Running from the Law: Photography for Moms - Step Off and Step In

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Photography for Moms - Step Off and Step In

A while back I got a question from a very insightful reader about how I find balance between taking ALL the photos and actually being/living in the moment.  What a wonderful question!  At the time, I really wasn't sure how to answer this question.  I actually wasn't sure I was finding proper balance at all. Most of the time I felt like I was either wearing my "family photographer" hat (and taking photos of the action, but not really being part of it) or wearing my "mommy" hat (which meant that I was living in the moment, but not capturing it).  It is incredibly hard to wear two hats at the same time.  Usually, I try to get a couple good shots right away (quickly, before Mac loses patience with me), then I put the camera down for the rest of our play session.  That way he doesn't see the camera as a barrier between us and start to resent/despise it.  That seems to work in most situations, but I started to wonder how other moms were doing it.  The more I thought about the question, the more I realized that I bet a lot of moms struggled with this balance, so I figured it would be a perfect topic for the "Photography for Moms" series.

So with that, I am excited to share today's "Photography for Moms" guest post!  The amazing Erin, from Hello Erin is talking about how to capture the moment, but also live in it and enjoy it. I've been following Erin's blog forever and I absolutely adore her gorgeous photos of her daugher, Lex.  Let me tell you, that is one cute and stylish kid.  I'm pretty sure Lex is going to be a style icon and inspiration for Mim, when she arrives.  I've already got her silver wellies sitting in my online Nordstrom shopping cart, just like Lex's.  I hope you enjoy the post and get some good use from her tips below on how to capture the action happening in front of you, without missing out on the magic moments (and might actually encourage you to get IN the photo).  Enjoy!

hi. my name's erin and I'm totally OCD about pictures. I kid you not, I see the visible cringe from my husband when I whip out the camera and tell him I just want to "take a few shots." even worse is when I hand him the camera - throw him a few directions and expect him to make magic and create the exact image I have in my head. you see, its not my fault. I LOVE pictures, I want to document the heck out of lex's childhood - I can't explain. I just want perfectly perfect pictures to look back on and swoon over. but there's a precious balance between preserving the moment and living the moment.
1. have your camera handy.

there is nothing more annoying than seeing your babe doing something adorable and perfect - and looking around and realizing you don't have your camera. by the time you pull that big boy out your moments gone. get your camera out of the bag and into the rooms you hang out in the most. you won't be sorry.
2. set your settings.

the only thing more annoying than missing the moment is perfectly capturing the moment and later discovering that your picture is way too under/over exposed. sometimes even throwing the picture into black and white in photoshop isn't enough to help. this does not mean to just leave your camera on 'auto'. I repeat DO NOT LEAVE YOUR CAMERA ON AUTO. if anything - learn your settings. know those bad boys backwards and forwards. know your house and where the light's the best. save some time & some heartache & learn that camera!
3. know your style.

I love lifestyle pictures - capturing moments in time. don't get me wrong. I love myself a good photoshoot. . . but there's something about capturing lex 'in the wilderness' that really does something for me. that being said - I've gotten really good at knowing our house, knowing where the light is - and knowing my settings. it's far easier to snap a few shots from afar - rather than attempting to stage an entire shoot. take a few quick photos to capture the moment, then put your camera down and be in the moment!

4. book family sessions with a professional.  

I LOVE getting in front of a professional's camera. find yourself a photographer you feel comfortable with, and love, and book away. over lex's first year we managed to snag professional pictures with her as a newborn, 6 month old, and 1 year old. my goal is to have a few family sessions a year.  it's the best way to get everyone in the shot - and in on the fun.
5. give the camera to someone else.

this is by far my biggest and baddest struggle. when I see a moment, I see exactly how I want it photographed in my head. thrusting the camera in my husband's hands and grunting a few directions his way doesn't always mean he can look into my mind and capture what I want to see. that being said - at least try to set the person you hand your camera to up for success - have your settings set, know what you want the camera to capture (whole bodies? just your faces?), and move around - help a husband out and do different things - give him something to shoot!
6. take a billion shots.

seriously. . . there's nothing sweeter than the sound of a shutter snapping. especially around quick moving toddlers. focus on your toddler, move your body to make sure they stay in the little focus box with they move, and just snap, snap, snap. then put your camera down and swoop in for some tickles.

7. my mom snaps.

this is seriously the cutest book.  it's a favorite of ours - and shows the kids doing activities and the mom snapping pictures of them. it's a fun way to teach kids the reason you're behind the camera. that being said - make sure you get your shot - then put the camera down and join in on the fun!
  IMG_0666taking better pictures isn't easy.  it's not something you can just snap your fingers and learn. it takes time and patience to learn those settings, to figure out your style, and to have the confidence to shoot and know you did good. it takes time. . . and major practice.  so grab your camera and take a lot of really bad pictures. . . its the only way to discover how to take good ones!

a little about me. I was a wedding photographer for about .5 seconds before lex came along - shooting that much definitely helped me define my "style", and definitely challenged me to learn the ins 'n out of all things ISO, f-stop, and shutter speed.  you can find me shooting with a canon 5d with a 50mm 1.2 lens and on a more daily basis with my sony NEX 6 with a 35mm 1.8 lens. I'm a firm believer in prime lenses, finding your style, and capturing life's little moments.


  1. LOVE erin and LOVE her photos! This is great advise!

  2. Great tips from the best person to document those amazing mommy moments!!

  3. Such fantastic photos - I love the one of Lex with the mixing bowl! I'm still struggling with my prime lens...I just can't get it to focus on what I want!

  4. Love it! Ordering that book now, and I also kind of want to go buy some headbands too. :)

  5. Great post Erin, thanks for sharing Sara!

  6. Oooooh how I wish I had Erin's photog skills! She takes amazing, crisp photos--- and the lighting and focus are always on point. Thanks for sharing, ladies!

  7. Great post! Love the tips and photos themselves.

  8. I just pulled out my camera manual today. I need to learn more before this baby comes! This is really great advice in handling the balance - I all to often feel like our family photographer and not a participant.

  9. I LOVE LOVE LOVE Erin's photos! Seriously great advice! Now to save some money and buy a camera so I can stop using my iPhone to attempt to take good pictures!

  10. Love this post so much, obsessed!!! Great tips, I feel like this is something I struggle with all the time! Being in the moment vs. capturing it! ;)

  11. Love this! I was so hoping to see you post in this series Erin!!! Great tips and I'm off to check out that book for Callie!