My Favorite Photo Gear, Tools, and Resources

My Favorite Photo Gear, Tools, and Resources

Hello and Happy Tuesday! I know it’s been a little while since I posted a blog post, and I wanted to dive back in. Blogging really does make me happy and so does photography – I’ve missed doing both the past couple of months! I thought it would be a wonderful chance for me to talk about photography gear, tools, and resources. I’ve been serious about photography for about 4 years now. I still have a lot to learn, but I have learned so much already.

Within those 4 years of learning photography, I’ve collected some photography gear that I love and can’t live without. I’ve also come across and learned what my favorite tools are and resources. There’s so many blog posts and sites out there to help you with photography, it sometimes can be very overwhelming. With this post, I’m hoping I can help you get an idea of where to start.

I was also a beginner at one point and had no idea what I was doing. I googled and searched the internet so much in my first year or so of starting photography (heck, I still do this). But I’m hoping I can help some of you beginners by pointing you in the right direction.

Let’s get started, shall we?!?

Aly Dawn Photography Resources

My Favorite Photography Gear

Nikon D610 -I love this camera. When I made the jump from full frame to crop frame in 2016 it was a game changer. I really love the capabilities that come with full frame. I am, however, saving for a new camera, the Nikon D750 and I will keep my D610 as a back up. But the D610 is the perfect first full frame camera you can get.

*If you are a beginner photographer looking for a beginner camera, I recommend the Nikon D5300! You will be able to learn manual on it and get your foot in the ground of photography. It has many great abilities. I used this camera for about 3 years before upgrading to a full frame.

Sigma 24mm 1.4 Lens – I love this wide angle lens! I also really love prime lenses. I also love the fact that I can get close to my subjects or back way up and get the full environment! It’s a great versatile lens and I highly recommend it.

Sigma 85mm 1.4 Lens – I also really enjoy this lens. However, unlike the lens above, this lens is zoomed up! It creates such beautiful blurry backgrounds. You have to be pretty far away from your subject (which is why I don’t use this lens as much, with an active toddler, I prefer to be close to him). But I do love the images I can produce with this lens. The background compression is gorgeous.

*A word of advice on Sigma lenses – some people say they don’t like their Sigma lenses due to focusing issues. I definitely have experienced this. If you get a Sigma lens, YOU HAVE TO CALIBRATE IT. Here is a good tutorial on lens calibration that I recommend.

I wrote a blog post about the perfect first lens to buy (cheapest lens, too!).

My Favorite Photography Tools

Tripod – I just recently got this tripod. It works pretty well for the price! I love how high it can go – so high! I can get awesome self portrait angles with it. It’s sturdy and does the job.

Lighting Equipment – I literally have the cheapest lighting equipment out there. I wanted to try out artificial lighting, but I didn’t want to invest in case I didn’t like it. So I got this lighting equipment and I love it! I know if I upgrade to better lighting equipment, I’d love it even more. I love having this equipment on those days where it’s dark out (ahem, I’m looking at you winter months) or if I wanted to take pictures but it’s already dark outside. It’s also great for still life photography.

SD cards – I have two SD cards because my camera has two slots (I love that feature!!). You can’t go anywhere without your SD cards! I would recommend getting more than one. I might even go and buy one more here soon, just to have and just in case. I’ve had countless times when I only had one SD card and I went out on a photo shoot and the card malfunctioned – OMG that’s the worst. And so embarrassing! Especially if you are in business, you NEED more than one SD card.

Phone Clips – I don’t use these often, but in cases where I want a little push in creativity, I give them a try!

Camera Bag – I love my camera bag! I really don’t know where I got it from, I think it was an anniversary gift from my hubby. BUT! Shutterbag has some great options! As well as ClickinMoms. It’s essential to have a good camera bag. I love that I can literally carry all of my camera gear and it’s safe and protected. When looking to buy a camera bag, look for one’s that provide ‘pockets’ where you can put you camera and lenses is separate compartments.

Adobe Creative Cloud – You have to have a photo editing tool. Especially if you are shooting in RAW. Even if you just like the bare minimum in editing, it’s important to get a good editor. I really love the Adobe Creative Cloud. I use Lightroom and Photoshop and both are great! Lightroom is my go to editing software and I’ll sometimes bring the photo into Photoshop.

X-Rite ColorMunki Display – Whether you’re an beginner or expert, it’s important to calibrate your monitor. I use the ColorMunki, there are others out there, though! I like how easy ColorMunki is to use.

My Favorite Photography Resources

There are SO many good resources out there! So it can definitely be difficult to tell which ones are good quality resources vs just ok resources. All of the resources below I have tried myself and LOVE. Hope you give them a shot and love them just as much!

ClickinMoms – This is the ultimate photography resource! They have classes, mini classes, and a forum! Just the forum itself is FULL of amazing photography tutorials. From editing, to shooting, to how to run your business ClickinMoms is full of amazing tutorials. I would recommend getting the lifetime membership. If you use it two years in a row, it pretty much pays for itself. And you can swing back in every once in a while and read their tutorials. You can also post any questions you might have. They have pros and mentors to help you with your questions. I’ve learned so much just being a member of the forum and HIGHLY recommend this resource!

CreativeLive – CreativeLive has free classes as well as classes you have to pay for. They are a little different than other photography resources because the big majority of their classes are video classes! If you are more of a visual learner, this site is great for you!

Pixieset – I love Pixieset! If you are in business, delivering galleries can sometimes be a challenge. You could opt for the old ‘deliver a flash drive gig’ which may work for you…but I love that I can deliver the galleries instantly over the internet. And they can share that with their friends if they wish. It’s easy for me. If you use the link above you’ll get 250 MB in storage free! Win-win for us!

Blurb – I cannot stress to you how much I LOVE Blurb! I even wrote a blog post about why I love Blurb. Blurb is a way to create your own books featuring your images! I’ve created three so far and already have plans for two more. They are really easy to use in Lightroom (keep on the lookout for a tutorial on how to create a Blurb book really soon). I do recommend printing out your images! And if you take a lot of images (like me) then a photo book is your best best. Unless you like to have a ton of single photos laying around. ūüėČ


A Beginner’s Guide to Low Light

A Beginner’s Guide to Low Light

Low light is one of my favorite type of light to photograph. I recently decided that low light might be my favorite type of light to work with for a few reasons: it can be challenging, get your creative juices flowing, and push you to think about how to incorporate it in your art. I also just really love how it looks in images. When looking through images, the low light ones always spark an interest and put a smile on my face. They also make me stop and say ‘wow, what gorgeous light!’.

You might be wondering how to go about dipping your toes in low light…well, I’m here to help. This guide will help you get started in your low light journey and also help you understand what type of settings and equipment you need. If that sounds like something you’re interested in, read on!

new to my site? start here

equipment for low light

Well, first of all, I know that there are better cameras out there that handle low light better than what I have. That being said, mine handles it pretty well. I do see some grain sometimes, but I think that’s just part of the low light fun (trust me when I say it’s taken me a long time to embrace grain – still working on it). Here’s the equipment I use for low light (all the time, actually!):

In this article I will give you tips on how to get images in low light. But before we get into that, I want to say that in low light images, grain is inevitable. Lightroom can help reduce the grain, but you need to be careful about how much grain you reduce. If you reduce too much grain, your image can come away looking fuzzy and too smooth. It will look totally noticeable that you reduced grain. Be weary of that. Let’s dive right on in to how to shoot in low light!

a beginner’s guide to low light

I hope you come away excited to try it out and loving the images you produce. As with anything in photography, practice will only make this better. You shouldn’t get discouraged if the first couple (hundred) images don’t come out the way you had hoped. Keep practicing, it will click for you eventually.

A Beginner's Guide to Low Light
ISO 6400 f/1.8 SS 1/320
Sigma 24mm 1.4 ART lens

1. don’t be afraid to push your iso

First things first, we’re getting into the technical of shooting in low light. A lot of the time, photographers fear the high ISOs. Well…I’m here to tell you…don’t. You will not get the images you want if you are trying to shoot low light images in an ISO of 100…why? Because, your image will not be exposed properly with an ISO of that and will actually result in even more grain.

That’s the reason why people fear high ISOs. Grain. It might not make any sense to you right now, but trust me when I say if you have a high ISO but your image is properly exposed, you will have less grain than if you had a low ISO with an under exposed image. Push your ISO. Even if your camera doesn’t handle low light well, you will still want to push the ISO.

A Beginner's Guide to Low Light
ISO 5000 f/2.5 SS 1/160
Sigma 24mm 1.4 ART lens

2. use artificial light

Using artificial light to achieve low light images is really fun and can help you be more creative. I recently started using my iPad’s light. You can also use a flashlight, cell phone, computer screen, refrigerator light, oven light, bathroom light, etc. There is an awesome app on the iPad called Soft Box Color that can help if you need some additional light! Using a light source other than the sun can bring a whole new outcome to your images. I actually like them better, to be honest, than sunny outdoor images.

One way I like to use artificial lighting is using my bathroom light – nothing special about it normally, until I turn off all other lights to create shadows outside the bathroom!

A Beginner's Guide to Low Light
ISO 1000 f/2.0 SS 1/200
Sigma 24mm 1.4 ART lens

Using artificial light is also a great way to get through the winter months. You don’t have to worry about going out when it’s nice and sunny out to get AMAZING images. You can even take images at night (to add to the awesome low light). Artificial light sources can provide more leeway!

3. utilize manual focus

Your camera might have a hard time focusing when there’s not a lot of light or contrast. To combat this, I recommend manual focusing. It can also give you a creative outlet.

That being said, if you really can’t seem to grasp the manual focus tip, here’s an even better¬†tip. Use a flashlight to light your subject and grab focus. Then turn the flashlight off to take your image. Low light doesn’t have to mean ‘hard to take a picture’ light!

A Beginner's Guide to Low Light
ISO 5000 f/1.6 SS 1/160
Sigma 24mm 1.4 ART lens

4. choose a wide open aperture

Choose a wide open aperture to help more light come into your camera’s sensor. Of course, choosing a wide open aperture will mean that it will be a little harder to grab focus. If you feel like it is absolutely necessary to have the image crisp, then by all means, shoot at a wider aperture and make sure your ISO is up high as well as your shutter speed is nice and slow (it might be handy to have a tripod – I just got this one and it is awesome!). But if you’re totally ok with out of focus/soft focus images…then definitely choose a wide open aperture.

A Beginner's Guide to Low Light
ISO 1600 f/2.0 SS 1/800 Sigma 24mm 1.4 ART lens

5. embrace shadows

Shadows aren’t bad. They’re not! Shadows can definitely enhance and add to an image. Don’t be afraid of the shadows in your images. Silhouettes and subjects surrounded by shadows can definitely add to your photo and give the image a feeling of mysterious. I also will dare say it: clip those shadows! If the shadows that you clip aren’t on skin (unless you’re doing a silhouette) then clip them. If they aren’t on anything important, it’s ok to clip them. I have come to love and appreciate the shadows in my work. They make my heart happy. Whenever the shadows are present in an image, I look at it and say, ‘Yes! This speaks to me’. So embrace those shadows! Don’t be afraid to include them in your art.

A Beginner's Guide to Low Light
ISO 1250 f/2.0 SS 1/400
Sigma 24mm 1.4 ART lens

6. nail your white balance in camera

Nailing white balance in camera is always important, but even more so when it’s a low light image. This is because most low light images take place after the sun goes down (not always the case, but can be) and therefore you’re probably using an artificial light source (see tip #2!) and odds are your color temperature is around 3000k. Set your white balance accordingly before you take an image.

Pro¬†Tip: When setting white balance, switch to live view to change it. You will be able to see what it looks like as you change the kelvin and won’t have to take a test shot. I love using this little tip all the time in my normal, day time shooting as well.

A Beginner's Guide to Low Light
ISO 100 f/16 SS 25.0sec
Sigma 24mm 1.4 ART lens

7. don’t over-do noise reduction

When noise reduction is skillfully done, it can add a lot to the image. But over-doing noise reduction can result in an image that looks…fake. For lack of better vocabulary! I really don’t like my images looking fake…so I tend to be a little laid back when it comes to noise reduction, especially in my low light images.

In Lightroom, I like to go to the detail panel and have my sharpening at 40, then I like to use my ALT key (on PC) and move the masking slider to the right until the most important details are shown. Then for noise reduction, I like to slide luminance to no more than 20 (depending on the image it might be a little less than 20) and then color to 30 (again, depending on the image it might be a little less than 30). See screenshot below.

I literally do this to every image because I feel it gives my images a nice finishing touch. I recommend playing around with the detail panel and see what it does to your images. But remember, don’t¬†over-do¬†noise¬†reduction or your images will look fake. And we don’t like fake images haha!

A Beginner's Guide to Low Light
ISO 400 f/1.4 SS 1/500
Sigma 24mm 1.4 ART lens

8. expose to the right

I definitely recommend getting your images exposed correctly, or even exposed to the right (without blowing any highlights) in camera for everyday shooting. Then you can deepen your exposure in post processing to get the moody image your after. By doing this, it will actually help lessen your overall noise. If you’re not familiar with ETTR, then I recommend starting with this tutorial – it does a good job explaining and also has some awesome examples on how it affects the noise in images.

A Beginner's Guide to Low Light
ISO 2000 f/2.5 SS 1/160
Sigma 24mm 1.4 ART lens

9. convert to black and white

Converting your images to black and white can help add to the moody edit you’re probably looking for. I love black and white and I often convert my images to black and white. I think it gives an added level of creativity and also mysteriousness. I love black and white photography! I think it can enhance the shadows and even the light in your images. Play around with the blacks and the shadows in your edits. Look at adding some contrast and clarity to your black and white. I think having a nice crisp black and white can give your image a nice enhancement it might otherwise miss out on if you kept it in color!

5 Tips and Tricks For the Perfect Fall Photos

5 Tips and Tricks For the Perfect Fall Photos

Are you ready for some fall photography tips and tricks?! Fall is just around the corner! I am so excited to get out there and shoot all the beautiful fall colors. Fall is one of my favorite seasons. Ever. I just love the cool weather, the photography goldmine, and the fun activities that happen in fall. All around, fall is such a great season!

It’s a photography goldmine because it has such beautiful colors! If you’re like most photographers, then you’ll want to capture the beautiful colors. I wanted to get these tips out to you early, so that you can study and understand them, before the fall colors come out! I just love all the beautiful fall colors in this post! Be sure to pin it for later!

check out my 21 Perfect Gifts for the Photographer in Your Life post

Fall Photography Tips - How to Capture Fall

This post contains affiliate links.  Thank you in advance for supporting Aly Dawn Photography!

the perfect fall outfit

Alright, if you’re going to be photographing out in the fall, you have to look cute. Maybe it’s just me, but I love when I find out what people are wearing to the shoot. I’m always curious.

Fall is great because it has such beautiful colors that you can use in your wardrobe fashion! Here are some of my favorite wardrobe picks for fall! Let me know which ones  you try out!!

my favorite fall accessories

  • these boot warmers¬†– these are legit the cutest things I have ever seen. I love them so much! They go perfect with those awesome boots that you¬†know you’ll be wearing! And that adorable button?! I’m in love!
  • this cute mama bear shirt¬†– I love this shirt! I love the maroon color, but of course, you could get any color you want! I love how it has elbow patches and it is so soft and comfortable. The perfect fall shirt – cute and comfortable!
  • an adorable fall dress¬†– maybe it’s just me, but I’m always on a lookout for a nice dress. And this dress is perfect for fall (and for your fall pictures!). I love how it has plain colors, it’s nice and long, and it has¬†pockets. I mean, when I find a dress with pockets, I just hand out money like a crazy person! Just take my money! GIVE ME THE POCKET DRESS!!
  • don’t forget a scarf!¬†– you¬†have to have a nice scarf for fall! And this scarf is legit the best. I love it so much! The plaid just makes it so much better. I love love it so much I bought myself more than one! Scarves are must haves!

So that’s it, the perfect fall outfit includes boot warmers, a scarf, a cute shirt or a cute dress. Pair these items with other articles of clothing you already have! And now you are ready to get down to business in your cute new outfit. Let’s learn about photographing the fall colors!

fall photography tips

These tips are intending for those of you who understand manual mode. If you are looking to improve your photography by learning manual mode, you’re in luck! I am working on a course and you can sign up for here it. By entering your name and email, you’ll receive news on when the course will be aired as well as some early bird pricing – so I would jump on this email list as fast as possible to get that special pricing! It will be well worth your time!

Now, on to the fall photography tips I have for you! I am so ready for those fall colors to come around!

Fall Photography Tips - How to Capture Fall

Fall Photography Tips - How to Capture Fall


Fall Photography Tips - How to Capture Fall

1. fall photography – capture the fall colors

I kind of feel like this is a no brainer – like duh, capture those gorgeous colors! But I want you to not only capture the beautiful fall colors, I want you to¬†focus on the fall colors. Figure out a way to play with the colors. Color can be a compositional tool¬†and with the changing of the colors, you can really focus on that. Normally everything is green (if you’re where I’m from) and so now you have a chance to play with other colors!

When looking at a color wheel, green is across from red/pink (depending on what shade of green). So normally you would want to try to pair those two colors together. But Yellow is across from purple and orange is across from blue! Those are two new colors you can play with in your compositions!

Fall Photography Tips - How to Capture Fall

2. fall photography – photograph the changing season

It doesn’t have to be completely fall yet for you to start photographing the season! It’s always fun to do a photo series! A photo series is around 4 images (you could have more, but you should probably have at least 4) that all relate to each other. A fun project would be to photograph the same location in all the different seasons. And then you put them together in a fun grid! You could call it your fall photography photo series! (I’m so original, I know!)

Aside from a photo series, it would also be fun to showcase how the seasons are changing. How one tree is orange while the others are green. How some of the leaves have changed color, but not all. Think about ways to creatively show the changing season.

A perfect activity to do in the fall season is to go on a photo walk Рfind a location that has plenty of fall colors. Like a park or a walking trail. Bring your family or take this walk by yourself. Take your time and look for all the details of fall.


Fall Photography Tips - How to Capture Fall

3. photograph the pumpkin patch

What’s fall without the pumpkin patch!? I would double-check with your local pumpkin patch (and if you don’t have one, boo! You need one!) and make sure that it’s ok to take pictures. Some pumpkin patches require a fee to take pictures. Fall photography just wouldn’t be complete without the pumpkin patch.

But pumpkin patches are a great way to capture the fall feeling and also enjoy some family time – I’m all about family time! Pumpkin patches provide a lot of pretty visual. I know I’m excited to go to the pumpkin patch this year – we make it a fall tradition! We’ve gone every year for the past three years. As a result, I’ve gotten some great images!

4. focus on the details

Fall has a lot of beautiful details. From the orange leaves, to the dying beautiful crap all around, there are lots and lots of beautiful details to capture. Pull out a macro lens (the lens I use is the Nikon 105mm 2.8 but I have my eyes on a different one, like the Velvet 56 that is a lensbaby but also a macro lens) and capture the beauty of fall.

Pro tip:¬†The details don’t have to be caught with a macro lens. You can also capture details with other lenses. Just get in close, or crop in post processing. Take a picture of your kid holding a leaf or a flower or something showcasing fall. The details just mean you should get in nice and close. Don’t get caught up if you don’t have a macro lens. ūüôā

If you’re interested in learning more about macro, here are my tips on starting macro photography.

Fall Photography Tips - How to Capture Fall

5. capture the fall holidays

Fall is the turning point and when all the fun holidays start to come about! Capture the fun season! The Halloween traditions – knocking on doors and getting candy, Halloween activities, going to the pumpkin patch, hay rides, there are so many things! Capture all the fun you have in this season.

Don’t forget to photograph those cute Halloween costumes! Plan to go trick or treating early or get your kids ready early so that there is still light to get some good pictures in the front yard. There’s also all those Thanksgiving traditions to capture, as well. Fall is full of so many events. It’s perfect to practice your photography!

So shoot everyday this fall season, grow as a photographer. You can thank me later. Get out there and shoot!

What are some of your favorite fall activities? Let me know in the comments below!


The Best Lens to Buy First

The Best Lens to Buy First

One of the many questions I receive is “What lens should I buy first?” and I think this is an excellent question! In my opinion, the best lens to buy is the Nikon 50mm 1.8 (I also recommend the Canon 50mm 1.8 for those of you who are Canon!). I really love everything about this lens. I think it’s perfect for the first lens you buy.

Many camera’s come as a kit. Meaning you buy the camera and then some ‘kit lenses’. Now this might sound like an excellent deal, a camera and some lenses all for one price?! But, I would¬†highly recommend buying just the camera and then spending it on a more advanced and high quality lens, like the 50mm. I will explain more about it below.

check out my 3 Tips to Get Started in Photography post

The best lens to buy first

This post contains affiliate links.  Thank you in advance for supporting Aly Dawn Photography!

beginner camera

So if you’re curious about what lens would be best to pair with the 50mm 1.8, then you have come to the right place! I really recommend going with a crop frame camera, first. And then upgrading when your skills improve to a full frame camera.

Pro Tip:¬†If you’re interested in learning more about full frame vs crop frame cameras, this is an excellent article from ClickinMoms.

The Nikon D5300 crop frame camera – I had the Nikon D5100 when I first started, and this is just a newer version of that same camera. You won’t break the bank by buying this. I recommend buying the¬†body frame only. DO not get any kit lenses. Instead, save your money for the lens recommended below!

the best lens to buy first

Let’s get into some reasons why the 50mm 1.8 is the best first lens to buy. There are so many lenses out there to choose from and it can be a little daunting looking through all the lenses you could buy. Lenses always come with different numbers and letters on their titles, which can get¬†very confusing.

Just to explain what some of the numbers on the lenses mean, let’s start with the first number. If, for example, you are looking at the Nikon 50mm 1.8G¬†lens, the 50 is the¬†focal length. This refers to how zoomed in your lens is. The higher the number here, the more zoomed in it is. Wide angle lenses start at 35mm and can go all the way down to 15mm, even 10mm! The lower the number, the more of the scene you’ll get in the frame. 50mm is a pretty good focal length. It’s a little tighter than your eyes focal length. On a crop frame camera, the lens will be even tighter due to the crop.

Going on to the second number on the lens:¬†1.8. This refers to the lowest aperture your lens can go. Some lenses can go down to a 1.4 or even a 1.2! Now, the lower the number here, the more you can introduce light into your photographs and with that, the more expensive the lenses will be. 1.8 will be a great first lens because, in reality, you very rarely should shoot wide open at 1.8. I find that 2.0 is a good starting point for most lenses, but you’ll have to find what works for you and your style.

The 50mm 1.8G is a¬†prime lens, meaning it is just one focal length! You can’t zoom in and out unless you move your feet. And what’s better than a lens that makes you exercise? I really don’t know. Prime lenses are usually sharper than zoom lenses.

Now, here are my reasons why the Nikon 50mm 1.8G is the best lens to buy first. Keep in mind, buying other lenses is always a Yes! But this lens is great for beginners as well as intermediate photographers looking to up their game from the kit lenses (and remember, I recommend not getting the kit lenses at all and saving your money to buy the 50!).

The Best Lens to Buy First

1. the cost

The cost of the 50mm can’t be beat! It’s one of the¬†cheapest lenses out there. Now, if price isn’t an option, and you are looking for an amazing lens, I’d recommend the 50mm 1.4G¬†– it’s just like the 1.8 option, but it will be a little sharper and is an all around great lens.

But you really can’t beat the cost of the 50mm 1.8 lens. If you’re looking to get some better glass for less, this is the lens to go to. This lens packs a punch at a low cost. Seriously one of the best purchases I have ever made! I can’t recommend it enough.

2. blurry backgrounds

Because this lens can get down to the 1.8 aperture, it will allow for you to take images with blurry backgrounds. I know when I first started out, I craved to get a blurry background. I couldn’t figure out how some photographers did that because I only had a kit lens. It is extremely hard to get blurry backgrounds with kit lenses. Another reason you’re able to get blurry backgrounds is because of the focal length. This allows you to have a greater depth of field. Especially if you isolate your subject from the background.

3. fixed aperture

Fixed aperture means that you can set your aperture (let’s say we set it to f/2.0) and then if you have to change your focus point or zoom in or out, the aperture could change. This makes it very frustrating when learning manual mode. But since this lens has a fixed aperture, if you change it to f/2.0 it will stay at f/2.0 until you change it to something else. I am never getting another lens that doesn’t have fixed aperture! It’s even frustrating if you know manual, just saying!

4. easy to learn manual

Because of the fixed aperture that makes this lens a great lens to learn manual with. It will let you keep the aperture you keep, which is very essential in learning manual. You don’t want your settings to change at all when trying to learn manual. It will become very frustrated and you will probably give up quickly. But with this lens, it makes it really easy to learn manual!

5. small size

The 50mm 1.8G is a very small size and perfect for taking¬†anywhere. I love how small it is and that it’s really easy to fit in any purse or bag. Along with being small, it is also light weight. Which, again, is perfect to haul around anywhere. This would be perfect for taking into amusement parks, travelling, and even just your everyday errands. It won’t weigh you down!

The 50mm is a little tight when shooting inside, so keep in mind that if you are looking for a wider lens to shoot indoor photography, the 50mm might not be the best choice. My go to lens for indoor photography is my Sigma 24mm 1.4 ART lens – I actually use this lens 95% of the time. It’s my favorite lens! But it is expensive! I had to save up months to buy it. So, keep that in mind.

The following images were all taken with the 50mm 1.8.

The Best Lens to Buy First

The Best Lens to Buy First

The Best Lens to Buy First

This lens is awesome for beginner photographers learning manual mode or just photographers in general wanting to up their lens game from the kit lens. It’s one of the cheapest lenses, it’s sharp, it’s versatile, and it requires you to exercise a little bit.

9 Photography Tips for Mom’s

9 Photography Tips for Mom’s

When I first started photography, I knew that one day I would want good images of my kids. I got into photography about two years before I had my son. Most mom’s start photography because they had a child and then decided to learn photography. Whatever the reason, photography is a great creative outlook for mom’s. It’s something that will help them have their own special time to be creative and learn new things. Be careful, though, it’s very addicting to continue learning photography!!

There is a lot of information out there to help improve your photography. One piece of advice is just take it one day at a time. Another thing to remember is to practice what you read. I could tell you a bunch of information and it mean absolutely nothing if you don’t practice what you read!

check out my 5 Tips to Getting Better Pictures of Your Infant post

9 Photography Tips for Moms

This post contains affiliate links.  Thank you in advance for supporting Aly Dawn Photography!

what gear should I use

Some mom’s buy a new camera at the birth of their first born child. Other mom’s just wing it with what they have. I will tell you what gear I use and what gear I recommend for beginner photographers/mom photographers. I don’t want you to spend a fortune getting new gear though. I am 100% for using whatever gear you have to the fullest.

When I was in high school, I bought myself a nice point and shoot camera – it was a fantastic purchase and I got a lot of good shots using that camera. I also realized that I really liked photography. So if you’re not sure about spending a ton of money on a camera you might not use, use any camera you have at your disposal! Or you could even borrow a camera from a friend or family member. Us mom’s gotta stick together. ūüėČ

The gear that I use for photographing my toddler are as follows:

  • The Nikon D610 full frame camera – I really love this camera and it’s a great first full frame camera. I will eventually upgrade this, but for now this gets the job done for what I need in a camera.
  • Sigma 24mm 1.4 ART lens – this lens is amazing. I love how sharp it is and that I can get in nice and close but also backup to get the full scene. It’s a great lens to use for indoor photography – which is what most mom’s would be taking pictures of.

Now, if you are a beginner photographer and looking for a starting camera then I would recommend the following camera and lens:

  • The Nikon D5300 crop frame camera – I had the Nikon D5100 when I first started, and this is just a newer version of that same camera. You won’t break the bank by buying this. I recommend buying the¬†body frame only. DO not get any kit lenses. Instead, save your money for the lens recommended below!
  • Nikon 35mm 1.8 lens – this lens is absolutely great for beginner photographers! It’s wide enough for indoor photography (it’s even wider on a full frame camera, but it does the job on a crop frame) and you are able to use it on a full frame when you eventually upgrade (which you will if you’re serious about photography).

The camera body and lens mentioned above are one of the cheaper cameras out there. So keep that in mind when starting your photography journey: photography is expensive!

If you don’t have the money for a camera quite yet, you can practice good photography skills on just your phone! You won’t be able to use manual exposure, but you will be in charge of light, composition, and the moment. Use whatever camera you have and by the time you buy your first DSLR, you’ll be ready for a full frame!

8 photography tips for mom’s

9 Photography Tips for Moms

1. learn manual mode

If you haven’t already, I highly recommend learning manual mode. I am writing a course about it, be sure to sign up for announcements and early bird pricing! You won’t want to miss the early bird pricing. ūüėČ

Manual mode can seem intimidating if you learn by yourself, but it can dramatically improve your images over night. It takes a lot of work and practice, but once you get it, it will become second nature to you. If you have a camera that allows you to use manual mode, then learn it as soon as possible! I promise that your photography with change overnight. Mine did when I took a class!

If you haven’t already learned about manual mode, it’s essential! Especially when photographing in tricky light and photographing those fast toddlers! I have a new class –¬†¬†LEARN MANUAL: how to take control of your camera¬†(by clicking on this link and signing up, you’ll get updates on anything new to this course). It’s not complete yet, but by signing up for updates you’ll be the first to know when it is ready! Plus some early bird pricing (yes, please!).

9 Photography Tips for Moms

2. higher shutter speed

This will only benefit you if you know manual mode – keep your shutter speed way up! Kids are fast and you’re going to want to freeze their movements (there might be a few times when you’ll want to show motion – like maybe showing them speed by on a bike) so get those shutter speeds up! As a rule of thumb, I tend to use a starting point of 1/250 – but keep in mind that if you have a longer focal length (say 85mm) you will need a higher starting point. I start at 1/250 but I sometimes see movement, especially when photographing my son. I find that 1/400 is a good shutter speed as well. I start there but usually go up. I¬†never go below 1/250 though!

By using a higher shutter speed, it helps to not only freeze their movements, but also get sharper images. So if you feel like you aren’t getting sharp images, one thing that might be the problem is your shutter speed. I would test out how low you could go before introducing camera shake. Start at 1/250 and take a picture. Zoom in and see if there is any noticeable shake. Then lower your shutter speed by a few clicks (adjust other settings to have proper exposure) and then take another picture. Zoom in and see if there is any noticeable shake. Once you figure out how low you can go, you can be sure to never go that low. You don’t want to have any camera shake in your images – they will not appear sharp and your images will seem amateur.


3. use natural light

This is probably my favorite tip out there – use natural light. What do I mean by natural light? I mean light produced by the sun. In other words – turn of ALL the lights. Artificial light is really hard to work with. It’s possible to make this type of like look good, bu your images will look so much better if you turn off the lights and use natural light.

Pro tip: Look for catchlights in the eyes. What do I mean by catchlights? Catchlights refer to the sparkle you sometimes see in someone’s eyes. Look at my son’s eyes in the image above – do you see the ‘light in his eyes’? Those are catchlights. Now that I’ve pointed them out, you’ll see them everywhere. You’re welcome.

If you want to learn more about catchlights, this is an excellent article.

9 Photography Tips for Moms

4. don’t over edit

Seriously. There is nothing worse than an over edited image. When I first started in photography, I totally over edited each image. I made my images blue. I went crazy on the eyes. I put too much contrast on my images, I just went crazy. Don’t do that. Don’t be like beginner me. Be better! A simple edit will go a long way. For me, when it comes to editing, a little can go a long way. I am often not a fan of images you can tell are extremely edited. I love the real life, honest edits.

If you’re interested to see how I edit, check out this post I wrote about how I edit my b&w images.

Simple is better – not always for everyone, but when you’re first starting out, yes. Simple is better. I do want to encourage finding your own editing style and experiment. Experiment until you find that style. But you don’t have to share your experiments with everyone. Keep them secret. ūüėČ


5. don’t say ‘cheese’

Now that we have all the technical aspects out of the way – on to the fun parts!

I beg of you – don’t tell your child to say ‘cheese’. I have a few problems with this. Number one is if your kid is old enough to understand what this means, they are probably old enough to decide they don’t want to participate in photos. Instead of getting a good image of your child smiling, you get a disgusted look, or even them looking away from the camera.

Pro tip: Instead of telling your kids to say ‘cheese’, you could simply say ‘look’ to get some nice eye contact. If the child is young enough, you could also tell them to look for the rainbow in your lens.

If you’re looking for a laughing image or a smile at the camera image, you could say something silly like ‘poop’ or even make silly noises! The key to this is to make photography fun for your children.


6. capture your kids naturally

This goes with the previous tip. Capture your children doing what they naturally do. This is what you want to remember in your photos – what your kids naturally do! If you stumble upon your children playing nicely together, try to sneak in some shots without your kids noticing.

Pro tip: Give your kid a prompt and then photograph their natural reaction. It could be something simple like ‘dance’ or it could be something like ‘go swing on the swing’! It just depends on what ind of shot you want.

Toddlers are so easy because they don’t really care too much for the camera, so you can just photograph them running around being them. Older kids can decide they don’t want you to photograph them. Be respectful of their feelings. If they don’t want to be photographed, focus on something else until they are ok with it. Be sure to say thank you for any image they do let you take of them.

9 Photography Tips for Moms

7. have the camera handy

You never know when a magical moment is going to happen. I try to keep my camera in the center of my home. That way, it’s easy to get to. I also strive to take my camera everywhere. You never know when a special moment will unfurl and you want to be prepared to capture it!

Pro tip: I believe the best camera you have is the one you have with you – and sometimes it’s not a fancy DSLR camera. It’s your phone! Just remember to follow the same rules you’d follow with your DSLR.


8. clean the scene

One of the simplest ways to get better images of your children is to declutter the scene. Of course unless it adds to the story, then you might want to include the mess. But, simple images can add impact. Be aware of what is in your frame. Take a shot and look to see if it looks cluttered. If it does, quickly clean the scene.

Now I’m not saying you have to live in a spotless house 24/7. Nope! I know how busy mom’s are – I am one! I know you don’t always have time to clean my house, especially not for images! I’m just saying to be mindful of what’s in your frame and if it adds to your story or not. Simple scenes can add impact to your photography and make your images 10 times better.

9 Photography Tips for Moms

9. get in the frame

I love hopping in the frame with my son. I know I won’t regret it when he’s older. Mama’s, hope in that frame with your kids! You could capture you doing something together. Like cooking or reading books. Make it fun. And it doesn’t even matter if they are technically right or not – the most important thing is that you are getting in the frame with your littles.

If you need some help with taking self portraits, check out my self portraits post.

With these tips, you are all set to taking better images of your children. Remember to practice, practice, practice! Do you have any mom photography tips? Share below!

Also, if you have any questions at all about the information covered in this article, please don’t hesitate to ask!