Tag: photography tips

Childhood Photography: Capturing the Details

Hello The Crafting Chicks readers! I’m Michelle from Michelle Lea Creative. I spend my days as wife, mom to 3 awesome kiddos, photographer, graphic designer, and chauffeur. I’m so excited to be sharing a little post on photographing your little ones today.

I have been in love with photography since I was very young. I love to get lost in the story of an image and a few years ago, I realized how much I love my snapshots that capture the details of the moment or the current stage.

It can be hard to remind ourselves to get the details, but I promise you once you start looking for those moments they will appear without having to think about it. When you look at a photo you are naturally drawn to the eyes first and then the connection between the subjects… so we can miss some of the amazing little details of a moment. I love to document my little ones in a way that will tell the story of their childhood. My children are constantly asking “what was I like at x age, what did I like, or say, or do?” I think of my photos as a way for my children to know their story…. long after I am gone and can no longer tell it to them. I want my images to speak when I can’t… and now I’m crying haha. So what do I mean by the details?

My daughter had talked her Granny into buying these Crimson (cause we are OU fans and it’s crimson and creme of course!) hightop Converse for Christmas. She just loves them and this was the perfect day to capture them flying through the sky with the bright blue Oklahoma sky and whispy clouds behind them. Her shoes are the first thing that pop out at you in this photo.
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Think outside the box when you are pressing down the shutter. I will get down on the ground, roll around, climb on top of something…. or even lay on the ground under my child swinging if it will get the shot that I want.

Childhood Photography: Capturing the Details

Another type of details shot that I like to capture are our daily routines… small glimpses into their lives and what they like. Here we are at breakfast with my youngest. You can still see his face in the reflection of the glass. I purposefully had his reflection in the frame, but it isn’t what you are drawn to first. It’s his little hands concentrating on eating his waffle. When I am inside my home, I open all of the windows and I will guide the kids to an area where the light is flowing in. I will raise my ISO and adjust my settings to get as much light into the image as possible.
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We are in a little bit of a Thomas the Train obsession these days… just a little. He adores this Christmas present. I will use a wider aperture to keep in focus what I want to highlight in the photo.
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This is my oldest, with his cell phone… in the middle of a photoshoot with Mom. I would kill for a photo of the big cell phone my parents had when I was little, or that big flip phone that I took to college with me!! Who knows what technology will look like when he is in college or taking photos of his children.

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Let me say that life is not perfect! You’re house will not be perfectly clean or put together for the magical photo all the time. I challenge you to look back at your childhood photos that mean the most to you. They are probably slightly out of focus, bad angle, lighting… a million things, but they represent you and that is all that matters. My house is not perfect (reference the desk below), but it has love and that is the overall emotion that I want my children to remember. They won’t see the imperfections that I see. So take photos, as often as you can and write your history for your children to remember, when you are no longer here to tell them.

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And get yourself in the details Moms and Dads, holding the hands of your children!

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Thank you for letting me stop by and share a little bit of photography love with you today! Come visit me at Michelle Lea Creative or on Instagram. I shoot with a Canon 5D Mark iii that is my fourth baby and all of these images were shot with my 50mm 1.4 lens.
50 Free Prints 728 x 90

10 Tips to Awesome PHONE Photos

10 Tips to Awesome PHONE Photos

I know, I know…here I am, a professional photographer, encouraging you how to use your phone camera.

Let me explain myself…I love using my digital SLR camera to capture stunning, gorgeous, breathtaking images. SLR cameras are an amazing tool and I get mine out at least weekly, if not daily. However, if I’m being truthful I find my SLR to be big, clunky, and kind of a pain to carry around with me everywhere I go. I use to carry my cumbersome SLR with me at all times capturing almost every single moment of our lives.

Until about a year and a half ago.

Until I got an iPhone 5.

All of a sudden my life changed. I had a super portable camera that I carried with me at all times AND I could edit my photos AND I could publish them pretty much instantaneously. Wow.

Do I think my phone camera can completely replace my SLR camera? Heavens no. My SLR camera is able to produce shots that my phone camera simply cannot do. But having a good camera on your phone and (most importantly) knowing how to use that camera to take awesome pictures means catching moments you might have otherwise missed.

With that said, Let’s begin. Here are 10 tips for you to follow so YOU can start taking beautiful photos with your phone.

Side note: All the photos in the post were taken with my iPhone 5. As you will see, I take A LOT of phone pics of my youngest. 🙂

1- Go Toward the Light

I can’t emphasize just how important having lots of light is. Without going into a lot of technical mumbo jumbo just remember that more light will equal sharper photos. So when you are outside during the day you will be able to get some awesome sharp photos. Or if you’re taking a picture inside just move toward the window. That will usually give you a sharp photo as well.

Side note: Above all try to use natural light when possible. Natural light will give you a better photo than artificial light.




2- Face the Light

As you move toward the light position your subject so that they are facing the light source. When your subject is facing the light it illuminated their face and also gives that catch light in their eyes.


3- Hold Still

I know this sounds like a no-brainer but you would be surprised by how many people are taking blurry pictures because they are moving. If you are in a low light situation you will really want to hold as still as possible because your shutter speed will be slower that if you are in full sun. Sometimes I will even hold my breath while I’m touching the shutter speed to minimize any movement.

Side note: When pressing the shutter speed, use a light touch and refrain from tapping the screen too hard as that could cause the camera to shake.


4- Set Your Focus and Exposure

Did you know you could change where the camera is focusing? By simply tapping (or rather lightly touching) the screen of where you want your focus to be you can change the focus and the exposure. By default your camera will focus on a prominent face or toward the center of the screen. But if you need the focus to be elsewhere, just tap the screen.

Also by default the camera will set the exposure (how light or dark the photo is) by the amount of light in the focused area. So if your photo looks too dark simply tap on an area of the photo that is dark so that the camera will compensate for the darkness by making the entire photo lighter.

Side note: I use a camera app called, Camera+, this camera allows me to set the focus area and the exposure separately. I use the camera my phone came with about 80% of the time. But if I’m in a back light situation I will use Camera+ so that I can tap the darkest part of my picture thus giving enough light to illuminate people’s faces.


5- Take LOTS of Pictures

I know this sounds like a weird tip but hear me out. Whenever I’m trying to get a a particular shot I never settle for just one or two shots. I take shot after shot often times without my subject even knowing it. (Turn off the sound on your phone so no one can hear when you’re taking the picture.) The reason being is so that you will have ample photos to choose from. In a split second someone’s eyes could close, or you might miss the best smile if you’re just settling with one shot.

6- Frame Your Photo Using the Surrounding Environment

To make your photos more appealing try using the surrounding architecture like windows, doors, trees etc. to frame your focus and draw the viewers eye toward the subject.

Side note: Be sure that you are aligned properly to have straight lines. You will want to keep your camera perfectly vertical and be at the correct angle. So you may have to squat down or rise the entire camera up to achieve straight lines and angles.



7- Use Back lighting To Your Advantage

The hour before the sun sets is a magical hour. You can capture some awesome pictures. Have your subject with their backs toward the setting sun to capture that beautiful glow.

Side note: Review Tip 4 and remember to use the camera app called, Camera+. This will greatly improve your success with back lighting on your phone camera.



8- Apps Can Save the Day!

Often times a photo can be distracting if there is too much going on. To remedy this I will occasionally use an app called, AfterFocus. This app allows you to blur out the background thus helping the view to focus on the subject instead of the distracting background.

I also like to turn a photo black and white if the coloring or different colors aren’t taking away from the overall look and feel of the photo. My favorite black and white conversion is in the photo editing app Afterlight called, Ash.



A fun app that adds a bit of pizzaz is called, Rays. What this apps does is add actual sun rays to your photo.


9- Edit, Edit, Edit

I edit 90% of my photos. That’s really where the magic comes from. I use the editing apps to straighten, crop, add saturation, brightness, etc. I could do an entire blog post on editing phone pics alone so I won’t go into editing now. But my suggestion is to play around with the apps and see what they do. You will learn so much just by trial and error to see what kind of changes you can make.

10- Use a Lens

Yes, they actually make lenses for phone cameras! To be honest, I don’t use mine as much as I thought I would but it’s fun to get out every once in a while. I have 3 lenses, a wide angle, a fish eye, and macro. The macro is my favorite.



Now are you ready for your free ebook?

To help you out even more I’ve written/put together a book called, InstaLove. This ebook came about because I wanted to know how some people were getting such amazing photos with their phones. I would oooh and ahhh over many Instagram feeds scratching my head trying to figure out how in the world they captured such a shot. So I asked them. I asked 14 of my favorite Instagrammers (i.e.: phone photographers) a series of questions like, “How do you get such vibrant photos?”, “How do you get a super sharp picture?”, and “What are you favorite editing apps”. They spill the beans on every thing. It’s all in there. Nothing is held back. I’m in there as well and I share even more tips and tricks in the book.


Download your FREE Instalove eBook here.


Please feel free to follow me on Instagram. I Love to follow people back so that we can get to know each other. It’s fun for me to get a little glimpse into your life. My feed is: http://instagram.com/keytopictures#

And finally, do you have some Phone camera tips and tricks? Please share!!

As always, let me know if there is anything I can do to support your photography goals.





50 Free Prints 728 x 90


Hey there! It’s Katie, from Key to Pictures, and I’m excited to share my 3 juicy secrets to better family photography with you. But first I need to share some equally juicy and exciting….

Here it is: I was a terrible photographer. Really. If all of my early photos were not in a storage unit in Denver, I would post them so you could see that I’m indeed telling the truth. However, I’m not ashamed of my unsightly pictures because we ALL have to start somewhere. Every single one of us has to start at the beginning. I used to get terribly frustrated because I knew what I wanted my pictures to look like but I JUST COULDN’T MANIPULATE MY CAMERA TO CREATE IT.

So the question is… if I had to start all over again would I change anything? My answer is simply “no”. Because of my struggle and my frustration I learned on my own how to take pictures in a simple and effective way that I can now share with you.

My passion is guiding people to pursue their dreams of being an amazing photographer and giving them the skills to do so. The joy that comes to me in seeing someone finally learn how to master their camera thus giving them the ability to create beautiful precious photos is nothing less than thrilling.

I’ve casually promoted and extended the invitation to join my Academy but I’ve had a strong feeling that NOW IS THE TIME TO SPEAK OUT and share this treasure I have and finally connect with people who are searching for it.

I’m not one to toot my own horn but I’ve been given a special gift in the way that I’m able to teach plainly and in a way that others can finally understand and apply the sometimes ambiguous photography concepts. My invitation, if this resonates with you, is to watch this presentation and if you love it, share it with others. Click here.


Watch The Presentation Here.

Okay, on the 3 Secrets to Better Family Photos…

1-Get everyone in a good mood. 
I know, I know…WAY easier said than done. Believe me, I know. Some key points to remember is to RELAX. If you are stressed or anxious about about getting that perfect picture, it will surely spread to the rest of your family and show up in the photo. So take a couple deep breaths and keep things light, easy and fun. No threatening or mumblings curse words under your breath because your kids won’t act normal. (been there, done that. But it doesn’t work!)
Get the kids on board and have them help you create special family moments by asking for their input and idea’s on what you can do to make the experience fun. Play a game of ring around the rosies, sneak up on Dad and tickle him, or see how high everyone can jump on the count of 3. The trick is to involve the kids in the planning and ideas instead of forcing them to be happy and act natural.
2- Have everyone touching in some way.
One of the simplest and most effective ways to show closeness and togetherness is to have everyone touching. For example, hold hands, put an arm around the waist, hold little kiddos, give hugs, etc. This will drastically help you capture the unity that you share within your family.

3- Not everyone has to be looking at the camera. 

I believe it’s a myth that everyone has to be looking at the camera in order to get a great picture. Letting your family be natural is a sure way to capture great family photos. If you are taking pictures of another family (besides your own) give them cues and coach them a bit. Say something like, “Okay, let’s have everyone look at Mom!” Or “Let’s all make silly faces at Dad now!’
Getting a great pictures is a combination of many things buy one of the most important aspects is being able to capture true love and emotion within your family. So sit back, relax and see beautiful things come from it…
Please let me know what I can do to support your photography dreams and goals.

Does your brain start to spin when you start talking about ISO, shutter speed, and aperture? Not to fear, my friends! It is really quite simple. You just need to take it piece by piece and understand each term. So lets talk a bit about aperture, shall we?
When you adjust the aperture on your camera you are adjusting the amount of light that is coming into your camera through your lens but you are also adjusting the amount of blurriness in your photo. (If you are reading this and thinking…aperture? I never adjust my aperture because I have my camera set on auto…tisk, tisk. It’s time to get it off auto! 🙂 ) An example of a small aperture is f/22 (“small” referring to the opening of the lens) whereas an example of a very large aperture is f/1.8. (I know it sounds like that should be switched around but stay with me…)
large aperture (small number, ie: f/1.8) = lots of blur, a small plane of focus
small aperture (large number, ie: f/16) = less blur, a large plane of focus
Let’s take a look at some examples:
See the range in background blur?
As you can see, having a very small aperture of f/11 gave me a wider focal plane thus making more of my picture in focus. Whereas having a very large aperture of f/1.8 or f/2.8 gave me a narrow focal range thus making more of my picture blurry.
There you have it, now go out there and take some blurry background photos!
If there is anything I can do to support you, please let me know. Keep capturing your memories!Warmly,
2 Freebies: Grab my FREE video, Top Photography Struggles Answered! Click here: http://keytopictures.com/free/ AND as a bonus download my highly acclaimed ebook, InstaLove: The Key to Creating Gorgeous Photos with your Phone.