Mini Session in Yellow!

I love every photo from this quick couple’s session the other day.

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Spring Sibling Photo Shoot

I took the kids down to the park for their first photo shoot of the year. They did great!

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How to Take Your Own Family Photos at Kusel Castle

Taking your own family photos is quite challenging, but it can be done with plenty of preparation and a little bit of luck.  First, lets talk about gear. You’ll need:

  • DSLR Camera with a self timer capability or remote trigger capability
  • A good sturdy tripod
  • A remote trigger (optional if you can use the self timer option)

Additionally, when shooting at Kusel Castle or any outdoor family session, I prefer to use a longer lens to compress the background to really utilize all the beautiful scenery found around Kusel Castle. A 55-200mm is a good choice and is a very useful lens to add to your gear list. I like to zoom in as much as I can for how much room I have to scoot back from my subjects while also keeping the background scenery details if desired.

110mm f2.8 1/400

To take a photo and also be in the photo, you can use the self timer feature found on most DSLRs. By default most self timers are set to 10 seconds but you can tweak these settings in the menu. You can also set it to take up to 9 photos at a time so you can be sure to catch all those smiles and not so many blinking eyes.

Another option is to purchase an inexpensive remote for your camera.  The drawback to this method is the distance it can reach and still work is too short to use with a telephoto lens (16ft max). This type of trigger uses infrared and so needs to be in direct line of sight with your camera, like a basic TV remote. So you’ll have to break pose to point it at the camera.

A third option is to use your off camera flash triggers if you got ’em. I had these Yongnuo triggers to use my off camera flash and had no idea I could also use them to trigger my camera’s shutter. These remote triggers use radio waves and so do not need to have direct line of sight to the camera like the basic remote does. Also they reach a much greater distance, up to 100 meters! Use and setup will be subject of another blog post coming soon.

Finally, get everyone dressed up and where you want them, set up your tripod and camera, check the view finder and get everyone in focus, then run on over to join them before pressing the trigger. This may take many trials and errors, as children don’t always cooperate to look at a camera with no photographer behind it. In my case, I ended up just photoshopping two photos together, one with me in it and one taken with me behind the camera. Daughter was upset because I had handed her off to her father and ran away to get behind the camera.

My family photo, a composite

When taking your family photos at Kusel Castle, make sure to shoot 1-2 hours before sunset so the sun is in a good position for the shoot and the light is nice and soft. Get a good shot right in the middle of the castle area near the restaurant on the nice cobblestone road. Then go back out front to get one off to the right of the castle near the parking lot where there is a nice tree and a cool castle wall covered in moss. To finish off I get everyone in the car and drive up the hill to find a good spot with a view to the castle, just as the sun is setting.

So good luck with your DIY family photoshoot. Of course it would be much easier if you just hire a professional to help you out (wink, wink).

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Brand New Website, Brand New Me

After a bit of a break, I’m ready to start shooting again and creating magic!

There are a few reasons I stopped shooting about a year and a half ago.  For one, I got burnt out, like many new photographers do when they take on too much work for too little pay. I ran into a few problems as well, such as when my brand new full frame Nikon D610 fell off my couch and broke right open. I sent it off to Nikon to get repaired and they declared it “unrepairable”. I hadn’t bought the protection plan or had my camera on my insurance and so I was simply out $1600 and couldn’t afford to replace it. I sold all my extra gear, including my second camera body and lenses so that I could buy a used Nikon D610 on Ebay for $1100. This time around I’m paying for insurance, protection plans, the whole 9 yards.

Another reason I stopped shooting was I felt a bit isolated being a one man team and I wanted to work with a group of people again. I got a job with NAF and for awhile it was great. Then I remembered what it’s like to be stuck at work for 40 hours a week and have very little time for anything else. So this time around I’m going to reach out more and create my own team of friends and creative peoples.

I really want to make it work this time, and will be going into full time business owner mode. The kids will both be in school by the end of this year and I’ll have some time and energy to invest into my business and my art. So get ready everybody, I’m going to work hard for YOU while at the same time making more time for my family. And kudos to my husband for sticking it out in the military for 12 years so far so that I can follow my dreams, and for all of his unending support. XOXO

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Andrea Marie Photography is a family photographer located in Haymarket Virginia, Prince William County, Northern Virginia. Email: info@andreamariestudio.com

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