Happy 1st Birthday Gus

If you subscribe to the blog and this family looks familiar to you, then its because I photographed Ali & Matt’s beautiful wedding back in October 2012. I’m so glad that I got to meet up with them for an early morning session to capture some family photos and 1-year portraits of their little guy Gus. I thought I would share an image from their wedding just for fun. They even got a little famous when the NY Post published an image from their wedding. I wasn’t able to get my hands on a hard copy, but it did appear online as well. Matt and the groomsmen wore superhero shirts under their tuxedos. This idea has been used a lot in the years since, but they invented it!

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Ali RulapaughSeptember 18, 2016 - 2:57 am

Amanda, you are AMAZING! We love all of the photos of our little guy! So happy we were able to work together again! You are incredibly talented!

How to make an awesome family home video – Part 1 of 2

Why is it worth your time and effort to make a family highlight video? Well, honestly ask yourself, when’s the last time you sat down and watched any of your family’s home videos? It’s probably been a long time. It’s not that you don’t enjoy watching that last family vacation but there can be some real obstacles. Your videos might be scattered across different camera phones or hard drives? Maybe you’ve captured some awesome moments but it takes so long to get to those parts? Perhaps there’s a lot of boring and slow footage to suffer through? What if instead of having to sit through all the boring parts to watch those handful of best moments, you could put them all together in one song? Amanda and our two boys love to watch our home videos because they’re fun and they’re really easy to access. I thought it would be a great idea to share with you a quick list of ten easy things you can do to make an awesome family highlight video!

I used an iPhone 5 camera phone for this home video.

#1 – Focus on people more than anything else. All of the scenery shots in your highlight video shouldn’t be more than 10% of the finished video. No matter how awesome that bridge is or how beautiful the sunset looks, keep it to a minimum. Think about it. When you watch your video years from now, no one’s going to comment on how cool the bridge is because they’ll be too busy looking at how little or cute the kids were at that age. The best way to showcase those scenic shots is with your subject in the same shot. Another trick is to frame the scenery shot beforehand and then have your subject walk into it. For example, it’s not by accident that when I shoot at the beach, I frame the shot so the boardwalk or dock is in the background. If you want to shoot a sign saying where you’re visiting, dedicate 1/3 of the camera to the sign and the other 2/3’s to your subjects. You’ll get the best of both worlds.

#2 – The average video clip in a fun highlight video is only 2-3 seconds long. This makes you want to watch it over and over to see details you missed. If you think this is too fast, the next time you watch your favorite movie or TV show, count the seconds before the camera switches to another shot or angle. You can’t even finish reading this sentence before the shot will move to a different angle. We’ve been conditioned to have terrible attention spans when watching videos. In fact, a typical four minute highlight song will need to have about 95 different angles/shots. Keep this in mind when your spouse tells you that you need to stop shooting video and to put your phone away.

#3 – When shooting, think about how many shots you can make within your current shot. For example, when my youngest son was surfing on the beach (not the actual water), I got a detailed shot of his feet on the board, his hands while he tried balancing himself, the expression of his face when he thought he was actually surfing, and a great scenic shot of the ocean and dock by shooting him from behind. All I had to do to was get closer, step back, take a few steps around him, and bend down to get a different angle. When I put these 2-3 second shots together in a highlight video, it’s funner to watch and the video will have more energy. Remember, for every large shot, there are several smaller detail shots. You just have to look for them.

#4 – When choosing the one song for the video, realize you’ll have to listen to it 10 and 20 years from now. Today’s billboard hits might be cool but you’re going to have to live with this decision every time you and your family sit down to watch it. If you decide to post it online for out-of-town relatives, your grandma is going to be watching it as well. I’ve had lots of great song ideas for our family videos but when I share them with Amanda, they end up not seeming so great after all. Nothing frustrates me more than finding a song with the perfect mood and speed but the lyrics aren’t something I want the kids singing around the house.

#5 – When editing, arrange your clips in an order that makes chronological sense. For example, if your video keeps bouncing back and forth between completely unrelated locations, it will be confusing for the viewer. Instead of them enjoying your finished video, they’ll be trying to figure out if the kids are still in Disneyland or Legoland. It makes sense to put all the clips together that were taken in one location such as an amusement park before moving onto an entirely different location like a beach. To make your transitions smoother between locations, you can use those great scenic shots to give context. I always stay away from putting text in the middle of my videos because a well thought out shot naturally tells the viewer we’ve moved to a different location.

Hopefully this list inspires you to gather up all those scattered video clips you’ve already shot and gives you some great ideas for the next time you pull out your video camera. Next week, I’ll share with you five other tips that you’ll want to know for making an awesome family highlight video!

– Mike

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