It’s been a while since we had a good ole fashioned photography pow-wow – let’s get to it!
So first – what I am working with over here.
I have always shot with Canon but I did try out a friends Nikon for an afternoon and it was like learning to brush my teeth with the opposite hand….the principles of oral cleanliness still exist but your brain is trained to move your hands in certain ways and when it came to my ‘brush job’ I am sure a hygienist would have laughed. If you didn’t get that convoluted analogy – I was slow and although the camera still took great photos – I prefer the Canon 🙂
I started off with the Canon Rebel and it was an amazing starter camera. I highly HIGHLY recommend it if you are looking to get a DSLR and are nervous about the whole “grown up” camera thing. It has a lot of capabilities that are perfect for a starter and the fact that you get introduced to interchangeable lenses is priceless.
You can purchase the stock lens – like the 18-55mm but you will also need a nifty fifty lens (named that because it is the 50mm) and it is super affordable and takes amazing portrait photos (like the ones where the background is blurry but the person is in focus! or ones that have those blurry twinkle lights in the background – it’s called BOKEH!). This is the lens that does that.
The nifty fifty also has a more expensive and a little bit sexier big sister…it has is the 50mm 1.4 and it is only SLIGHTLY different…but honestly – I have both and think the nifty fifty is the better sibling (little sisters rule!).
So after I had the Rebel, I started taking photos of other people and getting paid for it – as in I was a legit people photographer. It was awesome. I still love it. I didn’t charge much and I really loved doing newborns, kids and teens…
Yup. I had the most attractive clients on the planet.
And during that time, I sprung for the Canon 5D Mark II. It is a beefy professional camera that many wedding photographers and portrait photographers and videographers use. Over the last few years – it died. The shutter in your camera can literally do that with use and it is very common to need to upgrade.
When it came to the next camera, I really wanted to get the Mark III (shown below) but in the end, we decided to get the 70D because of the wi-fi capabilities, the flip out screen (for overhead blog shots) and the touch screen (to make focusing easier for Jeremy). I love it so far! I really think that the 70D is made for bloggers specifically!
So now that you know what I am dealing with….let’s talk about some general ideas of photography if you really want to improve your skills and get great shots of your own kids, other folks and in general, just capture life more beautifully!
CHANGE YOUR POSITION!
So I want you to take this piece of advice as SOLID GOLD….it is really important to have yoga pants on. You are gonna contort your body into all sorts of positions to get THE shot and the last thing you need is a wedgie or a crack attack or non stretchy pants to get in your way. You want to get LOW for those baby and toddler pics or maybe climb, lift or bend for the perfect overhead. Do not do the whole “you move and I’ll shoot” thing…you are the photographer – make the angle happen.
LEARN TO SHOOT WITHOUT YOUR EYE
This was something that I think is really important for babies and toddlers…they need eye contact but inevitably your eyes are not available. One is squinted closed and the other is behind the camera. No bueno. You can set up your shot and your angle and even your focus and learn to keep your angle and focus and lift your head up to interact with the little one. It will make for a more natural smile and happier client 🙂
FIGURE OUT YOUR EDITING STYLE
I am still struggling with this at times….I think it comes from a deep love of ALL photography styles. But if you plan on shooting for someone else…know what your editing style is and be able to make all the photos fit that style. I adopted the idea of “Bright, Happy and Beautiful” when it came to my clients. As you can see above – the photo of LJ is not edited to a style that would reflect my clients expectation. It is a little more moody and a little more gritty. You can definitely play around with styles for your personal use and get a variety but keep in mind that knowing how you edit can dictate what you shoot.
CREATE SMILE OPPORTUNITIES
I always say that getting smiles is a learned skill. You need to have a bag of tricks that is VERY deep in order to get those little ones to smile and sometimes knowing that kid’s sense of humor is very important. If you are a parent taking your own kid’s photo – you have an advantage! Here are some ways I get my kids to smile or laugh – ask them to for eight seconds (simple but really effective), ask them to jump, make silly noises, tell them a joke, tell them to show you their teeth, ask them their name and say it’s the wrong one, pretend to fall, put them in silly situations (like LJ was slipping on the trampoline above!), sing a song and tell them to not steal the words (then say HEY! when they do), have a toy that you balance on your head, etc. The options are really endless.
CAPTURE THE DETAILS
Sometimes the photography experience isn’t about the faces…sometimes it is more. And when it is more – capture those details and put those in your baby book. You don’t have to see Weston’s face above to know that he is jumping as high and as hard as he can muster. You can see the intensity in his little clenched fist! Imagine this paired with his happy resting face. You can tell the story of a chilly afternoon of trampoline-ing with two photos!
BE READY FOR THE UNEXPECTED
Sometimes you have your camera in that moment….that perfectly weird or funny or happy moment…and when you do, be prepared. You can learn your settings really quickly just by reading the manual or taking a quick course. Train your fingers to adjust for lighting. Train the mind to memorize your steps to a good picture so that when the opportunity strikes, you are ready to shoot. Not every photo will be perfect and some might be complete duds but if you have that muscle memory – turn this, press this, adjust and shoot, check, reshoot, refocus, shoot, check. It will become a second nature. And the very first step is just to have your camera within grabbing distance.
I hope that you guys all get out there today with your camera! I know I am! Today we head off to Texas and we can’t wait to explore! I have a bunch of awesome posts for you and I can’t wait to share! Follow me on Instagram @bowerpowerblog to follow our Lone Star State adventures! Happy Shooting!