I have always loved photography. Something about capturing the every day moments so you can look back on it and feel the same way you did at that very moment. So, naturally, as soon as I had kids, I knew I wanted to capture all of the big moments as well as some of the smaller, every day moments.
Unfortunately, my budget just didn’t allow for me to take my kids to a professional photo shoot every month. Not to mention, it never fails that as soon as we get to the photo shoot, my kids decide they’re not having it, and it becomes stressful for me (as I’m sure for the photographer as well!) and the kids can sense it.
I also wanted to be able to capture the moments when I can’t hire a photographer for, like birthdays, first loose tooth, first days of schools, etc. So, I decided I wanted to learn how to take professional quality pictures at home so I could have those memories with me always.
Why do it yourself?
I don’t plan on giving up a professional photoshoot every now and then. How else am I going to get family pictures where I get to be in the picture?! But, I also want unposed, natural photos to put up around the home, too.
I’ve heard that having photos of your children around your home helps strengthen their self esteem. If I can take a ton of pictures and print them off just to keep updated photos around the house and have that help with my child’s self-esteem, then I want to be able to do that for them.
How to get started with photography as a hobby
Decide what kind of photos you want to take, and depending on what you are looking for, being a hobby photographer can be cheap or expensive starting out. Thankfully, once you invest in your initial equipment, upkeep is minimal.
I love the soft, blurry backgrounds in professional photography so I knew I had to get a nicer DSLR camera for that. This was back before the days of the iPhone X, which now makes an expensive camera almost obsolete for the hobbyist! It has been a game-changer.
Basic Equipment Needed
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- A camera or a smartphone
- Before the days of iPhone X, I knew I wanted a nicer camera than what I had on my phone. I did a ton of research on different cameras and decided I didn’t need a really fancy camera, just one that would work with my budget and my family. I settled on a Nikon D5100 which was the perfect beginner camera at a really good price point and included a pretty decent lens.
- You might also look at the cheaper, simpler point and shoot cameras like the Canon Powershot ELPH, but honestly, with the amazing quality of photos these smartphones are taking nowadays, it’s almost not even worth it. Also, that’s one less thing you have to carry around. Unless, you don’t want to eat up your phone’s storage capacity with a bunch of photos, then a nice little point and shoot is compact and easy to use.
- Lenses. This is one of those things that you can eventually invest in later on down the line. You can always just use a kit lens for the time being until you decide what kind of photos you are looking at doing.
- That’s it!!! It’s that easy! Obviously, if you want to get into more advance things, like props and a tripod, then that is all extra, but at this point, let’s just stick with the basics.
Tips for photographing your kids
Don’t take it too seriously.
- Seriously, don’t. Kids are unpredictable. Like, even worse than the weather. It’s almost like they can sense how hard you try and how much you want something and they do the complete opposite.
It’s not going to be perfect.
- I have more pictures that I end up trashing than I do of ones that I love. It’s like this with any kind of photography you take. Not every picture is going to come out perfect, and that’s ok. Make peace with that now.
A clean, simple background makes all the difference.
- When you’ve got a ton of stuff going on in the background, it distracts the viewer from your subject. When you eliminate all that, it makes your subject the main focal point, which is exactly what you want.
Make it a part of your life.
- My kids are SO used to me taking pictures of them that it’s not even phasing them anymore. They no longer hide from the camera and will even say “cheese” as soon as I put my phone up or pick up my camera. The more familiar something becomes to them, the easier it will be when you really need to get those great photos because it won’t be something they’re nervous about. In fact, my son loves seeing his own pictures, and even more recently has picked up photography himself even though he’s only five! (We got him the Vtech Kidizoom Camera, and he loves it.)
- Take pictures of EVERYTHING. Take pictures of them playing outside. Pictures of them eating. Pictures of them getting ready in the mornings. The more you practice, the better you get to know your camera. You’ll learn what works and what doesn’t, and it will give you more options of pictures when you’re going through the files.
Don’t get lost behind the camera.
- When you are so focused on taking good pictures, it sometimes gets easy to forget what is happening on the other side of the lens. Don’t let the camera distract you from your life and from interacting with your kids. Rather, let it be an extension of yourself. That’s why practicing is so important. The more you can be on autopilot on the camera, the easier it is to interact with your kids while snapping a photo here and there. It doesn’t take long to pick up your camera, snap a picture and set it back down. Don’t stay behind the lens.
Common Questions/FAQ About Photography
Is it expensive?
It doesn’t have to be! You don’t have to invest in a lot of photography equipment and props to get started. You can always find things around your home for props as well. My favorite photos are the ones that aren’t posed at all.
Can I turn it into a business?
Absolutely! If that is something you are interested in doing, you can teach yourself and practice on your own kids and eventually go into business for yourself.
I don’t know how to use a camera. Where do I start?
I didn’t have a clue how to use a camera when I started. I just bought a camera and started playing around with it. The best place to start is by reading your camera’s manual. It has a lot of great information on how to focus/what settings to use/what each button on your camera does. I like starting with the manuals because it is specific for YOUR camera. A lot of tutorials online may not be for your specific camera so when they tell you to use a specific setting, you may not know where to go on your camera to get there.
I like the soft, blurry backgrounds in professional photography; how do I achieve that look at home?
So, that soft, blurry background is called bokeh and it is absolutely beautiful and helps make your subject in your photo pop. The most important thing to create that background is your aperture, which is controlled by the camera and, more specifically, your lens. Look for a lens with a lower f stop, which results in a wider aperture and a blurrier background.
The Last Thing You Need to Know about Photography as a hobby
It doesn’t have to be a big investment to start, and it will create lasting memories of you family throughout the years. I have so many friends that wish they would have taken more pictures when their kid was “x” years old, and that’s just not something you can get back. No one has ever looked back and said “I wish I didn’t have so many pictures from back then.”