Archive: ‘Teens and Sports’

have Some Fun!

Monday, February 6th, 2012

So what do you do with your photos?

These are posters that I made for the gym. I used StoryBook Creator software and it was so easy. I printed them  20 x 30 and they are being enjoyed!

I had to make up a few before I could decide on the one I liked best….

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Be sure to print out your favorite photos and enjoy them – -you work so hard to get them.  Photo books and prints are good but every now and then do something a little different with them.

Have a great week! And go take some pictures of your family!

What is worth Keeping?

Monday, January 2nd, 2012

Happy New Year Everyone!!

I have tons of Holiday photos from the last few weeks to share – – but we just returned from  a  gym meet so I will share those first.

With this new year giving us a fresh slate to work with and a fresh beginning to make changes and refocus, I will offer some fresh ideas on what I believe makes a good photo…at least good enough for my family books. In my effort to share with you what I think makes an image worth keeping I will share some images from this weekend.

What makes a photo worth keeping?

1. The good ones are composed (put together) well.

The low number on the f-stop blurs the background in this shot making it easier to see the subject; so if you don’t like the background…just blur it out when you can. Filling the frame with the subject also helps make this one a keeper.


This photo below may not be the perfect exposure but it is an example of using the uncluttered background to make it a better photo. The blue background is outlining her body in this action shot. I have quite a few tips for sports photography and ‘finding an uncluttered background’ is at the top of that list. The light was so bright that I lost the detail in her hands but I think I’ll l keep it.


2. The photo you want to keep contains an idea and provokes a reaction or emotion from the viewer.  The idea here is skill and hard work! These photos ‘show’ what hard work looks like!




3. The photo offers different layers of emotion.


This ‘look’ at her coach describes a relationship. The photos you will want to keep will describe emotions and tell ‘relationship’ stories.

4. The ‘keeper’ photos allow the viewer use their imagination and feel the action. Action photos stir you to ‘feel’ (my back hurts after looking at these!). Learn to shoot a lot when you see action … you are bound to get something worth keeping. Remember to watch the action through your viewfinder…that is the only way you will catch it.




5.  Less can be more: It is not necessary to have the whole picture to tell the whole story.



6. A good photo takes advantage of awesome light – – it is rare so grab it when you see it.


7. A ‘keeper’ tells the behind the scene stories.


As Melissa grows up, I seem to love the simple shots more and more. Her hands say so much about her personality; they tell the story of how she works through her sport and reminds all of us that hard work takes time and that it pays off. Remember to photograph the important character details of your kid’s  life.

Have fun going through your photos and keeping the ones that you love. Make a resolution this new year to get them organized and enjoy your photos in a digital family album! Go to my CM site (Digital/Storybooks) to get started on your books!

Camera Mom tips:

Most of these shots were taken using my 70-200 2.8 lens. This gym had very good light so my job was almost too easy if that is possible! 

Harder than it looks!

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

The twins are signed  up for winter basketball which means that they will (and I will) have to learn a new sport! So, we all went to a varsity basketball game at our school this past week and I tried to get some storytelling shots! Boy it is harder than it looks to catch these players. I was exhausted running around trying to get the shots, trying to stay clear of the very loud crowd while not stepping on the court  and not get hit by the ball! I will say that the team may have been better at getting their shots than I was at getting mine…but here are a few of my ‘beginner’ basketball photos. I will be working on some tips for you as I work through the season with the boys!

The beginning of the game:


Watch your background…I like this shot using the crowd for the background. Most of the backgrounds are usually the white gym walls… I like the mass of people better but you may have to get on your knees for these shots!


Of course you have to try to get the ball going in the basket!




and the action shot of the player taking the shot…


There will be plenty of action – -just start shooting, you are bound to get something!

img_0226   img_0225

When there is a time-out look for other details.


be ready for the end of the game…especially if your team wins!


I need to work on a few things.. but it was FUN!

Remember, photography, just like any sport or hobby,  is all about practice! Have fun shooting your kids life!


Most shots were taken with the same settings I use for gymnastics: high ISO: 3200, low f-stop around 2.8, and a fast shutter at 1/200 or faster depending on the light.

Little things that Make a Great Weekend Great

Monday, March 28th, 2011

We had a very full weekend; in fact, it just doesn’t get much better!  The perfect combination of sports, fun, family and ‘car candy’!

The challenge as a photo mom is to figure out a way to capture it well and enjoy it at the same time. The idea is to be confident enough with your camera that you aren’t stressing over the all important photos that will, by Monday morning along with the dirty laundry, be the only proof that the weekend happened. Your every day life is so important to celebrate and your photos will help you do just that!

We started with a fun ‘bonus’ visit from Aunt Donna! She only comes a few times a year but decided to squeeze in an extra visit to get to experience a triple header: the boys Opening Day/Game for baseball,  Melissa’s State Gymnastics meet and a college visit with Adam (which was near the meet).


The opening day was so fun! Even though we got rained out for the actual afternoon game, the morning festivities marked the official beginning of spring  ball…and we had our new uniforms!


(candid group shots with teams can be hard, try different things: sitting them all on the top bleacher helped keep them ‘still’ for the shot!)

The excitement was plenty ….


as were the hats…


but eventually so was the rain : (

So,  we gathered the crew a little ahead of schedule, packed up our very smallish-feeling van and headed 4 hours down the road to the meet.


(sign photos are good to help mark the event just in case you forgot where you went!)

Melissa has prepared hard all season for this State Meet. Gymnastics is a very complicated blend of skill, mental toughness, nerves and will.  For us moms, this has to be one of the hardest sports to watch as your kids are doing back flips on a 4 inch plank of wood way up in the air, catapulting off vaults, swinging off high bars and pretending that the ‘floor’ is a trampoline. Thank goodness baseball is played on the ground, that’s all I have to say about that! I am not sayin’ that it is the hardest sport out there but …well maybe I am.  Every meet that goes by seems to get harder on this mama!

So, what makes a good meet?

Is  it the  perfect coaching?


or the perfect skills?



or the perfect equipment?


or the perfect handstand?


Is it the perfect hair? Complete with bows and glitter?


(I keep meaning to ask…do moms get points for rolling 30 little foam rollers the night before in the hotel room with 2 little boys jumping on the bed yelling?)

Is it a perfect beam or floor routine ?


Is it a perfect score or  ‘place’ on the awards podium?


We all know that there is nothing perfect about it….

…that is what makes it ‘perfect.’

So what really makes  a great meet great in the eyes of a 13 year old girl?

It is the warm teary celebration hug when your teammate just accomplished a skill for her first time! At State!!


It is about knowing for real that your team ‘has your back’ (especially when you have an itch!)


It is the feeling in your heart that you know you did your best… you ‘fed your good wolf’ and made your beam series and nailed your best bars….2 goals you set for yourself.


And you had a blast doing it!


Plus you get a few new medals for your bedroom wall and they gave  you a cool new purple leo for the girls who are representing your state at Regionals… with ‘diamonds’ on it!


It feels good to ‘place’ at State there is no way around that,  but a great meet is also about loving relationships that get a chance to say ‘you are important to us’  and ‘we believe in you.’

It is about your little brothers supporting you for 6 hours and staying out of trouble.


It is about your aunt flying down from Chicago and about the fun celebration afterwards….. (and your mom trying to take the dreaded awful restaurant table photo.)


And being embarrassed when your mom makes you all stand together for another photo in the parking lot in front of someone else’s car while people are walking by watching…and it is cold….


and then realizing that (once she does a little crop) we are glad that we have a happy  reminder of the weekend of us all together…and you might just want to put this one in the empty frame that is on your dresser.


it is about standing next to your older brother who is in college and you miss  him but can’t really say…and smiling when your mom wants one more photo (even though the ‘gutter’  is growing out of your head! ….(oh well…. note to self…mom photo tip: always watch the backgrounds!!)


It is about forgetting toothbrushes again (and getting new ones at the hotel) and packing pillows and blankets and getting ‘car candy’ with your allowance when we stop for gas…. 


and making a fort with your blanket in the back  seat with your little brothers and loving their 6 year old silly faces and charm….


and agreeing with their movie choices… because you are the big sister.


At the end of the day, it is about the ‘life glitter’: the extra little fun stuff that fills in the gaps and makes everything sparkle. …   It is also about your girlfriends and coaches and family-fans; the people you love …. and the family trip – – that is what makes a great meet great when you are 13. 

We love to celebrate Melissa and her accomplishments and her placing in the top ten in the state. But of course, more than that, we are so thankful that she has the amazing opportunity at the age of 13 to learn so many things that this sport teaches her … and us…… about life: the discipline, the pay off, the goals, the humility, the love and the friendships…..we are so blessed.

I really don’t want to forget this meaningful stuff  that is sprinkled on the top of our daily life.  The simple things make it all worth it. That is why I pack my camera, because on Monday mornings I need to remember the richness of the blessings. I can’t afford for those memories to fade with my laundry.

These blessings in our life simply must be documented and remembered and enjoyed.  My photos help me do that.  Your photos will help you do that too.

Use your photos to love your family… just a little bit more.

photo mom tip: even though I know that you want to enjoy the special moments and events in your kids lives, remember to take the photos. You are the family photo journalist. You must get the photos as they are important for your stories; they fill in the emotional details of your life where words fall short.  You will be so glad you asked for the group shots by the cars : ) Learn to ‘tell the story’ with  your camera and don’t be shy.


most of the indoor gym shots were shot with a very high iso, a very low F-Stop and I tried to keep the shutter speed over 1/200…. unedited… because I have a car to unpack!

A Big Step For Melissa

Monday, March 14th, 2011

Melissa took a big step this competition weekend…


and a big jump …


and a big flip …



and a big handstand …


And along with all those big skills came a big score for her and her team.

Her personal best.


There were lots of big hugs


and the boys copied them!


The boys also got a big treat.



and we had a wonderful time visiting Savannah…

A wonderful ending to our visit as we took in some of the sites.


We are anxious to go back; maybe next time just the girls.

This sport is one of the most humbling sports out there. The split second timing and the confidence needed can make or break your success at  your one shot. You can hit your skills one day and not the next and this weekend Melissa hit everything!

Similar to taking good pictures. You must have confidence and you must have good timing and they both take tons of practice!! Of course, Melissa ‘s job is much more difficult than my camera mom job for sure…..


As we headed home, I thought again about how thankful I am for all of our blessings and our fun trips away in the middle of our crazy busy big lives. There is something so rewarding and lasting about being able to take the photos to document not just the journey of our lives but the moments of celebration that make the journey unique to our family.

Have fun on your journey this week and don’t forget your camera!

photo tip: when shooting events like this be sure to get the extra storytelling shots of the things going on around the main thing. They fill in the story.  The before or after shots, the hugs and the boys all fill in the flavor of this weekend. Just like the icing on the cake and the bows on the presents, it is very important to look for the finishing touches in your photo stories…many times they become your favorites!

I Love Melissa’s Gymnastics Season

Sunday, February 20th, 2011

I love it, I really do. I didn’t grow up in a family with athletes and I never quite understood the traveling world of kids sports and how families kept up with it all …until we started traveling with Melissa each season for her gym meets.

I love that in the middle of our routine life of homework and housework, endless laundry and dishes and looking for that lost sneaker….

we get to pause.

We pause from all the daily chores that we think are so important to pack up the car, stay in a hotel,  eat out on someone else’s dishes and forget about the lost sneakers.  We enjoy an invaluable slice of life and we learn what is really important.  We get a glimpse into Melissa’s gym world….which is always a magical thing.


We learn what real determination is


and we learn about achieving new skills



and what ‘head over heals’ really looks like in person.


We learn that hard work pays off.


We make new friends and we get to know her friends


and the boys get to use ‘the force’ to support their sister on those high bars and beams.


And I always learn a lot about my photography:

how the background is so important in sports photography

and how to adjust my  ISO and white balance in very poor light.

I am so excited to share more with you about sports and kids and cameras soon.

But for today, I am so thankful for these family times and weekends away during our busy life where we get to define and celebrate….together.


Even though we must eventually return to the world of dirty dishes and lost sneakers ….  for a few days we get to be a part of  Melissa’s dreams and experience a gift that is really quite unbelievable…the gift of the perfect pause.

What gifts can you ‘open’ with your camera? They are right in front of you. Look for and love the opportunities to use your camera to celebrate and capture the fun meaningful magical stuff in your life.


I Love the Simple Story-Telling Shots

Monday, February 7th, 2011

Don’t overlook the little things that make up life. When I think about the things I love about Adam this photo describes one of them.  He is good with the little boys (most of the time!) but it can be a challenge to capture this quality. Look for creative ways to do do this. I have found that zooming in on what is happening is a good way to bring the story to life. No need for faces in this shot, If I had both faces the story may have been a little too complicated.

I love this simple story.


1/125, F stop 2.8, ISO 160

You Can Tell The Story Without The Face

Friday, January 28th, 2011

This is another TPA (Teen Photo Attempt) and I think it works!

If your child doesn’t want their picture taken don’t get discouraged, you can still get the storytelling shot. The trick is to look for the details that ‘show’ the story. This is such a wonderful descriptive photo of my daughter (being the gymnast that she is).  Your child has things that really define their personalities that you can photograph. Think of what they are and get creative when you see them! You have to be on  your toes to get these shots …don’t let them pass you by!


1/640, F stop 4.0, ISO 100

What is F Stop?

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

One way to understand F- stop is to look at the blurred background in this photo. When your F- stop is set low, the camera allows more light in but the trade off is that you only get a small ‘area’ that will be in focus. You can see this pretty well when I got my daughter waiting for her turn at a gym meet. If I had set a high value for my F-stop more of the background including the girl next to her would have been in focus. I didn’t because I wanted to ‘pull’ her out of the crowd with my camera…. and the light was bad so I needed for the F Stop to be a lower number.


The reason why we usually like the look of these blurred background photos better is that it is more like the way we see naturally. When you look at an object across the room, it is in focus but the rest of the room is slightly out of focus. What you are looking directly at is clear allowing your brain to take in that information. If everything were perfectly clear it would be confusing for your brain to process what was important and what wasn’t.

Play around with your F-stop, get out of your green box and try out the big ‘M’ button!  You can tell all different stories depending on how you use the blur. Once you understand this better you will love your photos even more.

2.8, 1/320 ISO 1250


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