Posts Tagged ‘Canon’

It’s my mission this year to help you become a better photographer for your family. You deserve to have great photos to look back on and cherish as your family grows up. I’m teaming up with Canon again to teach you everything I know–Or close to it. So if there’s something you have a question about ask and I’ll be sure to address it in an upcoming post!

So you’ve upgraded to a DSLR, you have been shooting with the kit lens that came with your camera for a while and you’re feeling ready for an upgrade but you aren’t sure which lens to get next or how to decide where to start.

How to choose your next camera lens. Camera lenses explained.

A simple search for “best camera lens” can bring back tons of results and a slew of opinions. The truth is the best lens for one person may not be the best for you, or what you’re looking to do.

From one lens fanatic to another, I’m going to break down different types of lenses and give you great options for each to help you choose which one may be the next one to add to your repertoire.

NIFTY 50

If you’re a parent and/or new photographer looking for one lens to upgrade right out the gate, the EF 50mm f/1.8 STM is the one I’ll immediately ask if you have. It’s small, lightweight, and you can really play around with the aperture and depth of field (remember we talked about that in this post).

Why I love it: With the ability to change the f-stop to as low as 1.8 (or 1.4 on the EF f/1.4 USM version) you can get some great portrait pictures of your kids, blurring out the background, and play around with low-light photography indoors.

The EF 50mm f/1.8 STM is also extremely affordable. With a price tag of around just $100, many find they get the most bang for their buck with this lens. It also now has STM which stands for Stepping Motion Technology. So it allows for really quiet focusing when you’re shooting video.

Important to note: On a crop sensor camera you may find yourself tight on space with your indoor photos. If your rooms are smaller or you don’t have a lot of space you may want to consider a wider lens or even a zoom lens.

Mid-range Zoom Lens

If you’re looking for a step up from your kit zoom lens, and you like the ability to stand in one spot and take several photos from different focal lengths, this is the way to go. The EF-S 18-135mm F/3.5-5.6 IS USM has a more board zoom range than your kit lens, and image stabilization so if you are trying to take pictures at a slower shutter speed you’ll be ok.

Zoomed all the way in you’ll be able to capture your kids further away, or more of those detail shots. In the photos below I used this lens at the beach. I didn’t want to risk getting my camera wet but I was able to zoom into 135mm and get pictures of my family playing in the water.

Then in this second photo, zoomed all the way out you’ll see more of the big picture, or in the case of the photo above, I can capture my son clinging to me while standing right above him.

One thing to note with this lens is it will work great on your EOS Rebel DSLR, EOS 80D or other crop-sensor cameras. But if you eventually upgrade to a full-frame camera then you’ll need an adapter for it to work.

The EF 24-70mm F/4L IS lens another great zoom lens, it also has image stabilization, which makes it a great lens for indoor or low-light photos, as well as outdoor pictures of your kids playing. Zoomed all the way it in works wonderful as a portrait lens, and pulled all the way out at the 24mm focal length it is great for capturing more lifestyle images and candids of children.

The constant f/4 maximum aperture means no matter where your focal length, you can keep your f-stop locked just where you want it (which isn’t the case with your EF-S 18-55mm kit lens or the EF-S 18-135mm). But it is more expensive.

With either lens, you can zoom in and out standing in one position and get a variety of shots without moving (which I love, because I can be lazy).

Prime Portrait Lens

While I personally am a big fan of zoom lenses, a lot of people love their prime lenses and many are great for taking portraits. The EF 50mm f/1.8 STM I mentioned earlier is a great option for portraits.

Many others love the 85mm prime lens. I think I’m a minority here when I rave about my go-to lens for this. I have the EF 100mm f/2.8L IS Macro lens and I love it for portraits. You can get the gorgeous crisp images with the beautiful bokeh in the background and it’s versatile. If you’re wanting to focus on getting great portrait shots of your kids, or your family, one of these lenses will be a great option.

Why I love it: Every time I use it I re-fall in love with it and call it my favorite lens. It’s bigger than many of my other lenses but many of my favorite photos I took with this lens. It’s usually my go to for my “photo shoots” versus just my casual everyday candid photos of my kids.

Important to note: Just remember that these are prime lenses, which means you aren’t going to be doing any zooming in and out with anything other than your feet. Also this lens is much longer than the 50mm lens. You can get a nice shallow depth of field with the 50mm lens I mentioned earlier for a fraction of the cost, and even take portraits shots in your home (I don’t have enough room to do this with my 100mm lens). I like using this one when my kids are playing much further away from me.

Macro Lens

A macro lens allows you to get within inches of your subject and snap a very close and detailed image. These are great for people who want to capture those tiny details such as a newborn’s toes, or your child’s eyelashes or other little details that could often go overlooked.

The EF 100mm F/2.8 Macro lens I mentioned earlier is actually a macro lens but I use it for portraits too. The EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM lens will also get you that nice shallow depth of field for portraits, or a beautiful macro shot when you get up close to focus on the details.

Important to note: When you’re shooting in macro mode you’re going to want to raise your f-stop so that you can capture more of the details. This means you’ll want to make sure you have lots of available light or raise your ISO to compensate for a higher f-stop.

Wide angle zoom lens

If you’re constantly traveling or on the go, or like to capture less portraits and more of the scene beyond your children you’re probably going to want to consider a wide angle lens. Again, another perk with the zoom lens is the ability to take a variety of shots standing in the same spot.

I love using my EF 17-40mm f/4L lens when we’re traveling to take in not only my children but the structures or landscapes behind them. It’s also nice when we’re in close quarters and I can’t back up but I want to see more of what’s going on. I used this lens almost exclusively when we go on our Disney vacations so I can photograph my child’s delicate size compared to the huge cruise ship, or castle. It’s also fun to play with on playgrounds when I want different types of shots.

Another great wide angle zoom lens option at a lower price point is the EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM. With image stabilization and STM it’s great to use for not just picture but vacation videos as well.

Important to note: Wide angle lenses are not ideal for portraits. Even zoomed all the way in and stopped all the way down, you won’t get much bokeh in the background. Zoomed all the way out you may get a little disproportionate distortion depending how close you are to your subject.–Which is great for tall buildings, but not idea for someone’s head. That said, sometimes it’s a fun and creative look to add a little variety to my photos of my kids.

Wide angle prime lens

If you like to photograph standing closer to your subjects a moderate wide-angle lens may be your preferred choice. The EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM lens is a great option and around $150.

It has a fixed focal length and is really compact. And with an f/2.8 aperture it’s great in low-light situations you may find in your home. The EF 35mm f/2 IS USM is another option a lot of people with full-frame sensor DSLRs go for.

I don’t have either of these lens because I use my EF 17-40mm lens for my wide-angle needs, and with my quick kids I’d prefer to zoom with my lens than my feet. But I know this is a favorite for many people who want to keep one all-around prime lens on their camera.

Pancake Lens

I’ve been going on and on about my love of zoom lenses, but if there’s one kind of prime lens I love it’s a pancake lens.

I have the EF 40mm f/2.8 STM. Some may be wondering “why do you have that same focal length covered three times?”. It’s not necessarily the focal length I love as much as the size and convenience of the lens. It stops down to a f/2.8 which is great for blurry depth of field. But my favorite part about this lens is how small it is, hence the nickname “pancake” lens.

There is also the EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM lens which is also at a price point of under $150, and great on a crop-sensor camera.

Why I love it: It’s affordable and adorable. Very light and portable I love to keep it on my camera when I’m going out but not sure if/what I’ll be photographing. It keeps my purse lighter but I know I’m not going to miss a Canon moment.

How to choose your next camera lens

So what kind of photos do you find yourself taking most often? Do you find yourself wishing you could back up more? Or trying to shoot closer to your subjects? Do you enjoy moving around and zooming with your feet or do you want to quickly be able to change focal lengths from one position? When you take all of these things into consideration you should land on the perfect next lens for you.

Or, maybe you’ll be more like me and keep adding to your collection because you just can’t decide on a favorite. For more of my photography tips from gear to shooting rambunctious kids to backing up and printing check out my course Child’s Play: Simple Tips for Photographing Children. It’s currently on sale for $25.99!

What’s your favorite lens? Which one do you think you’ll get next?

I’m going to give one of you a head start on growing your lens collection. I rarely ever do giveaways but this just seemed like the perfect opportunity! I upgraded one of my lenses almost immediately and I have an extra to give away.  I’m giving away a brand new Canon EF 24-70mm F/4L lens. Use the widget below to enter!

Canon ES 24-70mm f/4L Giveaway

From birthdays to family vacations, to holidays and more, I’ve teamed up with Canon again this year to share how we capture the moments we cherish most. I’m also dishing out tips to help you better photograph your special moments with your family. Shout out to my favorite camera brand for sponsoring this series.

It’s my mission this year to help you become a better photographer for your family. You deserve to have great photos to look back on and cherish as your family grows up. I’m teaming up with Canon again to teach you everything I know–Or close to it. So if there’s something you have a question about ask and I’ll be sure to address it in an upcoming post!

Also, in a few weeks I’m going to be at the B&H Event Space in New York City giving a presentation about just that! If you’re in the area I’d love it if you stopped by, or if not, tune in because it’ll be live streamed!

Canon EOS Rebel t7i DSLR modes explained

Ok, so you’ve decided you really want to get better at photography, and you’re wanting to finally switch out of auto mode. What next?

On a Canon, scene intelligent auto is great for guessing the best settings for your moment. But learning your settings and switching to manual can make a huge difference.

It can be intimidating to switch to full manual mode (where you have control over all of your camera settings) all at once. But there are some other modes in between that can help you get that perfect photo. There are a dozen modes on an EOS Rebel T7i and that alone can be intimidating. I’m going to highlight 5 favorites I have and work you through how to use them.

SCN (Special Scene Mode)

Canon EOS Rebel t7i tutorial how to use special scene SCN mode

Similar to full-auto except in this mode you can pick a specific scenario you’re shooting in. Taking a group photo? A picture of your child blowing out his birthday candles? A night portrait or a picture of the delicious meal you just made? These special scene options automatically choose the best settings for your situation. It’s kind of like a more specific auto-mode.

Canon EOS Rebel t7i tutorial how to use special scene SCN mode

Make sure you pay attention to your camera settings in each of these different modes. That way you’ll get an idea of how to fix your settings when you’re ready to move to full manual mode.

Portrait Mode

Canon EOS Rebel t7i tutorial how to use portrait mode

You’ll want to switch to this mode if you want to… You guessed it, take portraits. It makes your subject stand out against a shallow depth of field (a blurred background) and creates smoother skin tones and softer hair. Great for beginners if you’re just wanting to shoot portraits. But if you think you’ll be switching back and forth between photographing portraits of your kids and your kids doing other things, I’d suggest using the next mode to photograph.

Canon EOS Rebel t7i tutorial how to use portrait mode

AV (Aperture Priority Mode)

Canon EOS Rebel t7i tutorial how to use AV mode

This is the mode I switched to from auto when I was ready to step up my photography a little bit, but not ready to go to full-on auto. It allows you to set the aperture (f-stop) and automatically takes care of the rest. With the aperture you can decide how much or how little depth (or blur) you’d like in the background of your photos.

The higher the number the less background blur you’ll have. The smaller the number, the less depth you’ll have. Decide how much of the background you want to see and set your f-stop accordingly. The photo on the left I shot at f/1.4 the photo on the right was shot at f/11.

Canon EOS Rebel t7i tutorial how to use AV mode

TV (Shutter Priority Mode)

Canon EOS Rebel t7i tutorial how to use TV Shutter priority mode

This is a great mode to switch to when you’re wanting to create a certain look for things in motion. A waterfall for example can be frozen with a higher shutter speed, seeing more of the droplets and stream of water. Or you can use a slower shutter speed and make it look like a smooth, rushing stream.

When it comes to photographing your kids–Riding a bike, or running for example. If you want to freeze them in motion, and capture them in a sharp image, you’ll use a higher shutter speed. If you’re purposely wanting to blur them a little bit–Capturing the motion, you’ll want to use a slower shutter speed. So in the photos below, on the left I used a shutter speed of 1/80. And the photo on the right was shot at 1/4000.

Canon EOS Rebel t7i tutorial how to use TV Shutter priority mode

Program AE Mode

All of these different settings we’ve been discussing–Aperture, shutter speed (and ISO), together determine your exposure, which is how bright your photo is going to be. Personally I like my photos to be ever so slightly over exposed. In this mode you get to decide your preferred exposure level, and your camera takes care of the rest. I usually set mine to be about +⅓ or +2/3 . I’ll take a test shot, see if I like how bright it is, and adjust as necessary. The nice thing about this mode is if you’re moving in and out of shadowy areas, or areas where the light drastically changes, your camera’s settings will automatically regulate.

Press and hold the +/- exposure button and roll the shutter wheel to set your preferred exposure level. Note that the higher that number goes, the brighter or over exposed the photo will be. The lower, the darker. You want to be around the 0, just above, or just below.

Canon EOS Rebel t7i tutorial how to use program mode and set exposure

Helpful Hints

The great thing is once you master the latter three modes you’re pretty much ready to switch to full manual. Then you can take full control over your settings. I like to set my aperture first depending on how much depth I want, then my ISO and last my shutter speed, keeping note to where that exposure meter is falling.

If you’re more of a visual person, I’ve created a video detailing the differences between these modes.

We’re created a printable photography cheat sheet for you. You can download the full sized file here and print to keep on hand and help you out when you’re on the go. And for more of my photography tips check out my photography course: Child’s Play: Simple Tips for Photographing Children.

Photography cheat sheet and Canon camera modes explained

From birthdays to family vacations, to holidays and more, I’ve teamed up with Canon again this year to share how we capture the moments we cherish most. I’m also dishing out tips to help you better photograph your special moments with your family. Shout out to my favorite camera brand for sponsoring this series.

Dec
30
2016

Christmas 2016


The night before Christmas we queued up home videos of our last few Christmases. The kids were so amused. My son, who is kind of sort of getting the concept of Santa now, especially loved watching them. And it made the next morning even more magical for the both of them.

The time from early December through New Year’s is my favorite time of year. I love taking in all of of my the twinkling lights, seeing their reactions to their new gifts, looking back at all we’ve achieved in the last year and setting goals for the new year ahead. This year, even more than just with photos I wanted to document these lasting memories in video.

Christmas Day 2016

From meeting Santa to decorating his cookies, to opening presents–this holiday was all I’d hoped it would be. I made another video for us to look back at and to cherish in years to come. This all shot on my Canon EOS 5D Mark IV.

I had so much fun making videos of special milestones with my kids this year and it’s something I hope to do more of next year. The kids grow so fast and this seems to be a perfect little time capsule of the here and now.

Here are a few video recording and editing tips to keep in mind if you’re looking to make some more videos in 2017:

1. Keep a camera handy: The more often you bring your camera with you, the more likely you are to get used to it and take it out to use it. If your camera does both it’s just a switch of a button to change to video mode. Between snaps take a few seconds of video so you can remember more about that special milestone.

Christmas Day 2016

2. Keep the clips short: No need to record a feature film. Ten seconds or so here and there will do the trick and actually make editing a little easier later on if you aren’t hunting through an hour of footage for the clips you want.

3. Get a variety of angles and distances: Take the video in wide angles and close ups so when you edit it together later it helps the story flow in a sequence.

4. Use a camera with autofocus: This make a huge difference. The new Canon DSLRs like the EOS Rebel T6i, the EOS 80D and EOS 5D Mark IV have video autofocus and touch screens so you can tell the camera what part of the picture you want it to focus on, and adding some nice depth and artistic focuses with just the touch of a screen.

5. Edit ASAP: From personal experience, I find the sooner I get to editing my videos the more likely they’re to get done. Otherwise I have a bunch of clips just sitting there to scroll through. That’s fun too, but it’s even better when I sit down to string a story together so I can not only free up space, but have a treasure to look back on. Each one is like a video version of a designed photo book.

Christmas Day 2016

As much of a whirlwind as it was, I’m sad to see 2016 go, but I’m glad we ended it like this. And I’m excited to ring in the new year with this crew of mine.

From birthdays to family vacations, to holidays and more, I’ve teamed up with Canon every month to share how we capture our special milestones. I’m also dishing out tips to help you better capture your special moments with your family. Shout out to my favorite camera brand for sponsoring this series.

“Learn three facts at the Utah Capitol and then you can get it.”

My daughter was asking for a stuffed blue bird toy at the visitor’s center.

We had a photo shoot planned, but in my attempt to be a good homeschooler, I wanted to try to make the experience educational too.

We’ve been on a capitol tour kick ever since our trip to Washington D.C. We visited our nation’s capitol, then our Texas state capitol. Now we were adding Utah to our list.

When we walked in we saw the place was basically deserted. There was a beautiful rotunda. My daughter admired that and then the staircase.

“What’s different about this rotunda?” I asked her.

“There’s no star.” She said.

“Anything else?”

“There’s a chandelier!”

“Right!”

We found a restroom and I helped her transform into a little princess.

I never really saw myself in Cinderella growing up. I thought she was a beautiful princess but I didn’t relate to her.–Yet my daughter manages to find the beauty and fun in each Disney princess and share it when we do these photo shoots. We started with Cinderella a couple of years ago, but when we visited Utah I knew we had to have a re-do in their beautiful capitol hall.

Biracial Disney Princess Series: My Little Princess- A cute and creative mother-daughter photo series featuring a biracial girl dressed up as Disney Princesses. Part 9: Cinderella

Biracial Disney Princess Series: My Little Princess- A cute and creative mother-daughter photo series featuring a biracial girl dressed up as Disney Princesses. Part 9: Cinderella

This was my first time doing a full shoot with my new EOS 5D Mark IV and it’s everything I’d hoped it would be. Full-frame, Wifi, video auto-focus with a touch screen. It’s a beauty. It has everything I love about my EOS 80D and then some in a full-frame sensor.

This was one of those shoots where I wanted to use a variety of lenses. My EF 100mm f2.8/L Macro lens for dreamy portraits and up-close macro shots of her shoes.

I loved using my EF 24-70mm f2.8/L lens for a majority of the shots. The variety of being able to go from wide to close in a second or two is why I love zoom lenses so much.

Then at the end of the shoot I had to put on my wide angle lens: EF 17-40mm f4/L lens to capture as much of the beautiful architecture as I could.

Prime EF 100mm f2.8/L Macro lens

Biracial Disney Princess Series: My Little Princess- A cute and creative mother-daughter photo series featuring a biracial girl dressed up as Disney Princesses. Part 9: Cinderella

Biracial Disney Princess Series: My Little Princess- A cute and creative mother-daughter photo series featuring a biracial girl dressed up as Disney Princesses. Part 9: Cinderella

Biracial Disney Princess Series: My Little Princess- A cute and creative mother-daughter photo series featuring a biracial girl dressed up as Disney Princesses. Part 9: Cinderella

Zoom EF 24-70mm f2.8/L lens

Biracial Disney Princess Series: My Little Princess- A cute and creative mother-daughter photo series featuring a biracial girl dressed up as Disney Princesses. Part 9: Cinderella

Biracial Disney Princess Series: My Little Princess- A cute and creative mother-daughter photo series featuring a biracial girl dressed up as Disney Princesses. Part 9: Cinderella

Biracial Disney Princess Series: My Little Princess- A cute and creative mother-daughter photo series featuring a biracial girl dressed up as Disney Princesses. Part 9: Cinderella

Zoom EF 17-40mm f4/L lens

Biracial Disney Princess Series: My Little Princess- A cute and creative mother-daughter photo series featuring a biracial girl dressed up as Disney Princesses. Part 9: Cinderella

After our photoshoot we walked around the capitol and learned a lot about it coming to be. Here are some of the things she learned to earn her blue bird:

  1. “Lots of things can be made out of Utah rocks. Some are used to help make toothpaste, or light bulbs, and even parts of cell phones.”
  2. “There’s this beehive thing and that’s in the symbol seal on their flag. Because bees are hard workers.”
  3. “The House of Representatives and the Senate helps make laws there.”

utah-capitol-tour-3

utah-capitol-tour-4

utah-capitol-tour-1

I also loved reading how the capital came to be, the Mormon pioneers that met with the Ute tribe (among others). Another fun fact was the way the Utah capitol was built to allow for a lot of natural light and less use of electricity. It makes for a beautiful photo spot!

Utah state capitol

I tested out the video on my new EOS 5D Mark IV  and made this little “behind the scenes” video of some of what our princess shoots entail.

Her new favorite princess (and mine) is Moana. So beautiful and strong. Hopefully that’ll be our next exciting shoot if we get away someplace fun and tropical. Just when I think she may be outgrowing the princess phase she comes out of her room in another dress and I know we’re back on. A least for a little while.

Hope you enjoy these as much as we enjoyed taking them!

utah-capitol-tour-2

Biracial Disney Princess Series: My Little Princess- A cute and creative mother-daughter photo series featuring a biracial girl dressed up as Disney Princesses. Part 9: Cinderella

cinderella-2

Biracial Disney Princess Series: My Little Princess- A cute and creative mother-daughter photo series featuring a biracial girl dressed up as Disney Princesses. Part 9: Cinderella

Biracial Disney Princess Series: My Little Princess- A cute and creative mother-daughter photo series featuring a biracial girl dressed up as Disney Princesses. Part 9: Cinderella

Biracial Disney Princess Series: My Little Princess- A cute and creative mother-daughter photo series featuring a biracial girl dressed up as Disney Princesses. Part 9: Cinderella

Biracial Disney Princess Series: My Little Princess- A cute and creative mother-daughter photo series featuring a biracial girl dressed up as Disney Princesses. Part 9: Cinderella

Biracial Disney Princess Series: My Little Princess- A cute and creative mother-daughter photo series featuring a biracial girl dressed up as Disney Princesses. Part 9: Cinderella

Biracial Disney Princess Series: My Little Princess- A cute and creative mother-daughter photo series featuring a biracial girl dressed up as Disney Princesses. Part 9: Cinderella

Biracial Disney Princess Series: My Little Princess- A cute and creative mother-daughter photo series featuring a biracial girl dressed up as Disney Princesses. Part 9: Cinderella

Biracial Disney Princess Series: My Little Princess- A cute and creative mother-daughter photo series featuring a biracial girl dressed up as Disney Princesses. Part 9: Cinderella

 

cinderella-quote

I love watching my family grow through our photos and videos, which is why I partnered with Canon on this post.

DIY fairytale Cinderella photoshoot.

I don’t know why it’s been so hard for me to write about this. Self-promotion doesn’t come easy to me, but this is something I’m really excited about so here goes nothing!

I’ve slipped a mention about it here and there in a couple of blog posts and mentioned it on Facebook but it’s time I let everyone in on something I’m very proud of… My first photography course! All my tips on photographing kids and childhood memories photography in one place.

photographing children- childhood memories photography

We purchased my first DSLR camera when I was pregnant with my daughter. I had no idea how to use it but I tinkered with it a lot along the way. I learned from professionals, read and practiced A LOT. It’s crazy but some of my photographs have been featured on national TV and even on the cover of a textbook.

But I don’t love photography for that reason. What I love most is capturing the fleeting moments–(Yes, childhood is fleeting). My kids and I love looking through our photo books, and digital pictures we’ve taken together.–Photos I didn’t realize would hold as much value as they do when I re-discover them months or years later.

Biracial siblings Spring Texas Bluebonnet pictures- Childhood memories photography

I also love capturing those special moments for my friends. It’s not something I’m pursuing professionally like I once thought I would (I now call myself a professional photographer of my family) but I do share my talents from time to time with my friends who ask.

Created in partnership with Canon I share all of my tips on photographing children. From capturing the sweet tiny details of your newborn, to photographing an active toddler or a reluctant tween, I’ve compiled it all into an 11 episode video course great for beginning to intermediate photographers. Here’s a preview:

With Christmas coming up it could be a great gift for yourself or a friend you know with a new camera. On sale right now at bit.ly/MyPhotoCourse.

Though I mostly focus on DSLR cameras the tips I share could be use with any make or model. And hey, if you have any specific questions you know where to find me.

Behind the Scenes

Here are some fun facts about the making of this thing:

1. None of the models in the shoot are my actual children, but they were all fun to work with and arguably easier to photograph. Ha! But there are plenty of examples of photos I’ve taken of my own kids throughout the course.
2. I sorta got a bit of baby fever while working with the newborn. I’ve since been cured.
3. Filming this course was nothing like filming a news segment. More cameras, lights, and producers behind the scenes, but it was really fun.
4. We filmed it in Tampa, FL and I actually saw a crocodile in the pond we filmed near.
5. It took several months for this all to come together. In fact, this process began over a year ago and I’m glad I got the nerve to FINALLY officially share it with you.

babys first christmas childhood memories photography

So if you’ve been wanting to up your photography game, or have a friend who wants to, please let them know about my new course (right now it’s at a great price of $29.99)! If you buy it please please please let me know so I can send you virtual hugs and kisses.

Now please excuse me while I go and add this to my list of favorite life moments.

A beginner's online photography course: Photographing children.

Eight monuments, four Smithsonian Museums, one Capitol tour and countless subway stops in two and a half days.

I don’t even know where to begin when describing this trip to Washington D.C. with my daughter. It started out as a plan to go and see a BYU football game. Then we changed our minds and decided not to go to a game but to wait until after the new African American history museum grand opening and to just make a mother/daughter trip out of it. I’d never been. She’d never been. We were going on an adventure together.

Washington DC with kids

A huge perk of homeschooling is being able to take off in the middle of the school year and head for a vacation anywhere with fewer crowds all while making lessons out of it.

I spent the weeks before loosely planning what we’d try to see and do and walked away plotting our next trip.

If you’ve never been, you really must put D.C. on your list of places to go.

Before going on and on about how much I loved it I should disclose that we strictly enjoyed the National Mall this time around. Though we toyed with venturing out to a few other places, there was so much to see and do and since we only had a couple of days we tried to make the most out of this historical area for our first trip.

The week before our vacation I checked out some books about Washington, D.C. to read together and I bought a couple more. I think I’ll write up a separate post just outlining a Washington D.C. unit study for homeschool or people wanting to make a lesson out of it with young kids to let you know how I worked that out.

We stayed with our generous and wonderful friends who live in Fairfax, VA. So we were just a subway ride away from the National Mall. That was an adventure in and of itself and got me excited to go back with my train-loving son.

Washington DC with kids

Washington DC with kids

We got off at the Smithsonian stop and popped up around the corner from the Washington Monument. There was nothing like seeing my 6-year-old daughter jump up and down and screaming the icon by name.

We kicked things off with an ice cream bar from a stand right there, then walked over to the breathtaking 555 ft tall monument.

She wanted to touch it herself. We couldn’t go inside (closed for repairs) but she was happy to feel the outside and she took a little video on her camera.

Washington DC with kids

I should mention I used one camera and one lens for this entire trip. My Canon EOS 80D for photos and video (though I mostly focused on photos for this trip). And I rented a Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM wide angle lens that was perfect for all of the huge monuments and buildings. On a crop sensor camera this lens works wonders outdoors, and even indoors since you can stop the shutter speed down lower than usual without worrying about much blur.

From the Washington Monument we walked to the Lincoln Memorial, which was one of the two I was most looking forward to seeing. It wasn’t a quick walk with a 6-year-old who was already getting tired from a long day, but she was a trooper, and talking about the huge statue we’d seen in books that we were about to see kept her motivated to keep going.

Washington DC with kids

On the way we saw the beautiful World War II Memorial and walked along the reflecting pool. Once we reached the stairs Lil’ J said she was going to walk on the steps Martin Luther King Jr. walked on. We didn’t notice it as we walked in but on the way out we saw exactly where he stood and gave his I Have a Dream Speech.

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Inside the Lincoln Memorial we traded photos with someone next to us to get a picture together in front of Abraham Lincoln’s statue.

To the left is the Gettysburg Address in the largest font I’ve ever seen. The whole scene was truly breathtaking.

Washington DC with kids

Washington DC with kids

Next we saw the Vietnam Memorial and I had one of the most difficult discussions to date (until two days later at the African American history museum) about war. We talked to a Vietnam Veteran who volunteered there and told us more about the memorial and I helped Lil’ J read some of the names.

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We walked over to the Korean War Memorial next which was just across the way. She was really intrigued by this memorial and took some photos of her own.

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Lastly for this first afternoon we visited the Jefferson Memorial. It was really funny because other tourists were so enthusiastic about her. They were cheering for her as I took her photos and then asked to take pictures of their own with her. It was oddly amusing.

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I wasn’t prepared for all of the questions Lil’ J would have about each monument. I found myself Googling information about the presidents and dates to refresh my memory. History wasn’t even close to being my favorite subject and I don’t remember much. In many ways I feel like I was learning for the first time right along with her.

washington-dc-with-kids

We went home with our friends after this and she spent the rest of the evening playing with their kids. The next day our plan was to visit the last few memorials we missed then go to some Smithsonian Museums and take a Capitol tour. We didn’t get to visit the White House which was disappointing but I’m armed with tips to get in next time.

I’m just going to photo dump on the rest of this post and save more details about the education side of it for an upcoming more homeschooling-focused entry but I have to leave you with one important takeaway from this experience.

Washington D.C. is definitely a trip to put on the bucket list for any American. There’s so much history, entertainment and a real serene beauty surrounding many of the monuments. The best part of it all though? Coming home and hearing my daughter share her experience with her family and friends.

At a birthday party last weekend she asked to show some pictures of our trip to her friends, and I overheard her telling them about the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial. She pointed out the monuments on a motorcycle video game at an arcade with her daddy, and notices things that remind her of the sights we saw and memories we made.

Most of all, I feel so lucky that I had the opportunity to enjoy this experience with my daughter. We came, we saw, we captured, we conquered. We celebrated a milestone and made memories we’ll cherish forever.

Washington DC with kids

Washington DC with kids

Washington DC with kids

Washington DC with kids

Washington DC with kids

Washington DC with kids

washington-dc_0434-copy

Washington DC with kids

For more photography tips from yours truly, check out my new photography course: Child’s Play: Simple Tips for Photographing Children.

From birthdays to family vacations, to holidays and more, I’m teaming up with Canon every month to share how we capture our special milestones. I’ll also dish out tips to help you better capture your special moments with your family. Shout out to my favorite camera brand for sponsoring this series.

What to do in Washington DC with kids. #traveling

“Sit over here!” My daughter directed me. “Now turn this way, no no, like this!”

I tried my best to do as she told me, then watched as she lifted her camera up to her eye.

It was an old film camera I bought years ago at a thrift store, either as a photo prop or a toy, I can’t remember. But it’s one of those toys that we’ve kept around through the years.

Child Photographer Child photographer

After this pretend photoshoot of hers she made a request.

“Mom, think maybe I could get a real camera? One that takes pictures I could see?”

It was hard not to consider her request.

With homeschool just starting I thought it could be a nice gift to kick off the school year and this new adventure of ours.

I asked Canon for recommendations on the best point and shoot camera for kids and narrowed it down to the Powershot ELPH 360 HS and the Powershot D30.

Best camera for kids: Teaching your child photographer.

(My photo and her photo snapped at the same time)

I love the fun colors and wifi capabilities of the other, but ultimately she and I both agreed that the waterproof and shockproof features of the PowerShot D30 outweighed the other options, and withstand any of her little mishaps. Now my little girl is the proud owner of her first very own camera.

So what happens when you give a child a camera?

Lil’ J has brought it with her on our hikes and to each our co-op meetings since then.

Nature hike with kids Austin.

Nature hike with kids Austin

“I brought my camera!” She announced at our first Wild Explorers Club meeting.

The kids were tasked to pack their own adventure packs and inside hers, Lil’ J packed her nature journal, water, a snack, a compass and her camera.

“And it’s waterproof!” she added with pride.

She’s been using it to take photos while we are on our hikes, and then uses those photos later to go by when she’s drawing in her nature journal. Her journal helps her practice handwriting and art and overall observe and pay attention to details.

Best camera for kids: Teaching your child photographer.

(Her photo)

She’s working to improve and she loves showing off her images. When you give your child a camera, you may notice a new sense of excitement and pride in her budding hobby.

Best camera for kids- Canon option

Best camera for kids: Teaching your child photographer.

Best camera for kids: Teaching your child photographer.

It’s been fun showing her how to use it—She’s already learned how to zoom, and turn the flash off and on, and review what she’s shot.

A few beginner tips I’ve given her already:

  • It’s better to zoom with your feet than your fingers to keep your picture steady and not blurry.
  • Try to keep your back to the light so that the light is falling on your subject.
  • When possible, avoid the camera flash, it makes more unnatural-looking shadows. Try to open the blinds to let in more light from the sub for prettier pictures.

Best camera for kids: Teaching your child photographer.

Best camera for kids: Teaching your child photographer.

I love watching what she does with it on her own. There have been a few times she’s come to me asking to borrow my tripod, then gone to record a video of herself and her brother playing with some toys.

My little girl has gone from always being in front of my camera, to pretending to direct her photoshoots, and now taking her own photographs for learning and fun.

When you give your child a camera, new hobbies and dreams may be born and I can’t wait to see what she dreams up next.


And for more photography tips from yours truly, check out my new course: Child’s Play: Simple Tips for Photographing Children.

From birthdays to family vacations, to holidays and more, I’m teaming up with Canon every month to share how we capture our special milestones. I’ll also dish out tips to help you better capture your special moments with your family. Shout out to my favorite camera brand for sponsoring this series.

Best cameras for kids. Canon Powershot D30 Review.

Spending quality time as a family is something I treasure, and so important to my happiness. Actually I can see how it affects my whole family’s mood when we’re giving each other our focused love and attention.

My babies are only going to be little for so long and I am obsessed with absorbing this stage. While cuddling them I’m taking more time to soak it in and be grateful. While playing, even if it’s doing something I don’t particularly like, I’m enjoying their joyful smiles. It’s also why I’m so immersed in photographing as much as I can. I love that we can flip through our family photo albums together and remember all of the fun we’ve had. I believe cherishing those moments and instilling the importance of family is invaluable.

So here’s a glimpse at some of what’s going in the photo book from our South Padre Vacation:

Family vacation photography tips.

Family vacation photography tips.

Family vacation photography tips.

Family vacation photography tips.

Family vacation photography tips.

Family vacation photography tips.

Family vacation photography tips.

Family vacation photography tips.

Family vacation photography tips.

Family vacation photography tips.

Family vacation photography tips.

I feel like I did a pretty good job this vacation of balancing the moments I wanted to pull my camera out and capture what was going on, and the times when I’d just enjoy my company. This pretty much involved me snapping some shots when we first got somewhere, or started an activity, then putting it away for a little bit and playing with my husband and kids. I was so proud of myself for passing my camera over to my husband and making sure I got in some of the shots too.

South Padre Family vacation and fun exploring the Texas coast. List of some things to do and where to stay.

Obviously at the beach I wanted to be extra careful not to get my camera wet or get sand on it. The sand part wasn’t incredibly easy to do but I found if I kept my hands clean I could keep my camera clean. Then I only set it down when it was safely tucked away in my camera bag and underneath a blanket.

I used my EOS 80D for most of my photos on this trip. It is lighter than my EOS 5D Mark II and convenient because I was able to easily switch between taking photographs and capturing video.

For me it’s so important I do something with my photos once I’m back home. I try to print some out to hang or make a photo books when I have a lot of photos. I like to keep my photo books out and within reach because my kids love flipping through them all the time.

Same goes for my videos. I try to turn them into something we can enjoy versus just clips of video one after another to scroll through and press play on. Here’s what I made from this trip:

When it comes to capturing vacation memories I like to try to remember a few things.

1. Get a variety of shots: Some may include people, some may just be the location, and don’t forget those tiny details, like the shells my kids collected on the beach.

2. Candids are great: It can be tempting to plop your family in front of a landmark, snap a photo and call it a day, but vacations are a great time to get candid photos and capture the emotion and fun around a trip. Look at taking photos of the action as well as reactions to things going on.

3. Get in the shot: I almost forgot this this trip. It wasn’t until I was looking at some of the photos I took of my husband with the kids that I realized I hadn’t been in any yet. I passed my camera off to him (after switching the camera to AV mode so he couldn’t mess it up) and played in the sand with my kids while he did the best he could (and it wasn’t bad!)

4. Switch to video now and then: I don’t need to keep rolling on every moment of the trip, but press record for 5-10 seconds every now and then and string the pieces together later to really capture the emotion from the moment.

5. Use a zoom lens: I love my primes, don’t get me wrong, but on vacations when you’re walking around and in a variety of situations, zoom lenses are so handy. I mostly used my Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L lens to take in more of the background, but I also loved my Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L lens when I wanted to get closer.

For more of my vacation photography tips check out my article or my photography course on the Canon Digital Learning Center.

From birthdays to family vacations, to holidays and more, I’m teaming up with Canon every month to share how we capture our special milestones. I’ll also dish out tips to help you better capture your special moments with your family. Shout out to my favorite camera brand for sponsoring this series.

Hi! I’m Jennifer Borget



I'm a part-time journalist, full-time wife and mother striving to make the world a better place and inspiring others to do the same. This is the space where I share my journey in making the most of every day.

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