Photography Basics + Tips
Hey, y’all! I feel like every time I write a post I talk about how long it’s been. Life is so busy, y’all, but there’s a bit of a break in July and August, and I’m using these months to get ahead on some blogging so I can have consistent content throughout the fall! (Hopefully. We’ll see, haha!)
I’ve gotten asked quite a bit about my pictures of my kiddos- what camera I use, editing apps, etc. So I thought I’d just do a quick post telling y’all about my equipment, what software I use to edit, and some tips for taking amazing pics of your own kiddos! I’m not going to get too technical here.
Lemme start by saying that you absolutely don’t need a fancy camera! Phone camera’s have come such a long way! I prefer to use my camera because I’m still rocking the iPhone 6s, so let’s just say the camera is lacking a good bit. I started by using my kids as practice, honestly. I’d bought a Nikon D3000 (they don’t even make them anymore!) that I pulled out when I began getting interested in photography. With some basic understanding of light and composition, the right editing, any photo you take is going to look amazing! Since starting my photography business, I have upgraded to a Nikon D610, so that’s what I currently shoot on.
When I first started learning, I only had the kit lens that came with the camera. It was an 18-55mm. I quickly learned this lens didn’t allow me the control that I really wanted, especially when I started shooting in manual. I invested in the “nifty fifty” which is the perfect beginners lens. It’s the most affordable lens, and you’ll see an immediate improvement in the control you have on your photos. This is also the perfect focal length as it’s considered by most people to be considered closest to what the eye sees. It’s also super light weight, which is awesome for carrying around. If you have a camera and are looking into investing into a great all around lens, I highly recommend the 50mm!
I just recently started really investing in lenses, but this is primarily for my business. I have the Sigma Art 35mm 1.4 (I do love having this one for the kids because I can stand close to them and still get a pretty wide image), the Nikkor 85mm 1.8, and the Tokina 100mm 2.8. The 85mm or 100mm is nice if we’re outside because the kids can be running around and playing and I can still get a pretty close picture.
I think lighting was the most transformative thing when I began wanting to take better photos. You can have the best gear, but if you have terrible lighting, it won’t look good. There is also only so much editing can do to help bad lighting. So basically, if you want great photos, learn about lighting!
Some tips- natural light your bestie. Seriously. If you’re in your house, find a window and turn off those overhead lights. Window light is soft and pretty. Avoid harsh sunlight. Ya know when it’s a bright blue sky and sun is shining high and someone says, “What a great day for photos!”? They’re wrong. High sun makes harsh shadows. That’s not pretty. If it’s high sun and you’re taking pictures outside…find shade! If there is no shade, just make sure your subjects’ back is the sun. Their shadow will provide even lighting on their face, which is the most important part.
Avoid neon colors! Neutrals are super trendy right now, and my photographer heart loves that. Color reflects light, so if you’re trying to take photos in a neon pink shirt, just be prepared to have some extra pink tint on your skin.
I know some people who use SO MANY apps to edit, and that’s totally fine! My favorite part about photography is that you can take an image and it can turn out so differently depending on how you edit it. I personally prefer really light, natural editing. I’m not a photoshop girl. I like a little lighter and brighter, but I don’t want washed out or super overexposed. I use Adobe Lightroom, but to be honest, the main reason I got this particular one was for my professional sessions and weddings. I’ve used VSCO and Snapseed before. They weren’t super user friendly to me, but I know a lot of people love them! Just play around with your images. Edit them a few different ways and see what you like!
Taking Photos of Kids
Ok. I’m going to be honest. If I’m trying to get a specific shot of my kids, I end up getting stressed out. Oliver is 3 and Zoey is 1. They are not born models, and 9.999/10, they do not feel like sitting still for a photo. They rarely do what I want them to. We can bribe Oliver sometimes, but when they’re done, they’re done. I’ve learned to just move on. I’ll spend a few minutes cajoling and bribing, but then we’re done. A picture isn’t worth me getting pissed at my kids. My favorite ones tend to be the most candid ones, anyway.
For instance, Zoey’s room has the best natural light in our house. The walls are light gray and there’s a huge window- it’s glorious. We play in there a lot, so sometimes I’ll just grab my camera and snap while they play. Occasionally I’ll try to get them to do something specific or stand a certain place, but mostly I just let them interact. Kids do cute things all the time. Have your camera there and ready to go, and you’re bound to get something cute! I may not be getting the most praise worthy shots at this age, but they’re all so precious to me. And that’s the whole point.
If you are trying to take a posed photo of your kids, I recommend having everything set up before you put them in the frame. If you’re shooting manual, make sure you have your settings. Have any props ready to go. Put the kids in last minute, if possible. We all know kids’ attention spans are exactly .472 seconds, so don’t waste that time fiddling with settings!
Paying attention to the composition, or the way the image looks, can go a long way into making your photos look better! Small things like trying not to cut off limbs. If you want a more cropped in photo, just remember to not cut at the joints (knees, elbows, waist, etc). One of the most well known “rules” is the Rule of Thirds. You know how your phone has that grid of 9 squares on it? The Rule of Thirds is that you pick an intersecting point and place your subject there. It makes a more visually interesting photo. Have any trees in the background? Beautiful! Just make sure it doesn’t look like they’re sprouting from the top of someone’s head! Using what’s in the image to frame your subject always leads the viewer’s eyes to the subject, and that’s always pretty!
There are no rules in photography!
If you learn lighting and composition and pay attention to your surroundings, you’ll most likely start taking better images! But just remember- photography is an art! There are no solid “rules.” If you take a photo and you love it- amazing! Especially when it comes to photos of our kids. If Oliver and Zoey are playing at a splashpad, I can’t control the lighting and the background very much. But I’m still going to take pictures, and I’m still going to love them. The sentimental value will override any technical issues with photos, hands down. Not every picture is going to be featured on Instagram. Not every photo is going to be the most amazing thing. Don’t let that stop you from taking the picture. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if there are harsh shadows on your kids’ face or a tree popping out of their head. When they’re 25 and you’re feeling nostalgic, you’ll just care that you have the pictures!
While I don’t think it should be the objective that every single picture you take should be a crowd pleaser, it is amazing to have the ability to take great photos of my kiddos. I love being able to take a really nice Father’s Day photo or do a 5 minute birthday shoot. I hope this gave you a brief overview of things to look for when taking your next photo! There are so many resources out there for learning photography, so dive on in!
Also- leave me a comment below if you’d like another post about anything more in depth! Exactly how I edit, more information about lighting, how to shoot in manual, etc. I love talking all things photography, so I’d love to do another post if you’re interested in anything specifically!
And as a BONUS- if you happen to be a wedding photographer and are looking for the lightest, most comfortable dress for wedding days, you need this one from PinkBlush! This pleated hi-low midi dress is so lightweight, which is perfect for the hot weddings I’ve been shooting lately. They have an amazing selection of Midi Dresses for Women, so make sure to check them out!
Have a phenomenal day!