Eye Contact Tricks and Messageboards

I came across this excellent article on MCP’s blog on how to connect with children and  it’s just too good not to share.  I think there’s something in there for everyone, whether you have a point and shoot or are a photo professional – getting a baby or toddler’s attention is one of the most challenging aspects of children’s portraiture. I’m not a bubbly silly baby person by nature, so I take all the help I can get!!

Another tip I came across on a mommy photography message board recently is to get a feather duster with a long handle like this one so you or an “assistant” can tickle baby and still stay out of the frame.

Norpro 48-Inch Lambswool Duster

It’s really big! But super soft, and because it’s 100% lambswool, I wouldn’t worry about tickling even a little baby’s face with it. Mine came yesterday- I’ll let you k now how it goes.

Speaking of messageboards, I have a lot of people ask me about which ones I frequent and what the differences are.  Here are three great ones, pros and cons of each:

1 ) Ilovephotography.com – you have to register and login to read this board, but there is just TONS of information in the form of tutorials, group projects, critiques, and a the famouse “share a square” board where you can get great templates, brushes and other free designs.  They also have a buy/sell forum where you can score some great deals on used photo equipment (that’s where I got my Tamron lens and speedlite!).   The board is divided up into a “JSO” – Just Starting Out section and then two hidden sections for members who are accepted to “pre-pro” and “pro”. It’s VERY hard to get accepted even to pre-pro. Which brings me to my next point about ILP, the standards there are higher than anyone else on the internet in that the critiques are very no holds barred, which is great if you REALLY want to learn as opposed to just get a pat on the back about how great your photo is!  As one internet friend of mine put it recently “ILP exists on it’s own plane where even God himself couldn’t take a great picture” (LOL!).  Personally, I like the HHCC (hard hat constructive criticism) that I get on my photos when I post them there for critique. I feel I learned so much in a short time from all of the people there.  One negative (depending on how you look at it) is that you are not allowed to discuss ANY thing biz related on the JSO forums, so if you have not applied to prepro and been accepted, you won’t be able to get info about starting a photography biz.  Which brings me to why I joined the next board:

2) Clicknmoms –  this is a paid membership site ($8 a month via paypal) and the first couple times I saw the banner ad on other people’s sites I was kind of turned off by it because I thought it was some sort of weird multilevel marketing scheme! In fact, if you click through the link I just gave you or from the banner on the top right of my site I will get a big fat $1.60 (ka-CHING!)  But after realizing that I needed somewhere to network with other photogs and find out more about the ins and outs of actually CHARGING people and marketing etc, I decided to join for one month and see how it went.. and I’m still there! It’s a much more supportive environment than ILP, both in a good and bad way. Good if you want a bit more hand holding, but I’ve seen some things posted like “look at my new promo card, what do you think?” that looked like they were designed in microsoft word by a 6th grader and people were like “I LOVE it!”  Personally, I’d rather people told me the truth about what they think (which I can always trust ILP for) but I guess everyone is a bit different.  Overall, I really like being a member of both sites.

3) Two Peas this is the only one that you can read through all the messages without having to sign up or be a member. Between CM and ILP I have more than enough to read so I haven’t actually spent much time on this board, but I know tons of people who do which is why I wanted to include it here. Maybe any of you that frequent it can fill us in on the pros and cons.

People ask me often what book I recommend for learning about digital photography, but I have to say that I learned pretty much everything I know from these message boards!

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Georgia says:

OMG you quoted me :) yay and stuff!

I love ILP for what it is, a place to go get beaten up when I need harsh CC on my work. BUT, I think that sometimes they’re overly nitpicky, especially about skin tones. I swear if someone were to post a picture of an African American baby, they’d ask why she isn’t white.

ariana says:

Ava, if brutality is what you want, ILP is definitely the right place! But more than just the CC, the amount of knowledge and information is really phenomenal.

Ava says:

After submitting some photos to critique on a couple of forums and not quite getting the level of brutality I’d like I’m going to join up ILP.
I’m not looking forward to being told my work is sub-par, but if they can suggest ways I could’ve done a better job, I’m for it.
I need a good kick in the rear to improve.

Thanx for the referral!

ariana says:

@Lisa, I do like my Tamron lens a lot. But if you have the funds, then yeah, the image quality on the 24-70 is going to be sharper, particularly on the wide end. At 75mm or thereabouts I don’t think you can get much sharper than the Tamron – my primes aren’t any sharper. But at the narrow end I do notice with some full body shots that it’s a bit softer. Hence the $700 price difference :) I will upgrade to the Canon L one day, but I need to start making some $$ after buying the mark II first! Also, I am not looking forward to the weight of it.

@Alicia, you just shamed me into going there to give more cc, i actually feel like I don’t contribute enough there! ;)

Alicia says:

Hey Ari! I’ve been browsing through ILP and I have to tell you: you give the BEST CC of anyone on there. No telling how many photographers you’ve helped and inspired. Really really awesome of you!

Lisa says:

Hi Ariana,

I love your post. The funny thing is I am a member of ILP and that is how I found your Blog and now I am advid follower! ILP can be a little overwhelming. I am on it almost every night. I look forward to checking out Clickin Moms. I am new at photography and trying to start a little side business this year. Hope to start charging. I appreciate the information.

Did you like your tamron 28-75 lens? I am looking to invest in a nice lens and I am debating on the tamron 28-75 lens or the canon 24-70mm. THe canon lens is so heavy. Any advice?


Kimberly says:

Oh, darn! I didn’t see it… I think I’m getting that lens for Christmas from my hubby… the only problem is I’m waffling about it AGAIN. I posted a thread about it on the Photography board… sigh. WHY can’t I make a decision on this… I’m not normally so indecisive! :P

Shane says:

Nice to see a mention for Zenfolio! I like the look of their site (but use Flickr PRO for personal images). A good friend is the CFO for Zenfolio.

ariana says:

Kimberly, sorry about that link – it was for the used tamron 28-75! It’s gone now of course.. but you probably saw it anyway :)

Kristie, just do it! It may hurt, but it will only make you stronger :)

Kristie says:

Ariana, I’m glad to see you are on clickin moms!! I joined last summer but I hate to admit – I’m still a lurker. Still trying to get the courage to post a pic. (I just started getting into photography over the summer) I agree that ILP is a little bit tougher on critiques – but I’ve learned a lot. I told myself that my new year’s resolution is to post a pic for critique on both clickin moms & ILP.

Kimberly says:

I just discovered Two Peas too… still need to check it out more. I never was able to get the link you sent me… there was something wrong with the link, because I was able to see other forms. Try again, pretty please? I’m very interested to see what it was! :)

kari says:

and great links :)

ariana says:

I’m thinking of buying photocart when I actually start making some money LOL. for now, I’m thinking of just hosting a gallery online and sending a PDF order form..

kerri says:

what are your plans as far as proofing go? i have been using zenfolio and just letting clients buy at cost through mpix and giving downloading rights. i make money for session/editing. am thinking i will change things as i get more experience etc. and research other options

ariana says:

Kerri, I’ve heard about the googly eyes too. Infact, it’s a fantastic business idea for someone to make them. I’d buy one in a heartbeat :)

kerri says:

i have been debating on CIM but will maybe give it a try. i saw the ILP a while ago and forgot about it…thanks for the reminder!
another thing i heard of people doing was putting googly eyes on a hair scrunchie and putting it on your lens…never tried it…but i could see it working too!