Families come in all forms!

What is a family?

To me, it’s a group of individuals who have chosen each other.

It’s as simple as that. There may, or may not, be blood ties. The individuals may, or may not, be the same species.  A group is at least two individuals, but there is no maximum limit.

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I sometimes feel like I’m blessed with many different families. My family consists of two people and three dogs – that’s the core. But my family is also us five plus parents, siblings, and sibling’s families. And I have friends that are so close I call them family. These are all individuals I have chosen to have in my life because I love them and they make my life a better place. And they have chosen me back – it goes both ways.

Families stick together, help each other, care for each other, and make everyday life easier. They may argue, but they find their way back. They do stuff together because it’s more fun that way.

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The family in these photos is one I met earlier this year. We had two sessions together, and each time I felt happy for days after I met them – their love and affection, respect and care, was contagious.

They have chosen each other, not once, but over and over. All four of them.

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It’s actually kind of amazing.

 

Easy like sunday morning

It’s 5.30 Sunday morning. Husband is asleep, I am awake because the sheep started baaa-ing for food and we have neighbors. Dogs are with me. It’s cloudy but warm, all is quiet (as soon as the sheep are fed).

Instead of going back to bed, I fetch my camera and my Lensbaby velvet 56. This morning I feel like photographing slowly, look for compositions and details, and just fill my head with here and now.

The dogs find their spots in the grass and watch me move slowly, looking at flowers, grass, bushes, anything that catches my eye. When I get more than ten meters away, they get up and find a new spot a bit closer. We are a family. Families stick together.

I forget about the time and take about 50 photos of a rosehip bush. And then 50 more of some raspberries. And so on. My Lensbaby forces me to go slow, set focus manually, really look at my mage before I shoot. It’s really relaxing.

So, these photos are just for me. Full of Sunday morning, summer, dogs by my side, and doing what I love.

Christina and Fant the Fant-astic!

I’ ve known Christina on the web since she took one of my online classes, and I’ve admired her work. She and her beautiful cocker Fant lives in Paris at the moment (enjoy her insta! ), and as they were passing by Sweden she asked for a private session. Some new ideas on street photography, and how to pose Fant in order to not make him look posed, was on the wish list.

We met in Västra Hamnen in Malmö (a beautiful part of the city, do not miss when passing by!). I know the area fairly well, and as Christina wanted to work with the composition of lines and shapes with her 16mm wide-angle, I added the idea “dog goes on an adventure in town” to give a bit of backstory.

And then we got to work. For me, one of the keys is to really “work through” an area. Different angles, compositions distances, poses…Little by little that makes me realise what I want from this scene, and I often end up with something completely different than my original idea. So that’s what I had Christina doing.

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Fant is a very well trained model, and seemed to really enjoy himself! Lots of treats were involved 🙂

We deliberately chose poses that did NOT involve looking into the camera. The idea was to capture Fant’s view of the town – how would a dog explore? If he was a bit adventurous, and more about seeing than sniffing (I know, it’s not super realistic, but the images get better…)?

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This part of town has lots of big windows, and that means lots of reflections. So much fun to play with!

Of course, a dog visiting Malmö would want to look at the sea and the bridge to Copenhagen. We got him to look in the right direction with a little help from some strategically arranged treats.

I really liked the idea of him lying almost like a statue, overlooking the city with the Turning Torso behind him. Him – not so much…But hey, anything for Mom!

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And my last one of a very warm and tired Fant. He did not actually seek that shadow by himself, we put him there. It still tells the story 🙂

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My shots are a bit haphazard, I wasn’t there to shoot but to teach and give feedback and suggestions. I know Christina got some really good ones, and can’t wait to see them!

So. Lesson learned:

  • What’s the story?
  • Try, try, try!
  • Change something in every shot
  • Leading lines
  • Diagonals
  • Rule of thirds
  • Play with reflections
  • Avoid poses that look posed
  • Work with the light, make the subject stand out
  • Don’t be afraid to go close
  • Don’t be afraid to back up
  • Keep the dog happy!

And to finish: keep your eyes open. What happens around you?

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Freedom

At the beginning of this year, my husband and I decided this would be a year of freedom. Six months in, we have accomplished some big things that will give us the freedom we want: I’ve quit my job and am now self-employed, he has changed his job, and we bought a new house and sold the old one (still haven’t moved though).

We call the new house Freedom. It’s really nice to say “Meet you in Freedom!” or “Should we go to Freedom this evening?” or “I and the dogs will be in Freedom Wednesday.”. It’s a small house by the road in the middle of nowhere. Woods surrounds it, and some fields with cows. It’s really quiet and calm.

The garden has once been really beautiful – we think – but has grown wild for some years. Behind the forest is a deforestation, that will be full of birches in a few years.

The hose comes with a garage and a few extra storage-houses (including an outside dry toilet – not in use).

And inside are two rooms and a small bathroom.

That’s it. Freedom. My new home.

Jenny

This weekend I had a shoot with Jenny. I wanted to do something in Game of Thrones-style, and use a friends dogs to be “wolves” (small, but still). I had a clear idea of the final result, and we had a lot of fun trying to achieve the right poses, fight the mosquitos, get the dogs to cooperate, keep the dresses up (a bit too big), and keep little sister busy…

Behind the scenes a shoot can look something like this:

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After about 90 minutes, I had all I wanted and more. Finished result after some work in photoshop to get the fairytale feeling:

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And, of course, little sister got a quick portrait 🙂

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It’s a lot of fun to get to work with a theme like this! Thank you all those involved in the process!

 

Posing boot-camp

I never pose the people I photograph, I work with moment design and work with the poses that come naturally.

But. I want to be able to pose someone if I have the need, to have the skill! So in order to learn, I searched the internet after a photographer who works like that, and give classes. I found Meg Bitton, and am currently in her Posing Boot-camp.

This week’s assignment is posing a single subject. I borrowed a friend’s daughter yesterday, and got to work – trying to remember all the “do’s” and “don’ts”. My model was absolutely fantastic and tried everything I asked for without hesitation, despite mosquitos and nettles.

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Bend, twist, and turn. All limbs visible (at least partly). Hands relaxed.

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Take the photo slightly from above, to enhance the eyes.

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And remember location! Where is the light? How can I make her stand out?

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I love this photo, despite the flaws (her right hand is not placed in a good way). That look…

When I had tried all my ideas – some worked, some most certainly did NOT work, she got to play around a bit on her own:

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Really like this pose! Relaxed, with movement, twists and bends for interesting shapes. Hands relaxed.

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And this light! All limbs visible, slightly diagonal lines, beautiful.

So far so good! I look forward to more sessions and experiments! And yes, this will be in my repertoire. Soon.

Releaseparty!

Today is a good day.

The reviews for my book are starting to appear – and they are great! I’m not the only one who loves it 🙂

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And tonight is my releaseparty! My friends (and publishers) are coming from Gothenburg, a lot of my friends around here will show up, I have bought ingredients to make tidbits of sorts (I haven’t actually MADE them yet – but how hard can it be?), and I’m going to do a live presentation with powerpoint and dog.

In short: it will be AWESOME!

And you know – it’s still not too late! Everyone who reads this is most welcome. Follow this link and click “kommer”.

Can’t come, but still want the book? Not a problem! Read more and order HERE!

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Behind the scenes

My work as a photographer sometimes brings me to new and interesting places, to do new and interesting things. Two weeks ago I went to Gothenburg, to work with Svenska Terapihundskolan (Swedish school for therapy dogs). My assignment was to take photos for their coming book about therapy dogs and their handlers – so much fun!

Sara made me extra happy because she took photos of me working! So you can see what the scene looks like, and then my photo 🙂

It was amazing to see the different dogs and handlers do their magic. Because it’s really magic! The way people relax, smile, open up…

And it’s not only the clients that smile – both the dogs and their handlers really love their work. The dogs are work colleagues and respected as such, never a “tool” to use. The dogs love their work, they may be trained in certain tricks or moves, but I think that what really moves the clients is that the dogs are having a really good time.

As a dog trainer, I also loved the nice and neat training that took place. All training is 100% reward-based. The clients love giving the dogs treats, and the handlers make sure that all clients know how to treat a dog nicely. No matter the age of the client.

And as there is a wide variety of clients, from children’s hospitals to elderly care facilities, the dog (and handler) get to work with the type of humans they love the most. Some are really calm and cuddly and love to just hang out and get cuddled with. Others like a bit more action, and work well with school children. There’s a place for everyone!

The book will be released in December. Worth waiting for!

Lensbaby Burnside 35

It was only a matter of time before my Lensbaby velvet 56 got a friend. As I love swirly bokeh, often use 35mm, and always add a vignette when I edit, the choice was easy. Burnside 35.

I got it yesterday, and this is the very first photo:

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I wanted to make the most of that swirlyness!

I have read that some photographers have had a hard time adjusting to the Burnside 35, but (as I almost already knew) we became instant friends.

So far, I have only had the aperture set to the largest: f/2,8. It gives the perfect effect for my taste. The “golden slider” that controls the vignette is set as dark as possible. I love, love, love how it looks!

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As you can see, the swirlyness is dependant on the background. It gives a nice creamy bokeh, beautifully matte colours, and is crisp and sharp with a painterly feel at f/2,8. It’s very different from the velvet56, a perfect complement!

I also found it much easier to focus. Then I realized that:

  1. I had my lenses on = my eyes function properly
  2. f/2,8 instead of f/2
  3. And i’s easier to see what’s sharp when there is no glow – but the glow and supersoftness is what I love about the velvet 56.

My lensbaby obsession continues…

And so does my obsession with the magnolia in the garden. These are with the velvet 56.

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Speedlight for dummies: part 2.

Pretty soon after my first speedlight-try, I realised what an advantage it would be to separate the flash from the camera. So I got a transmitter. On the list of what I love about Godox: it’s cheap. That means I can learn without having to invest a fortune (so far under 2000:- for flash and transmitter!).

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Lensbaby is too soft for this purpose and my taste at f/2,8, so the rest are taken with f/4.

Today I have been working with my Fujifilm t-x2, Godox tt350, and a transmitter. Lens: I made a bad choice. I couldn’t choose between working on my speedlight skills and working on my manual focus skills, so I chose the lensbaby. I should have gone with an af-lens, as I don’t quite handle manual focus yet. Oh, well! One sharp out of every ten isn’t too bad, is it? Love the look of the lensbaby when I get it right! 😀

Anyway. I wanted a controlled environment, so all photos are from inside my living room with a simple black backdrop.

 

Todays tasks:

  1. Find out how it works.
  2. Try different settings (more or less flash, more or less natural light)
  3. Try different angles (because lighting dogs are NOT the same as lighting people. People don’t have huge triangular ears or very long snouts).
  4. Try to get the eyes sharp.
  5. Maybe get something worth saving.

I wanted kind of low key, and in my mind the photos were fantastic (of course). In reality…Let’s just say I need more practice!

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Flash straight from the side/behind her. “Are you done soon?”

I was worried the flash would be distracting for my model, or even frighten her, so the first thing I did was to flash it in a different direction and give her a treat a few times. Flash = treat. She got that really fast, and there were no problems at all!

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Flash behind her. I so missed the focus on this one, but wanted to show the effect. The light on her face is natural light from a window.

I started with TTL-mode, and adjusted the amount of light. I got the lighting of her really nice, but wanted to get a darker background so I changed to manual mode instead.

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Flash bounced in the ceiling. Nice, but too much light on the background.

In manual mode I set the exposure on the camera first, and then I added a tiny bit of light from the flash.

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Flash almost straight in front of her a little bit to the side.

I also tried to bounce it in the ceiling, and compare that with flash straight-on. The bounced one is much softer, obviously, but also harder to control.

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From the side, bounced in the ceiling.

Luckily, I have a very patient model who works for a handful of kibble. That allows me to play and test things! After an hour of shooting, I know A LOT more than I did an hour ago. And I guess that after a few more sessions, I may even start to know what I’m doing…:D