Search Results for: label/Photography

Photography FAQ

Q: Did you go to school for photography?

A: No. It’s been a hobby for a long time, and there is still so much I want to learn. I am self-taught but am lucky to know a lot of great photographers including my incredibly talented father-in-law. Having a nice DSLR camera helps, but I still believe that a beautiful image comes far more from a photographer’s eye, passion, an interesting angle and a little bit of good light than formal training and technology. I do what works for me and have found that out by a little bit of reading, a little bit of Googling, but mostly from practicing a ton and playing with my camera.

Q: What kind of camera and lenses do you use?

A: I have a Canon 50D (and a back-up 20D) and use the following lenses (all Canon): 50 mm 1.4, 24-105 mm 4.0L, 16-35 mm 2.8L, 70-300mm 4.5-5.6. My favorite lens for my girls is my 50 mm, and I like to shoot anywhere between 2.8 and 1.4 for the sharpest image possible. I have recently graduated from shooting AP to manual and am loving the change. Sometimes I shoot in RAW, but most of the time, I’m too lazy. And when shooting people, I always focus on the eyes.

Q: What do you use for editing?

A: I primarily use Lightroom 2. I don’t go crazy editing my photos because it’s time consuming and I like a more organic look to them (although every once and awhile I’ll knock myself out with some crazy tweaks), but I have a few main adjustments I make to most of my published photos: exposure, clarity, contrast and sharpening. Sometimes, I use an adjustment brush to brighten/sharpen eyes or enhance single colors in a photo and then sometimes, when I’m really lucky, I leave my photos just the way they came off the camera.

Q: What do you use for lighting?

A: Natural light, baby. The more, the better. I don’t like flash pictures mainly because I haven’t practiced enough with a flash to get a natural look. I love good light and have learned all the places in my house that let in the best natural light and all the best times to get it. My favorite time to shoot outside is an hour before sunset (the golden light). Otherwise, we look for shady spots. If there’s not great light, we crank up our ISO and hope for the best.

Q: How did you do the “photo wall” in your home?

A: The wall photos: 16×20 prints framed in glass “frameless” clip frames. They are available at Ikea for $5 each or you can find them for around $15 at Michael’s or Joann’s.

Q: About those photo books…

A: I design my 12×12 scrapbook pages in an old program called Microsoft Digital Image Suite (version 11.) You can still get it on Ebay last I checked. The pages are easy and fast to make, and I make them gradually throughout the year (I try to have 25 pages done every three months for each kid) and save them in Shutterfly. I don’t use a lot of scrapbook crafty stuff because I like the look of clean pages with a little color and fun text, but there are some great free papers and download kits at Shabby Princess. I find lots of fun free fonts at Scrap Village. Otherwise, I just drop in color blocks and shapes into my pages and intersperse them with photos placed in a graphically pleasing way. I publish my books right before birthdays so one year of life is documented, and I use the 12×12 hardbound Shutterfly book which is amazing for the price. I save all my pages as jpegs and drop them into blank book pages in Shutterfly (I don’t use their layouts). What do these books mean to me? I look at them all the time. And so does everyone else that comes to our house. Best of all, Lainey loves them and will know just how much every moment with her was cherished when she’s all grown up (and Nella too!). And if a hurricane is brewin’ in the gulf, girlfriend’s gonna grab two things before running to take shelter: my babies in one arm and my Shutterfly books in the other.

Q: Are there any good photography resources you use?

A: I’m terrible at reading instruction books and definitely learn best by doing, but I have found any photography book by Scott Kelby to be fantastic. They are easy to follow, things are described in total layman’s terms, and Scott Kelby is kinda funny too. Try his Digital Photography books, volumes 1 and 2.

Q: What inspires your photography?

A: My girls. Feeling completely relaxed at Isle of Capri. Golden light. Color. Anthropologie catalogs. Mornings. Love. Vintage fashion. Small details that no one else notices. Feeling in the moment. Not caring too much. The gratification that comes from knowing the next photo could be the best one I’ve ever taken.

Q: Advice to anyone who wants to take good photos?

A: A good camera is the best investment you’ll ever make. (If you’re watching your money, start with a Canon Rebel, a 50 mm 1.4 and work up). Don’t care what other people think. Believe in yourself and let passion and what you love take over. Don’t try too hard and know that you will get better with practice. Trying to know everything right up front will only put pressure on you and take away your passion. Learn from others. Ask questions. Photograph what you love–whether it’s your kids, home decor, food, etc. and don’t forget the little details.

And the coolest inexpensive photos? Download the I-Phone’s Hipstamatic camera app. It takes super cool vintage photos. You can swap out lenses and films for different effects. Totally love this app.

F.A.Q.

Last night, we swam at dusk. The sky was blue-gray and the clouds still visible behind the crescent moon that glowed a yellow Cheshire cat smile. Lainey is becoming more confident with her swimming abilities, and her deeper almost-four-year-old breaths now allow her to swim long distances underwater. Sometimes she misjudges what she’s capable of swimming, and the last yards of her course have her kicking faster, reaching farther and finally grabbing the edge of the pool wall and emerging with a deep and desperate inhalation. I know that feeling; I’ve been there both literally and figuratively. But then she smiles–and disappears again underwater, like a fish. A happy blonde-headed fish who wants to try again.

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I am inspired by my girl. And I’m loving our family night swims. They complete my day.

Thank you for kind words and great suggestions last post (I ordered an amber teething necklace! We’ll see if it works). I am forever grateful for amazing readers, for how you helped raise $103,000 for my girl and her friends in this country, and for making something I already love to do even more rewarding. I am interested in and inspired by the way people connect.

Well, it’s Friday and, for something different, I’ll answer a few of your questions.

Photography:

I started out in photography taking a lot of bad pictures that I thought were really good. I look back at my old stuff and am half embarrassed and half excited for what I will learn in the next two years. I like when people jump into something they want to know more about, when they aren’t intimidated by technical stuff or by people who are doing fill-in-the-blank better. Many of you have commented that you just bought your first DSLR camera, but that you are not a photographer. Guess what? You are. If you are taking pictures, you are a photographer; if you are writing, you are a writer; if you are hitting “publish post,” you are a blogger. I am not afraid to take bad pictures, to publish fuzzy ones or to write something I might later regret. And I think this is the best advice I could give. Don’t be scared. If you love doing something, do it. Learn it, stand by it, put yourself out there. You will fail. But you will swim again…like a fish.

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There are two sides to photography–the art and the technical stuff. I have always been intimidated by the technical stuff, but I have learned/am still learning by doing. The art part of it? It’s like oxygen to me.

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I love the challenge of capturing feeling in photos, of finding interesting ways to compose a shot, of taking a picture of a moment that I’ll forever be grateful for capturing. I am not an expert. There are a lot of technically better photographers out there. But I am passionate about people who want to learn. Being intimidated by perfection or someone else’s art should never lessen the value of your own art. And photography is art. I take pictures like how I look at life, and I look at life like how I take pictures. It makes me happy, and if it will make you happy, then I’d love to help.

*My camera is a Canon 50D, and my two favorite lenses are my 50mm, 1.4 and my 16-35mm, 2.8. I only use natural light, and I usually shoot manually, most often between 1.4 and 2.8. Someday I will buy new lenses, maybe upgrade my camera to my 5D dream. But for now, I am content. Good pictures come from the passion and soul in the one who is taking them…not from the equipment.

Proof: I think this picture’s kinda pretty. It was taken with a $2 app phone camera, and it is of the front of a Walmart, Friends. A Walmart parking lot while I stood next to a cart that had a wadded napkin covered in stale ketchup wedged in its plastic lattice. See, you certainly can find beauty in unlikely places.

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*Some days I take 10 pictures, some days I take zero pictures, and some days I take 100 pictures. My camera is not a permanent fixture, and I can bang off 50 shots in about two minutes if I want. I don’t put pressure on myself re: how and when I take pictures, and it is in that freedom that I’ve found a comfortable place where art, creativity, documenting, and real life in our family live harmoniously. If the balance is off, we do what everyone else does. We adjust accordingly.

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*If I’m in a photo, it’s usually either Brett or Heidi who takes it. Plus, I love the look, the art, and the angle of one of those reach-out-and-take-it-yourself pictures.

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I like hiding my smile when Brett picks up the camera and gets all into it–crouching, leaning, contorting his body to get a cool angle and then proudly grinning when he “gets it.” There is an artist within us all.

More humble photography tips to come.

Sponsors:

This post is a great opportunity to explain the presence of sponsors and my attempt at unobtrusively weaving them into our precious family blog. I enjoy writing on this blog but it does require time. It doesn’t always work out in life to get compensated for time, but in this situation it’s a nice bonus. Periodically introducing sponsors is a way I can help support my family, and it’s been very beneficial in helping some stay-at-home moms who make really pretty things amp up their businesses. You will never see ads for car parts or rifles–promise. I choose sponsors who offer things I think you’ll like–things my family likes. I try to keep sponsors and giveaways at the bottom of posts so that when you’re finished reading, you can choose to read on or smile and walk away. I hope you read on for the sake of some excellent businesses trying to stretch their roots. And I wish I could share the story behind a lot of these business owners. I’ve come to know many of them, and the stories of how their businesses got rolling are inspiring.

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Heart banner, Lisa Leonard Designs new decor line.

A quote from a past sponsor, Lilian Eve Designs:

To stay true to myself I sponsored Enjoying the Small Things because it has real readers. Readers with heart, soul, understanding, and passion to appreciate the goodness in others’ lives. For me, I had an outpouring of support for my unrelenting creative mind–a mind that never stops whispering new ideas–and the readers embraced me. I distinctly remember, lugging my laptop in with me the day Kelle ran my ad–sitting in the waiting room while my poor nephew, the “bubble boy”, got his numerous allergy tests and my sleepy-eyed niece wanting to know what ‘Nene’ was doing on the ‘puter’. I had no idea if the sale ticker would move but I was ready:)… and it was off…I sat crying… to be accepted, to be wanted- to make things with my hands and create with my mind- and be this eccentric- teacher by day- longgggggggggggging to be mother by night. My sister still reminds me of that day. Perhaps my dreams will soon come true.

Lilian Eve Designs had over a hundred new sales that weekend, and many of you are still sporting Regina’s beautiful crocheted designs. So, thank you for supporting her.

If there’s one thing I like, it’s finding cool stuff for my home, my kids, myself that isn’t the same thing everyone else has, and through the sponsors, I’ve discovered new unique places for gifts and fun splurges. I hope you have too.

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My Faith:

Someday, when it falls in place naturally, I will expand on my faith. Faith is very present in my life and yet it has evolved over the years to a more encompassing place of respecting everyone’s beliefs and learning from many different walks of life. I have a very faith-heavy past, and there are both treasured traditions and beliefs from the past I keep as well as pains and misconceptions of God I’ve worked to heal. Faith and religion are two very different things. I am religion-less, but faith–the grounding, comforting belief that I am smaller than someone else, that there is more to my life than my breath and body–is a very purposeful part of my life.

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Brett:

There are a lot of beautiful stories from our past together and from how he has embraced both Lainey and Nella’s presence and personalities. The stories will come in due time…promise. (and the boys too! but they are busy teenagers and not always around like the girls are for picnics in the woods and building block towers. It is a moment of personal victory for me when I capture a moment with the boys, and I’m happy to share them when they happen)

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Writing:

I love words. I love the art of finding good words, stringing them together and digging deep within to recall memories with vivid descriptions. I like a variety of writing styles, many that are different from mine, and reading a broad spectrum of writing genres helps me strengthen my own style. Like photography, there are two components of writing–the art and the technical. Again, the technical (grammar, structure, spelling) can be intimidating. The art though–the voice, humor, and emotion of one’s words–is what is most important. Sometimes, my writing isn’t that good. And sometimes, I love how it comes together. But I still keep writing–as freely and true to myself as I can be, because I do not write to be good, but to be happy. And, as with anyone in any endeavor, I get better at writing the more I practice.

If you want to write, I’d suggest reading Brenda Ueland’s If You Want to Write. It is incredibly inspiring and empowering.

One of my favorite excerpts:

“…it is the way you are to feel when you are writing–happy, truthful and free, with that wonderful contented absorption of a child stringing beads in kindergarten. With complete self-trust. Because you are a human being all you have to do is to get out truthfully what is in you and it will be interesting, it will be good.”

If you write, if you journal, if you blog…please keep doing it. It is your art, your style, and no one can tell you that it’s not good…no one but yourself, and you don’t have to listen.

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I leave you with another excerpt from Brenda Ueland’s If You Want to Write:

“…when you write, if it is to be any good at all, you must feel free–free and not anxious. …I hate orthodox criticism. I don’t mean great criticism, like that of Matthew Arnold and others, but the usual small niggling, fussy-mussy criticism, which thinks it can improve people by telling them where they are wrong, and results only in putting them in straightjackets of hesitancy and self-consciousness, and weazening all vision and bravery. I hate it not so much on my own account, for I have learned at last not to let it balk me. But I hate it because of the potentially shining, gentle, gifted people of all ages, that it snuffs out every year. It is a murderer of talent.”

Don’t be snuffed out. Whatever it is you desire to do, find a way to do it. Write, create, take pictures, craft, mother, bake, dance, run…and do it happily, truthfully, and freely.

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Monday’s back to regular posting.

Looking forward to sunshine this weekend.

Observance and Writing

I wasn’t a very observant person in my early twenties. I thought about what my hair looked like, if my skin was broken out or not and what people were thinking about me. And that last one? One of the most powerful realizations one can come to in life is accepting that people are not thinking about you. They’re thinking about themselves. That sounds harsh, but it’s true. If you only realized how much people don’t recognize your hair or your skin or your jean size because they’re worried about their own hair, skin and jean size–well, it takes a lot of pressure off. Thank God.

I’ve always thought about people in an “Are they hurting?” kind of way because I believe that’s a special gift I was given. My parents say when I was very young, on more than one occasion, I asked to leave my family’s table at a restaurant to sit with elderly who ate alone because it made me sad. My presence could have very well annoyed these poor grandmas who, for the love of God, just wanted a chance to be alone, but that gift of knowing when to butt out of people’s lives and let them be hadn’t yet been bestowed. I’m still waiting for that one.

So I thought a lot about myself. And I thought about people who were hurting–at least the ones in my direct line of vision. But that was about it. The rest of the world, the lessons hidden in my environment, the way light hits the trees late in the afternoon or how, if you look closely, snowflakes aren’t just flakes but intricate symmetrical crystals–I didn’t take the time to really notice.

It used to drive my dad crazy. We drove to work together during my college breaks, and he’d point out everything on our hour drives–flowers, houses with cool front doors, new coffee shops with eye-catching signs.

“Did you see those hostas back there? They were huge!,” he’d exclaim. And I’d answer “What hostas?” because I was too busy thinking about how my thighs looked huge when I wore hospital scrubs or how poorly my dark hair took the latest blonde dye job.

He’d scold me. “You don’t notice things.” And I’d argue “Yes I do,” quickly covering my lack of observance with the first hint of beauty I saw out the car window. “Those tulips–yes, I saw them.” He’d laugh and remind me of just how oblivious I was to my environment, digging up the Proof of All Proof stories–that one time when I was pulling out of my friends’ driveway, unaware of the three bags of garbage directly behind my car. The story goes, as my friends jumped up and down, waving and shouting, alerting me of the garbage, I waved back thinking it was just an enthusiastic goodbye. And I kept driving and waving, ripping garbage bags to shreds and dragging pop cans and milk jugs and moldy paper towels down the dirt road. Still waving. Still smiling. Because those sweet friends were giving me the enthusiastic goodbye of a lifetime. So, I guess I couldn’t argue with that story. Yes, I was oblivious to a lot of things.

A lot happened in the ten years that followed. I became a mom which is huge. You suddenly notice everything–tiny toes, new teeth buds, the first red dot of a diaper rash. You write sonnets about your kid’s eyelashes. You study the way their chest rises and falls when they sleep.

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I think, for me though, observance of the world around me truly took a new meaning when I started writing and taking pictures.

I’m speaking in Dallas next month at a photography conference. I felt completely intimidated at first because I don’t consider myself an expert in photography, and when it comes to complicated technical camera knowledge, I feel small compared to many of the great minds in the photography world who study and teach these things every day. I am confident behind my own camera though, and I have learned a lot from others–things I’m willing to share. The more I thought about it though, I realized I can share the story of why I take pictures–how photography changed me in a lot of ways and makes me more aware of everything the world has to offer. It plays an important role in my life, and my journey behind the camera mirrors my personal journey closely, especially the last few years. I am excited to share this journey, and the scattered notes and favorite photos (okay, embarrassing over-edited ones too) that are piling up as I prepare can attest to my excitement.

Similarly, writing has made me more aware of everything–not only the world around me, but my own feelings and judgments and opportunities for improvement as well. Writing almost every day naturally stimulates these “What am I going to write about?” receptors. And while I cannot go about life searching for things to write about–life needs to happen first–I do find that since writing, I think a little more deeply. I let myself become more vulnerable, I push myself to discover more, to read more, to fill up the wells within so that I have something to write about (which translates to “something to think about,” “something to live by,” “something to make me change” or fill-in-the-blank as you wish). It’s a complicated, wonderful cycle of input and output, and these two principles depend upon each other.

So this morning as I went through my weekend photos and sat down to write, I couldn’t help but notice how much easier it gets to put something on paper because I am learning to observe, to listen, and to be aware. Yes, there will always be writer’s block and periods of quiet inspiration. But I wait–because there is always something to write about. There are always moments to capture. The things we choose are just a fraction of the things that await our attention.

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Little words and lots of photos from this weekend:

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Our kids learn this whole input/output thing too. Lainey asked if she could take a picture with my camera because she saw a bird. I handed it to her, Sister clicked the button and then smiled when she saw her capture on the screen.

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And Little Sister thinks walking Latte on a short leash is very funny. Especially when she stops walking and Latte doesn’t and is thus startled when she has to stop short (sorry, old Sunday School days–I love a good “thus”).

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I love to know readers have a heart for my girls that makes them concerned of safety, and I take safety comments to heart! But I assure you, we are aware of dog leash dangers and are very mindful and–well, observant of how and when our girls periodically take hold of the leash.

And a Family trip to Sweet Treats last night. They actually like throwing pennies in the fountain more than the ice cream.

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Welcome back to returning sponsor (and a reader favorite), Coco Penny.

Coco Penny offers a wide variety of hair accessories for little girls, available in various sizes and styles from large, detailed felt flowers for bigger girls to tiny bows and clips for babies.

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Left: Small Coral Felt Bow , Right: Small Purple Rose

Continually expanding their inventory, Coco Penny offers a new line of sequin bows which Lainey thinks are fantastic.

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I love their snug-fitting violet cluster collection for little babies and their large gardenias for bigger girls.

Coco Penny also offers interchangeable headbands and flowers as well as several gift sets, great for birthday parties or baby showers!

Use code “kelle” for 15% off your Coco Penny order.

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A week of observations await. What will you notice?

For the record, I haven’t dragged a bag of garbage since. It happened once, okay?

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