capturing the moment

Hello, and happy Sunday!  Over my short ten year of blogging I have tried a number of things.  On my currently blogging schedule (if you can call it a schedule) I have found it hard to fit in photography–and reflections.  So, at least for the time being, I have decided to bring the two together and post about it on Sundays.  I am just a novice photographer, and I still have a lot to learn, but as I journey through life with my camera I thought it would be fun to share the tips and tricks that I have stumbled upon.

But, before I get to my own tips and tricks, however, I want to share some of the wisdom I have gleamed from my #1 photography teacher, my mother.  My entire life my mother has followed us around with a camera in one hand.  I am so grateful for all of the photos I have of my childhood and now that I have my own children, I am grateful that I have such a great teacher.

What my mom really excels at is capturing the moment.  She takes A LOT of pictures, but she really gets some gems.  Her has a few basic rules: Always have good lighting, take lots of pictures and get close.  Beyond these, here are some more tips for capturing the moment in a photo.

1. Capture Relationships and Honest Emotions


The above picture is of my sister, a Little Sister of the Lamb, and my son.  Although we talk about Little Sister Hallel (his aunt) often, she lives in France and they see each other rarely.  For a 2 year old boy it is difficult for him to remember her.  But, we had the blessing of spending the weekend with her a few weeks ago, as they commissioned their newly constructed monastery in Kansas City KS.  I love this picture my mom had the fore-sight to snap because of the way they are looking at each other.  My sister is looking with intent joy and interest, and although my son not running away, there is a slight concern in his face.  But they are looking directly into each other’s eyes.

2. Frame your shot


I just love this shot.  Of course my favorite thing in the picture is my adorable little baby girl, but her shining face is made brighter by the adoring looks of the 3 nuns around her.   The baby is clearly the center of this picture and the eye is drawn there even more with the nuns on either side of the picture looking in at her.  I also love all of the blue: the habits, the onesie, the sky…

 3. If you are somewhere beautiful, capture it–but make sure you aren’t just taking shots of buildings.


Okay, I am writing this next point assuming that you are like me, a person focused on getting the best possible shots of your family–not a professional photographer.  Having said that, people (myself included) while on a trip are often taken in by the beauty of buildings/landscape/scenery and end of snapping pictures of just that.  And then, you get home and try to show your pictures to other people and you end up saying things like “This is another building, and I think this is a church…”  Really, who cares about buildings?  Why take pictures of just a building?  The new monastery that my sister’s order built is beautiful, as you can see.  It is a beautiful wood and there were tons of flowers, and yet, snapping a picture of just the building wouldn’t do very much for me.  It is must better to take a shot, as my mom did above, of a cute little boy playing in front of a beautiful building!

4. Focus on an Object of Importance


My sister’s order is very simple.  As a sign of belonging to the community they wear a simple wooden cross.  When they take final vows that cross is replaced with a seal of the lamb.  Now, it’s simple, but my kids LOVED that cross my sister wears.  My baby girl was dying to play with it and, as you can see, my son was eager to wear it.  Like I said in the last point, taking a picture of just a thing can be beautiful, but it is so much more powerful and significant if people are in the shot showing the importance of that object.  I love that both my son and my sister are looking at the cross–and that he is wearing it instead of my sister.  A future Little Brother?

5. It’s not all about the smile


Little boys need someone to look up to–and we as parents can’t always control who they choose as that role model.  My son idolizes his older cousin David–for better or worse!  David is sweet (and cute), but he is a bit of a stinker!  I love this shot that I took because they look sweet, but they also look a little mischievous!  Dazzling smiles are nice, but being able to capture two boys just sitting on a step together, for no real reason, is nice too!

6. Love the picture, even if it isn’t perfect.


From a photography standpoint there isn’t much right with this picture (and I even edited it!).  It is way too bright, the color is wrong and there are awful shadows.  This picture was taken the day before the commissioning of the monastery.  My sister was very busy and we ran in to see her and I snapped a quick photo–in a dark room with a flash and with my settings all wrong on my camera.  I didn’t have a opportunity to take another picture–so this is what I have.  Now, I know this picture isn’t going to win any awards, but even the photography mistakes here add to the story–and you can’t beat that adorable giggle coming out of my sweet baby.

If nothing else, I hope that this post has inspired you to stop staging you pictures and instead have your camera handy and work to capture the real and beautiful moments in life as they happen.

If you’d like to see more of my mother’s photography, and the beauty of the Catholic Church, I’d love for you to check out her blog:

Thanks for stopping by,

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