Photography has been a hobby of mine from the time my dad placed a Pentax in my hands. The camera itself wasn’t anything special, but the power to capture things the way I saw them was. I was a point and shoot girl many years ago. The first time I got my hands on a digital camera, I was hooked. I took a million pictures and was known for being the girl that always had a camera on her. Since then, I have gone through at least a dozen point and shoot cameras. When my first baby was born, I knew I wanted to splurge on a DSLR camera, but with so many options and price ranges, I didn’t know where to start. Then, I saw a commercial for the Nikon D3100 and told my hubby, “That’s the one!” I knew nothing about the camera aside from the fact that you could change the lens and it also shot video. This was a plus for me, since I would only need one device to capture photos and videos. Shortly after seeing the commercial, the camera was featured as one of Oprah’s favorite things. I couldn’t wait any longer- I NEEDED this camera. At the time (about two years ago) it was pricey, but I sold my old camera and even got a discount on Amazon.
I won’t lie- I thought this camera was going to instantly give me gorgeous professional pictures. Sure, the images were crisp and flawless, but this camera was capable of so much more than the point-and-shoot I was using it as. I experimented with the various functions, and it was super easy to use, as the menus each had an explanation on the screen. I used it for almost two years on automatic and I knew eventually I would have to learn how to use it for real.
It wasn’t until my second baby was born that something just clicked. I watched other’s take photos of her and was able to critique the photos and figure out what they were doing wrong and how I can take the picture and make it into something I wanted to hang up on my wall. The first thing that had to go was the flash. If you hire a “professional photographer” and they are using their DSLR in automatic mode, run. If they are using the flash that comes on their DSLR, run. You can achieve the same, and probably better photos if you take the time to learn how to use your camera.
I’m no expert, and I won’t even pretend to be- but I have learned a few tricks to achieving the perfect baby picture. You can use these tips for a regular point and shoot camera as well, although shutter speeds may affect the quality of the picture. For starters, find a room that has plenty of natural light. Be brave and tell your camera not to fire the flash for the next photo. If you have enough natural sunlight, you won’t need the flash! Before you begin to photograph your children, try photographing a plant, or even a toy. It is much easier to photograph objects that don’t move when you are experimenting. Bring your object in focus and snap! Now, how does that look? You may end up with a blurry picture at first. I should tell you that when you aren’t using the flash, your camera needs you to stay completely still as you snap your photo. This takes a bit of practice, but you will get the hang of it! The more light, the better!
My favorite pictures of my girls are candid shots. I get a lot of these amazing photos in the morning when they still like each other, or when they are playing independently. Now that I have a better idea of how my camera works, I feel that my love for photography has grown even more. I use to take my daughter to expensive studios to get her photo taken but now I can achieve the same photos at home, for free, and without the stress of timed shoots and clothing changes. Plus, the photos I take are more natural and portray my children in their own environment.
I have more to share, and still so much to learn, but let’s start with getting rid of the flash and adding more natural light first! As I learn something new about how to use my DSLR, I will come back and share with you!