Choices. Taking photos in restaurants. San Francisco photography


I love processing photos. Lately, I’ve been trying to stretch beyond my comfort zone and work on processing my images in black and white. This image I was working on last night I made both a color and a black and white version.

This was taken on our recent road trip up to Portland. With the girls feeling a little sick we stopped often to give them as many breaks as they needed. Restaurants are some of my favorite places to shoot photos of my kids. The kids are in a safe contained area, are relatively calm because they know that food is coming, and restaurants almost always have great window light. Also, if you have kids that are runners, you can block them into a corner or stick them in a booth.


san francisco, family photography, joseph fanvu
Here is a shot straight from the camera. I shot this backlit with the intention of having the window completely blown out and white. I wanted a lot of negative space and so I composed the shot with my daughter very close to the left side of the frame with her gaze looking through the shot.


san francisco, family photography, joseph fanvu
I made some minor adjustments in Lightroom before bringing the image over to Photoshop. I removed some of the distracting color blotches from the window and cleaned up some of the more distracting stray hair on her face. I like the look of color toning in images so I added some blues and reds to the shadows and some yellow to the highlights.


san francisco, family photography, joseph fanvuWhile I was pretty happy with the image I also wanted to see how it would look in black and white. Taking the image through Silver Efex Pro 2 I worked and tweaked the image to take the whites and blacks in the image where I thought they looked the best.

I think both versions work but give a completely different look and feel in each one. What do you think?


Using Window Light For Portraits

san francisco, family photography, joseph fanvu

Whenever I book a new family portrait session and we are shooting at or near their home, I make it a point to try to meet with the family in their home beforehand. I don’t even bring my camera. It’s a time for me to get to know the family members and see how they relate to each other. In that way I can get a sense of what kind of shots they might be up for. I am also scoping out their house for potential shots. One of the first things I look for is what kind of natural light enters their house. I look for the placement of windows and think about ways I can use them.

Window light is so great for portraits. Windows have beautiful, diffuse, soft, directional light. From there we can play with exposure and composition to take all sorts of interesting photos.

Here’s a little tip to take great pictures of your kids. Find a window, preferably without direct sun. (You can close the drapes or even tape up a bed sheet if the sun is directly streaming in) Have your kids look out the window. Sometimes I tell them I saw a bird, or a plane, or if they are up to being silly, tell them you saw something outrageous, like a magic carpet or flying car or anything else. From there I start parallel to the wall and shoot their profile remembering to keep camera focus on their eyes. You can get some nice expressions from this first view. Hopefully, if you can keep them engaged, they’ll look directly at you and you can get shots like this one, with nice window light coming in directly from the side. If you keep at it long enough you can also get a nice range of emotions, from silly, to contemplative, and sometimes even bored. Don’t be afraid to change up your camera angle too. Shoot from behind to get a nice silhouette or from above to get a unique perspective.

Happy shooting!