Photo Tips for Busy Parents

Photo Tips for Busy Parents was a class set up and conducted by Jenn Bartell, on September 25, at her studio on 2418 K Street. Eleven parents (all moms or expected moms except for 1) attended the workshop. This was a free workshop held by Jenn Bartell at a studio she shares with Catrina Maria Arcularius who specializes in Event Planning and Design and Suzanne “Weedon” O’Brien a floral designer-owner of Garden of Weedon. This is a good business location and the usage of space is greatly utilized by having three small businesses under one roof.

The class started off by going over the technical aspects of the camera. Most parents in the class had entry to intermediate level digital single-lens (DSLR) cameras making this a more challenging class for these parents but at the same time more rewarding once they learn how to use the functions of their cameras. Jenn tried to quickly cover aperture and shutter settings on the cameras. She recommended these two settings as a foundation for taking good pictures. She also covered ISO settings and looking at the parents it may have been a little bit more overwhelming than they anticipated.

She did pass on that she sets her camera on manual setting saying, “I like to use all the settings myself, this gives me more control. I try to stay away from flash as this tends to wash out skin tones and leaves harsh shadows.” This basically separates the “pros” from the rest of us.

The worried look on some parents seemed to disappear as she moved on to discuss an actual shoot. Jenn was very patient and reminded me of a second grade teacher reading a story to her kids. She was very attentive and thoroughly answered questions. Students patiently and eagerly took written and mental notes.

Jenn recommended looking for interesting places to photograph children. Take notice of these interesting places and more important observe natural light and the time of day. She also recommended candid shots. Have the child do something they enjoy such as playing with legos, drawing anything that grabs their attention and they enjoy doing. While the child is doing this the parent should move around them and photograph from different sides and angles. Once in a while ask them to show you their project this way you’ll capture moments when they’re not “posing” for the camera or saying “cheese” something that many of us do. Older children can be told how to pose and tend to follow directions better than younger children. Jenn indicated that one of the most important things you can do is to “stay patient and wait for the look you want.”

It’s almost unusual to hear of a photographer who went to school to learn the trade but Jenn has been interested in photography since she was a young child and this carried on to High School at Sacramento High. She chose to attend Sacramento High School because of their photography program. She mentioned her photography teacher from who she learned a lot Mr. Tafoya. Jenn noted that Mr. Tafoya moved to McClatchy High School where he still teaches. Jenn attended Brooks Institute of Photography graduating in 2005. She spent some time in New York and San Diego before deciding to come back to her home town. Back in Sacramento she decided to concentrate in portrait photography, children, and weddings. Her demeanor and patience, I believe, make her well suited to specialize in children’s photography.

Jenn’s studio will be hosting Sacramento Rocks! A Kids Photo Show on Saturday October 9 as part of the Second Saturday art walk. The studio will be open from 5-9 for this exhibit. This showing will be open for photographs taken by kids 12 or younger of their favorite person, place or thing in Sacramento. Photographs taken and submitted by Sacramento-area kids will be displayed along with the child’s name, age and title of their photo. Each child may submit one photo for the show and all photos will be printed and displayed. September 15 is the deadline for submission. Email submissions to

Jenn had many tips and tricks for parents to use when photographing their children, she also had 5 most important things that should be noted:
• Try to stay away from using flash
• Stay patient and wait for a shot you want
• Concentrate on the features of the face
• Keep eyes in sharp focus
• Clean up any distractions in your background

Children are very active and in order for them not to lose interest keep a shooting session somewhere between 30 to 45 minutes. Event with all the tips and tricks Jenn provided you have to know when to stop. Keep checking Jenn’s web page for future updates and if you’re in need of a photographer, a florist or even an event planner you can get all three by visiting The Studio at 2418 K Street.

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August 30, 2010 | 1:18 PM

I had the good fortune to have Mr. Tafoya as a photography teacher at McClatchy for a few years. His love for this art really rubs off on his students. It is nice to hear about a local artist passing along her knowledge for free.

August 30, 2010 | 11:47 PM

As a former teacher, one of the biggest rewards I get is hearing from a former student how you might have encouraged their love for learning. Kudos to Mr. Tafoya for having had such a positive influence on his students!

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