Category Photographers

Self Portraits of Motherhood

As mothers we spend most of our days taking care of our kids, running errands, preparing meals, cleaning the house, doing dishes, washing laundry, working, and then when we stop and grab the camera we tend to focus on capturing our kids. Let’s face it, those little being are always cute even with bed head hair or food smeared on their faces, adults not so much. I can’t tell you how many days I don’t even shower until dinner time because we haven’t left the house in days and I am busy cleaning and playing with kids so the last thing I want to do is jump in front of the camera.

Well when I started to look back at photos of our family I realized that I was missing from our story. I would capture all these beautiful everyday moments and routine as well as major milestones of the kids but I was always behind the camera. As hard as it may be to be in the image (we all have our own reasons- don’t like the way we look that day, want to lose weight, too busy, etc.) we have to remember that we were there too.  When our kids look back through photos of their childhood it’s so important for them to see mom and dad and to remember how we looked and that we were there at all those special moments too.

This past year I have really tried to get into the frame too. I am not talking about using my cell phone and stretching my arms out to take a selfie (those have their place) but to really be in the story. Those of you who follow my work know that I don’t tend to stop the moment to have my subjects face me and smile (though sometimes the moment calls for those I know) but I prefer to capture the moment as they happens. Think about how you remember moments of life, are the kids standing there posed looking at you or at the memories of playing and engaged in activities? Try to capture those moments just as you remember them.

I know you are thinking, well how can I take these if I am just one person at home with these little people? I personally do not tend to hand my camera over to someone else to take images of me very often because most of the time the photos they take are very different than the story I want to tell (even while looking at the same subject and in the same environment).  While I have a fancy tripod and a remote for my camera I pretty much never use it. I dial in my exposure (you can always use auto too if that works best for you), set the camera to the timer mode (I have mine set to interval so it take one photo every 4 seconds for a series of 9 images in a row), and prop my camera up on whatever happens to be nearby. I will use a bench, the stroller, a dresser, a bucket, dashboard, etc. As long as it’s at the height I need and is sturdy enough for my camera to not get knocked over I will use it. I don’t plan these self portraits, they are moments that while happening I think would be nice to capture so I quickly grab my camera and snap a few images. I love using the timer mode because I can set it and then let the camera capture whatever moment happens.

For those of you who might feel awkward in front of the camera let me say I totally get it! My best tip is be sure you have something else to focus on instead of just you and the camera. You can see from my photos below I am not smiling looking at the camera but have a connection with someone in the photo, generally laughing. This not only helps the subjects feel more relaxed but tells a much better story since you are capturing connection and emotion.

I encourage you to be in the frame, not only for yourself but for your little ones. Whether you set the camera up with a timer, use your phone, have someone else take it for you the point is to be present and in the photo. Have fun, document your life, and remember we were there too!

April Magazine Cover

In January PDX Parent magazine contacted me about doing the photography for their sports issue and asked if I would be available to take photos of little kids playing soccer on a very cold February day in Portland. You know I said yes because I love working with PDX Parent!  Even though it was crazy cold the kids all had a blast running around playing soccer.  I didn’t know which image they used on the cover or in the which images would accompany the article so the anticipation waiting for the article to hit stands was driving me crazy. Last week while out interviewing preschools we saw it on display in the lobby.  I still can hardly believe I have been so lucky to have my images in this magazine.

You can read this issue online here.

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March Magazine Cover Image

I am so excited to say that one of my images was selected to appear on the cover of PDX Parent magazine! They magazine had originally scheduled a different image but last minute decided it didn’t convey the message they wanted to send for the issue and contacted me about using one of my images from the volunteer event I had photographed at. Of course I said YES! I didn’t know which image they would use so was so surprised when it was a photo of my son. When he saw it for the first time he said he couldn’t believe he was on the cover and asked me to frame it and hang it up in his room. He has loved seeing this magazine with his photo all around town. So far we’ve seen it at school, pump it up jr, the library, local toy stores, out of this world pizza, and their doctors office.

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If you want to check out this issue you can read the entire issue here!

Rocking your own 365 project

If you follow me on Facebook or have looked through my 365 projects on my website you will know that I am a big fan of documenting everyday life. I am currently working on my 3rd consecutive 365 project and although it is a big commitment the reward of having a beautiful storytelling collection of images of my family at the end of the year is worth it. We tend to pull out our cameras for big moments (holiday, birthdays, graduation, vacations) but don’t always think about pulling them out to document daily routine or little everyday moments. Those fleeting stages and interest are there for such a short time and if you don’t capture them somehow you might forget about them all together.  Like for that brief period of time where my 2 older kids would hide out under the bathroom sink in the tiny little cupboard and watch a movie together on the ipad.  Here are a few tips for how to create a successful 365 project.

1. The first year I told myself I would take a photo a day and I quickly learned that with life, kids, and work this just wasn’t always possible and I would quickly become frustrated if I missed a day (or an entire week!) so the second year I went easier on myself and though I tried to take photos most days what I ended up doing was I took a series of images throughout the week then divided them up over the 7 days. That way if time got away from my one day and other days my family went on many adventures where I had my camera I was able to fill in the gaps.
2. Have your camera at the ready. You never know when your kids will be doing something silly or you want into a room with the most gorgeous light streaming through the window. I keep my camera charged and on my desk in the family room that way I can quickly grab it.
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3. Edit often. I know this seems obvious but if you wait for a few weeks to sit down to a full memory card it can be discouraging sifting through so many images and trying to sort them into your 365 folder. I try to sit down every few days and edit the images. I use lightroom and then import them into photoshop elements to add the date stamp on the image. I have a dedicated folder for my 365 project separate from my monthly image folders.
4. Don’t be shy to bring your camera out in public. Trust me at first I felt so awkward bringing my big fancy camera to Costco and taking photos of us shopping. However everyone around me was taking photos with their cell phones. Once I realized that I now bring my camera with me out and about all the time. If you have a great camera on your cell phone use it and don’t be afraid to include those images in your 365 project too. The best camera is the one you have with you so use what you have.
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5. This project is about you, what you like and how you see the world. I try to capture emotion, nothing makes me happier than capturing true happiness, joy, laughter, etc. Not every image has to have perfect lighting or composition and that is okay. I have lots of images in my 365 that are beautiful and that I love and I have some that I feel are so boring and flat and don’t inspire me at all and that is totally okay.  Not every image you take is going to be your favorite and that is okay. Sometimes it’s more about documenting the moment than getting it perfect. These images are still an important part of your story.
6. Don’t forget the little details. In my project I work to document major milestones and events as well as everyday moments, and detail shots. I try to get environmental images as well as close up detail shots too. If you take a photo of a subject without their face in the image your eye will be drawn to a different part allowing the story to be stronger.
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7. I love playing with light, after all photography is all about light. We can’t only shoot our families in perfectly coordinating outfits in a field during the golden hour. Life happens all hours of the day so learn to shoot in all different lighting. The more you practice the easier it will be.  I use to be so scared of shooting in full sun at mid day but now it is one of my all time favorite lighting to shoot in! Some lighting to practice includes- full sun, low light, hard light, back light, side light, soft light, artificial light. It’s fun to push yourself to explore new areas.
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8. Don’t forget you were there too. As a mother it’s so easy to just take images of children because let’s face it they are always so adorable and sometimes we barely even have time to shower let alone do our hair. However when our children are older it is so important for them to see how mom and dad looked. So set the camera down on a timer or get a remote and jump in the frame. This year I am making it my goal to get in the frame at least once a month since I hardly have any images with myself in them.
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9. When you feel like giving up reach out, consider joining a photography group working on a 365 project. I head up a facebook group where we post photos, chat, and encourage each other. If you are interested in joining our group send me a message via the contact tab on my website. We will all feel like giving up at one point or another. We will get in a rut and you will feel so uninspired. Life will get busy, we will skip several days in a row, you may get sick, or have a major life event happen (I had a baby this year and had the worst case of poison ivy that left me stuck in bed for weeks!) but even then you can be creative and shoot what you can. The images that you will see here posted by other members will inspire us all to look for new light, composition, and subject matter.
10. Have fun! Above all else this is about having fun, pushing ourselves to grow in our photography, and documenting what we want to document. I am so excited to embark on this incredible photography project with all of you this year. Here is to new friendships and many, many gorgeous photos

My images published in a local magazine again!

Remember last summer when an photo I took of my oldest daughter on a swing was picked up by a local magazine and featured on the cover? I blogged about it here if you want to see it again and you can see the digital copy of the magazine on their website here. Well the editor of the magazine contacted me in October asking if I would be interested in being hired to do a series of 3 sessions for the cover and to accompany the main article about 3 local doctors and researchers. Of course I said yes and was so thrilled to be able to be a part of this incredible community resource for families. These sessions took place at OHSU, Randall Children’s Hospital, and Providence Park and featured the doctor/researcher and their children.

Well fast forward to January and the magazine hit the stands at almost a thousand locations through the Portland Metro area. Of course I picked up a few copies for myself. You can also see this issue of the magazine in digital form on their website here.  Seriously anywhere a family or child might visit you will find this magazine- doctor’s offices, toy store, library, pre schools, OMSI, etc. I cannot tell you how much this means to me, it’s a dream come true to be able to share my love of photography with others. Seeing this out and about with my image on the cover is just the most incredible feeling! A big shout out and THANK YOU to PDX Parent for being such a great organization dedicated to helping local families find the resources they need. If you haven’t been to their website you need to visit!

Here are some photos of the pages you can see my photos on in the January issue of PDX Parent. YAY!!!

My photo is on the cover of a magazine!- Sunny Mancuso Photography Hillsboro, Oregon

I have been working with PDX Parent on this cover image for a few months now and have been anticipating the release date. Today I woke up to find my phone filled with text messages and my facebook page with images and notes from friends who have picked up a copy. Of course I ran out and secured several copies for myself which will be saved and displayed in our home for years to come. You can see the digital version of this issue here. Such a wonderful feeling seeing my image (of my daughter) on the cover of a magazine that is on display for families at over 800 locations across the Portland Metro area. I really love how it turned out and carefree feeling of childhood that this image expresses. This image was from my 2015 365 project (where I took one image a day for a year). Though the project can seem overwhelming at times to keep up with it is all worth it. Having such a beautiful collection of images that serve as reminder of all the wonderful times, adventures, and little phases our kids went through is priceless. So many little moments that I most likely would not normally document are now forever captured. If you are ever looking for a fun project to do I highly recommend starting a 365 project.

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Big surprise coming soon, but first finding your passion

So I have a BIG surprise but won’t be able to reveal it until it’s released in June but I am so excited about it. I have had to hold this surprise in for months now but it’s almost time! Stay tuned for a blog post next month with the big reveal.

As part of this surprise project I needed to design a marketing piece that was meant to summarize my business. This task is so much harder than one would think because I needed to express my style of photography and the emotions I hope others feel when they see my photographs. Luckily I have a group of amazing and talented photographers that I have had the great pleasure of working with for the past year and a half (we all came together because we were doing 365 projects- taking a photo everyday for a year to document our lives) and they helped me with fonts, colors, and images to create the story that is Sunny Mancuso Photography. Sometimes it’s hard to see your own work objectively and truly be able to describe it so I am so grateful for their assistance. Doing this project really forced me think about what kind of photography and images make me the happiest to create. In the end all the photos that really make me happy are those that capture real life, emotions, and are authentic, and ones that tell a story through a single image. I love to capture happiness! Posed images are beautiful and have their place (don’t get me wrong I do love a beautiful family portrait) but the ones that make my heart sing are those raw organic images that make you smile and make the viewer feel like they are a part of the story. It is my goal at every session I do to capture your happiness and tell your story!