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!

Paris in Motion, Part Deux

Champs-Elysees light post with Arc de Triomphe in background, Paris, France
1/1000 sec at f/4.0 ISO 100

Yesterday I posted a photo of a very cold and snowy Paris, with trees covered in snow, a man walking, a car in motion, and a plethora of busy visual lines contrasting with the starkness of the photo. Yet as I continue to go through my Paris photos, I realized I had quite a few photos with lots of motion.

When I captured the photo above, I was taken with the beauty in the light post. A simple light post on the Champs-Elysees, yet gloriously adorned as a mini sculpture. We were headed to the Arc de Triomphe (in the background) and the street was bustling with visitors, locals, shoppers, performers. Busy, busy, busy.

Esplanade des Invalides, Paris, France
1/6 sec at f/5.6 ISO 250

As we headed to the Eiffel Tower, I just couldn’t put my camera away. So many beautiful sights to take in. As it was dusk, the sky was a beautiful and deep blue, and the building lights were coming on, I just had to try for some motion blur shots. Although I wanted to take a tripod on my trip, I just didn’t have the space in my luggage. These types of car motion shots are best with a tripod and a super slow shutter speed. But alas, I wanted to try to get the shot, albeit handheld. I knew there’d be a bit (okay, a lot) of camera blur, but I liked the overall effect. Using a tripod would have given me a clean, crisp, sharp image of the building and light posts. Same with these images:

The American Church in Paris, Paris, France
0.4 sec at f/3.5 ISO 250


En route to the Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
0.5 sec at f/4.5 ISO 250

Lots of camera blur with the Eiffel Tower shot, but it’s Paris, so how could I not post these?! Have I mentioned what an amazing trip it was? Can’t wait to go back… one day!

So my tip to you? Make room for a tripod or a monopod if you’re hoping to get some good, crisp, sharp motion blur photos!

Thanks for stopping by and have a joyful, creative, blessing filled day!
Live creatively!

Connie Hanks Photography // // “wanna play beauty salon?”

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun {Photo Fridays}

2013-01-16_7233_smallMy girls absolutely love all things girly. Princesses. Pink. Make-up. Flowers. Dresses. Headbands. Make-up. Butterflies. Dress-up. Crafting. Really, anything and everything girly. And did I mention make-up?!


They were so excited when earlier this year I had an environmental portraiture assignment and specifically asked them to play with some make-up. I loved getting these shots, just letting them be themselves, watching what they did with the brushes, lipsticks and other goodies!


Their expressions are priceless and I adore the collaboration in this shot:


I used natural light at dusk, just before sunset with the natural light pouring in through a westward facing window. Although they were doing their own thing, the only modification I made to their room was to move the desk (that my big girl calls her make-up table – yeah, I know, I’m so in trouble with that one!) – I moved it away from the wall, as it usually sits just under the window. I moved it a few feet into the room so I could situate myself between the window and the desk. I sat on the floor and scooched down so I was just a tad under their eye level. I knew they’d be looking slightly downward into the mirror, so if I had shot from above (as in standing), I really wouldn’t see their eyes at all.

It’s funny to think of all the times they’ve been in the bathroom with me as I’ve been putting on my make-up. I had no idea they were studying!

Thanks for stopping by and have a joyful, creative, blessing filled day!
Live creatively!

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!

Going, Going, Gone {Photo Fridays}


I knew my settings weren’t right, but I had seconds to get the shot before the car was gone and the opportunity missed. Here’s my original shot:


Yup, just a tad blue! But again, I knew I had a brief window, and I could work with the image in Lightroom to change the coloring. So using the presets that came in Lightroom, along with some favorites from onOne Software and My Four Hens, I took that original blue image and converted it to these black and whites, and sepia toned images:

2013-03-11_2116_bw-look2   2013-03-11_2116_winded

2013-03-11_2116_Paris_Montmartre_retro-warm   2013-03-11_2116_gritty-warm_tint-brown_grit-med_vignette-2lt_vintage-antique-2

Add a little grit, a little vignetting, and all is right with the world. Is it the greatest shot ever? Absolutely not. But no staging, no re-do’s; just a brief slice of time to capture this and play with it in Lightroom. Using the Develop mode sliders and presets gave me some beautiful options for this image. I’m a happy camper and can’t complain!

So the moral of the story? Don’t be afraid to get a bad shot. Don’t miss a moment because your settings aren’t right. We’re lucky enough to have incredible software at our fingertips to help us take a leap with those shots. You won’t be kicking yourself for a bad shot, but you will be kicking yourself for a missed shot!

Thanks for stopping by and have a joyful, creative, blessing filled day!
Live creatively!

Little Italy Mercato {Photo Fridays}


I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t frequent local farmer’s markets nearly as often as I should. When I do make the time, I love being there. The fresh produce, the fresh air, the fresh faces; it’s all so fresh : ) And I haven’t even begun to point out the amazing hand-crafted goodies that local artisans create. Knits, jewelry, hair accessories, cheeses, breads, art – all this and so much more to love.

2013-02-09_9689_webAs part of the Environmental Portraiture class I took, we went on a couple of field trips. One was to Balboa Park, which I blogged about here. The other was to Little Italy Mercato, a wonderful weekly farmer’s market in a historic part of San Diego that underwent a huge and successful revitalization.

2013-02-09_9694_webOur assignment was to submit four portraits from the Mercato. Not surprising, I went a little overboard! Honestly, I was a bit nervous about this assignment, as I would never consider myself a “street photographer”. Everyone was really friendly, so that made it a much easier task. As such, I’d love to share my top three tips to help you next time you’re our getting photos in an open market area.

2013-02-09_9732_web1. Chat with your subject!
I had a great time walking through the market, checking out the merchant’s goods and chatting with them about their items. They were so friendly and really open. Before photographing them, I asked their permission, and I was lucky enough that all but one obliged. I guess we all have a bad day now and then when we really just don’t want our photo taken : )

2013-02-09_9837_webBesides asking if I could take their photo, I would ask them about the merchandise. If they crafted it, grew it, made it, what it was made from, etc. When you get someone to talk about themselves, especially something they love / made / have pride in, it really brings out natural, genuine smiles or expressions.

2013-02-09_9956_web2. Include merchandise!
Most of these photos have the merchandiser’s goods in the photo, particularly in the foreground. I used a really wide aperture (f/2.8 to f/3.5) on all of these photos, and adjusted my focal point to get a sharp focus on their eyes. Including the merchandise, and background components, really fills in the pieces and completes the story. Remember that old saying – a photo worth a thousand words? All those items you include help get you closer to that many words!

2013-02-09_9812_web3. Adjust your focal point
Most DSLRs have the capability to adjust your focal point – you know those little red dots that light up when you look through your view finder and you’re just about to snap that photo? Pull out your camera manual and find out how you can change that point. I adjust it for every different setting/composition when shooting portraits. You set your focal point and you gain so much more control on your photos! Whether you choose the eyes, the hands, the products – whatever it is, you’re now determining where your viewer’s eyes go.

2013-02-09_9709_webHope these tips help you on your next photo adventure!

Thanks for stopping by and have a joyful, creative, blessing filled day!
Live creatively!

PS. I just had to include these two cuties who were performing at the farmer’s market. Aren’t they just way too stinkin’ cute?! Total artisans, too. All their tips go to music lessons. Love it!

2013-02-09_9786_web 2013-02-09_9807_web