How I Taught My Mom to Take My Blog Photos

Wednesday, April 11, 2018


One of the worst parts about moving out of my childhood home (again) was losing my personal blog photographer. Just kidding! I miss my dogs too.

If you didn't know, when I moved home from Cleveland, my mom basically took over as the "photographer" for my blog. As soon as I got my DSLR camera at the beginning of the fall, my mom and I would spend weekends and then weekdays during her lunch shooting as many outfits as possible to keep this blog stocked with fashion content that wasn't just mirror photos and a ton of collages. Shoutout to you, Kathy G. 

The things is: my mom isn't artistic. She'll be the first person to tell you (or maybe she wouldn't and I'm just #exposing her right now) that art is not up her alley. There is a severe lack of pictures from my childhood because neither of my parents took photos of us (us being my younger brother and me). I think it's probably because they didn't know how to work cameras, but that's neither here nor there. But I needed someone to take photos for me and, to be honest, I didn't have friends to do it for me or the money for a proper photographer. So I just taught my mom how to use my camera instead. It took a lot of trial and error and us arguing somewhere around Western New York (see: usually me being snarky when my ~creative direction~ wasn't coming to life), but I think for my mom literally not knowing how to use a camera about a year  ago, it worked out pretty well. But how did I do it?

Use simple settings

I will admit. I'm not the best at settings and I'm still learning every single day about the best ways to shoot with my camera and my specific lenses. I tried to keep everything as simple as possible so if she messed up the settings somehow, it'd be easy to correct and also so she didn't really have to worry about anything besides making sure I was in focus and in frame. A lot of stuff could be finished in post-editing, if necessary, which took a lot of pressure off of her to get the raw image perfect.

Sometimes I'd just keep everything on auto and try to adjust the aperture to get a nice blurry background (once I got my 50mm lens, that is). For the most part, we shot in pretty good natural lighting so we could get away with not using the rest of the settings I know we definitely should have been but...we don't pretend to be photographers. I just needed some photos that were in focus and that was pretty much my only priority!

Take example pictures and how them how to frame it

Bringing up my ~creative vision~ again, once we ended up at a photo spot–whether it was predetermined or decided on last minute after driving around for fifteen minutes of her limited lunch break–I'd have to envision the ideal shot in my head. Basically, I'd just instruct my mom to stand in various places so I could assess the lighting and whether or not the background looked okay when I took a photo or two of her in that spot. And then once I found a shot that I liked, I'd show it to her so she knew exactly how I wanted the photo to look and be framed when it came to shooting it herself. It's so much easier for whoever is going to be shooting for you (if they're not a proper photographer) to see what you want to avoid any discrepancies or disappointments. It saves you a whole lot of time when it comes to the next step...

Take breaks to review photos and give directions

After every twenty pictures or so, my mom and I would break to assess a few things about the photos:
  • Are they in focus?
  • Has the lighting changed?
  • Is the lighting okay?
  • Am I framed the way I want to be framed?
  • Are any key pieces of the photo missing aka the top of my head or my feet?
  • Does it look the way I envisioned?
Instead of taking hundreds and hundreds of photos and trusting that they're coming out okay, take breaks after a group of shots to double check that everything is going the way you planned. If something isn't focused, adjust the settings or have your photographer get closer/step back/whatever they need to do to ensure that the framing is right and refocus so your photos are as sharp as they can be.

Continuous shooting is your friend

This just makes the process go by one thousand times faster. Is it the best option? Probably not. But is it efficient as hell? Yes. Usually, my mom and I could fit about fifteen to twenty shots in a burst and then we'd go through those shots to review them like I mentioned in the step above. Sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do to make things easy for whoever is taking your photos for you. You can still end up with not-terrible results. Plus, practice makes perfect but not actually perfect because nobody's perfect because Hannah Montana said so and what she says is law

In all seriousness, I know the struggle of wanting content for your blog but not having the funds or connections to make it happen with someone professional. There's nothing wrong with having a parent, family member, or friend take your photos if it's your only option! It's easier to teach them how to use your camera of choice than it might seem. It might take a little bit of time, but be patient with them and remember to thank them too! 

P.S. Thanks for spending all of your lunch hours for the past like, five months with me mom. You cool, I guess.

4 comments

  1. I’ve been waiting for this post

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    1. This post would not have happened if it wasn't for your suggestion so XOXOXOXO

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  2. Oh man i feel ya! I had to teach my boyfriend to be my photographer and we would argue so much in the beginning! I think he's got the hang of it now but it took a lot of trial and error as well. At least your photos look nice! Your mom did a great job!

    xo Deborah
    Coffee, Prose, and Pretty Clothes

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    1. My mom probably already read this comment and patted herself on the back for it (she likes to stalk the comments and pretend she knows you guys ghaiugja)(hi mom). The convenience of having someone you know take the pictures always outweights the trial and error process! And your photos always look wonderful too! <3

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