Archive: ‘Story-Telling Shots’

Looking a lot like Christmas!

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

If your life is like mine now you are in full swing with Christmas…it seems to come faster and faster every year! Here are a few shots I have gathered …  a few shots that you may not want to miss at your house…

Getting the tree.


The yard decorations at night all lit up.


Various ornaments. High ISO and low f stop to get the blurry lights in the background. When you focus on something in the foreground, the background lights will blur with a low f stop; go give  it a try!




Don’t for get the storytelling shots: Evan wore sunglasses to decorate the tree!


The Christmas programs. I use my 70-200 2.8 lens, ISO around 2500.



More playing outside!



…and more tell secrets of course this time of year….


Yummy cookies..


A rescue kitty that went to a wonderful home we found!


And finally, Santa!

My friend Sharon sent this photo that she took at a recent Christmas party…looks ‘real’ to me!


My quick tip today for you is to take lots of pictures this week. Remember that you are telling a story with your photos so don’t forget to get the ‘before, during and after’ for your events. Capture YOUR special traditions and the things that define your family. We are headed to Disney this weekend so – – you know that I will come back with tons of memories…and full memory cards!

Have a wonderful ‘week before Christmas’!!

Playing Catch

Monday, November 7th, 2011

When I picked up my camera to capture this fun story of the boys trying to catch pop ups in the front yard, I knew I didn’t want the same‘ol shots. So I tried something different and got out of my ‘traditional box’ and got down on their level…grass and all. I literally got on my elbows for these and I don’t  know who had more fun in the front yard that day – – me or them! We were all playing catch: they were trying so hard to catch the ball and I was trying so hard to catch the moment!


I love the ‘face’ that Evan is making – – – he is trying so hard!


Can you just hear him laugh??!!


Evidently Andrew has his own ‘face’ when playing.


I like the angle here and the perspective.


Andrew is happy that his brother caught one!



the f-stop made these shots pop. If the trees were as in focus as the kids they would not have been as interesting. The f-stop was 2.8, the ss was 1/650 (because they were moving fast).


I got lucky and got him looking at me…


Again, the angle here makes this shot way more interesting.


This shot below could have been better if I was able to get their faces but at least I did get the ball!


This shot is just fun!


But if I had to pick my favorite I think this is it; the sun on his face and the grass all around makes me smile.


I am so happy that I decided to play ‘catch’ with my boys! These shots are priceless to me!

Camera Mom Tip

Get down on their level and shoot the everyday stuff!


don’t forget to back up your photos!!!!! How many copies do you have?

Fall Ball

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

Some people have told me that sports can be hard to shoot. After all…you get the team shot and the kid up at bat or maybe under the basket or running downfield. Exciting..yes but exactly how many shots can you have of the same things? 

I agree that it can be a bit of a challenge. I have even talked to professionals who say that it is hard to get anything ‘new’ game after game.  My camera mom feeling about that is that you have to look for the story and once you start looking you will find something very worthwhile about your sports photography! Here are a few shots from our last game. Soon I will post a whole section on my favorite ‘storytelling’ baseball and gymnastics shots so stay tuned!

I never get tired of these type of shots; this shot says so much about the game of baseball: the friendships, the boy-ish-ness, and yea…the all important snack after the game!


Does it get any better then this? The victory at home plate! This shot is different every time for every kid so be sure to have your camera ready and remember: don’t wait for ‘the shot’ just  keep shooting…


The run from first. I love getting the in-mid-air shots.


The stuff hanging around the park.


The granddad keeping score.


the little sister..playing.


The untied shoes.


The run home.


The successful (?) play…


The big ball in those little hands…


The secrets shared that we will never know..


There are so many stories to tell with my camera on the baseball field;  stories that only you the camera mom can ‘see’. I can’t wait for the game this weekend to see what else I can capture in this ‘baseball story’ this season!

Happy photo storytelling!

Summer is fading….Fast…

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

Could it be possible that summer is on its way out already?

It won’t be long before shorts and bare feet will be put away…


and  playing in the driveway with chalk will be replaced with indoor games…



(‘bike wipe out’ band aids soon won’t be needed!)


and winter gloves instead of colored chalk will cover these sweet little hands.


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The caterpillars are all gone now….


(note low f stop number here, 2.8,  to get the real blurry background)


…the bikes will soon get pushed to the back of the garage.


My little monkeys won’t be hanging from the swing much longer,


or from the trees…


So  for now we will saver every last warm minute in the backyard and…


…we will be glad we took lots of pictures of our memories this summer so we can put them in an album and enjoy all of our fun photo stories by the cozy fire this winter!

Camera Mom Photo Tips:

  1. Photograph your everyday life don’t wait for special events.

  2. Shoot from new and different perspectives to make your shots interesting and to tell a deeper story.

  3. Get up close details as well as full shots.

  4. Do worry about getting faces with every shot.

  5. Do pick up your camera when you go outside!

Make It A Back To School Tradition!

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011


The new shoes are really  looking ‘new’, the banged up legs let us know that summer has been thoroughly enjoyed,  and the weather has turned and is telling us that as hard as it is to believe, school is starting!

For some reason I started taking pictures of my son and daughter on the front steps of our home the first day of school starting with first grade. I just had a thought in the back of my mind somewhere that I may need these photos for something down the road. I was SO happy to have them! When we were planning a graduation party for my oldest I was able to put this invitation together  – – and boy was it a fun ‘walk’ down memory lane!

adam invite - page 002

So, you bet that I am getting the boys on those same steps!

It is easy to do … and who cares if I am out in my front yard in my  pjs for all the neighbors to see!

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I am so glad that I started this tradition with my kids and you will be too. If you miss the first day…no one will really know…just get it as close to possible to the beginning of school : )

I also get some of the classroom stuff on drop in day the day before.



I really like, the angles when trying to get a close up of the subject AND his art; you can fit more in the frame when you turn the camera.


But the ‘first day of school’ grin is priceless to this camera mom…


…who knows that once they hit first grade the time will fly by and in a blink of an eye my little boys will be walking down that isle at their senior graduation.


So for now, I  will fight back the tears as I leave them and savor every little morsel… of the new shoes, the new teachers, the new friends and  their first day of school and their fun journey ahead!

Our Front Yard in the Summer!

Monday, August 15th, 2011


Remember the hot summers when you were growing up and your mom made you stay outside all day because that is what kids did back then? You grabbed the hose when you were thirsty and made mud pies and rode your bike to the drug store to get candy with your allowance. That is what my brother and I did when we were little! So you can imagine my surprise when my kids were playing outside in the heat this week and asked me for drinks and I said “Get the hose” and they had no idea what I was talking about! I had to show them how to get water out of the hose in the front yard! Then they said that the water taste funny! Could it be that my kids got this far being kids not knowing what hose water taste like?!



(keep the shutter speed really fast to get the water to freeze this shot was 1/660)

Our dog gets hot too so she hides in the ivy to cool off:


My photo-stories these days are all about playing in the front yard…


Baseball is ‘the game’ at our house – -  Finding last year’s lost ball in the bushes is always like finding a treasure!


….the dog likes finding  baseballs too!


The boys can’t get enough of it!


Photo Tips for Front Yard Summer Fun!

  1. You won’t get any outside shots you leave your camera inside on the kitchen counter! Don’t forget to take it outside!
  2. Look for the everyday stuff that seem like little things – -one day they will be the big memories.
  3. Don’t forget to photograph your pets too.
  4. Get the action shots not just the mug ‘say cheese’ shots.
  5. Set your camera on the sports setting if your kids are moving fast.
  6. Don’t make it real obvious that you have your camera –  just start shooting and they will act natural.
  7. Watch your backgrounds and get down on their level.
  8. Try different angles. Get lower than their level for some shots. I had to shoot ‘up’ for the ‘hose’ shots above to avoid the neighbors car in the background.
  9. Don’t stress!
  10. Don’t forget to bring your camera back in! It is easy to forget it and leave it outside on these long lazy summer nights.

Everything is Better at The Beach!

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011


Don’t you agree that Everything is better at the Beach??!!!



Smiles are bigger!




Hair is blonder!


Digging in the dirt is more fun!


Frisbees fly faster.




Apples taste much better after you have been in the salt water for a long time!


…once you get the sand off!


Candy taste much better too!


Collecting bottle tops….


and playing with ‘trash’ is more fun!


The water is way more exciting…


and the fish is fresher!


The trees are bigger!


and the flowers seem brighter…


Treasures are more valuable…


and handstands are straighter!


It is true…EVERYTHING is really better at the beach…

…even the end of the day!


Other beach tips!

  • * I love the ‘then’ and ‘now’ shots…. get them when you can…

St. Simonsimg_7131

  • *Change the angles. I also love the artsy feel of the angles…try tilting your camera to get a totally different feel:


  • * BRING your good camera  to the beach. I know a lot of people don’t like to take their nice camera to the sandy beach but if you keep it protected  it will be OK. I wrap mine in a small clean towel when I am not using it and always put it right back in a quilted zipper bag  in-between shots. So glad to have my photos!
  • * Take lots of shots and try to tell the story of what you did and ‘felt’ with your camera.
  • * Keep the light to  your back. Make sure that your subject has light on their face or they will be too dark.

this is the sun behind Evan….(facing me)


this is the sun facing Evan (behind me)


  • *Final thought – -  teenagers are usually easier to photograph on the beach…like I said EVERYTHING is better on the beach!!!


The Beach: Teenagers And Heroes!

Monday, June 6th, 2011

The beach is so fun, but it is one hard place to get good shots especially if there is full sun….which is generally all the time!  Teenagers are fun, but it is hard to get good shots especially if they are acting like teenagers and are a bit moody…which is generally all the time!  So when you combine the two, getting good shots can be a challenge…but not impossible for the confident camera moms out there!!

Here are some dos and don’ts and a few things I have learned about photographing teens and the beach and teens on the beach.

Do bring your camera. I know it sounds stilly to even say this but a lot of people don’t want to get sand in or on their camera so they don’t even bring them down to the ocean. I say go for it!  It is better to get some good shots with a little sand than no shots at all. Wrap your camera in a small towel and put it in a bag for protection. I use a quilted bag with a zipper. After I use it, I zip it back up and pull it in and out during the day. Don’t forget to always put the strap around your neck when you are using it to keep it from falling in the sand.

Do avoid the middle of the day sun… if possible. This is not a deal breaker but the light is much easier to deal with early in the morning and late in the afternoon. Believe it or not, this shot was taken in the morning, if it was much brighter she would not have have been able to open her eyes.


Do look for action shots. These ‘in the ocean’ shots are hard to get because the light is bright in the background and the subject tends to be too dark. Some advanced photo/camera techniques can help with this but for now I just did a quick edit to brighten it up a bit. The time of day can make these water shots easier. This was at high noon but very hazy making it difficult to shoot.




The photo below was from another trip, you can see that it was brighter and not so hazy for this shot. The shutter speed was also very fast to get the drops of water. Try your sports setting for these shots and a good zoom lens. I don’t recommend taking your camera in the water!


Don’t be afraid to request a few action shots. Melissa has been doing handstands since she was little so I like to get these shots when I can.


The YMCA shot always gives them something silly to do for the shot– which is a good thing. As a camera mom it is good to have some suggestions for what to do in your bag of tricks when the camera comes out.  It can mean the difference in having them run from the camera and staying for the shot.


Do get the funny stuff. Get your camera out when they start doing something funny, but be quick, these shots come and go fast!


When the brother starts picking on the sister it is generally worth a shot!


Don’t leave out the big picture. Look around at your surroundings and get the ‘other stuff‘ on your beach for your photo story. There is always more to the beach than sand and water.

The pier for example.


The inside  shot of the pier.

Simply unbelievable!


Don’t give up. If  your kids are not cooperating, look  for other interesting things all around you and practice!

a cute toddler:


a black dog and his Frisbee:.




Oliver North….

did I say Oliver North!!??!!

Yes! We met him on the beach walking his dog! So glad that I wasn’t worried about taking my good camera down to the beach!


Don’t use a flash. A standard rule of mine. Even though the photos may be grainer, I think they look better without the harsh light of a flash. This shot below was taken when it was really dark (9 pm), but a little moon light, high ISO, low 4 stop and some lightening up in post editing helped get enough light to keep the flash off.

Yes, she is kissing the fish!! The fishermen next to us said that she had to kiss the first fish! So she did. If only I had that kind of influence on my kids!


This shot is grainy but I love the look on her face and our friend in the background. I would not have liked this shot with the flash.


Don’t give up on he sunset shots. They can be are difficult to get the true color. Try setting your shutter speed high and see if you can get the color to look more natural.


To sum it up, When you are at the beach don’t be afraid to take your good camera. The morning and evening is usually the best light and if you have teens just try to get them in their world.  A few posed shots are Ok but you will tell a much better story with the candid shots that come along….oh, and don’t be afraid to get the the famous people walking by too!

10 Tips: Birthdays and Baseballs!

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

My camera was working overtime this weekend with 2 birthday parties, 2 baseball games and evenings with friends over! Here are a few photo highlights and some camera mom tips to go with them!

Big News: Evan (finally) got the game ball! Evan has been ‘praying’ for the game ball for quite some time so you can imagine how excited he was to finally have it in his dirty little hands! (He is sleeping with it!)


Tip: These types of shots look best when they are off center. If you can’t position the shot off center while you are taking it, you can do it in an easy post edit crop. Note that the blurred background (low f-stop number) makes the subject stand out.

Coach Chris was showered with birthday hugs from the team..


Tip: Zoom in and get the action close up. It is fun to watch from the side, but it is more fun to look at photos after! Be the mom that gets the shot…or be friends with a mom that does!

This camera mom was glad to get the shot of the hit…with the ball.  I call  this my ‘going fishing’ shot because you have to try a lot and learn to wait patiently.


Tip: Set your camera to high speed continuous shooting so you can get lots of frames per second and increase your chances of getting the bat and the ball in the same shot.

We went to a friend’s birthday party and I had a great time shooting the wonderful crafty creations of the mom who is very talented … ‘making’  this the most creative Lego birthday ever!

The centerpiece was a work of Lego art.


Tip: When at an event, look for the decorations that define the theme and shoot them before too much activity starts. Once the party starts you are distracted.

The cake was a wonderful big Lego block!


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Tip: get close-ups of the cake details. This is really fun to do with a low f-stop number on your camera setting to blur the background.

Request natural light for the cake shot if possible. This porch allowed  wonderful filtered light which made the picture taking a bit easier. Remember that you want a high shutter speed if possible which means that you need nice light on board.


Tip:  ‘Stage’ this all important candid shot if needed; we put the centerpiece near the cake for this shot and I checked the background before we started singing.

The finishing touches were everywhere! From handmade party streamers…


…to the decorated paper plates!


Finally the piñata…which was a Lego art project! I now know who to call when ‘my’ next middle school science project is due!


Tip: Ask a friend to come help you take photos of your birthday parties. No need to hire anyone, just offer to swap with another camera mom (or dad). It is not fun to throw the party AND shoot it at the same time! Jot down a list of what you want them to get ahead of time and take plenty of pre-party shots yourself. 

We also got a group shot and a shot of each child.

Moving on to our second game of the weekend! I practiced getting a few more fun shots of the ‘hits’.



And I met my camera mom goal this game to get some shots of the actual ‘plays’.  These shots are difficult because you have to anticipate them and not actually see them first.

So what do you think? Was he safe??


or out?


Tip: Know the game. Since you have to anticipate the play, you will have to know where it is going to potentially ‘happen’. Aim and shoot and look at what you got later later. Again the high speed continuous shooting mode (look in your manual to see if you have it) is your best friend with these shots. My camera does 6 shots a second but 3 or 4 a second is perfectly fine.

The ‘game ball’ ceremony at the end of the game…(note the little guy on the bottom right: is he trying to bribe the coach??!!)


But perhaps the most priceless are the shots you get on the sidelines at these games. These are the little slices of life that I LOVE the most…..


Tip: Keep your eyes open for what is going on around you and not just what is happening on the field.

How fun to get this ‘proud mama’ shot series of The Coming Across Home Plate Hug in full swing!




ISO 200, shutter speed 1/780, F stop 2.8

Tip: Be on the lookout for the un-posed emotional moments that are easy to miss because they are so fun to watch… don’t think too hard, just keep shooting when they are happening…something will turn out!

I have more to share but this is enough for one post!  This time of year is so full of photo taking opportunities…with the end of school and graduations and weddings…get your camera out and keep it charged up and near your car keys! Don’t miss a shot!

‘Peace’? or 2 Outs?!

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011


This shot tells a story.


Are you really telling the story with your photography? A picture should be ‘worth a thousand words’ …. or….. one great story!

When you are out shooing your ‘life’ events….get past the temptation to just shoot the facts and ‘document’ the day… go for the fun story instead. The story ‘happens’ right in front of you but  you might just miss it if you don’t know what to look for. Your ‘photo story’ should include the unusual things that don’t typically get captured.

Stories demand an emotional response from the reader, a great story is like a great journey that shows you things you have  never seen before and will never forget. Stories paint wonderful descriptive pictures in your mind. I believe that just like a story paints a picture, you pictures should paint a story.

It is no surprise that the same things that make a good story make a good photo:

A conflict.


Interesting (handsome!) characters.




A resolution.




A sense of values.




Playing in the dirt (OK that is just in baseball photos!)




Sheer Joy.


Yawning (OK that is just in baseball too, wait a minute, is there yawning in baseball?)


Getting a shot of the ball in mid air.  (another baseball moment!)






A happy ending.


When you are shooting an event, remember that you are telling a story with your camera.  Get the details that say what is going on. When you begin to ‘feel’ an emotion (happy, sad, frustration) start shooting.

Every time I go to one of our games I think that surely I have taken all the baseball pictures that there are to take and every time I am surprised at the different shots that appear.  They are like little gifts for me to open with my camera. You can’t plan for them, you can’t create them, they look different every time and they are full of surprise. They are little slices of life that come and go and will be forgotten if you don’t get them safe and secure on your memory card. So the next time you go to a game, charge your camera battery, leave the book you are reading at home and turn off your cell phone and  and see what great story you can capture with your photos!

Camera Mom Tip: I finally learned that the things that are happening when I am tempted to lower my camera and watch (sometime with mouth hanging open!) are the things that I should be shooting. Good photographers are shooting while everyone else is laughing, clapping  and pointing.


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