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Posts Tagged ‘photography’

You deserve to have great photos and video to look back on and cherish as your family grows up. I’m teaming up with Canon again to help you shoot for greatness and learn how to capture some awesome moments with your family. This month we’re talking about taking great portraits.

Every year something I like to do with my kids is plan a photo session with them highlighting some of the topics they’re interested in. Last year my daughter was into space and she got a telescope for her birthday so we did pictures outside showcasing that. We also do birthday video interviews and sometimes I’ll edit those pictures in.

The power of a child's imagination. Encouraging them to play outside and have fun.

This year I took thousands of photographs and there’s no way I could narrow down favorites because I love so many for entirely different reasons. But today I’m going to show you some of my favorite portrait photos I took this year, and share some tips for taking great portraits of your kids.

Use a large aperture (small f-stop number)

For portraits you usually want the focus to be on your subject and your background to be out of focus. You can achieve this a few different ways.

    1. 1. By using a long portrait lens such as the EF 135mm lens, or the EF 100mm lens.
    2. 2. By zooming in as far as you can go on a zoom lens such as the EF-S 18-135mm lens.
    3. 3. By using a fast lens with a wide aperture such as the EF 50mm 1.8, the EF 85mm 1.8.

Aren’t sure which lens would work best for you? Here’s a post on choosing the best camera lens. If you aren’t comfortable changing all of your settings you can set your camera to aperture priority mode (AV mode), then just change the f-stop to be the smallest it can be, and let your camera choose the rest of the settings for you. Here’s a tutorial I shared on learning different helpful camera settings.

Canon EOS Rebel t7i tutorial how to use AV mode

I tend to go the wide open aperture route for my portrait shots. I love using my 50mm lens for portraits indoors because it works well even if there isn’t a lot of light in the room. Outdoors I like using my longer lenses for portraits. Here are a couple of examples:

children's portrait tutorial

EF 50mm f/1.4 lens taken at f/1.6; ISO 4000; shutter speed 1/800

EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS; shot at f/2.8; ISO 2500; shutter speed 1/2000

Find the light

Another important aspect of taking portraits is lighting. There are so many tools and ways to get the lighting just right from reflectors and flashes, to just taking advantage of good window light.

When I’m taking portraits I’m always aware of where the light is coming from. I am usually going off natural light in my home. My kids are quick and usually on the move but we have a pretty good amount of light through most of our home. I try to position myself between the window and my subject to get a nice front light shining on them. If I position myself parallel to the window light and my kiddo I’ll get a nice side light to the photo.

Using front light you’ll get pretty shots their sparkling eyes and pretty catch lights (the white lights in their eyes reflecting the light). With sidelight you can get a fun dramatic look with a shadow across one side of their face. Here are a couple examples of the difference. Including one of the last times I saw my daughter play dress up *tear*.

Front light

Front light

Side light

Side light

Side light with lamp light

Posed vs candid?

When my kids were tiny and barely mobile I adored dressing my little ones up for some adorable posed photoshoots. Every now and then I have fun negotiating with them to take some posed shots together, but usually I go for the candids.

My husband likes to pick my kids up and get everyone to smile at the camera, where as I love taking pictures when they least expected it when they’re playing in the moment. I treasure both kinds of photos and both have a place in our family photo books. Here are examples of each I took this year with my husband and our kids.

Candid

Posed

Portraits are a great way to capture emotion in faces, and those sweet features on your children as they grow up. If you haven’t already consider planning a mini portrait session with your little one to mark how they look and act in 2017. Then continue the tradition next year and beyond. And for more tips on photographing your children check out my photography course: Child’s Play Simple Tips for Photographing Children on sale for just $29.99!


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.

 

You deserve to have great photos and video to look back on and cherish as your family grows up. I’m teaming up with Canon again to help you shoot for greatness and learn how to capture some awesome moments with your family.

So did you score a sweet deal on a fancy Canon DSLR for Black Friday but don’t know the first thing about using it? Don’t worry! I’m hear to help. I’ve got tips on getting out of auto mode, what lens to get next, and more. I had several friends asking me which camera to pick for themselves/ their kid, or spouse. And I need to work on a post breaking some of those options down. But for today, I want to address another post people have asked me about that will come in handy this holiday season and beyond… Switching to video mode!

shooting DSLR Video tutorial

Capturing special moments with your family is so important. Recording them in video can help keep those memories alive and more vivid even longer. Here are some tips for using video mode on your camera to create meaningful memories you’ll cherish forever.

You don’t need tons of money and loads of gear to get started. I could give you some recommendations for a shotgun microphone if you’re wanting a boost in good sound, or tripod suggestions if you’re wanting more stability but really when you’re just getting started you don’t need all of that.

I break all these tips down in this video tutorial below, but if you don’t have time to listen, or prefer to read keep on scrolling!

1. Set your frame rate

I’m not going to get too technical aside from this point. When you’re setting up your camera to record video you’ll want to adjust your frame rate first. Usually this is going to be either 1080p 24fps or 1080p 30fps. Basically what you need to know is if you want a more cinematic look, go with 24. If you’re not going for a specific look and just wanting to shoot some video, stick with the other one 30.

2. Let your camera set the exposure

Normally I love to shoot in full manual mode when I’m taking photos, but when I’m recording video I prefer to let my camera do the work. From exposure even down to focusing. If I am going to decide one thing it’s the aperture (or f-stop). I’ll switch my camera to AV mode and set the f-stop based on how shallow I want my depth of field. For big glowing bokeh and Christmas lights that number is going to be smaller. It’ll also make it so you can focus on your subjects and blur out distractions in the background if you’d like. Or play with creative focusing movements. But we’ll get to that in a moment.

3. Use auto-focus and an STM lens

If you’ve ever recorded video before and noticed a noisy sound in the background, it could be your lens. Canon’s Stepping Motor Lens technology provides quick, silent and smooth focusing when you’re recording a video. There are several lenses with STM. If you’re shooting on a crop sensor camera like the Canon EOS Rebel t7i or the Canon EOS 80D chances are your camera came with a kit lens with STM. If you’re looking for another to add to your bag, I’d recommend the EF 50mm f/1.8 STM.

4. Get creative with your shots

One of my favorite things to play with when I’m shooting some candid family video is play with a rack focus. Basically you use a shallow depth of field and focus on one subject, then use the touch screen to tap another subject that you want the camera to focus on. It creates a smooth transition from one object to the next and is a fun and easy little videography trick. Also, don’t be afraid to use the vari-angle screen and play with angles for your video. Eagle eye shots from above are fun as is shooting up from below. And don’t forget to flip the screen out and over so you can set it up and get in the video yourself.

5. Try time lapse

Who says all video needs to be fluid? Another creative way to capture an event is by taking a time-lapse video. This is especially fun if you’re trying to record something like setting up the Christmas tree, or a holiday light display outside your home. It’s a great way to see the progression of an event that might take awhile.

6. Remember “wide, medium and tight”

When recording video it’s a good idea to remember not just to shoot a wide shot of one scene, but getting up close for medium and close up detailed shots too. A macro lens is a great option to get super close detailed video. I like to try to record more tight shots than anything, but definitely get a variety of all three.

7. Find the story

With every video you create aim to tell a specific story. Are you setting up the Christmas tree? Documenting Christmas morning? Enjoying a family dinner? Ringing in the new year with loved ones? Record key moments and think of the story’s beginning, middle and end.

Bookmark these tips so you can come back later on tonight and all year! Questions? Let me know! And don’t forget to check out my online photography course where you can watch and learn more tips for photographing your children.

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.

 

I don’t remember my first time seeing Santa Claus, but I distinctly remember being excited to sit on his lap each year and tell him what I was hoping for for Christmas. My parents weren’t as diligent  about getting a classic picture with old St. Nick every year but it’s something I look forward to doing with my kids every year.

It started with my daughter. She wasn’t ever afraid of the big guy in red. When my son came along he was hesitant for a year or two, but now he’s just as excited to see him as anyone.

I’ve rounded up my favorite Santa photos from the last seven years to show off in this post. We made it the last seven years with just one Santa breakdown. And another close call the year after. But thanks heavens for a rocking horse and sneaky Santa for saving the photo.

2011

 

2012

 

2012 (again)

 

2013

 

2014

 

2015

 

2016

Santa and kids photoshoot gift guide for meaningful gifts

 

2017

I love how carefree and happy Christmas is for my children. All of the hustle and bustle is worth it as I see their (mostly) smiling faces. Looking back at these photos I can see so much of their personalities that were present as such a young age. My son, the emotionally hesitant one, and my daughter, the whimsical dreamer. And yes, we are going to keep doing these photos until they are begging me to stop. (And probably even for a few more years after that). I hope that my kids grow up to cherish these memories like I do. Even if it looks like I was torturing them a little.

I’m wrapping up my first year working as a #TalkEarly ambassador where I’ve shared my thoughts and ways of talking about alcohol and alcohol responsibility with my kids. I never knew how important it was to talk to our kids about this at an early age, even if we don’t drink in our home. You can find a wealth of knowledge over on the #TalkEarly page and find more information on building a lifetime of conversations with kids around alcohol responsibility. The nonpfofit Responsibility.org sponsored today’s post, however all thoughts, opinions and stories are my own.

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 help you shoot for greatness and learn how to take some awesome shots for your family.

Fall is here and it is getting darker earlier and earlier. Then with daylight saving coming up we’re going be seeing even less light. Not only that but it’s getting cold. And who wants to be outside in that weather taking a bunch of pictures? Not me! So today I’m going to break down how to make the most of a situation with less light. Whether you’re out doors trick or treating, or inside staying out of the cold.

But first, before you head out trick or treating keep some of these tips in mind for capturing those Halloween moments:

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

Do a test run. Going to a costume party before the big night? Get everyone dressed up and take some photos before. If you’re really on top of it you can even have them uploaded and ready to share on social media on Halloween night.

Make sure your battery is charged. Last year I managed to get some great shots of their costumes but as soon as we went out to trick or treat my camera died! Ack! And it was getting dark so my low-light photo options were limited.

Get reaction shots. That look your children get when they get their first handful of candy? Priceless.

Get up close. Don’t forget the closeup shots. The details of the costume. Especially if it’s one you’ve worked hard on creating.

The loot. There’s more than just costumes to Halloween. Don’t forget to grab pictures of those jack-o-lanters you worked so hard on, and the loot of candy they bring home.

Ok now on to tips to capturing low light photos you can use on Halloween or any other time you’re battling a lack of good lighting.

Use a fast lens

f/3.2; ISO 6400; 1/80

When you’re aiming to take photos in low light one of the first things you’re going to want to do is make sure you’re shooting with a fast lens. This means a lens that can have a aperture as wide as possible. The EF 50mm f/1.8 STM is a great option for low light photos, or the EF 40mm f/2.8 STM lens.

Bump up your ISO

f/1.6; ISO 5000; 1/80

Now when it’s dark it’s just dark and it’s the perfect time to take advantage of your cameras ISO capabilities that can make really really dark scenes seem brighter. Don’t be afraid to boost your ISO up past 8000. Just take note, the higher the ISO the more noise you may notice in your photo. But it can still be worth it to get the shot. We were using TV light in the photo above. My f-stop was 1.6, ISO 5000, and shutter speed 1/60.

Use available light

F/2.8; ISO 5000; 1/50

Streetlights, flashlights and porch lights are your friend on Halloween. Even glow sticks. Use those light sources as a frame for your subjects. As soon as your little one walks into the porch light start snapping. It’ll be dark around them but that’s ok. Which brings me to my next point…

Embrace the shadows

F/2.8; ISO 8000; 1/200

I used to worry a lot when my entire photos weren’t completely exposed. As soon as I let go of that I’ve been able to have more fun with my pictures. Use whatever light source you have and embrace the shadows that can create a special mood of their own. My daughter was waiting for me to come to her room to start reading her bedtime story. The only light in her room was the lamplight. I could have bumped the ISO up to make the whole room appear brighter but instead I embraced the shadows in her room and framed her in that light.

Lower your shutter speed

f/1.8; ISO 4000; 1/125

This can be tricky depending on how long your lens is, but another way to let more light in aside from raising your ISO number and assuming your aperture is already wide open, try lowering your shutter speed. I wouldn’t go much lower than 1/100 or 1/80 with a steady hand or image stabilization on your lens. But if you’re used to shooting around 1/400+ like I am, you may forget that you have a little bit of wiggle room with shutter speed.

Use manual focus

f/4; ISO 128000; 1/80

Sometimes a darker room can make it challenging to lock that focus quickly on your subject. If your lens seems to be taking awhile searching for the focus point try switching to manual focus so you can lock it in yourself then snap away. In this photo I locked the focus on my daughter’s eyes which you could see only from the light casting from her tablet. The eyes are a good spot to try to focus on.

Try converting to black and white

I’m all about the colorful photos. In fact I prefer  my photos to be in color about 95% of the time. But I find low light photos make some really beautiful black and white photos. Especially when I’m dealing with tungsten light. If you’re playing with some photos you took in a low-light scene try converting it to black and white and decide which you like more.

f/2.8; ISO 1250; 1/500

Don’t be afraid of the dark! You can do this. Bookmark these tips so you can come back later on tonight and all winter! Questions? Let me know! And don’t forget to check out my online photography course where you can watch and learn more tips for photographing your children.

What’s your favorite low-light photography tip?


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.

 

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 help you shoot for greatness and learn how to take some awesome shots for your family.

I’ve always adored illusion shows and things that really push your mind to see things you’re not really seeing. By that same account I love photos that do the same thing. I’d never played around with it that much when photographing my own kids, but I decided to change that this month and see what kind of photos we could take together.

There are a few ways I’ve had fun playing with these photos, one deals with distance and depth, another has to do with how you flip the photo after it’s taken, and the last deals with shooting from above. All of these techniques will help you create some fun shots you’ll be smiling at for years.

Here’s how it went for us, and tips for recreating each one. I used the EOS Canon Rebel T7i for all of the photos you’re about to see. A great DSLR for beginners!

Larger than life

Tips for taking forced perspective photos

One of our favorites techniques to play with was depth.

I took the kids out to a field in our neighborhood with a handful of toys and things and we ran around trying to position them in the right spot to make things appear larger than life, or make them appear shrunken.

My son always has one of two things in his hands. Either a T-Rex dinosaur, or a Lightning McQueen toy of some sort. Our first attempt at these forced perspective photos was setting my son up to run away from a T-Rex.

Step 1: Position your child a distance away from the toy, and the toy closer to your camera.

Step 2: Make sure your f-stop is as high as it goes (mine was f22) and your lens is zoomed out as far as it goes. This is the opposite of what I usually do, but it gives you deeper depth of field, which you want for these photos.

Step 2: Kneel down at an angle so the ground is at the bottom of the frame.

Step 3: Make sure both of your subjects feet are close to the same horizontal plane. The first time we tried this the dinosaur looked like it was floating because we weren’t holding him low enough.

Step 4: Kids love this part! Get your child to scream and raise his/her hands in the direction of the dinosaur. They won’t have any idea of how it looks because the dinosaur isn’t near them, but you can bring up the digital preview on your LCD and show them the end result. (They may even be more cooperative after that since they’ll see what you’re trying to do).

Smaller than life

Tips for taking forced perspective photos

This was one of my favorite to play with because it was taking things that ordinarily look small and making them look huge, which in turn, make my kids look like I’d shrunk them. It’s the same steps as the first except I got down even lower and into the grass to make her seem like she was the same size. It can be hard to do this just looking through the viewfinder, so I pulled out the articulated LCD screen and switched my camera to live-mode so I could see exactly how the photo was going to look once I snapped it. I just touched the screen to focus and it automatically snapped the photo for me.

A Window of Water

Tips for taking forced perspective photos

This was one of my favorite illusions to capture. Make it look like your child is coming out of a wall of water.

Step 1: Stand at the edge of the swimming pool, or even in the pool of it’s shallow enough. Ours is only 3ft so it was perfect, but I still took this from laying on the side of the pool.

Step 2: Have your child put their legs over the edge of the pool. Make sure their rump is touching the side of the pool and their legs are hanging over. They can hang on to the side of the pool if they’re brave and strong enough, float if they’re brave enough. Or in the case of my daughter, my husband held her under her head. So having another parent to assist works great too.

Step 3: Take a horizontal photo of your child laying in the pool with their legs sticking out. Try to get as much water in the photo as you can.

Step 4: Flip the photo vertically!

It can take some practice to get it right. I took dozens on photos before I got one I liked. This would work great at a large pool where there aren’t a lot of people in the background and the pool and water stretches all the way off the picture. I call this a “window of water” since you can see the end but it would look more like a cool wall of water if your pool is larger.

In the palm of her hand

Tips for taking forced perspective photos

Tips for taking forced perspective photos

These were some of my favorite photos to take because it included both of my children and you can really have fun capturing their personalities.

Step 1: Find an open area where there are less objects to distract from the illusion. A field works great but you could also do this in a deserted parking lot, in an open lot of snow, the dessert… You get the idea.

Step 2: Make sure your settings are where you want them to be including a high f-stop for a sharper photo. My settings for this photo were f/22, ISO 400,  and shutter speed 1/30. I’ll tell you right now that I could have easily bumped up my ISO to 800+ and raised my shutter speed so that’s an option too. The main thing is to have a high f-stop to have a deeper depth of field or else one of your children will be in focus and the other won’t.

Step 3: Position your children so that one is closer to you and the other is 10-20 yards back. The further back they go the smaller they’ll be, so keep that in mind.

Step 4: Have the child closest to you hold out their hand and help guide them to where to stop. There was a lot of “a little more, ok there, STOPs!” with us. You have a little control too by moving your position around so your child doesn’t have to do as much of the moving.

Step 5: Have each of your kids get in on the action by making faces, moving their arms, screaming, whathaveyou. I didn’t think my son would cooperate but he was really good at imitating the positions I’d do. So when I asked him to clap his hands together over his head, my daughter was able to “pinch” his hands as if she was holding him by the hands.

Up Up and Away!

This was one of my favorite shots because it was relatively easy to set up and it gives a real dreamy-like photo.

Step 1: Draw balloons with chalk on the ground. Look for areas on the ground where there is a lot of flat open space around where you’ll take your photo. You can also use real balloons (that are not blown up with helium).

Step 2: Have your child lay down and hang on to the strings. Position their body and clothes in a way that makes it seem like they’re floating.

Step 3: Stand directly over your child to snap the photo. At first I was using a ladder but since I was using a wide-angle lens it wasn’t necessary. When I stepped down and over her, I switched to live-view mode. I stretched my arms over her, seeing how the photo was angled watching my LCD then snapped the photo. Leave room below their feet to make them appear to be floating.

Big Foot

An easy photo you can take inside making your child’s feet appear larger than life.

Step 1: Have your child sit in chair low enough so their feet can touch the ground.

Step 2: Put their shoes closer to you and line up the openings to where his legs go into the shoes. Focus and snap!

How to take forced perspective photos, fun creative photography with kids.

Note: You can use other objects around the house and play with them the same way like with this ice cream cone as a dunce cap. For more of my photos I’m using a large f-stop so there’s deeper depth of field but indoors you may have to open your aperture more to allow for more light. The object or subject you are not focusing on will be more out of focus.

Ice cream in the sky

There’s nothing like a child’s imagination. Fluffy clouds can become steam from a tea pot, flying hippos, or scoops of ice cream.

How to take forced perspective photos, fun creative photography with kids.

Tip 1: Perfect on a partly-cloudy day where there are lots of big puffy clouds in the sky but not so many to where you can’t see any blue sky.

Tip 2: Grab your favorite dessert cone and position your little one’s hands around the edges so you can see as much of the cone as possible. Have her stretch her arm out as much as possible and hold up the cone under the cloud. It’s ok if they are a little off in positioning because you should be able to reposition yourself and your camera to make them look connected.

Tip 3: I like to use live-view mode so I don’t have to have my face locked to the viewfinder. I have more freedom to back up and position my arms more freely.

Tip 4: Leave some negative space around the “ice cream” to allow your audience to see more of the picture and put context to the perspective.

Tip 5: Go inside and get yourself a real scoop of ice cream after cause the pictures can really work up an appetite.

The first time we tried this the clouds were pretty puny that day. In defeat we were going to go inside to try again later but as we turned we saw the huge water tower just behind our house that looked like a deliciously round ball to top the cone.

As you set out to try some of these mind-bending photos with your kids, stay alert to fun photo-opportunities around you. And most importantly, get creative and have fun. And there you have it! For more details on how to take some of these creative photos yourself head over to Canon’s Shoot for Greatness page.

Which one will you try first?

How to take forced perspective photos, fun creative photography with kids.


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!

So you’ve upgraded to a DSLR because you want to take pictures of your kids. But your kids are…well, kids. And they don’t sit still. If you’re having a tough time getting a decent focused photo of your kids, I’ve got you covered.

Also, in November I’m teaching a Canon Live Learning course here in Austin called Capturing the Essence of Childhood. So come see me and learn all this stuff in person! Or if you can’t make it, check out my online course: Child’s Play: Simple Tips for Photographing Children.

Today I’m going to break down my 10 best tips for photographing your active kids. Just in time for fall sports, and all the fun you’re going to be having through the end of the year.

Use a higher shutter speed

If you’re noticing a lot of your photos are coming out blurry, check your shutter speed. The faster the shutter speed, the less motion blur you’ll get. I try to keep my shutter speed above 500 when I’m photographing active kids. This may mean raising my ISO to compensate and give myself more flexibility, especially when I’m shooting indoors.

how to photograph kids photographing active kids

This photo I took of my kids playing in a water fountain was using a higher shutter speed to capture more of the water droplets and my son’s expression as the water hit his face. My camera settings were: ISO/200 F/1.8 Shutter Speed 1/8000.

Use continuous shooting mode

Helping your child follow their passions. Parenting an all-star youth cheerleader level 1.

Setting your shooting mode to continuous will allow you to hold that shutter button down to take a burst of photos at once. You can always go back and delete the outtakes later, but you’re more likely to capture a good one among many, or a shot right at the peak of the action. I like to use high speed continuous shooting when my daughter is practicing her cheer jumps. I’m able to snap a burst of photos of her jumping up and down, but save the jump at her highest point.

Bring a zoom lens

10 helpful tips to help you photograph your kids on the move.

I find it really beneficial to have a zoom lens when I’m out photographing my kids especially if we are someplace like a big park where they could be all over the place. When they’re further away I can zoom in, and when they’re running around closer to me, I can zoom out. I have another post where I go over my favorite lenses and how to choose the best one. But for photographing active kids, I think a zoom is a great way to go. Something like the EF-S 18-135mm F/3.5-5.6 IS USM is a great option and one of my favorites on my EOS 80D and EOS Rebel T7i.

Try aperture priority mode

If you aren’t comfortable shooting in manual yet, or find it difficult to have to continuously change your settings as your kid runs from shade to sun and all over the place, try using aperture priority or AV mode (I break down 5 great camera modes in this post). This allows you to change your f-stop and adjust your depth of field. (The lower the number the more “blur” you’ll achieve around your subject). My lenses go as low as 2.8 and 1.4. Don’t go too low and too close or their whole face won’t be in focus. You can set your lens to the f-stop your want, focus on your child, then let your camera do the rest.

Use AI-Servo focusing mode

Swinging son active biracial boy

Switching to AI-Servo focusing mode on your camera allows you to track moving subjects changing their distance from you. Instead of focusing once when you hold the button halfway down, and waiting for the beep, this way you can press and hold the focusing button on the back of your camera to lock the focus on whatever is moving. It makes capturing a moving target much easier. I like to use this mode when my kids are swinging, or running towards me.

Play with panning

10 helpful tips to help you photograph your kids on the move.

Another fun way to capture your child in motion is to use a technique called panning. For this you’ll want to lower your shutter speed to about 1/50 or 1/60. If you turn your camera and follow their action at their same pace and snap the picture in the middle of it, you’ll can freeze them in motion while blurring what’s going on behind them, making for a fun action shot. It can be tricky to achieve this but practice makes perfect. I usually raise my f-stop over f4 to give myself some leeway if I miss the focus, and use AI-Servo Mode for continuous focus.

10 helpful tips to help you photograph your kids on the move.

Don’t stop to check the every photo

10 helpful tips to help you photograph your kids on the move.

A mistake a lot of people make when doing photo shoots is stopping to see how the picture looks between each photo. When you do that you risk missing an even better photo op. I like to take a quick peep after a few photos to make sure my settings are the way I want them and the photo looks ok and properly exposed. But other than that I try to take the photos and then look at them later.

Flip your screen around and try something new

how to photograph active kids

Break out of shooting just from above. Get down on their level and change the perspective. Even getting some shots from the ground level can be fun. Or from up above. I love using my EOS 80D and Rebel t7i for this because they both have a flip screen. It’s easier for me to use if I’m trying to get a shot from way up high. I can put my camera in live screen mode and flip the screen down so I can still see how my shot is composed without looking through the viewfinder.

Be patient

10 helpful tips to help you photograph your kids on the move.

It’s rare that the very first picture I take is the one I want to keep, blow up and frame. If they did something cute, they’ll likely do it again with a little encouragement or patience. Let them play! Don’t feel the need to stifle your child into a pose. Just let him do what he loves and be nearby to capture that. Sit back for a moment and watch and see what she’s doing. Does she scream and laugh every time they go down the slide? Or giggle as you push her on the swings? Don’t be stressed if you missed it the first time. Chances are they’re going to do it again. Have your camera ready to her when she comes around again.

Join in the fun

10 helpful tips to help you photograph your kids on the move.

My favorite photos of my kids running and playing are pictures I took while I was right in the middle of the fun. Lifting my son up on my feet, chasing them around the park, spinning, dancing, and laughing along with them. When the photographer is having fun everyone can loosen up a little bit. And when mom is the one holding the camera, even better.

You’ll be making memories while capturing the moment which is a win-win in my book.

What busy activities would you like to capture your active kiddos doing?


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.

10 tips to help you photograph your active kids

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 and we’re starting with Canon camera modes. 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!

An all-in one tutorial for how to get out of auto-mode and use your camera to its fullest potential. Canon camera 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? Canon Camera Modes!

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 Canon camera 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)

An all-in one tutorial for how to get out of auto-mode and use your camera to its fullest potential. Canon camera modes explained.

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 Canon camera 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.

An all-in one tutorial for how to get out of auto-mode and use your camera to its fullest potential. Canon camera modes explained.

TV (Shutter Priority Mode)

An all-in one tutorial for how to get out of auto-mode and use your camera to its fullest potential. Canon camera modes explained.

This is a great Canon camera 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

Canon Camera Modes: 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 Canon camera 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.

Hi! I’m Jennifer Borget

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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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