Many of you have asked, “How do you get such great photos of your kids?” Trial and Error. I’ve always loved photography, but learning a DSLR takes lots of time and lots of practice. Especially with moving objects such as young children.
What camera do I shoot with?
I have a Canon T6i. I’m obsessed with its ease of use, and the wifi capability is a game-changer! Using the Canon app, I’m able to upload photos directly to my iPhone. This feature is especially helpful on vacations or special events when I need that instant gratification and the ability to share with others quickly.
Previously, I had a Canon XTi, which I loved, but wanted some updated features and capabilities that the T6i offered.
While I do think the camera is important, the lens is equally, if not more, important. I do not shoot with the included kit lens; they just don’t give me the photos my heart desires. Good lenses are investments. But keep in mind that your lenses can be used with future cameras. I suggest investing in a lens that stays open at 2.8 when zoomed in. It’s pricey, but that’s what it takes to achieve the results you want.
What lenses do I shoot with?
- Sigma (for Canon) 24-70mm 2.8: This is a great everyday, all-around lens. It has a great zoom capability for daily activities. It’s great for portraits, full body shots, everyday activities, soccer games, backyard playing, Christmas morning, vacations, etc. When I can only bring one lens with me on trips, this is the lens I bring just for it’s versatility.
- Canon 85mm 1.8: This is a beautiful portrait lens! It’s great for creating beautiful bokeh (that beautiful blurred background). I use this lens for closeups of my girls. The downside to this lens, is that it’s a prime lens; meaning, there is no zoom. You physically have to move closer or farther away from your subject to get the overall look you desire.
- Canon 50mm 1.4: This will be my next lens. It’s similar to the Canon 85mm 1.8, however this lens stays open at 1.4, which lets in a little more light. Too, this lens is not quite as tight as the 85mm which would easily allow me to take full body shots more than the 85mm. Like the Canon 85mm 1.8, the downside is that it’s a prime lens; meaning, there is no zoom. You physically have to move closer or farther away from your subject to get the overall look you desire.
What settings do I use most often?
Having a DSLR is amazing because it allows you to control so many aspects in your photographs, but it can be a bit overwhelming. If you aren’t already, you should become familiar with ISO, Aperture, and Shutter Speed. A beginner photograph class is definitely worth it; I took one years ago. I’d take one again, too!
ISO: ISO allows you to basically turn up or turn down the light in your photographs. You want to shoot with a lower ISO in bright, natural light, and you want to shoot with a higher ISO in low light.
Aperture (AV): This is probably my favorite setting. Aperture directly influences the depth of field in a photograph, or the amount that is in focus. I usually prefer a shallow depth of field (using a small f-number) as it keeps my subject in sharp focus, but background is soft and out of focus. Using a big f-number keeps everything in focus. Basically just remember, a small f number gives you a soft, blurry background, and larger f number keeps your background in focus.
Shutter Speed (TV): Honestly, this is a setting that I use rarely fool with, and still need practice in. This is where you should ask yourself, “How fast do I want to shoot this photograph?” Either you want to shoot it slowly because you want to let in as much light as possible (you will need a tripod, or you’ll end up with a blurry photo), or fast because you already have enough light. Slow shutter speeds are great in low light situations because they let in more light. Fast shutter speeds are a great way to capture movement in an optimal light situation. A good rule of thumb on shutter speed that I learned from a photographer friend is that you should stay above 1/60th of a second because if you hand-hold your camera, you can get a handshake any slower than that.
I use the automatic setting from time to time, and I’ve gotten beautiful photographs using this setting as well. I’ve also began playing around with the manual setting.
I only use the auto focus feature with my camera/lenses. To ensure my subject is in focus, I will “half click” the shutter button until I see a red box around my subject. When I see that my subject is in focus, I will fully click the shutter button.
Too, I never use a flash. Natural light is your best friend! If shooting outdoors, I suggest shooting in the late afternoon.
Have fun with your DSLR and don’t be afraid to try new things! Take risks with your camera.
How do you get your girls to smile for the camera?
Anyone who knows me, knows my Canon travels everywhere with me. When on the beach during our last vacation, my camera sat permanently at arms reach. Many of my shots were candidly taken when my girls were playing in the water or running in the sand. Often times, my girls aren’t posing; I’m just capturing them in the moment. Those are the playful moments I want to remember forever – the moments I never want to forget! When at home, my camera is always on the kitchen island. I want it readily available because I never want to miss a moment. I do ask my girls to “Smile.” Now, don’t let that fool you because my girls don’t always want to be photographed … but a little bribery never hurt… right? Sometimes I’m lucky, sometimes I’m not.