Parfaits! {Photo Fridays}

Connie Hanks Photography // // parfaits with strawberry, blueberry, yogurt, granola and honey

My daughters absolutely love berries. Mostly strawberries and blueberries, sometimes raspberries and blackberries. And they love making smoothies or parfaits with berries. Who wouldn’t?! They are quite tasty, after all!

Today we actually made strawberry and mango smoothies, but truth be told, the girls were not willing to be patient and wait for me to get some photos! They just weren’t having any of it, and inhaled them before I could grab my camera upstairs! I think I even heard my little one say “ugh, brain freeze!”

Connie Hanks Photography // // parfaits with strawberry, blueberry, yogurt, granola and honey

But while we were making the smoothies, I remembered these shots of parfaits we made. I started thinking about some of the food photography posts I’ve written here and here, and how I’ve truly taken to heart the lesson I learned about getting so close to food shots that it’s like you’re about to take a bite!

Connie Hanks Photography // // parfaits with strawberry, blueberry, yogurt, granola and honey

As I was looking at these photos, I realized I took three very different shots – one at eye level, one at an angle (coming in for the bite!), and one (mostly) overhead. So my tip to you today, is to take 3 shots of your favorite subject – food, kids, flowers, toys, pets, etc – all at different angles. Above. Below. Behind. Eye-level. Sideways. Whatever it is that is out of your norm, try it! You might surprise yourself with what you find and be inclined to try it again!

If you end up getting something you love from this tip, please share a link in the comments below – I’d love to see! Thanks for stopping by. Have a joyful, creative, blessing filled day!
Live creatively!

PS. To make these, we just layer from the bottom up: Fage Greek yogurt (plain that’s been mixed with a dash of vanilla and honey), cut berries and granola. Repeat. Yum!

Summer Action Shots {Photo Fridays}


Truth be told, I always shoot in manual mode, and most always with a very wide aperture (small f-number). It’s awesome when I want to let a lot of light in or when I want a nice shallow depth of field (blurry background). Not so great for photographing kids on the run, enjoying games and overall, lots of action.


If I leave my settings as usual (f/1.4 to f/2.8) for these types of shots, I end up with a lot of blurry and out-of-focus shots. Sound familiar? Yup, me too. So, I had to get out of my comfort zone for these and changed up my settings. To get good action shots of your friends or kiddos this summer, here are my tips…

1. Go Speed Racer!
Make sure you bump up your shutter speed. In a summer tips webinar, my friend Katrina Kennedy shared the shutter speed rule of thumb:
1/125 stops everyday motion
1/500 stops most kids motion
1/1000 stops most bikes, runners and cars

I opened up the aperture to f/5.6 (okay, still not super wide, but a shift for me!) and made sure my shutter speed was bumped up between 1/500 and 1/400 of a second. I wanted to get my girls in focus and stop the action, but still have a bit of a blurred background, and these settings definitely fit the bill!


Besides my camera settings, the other two things that really helped get these shots:

2. Location, location, location
When the kids were in line for the slip-n-slide, I scoped out the scene and found a spot pretty close to the finishing spot on the mat, but a few feet back so I was out of harms way. And by harm I mean water : ) What a shame that would’ve been to get my camera wet!

3. The Lens, Baby
Okay, another confession… When I first got my Tamron 18-270 (a couple of years ago), I was not pleased. I was using it indoors in the evening and even though I had it as wide as it would go (f/3.5), it just wasn’t giving me what I wanted or expected from my new purchase. I went as far as taking it back to the camera shop for inspection and possible repair. I was given another exact same lens to test mine against. I went outside the store and took some shots of the same subjects in the daylight and they were great from both lenses. Then it hit me – that lens sucks for indoor photography (flash-free), but is awesome for outdoor photos with lots of natural light. So, long way of saying I do enjoy using that lens when photographing outdoors — anything from traveling to amusement parks to my girls just hanging in the backyard. It has great zoom and was fabulous to get those close face shots without worrying about getting caught in the water splashes!


Hope these tips help you get the shots you want! Shots of moments that fill your summer with  special memories that fill your hearts, along with your frames and photobooks and scrapbooks!

Thanks for stopping by. Have a joyful, creative, blessing filled day!
Live creatively!

Hmmmm, did I get them all?

Easter Gesture {Photo Fridays}

Hmmmm, did I get them all? – Hmmmm, did I get them all?
1/80 sec at f/1.8 ISO 100

The holidays are a wonderful time for us all to bring out our cameras. There are endless photo opportunities. Smiles, decor, food, family, friends, all full of love and excitement. Many times they’re posed, “say cheese”, “just one more”, “hey, so-and-so, get in the photo” and on and on. And these capture wonderful family memories. Hugs, love, smiles.

But occasionally, we’ll capture a moment that is so raw, so real, so authentic… it makes our hearts sing! Those are the captures that I love. The moments I truly treasure. The memories that make me incredibly happy to be a photographer, a scrapbooker, a memory keeper, a treasured memory sharer.

This photo of my baby is one of those rare captures. She was completely enthralled with the concept of collecting eggs. So curious. So contemplative. I had been trying to get her to smile at me for the photo, but she was completely fixated on the yard. Totally in her own world. And even though at the moment I wanted something completely different, I have to say, this is one of my all-time favorites of my baby. I’m happy I kept snapping away, instead of throwing in the towel or worse, getting frustrated.

We’re so completely blessed to live in a digital age and not have the upfront expense of purchasing film. We can take hundreds, heck, thousands of photos without having to pay a small ransom for film and developing! And going from shooting ~250 photos per year 10 years ago, to over 25,000 images last year (including clients, family, and volunteer work), I can tell you my only regret is not being more diligent in keywording and editing (as in deleting those photos I know I’ll never use). But I can honestly say I don’t have too, too many “man, I really missed the shot” moments. Of course I have my share, but I still have lots of photos to work with!

So my tips to you?

  1. Get your camera settings ready before you try to get your subjects attention. Click, click, click as you’re setting up your shot. And once your settings are ready, still keep clicking before you get their attention. Some of the gestures in those shots are pure gold!
  2. Take more shots than you plan to need, you can always delete on the backend
  3. If possible, get unposed shots, along with the smiles you seek : ) These are great to grab “in between” shots
  4. Edit your photos while importing into your photo management software. Add keywords, rate and delete as you go! It’s not impossible, but so much more time consuming to catch up.
  5. Remember to live in those moments. Sometimes we get so caught up trying to “capture” the moment, we forget to “live” in the moment. Along with documenting my favorite photos, I really strive to have authentic memories and moments in our scrapbooks. It might not always be pretty, but it’s real, it’s us, it’s authentic.

Thanks for stopping by and have a joyful, creative, blessing filled day! Happy crafting!

Medieval Texture {Photo Fridays}


Would you believe me if I said my texture’s about to get medieval on ya? Well it did! Read on to find out how…

In 2010, when I started my photography certification program at UCSD, my first assignment was to photograph “home”. I decided to include some photos of my church, where I volunteer quite a bit. I absolutely love this photo, for so many reasons:


I love that it was a tricky angle to get this shot. I love that the feather is pointing to the cross. I love the cream, blue and patina colors. I love the wispy clouds in the blue sky. I love the details in the St. Gregory the Great statue. Love, love, love!

While in Paris earlier this month, we visited Notre Dame. You know, that tiny little church, that’s just a few years old? No really, that amazingly large and beautifully designed French gothic, 850 year old Roman Catholic cathedral, near the Seine. There’s so much age, history and richness in those walls.


What have those walls…

  • heard?
  • witnessed?
  • saved?
  • protected?
  • been scarred by?

While inside Notre Dame, I was inspired to photograph the texture of the walls, with the vision to add the texture to the St. Greg photo in particular.


I wasn’t sure what result I’d get, but I have to say: I am so in love with the way it come out!


How did I do that, you ask? I opened up both files in Photoshop (I use CS6). I dragged the texture image into the St. Greg image, creating a new layer. Selecting the wall/texture layer in the “Layers” dialog box, I changed the opacity to 69%, and changed the blending mode on the layer from “Normal” to “Overlay” – just left of the “Opacity” dropdown menu. That’s it! I saved the file and I’m all done!

Screen Shot 2013-03-26 at 11.23.15 PM

So it takes all of 5 steps to Add Texture to your Photo:

1. Open both images in Photoshop
2. Drag texture shot into image you’re adding the texture to
3. Select the texture layer and change opacity to meet your needs (I went with 69%; use the slider)
4. Change blending mode from “Normal” to “Overlay” (or any other mode – play around – there are some really cool ones!)
5. Save as new file!

And that’s how my texture got all medieval on ya! As my girls say: easy-peasy, lemon-squeezy! If you haven’t added texture to any of your photos, you’ve gotta give it a try! Just be sure to save your file under a new name.

Thanks for stopping by and have a joyful, creative, blessing filled day! Make it a very good, Good Friday!
Live creatively!

It’s all about the Angry Birds {Photo Fridays}


I can’t even begin to tell you how much I love this photo of this little boy! He is one of my kindergartener’s classmates, and he is such a sweet, smart, thoughtful little boy. I could see this angelic side of him in the classroom, but the first few times I grabbed headshots, that is not the face that was looking back at me through the lens. More on that in just a second… Continue reading

Photo Fridays – upcoming weekly series!

I recently came across a forum discussion at about cameras people have had over the years. It was a fun discussion and really made me realize how long I’ve loved photography! I got my first camera when I was about eleven or twelve years old. It was a Kodak Disc Camera, waaaaay back in the early 80’s. Remember that camera?

Photo courtesy of D. Meyer via Wikipedia

Now that I look at it, size wise, it really was the predecessor to today’s point and shoot cameras!

I’ve loved taking photos as long as I can remember. It was always a hobby. Photographing family and friends, landscapes, objects, wildlife, flowers, everything and anything. Learning about photography was mostly through magazines, ads, marketing collateral, and of course, my favorites – Crate & Barrel, Williams-Sonoma and Pottery Barn catalogs! I took a B&W developing class in the late ’90’s and loved the darkroom process. Over the years new cameras came and went – broke, lost, stolen, replaced – clearly for a myriad of reasons and ultimately, I received my first DSLR as a “Push Gift”

What exactly is a push gift? Yeah, we can all thank my very good friend Jennifer P. for that one! Our first borns are just 9 months apart, so as my tummy was growing, so was her newborn. One day we were chatting and I was suddenly blinded by some amazing, flashing sparkles coming from her ears. Yes, her hubby bought her the biggest, blingiest, most perfect diamond earrings I had laid my eyes on in person : ) That’s when I learned of the beauty of a push gift! And thus, when I explained the good fortune of a push gift to my hubby, I pointed out that a DSLR would probably cost less and get more use than the bling : ) I say my wish for a nice, big camera came true – he says he got swindled!

But my first few photos with my new Canon Rebel XTi were not what I thought they’d be. Blurry. Dark. Grainy. I realized I had the tool, I had the eye, but I was clearly lacking the technical knowledge. So I took my first photography class to learn to use my DSLR at SDSU Extended Studies. It was a great class and over three weeks I learned how to shoot in manual mode. Ever since then I’ve devoured every bit of knowledge I could find and taken every photography course I could find in the San Diego area! I’m currently finishing my Certification in Photography through UCSD Extension. It’s been a great program, with excellent instructors, fabulous classes, learning tons and developing my own style.

With that said, I am launching a series called “Photo Fridays” in which I will share bits of my knowledge with you! Look for those every Friday (starting tomorrow!), or better yet “Follow” me so you receive an email and don’t miss any future posts! And if there are any specific photo questions you have, please leave me a comment and who knows, maybe the answer will appear as a featured Photo Fridays post!

Thanks for reading and have a joyous, creative day! Happy crafting!