Monday, May 4, 2015

Photography Tips: A Beginner's Guide with Giedre

I had the pleasure of meeting Giedre at my regional Catholic Women Blogging Network conference.  She was kind enough to share some tips for the aspiring mommy photographer (like me).  She's the one who took my great new profile shot.  

If you're in Chicagoland, I heartily encourage you to get yourself to her the next time you need a headshot, a family photoshoot, or any milestone you want captured. 

Have you always wanted to take better photos of your kids? Did you buy yourself a nice camera, swearing to yourself that you'd learn to use the manual settings? Have you started several daily photography projects, only to forget to keep going by day three?

Well, I really can't help you with that last one (gosh darn it, why ARE daily photo challenges so hard?!), but I CAN send a few quick technical explanations and handy tips your way for how to start shooting better and learning more about your camera while you do it!  

Just start Okay, this one is an obvious one, but your images have no chance of getting better if you're not shooting. Yes, it requires work to constantly remember to grab your camera and lug it around. Yes, it can be a pain to download your photos and sort through them. But if you want to get better, you can't just keep talking about. Take your camera everywhere and shoot constantly.  

Get it in Focus Are all your photos coming out blurry? The reason for this most likely has to do with shutter speed. Well, that and the fact that the kids keep running around non-stop, with more energy than the Duracell Bunny. Since there's no earthly way to make them sit still with folded hands and massive smiles, you have to learn to work around and with their never-ending motion.

The first thing you want to figure out on your camera is how to control the shutter speed. Having problems finding this? Dig out your user's manual. Yes, that incredibly dry looking little booklet that you were hoping was just taking up space in your camera bag. The higher the shutter speed, the faster your camera shoot and the more likely you'll get an awesome "frozen in time" image. Slow shutter speed? All you'll catch is a blur.

Since I don't have any kids of my own to chase after, I convinced my friend, Heather, to stand in the middle of the street and spin for me.
But wait - why isn't everything in focus? A camera is basically a hole that's letting in light. Every time you let in light, voila! A photograph is created.

How much light you let in, determines how bright the photograph is. Too much light = a completely white photograph.

Shutter speed controls how quickly the camera shutter is opened and closed.  Aperture determines the actual size of the hole. The larger the hole, the more light is let into the camera body.

More importantly, though, aperture controls depth of field, or the portion of the photograph that's in focus. Tiny aperture equals large depth of field, large aperture equals tiny depth of field.

Did that sound confusing? It totally did. Okay, just remember: the higher the number, the smaller the aperture, and the more depth of field you have. Here's an example:   Aperture example

You'll notice that all the way to the left, only part of the beads are in focus - the rest are blurry. All the way to the right, however, you can clearly see most of the beads.

More important tips to take into consideration while photographing.... Stop waiting for the picture to come to you

One thing about fancy cameras and sweet lenses is that they can easily make someone incredibly....lazy. Want amazing shots? You have to work for em! Don't just stand on your porch watching your kids play - move around. Experiment with shooting from waaaay up high, or way down low. Stand on your tippy toes or bend down to the ground.

Try to see the world from a fresh perspective, or better yet - from your kids' perspective! Don't rely on the zoom, either: move in closer to get right in the thick of things! perspective2  
Try to simplify You don't need to capture absolutely everything in one photograph. Try moving to a different viewpoint to remove background noise from an image, or just get closer to emphasize the details you think are important. Further or Close  
Figure out what you love shooting I discovered pretty early on that people are what I'm passionate about. I love faces and relationships and seeing people surrounded by those they love best.

Obviously this means you'll rarely see me shooting nature scenes. (although I have been known to post way too many pictures of my yummy food on Instagram!) My point, though? If you're passionate about photographing something specific, it's going to show in your work. So go find that passion!

xox, giedre

Giedre is a portrait photographer & blogger based out of Chicago, Illinois. She carries a canon, shoots obsessively, and always writes about it afterwards. Visit her at:


  1. This is awesome, and right on my level! Thanks

  2. I found this incredibly helpful!!! Thank you!

  3. Great tips! I've taken photography classes before, but then I never implement what I've learned and end up forgetting it.

  4. I love Walking Dot Photography ever since I heard of her! Definitely my role model. :)


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