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August 15, 2014

Want to capture great candid photographs at your next gathering, but not sure where to start? Channel your inner documentarian and use these four tips to help you get the shot. With a little practice you’ll be surprised at how easy it can be to capture people just being themselves.

1. Look for emotion!
Be aware of emotion surrounding you. The more cognizant we are of what’s happening around us, the better we can predict how those people will react. Look at their faces to see how they’re feeling. Happy, sad, serious – it’s usually all on display.

2. Find your photo and then wait.
If you know that you want to capture someone in particular, get yourself into position for your picture and then wait for it to happen! Usually a moment will occur when they notice that you’re there. When they look up, you know it’s time to click.

3. Look for People doing things.
When people are busy doing something, they’re less likely to notice you. This is a great time to capture intimate moments and fun happenings. Be quiet and quick and you’re sure to get your shot.

4. Seek to capture people in their element.
When you’re attending an event with strangers, the easiest way to capture them is to look for them interacting together. Seek out fun ways to show them just being themselves. Since you’re a stranger to them too, you are more likely to get your shot unnoticed.

To help you get a variety of pictures at your next Birthday gathering I have created this downloadable shot list for you

In Gatherings Through the Lens, you'll learn to take the kinds of pictures that take you back—right back to the picnic or the pool party, the birthday or the baseball game. Pictures that capture the spirit of every event, outing, gathering, or celebration that matters to you.

Yes, you can capture memorable moments that you'll want to return to and relive. You can take captivating photos of the faces you love and the places you'll never forget, with help from professional photographer Holly Clark.

Portraits, group photos, details, action shots, and candids. Capture it all—at all of life's events. Learn more here.

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August 13, 2014

See the first part of this article here.

Photography Tip #4: Avoid Eye Contact
I always make sure to get the posed, put-your-heads-together-and-smile-for-the-camera shots, but once I get those out of the way, I stop asking for eye contact or saying “look right here!” You’re taking relationship photos, and you’re not going to capture that relationship if your subjects aren’t interacting with each other.

No Eye Contact Shot #1
Let your subjects interact with each other naturally
So many times during photo shoots I tell the people to “just talk.” Tell each other about your day. Tell the other person how much you love them. Tell them what made you most happy today. Start conversations for them that will evoke happy emotions and I promise you’ll get stellar relationship photos!

No Eye Contact Shot #2
Instead of allowing a steady stream of your instructions direct the shot, invite parents to draw out big baby smiles by communicating with their child
To get this picture I simply told the mom and dad to “talk to their baby.” I told them to do whatever they usually do to get her to smile. As soon as the baby started to smile, the parents got the biggest grins on their faces and I got my perfect shot.

No Eye Contact Shot #3
The best portraits don’t always include smiles; a kiss packs a powerful emotional reaction
Having people kiss is another great way to get some nice candid photos without those posed, staring-into-the-camera shots. Have a parent kiss a child on the cheek. Have a groom kiss his new bride on her hand. Have a mom and dad kiss while their children watch. This is a fun way to get some great expressions from the kids!

Photography Tip #5: Picture Your Pet
There’s something special about the bond between a person and her pet. Something just as deep, but especially unique. To get great people-pet photos I’ll tell them to just play and interact. Have the owner throw a ball for their dog, or have a child stroke a kitten behind its ears. It’s all about the interaction!

Pet Shot #1
Honor the unique bond between dog and owner
This girl called me up and told me that one of her dogs was dying from cancer, and didn’t have much longer to live. She asked if I would get some photos of them together and of course I jumped at the opportunity. I love how she has her hands on both of her dogs in this shot, showing the intense connection she has with them. Her dog has since passed on, and she tells me often that these are photos that mean the world to her.

Pet Shot #2
Focus on how a child interacts with animals for a unique glimpse into his personality
This isn’t exactly a pet we keep at our home, but every Easter I dress up my boys and take them to see the bunnies at the home of a friend. They love this tradition—especially my six-year-old who tenderly strokes the bunnies over and over again. It’s so fun to capture these rare tender and gentle moments of my rough-and-tumble son.

Pet Shot #3
Hugs, kisses, and playful interaction capture the magic relationship between a child and her pet
This picture alone probably says it all. I don’t feel like this photo is perfectly technically correct, but I love the emotion it conveys. I was taking some photos of this little girl in her room and her dog ran in. She immediately dropped the doll she was playing with and hugged him around the neck. Such a precious moment!

Photography Tip #6: Open a Book
In addition to photographing every-day activities, take pictures of parents reading books to their children, or kids reading books to each other. Their faces will light up from the words and pictures in the story and it’s a perfect chance to get everyone to sit still and get in close for some great affectionate photos.

Open a Book #1
Quiet moments translate especially well through the lens
This is another picture of the same little girl from the photo above. After taking pictures for about 30 minutes of her playing and running around, her mom opened up a book and she immediately climbed onto her mom’s lap and got lost in the pages of the book. It was such a bonding moment between mother and daughter.

Open a Book #2
Books can be powerful tools in your camera bag—check out the concentration!
One day while I was at home I realized that I hadn’t heard from or seen my boys for about 10 minutes. I looked all over the house for them and then finally went outside to find this scene. They had just gotten some new super hero books and found a quiet spot in the yard (along with their buddy from next door) to devour them. I ran as fast as I could to get my camera and shot away. I love the look on my four-year-old’s face as he’s loving every second of Wonder Woman.

Open a Book #3
Encourage a love of reading by capturing the enchantment of books with your camera
Here’s another example of a quiet moment between mother and daughter as they read a fairy book together. Kids get totally lost in books and their faces shine as they’re taken to a whole other world of fairies, princesses and superheroes. Plus, I was able to experiment with lots of different angles since this active three-year-old was completely still for a full 10 minutes!

Elisha Snow is a professional photographer in Farmington, UT, and a very busy mom of three boys. She relishes her time at home, but also enjoys taking time to take photographs for others. When she finds that rare “me” time she likes to sew, cook, browse Pinterest, and shop. Elisha teaches a series of photography classes here at Big Picture Classes, ranging from beginning classes, to intermediate and advanced classes, as well as lessons on post-processing photos using Photoshop. Her newest onePhotography 201, starts August 14, details here.

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August 12, 2014

How to turn single layouts into spreads

Scrapbook sketches are one of the best ways to get a jump-start on a layout. Whether you’re scribbling your own sketches or drawing inspiration from someone else’s, start by examining the photos you’ve chosen for your layout. If you have five photos to include on your page, find or draw a five-photo sketch that suits the photos’ orientations. If you have ten photos—and you don’t want to miniaturize them to fit in a 12 x 12 space—take that five-photo sketch and turn it into a spread! (all sketches created by Donna Januzzi)

There are lots of different ways to “spread out” a design. Some approaches involve doubling (or nearly doubling) the number of photos, while others might require enlarging the photos’ sizes—but the most important thing to remember is to let your images be your guide. In other words, rather than forcing your pictures to fit a sketch, force the design to fit your pictures.

With two single-page sketches to start with, these scrapbookers flipped, rotated, mirrored, enlarged, and stretched their way to two-page success—without pulling a single muscle along the way!

Five-Photo Sketch

Twist and flip
Because Wendy’s main focal-point image is vertical instead of horizontal, Wendy rotated the sketch one-quarter turn counter-clockwise for the first page. Then she mirrored that design for the facing page, making a few other alterations along the way: she shrunk the overall page size to 8½ x 11 instead of 12 x 12 (eliminating some of the white space from the original), she changed the square photos on the original to horizontal, and she combined two of those horizontal images into one vertical shot.

Four-Photo Sketch

Angie only had four photos to include on my page, just like the original sketch. But these were busy photos, with all the colorful graffiti in the background, so she enlarged her photos so they’d have greater visual impact. Because the 6 x 8 focal-point shot plus three 3 x 4 images would no longer fit on a single 12 x 12 background, she decided to expand the design to an 8½ x 11 spread. Moving the title from its original spot above the photo strip so it ran vertically next to the largest photo, giving the overall page better balance.

For more Sketches check out Donna Januzzi's eBooks Stretch your Sketches and Stretch your Sketches 2


Posted by Wendy Smedley  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)


August 11, 2014

Capturing the love and connection between people is one of my favorite things to do as a photographer. I enjoy being able to show the love between a married couple, a bond between siblings, or the limitless adoration a child has for his parents. These are the photos that will be cherished generations from now. These are the photos that give us the chance to essentially freeze time—preserving those meaningful glances, hugs, or kisses.

Whether you shoot professionally or just for your own family, read on for six of my favorite relationship photography techniques, each illustrated by three real-life photo ideas you can try today. You, too, can capture memorable connections through your camera’s lens.

Photography Tip #1: Vary the Angle
It’s amazing how simply shooting from a different angle can add to the mood of a relationship photo. Instead of taking the photo straight on, get high above, or way down below. If it’s a child you’re shooting, get down on his level. Even try tilting the camera a bit to give the photo more of a playful feel. 

Photography Tip: Vary the Angle

Photo Angle #1
Lying down, shot from behind
To get this shot, I was lying completely flat on my stomach and focused on their faces. By shooting from “above” their heads I was able to capture the relationship between this newly engaged couple, and create a unique portrait.

Photography Tip: Vary the Angle

Photo Angle #2
Cheek to cheek, shot from above
This is a picture of my son and his cousin, Maura. They positioned their heads like this all on their own, and by standing right over them I was able to get nice, even light on their faces. In order to get this shot, I straddled my son (making sure my camera strap was secure around my neck!) and zoomed in close so that their faces filled the whole frame.

Photography Tip: Vary the Angle

Photo Angle #3
Engrossed in their games, shot from above
Here is another example of a photo taken from above. I had spent a few minutes taking pictures of these two brothers playing their video games, with me crouched right in front of them. Then I realized how engaging and youthful the photo would be if I stood right over the top of them and shot down. I took two different photos, one with the focus on their heads, and one with the focus on their games. I liked this one best!

Photography Tip #2: Freeze the Action
Let your subjects be playful. Have them play a game together, run down the road and back, tell each other a joke, or play the staring game (a favorite of mine, since it almost always ends up in genuine laughter!)

Action Shot #1
Forget about posing and encourage playing
To get this shot, I told my two-year-old to run fast and wrestle his Aunt Kellie to the ground. She played along and scooped him up in her arms as she “fell.” I was ready with my camera (while I was flat on the ground as well) to get this adorable and genuinely elated expression.

Action Shot #2
Invite your subjects to run
Here is another shot from the same engagement session from above. I told the couple to run as fast as they could down to the end tree and then run back towards me. I got some great pictures of them running away from me, but this one turned out to be the keeper as they almost tripped over a sprinkler and burst into hysterical giggles.

Action Shot #3
Allow your subjects to relax while you continue to click away
After about an hour-long photo session with these adorable girls, they had had just about enough and were done with posing and forced smiling. So I simply told them to “play.” Out of the hundreds of shots I got that day, this candid moment produced the most genuine smiles.

Photography Tip #3: Focus on the Details
Just like in any good photo shoot, remember to get the details. If a couple is newly engaged or married, take a picture of their rings. If a mom and child are walking hand in hand, take a picture of their fingers intertwined. If a couple likes to go bowling together, take a picture of their shoes side by side.

Detail Shot #1
Zoom in on meaningful details
This is a picture from a session I did with a newly engaged couple. We spent awhile shooting at different locations and trying a bunch of different poses. As they were sitting together the girl asked me if I would take a picture of their shoes, since they were both wearing Toms and had the cuffs of their pants rolled up. It turned out to be a great detail shot, and one that is quite meaningful to the couple.

Detail Shot #2
Showcase the contrast and connection between generations
This is one of my most favorite shots ever. This was taken several years ago, when I was just starting to get into photography. I had taken my 12-month-old son to meet his great-grandma for the first time in another state. They immediately connected and this simple detail shot of their hands shows that beautiful connection—it’s a photo I will always cherish!

Detail Shot #3
Look down and think creatively to capture fun photos
While I was taking some photos of parents with their only first baby, the mom pointed out to me that she had purposely painted their toenails the same color and asked if I’d take a picture of their feet together. It turned out to be such a sweet shot, especially with the great texture they were standing on.

Elisha Snow is a professional photographer in Farmington, UT, and a very busy mom of three boys. She relishes her time at home, but also enjoys taking time to take photographs for others. When she finds that rare “me” time she likes to sew, cook, browse Pinterest, and shop. Elisha teaches a series of photography classes here at Big Picture Classes, ranging from beginning classes, to intermediate and advanced classes, as well as lessons on post-processing photos using Photoshop. Her newest one Photography 201, starts August 14, details here.

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August 05, 2014

Hi, it’s Stacy and Kayce here to announce something so HUGE that we’ve barely been able to keep it under our hats.

We are unbelievably happy to announce that (drumroll please…)



You are reading that correctly:

Big Picture Classes is now officially a part of the Studio Calico family!

We’ve had so much fun collaborating with Studio Calico on various projects over the past year (our Play! event, Pajama Parties, our NSD “10k,” etc.) that we decided to make the collaboration permanent.

Yes, Studio Calico is based in Kentucky, and we’re over here in Washington, and half of our team is in Utah. But the wonderful thing about online businesses is that we can still all work together, even though we live thousands of miles apart.

The timing for this decision to join forces was just perfect. Studio Calico had been looking for a way to broaden their education base. We’ve been looking for a better way to make products and product kits available to our audience in conjunction with the classes we offer. So we started talking about the possibilities with April Foster and her team, and we just couldn’t stop talking!

When we started bigpictureclasses.com back in 2005, there was nobody anywhere doing what we were doing. We carved out a niche for ourselves, and we’ve loved spending the last 8 years inspiring and empowering creative women through online learning. We look forward to this opportunity to broaden our reach and do a better job of serving our wonderful, loyal audience for many more years to come!

We whole-heartedly echo what April is sharing on the Studio Calico blog today: the future is very bright for both Studio Calico and Big Picture Classes!

So, what does all of this really mean?

  • We will continue to operate as two separate companies as we look for areas we can work together for the benefit of both audiences.
  • We’ll have greater ability to bring new and exciting instructors to the world of online crafting education.
  • We will leverage the strengths of both teams as we enhance functionality and user experience on both sites.
  • You’ll get a brand-new bigpictureclasses.com website! This is an initiative that we’ve been working on for a year, alongside all of these exciting conversations with Studio Calico. We can’t wait to finally let you in on BOTH of these big secrets.

I’m sure you have a few questions. We hope we’ve answered them in the FAQ below. But before you dive into the nitty-gritty details, we invite you to listen to a couple of songs that reflect our mood today: 

Like this song, oh and this one!

Note: If you do not find your answers below or on the Studio Calico announcement, please feel free to leave a comment here on the blog, or email us at admin@bigpictureclasses.com, or connect with us via our Facebook Page.

We will also continue to update our FAQ as more questions come in, so they will all be in one place.

Thank you for being a part of our happy news!

Frequently Asked Questions:

Where is Stacy going?
Stacy is not going anywhere. She is still incredibly passionate about leading the vision and mission of BPC publicly. She is looking forward to using Microsoft Excel less.

Will I have access to my BPC classes?

Yes you will continue to access all your classes through bigpictureclasses.com just as you currently do.

Will the classes stay in the current BPC format or will they be closer to the Studio Calico format?

All classes will remain in the current BPC format. We will continue to improve the customer experience and as always, look for ways to better serve our students.

Will BPC remain vendor neutral?

Yes! Education will remain the central focus of Big Picture Classes. A major component of the education provided at BPC is about inspiring and educating individuals regardless of what product they choose to use.

Will BPC continue to teach non-scrapbooking classes as well?

Yes. This is one of the best parts about Big Picture Classes and it will continue.

Can I access my classes on both sites now?

No. Any classes you purchase through Studio Calico are available at StudioCalico.com, and any classes you purchase at Big Picture Classes are available at bigpictureclasses.com.

Will we continue to see the same teachers at BPC?

Yes! Big Picture has incredible relationships with the finest talent. The focus on bringing in the most talented and respected teachers will remain.

Will Studio Calico continue to provide classes?

Yes. Studio Calico provides a limited number of classes for its subscribers to help inspire them to make beautiful things with Studio Calico product. That focus will remain.

Who do I contact if I’m interested in teaching at SC or BPC?

Feel free to start a conversation with us at StudioCalico.com and we will be sure to get your information to the right people.

We want to hear from you leave a comment here on the blog, or email us at admin@bigpictureclasses.com, or connect with us via our Facebook Page.

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July 24, 2014

Getting to Know Holly Clark

Using her knowledge as a professional photographer and her background of more than 15 years in graphic design, Holly Clark loves helping new photographers grow on their photographic journey. She has a passion for encouraging others to dive into the more technical aspects of the craft that can often seem confusing. When she's not exploring the world with her husband (47 countries and counting!), you can usually find her wandering the streets of her Philadelphia neighborhood, Manayunk, with her Aussie, Major. She's often up to her elbows in dirt nurturing her green thumb or drinking countless cups of coffee to an eclectic mix of music. She is a member of the popular blog, Mortal Muses. As a Getty Image Artist and Stocksy United contributor, her photographs have been published all over the world.

Holly Answers the Five W's
Who are you? A photographer. A writer. A soupatraveler. But mainly just one woman on a quest to find inspiration through the lens of her camera, wherever she may be.

Who has inspired you to be who you are? I believe there is a little piece of everyone who has crossed my path inside of me, and all of my experiences have led me to the life I am currently living.

What do you believe with all of your heart? That the world would be a brighter place if we could all smile at each other more often.

What do you teach, write, blog, and talk incessantly about? Photography, travel, gardening, my morning cup of coffee and my dog, Major.

When did you get your start? When I received my first camera, a Kodak disc, from my parents for Christmas in 1982.

When did you know that this was your path? I've been getting nudges from multiple sources to pursue photography since winning my first honorable mention over 25 years ago. But it wasn't until three years ago when Tracey Clark reawakened my love for photography through her "Picture" classes that I started listening to this call. I take new steps on this path every year.

Where is your favorite place on earth? I could never pick just one, but as long as I'm with my husband and my dog, it's probably close by.

Where do you go to be inspired? Visually, I'm constantly inspired by my friends and contacts on Flickr and Instagram, my fellow bloggers on Mortal Muses, and the lovely ladies at Shutter Sisters. But deep in my soul, I love to get out into the unique corners our world has to offer, whether it be in a natural or urban setting. Travel recharges my spirit like nothing else... but I'll still take explorations of a more immediate nature with my dog too!

Why are you here at BPC? To share my love for photography and to encourage and inspire others to explore all the possibilities their own photographic journey has to offer.

Why do you love your life? Because it's constantly evolving, growing, and changing—even with its ups and downs.

How do you do everything you do? By taking one baby step at a time.

How can we learn more about you? Through my website www.hollyclarkphotography.com, or at www.mortalmuses.com where I blog every other week.


Check out Holly's Brand New photgraphy workshop, Gatherings Through the Lens

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July 21, 2014

Aly Dosdall and some of the contributors to her new workshop, Super Stashbusters, are hosting a blog hop today. Check it out for some awesome stash busting tips, giveaways, and more!

Start at Aly's blog and then visit the others listed below



Posted by Aly Dosdall  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)


July 14, 2014

 PROCESS re-run is starting this week with Design Editor, Catherine Davis.


Posted by Wendy Smedley  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)


July 09, 2014

Chances are you have your phone with you most of the time—which means you also have a camera with you most of the time, too. Believe it or not, life doesn’t stop unfolding in interesting ways when you leave your dSLR or point-and-shoot camera at home. Good stories happen whether you have your camera along for the ride or not. With your phone camera at your side, however, you’re never limited in what stories you photograph!

+ Weigh your gadget options: there are a number of products on the market that can extend your phone camera’s range in unique ways. Whether you buy a waterproof protective case from Lifeproof, a tiny little keychain tripod that can assist in stabilizing your phone on the fly, or a detachable clip lens that can provide macro, fisheye, or wide angle capability, it’s worth it to take a look at what accessories are available. Our best recommendation: always visit the Photojojo store online for the latest unique items that can extend the range of your phone—thereby extending the range of your storytelling, too.

photo by Elizabeth Dillow

+ When you pick up your phone to snap a quick shot, pause for a minute and ask yourself it there is another way to take a photo of your subject that feels fresh and creative. For example: in addition to taking a photo of your loved ones smiling in front of a tourist destination, let them turn around and soak in their surroundings—and take a picture of that. Hold up your ice cream cone in front of the shop where you bought it! Turn your phone upside down and set it on the ground to take the photo—you’ll create an interesting perspective with a great depth of field to boot. The best stories might be unfolding all around you… just not at eye level.

photo by Katrina Kennedy

+ Fight feelings of embarrassment by knowing you’ll tell the story more effectively if you do something that might feel foolish. Sometimes you have to pull over the car and get out to take a picture (possibly with people nearby staring at you). Sometimes you have to stand in the middle of the street. Sometimes you have to ask a stranger permission to take a photo instead of chickening out and skipping it. Sometimes you have to ignore the strange looks as you twist yourself into the perfect position to get the perfect shot. If you do these things, you are guaranteed to capture more interesting stories with your phone camera!

We’ve put together a heap of inspiring ideas to help you approach phone photography with a fresh eye—join us for The Phone Photography Project 2 to learn more! 

Posted by Elizabeth Dillow  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)


July 07, 2014

photo by Jolanda Boekhout

A silhouette is one of the simplest and most striking type of images to capture, and it’s extremely easy to achieve using your phone camera (though the same basic principles apply for any camera). Not only does a silhouette create a little mystery and drama in an image, it’s also a great way to breathe some new life into how you approach taking photos.

Here are a few tips to get you started thinking about silhouettes:

photo by Tracey Clark

+ It’s extremely important to study the light source to capture an effective silhouette! While it’s a little counter-intuitive at first, you want the subject to block the light in a way that it falls into darkness; this creates a stark contrast between the light and dark shape.

+ Big, bold and identifiable shapes work best for silhouettes. Power lines, trees, and people standing at a slight distance from each other work far better as silhouette material than clumpy items too close together.

photo by Elizabeth Dillow

+ Instead of tapping the part of the screen that appears darkest (to lighten up the exposure) it’s important to tap the brightest area of your image so you can control the light in the way you want. Experiment to see what a change it makes when exposing the image!

For additional silhouette tips along with scores of other tips and ideas for phone photography, be sure to register for The Phone Photography Project 2—workshop begins July 17!

Posted by Elizabeth Dillow  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)


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