5 Minutes to Cleaner Photos featuring Tara Geldart Photography



Ok, this is going to be embarrassing!  I swear, I have a somewhat tidy house most of the time!  But these two toddlers here, are home all day long and I believe it is their mission when they wake up in the morning to destroy my house.  Once they complete the destruction of one room, they move on to the next!

I am a documentary photographer…I document stuff!  But who in their right mind wants to work in this mess?  Not me!  Who has time to clean up just for the sake of photos?  Not me!  That would take all of the fun out of it!

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But this is where they play…this is where the moments happen.  (Plus, this room gets awesome light, so I needed to find a way to make it work.) Not all of the images that I take in this room are pretty.  Sometimes the moments happen despite the mess and that is okay but for today I will show you how to get a few good, clean and clutter free images out of this room in less than 5 minutes!

I originally picked up my camera because the little one was wearing her princess crown that she has been obsessed with lately.  I really wasn’t feeling it in terms of the disorder that I had to work with.

Assess the Clutter.

My assessment tells me that there is a lot of clutter!  I really don’t like to shoot out towards the kitchen because the lights are usually on in the kitchen which throws off my white balance, the T.V. is always on, my desk is usually a mess, the lights isn’t as great and as you can see, there’s toys everywhere.

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Get in a Better Position

I can see that the best spots to shoot towards without spending a lot of time tidying up would be towards the picture window and towards the coffee table.  Just about anywhere else in the room is too messy.  My main intention is to document her playing and wearing her crown so unless something super cute happens, I am not too interested in documenting anything else right now. Bonus, the two “clean” areas get the best light!  I need to put myself so I can shoot towards these area.

Check Settings and Wait!

I dial in my settings then sit my butt on the floor in the middle of the room and wait!  I am not really sure what I am waiting for…but then she starts to play with her musical book toy.

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I positioned myself here so the junk on the end of the coffee table was out of the frame and I purposely didn’t shoot all the way to the floor because there was toys under the coffee table that I wanted to avoid.

I convert a lot of my documentary images to black and white because most of the time it simplifies the scene if there is too much going on.  Black and white images allow the eye to scan the image and settle on the moment or interaction.  However, I was going to leave this one in color because my living room is pretty neutral and her toy ads a nice pop of color but then I noticed there was a doll stroller tucked in behind the rocking chair to the left and I didn’t want that distraction in my final image.  When I convert this, it’s easier to get rid of that distraction and have a cleaner image.

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While I was sitting on my butt in the middle of the floor she went over to the window and did this!  Dirty hands, no problem!  Just wipe them on the window, mom will clean it later!  I framed it tight to avoid anything in the background and converted it so the brown dead grass and green spruce tree wouldn’t be a distraction.  I wanted the focus to be on her dirty little hands, the mess on the window, her runny nose, crazy hair and that princess crown!

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This is my favorite from this day.  I backed up a little bit from the last image and waited while she played on the rocking chair.  There were some birds out on the lawn that she got up to go look at (after I reminded her they were out there!).  I exposed for the highlights and let the shadows take over the edges of the frame.

This is one of my favorite spots to shoot in and luckily it stays relatively clutter free.  If I was to do a quick clean up before I started shooting, I could easily shove some stuff behind me since I know that I will not be shooting in that direction.

I made these three images in less than 5 minutes by just assessing the clutter in the room, getting into the position I wanted to shoot from and waiting for the moments to happen!  No need to frantically rush around to clean up!

Here’s a little before and after!

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Before and After – Editing Images featuring Rachel K Photo


I love a good before and after, especially for more creative edits, so this month, I decided to share some of my own edits and brief descriptions of how I did them. Not every photo I take has edits as extensive as these below, and in fact, most don’t, but I wanted to show that sometimes what I see as I final product in my head, isn’t always exactly the scene I’m capturing in front of me.

ba1For this first photo when I saw the big bush on the left, I knew in post that I wanted to mirror it on the other side. I duplicated the image, inverted it, added a mask, and then using a white brush, painted it on the other side. It never occurred to me to flip the image and mirror something like this until I saw another photographer show it in a before and after! It inspired me, and I hope this will inspire you! After, I had the image the way I wanted, I did some color adjustments, added a vignette, a little spotlight at the top, and a light matte.

ba2This photo is actually a self portrait that was taken in my apartment at 28 weeks. I knew I wanted a soft backlit photo, so I set up my tripod and stood in front of our sliding glass doors. I cropped the photo, and added some more negative space above my head, but other than that, I just used a white brush on a duplicated layer to paint out the rest of the door and room. I always work on new layer, in case I don’t like what I’ve done, and want to go back and try something different.

ba3For this photo, it’s just as much about what I did when I took the photo as how I processed it. For this photo I used a technique called the Brenizer method, or bokeh panorama. There are tons of tutorial and videos on how to do, so I won’t go into the details here. Essentially, you take a lot of photos, the way you would a normal panorama and then merge them together in photoshop. What you end up with is a beautiful photo with an incredibly shallow depth of field!

ba4For this photo, I was simply in love with the expression on the little boys face, and really wanted that to be the focus. I darkened down the back ground, converted to black and white, added contrast and a matte finish!

ba5For this photo, I loved the flower patch they were sitting in, but not the over all green color of the photo. I did various hue/saturation adjustments to get the colors where I wanted, warmed the photo up, added a vignette and light spotlight. Like almost all my images, I finished it with a light matte.

ba7This photo is another example of playing with the colors. I used hue/saturation adjustments inverted and painted in to change the color of their shirts, then again to warm up the whole image. I spent quite a bit of time, warming up their skin, removing color casts from the original colored shirts, and balancing the purple and magenta in their skin. Finished with a light vignette, spotlight and matte.

ba6For this photo, I was completely obsessed with the mom to be’s tulle skirt and really wanted to focus on it. I cropped the photo in, and then used the clone tool to extend her skirt. I selected a pink color from the skirt and lightly painted in along the edges to blur out the details and any obvious cloning. Lastly I warmed the photo up, and added a light matte.

ba8This photo was done just for fun. It had snowed the week of this mom to be’s maternity session, and she was really hoping that there would still be snow on the ground by the time of her shoot. Unfortunately it had all melted, but I spent a little time researching how to create a snowy image in post, and came up with this! It’s not perfect by any means, but it was fun to play around with! Again, there are tons of free tutorials and youtube videos that show how to create fake snowy images.

I hope some of these photos and edits have been inspiring to you! I would love to see some of your creative edits too. Please post yours in the comments, or leave a link where I, and others can be inspired by your work too! And as always, you can connect with me on Facebook or Instagram, as well as see more of my work at www.rachelkphoto.com.