see the world

Just completed a collaborative project with thirty-seven photographers around the world that culminated in a set of brilliant images ranging from festive dancing in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, street walking in Beijing, beach skipping in Mozambique, to neon lights in Austin and a floating stainless steel sphere in the U.K., all taken on the first day of spring. What impresses me about the post is how incredibly well the sets of photos go with each other despite the fact that none of the photographers knew what the others were shooting. A stunning glimpse of how various corners of the world ushered in a new season, a new year, and a new day.


united cousins

Despite the fact that these five cousins have roots from the same tiny village near the Caspian sea, they were born in four different countries, spanning three continents. Much to their pleasure (and their parents’) they now live a relative stone’s throw from each other and spend their time together exploring, learning, laughing and, as cliche as it sounds, creating memories that will last the rest of their lives. Luckily for them, their camera-happy parents will fill in the gaps with photos where any memory should fail.
Since this blog is intended to also serve as a resource to individuals wanting to improve their photography skills, I’m adding a feature called “Why It Works” where I will point out photography techniques that I deliberately employed to create a particular image. No doubt you’ve already heard of them or just know them as common sense, but sometimes seeing ideas directly applied helps bring them to mind when you’re looking through your own lens. Read on below this photo to see why I think it works.

Why It Works (not so much a how to but more of a this is what happens when you...)
Fill the frame – Often, particularly with photos of children, the subject is a dot in a sea of irrelevant distractions. Don’t hesitate to move in and fill as much of the frame as you can with your subject. When the environment is relevant, adds balance or frames the subject conceptually or compositionally, consider it part of your subject and let it fill the frame.
Shoot low – By shooting at about waist-high, I avoided tilting the camera up or down and creating distortion. Here, their heads are in proportion with their feet.
Hug to hold – Rather than placing the squirmy one who likes to escape on the side the group, we put him between the two girls who could hold him in place with their hugs. This also works in close-ups with little ones in the arms of their parents whose sandwiching cheeks can keep a baby’s head from turning away.
Simple background – With few objects and structures in the background, the eye can easily rest on the subject without being constantly pulled away.
Don’t wait for smiles – Smiles will be a whole other blog post, but for this photo, I’ll just point out that the two younger boys who are not smiling show the natural curiosity they exhibit at this age. In fact, a typical scenario with these five is the older kids playing a game and laughing while the younger two watch and try to learn. Where my attention goes is to the eyes, rather than the smiles. In this case, a viewer feels a connection with the subjects through eye contact. Whatever expression that child is making simply communicates a quality of his/her personality.
Overcast sky –
Last but definitely not least, don’t wait for a sunny day to take photos. Grab your camera when it’s cloudy and the whole sky is basically a giant version of those umbrellas you see in portrait studios. Overcast skies diffuse the light so it gently and evenly illuminates your subject and eliminates those harsh shadows that break up a face into really bright spots next to really dark shadows. There will be more posts about outdoor light, the sun, the shade and avoiding shadows, but in the meantime, take full advantage of the spring showers (or fall drizzles for readers in the southern hemisphere) season and discover yet another reason to love cloud-filled skies.


Mojan - These tips are FANTASTIC. You can bet I’m going to revisit this entry a few more times so that it stays with me!

Sonjel - Excellent post! This is super useful!

Leili - I love it!! Thanks so much for sharing these tips. Great idea!

Roya - Great tips – and fabulous photo of the cousins!

Lethika - Great tips and pictures! Thanks Negeen!

Beth Dunn - Oh, and make sure you have the camera turned on…right?

May T - This is so helpful Negeen!! I love it! Thank you!

Katharine - Thanks for these great tips!

Omeed - Loved the photo – loved the tips!

Rayyan - Fantastic tips Negeen! I really enjoyed this!

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so long winter, hello spring!

I adore spring and all it entails: dotted colors in fields of green grass, open windows, bare feet and gauzy summer dresses, new scents, new beginnings, and for Iranians and Baha’is around the world, a new year. The four tiny flowers my husband and my daughter planted in the backyard yesterday couldn’t be more representative of the springtime of our life back in Oklahoma as we place our own roots here and witness new opportunities flourish.


Roya - Gasp – What a gorgeous girl!

sherry - Lovely grand-daughter and very beautiful pictures. Nice composition.

bare toes and pretty bows [edmond portrait photography]

When Nisha Bailey, creator of Pieces of Dreams handmade accessories for kids, needed images of her current hair accessory collection modeled, the obvious choice of a subject was her adorable daughter, Colleen. Who’s luckier: Nisha, for having a cute-pie 7-year-old to model her products, or Colleen for having a talented mother who makes enough stunning hair accessories that she can wear with every outfit for any occasion, and then some? Let’s just say they both have it great.


Mojan - This set is flawless. My favorite is the one where she’s reading a book and her feet are up on the wall… Wow.

Nadia - gorgeous model, gorgeous bows, and gorgeous photos!