The Importance of Cropping Your Photos

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The Importance of Cropping Your Photos

I tell everyone they need to crop their photos to the correct aspect ratio. However, many people have NO IDEA what language I'm speaking and what I'm trying to tell them when I say this. I was thinking about this as I was editing a few of my most recent sessions this morning, and I decided to share exactly what I'm talking about.

Aspect ratio: the ratio of the width to the height of an image.

5:7, 4:5, 2:3, are all common aspect ratios for photo prints (print sizes of 5x7, 8x10, 4x6). An 8x10 is a common print size. The aspect ratio for an 8x10 is 4:5. (Remember back to grade school and think of fractions... 8 and 10 can be reduced to 4 and 5 by dividing both by 2.)

WHY DO YOU CARE?

You care because those print sizes cut off part of your photo. It will change for each aspect ratio. And you want to DECIDE which parts are cut off!

This photo is the same aspect ratio as the camera takes: 4x6. This is the image I gave to the parents. It allows them the most flexibility when printing. However, I cringe when I see this photo on your wall, as is. It needs to be cropped!

Brandau Photography - Girl smiling with bear.jpg

When Grandma wants a 4x6 of this to put in her brag book, it should be cropped, using the same aspect ratio (4x6) to focus on the image, like this:

Brandau Photography - girl with bear - 4x6.jpg

If Grandma wants an 8x10, it will look slightly different, because an 8x10 has a different aspect ratio than a 4x6. An 8x10 is squattier - it's shorter and wider than a 4x6. This is what this image would look like as an 8x10:

Brandau Photography - girl with bear - 8x10.jpg

There are many other "rules" for cropping, such as the rule of thirds, placing your subject off-center, leaving breathing room in front of a face, use leading lines, etc.

With many photos, there are multiple options that will look great! Bottom line, play with your photo until you find a crop that looks good. You may not know why, but you'll know what looks good when you see it. Don't be afraid to experiment!

♥ Rebecca

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Travis + Angie | Northern Iowa Engagement & Maternity

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Travis + Angie | Northern Iowa Engagement & Maternity

This shoot was extra special to me. Travis, my baby brother (okay, he's not such a baby anymore), called me and asked if I would do a maternity shoot for him and his girlfriend Angie near their home. But, there was a twist. Travis wanted to propose and he wanted it to be a surprise! So, we selected a date for "maternity" photos. We chatted about what Angie had in mind for her photos. We talked about outfits. Travis had a location picked out, which made me hugely nervous because I didn't know how the lighting would be on an east and west dirt road at sunset! Would there be any trees? Would it be blindingly bright out? Two nights before the photo shoot, I made Travis drive out to the location and send me cell phone photos of the road he had in mind because I was so anxious about it. It was BEAUTIFUL! Who knew this kid had such an eye?!

The day of the shoot we ended up having a family potluck. Angie left the potluck to get ready and I asked Travis about the final details. We met Angie at the shoot location and started taking some photos of her then unnamed baby bump.

 

As soon as Travis joined her in the photos, Ang started in with questions...

"Why are you so sweaty?"

"Why is your heart beating so fast?!"

"What's wrong with you?"

I thought he had been made... Clearly Travis needed to get this show on the road! He knelt down on one knee and there was a split-second pause as Angie figured out what was going on. Her reaction was priceless! (I had to remind myself that my job was to keep my body STILL and take photos, not to jump up and down and hoot from the bushes.)

The moment was magical. There were tears. There were hugs. There were kisses. I loved it all. Best. Shoot. Evah.

Enjoy guys!

Lots of Love!

♥ Rebecca

 

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Happiest Baby on the Block  | Nevada, Iowa Newborn

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Happiest Baby on the Block | Nevada, Iowa Newborn

It's APRIL!  We've had lots of spring showers and we finally got a weekend worthy of some outdoor play time. And play this weekend, we did! Kites, yard work, soccer, church, lots of time on the swing set, and some moments where our oldest ran off to the neighbor's house and came back with food. (Thank you Neighbor, for watching my daughter while she was under her father's care! Some of us are better at multi-tasking than others... 😉 We all have our talents...)  As a result, this gallery was delayed a little bit. Because, when you have littles, you have to have priorities. #OptOutside

Lucky for me, I have the best and most patient clients! Baby B was the most chill little guy I've had in my studio in a long time. Probably ever! I can't get over his chubby little cheeks!  The pictures with Big Brother particularly melt my heart. Can you say double trouble? 😀 Be sure to scroll to the end. The last photo in this series might be one of my favorites. What can be better than baby rolls?!

I'm so excited for my next baby session! 'Tis the season!

♥ Rebecca

 

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Spring Smiles | 6 Months | Des Moines Baby

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Spring Smiles | 6 Months | Des Moines Baby

Nothing says "spring" like a smiling baby in primary colors! So bright and cheerful! Sometimes you have to create your own cheer, and this little guy brought it. He was full of smiles and even a few giggles. His gallery is entirely in color, because sometimes that's what you need in life: a smiley, colorful baby to bring the joy.  I hope this little charmer brings you some happiness on this chilly and dreary day! (WHERE is the sun?!)


♥ Rebecca

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Nevada, Iowa Not-So-Mini Session

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Nevada, Iowa Not-So-Mini Session

This baby girl is 6 months old! I could have gotten lost in her big blue eyes. She wasn't too fond of me and the big black thing I put in front of my face though. But, thanks to her mother's cartwheels and funny faces and whatever else she was doing in the background, I think we did all right! :) A big Happy 3 Years to Big Brother! I hope you got some cool toys for your birthday!

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#mystory | Lifestyle Photography

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#mystory | Lifestyle Photography

One of the things I've been trying to do this year is take more photos of my own kiddos. As I was clearing off my SD card for some sessions I had today, I discovered some photos I took while the husband was gone.  We were playing in my son's bedroom and I realized the light was incredible. I grabbed the camera, and took photos of the kids in their breakfast stained pajamas as they tried on hats, read books, and engaged in general silliness. If you know me, you know that photos with stained pajamas and too-small hats aren't really my thing.  But guess what? I love them. LOVE them. They are real and raw and authentic. Exactly how I want to remember my kiddos. I still want photos where I can see their cute little faces and look back and make comparisons as they grow. But, I'm drawn more and more to the photos of real life, because real life is the everyday. This is #mystory.

♥ Rebecca
#mystory

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Giving Back Session Winner | Photos from Asia

Wow! The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of busy! Life at my "real" job has been a little crazy, with full days and long hours. To make life a little more hectic, the husband has been traveling Asia for nearly 3 weeks. My hat goes off to all you single parents out there! What a job! My house can attest that when life gets too full, something's gotta give. One plus of the Asia trip is I get little gems like this photo from Singapore in my mailbox to edit, and that makes me happy! I can't wait to see what he has on his camera when he gets home!

Singapore

If you follow my FB page, you know we have a winner of the Giving Back Session!! A gal named Kyla won. (Excuse the bad phone pic!)

She seems to be super sweet. I can't wait to meet Kyla and her family! I think we will be doing more of these sessions, so if your nominee didn't win there will be more opportunities. There are SO many deserving people out there and I really wanted to have myself an Oprah moment. You know... "You get a photo session, and YOU get a photo session, and YOU..." you get the idea.  Not nearly as cool as a car, I know, I know. :)

The best news? We have arrived at spring break! Educators everywhere are taking a deep breath and putting their feet up. Between playing with the kids, tackling this house (omg, the house...), and saying hello to the husband, I'll be getting all sorts of things for Brandau Photography rolling this week. Stay tuned for more exciting stuff!

 

♥ Rebecca

 

 

 

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Giving Back - Session Nomination Form

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Giving Back - Session Nomination Form

I’ve decided to give away a session to a family that YOU think deserves one. This session would be all-inclusive. The family would owe me nothing. This session could be an in-home session recording the activities of life, or it could be a more formal family session. I’m flexible. This is their story, and I want to tell it.

 

So, who do you want to nominate?

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The O Family! | The Art of Photography | Central Iowa Family Photography

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The O Family! | The Art of Photography | Central Iowa Family Photography

For me, photography is about art; art that captures emotion and connections between people. When I look back at my favorite sessions and my favorite images, they all invoke an emotional response. Many are more “lifestyle” in nature, capturing moments between people that are unscripted and are more than posing for a portrait. They may have started as a posed photo, but evolved into something different. There’s a level of emotion that come from those organic moments that posed portraits struggle capture - especially with kids. I think that’s one of the reasons I love photographing children so much. They ARE unscripted. Try telling a 2-year old what to do and you will quickly learn that they really don’t care what you want or the image you see in your mind. In fact, some of my favorite kid images come from allowing littles to just BE. To explore, to play, to laugh… Those are the moments that feed my soul. That is my goal for the next year: to capture life, the way we all remember it, a little crazy and real.

This is one of the families who have booked me over and over again, since I started this crazy adventure about a year and a half ago. They are some of our closest friends. I am forever grateful they have chosen me to be their photographer, and allowed me to learn and grow with them! Thank you! 💕

 

 

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Hello 2017! | Fall Family Photos | Ames Iowa Family Photography

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Hello 2017! | Fall Family Photos | Ames Iowa Family Photography

Hello 2017! I’ve taken a step back from the photo biz for a few weeks as I celebrate the holidays with my family. During that time I’ve been reflecting on many things, including why I add a photography business to an already crazy life. It comes down to being part of moments, and choosing to focus on happiness and joy. Helping to preserve the way a child squinted their eyes, or even their cheesy grin when they know there’s a camera around. Those moments don’t last forever!

In 2017, I’m going to try blogging a little more frequently, to share my work and maybe some of my ramblings. I want to take this opportunity to thank one of the families who has been part of Brandau Photography since before it existed. Thank you for all the support and encouragement you’ve shown me as I’ve begun this journey! Words can’t express how thankful I am. Your family is always a blast to photograph. You don’t take yourself (or the photo session!) too seriously, and as a result, we have a ton of fun - even if that means I go home with a shirt full of leaves! :)

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Baby B! | Central Iowa Newborn and Family Photography

One of the things I vowed to do as I enter year two of this wonderful journey I'm on is blog more! So we'll give this a go and see how often I actually do it. Ha! :)

This is a newborn family session that was shot in the client's home. I love that shooting in a client's home allows me to incorporate all those things that are meaningful to the family. And come on, how often do you see newborn photos on a baby grand?!

Thank you for allowing me to capture these special moments!

-R

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7 Things You Should Consider When Hiring a Photographer

I have had many friends ask me what they should look for when choosing a photographer in their area. I was able to condense my thoughts down to seven main things you should consider when looking for a portrait photographer. There are other things that do come to mind, but when looking for someone to take family photos or capture the milestones of your littles, these are the big things you should consider!

1. Style
There are many aspects of style that you should consider when looking for a photographer. Here are a few:

What kind of photographs are you looking for?  Do you want posed portraits? Do you want family photos where you can see everyone's faces? Are you a fan of "lifestyle" photography, where your family is captured doing natural things without a lot of posing?

Next you must consider the type of editing you prefer. Do you like "natural" editing which looks similar to real life? Are you a fan of the instagram-esque filters? Do you like "matte" photography? There are many different styles of editing. Some are fads and some are here to stay. Either way - you've got to find a photographer who edits in a way that is pleasing to your eye.

Photographers also have different artistic styles. Some photographers use a large amount of props or do "styled" or "themed" sessions. Some take a lot of close ups. Some like to feature creative backgrounds or lighting.  What style speaks to you?

You may not know the answer to these questions, or even what some of them mean. The bottom line is this: look at the work of the photographer you are considering hiring. Odds are, your photos will look very much like other work the photographer has done. Ensure you LIKE that style!

2. Quality of work.
You want to ensure your photographer does quality work. Ask to see larger print. Your photographer should be happy to show you printed samples of their work. The eyes should be sharp and the skin should not make your 37 year old husband look like a wax doll.  You know, the little things! ;-) Photos may look great on Facebook or Instagram, but look horrible once you try to order a larger print. Head this issue off at the pass and look at the quality of the photographer's work prior to hiring them.

3. Consistency.
This is pretty straight forward. Is the photographer's work consistent? Is the style and quality consistent from one shoot to the next and from one photo to the next within a shoot?  Remember, you're getting an idea of the photographer's style from their work (see #1). If the work isn't consistent, you don't know what you will get or if you will like the style. Finding someone who produces consistent work will allow you to predict what you will get in your session.

4. Budget
Does the photographer fit in your budget? Consider the total cost. Do they charge a flat fee and provide digital files? Do you have separate sitting fees and print fees? Look at what the total package will likely cost.  In the photography world you often get what you pay for, but there's nothing worse than not being able to afford the photos you've had taken! Ensure that you can afford to put those beautiful photos on your wall!

5. Product delivery.
Photographers have a wide range of product delivery models. Some only allow you to purchase prints through them. Some photographers mail out a CD or flash drive. Others allow for digital downloads. Consider whether it is important to have digital files or not. Similarly, consider whether it is important to have access to a professional print lab through your photographer.  The product delivery model may impact the photographer you choose.

If the photographer you are considering offers digital files, you will also want to consider whether or not those files are high resolution. If the photos are not high resolution they won't be very printable. Some photographers offer digital files that can be printed up to a certain size, such as 8x10. 

6. JPEG or RAW?
In this world where everyone who has an entry level DSLR thinks they have the skill to be a professional photographer, you may want to ask if the photographer shoots in JPEG or RAW.  What are JPEG and RAW you ask? Simply put, they are file formats. A photographer who shoots in JPEG allows the camera to post process the images based on the camera's algorithm. A photographer who shoots in RAW must post-process the images themselves. The beauty of RAW is that the data is not compressed. Having non-compressed data gives the photographer more flexibility in editing without losing photo quality. In general, more amateur photographers shoot in JPEG and more professionals use RAW. Truth be told, this is a debate, even among some professionals. There are some very talented photographers out there who shoot in JPEG only.  However, given the additional creative control that RAW affords the photographer, that is definitely my preferred file format. Bottom line: your photographer should at least know what RAW is. Is JPEG a deal breaker? No. However, if your photographer shoots in JPEG, it should be a signal to you to make sure they create amazing images.

7. Relationship with photographer
No one wants a photographer they are uncomfortable with. If you are tense around your photographer, your photos will show that you feel uncomfortable! Find a photographer who is easy to talk to who makes you feel at ease.  If you have kids, the photographer needs to be able to relate to kids. Your photographer should be willing to answer questions.  You want to have clear expectations and no ambiguity. Communication is critical!

 

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Lots of Beginnings!

The month of May meant many new things for our family. We made the choice to take Brandau Photography from somewhat of a hobby to a legitimate business and created Brandau Photography, LLC! May also brought the beginning of summer vacation and time with my little girl. However, the biggest change was the addition of our new little guy who arrived in late May! Although I am the primary photographer in this duo, my husband Tom knows his way around a camera (and serves as my tech support and consult!). Tom often helps out as my photography assistant or second shooter when I need him. The photos below were taken by Tom, and I can't think of any better way to celebrate the changes in our lives than to share them. The post below originally appeared on our personal blog, so if you follow our family, this will be familiar to you!

Our New Addition

If you are slightly squeamish or really don't want to see photos of a beautiful baby straight from the womb, you should stop reading now. We debated sharing these photos, but decided they were way too cool to keep to ourselves. At least I think so... But hey - I may be biased.

I really wanted photos of this baby's birth. Birth photographers are expensive. They're on-call and work odd hours. They have to be available all the time. This costs a pretty penny. I also really wanted a new camera. New cameras are expensive. In the end, the camera won out. No birth photographer for me.

In lieu of a birth photographer, I asked the hubs if he would take a few photos. I showed him a few examples of what I wanted, and he agreed. I was hoping for one good photo. After all, he would be a little busy too...

What I got was this.

Words cannot describe how happy I am that Tom was able to freeze this moment for us! These photos make my heart sing!

 

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