s Day celebration) seems overwhelming to some people, but I have an easy way to organize your pictures that will help you re-locate pictures on your computer and also help you keep track of what you’ve backed up.

Folder Set-up:

  • Create a folder in My Pictures called “Personal Images” – or if you only store personal photos, you can just skip creating a “Personal Images” folder.
  • Inside that folder (either My Pictures or Personal Images), create a sub-folder (that’s a folder inside of a folder) with the year. 2010.
  • Then when you have new pictures to download, download them into a sub-folder that has its date (separated by underscores) and a short description of that day:2010_05_09_MothersDay.
  • Inside that folder, create another sub-folder called “all jpg” and another one called “favorites.”
  • Now you’ll be able to copy & paste all of your pictures from your camera into the “all jpg” folder.

Sorting through your pictures:

The next step, instead of going through and choosing “bad” images to delete, go through and select all of your favorites. Copy those from the “all jpg” folder into the “favorites” folder. These are the pictures you want prints of, want on your screen-saver, or to upload to your smart phone.

If you have never done this before, it’s helpful to set up two windows of the same sub-folder, so you can easily drag and paste the images to the appropriate folder. If this still doesn’t make sense, ask a teenager for help. :)

Backing up your pictures:

If you are a procrastinator, and you know you won’t start the sorting process right away, you will need to back up your pictures as soon as you download them into your your main folder 2010_05_09_MothersDay.

By having your picture folders dated, the best way to back them up is in the same way:

  1. If you like backing up to CD/DVD, name the CD/DVD 2010_05_09_MothersDay and write the same thing on the outside with a permanent marker. Store it in a safe, flat place (like a CD binder).
  2. If you have an external hard-drive, you can simply copy the folder system on that hard-drive and copy & paste your 2010_05_09_MothersDay folder to that hard drive. Then copy & paste 2010_05_15_dogs (or whatever the occasion) when you create new folders with pictures.
  3. Another way to back up your images is online. You can upload them somewhere like www.KodakGallery.com then be able to retrieve them as needed. For snapshots, their print paper quality is fine.

I personally like to back-up all three ways. I’d rather have too many back-ups than none.

Tip 2: Change Your Approach

So when you get snap-happy, how do you approach your subject? Do you say “STOP, smile, look here… CHEESE!!”? As a professional, I feel the best pictures are unexpected ones. My approach is definitely less traditional, but I feel you’ll see more chemistry or family-love in pictures that aren’t posed. There’s two ways of capturing “a moment.” The first way is just waiting for the right moment. If someone is taking a picture of your laughing and having a fun time – don’t kill the picture by snapping your head towards the camera with a “oops, I should smile for the camera” reaction. It’ll take work to get out of this habit, but you’ll get it. The second way to capture a great moment, is directing. For example: tell the kids to run over to Mom and tackle her with a big hug/kiss. What a fun surprise for mom, right? Keep snapping away as the kids run up, kiss/hug her, and even the moments after that. You’ll be able to decide on your favorite pictures from this series later on.

Posed Group Shots

For those few posed group shots you end up taking, have people all pile together how they find themselves most comfortable. Then re-position those who you can’t see or those who look disconnected. Don’t be afraid to have some people sit on the floor, some sit on a chair and some stand. Varying the heights of everyone’s faces will not only allow their face to not be hidden, but you’ll have a more aesthetically interesting image.

Pass the Camera Around

So often there’s just one designated camera-guru in each family. I’d encourage you to pass the camera around. Have mom, dad, brother, sister, auntie, uncle, and even grandparents click that shutter. Different perspectives will lead to a more interesting variety of pictures. Not only will they be taken for different angles, everyone will end up in the pictures.

Don’t shy away from the camera. Even if you FEEL unattractive, un-cute or not worthy of being in a picture, your loved ones will appreciate having these pictures today, tomorrow and 20 years from now.

Tip 3: Play With Your Camera Settings

If it’s a sunny day, and you are taking pictures outside, have the sun behind your subjects. You’ll avoid nasty shadows that take away from people’s facial expressions and also avoid your subjects squinting into the sun. Go into your flash settings and turn your flash ON. This will fill in any shadows the sun is creating. If that’s not possible, pick a shady spot to take your pictures.

Don’t over zoom. Even if your camera has a 30x digital zoom, don’t use it. In my experience, these images will be very pixilated and I’ve always been disappointed with super-zoomed in pictures taken with a point & shoot. Instead, use your legs to get closer with a combination of zooming in just a little.

For close-up shots of faces, a cake, smaller close-up objects, explore your camera’s Macro setting. It’s usually labeled with a Flower. It will help these pictures be more in-focus. But remember to switch back to the Regular mode (usually labeled with a Mountain) for pictures taken more than 8-10 inches away.

Perhaps the most comment question I get asked is “I want to take action shots and my point & shoot just doesn’t have the right setting. What should I do?”  If you switch to shutter-speed mode on your camera, you should be able to play with how fast the shutter reacts to your subject. However, you’ll get to a point where a DSLR camera is the only way to improve your action images. Since DSLRs are an investment, there’s some things you may just want to leave to a gear-junkie professional, like me. ;) But try some test shots in shutter-mode. Say you choose 1/400 for the shutter speed – the camera will automatically choose a good aperture setting to compliment that shutter speed.

Tip 4: Very Important!  Charge the Battery!

Charge your camera’s battery the night before Mother’s Day. It’s frustrating to use a point & shoot camera that is low on batteries. It will be less responsive… and even worse: it might die right before a fun, monumental moment you want a picture of.

Hope this has been helpful and that you are inspired to get snap happy!  Happy Mother’s Day!

Our New Blog Adventure

We’ve been thinking a long time about how to set up a weblog that would be of interest to our fans and customers.  You already hear from us regularly through Facebook, Twitter and the forum, so this time we wanted to do something different.  We’ve decided to partner with guest bloggers each month to share new ideas and teach us all about a particular topic. 

Our first topic for the month of May is photography, and more specifically, how to take better pictures of our kids and families!  We’ve lined up several children’s photographers, including our own, to provide expert advice.  We’ll also be giving you a sneak peak into our most recent photoshoot.  There will also be a photo contest later this month so that you can put your new skills to the test.

We hope you like it.  Either way, we look forward to your feedback and encourage you to get involved with your questions and conversation!