Monday, November 30, 2009

Christmas Card

This is our 2009 Christmas card. It was a lot of work, as is most groupings of small kids. I took 54 total shots of this exact pose looking for the right expression on their faces and hoping that I would get lucky and all three would look great all on the same frame. No such luck. There were a lot of images where Alex had his hands up in the air, or over his face as babies often do, and Audrey kept leaning over and kissing her brother, or pulling her dress up. Tyler wouldn't hold still and his movements caused the other boxes to fall over several times. Does this sound like anyone else's experiences trying to photograph their kids? As much as I'd like to claim that mine know better since they are always in front of the camera, I can't. They are just like every other kid I've ever photographed. So how do I get perfect photos of everyone looking and smiling (even a three week old?) PHOTOSHOP! This image is a composite of two different images and about three hours of  work to make them match perfectly. Since there is no shortage of pattern in this image, making everything line up was essential during the shooting process so when I put the two images together in Photoshop it was simply a matter of masking around my baby boy's body and the box he's in and layering it above the photo with Tyler and Audrey both smiling. The best way to do this is to use a tripod and once you have your shot set up and framed as you'd like it, don't move anything! After importing the images to my compuer, matching the color and sharpness in CS4,  I copy and pasted the "good" Alex shot into a new layer, add a layer mask, and begin the painstaking process of making everything match. A good way to do this is to set the opacity of the top layer to 50% and then if move it until the lines match up. If you need, transform the image (remember to keep it in scale) until it's as close as possible. Once I was done blending the two layers together I added a vignette around the edges. This is very simple. Create a elliptical marquee over the image and then feather it by 250 pixels or less if you want a harder edge. Invert the selection so it is selecting the corners and not the middle of the photo. Create a levels adjustment layer and slide the blacks and midtones down until you've reached your desired look. The selection will show up as a mask for the adjustment layer. I painted on the mask to bring back some light around Audrey's face since the mask darkened her hair a little too much.

I've also included another version the same photo and separates of each of the kids we did at the end. Alex did his photos naked yet again, and I just as I went to pick him up he peed all over everything! Good thing I was done shooting.  Notice that the shots below haven't been at all retouched since you can see the inside of the box Audrey is in. DOH!


  1. These are darling! You really are amazing. I can't even take pictures of my kids individually and have them turn out. The older kids end up with a huge fake smile as soon as they see the camera. You do a wonderful job, I enjoy seeing what's new everyday. Thank you-

  2. @ Matt-Lanae
    Thanks! I feel your pain, like I said in the post, it took a few tries to get this, and even then it wasn't perfect. Having a lot of photoshop experience can be a HUGE life saver.

  3. So cute Irene, I love it and I'm so glad to know you have the same problem as I did!! I did the exact same thing last week! Why can't they all just look at the camera at the same time!! Your turned out great very cute idea! Heather