Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sunday School: Tips from a Pro

Good Morning Crafty Stealers!

 How many of you have a nice big camera, fully loaded, yet still can't seem to get that great shot of your child? That was (is?) me, to a T.  A few years ago, I thought if I had a better camera, then gosh darnit, my pictures would be so much better.  So after convincing my husband to get me a DSLR for our anniversary/Christmas/New Baby and every holiday that year present, I was a little bummed that most of my pictures still stunk. 

After getting to know some professional photographers, I now know, it's not the camera, but the person behind it who makes all the difference! Point-and-shoot,  DSLR or iPhone, if you don't know how to take a photo, chances are, your photo isn't going to look like those dreamy pictures in a Gap ad.  They'll look like they always have, except taken with a more expensive camera.

This Sunday, we are trying to help solve that problem.  We welcome our friend, professional photographer, Courtney Miller of Courtney Leigh Photography.  She is a natural-light newborn, children and family photographer in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  And believe me when I say her pictures are AMAZING.  Below, Courtney has shared some tips to getting a great portrait of your child. 
1. Get on Their Level

    • I've noticed a lot of adults have the habit of taking pictures of children while standing at their full adult height. The resultant image is a looking-down-at-child-from-an-adult-perspective. Next time you're snapping pictures, try getting down on the CHILD'S level. Getting eye-to-eye with your child lets you have a little glimpse into the world they see and frames the story in a child's point of view.  The added benefit of an awesome glute workout is just an extra bonus...which you can thank me for later!   
2. Avoid Distracting Elements
    • This one is hard to catch while shooting, but if you keep it in mind,  you can start getting in the habit of looking for distracting elements in your composition. Things like say, trees growing out of your toddler's head, a stray sippy cup on a side table, or an entire parking lot looming in the background. Just turning the camera a quarter of an inch, or tossing an offending item out of the screen, will save you loads of distress when those downloaded files show up on your computer screen.
3.  Keep shooting!!!        
    • You're not going to get that winning image if you never take your camera out of the bag. Trust me, I'm as guilty of this as anyone! But, just having that camera ready, even if it's just the camera on your iPhone, will assure that you never miss those spontaneous moments that you treasure about your child. It's all about documenting your family's story. It doesn't always have to be perfection, just take the picture.  Ten years from now, you'll all be glad you did!
Here are a few of Courtney's amazing photos:

Thanks, Courtney, for sharing your expertise with all of us!  I know my pictures will never look like yours, but at least maybe it won't look like my three-year-old was behind the lens!

Be sure to visit or "like" Facebook at Courtney Leigh Photography to check out more of her incredible photography!

I hope the sun is out so you can get out those cameras!  Have a wonderful Sunday!


  1. Jennifer RichardsonMarch 6, 2011 at 12:03 PM

    very helpful. Would love to know what Courtney used on the outdoor pic of the kids by the stone house. My first real camera lol is on its way will be here tuesday. Is there a filter on that to catch the sun so nice? Did you edit these in ps or another program? On the top pic did you use a texture/action(preset...depending on program you use I guess) Just curious the pics are great. Would love to disect them a little more lol

  2. Beautiful shot! When my girls were little, I still had a 35 mm camera, and I wouldn't just keep shooting. I would take my shot, maybe take it twice, but then that would be it. How I wish I had a digital camera back then! I think keep shooting is the best advice! For every 20 or more photos I take, one of them just be the one I'm looking for! :)

  3. Thanks, Andreana for the lovely intro!

    Jennifer - the image with the cottage was taken about an hour before sunset, so the sun was low in the sky. This is my favorite time of day to shoot! The only thing I had on my lens was a lens hood to help cut the glare from the sun. I shoot in RAW, so every image is hand edited in Lightroom/Photoshop. I don't use a lot of actions/presets, but the ones I do I mostly have created myself...and I'm not much of a texture gal. I feel like, with children, it takes away from the focus of the image. :)

    Scrap - YES! It's a whole new world with digital, isn't it? I love it, but still get nostalgic for suspense we had with film occasionally!

  4. I completely understand the "If I have an expensive (aka better) camera everything will be just grand" thought process; went through it a few years ago. Imagine my surprise when "everything" wasn't perfect. Oh well, live and learn and take better pictures :o) Thanks to Courtney for the photography tips!!