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Ellie and Addison

Q & A – photography tips/background

Hi everyone!  It’s Q & A time.  :)  
Could you tell us more about your photography?  What camera you use?  How you got started?

Can you share some photography tips?  
Your camera work is great.  Can you tell us more about it?  Did you take a class or read a book or just read the instruction manual that came with your camera?  ;) 

I’ve had multiple questions about photography lately and I have to say that I don’t feel worthy to answer them!  My photography skills are a work in progress and far from fabulous, but they are better than what they used to be so I’m happy to share how I got where I am.  I bought my first SLR in March of 2009 and I’m still using that same camera.  It’s the Canon Rebel XSI and by now there are similar cameras with much cooler features and upgrades I’m sure.  I did take a class when I first got my camera because I had no clue how to use it.  BUT.  I felt like I learned NOTHING in that class.  Most of the people in it were used to using SLR’s and everything was way over my head.  I guess I needed an even more beginners beginner class.  :)  So after the class I read a few on-line tips (no books…and do people ever read those boring instruction manuals?) and then I did what I’ve been doing ever since.  I take a lot of pictures.  I take pictures every single day.  And when you take pictures every single day you start to learn a thing or two about your camera.  Without really trying to, you learn about photography.  That is my best advice I would give to anyone starting out.  Forget the classes and the manuals and just take TONS of pictures.  Play around with your camera.  Try out different settings in different lighting and see what you get.  Keep your camera out all the time so you can easily grab it and snap away whenever you get a minute.  Practice, practice, practice.  That’s how I’ve learned everything I know.

Another important tip I’ve learned from taking so many pictures is to pay attention to what’s in the background of your photo.

Quick example:

Here’s a picture I took for a Fashion Friday post of a couple of my necklaces.  I took this in my bathroom and I could tell the lighting and the blah tile background weren’t ideal.  
So I took a picture of the same necklaces on my living room coffee table with natural light coming through the window.  HUGE difference.  The necklaces look like they are supposed to.  Everyone knows that natural light is better for photography, but it’s important to also remember what a huge difference background makes.  I always try to clear the background of any clutter that might take away from my picture and if it’s a staged picture like the one above for my blog, I look for a background that will make my object stand out.  If I’m taking close-ups of the kids and don’t have time to clear the background (you have to catch those moments so fast!) I usually blur the background like in this photo:
This is so easy to do with a good lens which is my next tip.  Invest in a good lens!  It makes all the difference.  I have two fixed lenses (Christmas gifts from Kenny) which means they don’t zoom at all. They take beautiful pictures.  One of them is the Canon 28mm (my every day lens) and the other is the Canon 50mm (I use this once in a while for pics of the kids).  With both of these lenses I am able to get a lower aperture setting which allows more light in my photos and makes it so I can blur the background.  
My next photography tip when taking pics of your kiddos (or any people) is to take less of the “say cheese” photos and try to catch them interacting with each other.  I have learned through taking tons of pictures that my favorites are always when I catch my kids just being themselves.  
Quick example:

This picture cracks me up!  It was Valentines day and I was trying so hard to get a good picture of the kids.  Trying to get all three of them to look and smile at the same time, AND get them all in focus with Kole whipping all over the place was NOT happening. After taking about 15 pics that looked just like the one above I finally decided to stop taking pictures for a minute and to just let the kids interact with each other.

Then after a few minutes, without them even paying attention, I stood on my coffee table and took this picture from above.  I love this picture.

There are so many camera tips I could bore you with.  They are technical things that you can learn about on any photography website or in any camera manual.  But honestly, these are the things that have improved my photos the most:
-Take LOTS of pictures (keep your camera close by!)
– Pay attention to the background
– Invest in a good lens
– Catch kiddos in their natural state 

I talked about this in my “photography – lesson learned” post but honestly, when it comes to taking pictures, capturing moments like these:

far outweigh getting a technically perfect picture any day.  So while the technical stuff helps, it’s what is going on in the photos that make the best pictures.

My last piece of advice is to focus on that.  


xoxo, Erin
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11 thoughts on “Q & A – photography tips/background

  1. I love all of these pictures. I agree, the best pictures are not the ones where you say cheese. My daughter bought her camera and did the same thing you did. Just started taking pictures.
    I would love for you to check out her blog. “The Paper Moon Photography: Hello world. She is 6 months pregnant with her third baby and hasn’t updated it lately, however you can see my babies…Well, her babies. They are my life.
    Your babies are so beautiful. I can see why you have your camera near by all the time. My daughter does too.
    Have a great day!

  2. You’re so right – having the camera handy and ready is the main thing to taking lots of pics.

    Mine was away a lot til I bought a cute box and set it out so it’s easy to grab (but still away from 2-year-old hands).

    LOVE that pic of Kole in the bath towel and the one of Ellie and Kole on the floor :)

  3. Such sweet moments! I agree that natural light makes all the difference! I use Picasa to adjust the light and contrast in some of my photos. I used to be a graphic designer so I’m a little nutty about making sure my pics and graphics look good. Enjoying your blog! :)

  4. I absolutely LOVE your photos in this post and in every post! I think you are an amazing photographer!

    I forgot to ask you yesterday – which bachelor do you think Emily will choose on The Bachelorette? My husband thinks it will be Sean. I think it will be either Ari, Sean, or even Jeff.

  5. Thank you Jane! You are so kind to say that.

    I don’t know who Emily will pick! My favorites are Sean and Jeff, but I agree she really seems to like Ari too. I’m excited to find out. I can’t believe I got so into such a stupid show, but I totally look forward to watching it! I’ll blame it on the fact that there is NOTHING else on this summer! :)

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