Last week my family and I took a quick trip to Universal Studios in Florida during spring break. We hadn’t been there in 3 years and were excited about checking out the new rides, especially Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. We LOVE Harry Potter in our house so seeing iconic places like Diagon Alley and Honeydukes come to life was pretty cool.

Our trip started on a sour note though after our flight was delayed 4 hours. In fact, we missed most of our first day and didn’t arrive at the hotel until close to 11:00 at night. Apparently there were mechanical problems with our plane. We also experienced a pretty scary scene during boarding when a mom came running through the gate screaming for an ambulance for her little boy. I’m not sure exactly what happened because there was lots of commotion, but I did hear someone say that he wasn’t breathing so I’m guessing he choked on something. I do know that he was breathing by the time we started to board and I thought about the poor little boy a few times during our trip. I hope he’s ok!

Our first day we got up super early and headed to Islands of Adventure. We knew we wanted to go straight to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter because it might be our only chance to get on a ride without waiting hours. This was the first time in a really long time that I brought my big camera on vacation with me. I wanted to challenge myself so I only brought one lens, (a 50 mm 1.4) and only used it one day. I wanted to capture as much as I could, but I also wanted to be present during our time together and not worry about my equipment.

I learned so much trying to take pictures while enjoying time with my family and also coming up with creative ways to capture the sights. It can definitely be tricky so I wanted to share a few things with you.

First things first, make sure your battery is fully charged and your memory cards are empty. 

Get creative with your angles. Theme parks are crowded. Especially during a holiday. If you don’t want a whole bunch of strangers in your photos, it’s important to get creative with your angles. I like to shoot up high so that I can avoid the crowds.How to capture great vacation photos. Spring Break at Universal Studios Florida. Harry Potter. Photography tips. www.stacymaephotography.com

How to capture great vacation photos. Spring Break at Universal Studios Florida. Harry Potter. Photography tips. www.stacymaephotography.com

How to capture great vacation photos. Spring Break at Universal Studios Florida. Harry Potter. Photography tips. www.stacymaephotography.com

When you do want to include your family, seek out areas that have less foot traffic. Sometimes you’ll find them behind a ride or in corners.

How to capture great vacation photos. Spring Break at Universal Studios Florida. Harry Potter. Photography tips. www.stacymaephotography.com

This was taken while we rode the escalator so it’s not super sharp, but it’s one of the few I have of them together so it’s a keeper.

How to capture great vacation photos. Spring Break at Universal Studios Florida. Harry Potter. Photography tips. www.stacymaephotography.com

How to capture great vacation photos. Spring Break at Universal Studios Florida. Harry Potter. Photography tips. www.stacymaephotography.com

This one is also hazy and not super sharp, but I love that I can see my reflection in her sunglasses.

How to capture great vacation photos. Spring Break at Universal Studios Florida. Harry Potter. Photography tips. www.stacymaephotography.com

Capture details about where you stay. There wasn’t anything particularly interesting about our hotel so I tried to create some depth in this shot by including something in the foreground.

How to capture great vacation photos. Spring Break at Universal Studios Florida. Harry Potter. Photography tips. www.stacymaephotography.com

Nothing too great about this spot either except that the light was pretty and this is where we waited for the bus to pick us up and take up to the park. Little details like this will stir up memories so it’s important to capture them just as much as the big sights and attractions.

How to capture great vacation photos. Spring Break at Universal Studios Florida. Harry Potter. Photography tips. www.stacymaephotography.comHow to capture great vacation photos. Spring Break at Universal Studios Florida. Harry Potter. Photography tips. www.stacymaephotography.com

We don’t have palm trees in Jersey so I had to snap a photo of these gorgeous trees.

How to capture great vacation photos. Spring Break at Universal Studios Florida. Harry Potter. Photography tips. www.stacymaephotography.com

This might be my favorite shot from the whole vacation. I actually had no idea she took this picture inside the hotel room until I uploaded the pictures!

How to capture great vacation photos. Spring Break at Universal Studios Florida. Harry Potter. Photography tips. www.stacymaephotography.com

Don’t be afraid to shoot on auto. I was more concerned about capturing memories than getting my images technically perfect so I decided to shoot on aperture priority mode. Plus the light was difficult to shoot in since we were constantly going from bright sun to shade. I did switch to shutter priority mode for a few shots because were were walking. My husband wasn’t going to slow down to wait for me to take pictures!!

How to capture great vacation photos. Spring Break at Universal Studios Florida. Harry Potter. Photography tips. www.stacymaephotography.com

Turn your camera vertical to capture the height of the attractions. I actually really love that you can see the crowds in these photos. I think it adds to the story.

How to capture great vacation photos. Spring Break at Universal Studios Florida. Harry Potter. Photography tips. www.stacymaephotography.com

One thing I did forget to do was hand my camera over to include more of myself in our vacation.

How to capture great vacation photos. Spring Break at Universal Studios Florida. Harry Potter. Photography tips. www.stacymaephotography.comHow to capture great vacation photos. Spring Break at Universal Studios Florida. Harry Potter. Photography tips. www.stacymaephotography.com

How to capture great vacation photos. Spring Break at Universal Studios Florida. Harry Potter. Photography tips. www.stacymaephotography.com

I did manage to sneak in a few cell phone shots though.

How to capture great vacation photos. Spring Break at Universal Studios Florida. Harry Potter. Photography tips. www.stacymaephotography.com

Here are a few more shots from our spring break. I can’t wait until our next vacation! I told my husband it has to be a beach somewhere though. Disney and Universal Studios are fun, but absolutely exhausting!

How to capture great vacation photos. Spring Break at Universal Studios Florida. Harry Potter. Photography tips. www.stacymaephotography.comHow to capture great vacation photos. Spring Break at Universal Studios Florida. Harry Potter. Photography tips. www.stacymaephotography.comHow to capture great vacation photos. Spring Break at Universal Studios Florida. Harry Potter. Photography tips. www.stacymaephotography.comHow to capture great vacation photos. Spring Break at Universal Studios Florida. Harry Potter. Photography tips. www.stacymaephotography.com

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5 Days to Better Photos – Using Color

This blog series has been so much fun! I hope you’ve enjoyed learning some new ways to compose your images. I told you it was going to be easy! The hardest part will be practicing your new found skills. In case you missed the last few days, here’s a quick recap.

Day One – Rule of Thirds
Day Two – Change Your Perspective
Day Three – Frame Your Subject
Day Four – Fill the Frame

5 Days to Better Photos. Blog series with photography tips about composition. Learn 5 different ways to compose your photos. www.stacymaephotography.com

Your last tip has to do with color. Color can be used in a couple of ways. It can grab the attention of the viewer or it can set the mood in your image. If you want to grab attention using color it has to be bold and intense.

Crossan Newborn 2015_2181

Maybe a dramatic sunset or fall colors when the seasons change.

Lowenstein_1033web

You can also use color as contrast. Keep everything else in your image simple and then add a pop of color like this adorable little monkey’s pajamas.

Clever Ways to Use Window Light in Your Home - Stacy Mae Photography

If you’re using color to set the mood in your photograph, think about how it can enhance the mood. Different colors can elicit different moods. For example, blue is a calming color. Or it can be used to make the viewer feel cold. Green can make your scene feel lush and refreshing. Yellow and orange give you a sense of warmth and comfort. Think about how color is going to add to the mood in your photo.

Galante_4723WEB

Now that the series is over, what’s next? Well, come join us in the Click & Capture Facebook group for some more photography fun! It’s a great place to post pictures, ask for feedback and get more tips and tricks to help improve your photography. You can also sign up for my weekly Click & Capture newsletter where we dive even deeper into how you can photograph your kids more creatively. And, if you’re local to NJ sign up for one of my in person classes. I’d love to have you!

Don’t forget about the free ebook too!! 5 bonus composition tips! Grab your copy below.

Want to learn more ways to improve your photos?

Grab a free copy of my ebook 'Creative Composition' and you'll learn 10 super simple ways to take your photos from blah to beautiful!

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5 Days to Better Photos – Day Four

Can you believe tomorrow is our last day already!! I have been having so much fun. At the end of this series, I’d love for you to hang out in the FB group so we can continue learning. You can share pictures, ask for feedback, and there are monthly challenges where you can earn prizes too! In case you’re just joining us, here’s what you missed.

Day One – Rule of Thirds
Day Two – Change Your Perspective
Day Three – Frame Your Subject

Today’s tip about composition has to do with filling the frame. Getting in nice and close to focus on the details of the scene or your subject.

Photo tips for dads. Simple ways to photograph your wife and kids. #getherinthephoto. #getintheframe. Blog post encouraging moms to get in the picture with tips for ways that dads can capture the connection. www.stacymaephotography.com

Filling the frame is a great way to eliminate background clutter and make your subject the star of the show! It’s also a great way to focus on details.

Sometimes there is too much in the scene that draws the viewer’s eye away from the subject and you don’t know where to look. In that case, filling the frame will cut out the clutter and you know exactly what to focus on. In the photo below, the composition is ok, but it’s kind of boring. 

Free 5 day photo challenge. 5 days to better photos no matter what kind of camera you have! www.stacymaephotography.com

I moved in closer to fill the frame with her adorable face and those funky glasses and now the composition is stronger.

Free 5 day photo challenge. 5 days to better photos no matter what kind of camera you have! www.stacymaephotography.com

Quick tip – filling the frame is not always the best choice when you are composing your shots. Sometimes the background is an important part of the story and should be included. It’s up to you as the photographer to decide what story you’re trying to tell and what elements to include.

Come back tomorrow for the last day of the series. We’re going to talk about an unexpected way to compose your images. Don’t forget to join us in the Click & Capture Facebook group where we’ll be following along with the series. You can also post to social media using the hashtag #clickcapturecompose.

Annd I created an awesome freebie for you guys too!! There are a ton of other ways to use composition in photography. Check out my new ebook for all of the lessons in this blog series as well as 5 bonus tips. Just pop your name in the box below and it’s yours!

Want to learn more ways to improve your photos?

Grab a free copy of my ebook 'Creative Composition' and you'll learn 10 super simple ways to take your photos from blah to beautiful!

Hold tight! There's just one more step ...

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Are you having fun so far in this blog series? What has been your favorite tip so far? Leave a comment below and let me know! In case you’re just joining us, all this week we’re focusing on super simple ways that you can elevate your everyday photos. No technical info required! You can check out the first two days below. 

Day One

Day Two

And don’t forget to keep reading until the end because I’ve got an awesome freebie for you! Today we’re going to talk about framing.

5 Days to Better Photos. Blog series with photography tips about composition. Learn 5 different ways to compose your photos. www.stacymaephotography.com

Tips for Framing Your Subject

Framing is a compositional trick used to draw attention to your subject. It’s so simple to do too! You just need to train your eye to look for things to use as a frame. Basically anything that has an opening can be used as a frame.

You can use architectural elements like doorways, arches, and windows

5 Days to Better Photos. Blog series with photo tips about composition. Learn 5 different ways to compose your photos. www.stacymaephotography.com

Or you can use elements in nature like trees, pathways, flowers, and bushes.

5 Days to Better Photos. Blog series with photography tips about composition. Learn 5 different ways to compose your photos. www.stacymaephotography.com

Another neat way to frame your subject is to shoot through something. Including the foreground in your photo creates depth because your eye moves to the sharpest part of the image.

5 Days to Better Photos. Blog series with photography tips about composition. Learn 5 different ways to compose your photos. www.stacymaephotography.com

You could also get a little creative and use light as a way to frame. Look for pockets of light to place your subject in that will act like a frame around them like this photo.

5 Days to Better Photos. Blog series with photography tips about composition. Learn 5 different ways to compose your photos. www.stacymaephotography.com

Framing is a great way to make it seem like you’re an outsider getting a sneak peek into a scene.

Don’t forget to join us in the Click & Capture Facebook group where we’ll be following along with the series. You can also post to social media using the hashtag #clickcapturecompose.

Annd I created an awesome freebie for you guys too!! There are a ton of other ways to use composition in photography. Check out my new ebook for all of the lessons in this blog series as well as 5 bonus tips. Just pop your name in the box below and it’s yours!

Want to learn more ways to improve your photos?

Grab a free copy of my ebook 'Creative Composition' and you'll learn 10 super simple ways to take your photos from blah to beautiful!

Hold tight! There's just one more step ...

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5 Days to Better Photos – Day Two

Welcome back to the blog series! How did you do with Day One? Did you use the grid feature on your iPhone? Was it helpful? Leave a comment below and let me know! In case you’re just joining us, all this week we’re focusing on super simple ways that you can start improving your everyday photos. No matter what kind of camera you have! If you missed Day One, check out this link. And keep reading until the end because I’ve got an awesome freebie for you!

Today we’re going to talk about perspective. Changing up your angle and shooting from a different perspective is a simple way to create more compelling images. One of the biggest mistakes you can make when you’re taking pictures is to just stand still. I think we get so obsessed with trying to capture the perfect smile that we forget there are other, more interesting angles to shoot from. So pick up those feet and move around people!

5 Days to Better Photos. Blog series with photography tips about composition. Learn 5 different ways to compose your photos. www.stacymaephotography.com

Here’s one really simple way to change things up – shoot from above your subject.

5 Days to Better Photos. Blog series with photography tips about composition. Learn 5 different ways to compose your photos. www.stacymaephotography.com

Shooting from a higher angle enables a bird’s eye view. There are different degrees to which you can shoot from above too. If you’ve got little ones, just looking down at then with your camera will work. You could also get up super high and stand on a chair or step stool to get an even wider view.

5 Days to Better Photos. Blog series with photography tips about composition. Learn 5 different ways to compose your photos. www.stacymaephotography.com

5 Days to Better Photos. Blog series with photography tips about composition. Learn 5 different ways to compose your photos. www.stacymaephotography.com

Taking pictures from above is a great way to minimize clutter in your home too. You won’t have to move all those piles of laundry or toys in the background. You could even add some color or texture by throwing a blanket on the floor under your subject.

Lifestyle Family Session. Gorgeous family session in their NJ home. www.stacymaephotography.com

Shooting from above your subject will likely require a wide angle lens and remember to keep the camera strap around your neck anytime you are shooting over something to keep your subject safe.

Don’t forget to join us in the Click & Capture Facebook group where we’ll be following along with the series. You can also post to social media using the hashtag #clickcapturecompose.

Annd I created an awesome freebie for you guys too!! There are lots of other ways to use perspective in photography. Shooting from above is just one. Check out my new ebook for more simple ways to compose your images. Just pop your name in the box below and it’s yours!

Want to learn more ways to improve your photos?

Grab a free copy of my ebook 'Creative Composition' and you'll learn 10 super simple ways to take your photos from blah to beautiful!

Hold tight! There's just one more step ...

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WELCOME TO DAY ONE!

I’m so glad you are here!  For the next 5 days we’re going to talk about how you can improve your photos by making a few very simple changes. The best part? It doesn’t matter what kind of camera you’re using! In fact, your iPhone is a great tool to help take your photos to the next level. Why? Because you don’t have to think about technical things like aperture or shutter speed. Instead, you’re forced to get creative to compose an interesting shot.

5 Days to Better Photos. Blog series with photography tips about composition. Learn 5 different ways to compose your photos. www.stacymaephotography.com

Composition is how you arrange the elements in your image in a way that guide’s the viewer’s eye to your subject. There’s an awesome quote by photographer Elliott Erwitt that I want to share with you. “Photography is an art of observation. It has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with they way you see them.” Having an ‘eye’ for photography usually means composing your images in a way that’s beautiful and compelling. How you compose your photos can determine the mood and tell a story. It’s a powerful idea and one that will guide us during this challenge. We’re going to explore 5 different ways to compose your photos that will hopefully challenge you to see differently and start taking photos that stand out. And I’ve got an awesome freebie for you that will dive a little deeper into composition. Let’s get started.

For Day One we’re going to focus on the Rule of Thirds.

5 Days to Better Photos. Day One - Rule of thirds. Blog series with photography tips about composition. Learn 5 different ways to compose your photos. www.stacymaephotography.com

The Rule of Thirds is a design principle where an image is divided into thirds, both horizontally and vertically. The idea is to place the most interesting part of your image at or near one of the intersecting lines. I’ve highlighted them in red above. You can also place your subject along the lines as well. For instance, if you are taking a landscape image, you can place the horizon along the bottom horizontal line. 

According to the Rule of Thirds, placing your subject smack in the middle of the frame can be boring and predictable. It’s not always easy to imagine those grid lines when you’re taking pictures though. An easy way to practice is to turn on the grid feature on your cell phone. Some DSLR’s also have this feature. Being able to see those intersecting lines while you look through the viewfinder will help you compose your image with more intention. Simply go to Settings > Photos & Camera > Grid and turn it on. Now open your camera and you’ll see a grid overlay when you want to take a picture. This will help you slow down and think about how you want to compose your image before you take it. Having those grid lines will help with landscape images especially because you’ll be able to see if your horizon is straight.

5 Days to Better Photos. Day One - Rule of thirds. Blog series with photography tips about composition. Learn 5 different ways to compose your photos. www.stacymaephotography.com

When I’m taking a close-up portrait, I always try to get my subject’s eyes in the top third of the image. When your image is composed this way, the viewer can connect more naturally. We are drawn to the eyes first so it makes sense they are prominent in a close-up.

5 Days to Better Photos. Day One - Rule of thirds. Blog series with photography tips about composition. Learn 5 different ways to compose your photos. www.stacymaephotography.com

Look at the difference in these next two images. In the first one there is too much space above her head and her eyes are lined up along the bottom third. As a result it’s not a strong composition.

5 Days to Better Photos. Blog series with photography tips about composition. Learn 5 different ways to compose your photos. www.stacymaephotography.com

In this image, her eyes are closer to the top intersecting line and her eyes are more prominent in the photo therefore making it more pleasing to the eye.

5 Days to Better Photos. Blog series with photography tips about composition. Learn 5 different ways to compose your photos. www.stacymaephotography.com

The Rule of Thirds can be used for more than just portraits too. Try it with food, landscapes, animals, and more! How delicious does this look? I think in my next life I want to be a taste tester for a food blogger. Yum!

5 Days to Better Photos. Blog series with photography tips about composition. Learn 5 different ways to compose your photos. www.stacymaephotography.com

The most important thing to consider when using the Rule of Thirds is where are the points of interest are in your photo and where do you want to place them. Grab your camera and start practicing today. I’d love for you to join me in the Click & Capture Facebook group where we’ll be following along with the series. I’m asking members to post a picture using the Rule of Thirds. You can also post to social media using the hashtag #clickcapturecompose.

Want to learn more ways to improve your photos?

Grab a free copy of my ebook 'Creative Composition' and you'll learn 10 super simple ways to take your photos from blah to beautiful!

Hold tight! There's just one more step ...

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Week 5 of the Motherhood, Captured blog series!! I am so excited to bring you another awesome mom who is killing it on social media. In case you missed the last month, here are the other ladies who were profiled.
Tara Moon
This Little Wandering
Happy Grey Lucky
The Owen Life
This week I want you to meet Kenny. She’s a hip mom with a stylish toddler who does an amazing job of capturing her everyday life. Her Instagram caught my eye because she manages to include herself in the photos, which can be hard for us moms to do. Kenny also just launched a new blog where she talks about fashion and parenting. She kindly agreed to participate in this series so keep reading to find out her thoughts on what makes a great photo and why photos are important to her as a mom.

Blog series called Motherhood Captured which features mom bloggers and tips for how moms can get in the frame more. Images of motherhood. Mom and me posing ideas. www.stacymaephotography.com

What makes a great photo to you?

“Clean & crisp photos alway get me. But, capturing moments are what I’m looking for always.”

What would you tell a mommy friend who was interested in taking better photos of her kids? 

“Get a camera. Nah..kidding. You could always capture a precious moment with your smartphone. But only when the sun up. While, with a camera, you would be able to have more creative control over your subjects, even when the sun down. Smartphone is pretty handy too when it comes to taking photos of your kids (or with you in it). While using camera requires more of hard work. Well, despite of any tools you’re currently using, remember these tips:

  1. Natural Lighting – you do not want direct sunlight hitting your set. Direct sunlight is harsh and looks bad on most people and products.  
  2. Composition – Rule Of Thirds; imagine that your is divided into 9 equal segments by 2 vertical and 2 horizontal lines, and you should position the most important elements in your scene along these lines, or at the points where they intersect. Background; avoid messy background for a clean feed.
  3. Timing – make sure to do the shoot when your kids are in a “happy condition” (not sleepy or too tired or hungry)
  4. Distraction – You always need this element when you’re taking photo of a toddler or some toddlers, some snacks or toys or screen time.

How do you include yourself in your photos?

“Here’s the thing, taking photos together with your kids are far more than cool & easy. But it is full of FUN. And, looking back at the candid shots we took, we would either laugh or love. When you have an assistant to take your photos, easy pissy. You only need to focus on entertaining your kids. But when you have NONE assisting you, tripod & timer are my best friend. On top of that, you still need to manage your face and posture plus entertaining the kids. Sounds like a lot. It is. And, lastly, take as many photos you could to get one best photo. It is a game of numbers.”

Why are photos important to you as a mom?

“Those capture moments not memories. So, these are the things that I would treasure the most when the kids grown up, so do we.”

Do you think photography has changed the way you look at or feel about motherhood? (maybe it made you slow down and observe more, see the magic in the mess, or appreciate the moment more …)

“Definitely YES! it enables me to always find the beauty in the midst of daily chaos the world could bring. To not focusing on the destination, but more enjoying the journey. One photo could speak many languages; inspire other moms around the world; encourage others; support one another; and give hope to the world.”

Blog series called Motherhood Captured which features mom bloggers and tips for how moms can get in the frame more. Images of motherhood. Mom and me posing ideas. www.stacymaephotography.com

Now go show Kenny some love and let her know that you checked out this blog post. Leave a comment on one of her pictures and give her a follow if you like what you see (which I know you will!)

I’m taking a break from this series next week to introduce a brand new blog challenge called “5 Days to Better Photos.” If you’re interested in photography, this series will be perfect for you. You’re going to learn super easy ways to improve your photos no matter what kind of camera you have. The series will begin Monday, April 3rd on the blog and I’ll also be mailing out each post to the Click & Capture newsletter. If you’re not signed up, you can do so by clicking this link so you don’t miss anything!

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In last week’s happy mail to clients and raving fans, I talked about getting rid of a lot of clutter in my home. Wait, you don’t get me emails? That’s just crazy talk! You’re missing out on some seriously good stuff. Click this link to sign up!!

Anywho, I mentioned feeling like there was too much STUFF in my life. My basement is filled with storage bins and my closet is full of clothes I’ll never wear. I heard from a lot of moms who feel the same way. It sounds like a lot of us are drowning in STUFF. This year my goal is to simplify as much as I can.

I don’t want to talk about clutter in your home today though. I want to talk about photos. How many of you have hundreds and hundreds of photos on your computer or phone? What are you doing with those photos? Why are they sitting on your computer and not in a book, album, or up on the walls? Could it be because you’re overwhelmed? You have so many photos you don’t know which ones to print. It’s like digital clutter!

I know that every photo of your child is precious in your eyes, but I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to keep them all. If you feel bad deleting pictures of your children, I want to release you from that guilt. What good are they doing tucked away on the computer? If you are saving them because you “might want to print them someday,” it’s time to get honest with yourself. That’s the same excuse I use for my closet. I’m going to hang on to those jeans for when I lose 20 pounds. Bwahahaha!! Ain’t happening.

So, start being more selective about the images you keep. If you’re not sure how to do that, here are a few questions I like to ask myself before I hit delete.

3 questions to ask yourself before deleting a photo. Start being more selective about the photos you keep! www.stacymaephotography.com

Does the photo tell a story? Maybe you were on vacation, at a party, or celebrating a holiday. Remember, stories always include the who, what, when, where, and why of a moment. Keep only those photos.

Are there a lot of similar photos? If you shoot paparazzi style then chances are you have a lot of pictures with very slight differences in expression or position. Pick the best one and delte the rest.

Is it printable? In order for a photo to be frame-worthy for me, it needs to be properly exposed, in focus, meaningful with good composition. Even if it’s a snapshot. As long as those four criteria are met, the image is a keeper.

Hopefully, these questions will help you narrow down your images and just keep the ones that are truly worth it. Leave a comment and tell me if any of this sounds like you. Are you a digital hoarder? How many photos do you have on your phone right now? I want to hear from you!

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I can’t believe it’s been 4 weeks since I started the Motherhood, Captured blog series!! I am thrilled with the response and am so glad you are enjoying all of the amazing tips these mamas have shared. If you missed the last few weeks, you can check them out here.
Tara Moon
This Little Wandering
Happy Grey Lucky

This week I want you to meet Alyson Owen. She’s a mom of two boys who does an amazing job of capturing her everyday life. Her Instagram caught my eye because she manages to include herself in those photos, which can be hard for us moms to do. Alyson graciously agreed to participate in this series so keep reading to find out her thoughts on what makes a great photo and why photos are important to her as a mom.

Blog series called Motherhood Captured which features mom bloggers and tips for how moms can get in the frame more. Images of motherhood. Mom and me posing ideas. www.stacymaephotography.com

What makes a great photo to you?

“What makes a great photo to me is not only the quality, lighting, perfect lines and coordinating colors, but that the actual moment is captured as well. We can try to envision a perfect photo in our head of how it should look, but some of my very favorite photos are the real life moments that I accidentally captured. The real memories we will remember. That is what makes a great photo.”

 What would you tell a mommy friend who was interested in taking better photos of her kids?

“I try to ONLY use natural light. Sometimes it’s hard because it’s a dreary, rainy day or night time, which means you are limited on when you can actually shoot. I try to catch them doing their cute little everyday moments that I never want to forget, and then quietly sneaking upon them and then snapping the photo. Those are the photos that I love the best..just them in the moment. Of course, I do love a good staged photo too, but lets be honest here: those staged photos of kids will put your stress level at its max! Try to capture the real and the raw and make the photo look beautiful.”

How do you include yourself in your photos? 

“I try to get in a few photos a week with my kids. I try to switch it up a bit and take an individual photo with each of my kids and also take one with all three of us together. I want them to remember that I was there too and I try to balance out getting in the photo with both of them. I always use the self timer to capture myself in the photos because my husband never takes them as I want them, and it always just ends up in a fight. So, the self timer has been the best thing for me.”

Why are photos important to you as a mom? 

“Photos are important to me as a mom because I want to look back and remember the little moments with my children and remember this stage of life. I don’t only want to have memories of the big events like easter, Christmas, birthdays, etc. I want to remember the everyday. The moments that make me so happy. Also, I think it’s sort of a therapeutic thing as a mom too. It is a new found hobby of mine and brings so much peace and joy to my life. It gives me a drive to create and to have fun creating and capturing beautiful moments of my children that I hope to look back upon someday and smile.”

 Do you think photography has changed the way you look at or feel about motherhood? 

“I believe photography definitely has changed the way I look at motherhood. When I capture the beautiful moments that I never want to forget, it helps me get through those really tough days as a mom. When I have a hard day, I get to look back on all the good moments and remember that the good definitely outweighs the bad times. I also feel like it makes me look for the everyday magic in childhood because I am always looking for those little details that I never want to forget rather than just surpassing it daily. These are the days and I never will forget them because I have plenty of photos to spare.”

Now go show Alyson some love and let her know that you checked out this blog post. Leave a comment on one of her pictures and give her a follow if you like what you see (which I know you will!)

Next Wednesday I’ll be back with another amazing mom. If you’d like to nominate a mommy blogger for this series, please send me an email at stacy@stacymaephotography.com. I’d also love for you to share this on social media.

Blog series called Motherhood Captured which features mom bloggers and tips for how moms can get in the frame more. Images of motherhood. Mom and me posing ideas. www.stacymaephotography.com

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Birthdays are a pretty big deal! And there are certain birthdays that are bigger than others. One of the biggest milestones is a first birthday and a lot of parents like to celebrate with a cake smash. If you didn’t have time to schedule a shoot with your favorite NJ family photographer, you can do it yourself at home! Here are a few ideas to help you capture first birthday cake smash photos on your own.

Do it yourself cake smash photos. First birthday cake smash photos you can take at home. www.stacymaephotography.com

 

The first thing you want to do is find some pretty light. If you have a room with big windows, use it! Open up the blinds, pull back the curtains, and let in as much natural light as possible. You want your little one to be facing the window so that they are bathed in all that pretty light. Just make sure there are no harsh shadows on their face or body. If the sun is shining directly in, you can try and diffuse (or soften) it by hanging up a sheer curtain or shower liner.

In order to keep your child seated or still, you can move their high chair over to the light or scoot a table closer to the window like we did here. Just make sure you’ve got an extra pair of hands with you to watch your little one while you are taking pictures. We don’t want anyone falling off a table!!

Do it yourself cake smash photos. First birthday cake smash photos you can take at home. www.stacymaephotography.com

Also, make sure your camera settings are ready to go before you put the cake in front of your child in case they dive right in. You don’t want to miss that initial reaction.

Do it yourself cake smash photos. First birthday cake smash photos you can take at home. www.stacymaephotography.com

Capture the action from a few different angles as well. Get in close and focus on the sticky icing on her fingers and toes. Shoot from above to show a bird’s eye view of the mess. Otherwise, you’ll have a million shots that look the same.

Do it yourself cake smash photos. First birthday cake smash photos you can take at home. www.stacymaephotography.comDo it yourself cake smash photos. First birthday cake smash photos you can take at home. www.stacymaephotography.comDo it yourself cake smash photos. First birthday cake smash photos you can take at home. www.stacymaephotography.com

Another benefit of getting in nice and close is being able to minimize any clutter that might be in the background. You can also use a wide aperture to blur the background. 

This mini session should only take about 10-15 minutes tops. You don’t want your child to eat the entire cake (they may end up with a belly ache!) so work quickly and grab the shots you want and then put the camera down. Enjoy some cake with your birthday babe!

If you don’t want to the cuteness to end, consider photographing the cleanup! For these shots, we stuck little Vivi in the kitchen sink with some warm water and lots of bubbles. She loved splashing around and playing with the water. If you don’t have a helper with you, stay on the safe side and make sure you’ve got a hand on your little one at all times. You can set up a tripod or prop your phone up with something and use the self-timer to take a few shots.

Do it yourself cake smash photos. First birthday cake smash photos you can take at home. www.stacymaephotography.com

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