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Paint the Moon - This Is Our Life Photo Project - 52 Week Lifestyle - Photoshop Actions

Most of the images in this post are edited with the Luminosity Photoshop action sets or the new Grace Collection Photoshop actions.

Lifestyle Photography Photoshop Actions - 52 Week Photo Project

What is lifestyle photography?

Lifestyle photography is a term that gets thrown around a lot and one that happens to have a bit of a different meaning depending on the photographer you are talking to. But, in it’s essence, it is the capturing of real life moments – genuine expressions, most often candid without the subject knowing the photo was being taken. No posing or fake smiles, taken candidly in most cases and often the subject is caught up in their own world, unaware you and the camera are even there. It’s the recording of precious details that pass us by everyday, and are often those little things that we look back on in later years and think, “Oh my goodness, I remember when …” It’s an interaction, an expression or emotion, the way we live, laugh and love. In future years these photos will be something to look back at and treasure, to remind us of the real moments and to tell our story to future generations.

In this original post you’ll find many examples of lifestyle photography as well as a plethora of helpful tips to getting started (or as a refresher to those already familiar with lifestyle photography). It’s a wonderfully helpful post whether or not you plan on doing the project with us.

Lifestyle Photography Photoshop Actions - 52 Week Photo Project

Lifestyle Photography Photoshop Actions - 52 Week Photo Project

Paint the Moon - This Is Our Life Photo Project - 52 Week Lifestyle Tips - Photoshop Actions

As someone who began her photography journey with the passion to capture the beauty in every day life, I’m excited to see that more and more photographers are embracing lifestyle photography. This project is for those who want to preserve and capture all those memories that are so important to us personally … and it’s about your life, so there really are no rules. But there are some tips to shooting lifestyle photography that may help you along the way that you’ll find below. But first I’ll explain a little about the project “This Is My Life” and how things will work. Simple. That is my goal for this project … no complicated guidelines or instructions.

There will be a prompt or theme every week for those who find it beneficial or challenging to have something specific to shoot in their project, but for those who simply want to venture out on their own and record the moments that matter to them regardless of the theme I wholeheartedly invite you to do so. Everyone is welcome – you don’t have to be a pro, you don’t even have to shoot with a DSLR to join, and you don’t need to use any Paint the Moon products to participate (although the images picked to be featured on the blog will be those that used PTM in their editing). Join anytime of the year and no beating yourself up if you miss a week … this is a no pressure or guilt project!

The first theme of 2014 for the “Our Life” project is BALANCE. Themes are always open to your own interpretation, and you’re always welcome to go out on your own with your subject as well. For my personal project some of the ideas I’ve thought of for the balance theme are something that shows how hard it is balancing my roles as mommy, photographer, wife, business owner, caretaker for parents, etc., etc. … a photo showing my newly standing baby who has just taken his first few steps this week … my daughter pretending to be a famous gymnast on the balance beam … those are just a few different ways the word balance could be shown in a photo. Use your imagination and fit it to your life!

Members will post their images in the new Flickr group for This Is Our Life … every Monday you’ll find the new prompt up on the Flickr group page (found inside the gray box) and it’s also listed in the 2014 Master Theme List thread in the discussion area on the Flickr page. Have your submissions for the week posted before Sunday evening please.

A new feature for 2014 is the option to use Instagram to post your weekly photo. Use #paintthemoon52 for the hashtag … if you used Paint the Moon products to process the image (not required) you can add #paintthemoon to the image as well. My plan is to pull member’s Instagram photos for the occasional spotlight as well. They can be your regular DSLR shots, edited with actions and uploaded to Instagram … or you can use iPhone shots if you desire. Or you can do both … a DSLR and edited shot for the regular post plus a separate iPhone weekly shot for the project. It’s your project – make it what you want!

I will be doing occasional blog posts that feature images from the group to show off some of our member’s photos (to be included in the featured images blog posts please use Paint the Moon products in the edit, otherwise it’s not required for any submissions or participation). Please submit only one photo per week. Sometimes it’s a challenge to pick our favorite as the photo of the week, but I find that is part of how we grow and learn.

Our regular Let’s Do 52 group will be starting fresh for 2014 as well for those interested in participating there as well. You may choose to do both projects or just one. And with both projects you can choose to follow the themes/prompts or do your own thing with the subject of your weekly photos. The Let’s Do 52 project information can be found here and the Flickr group here … for those wishing to challenge themselves with a weekly photo project, grow in your photography skills and stretch your creativity, but not necessarily take lifestyle photos, it’s the perfect project. If you are new to Let’s Do 52 or just need a refresher on the guidelines and details …please see the original post for the 2012 Let’s Do 52.

Please come share your project images on our Facebook wall as well … see the Paint the Moon Facebook Page – Come Share, Be Inspired, and Ask Questions!

Paint the Moon - This Is Our Life Photo Project - 52 Week Lifestyle - Photoshop Actions

Click here for a very in depth post all about capturing lifestyle photography … finding good light indoors, settings, capturing candid moments, etc.

This project is all about YOUR life – and taking lifestyle shots are all about genuine moments, the real life raw emotion and the relaxed, everyday details that make our lives so special. Although many of you are lifestyle photographers for your clients, this project and information below is more focused on the personal lifestyle shots that you take just for YOU. I talk a lot about capturing moments with your children in the details below, however, this project is for everyone no matter what your life is like … whether you have children or not, it’s meant to help you record the important memories in your life and the details you want to remember forever. Be sure to

Paint the Moon - This Is Our Life Photo Project - 52 Week Lifestyle Tips - Photoshop Actions

All the links …

Paint the Moon {this is our life} Flickr Group

Regular Let’s Do 52 Flickr Group

Original post with details for the Let’s Do 52

Share your project images on our Paint the Moon Facebook wall … come Share, be inspired, and ask questions!


Getting Kids to Smile in Photos With Real Authentic Expressions Photoshop Actions Elements PSE

52 Week Project Photos Photoshop Actions for Photographers Enhance Plug-In PSE

By Annie Manning

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Photographing Christmas Morning - Tips from Paint the Moon Photoshop Actions

Most of us struggle to juggle everything around the holidays. One of the many things that can cause us to feel frazzled is making sure all those special moments and preparations we’ve been working so hard on are being captured with photos. Christmas morning especially can be challenging to photograph with the flurry of activity and sometimes less than optimal lighting. A little forethought with a handful of tips on settings and practical advice will hopefully help you preserve your memories (with YOU in them too!) and enjoy your day that much more.

Double check everything before the flurry of activity begins …

• Battery is charged
• Camera card is cleared with additional cards available
• Check all your settings so they are ready to go
• Know where your best lighting is and if at all possible be there (I know we can’t all have our Christmas tree next to a big window, but try to position the camera so that you’re shooting from a place where the best light is falling on your subjects)
• If it matters to you (I can tell you it does personally matter to me), clear out clutter before you begin. I don’t care about the chaos that ensues after everyone is up and interacting because all of that just tells more of the story, but if there is a mess from the evening before (and there always is here), then I make sure everything is picked up before morning comes.


Custom white balance. Use a white card, Expodisc or at the very least change it to the tungsten setting if indoors and under warm lighting.

Hike up your ISO. In order to get indoor shots without fabulous natural lighting, and to avoid using a flash (I personally don’t ever use flash), you may need to bump your ISO way up to get enough light in. I’d much rather risk a little noise from high ISO than a blurry shot from too low of a shutter speed or an underexposed image.

Keep shutter speed in check. Make sure your shutter speed stays high enough to avoid motion blur. For me this is at least 1/125.

Choose your lens accordingly. Shoot with a wider lens if you’d like to capture the entire scene. For most of my lifestyle indoor shots I like using my 35mm or 24mm lens. I can also use a wider aperture with these shorter focal lengths while still keeping multiple subjects in focus.

For those interested, this was shot on a tripod with my D4 and my Nikon 24mm lens at ISO 500, f1.4, 1/160 second … natural light from a large window, and the tripod/camera is low to the ground (love my tripod for it’s flexibility) and sitting about four feet from us. A really quick edit with Luminosity Photoshop actions Verve (low opacity), Petal Soft (painted on background) and Vintage Vanilla.

Photographing Christmas Morning - Tips from Paint the Moon Photoshop Actions

Group shots. Remember for multiple subjects you’ll want your aperture set so your f-stop roughly equals the number of subjects in order to get everyone in focus. For wider lenses and farther away shots, you have more room here (as in my above family shot that was with my 35mm lens at f1.4 … the added distance from the subjects as well as the short focal length gave me more depth of field to work with). Many times I am okay with only getting my main subject in focus, such as an image focused on one of my girls sitting by the tree while the other is in the background dancing around.


Because often lighting is less than optimal, keep in mind where your light is coming from. If you have any chance at all to get your subjects placed near a window before the flurry of activity begins, do it. Our tree is always near a big window and I place a tripod right at the window pointed toward the action. I’m either snapping a few by hand from this area, or I leave it all set up on the tripod with a remote and occasionally hit the shutter release to capture candid moments (and don’t worry about getting a technically perfect shot). Be sure the window light is falling on your subject (so the window is at your back – unless you are going for a backlit shot). See this article all about capturing sparkly eyes and finding great light.

Photographing Christmas Morning - Tips from Paint the Moon Photoshop Actions

If light is limited, throw on additional lights around your home (for Christmas memories this is okay in my book). We’re not shooting a professional session here. I would much rather have my light come from a bunch of different lamps and overhead lights than a flash. If you are relying on indoor lighting versus natural, window lighting don’t forget to set your white balance accordingly.

For those who must use flash, please try using an external flash and bounce it off a wall or ceiling, or use a diffuser.

Telling the story

Details. Be sure to capture the details … little feet coming down the stairs, faces that light up at the first sight of a special gift, tiny hands opening packages, interactions between family members, children playing with their toys with siblings, etc. I love this photo of my girls playing with their baby dolls and highlighting my littlest’s wild bed head that is her signature look (notice I also used my window as backlight).

Photographing Christmas Morning - Tips from Paint the Moon Photoshop Actions

And after getting into mommy’s new lip gloss ..

Taking Photos on Christmas Morning - Tips from Paint the Moon Photoshop Actions

GET IN THE PHOTOS!! Please see this post all about how to capture images that you are in too. Don’t stay behind the lens and be left out of your memories.

Taking Photos on Christmas Morning - Tips from Paint the Moon Photoshop Actions

Crop close too. For some shots get closer and crop to just the detail you want to focus on, eliminating the clutter that surrounds that subject. Use a wider aperture to further isolate the subject (and let in more light). For scenes that are especially chaotic and distracting, getting close in to frame just your subject (and not the empty boxes, breakfast dishes, etc) will help create a cleaner, more attractive photo in most cases. In this photo I captured my daughter playing with her rock collection (and I love the fact that her favorite gift last year was “rocks” as she told everyone). I cropped to just her so the chaos surrounding her didn’t distract from the image.

Photographing Christmas Morning - Tips from Paint the Moon Photoshop Actions

And another of my baby with her babies and her bed head. Cropping close let me focus on her nurturing expression and wild hair – details I don’t want to forget.

Taking Photos on Christmas Morning - Tips from Paint the Moon Photoshop Actions

Capture more than just the gift opening!! I generally only snap a few photos of my kids opening gifts. We take turns opening gifts so that it’s not a big tearing open of presents, but rather a thoughtful time so that they can really appreciate each gift and feel gratitude for everything. This also allows us to take a few meaningful photos as they open the gifts, and then some of my favorite images from Christmas mornings come when they are playing quietly with each other or we’re goofing around together as a family.

Taking Photos on Christmas Morning - Tips from Paint the Moon Photoshop Actions

Don’t worry about creating amazing masterpieces of art. This is Christmas, it’s not about shooting a professional session, it’s about capturing the memories and being able to not worry about camera settings and such too much. If you don’t have the fanciest of gear, or if you’re a beginner and aren’t comfortable shooting manual yet, just focus on capturing the details and telling the story – let go of perfection and be content with the precious memories you’re savoring and recording. We want to be able to enjoy the day and be present with our loved ones … and with that thought, I’ll say one of the most important tips I have is to put that camera down and enjoy everything too!

Photographing Christmas Morning - Tips from Paint the Moon Photoshop Actions

Other very relevant and helpful posts not to miss that go hand in hand with capturing Christmas memories …

Self portrait tips – be IN the photo

Lifestyle photography tips and tricks

Finding great light and making eyes sparkle

Details – breathe life into your photos and help tell your story

Photoshop Actions FREE Facebook Resizing and Templates (and Elements)

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By Annie Manning

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