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  • Writer's pictureCourtney Doucette

Lights, camera, Look at Mommy!

That friend or family member that always has their camera out and ready at any given moment... Yup, that's me. I have always been known as the "picture taker" in my family and among my friends-- which is super annoying sometimes because I capture amazing pictures of everyone else, but no one can manage to capture a decent picture of me. Anyway, I've always loved taking pictures, mostly because I want to remember every little thing and be able to look back on those memories. I could sit for hours and look through old photos and reminisce-- Anyone else love doing that?

When I found out I was pregnant, I had one thing on my Christmas wish list-- a really good camera. Yes, today our phone's produce incredible photos, but I wanted something more. I didn't need anything super fancy, but I had a few requirements-- I wanted a DSLR camera, something easy to use & for beginners, and I wanted to be able to transfer my photos to my phone without hassle. After some research, I ended up getting the Canon Rebel T7i. This camera has everything I wanted-- it's not too bulky, great for amateur photography, and has an app where the photos transfer right to my phone through WiFi/Bluetooth connection. Another perk of the app is that I can do remote live view shooting. (AKA set up my tripod, put on a 10 second timer, and click a button on my iPhone to take the picture)

I'm still quite inexperienced in my photography skills, but here's what I've learned... First of all-- editing can work serious magic! Second, a white/neutral colored blanket is perfect as a background for just about any photo (utilize things/places in your home like blankets, pillows, walls, furniture, etc). Third, continuously shoot and discard the bad photos later, that way you'll never miss the perfect shot. And lastly, I'm still working on the best way to store/organize my photos, if anyone has any recommendations-- please send!

I designated a picture taking wall in my house-- I know, I know, you're thinking I'm crazy... quite possibly I am! haha. Like I previously mentioned, having a wall or a neutral colored blanket serves as the perfect blank canvas to take photos in front of or set up photo props in front of, etc. I use a wall in Nash's room. There are doors on either side of the wall, so you really can't put any furniture there. It's where I have his large peter pan movie poster hanging. The poster is super light and just hangs on a single nail which makes it super easy to take off/put back on. The wall is painted Benjamin Moore - Pale Oak and as a bonus, there is a window directly across which bring in plenty of natural light.

Natural light is 100% the best option for taking photos-- both on a smart phone & with a DSLR camera. When I'm taking photos indoors, I try to have lots of natural light coming in, however I did purchase a selfie ring tripod light for when I need more lighting. I love this and use it quite often! I have umbrella lights as well, but they're not as quick and efficient to whip out. Lighting truly makes all the difference in my opinion. Crappy lighting will produce a lower quality photo and require tons more editing. Good lighting can make for beautiful photos and minimal editing.

Speaking of editing. Most of the time editing is crucial to get the look that you want for a photo. I use so many different apps for editing. It's kind of ridiculous, but they each have different features that I love! I'll give you my top three favorites-- My number one app I use is Lightroom mobile. Lightroom is a little tricky at first because it has so many editing options. I read some how-to articles and watched quite a few youtube videos to learn how to use the app. I'm still no pro when it comes to Lightroom and I still have a lot to learn, but I know enough to get the look I want for my photos. I now have several different presets that I've created while editing that are my go-to. I paste those settings onto my photo and adjust what I need to. Second place goes to Snapseed. I love this app for their selective feature & their brush feature. With the selective feature you can choose different colors or sections of a photo and change the brightness, contrast, structure and saturation. (Lightroom has a feature like this too, but it's difficult for me to use -- Snapseed is more basic). You can also edit specific parts of a photo using the brush feature. Number three on the list-- VSCO. VSCO has so many great presets to choose from which makes for very easy, one-step editing. You can also make a "favorites" list which is super helpful so you don't have to scroll through a ton of filters every time.

You can learn how to take a good photo and you can learn how to edit the crap out a photo until it is pure perfection... but getting a baby to smile, or even look at you for that matter, is an entirely different story. Typically it's best when someone else is helping you out. I get my best photos of Nash when Daddy is on smile/laugh duty. For when daddy's not available, I try a few different things-- Stuffed animals, things that make noise & this little shutter hugger thingy. We have the dalmatian, but I'm thinking of getting the dinosaur, or possibly making my own-- it's basically just a scrunchie with a stuffed animal head right? (I have scrunchies, little plush toys we don't use & I know how to sew-- how hard can it be?)

Some photo sessions with Nash are better than others. He usually likes the shutter sound of the camera, which keeps him engaged-- but sometimes he's just cranky and not in the mood. We all have moments like that, so I can't blame him-- we just try again another time.

Photography has been a learning process that I don't think ever really ends. But I enjoy it on an amateur basis, and I enjoy having these precious photos of Nash (and enjoy saving money on professional photos). I hope he appreciates them someday the way I appreciate all my childhood photos. Below the post, I'll share some before/after photos with some little blurbs about my editing approach-- Let me know in comments here or on social media, if you have any questions or would like any more information.

Happy photo snapping!

xo Courtney

This Yoda photo really tested my editing skills. My favorite shot came out horrible because my camera was on the wrong setting. After much much much editing, I love how it turned out!

For editing this Mickey photo, I mostly used Snapseed. The selective and brush featured were my bestfriends for this one.

An example of how a blanket can make and excellent background

Alot of cropping and brightening on this one. Even with the window open for natural light, I still had crappy lighting.

Cropping and obvious color editing on this Toy Story shoot. Both lightroom and VSCO have features where you can change brightness, saturation, hue, etc. of specific colors.

I removed the outlet in this photo using the healing feature in Snapseed. Lightroom also has a healing feature, but Snapseed is easier to use. Also, this was a tripod/self-timer shot-- you can see my phone behind my foot.

This photo was the first time I used the selfie ring light and as you can probably notice, this photo required the least editing of all the examples.

Another example of tripod/self-timer. Our first non-selfie family photo taken when Nash was about two weeks old.

These photos came straight from my camera with no editing.

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