Sunday, August 11, 2013

a little photography talk.

I’m not sure I have ever done a post on photography here…it’s not something I consider myself an expert in by any means. But over the past 3 years it has become quite the obsession of mine, and I find myself just wanting to continue learning more and more.

Shortly after John and I got married, something struck in me that I wanted to learn photography. At that time my life pretty much revolved around work and sleep, work and sleep. I was a brand new nurse working night shift on an oncology floor, and desperately needed something in my life to call my own. Photography filled that void for me.  My dad does some incredible outdoor photography, so with his help and advice I purchased my first DSLR, my Nikon D90. Dad gave me my first lens, his hand-me-down nikor 24-120, and taught me the basics of manual mode. From there I spent hours upon hours teaching myself the rest and soaking up as much information as I could.

When Landon was born, my photography changed directions and I became obsessed with capturing those fleeting newborn moments, and getting the perfect shot. Looking back at Landon’s newborn shots make me cringe in a way, because my photography was so incredibly…beginner. But I was learning. Almost 20 months later, I have learned a TON, and am so thankful for this hobby turned obsession that I have developed. It has allowed me to hold on to some of those precious memories, baby milestones, and moments in time that I never want to forget.


Lately I’ve had several mom friends come to me and ask questions about how I learned photography, when I started, what camera I use, etc. So I thought maybe I could put together a list of tips and tricks, and things I’ve learned along the way for other moms who just want to get good pictures of their babies. I am not looking to become a professional, if someday down the road I had the privilege of taking pictures for friends and family then I would love it. But my main focus is just getting memories of my family, and continuing to learn for my own enjoyment.


For anyone out there who is just starting out, here is some of the best advice I can think of from one momtog to another.




Manual Mode. I don’t think its any secret that manual mode is best. Thanks to my dad, I never even touched auto mode. I started with the basics of aperture and shutter speed, and built my skill from there. I am incredibly thankful that I was never tempted by auto, I’m pretty sure my camera has never even hit that setting. As my dad says, why would you spend hundreds of dollars on a camera, and only use it as a point and shoot? Learning manual mode first is probably the absolute best thing I could have done for myself. Don’t get frustrated, it takes time to get comfortable with the settings. But eventually  it will become second nature to dial down the shutter speed, boost your ISO, or adjust your white balance in camera without much thought. Take the time to learn your camera, don’t expect incredible images from the get go. That’s part of the fun is seeing your improvement over time.


Rule of Thirds. Learn it, love it. It will change your images from just basic snapshots, to true photography.


Straighten Horizons. We are frequent beach goers, when I first ventured into photography I couldn’t wait to take some incredible pictures of our vacation. The first summer we went to the Outer Banks, I came home with pictures I was so proud of. They were my first big girl pictures. As I showed them to my dad and asked for critiques, the first thing he pointed out was my crooked horizons. This is a problem that is super easy to fix in editing software, and makes pictures look 100 times better and more professional. Now, its probably one of my biggest pet peeves in the world when someone takes this gorgeous image of their little one splashing in the water, and there’s this ugly, crooked horizon in the background. Learn how to straighten your horizons. I promise you won’t regret it.


Getting it right in the camera. I see people spend tons of money on actions and presets and spend hours of their time editing images. Honestly, I don’t have time for it. I have maybe 2-3 presets on my computer that I may or may not use. I like to get it right in the camera the first time. Other than minor fixes, cropping, color correction, etc, I don’t edit many pictures. Now granted, I am not in business and am not making a living doing this. But I also don’t want my images to look super processed, or fake. I want them to look like they were in real life. Getting my settings as close to perfect as possible makes my editing ten times faster and easier.


Relax. Shooting photos of my son isn’t the easiest. He is way more interested in playing and running around than helping mom get her perfect shot. And that’s okay. I’ve learned to relax, step back, and let him be in his element. If I get a great shot, then its been a successful day. But some days its just not going to happen the way I plan. I don’t worry too much about posing him or forcing the image I want, rather capture him as is. Looking back I want the memories of him, not memories that I “arranged.” I am much happier with my images when they aren’t forced and aren’t so thought out- just simple and in the moment. And lets be honest, Landon is ten times happier when he can just be a kid and play.


Getting on his level. Literally. Images are so much more interesting when they are taken from Landon’s point of view. I spend a lot of time crouched down as low as possible getting an image on his level, versus standing above him. My prime lens was HUGE in teaching me to move around, and change perspective.


Prime Lens. The first lens I purchased for myself was the super cheap, super great Nikon 50mm 1.8. I still use this sucker like crazy. Its an awesome lens that gives you gorgeous bokeh, but is in a price point that is great for non-professional momtogs like myself. A prime lens will do wonders for your images. Invest in one, you won’t regret it.


Favorite websites : and 

These two websites are a wealth of information!



So there you have it, some of my top tips for moms interested in photography, and a little about my journey. Any other questions? Shoot me an email , or just leave a comment.


Happy Sunday!

1 comment:

  1. yes, yes, and yes and yes and yes. :)

    These are all great tips! You just reminded me that I need to get a new 50mm... I broke my original one (thank goodness it was only $100!) I am going to upgrade to the L series version instead. (I am a canon gal) but you gave EXCELLENT tips!

    Something I also learned was that when you are shooting on a beach and the sand is really white, etc. you should expose one stop down to prevent washing out your subjects' faces (if they are doing the white shirt deal)

    I am self taught and I SOOOO wish I would have never used the automatic button before I started. I am sooo not a fan of how pictures come out from the auto button. I am really so picky now. haha


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