These simple photography tip from our affiliate Beryl Ayn Young (creator of the online Momtographie course) will transform your photos FOREVER. Click here to see if registration is currently open for her FREE mini-class! Click here to get the full Momtographie details and save your spot.
When we master finding the right light, location, and words… then we can truly move on to learning the more difficult technical concepts of on-the-fly DSLR family photography.
Below you’ll find A Mom’s Guide to Better DSLR Photos: 3 Tips You Can Use TODAY.
Two weeks ago I was here on Let’s Lasso the Moon sharing a bit about how dog training has proven to be a lot like the experience of learning to take better photos. Just as we need to learn to become the leader when welcoming a new doggie into the home, we need to learn to lead and direct our real life photo shoots with our kids. Want to catch up on the first installment? Get a few starter tips for taking better photos here.
Just as we shouldn’t expect our dog to come to us off leash before we train them to learn the basics of sit, down, and stay; we shouldn’t expect to be able to master selecting focus points or choosing camera modes and technical settings before we feel confident in choosing light and location first.
Photography (just like dog obedience) is a skill that will improve with practice, patience and the right information presented in the right order.
Once you’ve had a chance to go practice my first 3 tips for authentic family photos, come back here and move on to this second set to give you your next push in the right direction.
1. Find focus
Focus is a very multifaceted piece of the photography puzzle. There is a difference between your focus points and focus modes, and for today we’re specifically going to talk about focus points.
Issues with your photos not being in focus can arise for a variety of reasons including motion blur, aperture blur, and focal blur. Have you ever taken a photo on a family outing only to realize that your kids were completely blurry while the background was crisp clear and in focus?
One of the primary reasons this happens is because your aperture is set to cause a low ‘depth of focus’ and your camera is set to control your focus points (the red dots that light up in your viewfinder) and where that depth of focus should begin. Sometimes the camera gets it right and focuses on your child, many times it does not.
Once you get the setting figured out it’s time to practice! Read up on some other focus techniques here and enjoy having full control over who or what ends up crisp and clear in your photos!
2. Choose the right camera mode
If you own a DSLR camera, you’re likely goal is to eventually get out of AUTO mode for good. Perhaps you’ve read a bit about ISOs, Shutter Speeds, and Apertures, but when it comes time to put it all together, it makes your head spin. If you need a refresher on technical photography setting and how they all work together, I’ve got an exposure triangle basics video to help you out.
I also firmly believe that not every mom is meant to shoot in full manual mode right away. The other letters on your camera dial (P, S/Tv, A/Av) are there for a reason and are meant to provide you with some technical supports as you practice with other photography ingredients like light, focus, composition etc…
I always encourage moms to set aside practice time in manual mode where you actually give yourself permission to fail and make mistakes without judgement. When you’re at an important event with your kids, it’s totally ok switch away from manual mode and go to a mode with more supports (even if that’s AUTO mode!) so you can feel confident and comfortable capturing the important moment.
Over time, if you give yourself permission to practice and fail in manual mode, you’ll learn what works and what doesn’t for you there and you’ll reach a point where you can feel in control keeping it there all the time. Until then, don’t be afraid to switch around and see what works best for you.
3. Turn photo time into play time
It’s important that photo time is fun for the whole family. Remind yourself that even as much as you’d like to think that taking photos is about you, it isn’t. Make photo taking all about your kids and you’ll have a much smoother time capturing moments with them. Plan a project or outing with your kids that will allow them to let loose, explore, and have fun. If they’re having fun, they’ll forget you even brought the camera with you.
My almost 4 year old daughter loves painting, coloring, rock collecting, jumping in mud puddles, bubble blowing, and trips to the playground or animal park. Allowing her some say in choosing the activity will make her much more willing to turn to the camera and share the fun she’s having. This is how you capture magical natural expressions with less whining, complaining, and fighting over how many more photos are left.
Looking for even more tips for mastering manual mode and playing more behind the lens?
If you’d love more new tips, tricks, and techniques for editing your family photos, join me for a free week-long online photography class ‘One Ingredient Fix’ (check next scheduled offering). Also, be sure to check out when the next full Momtographie session begins.
In this guided online class, I’ll share the key ingredient moms should add into their photo taking recipe books to capture beautiful memories both big and small.
Meet Beryl Ayn Young
Hi I’m Beryl. Mom, photographer, and teacher who wants to help you beautifully capture the life you love. I remember how excited I was the day I brought my first DSLR. I thought I’d take my camera out of the box and it would take amazing professional quality photos. After months of trying to figure out the camera on my own I was still frustrated with images that were blurry, dark, dull and out of focus.
Now, I’ve taken my expertise in teaching and my passion for photography to develop a system that breaks down technical photography in a way that will quickly build your confidence behind the lens. My goal with Momtographie is to help as many women as possible learn to love using their DSLR cameras in manual mode and love the life they’re living too. Learn more about the course here!