life unexpected

Photographing Your Kids at Home: The Camera & Lenses

Art has always kind of been my thing. When I went to college I thought a good major would be Visual Art and Design. Turns out that even though I was good at drawing and painting, I really kind of sucked at Graphic Design, which was a huge part of this major. One of the required classes was Photography. I instantly fell in love! I’ve always loved taking pictures, but incorporating art into it was like a perfect marriage. I switched my major to Photography and ended up running a business for a few years. When I got pregnant with Baby Max, I decided to stop running my business and focus on my family while still taking pictures for family and close friends. I love having the knowledge to take pretty pictures of my own kids without the stress of running a business.

Are you wanting to take better pictures of your kids with your iPhone or DSLR? Here I’ll be starting my “Photographing Your Own Kids at Home” series! I’ll tackle a new category each post so that you can better your skills in each area.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be covering:

Cameras & Lenses

Camera Settings

Lighting/Composition

Editing Software

Today, I’ll be talking all about cameras and lenses! No matter what kind of camera you have, you can take great pictures! Any photographer knows that the person behind the camera creates the picture, not the camera itself.

Cell Phone Cameras

Let’s start with the phone camera. Pretty much everyone these days has a smart phone. I’m an iPhone gal myself, but the picture quality from most phones is seriously amazing! Obviously the newer the model, the better your picture quality. The features that your phone can have- such as the Portrait Mode with Depth Effect on the iPhone 7 Plus– make such a huge difference in the look of your pictures. If you want to go even further, you can also purchase phone lenses and tripods!

Here are some of my favorite captures over the years that I’ve been able to get using a smart phone:

All of the pictures above were taken with my old iPhone 6. This next photo was taken by Eric using the iPhone 7 Plus with the Depth Effect:

So cool, right? Cell Phones are capable of awesome pictures!

There are lots of ways to enhance photos taken with your phone. You can upload them to your computer editing software, or download an app to save some time. Personally, I’m on the lazier side and like things to be done quick and easy. I use the VSCO editing app for all of my phone pictures, but there are so many apps available for fast, pretty, in phone photo editing.

If you just want to learn how to take better pictures with just your phone, keep reading! A lot of the things I’ll be talking about in this series will apply to any camera type.

DSLR Cameras

Whether you have a budget of $300 or $3,000- you can take pretty pictures! There are two types of dslr cameras: Crop Sensor and Full Frame. Basically, back in the day we all used 35mm film cameras. Once Digital photography came, the cameras weren’t getting close to that 35mm resulting in what we call a Crop Sensor camera. Full frame cameras later came into the picture matching that 35mm of film cameras, therefor giving you more accuracy and higher quality. If you’re using a 35mm lens on a full frame, you’ll get all 35mm. If you use it on a crop sensor, its going to be closer to what a 50mm lens looks like on a full frame. If you’re not shooting professionally, the difference really isn’t enough to spend the extra money on a full frame unless you really wanted one.

My top favorite cameras that I have personally used are:

Canon EOS Rebel T5i: The Rebel series is AMAZING. You cannot go wrong purchasing any one of these Crop Sensor cameras. The quality for the price is insane. Most “mom photographers” I know of have started out with or are still using a Rebel. *Nikon has a great starter line as well! I don’t have experience with them, but I’ve heard good things.

Canon EOS 6D: This is a perfect middle grade camera. It gives you that full frame quality without paying the extra few thousand dollars.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III: For those with a bigger budget or who are more serious about getting into photography- Canon’s EOS 5D Mark series is what dreams are made of. This Full Frame camera body has everything you could ever dream of and more.

Canon continues to update and upgrade all of their cameras, so you can always have the best!

This photo was taken with a Canon 5D Mark II:

Lenses

With any DSLR camera, the lens is 100% more important than the camera body you have. Before you invest money into a super expensive camera, purchase a nicer lens. Say you have a Canon EOS Rebel with the standard 18-55mm kit lens. While this combo is capable of taking great pictures, you can take your camera and pictures SO much further if you invest a little bit more into a nice lens.

Photography tends to be a little backwards. The smaller the number the wider the angle or millimeter (mm). Wide angles (anywhere from 14-35mm) are great for capturing landscapes, big families and small rooms. Portrait lenses are in the 50-85mm range which are great for close ups and portraits. Then there’s telephoto lenses that go all the way up to 800mm. These bad boys are for zooming into your subject from further away like at sporting events, playing outside and on vacation.

Here’s a quick overview of different types of lenses out there.

Fixed:

These lenses don’t have any zooming capabilities, or in other words are “fixed” in place. I love these types of lenses (I use them 99% of the time) because they don’t cause very much distortion in your pictures. They also tend to be much smaller and lighter which is awesome when you’re chasing children around.

My all time favorites are the 50mm lenses, or more commonly known as the Nifty Fifties. There are a few different versions of this lens in different price ranges. For anyone beginning photography or just wanting to take pictures of their kids, I always suggest starting with Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens.

A couple more favorite fixed lenses of mine are:

Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM Medium Telephoto Lens

Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Standard Lens  (My personal most used lens)

Sigma 35mm F1.4 ART DG HSM Lens

Zoom:

Zoom lenses are great because you can have more versatility with one lens. You can get from a wide angle to a telephoto by zooming in and out. For all around picture taking, these lenses can be a great option!

I know I bashed on the kit lens earlier, but really these can be a great option on a budget! Canon has improved these lenses like crazy over the past few years. Some tried and true options for zoom lenses:

Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II SLR Lens

Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 EX DC OS HSM FLD Large Aperture Standard Zoom Lens

Canon EF 24-70mm f/4.0L IS USM Standard Zoom Lens (A great all around lens that you can take anywhere!)

There you have it! This is the basic info to get you started on looking for the perfect camera and lens.

You might be wondering what those “f/” numbers associated with the lenses I’ve listed mean. Stay tuned for my next post and I’ll explain those and much more about the settings you have in your camera a lens!