Giveaways on (my other blog)
Photography: Get Cozy with Your Subject (er, Closer to..)

Me? Give Photography Tips? Okay: Take a LOT of Shots.

A couple of you recently asked me to give you some photography tips.  If you had asked me in person, I'm sure I would have stuttered and stammered.  I'm really not the person to be asking.  I haven't had formal training, mostly use my camera on "A" for automatic, I don't know what most of the buttons mean, and I don't yet know how to set the self timer.  But I do know how to read the manual, and I have a curiosity that will not be satisfied.

That curiosity, I think, is one of the key things to not only photographing well but also for doing well - or attempting to do well - at anything else in life:   you need to be curious and love learning.

I don't really have any tips for you, as in how to use this or that button, feature, etc.  But I can tell you what I do to take the photos you see on this blog....

I take a lot of shots, as in number...

I read somewhere that a famous photographer said, "Do you throw away 100 photos for every one that you frame?  No?  Then you're not taking enough shots." 

Thank God we live past the film-in-a-canister days when there were just 36 photos per roll!  In one afternoon in our backyard or at the beach, I can easily come home with 200-300 shots.

Are you afraid of taking bad shots?  I'm not.  You can't be, either, if you want to capture a few good photos.  Take lots and lots of bad shots.  In the middle of those, you'll likely find the one worth framing.

I take a lot of shots, as in sequence...

Fast shutter speed captures her quick movements

I love to shoot our kids and our animals...oh, that sounds absolutely awful....I love to take shots of the kids....hmm, not better...I love to photograph kids and animals (stuffy, but, oh well). The problem is, kids and animals are wiggly.  Very.  They move.  Quickly.

To take clear, crisp photos of moving children (and animals), I push down on the shutter release (that button that you press to take the photo), and let it go click-click-click-click

When I went to Disney with other mom bloggers, we were followed around by James, a professional photographer (we called him our papparazzi; you have to start somewhere).  I had my Nikon D40 with me, and James had his Nikon D56649382 (just kidding, I have no idea, but anyway, it was like 13 lbs. heavier than mine and twice as big and four times fancier-looking).  I felt like a bit of a nerd, but I had to know if James thought I should upgrade to a camera like, say, his.  For no reason in particular, but that I always wonder if I'm missing out on something spectacular, and if I am, I want it.  You know?

Tolerant James said he's seen many good photos from cameras like his and ones just as good from cameras like mine.  He added that he was impressed with a family member's quality from a small point-and-shoot cameraThe difference, James says, is in the shutter speed.  One like mine takes fast shots (2.5 shots per second - try to beat that, kids!), but one like James' takes ultra-fast shots.  And if you've ever used a point-and-shoot, you know how frustratingly slow some of those cameras are.  This makes the difference between capturing a smile or a frown, and sometimes it is the difference between capturing a child or an empty bench (kids move so quickly!).  

James suggested I stick with what I have, since it's pretty fast already (darn, I wanted an excuse).  I'm mentioning all of this, because if you have a slow point-and-shoot camera, and if you're frustrated with this problem, look into getting a digital SLR.  See my left sidebar for the two that I own.  The older models (older model, but still a new camera), like mine are, go down in price when new releases come out.  You can buy one, including the kit lens, for around $450

I should add that a really fast shutter speed also helps with capturing less blurry photos.  As you'll see below, though, I still manage to capture quite a few blurry shots.  But, less.

You can view the result of a fast shutter speed and shot sequences here ("Squirt") and here ("This is Why I Have to Take 100 Photos Every Time").

Okay, ready for some examples of taking lots of shots?

bad shot Too boring. 

bad shot  I'm getting his attention, but his eyes are closed and he hasn't turned yet.

good shot but blurry cute, but blurry

cute, blurry, washed out Very cute, but blurry and washed-out.  See?  I take some pretty awful photos.



Sharp foreground, blurry background (a desired effect), great expression (it captures his 8-year-old mischievousness well - you can imagine what fun trouble he brings to our everyday), and I like the water droplets on his skin.  Those add interest. 

I don't really know why the lighting improved so much.  Maybe it's just an effect of the better shot being in focus.  See?  I can't explain even that.  I really don't know what I'm doing.  You can take shots just as good, I assure you.  Just take lots (and lots) of them.  It's sort of like playing the lottery.  Only, that's a bad example because no matter how much you play, you'll likely never win. Never mind that.  This is a lottery you'll win. 

Tomorrow, I'll post another non-tip tip.  Today's:  Take a Lot of Shots. 

Later this week - Friday good? - I'll put up a Mr. Linky so you can share the photos you've taken this week. Don't you dare be shy!  You have all week to practice.  Besides, you can just say you're only posting the bad shots, not the good one.