Summer Action Shots {Photo Fridays}


Truth be told, I always shoot in manual mode, and most always with a very wide aperture (small f-number). It’s awesome when I want to let a lot of light in or when I want a nice shallow depth of field (blurry background). Not so great for photographing kids on the run, enjoying games and overall, lots of action.


If I leave my settings as usual (f/1.4 to f/2.8) for these types of shots, I end up with a lot of blurry and out-of-focus shots. Sound familiar? Yup, me too. So, I had to get out of my comfort zone for these and changed up my settings. To get good action shots of your friends or kiddos this summer, here are my tips…

1. Go Speed Racer!
Make sure you bump up your shutter speed. In a summer tips webinar, my friend Katrina Kennedy shared the shutter speed rule of thumb:
1/125 stops everyday motion
1/500 stops most kids motion
1/1000 stops most bikes, runners and cars

I opened up the aperture to f/5.6 (okay, still not super wide, but a shift for me!) and made sure my shutter speed was bumped up between 1/500 and 1/400 of a second. I wanted to get my girls in focus and stop the action, but still have a bit of a blurred background, and these settings definitely fit the bill!


Besides my camera settings, the other two things that really helped get these shots:

2. Location, location, location
When the kids were in line for the slip-n-slide, I scoped out the scene and found a spot pretty close to the finishing spot on the mat, but a few feet back so I was out of harms way. And by harm I mean water : ) What a shame that would’ve been to get my camera wet!

3. The Lens, Baby
Okay, another confession… When I first got my Tamron 18-270 (a couple of years ago), I was not pleased. I was using it indoors in the evening and even though I had it as wide as it would go (f/3.5), it just wasn’t giving me what I wanted or expected from my new purchase. I went as far as taking it back to the camera shop for inspection and possible repair. I was given another exact same lens to test mine against. I went outside the store and took some shots of the same subjects in the daylight and they were great from both lenses. Then it hit me – that lens sucks for indoor photography (flash-free), but is awesome for outdoor photos with lots of natural light. So, long way of saying I do enjoy using that lens when photographing outdoors — anything from traveling to amusement parks to my girls just hanging in the backyard. It has great zoom and was fabulous to get those close face shots without worrying about getting caught in the water splashes!


Hope these tips help you get the shots you want! Shots of moments that fill your summer with  special memories that fill your hearts, along with your frames and photobooks and scrapbooks!

Thanks for stopping by. Have a joyful, creative, blessing filled day!
Live creatively!

Hmmmm, did I get them all?

Easter Gesture {Photo Fridays}

Hmmmm, did I get them all? – Hmmmm, did I get them all?
1/80 sec at f/1.8 ISO 100

The holidays are a wonderful time for us all to bring out our cameras. There are endless photo opportunities. Smiles, decor, food, family, friends, all full of love and excitement. Many times they’re posed, “say cheese”, “just one more”, “hey, so-and-so, get in the photo” and on and on. And these capture wonderful family memories. Hugs, love, smiles.

But occasionally, we’ll capture a moment that is so raw, so real, so authentic… it makes our hearts sing! Those are the captures that I love. The moments I truly treasure. The memories that make me incredibly happy to be a photographer, a scrapbooker, a memory keeper, a treasured memory sharer.

This photo of my baby is one of those rare captures. She was completely enthralled with the concept of collecting eggs. So curious. So contemplative. I had been trying to get her to smile at me for the photo, but she was completely fixated on the yard. Totally in her own world. And even though at the moment I wanted something completely different, I have to say, this is one of my all-time favorites of my baby. I’m happy I kept snapping away, instead of throwing in the towel or worse, getting frustrated.

We’re so completely blessed to live in a digital age and not have the upfront expense of purchasing film. We can take hundreds, heck, thousands of photos without having to pay a small ransom for film and developing! And going from shooting ~250 photos per year 10 years ago, to over 25,000 images last year (including clients, family, and volunteer work), I can tell you my only regret is not being more diligent in keywording and editing (as in deleting those photos I know I’ll never use). But I can honestly say I don’t have too, too many “man, I really missed the shot” moments. Of course I have my share, but I still have lots of photos to work with!

So my tips to you?

  1. Get your camera settings ready before you try to get your subjects attention. Click, click, click as you’re setting up your shot. And once your settings are ready, still keep clicking before you get their attention. Some of the gestures in those shots are pure gold!
  2. Take more shots than you plan to need, you can always delete on the backend
  3. If possible, get unposed shots, along with the smiles you seek : ) These are great to grab “in between” shots
  4. Edit your photos while importing into your photo management software. Add keywords, rate and delete as you go! It’s not impossible, but so much more time consuming to catch up.
  5. Remember to live in those moments. Sometimes we get so caught up trying to “capture” the moment, we forget to “live” in the moment. Along with documenting my favorite photos, I really strive to have authentic memories and moments in our scrapbooks. It might not always be pretty, but it’s real, it’s us, it’s authentic.

Thanks for stopping by and have a joyful, creative, blessing filled day! Happy crafting!

Fill Flash {Photo Fridays}

1/200 f/9.0 ISO 100

These three little cutie pies were the best of buddies in pre-school. Totally inseparable. Totally girly. Totally adorable! During the summer months, the three of us mom’s took turns hosting playdates for the girls. It was great for the girls to bond, and equally important as it gave the drop-off moms a couple hours to get errands done, time to focus on the other kid(s), or (gasp!) RELAX!

When the girls were at our house, the camera inevitably came out. Besides the fact we would usually would make a craft using the photos (door hangers, foam heart shapes, washi tape hand magnets, etc), I loved learning on the fly.

At the time, the girls were three to four years old. They were young enough to be themselves and not have the “cheeeeeeeeeeese” smile, but old enough to take direction fairly well – “hold on girls”, “just one more”, “one-two-three, eyes-on-me!”

But the best lesson I learned that summer, was using fill flash. Here’s the first photo I took that gorgeous, California summer afternoon:

1/1600 f/4.5 ISO 800

Cute, but so much room for improvement. I had already taken a handful of photography classes at UCSD, and that summer in particular, I was taking Building a Photography Portfolio. That was one of the hardest, most demanding, but most developmentally beneficial classes I took throughout the program. Leland Foerster, the instructor, really pushed us to take better photos, to look at color, light, composition, subject matter. He was one of the first to make me realize I shouldn’t and couldn’t get prickly about having my photos critiqued. I was there to grow, wasn’t I?

I realized this photo was missing oomph. It was bright daylight (almost noon to be exact), and there was plenty of sunshine. But there were lots of harsh shadows, and the sky was looking drab. I was trying to compensate for the shadows by pushing the ISO to 800, but it still wasn’t cutting it. I thought about what I was learning in my classes, thinking outside my comfort zone and go-to photo moves, and decided to use the flash (just the pop-up flash on the camera), to see what that could do.


1/200 f/9.0 ISO 100

One of the best aha! moments I have ever had! I absolutely love the dramatic difference. Their faces came alive, the colors look richer, and the sky is gorgeous. Not only do I love the light on their faces, but I also love the catchlights caught in their eyes. Yes, there are still some shadows. Yes, I could’ve changed the composition and added some more background, particularly sky and greenery. But ultimately, I learned that even during the brightest of days, flash can be my friend!

1/200 f/9.0 ISO 100

And isn’t that what the long and lazy days of summer are all about? Growing? Learning? Oh, you’re right – it’s all about hanging out with your friends, being your truest and silliest you, giggling, making funny faces, enjoying the beautiful scenery, splashing at the beach or pool and taking it all in! But I’m a nerd, and I love to learn. So growing and learning are always on the top of my list : )

Since then, I usually have my speedlight on my camera, especially in the middle of the day when I’m photographing people. There are plenty of times I just turn off the flash, but it’s always nice having it accessible and not fumbling through my camera bag, missing the moment all together.

Do you shoot with your flash on during daylight hours, out in the sun? Give it a whirl and let me know what you think about your results? I’d love to hear what you think of the difference!

Thanks for stopping by and have a joyful, creative, blessing filled day!
Live creatively!

It’s all about the Angry Birds {Photo Fridays}


I can’t even begin to tell you how much I love this photo of this little boy! He is one of my kindergartener’s classmates, and he is such a sweet, smart, thoughtful little boy. I could see this angelic side of him in the classroom, but the first few times I grabbed headshots, that is not the face that was looking back at me through the lens. More on that in just a second… Continue reading

Kids on the Loose! {Photo Fridays}

singing and swinging1/2000 f/2.8 ISO 100

singing and swinging
1/2000 f/2.8 ISO 100

Can you blame me for loving to photograph kids? What’s not to love? They’re adorable, spunky, silly, playful and absolutely beautiful! And I’m not just talking about my kids! Of course, my girls are in 90% of my images, but I’m a mom and that just comes with the territory. But every single child I’ve ever photographed has warmed my heart and taught me a thing or two!

What I love most about photographing kids, is they’re genuine joy in life. Whether I’m being silly to get them to laugh or asking them questions to soften they’re expressions — they are who they are, and I’m just lucky enough to work behind the lens, capturing their authenticity! 

One of the best tips I ever learned about photographing kids was to get Continue reading