This photo shoot was one of the most fun shoots I’ve ever done. The setting in Niagara, Canada was just unreal. The views were breathtaking and finding a spot for a good pic was faaaar too easy–there were so many to choose from. And it surely helped that the second I put on this skirt I felt like a fairy princess. (I’ll be writing more posts to share all of the photos in the next week or so, but getting home to the kids and homeschooling, cleaning, unpacking, grocery shopping and the laundry has me beyond busy!)
But more than the setting and the amazingly beautiful skirt what made this shoot so fun is that I taught my mom how to be a photographer in one afternoon! Normally my sweet hubby takes my pics for me, but he wasn’t on this trip so I had to improvise. Kai has also taken a ton of pics for me too, but since he wanted to play with Legos and my mom wanted to learn I took her out with me.
We started off in the lobby of the hotel looking at different objects through the lens. I shared with her some tips on how to get the camera to focus and how to adjust a few settings on the fly…and then we went out to give it a shot.
She’d be the first to tell you that round one was rough…almost every photo was blurry…but we made a few adjustments and I offered a few more tips and in no time she was catching on and learning fast!
She began noticing different angles and different settings that would be great for pics. And I had to tell her that learning to photograph well is a blessing and a curse: On one hand you begin to see your surroundings in a whole new way, noticing the little things that didn’t used to stand out, like tiny flowers or small details on buildings. It creates a sense of awe as you begin to see what is ordinary as lovely in a whole new way imagining how it might turn out through a lens.
But it can be a curse too…sometimes when your brain begins to notice all of those things you begin to think only of the camera and not what is right there in front of you in the moment. We loved getting to point out what kind of outfit might look good in what setting, but also had to just stop and appreciate it without the plan to document it.
I thought I’d pass along some of the little tips I shared with her in case you’d like to take better photos too!
- The lens matters. I purchased this lens and it has dramatically changed the quality of my pics. To a professional it’s more than likely a joke because there are sooooo many options for good cameras/lenses out there. But for the normal, average person taking photos this is my BEST tip for improving pics fast.
- Shoot in manual. Learn your camera and how the settings all work. I set it up for my mom because I didn’t have time to tell her everything that fast, but I would definitely advise that you learn to use the settings yourself instead of the automatic setting. There’s info in the user manual that comes with your camera and there’s a bajillion tutorials online. Getting the lighting correct is crucial.
- Focus. Focus. Focus. If you have blurry pics there’s really nothing you can do to improve it later. Make sure when you look through the camera you see the little guide dots to help you point it exactly where you need it to focus. I’d say we ended up with about 15 blurry pics for every 1 that was clear. My mom needed to learn to not be afraid to overshoot, meaning take a ton of pics because you can always just delete the bad ones later.
- Colors. Pay attention to what colors there are in the setting. Since I was wearing something soft and pink we tried to avoid anything that had more of a bright or bold background. I love wearing colors that match the setting. Since the trees were pink and green it made my outfit look like it belonged there. When you’re planning your own photo shoots think through what colors will already be there and plan around that.
- Model Movement. There’s nothing worse than someone looking stiff in a photo. How do I know this?! Because I often am. I can be so awkward when a camera is shooting me!!! Long gone are the days of sorority girl posing with one arm on the hip and the side turned cheek! 🙂 It’s taken a ton of practice, a great deal of feeling really uncomfortable, and a whole lot of failures to learn to move more fluidly in front of the camera. (Honestly, having my kids take my pics has been the best thing because they love it the most when I’m silly.)
- Photographer Movement. My mom had to learn pretty quickly that SHE also needed to move. Some angles might look good with the naked eye, but once you start shooting through the lens you see things a bit differently. Getting the same shot but from different angles can really help with getting good pics. She began to move more and adjust her placement based on what angle or setting she wanted to include.
- Editing. Once my mom got a good, clear photo with decent lighting I was able to edit and sharpen the images on my own afterward. I use Lightroom and Photoshop and have created my own preset to use on (almost) all of my pics. I’ll plan to share more about this another time, but editing can really streamline your pics as well as perfect any of the colors, shadows, tones etc…
Please let me know if you are trying to improve your photography and need some more pointers! I literally would sit there and watch YouTube video tutorials while folding all of my laundry each week! So if I can help please let me know. Either comment below or shoot me an email, I’ll be happy to help!!!