Friday, September 6, 2013

I just shared on Facebook and wanted to be sure to let you all know as well that I am officially not taking any sessions for the foreseeable future while I shift my focus to some more personal projects.  Thank you so so much for your support of this business and allowing me to spend some time capturing your family over the past couple of years:) I'm sorry to anyone who was planning to book family pics this fall, please feel free to get in touch with any questions and I will gladly suggest some wonderful local photographers for you! 

If you'd like to stay in touch (I'd love that so much!) here's where you can find me: My personal blog - 
Pinterest -
Instagram -
Email -

Please feel free to get in touch with any comments or questions! Thank you again so much for all of your wonderful support, encouragement and general awesomeness in sharing this with me!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Phone Photography. iPhoneography.  It feels like an entirely new genre. It's what we're all using the most to capture our everyday, so I thought I'd talk about it a bit.  The thing I love most about using a phone to capture the everyday is that it's not complicated. There aren't a million buttons and settings to learn(well, for the most part.) It's just your phone. Sure, you can do more, but you don't have to!  

To start,  If you want a more interesting picture, move your body!  You'll hear that over and over in relation to photographing kids in general, but it's true and there's a reason!  The angle that you get, especially of kids, by just standing where you are and putting the phone (or any camera) in line with you face or at arm's reach is what you're used to seeing all day. everyday.  It's just more boring because it's what we always see.  Squatting and getting down low or trying to get a photo from above are two easy ways to mix things up a bit.  Getting down on their level is always more fun for kids, too! 
Composition is such a huge part of getting better photos, especially if you just don't have a ton of time or interest in spending time learning about the technical aspects of photography.  If you have 15 minutes or 20 minutes to spend on learning how to get better photos, your time will be well spent on learning a bit about composition.  Google the Rule of Thirds if you don't know it yet.  It's a guideline, of course, so it doesn't always need to be followed, but if you live your life trying to keep everything centered in photos this just might rock your world! (Hint: There's a really good chance that your camera in your phone has a grid option that you can turn on or off. The rule of thirds is why it's there, use it to your advantage!)   How you choose to arrange your photos, and the subjects in your photos, plays such a huge part in how appealing it is to the eye. 
Without digging too deep and making your eyes glaze over, there are some other major elements of composition in photography that can really help to make your photos more interesting. Pattern, Symmetry and Texture are all options that you can easily use often without a ton of thought.  I find that a lot of people either love or hate symmetry. I happen to love it:)  If you're also a symmetry-lover, use that to your advantage and you'll see a huge difference. Taking photos of your kids? Stop for an extra second and have them take a step or two to the right or left to make sure they're in a specific spot for catching a photo at the right moment will make a huge difference.  Think before a photo and try to anticipate something they'll be doing so that you can catch it (kids are surprisingly predictable like that.)  This photo of my kids below at the airport could easily just be boring, but catching them at just the right moment of crossing (and I stood and anticipated it while they were going up and down the escalators while we waited for Grandparents to get off the plane and they entertained themselves) adds an element of symmetry and some movement that makes it interesting.  
Want to do just one thing today that will make you love your photos more? Straighten them!   I'm being completely serious.  Even if you don't want to deal with editing and complicating the photos, have an app that straightens photos and just make your photos straight and you'll see a difference in how you feel about your photos.  

Look for Good Light.  Natural, even light is going to give you your best photos and it takes practice to see it.  In my favorite iphone photo blog post ever (the one that almost made me just skip writing this post and send you right there because she said so much more than I can) Jamie says this which sums it up perfectly, 
"If you want sharper, less blurry pictures move to a place with good, natural lighting. Period. Especially with the limited settings on a phone camera it's really the only option you have to instantly improve the quality and combat shutter lag. If you really really need to capture your kid bopping around the living room at 9pm go for it, but know ahead of time that you're going to compromise your picture...Not only does good light help your picture stay in focus it also makes the image more interesting. Finding good light is sometimes more critical than finding something interesting to take a picture of (or even amounts to the same thing)."
You know the light in and around your house better than anyone else.  Our house faces West which means that the back of the house gets the best light in the morning and the front in the afternoon.  Learning and figuring this out in your own house is huge if you're taking pictures of your family in and around your home on a regular basis. 

Editing makes the photo world go 'round.   Any photo you see from me (or just about any other photographer) has been run through some sort of editing process, you all know that, right?? It's not all magic and lights, even the best photos right out of a camera of any kind almost always get some sort of polishing to make them look their best and phone photos are just as much a part of that.  Learning to edit is a whole other can of worms and it's personal and depends a lot on opinions and correct exposure, but you have a ton of options right at your fingertips with free apps for phones!  
The day my Android phone bit the dust and I got my iPhone a few months ago, I cheered a lot, then one of the first things I did was send out a request on Facebook asking for camera app suggestions.  I should have known that Keli would pull through with all of the best suggestions:) I'm not necessarily talking about crazy filters, though they're fun! But editing in general can make a big difference in phone photos, just like regular photos from another camera.  You can choose to just simply brighten up the exposure and increase the contrast a bit on a photo and combine that with making sure it's straight and it'll make a huge difference. 

Apps I use regularly on my phone: 
  • Camera+ to take photos. Always. Use this (or your phone's main camera) and pull the photos into other apps to edit.  Almost all apps compress your photos, so this will ensure that you always have the full-size photo to start with. My biggest love for Camera+ lies in the ability to separate the exposure and focus.  It makes me so happy on a daily basis. 
  • VSCOcam and Afterlight and Snapseed and PicTapGo to edit 99% of the time.  I love Afterlight's separate brightness  exposure and highlights and I love VSCOcam's temperature adjustment and filters. I like Snapseed's straightening tool more than any other and also love Snapseed's white balance, the app can just be a little tricky to figure out how to use at first, so give yourself a bit of a learning curve.  I don't use PicTapGo as much as the others, but I do think it's incredibly easy to use and has awesome previews if you want to play a bit more and I love how it lets you layer different options so easily. 
  • Other apps that I use less, but still have a place: PicStitch for collages, ABeautifulMess and Over for writing on photos.  Instagram kind of goes without saying, but I'll add it here just in case you live under a rock and haven't at least heard of it;) (If that's you, will you please send me an email and say hi?? I want to know you and your simple life so much more:) 
Some great blog posts and resources on phone photography where they said the words so much better than I'll ever be able to!  Reading all of these might take you into complete overwhelm territory, but I still want to share since there are just so many great resources out there.  

How to Take Great Pictures with Your Phone (Tutorial) at Kidnapped by Suburbia: Keli is so good at practical, applicable advice like suggesting that you treat your phone just like you treat your big, expensive camera and good info on why you should never use the zoom option on your phone (ever!) 

Tips for Phone Photography at Under the Sycamore: AWESOME examples of using light, especially indoors.  If you're inside, use your windows and their light like a crazy person! 

iphone Tips, Tricks and Apps and Q&A on Taking Better Pictures With Your Phone at Grumbles and Grunts: Like I said above, I LOVE these posts. I wish I had written them myself, but I'm not nearly as fun or funny;) 

Simple iPhoneography Tips for Photographers by Celeste Jones for ClickinMoms: This is geared toward photographers with a general understanding of light and metering and exposure, but I still think there's tons of great info in there and I especially love the way Celeste explains how she metered with examples of specific photos. She also talks more about some great features, and how she uses them, of specific apps like VSCOcam and SnapSeed. 

How I Shoot with My iPhone from Susannah Conway: A walk through of her process from start to finish that might be super helpful in applying all of these other tips and tricks together! 

Any other favorite resources?  Please share in the comments to help others, too! And if you're on Instagram, I'm @lillianranauro and I'd love to follow you, leave your info below! 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

(A bit of my everyday via Instagram)

A few weeks ago, I sat down to do some brainstorming.  Juggling everything and life's general messiness was bothering me and I decided it would help to get it all together to make a list all of the things I love about and think describe my clients and their family life. A few that came to mind right away: Real. Chaotic (in a good way.) Intentional. Genuine. Sincere. Complicated. Loving. Fun. Adventurous. Active. Normal. Strong. Nurturing. Wild. Creative. It made me want to think harder about who I get to work with and it made me appreciate even more how much I love that I get to witness your love.  So, here are a few things I walked away thinking. About you, about the things I love about you: 

You're busy, but you hate the word busy, and you try to do the best you can each day to slow down and enjoy the things that matter.  It's not always a great success, but you to to squeeze the goodness out of your special life moments, big and small, as often as humanly possible.  

Your life is chaotic in the best kind of way. You might have a baby keeping you up at night, preschoolers keeping you running constantly or school-aged kids that keep you on your toes emotionally and physically as you keep track of everyone going on different directions.  You juggle all of this with more grace than you will ever know or admit to yourself and I admire you for it because I completely understand what it is to be a mother to young kids right now and try to keep your sanity and a modicum of grace. 

You are compassionate.  Your heart leads you strongly through life and you likely have a cause (or 3) that is always in the back of your mind.  It's probably related to children or animals or health or poverty in some way and it's one of the things that helps you to keep your perspective when things feel rough or overwhelming.  You probably wish you could do more for the cause, but have a hard time adding it to the list of demands right now.  

Your life is messy: literally and figuratively.  You can pull it together for people coming to your house, but on any given day that you're at home, you probably have at least one surface of your house that is in a constant state of disaster between mail and art projects and stopping and starting 50 different things.  The dishes are piled up because you chose to spend that time reading an extra book to one of your kids or push them on the swing for a few extra summer evening minutes and by the time you got them to bed, you didn't have an ounce of anything left in you to do those dishes last night.  You felt guilty for wanting to just check in on Facebook or Instagram instead and connect with friends for a few minutes and see sweet pictures of your niece and nephew who live across town or across the country and who you wish you got to see more and I don't think you should feel a single ounce of guilt for that.  

All of these things?  I adore them about you.  I don't judge any of it in any way other than to think you're amazing with all that you balance in a day.  I think they're just the things that make you human and complicated and beautiful and I want to celebrate them and I think you should, too!  

Want to spend some time looking at your life thorugh a lens with gratitude for all of the imperfection and quirks?  I just signed up for Darrah Parker's 10-Day e-course called LensMama and I want to buy a seat for you!  I just found out about her course yesterday morning in my own email and I loved the concept so much that I want one of you to enjoy it, too!  She is a beautiful storyteller through both words and photographs and her voice in teaching is so gentle and kind.  

Here's how she describes the course: 
"LensMama is my way of telling you that I appreciate you. Consider it a virtual mama-to-mama hug...For ten days, you will receive love notes from me. Along with daily photography prompts and photography tips, you will have a community of other LensMamas to share your story with and who will cheer you on. You will learn to photograph your life in artful ways, find beauty in the mess, capture your children during candid moments, and improve your photography along the way.LensMama e-course will help you take a deep breath, ground you in the present, and see (really see) how imperfectly perfect your life is. Afterward, you will have memories to return to (both photographed and not) and a toolkit to guide you through the years of motherhood with presence, joy, and gratitude." (from the LensMama/Darrah Parker Photography site) 

Want to win a spot in the e-course?? Share this! Send it to a friend via email or share it on your Facebook wall and come back here and leave a comment to let me know you shared or (leave a message on my Facebook post) saying that you shared along with a note on something small that's making you happy today! On Friday, July 12th, at noon EST one person who shared will be randomly chosen and I'll buy your seat and send you the signup info:) Want an extra chance?? Sign up for my email list (or let me know that you're already on it!) and leave a comment below or on Facebook letting me know you signed up! 

Friday, July 5, 2013

I went to a bagel shop recently and walked up to the counter to order. I ordered my bagel, then decided to get a drink. I stood there being that annoying person going, "Hmmm..." as I looked at the menu trying to decide what I wanted. I finally just decided on a soda (Diet Coke makes me happy:) and asked what sizes they had. The answer? "Just one." That's it. I seriously breathed a sigh of relief. And thanked her. I might have actually hugged her if I could have reached far enough across the counter.
We make SO MANY DECISIONS in a day. I was thankful for one less to make that was unnecessary in the first place and it made me think about the options I offer to you. I've been thinking about how to best apply this simplicity to my business and pass along that good feeling. I want you to walk away from an experience with me feeling like it was one less stress than you expected and one less decision to worry about while still getting exactly what you want and need for your family. So I'm officially switching to a flat session fee that includes all of the digital images for you. You'll still have the option of purchasing prints and art products like prints on canvas or books of your photos if you'd like, but you'll walk away with all of your digital files to use for all of your heart's desires.
I'll offer two types of sessions: Portrait Sessions specifically for beautiful portraits of your love together and Documentary Sessions to document your family love for a half-day stretch of time focused more on candid interactions and documenting your family time together. You can find out more of the details on the sessions right here.
Want to book a session but feel a bit nervous about having a camera at your house? Check out this post from last week where I talked about just this dilemma! 
I only have 1 session left for July and 3 for August, so if you've been thinking of booking a session, be sure to get in touch! Give me a call at (717) 538-6554 or send an email(just hit reply to this email!) I'll get back to you as soon as possible to chat! Want to just talk more about this idea of a photo session at home?? Call or email, I'd love to hear from you! 

Monday, July 1, 2013

At the end of June, we had a week where we knew we had only one real night together as a family without something on the agenda or someone gone.  We had also been trying to get berry picking into our June schedule, but daily swimming lessons for two weeks right after school was done kind of threw us off a bit and we hadn't made it happen. So we gave the kids a choice for family time: the pool or berry picking in the evening.  It was a unanimous vote, we went berry picking! 

We chose Shenk's Berry Farm because we had never been there and because they had the promise of not just strawberry picking, but raspberries, too!  What I didn't expect was just how beautiful it would be! Normally, around here at least, strawberry picking means a flat field somewhere with a ton of strawberry plants and that's about it.  This farm, though? GORGEOUS.   Because it's so hilly, the plants aren't in just flat, straight row. The strawberry plants curve on the hill and just *looked* so much more exciting.  The other great part, for me, was that because we were so late in the season, the variety of strawberries we picked were much more hearty that the strawberries we're used to picking.  Usually, strawberry picking almost always means the small, soft berries.  The flavor is fantastic, but they're so soft and juicy that they mold quickly and bruise easily, so picking means that you have to have time that day dedicated to doing something with the berries. They're perfect for jams and for freezing(or both: no-cook freezer jam is my favorite!) but just not quite as firm as I like for a strawberry for snacking.  The later variety that we picked was much more firm and closer in texture to what we're used to from a grocery store (just with tons more flavor and juice!) and it made me so happy that we waited. The raspberries got turned into freezer jam right away that night so they wouldn't go bad and the strawberries were gobbled up so quickly that there were hardly enough to even freeze for later! 

p.s. They're done with strawberries for the season, but there are still raspberries to pick if you want to go picking!