What inspires you to pick up your camera??

I am sure that many of us have a common answer to the question: “What inspires you to pick up your camera?”

Our kids, of course!  This is Mum the Photographer and the simple fact you are even reading this blog indicates that your children inspire you to take photos and document their childhood.

However, for the purpose of this article, I want you to think a little deeper about that question.  When you see your children doing something that inspires you to pick up your camera, what exactly is it that gives you that inspiration?  For me it’s generally a combination of the kids being involved in a childhood activity, plus something extra.  That extra something might be the gorgeous afternoon light, or the way your child’s face is framed in a moment, or the startling colours and surrounds that you find yourself in.  Whatever the motivation and inspiration, it’s really worth understanding what that is before you decide how to frame your photo and click the shutter button.  I’ll explain with some examples …

In the photo above of my little girl watering the garden, it wasn’t simply the act of her watering the plants in her PJs that tugged at my heart strings.  It was the glorious afternoon light that was streaming in from behind her.  I was watering along with her, but as I glanced over and saw her enveloped in that gorgeous light I couldn’t help but fetch my camera.  With the light in mind, I framed the image to include a lot of it.  No zooming in on her face or the water or plants.  What I wanted to capture here was the light and the activity combined.

In this next photo, I was as interested in capturing the vivid colours of the river and surrounds as I was the girls taking a quick swim.  Again, knowing that my inspiration for photographing the moment was the surrounds as much as the faces, I framed the image to ensure a lot of blue and a boat were visible in the background.  It gives the image context as we ourselves were boating that day.  By contrast if my inspiration had been bright eyes or wide smiles, I likely would have zoomed in much closer to make the faces more of a focus.

This last photo was a moment I saw as I walked into my little girls’ bedroom to read her a book before sleep time.  I took one look at her face framed by her favourite blanket and book and knew I had to grab my camera.  With this in mind, the frame created by her blanket and book were the inspiration for the photo and that’s what I focused on.  If I had zoomed in our her face, or taken the photo from another angle which didn’t highlight the ‘frame’ the photo would have been completely different and not reflected my initial inspiration for picking up the camera in the first place.

I think the question “What has inspired me to pick up my camera?” is a great one to ask yourself as you rush to get your camera and capture a moment.  All too often it’s more than just the activity that your child is involved in that has prompted you to photograph the moment.  If you can start zoning in on the ‘little bit extra’ that inspires you to take your photographs and highlight that aspect when composing your photo, your shots will be that much more meaningful in the long run.

Happy snapping!

Liana xx

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Photos with Friends

Caleb had his birthday last week and he invited a couple of friends to hang out on the weekend. Much to their annoyance I corralled them together just before they headed home for a quick photo … and I mean quick. I think getting four 9-year olds to sit still might be harder than four toddlers!! Caleb kind of rolled his eyes at me for making him and his friends do this BUT … yesterday I got the loveliest hug as he went to bed. It turns out, that having a photo with his friends is “kind of great. Not as great as a Joe Hart soccer card but its pretty good. I’ll be able to remember them now even if we don’t go to the same school forever.”

His photo is prominently placed in his room, and a copy is on its way to each of the other boys. I hope they like having a photo together with their friends too. Perhaps next time his eyes might not be so quick to roll!

Janet x


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I ♥ Polkadots

Today a gorgeous wee girl in Will’s class made my day … more than my day actually. I really wish I’d met her 30 or so years ago. She described my cutie as the boy with polkadots. And just like that I have fallen in love with freckles. Growing up, my freckles were joked about as being “fly-dirt”. I certainly always hoped my babies would take Shane’s lovely olive skin gene. But with her fresh description she has completely changed my view …

I’ve already uploaded this one to the printers and I can’t wait to see his sunshine beaming at me from my desk. Choosing a wide aperture increases the focus on his face as there are no distractions in the background.

Often I photograph the kids doing an activity or when its a portrait its usually pulled back capturing their whole body. I love that this photo is all about his lovely face with polkadots.

Janet x

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Towards the light

Remember how I said I was going to take monthly photos of my wee girl for a “first year” album … well, can you believe we are three quarters of the way there! This month with school hoidays in full swing (translation: messy house!) there were not a lot of good spots for a quick photo. But I love this chair in Quinn’s room as we do sit there together often as its a peaceful spot in the house. The chair faces away from the window but a 10 second move around made it a beautiful place to pop Quinn for a quick snap. It has two elements that really help make a portrait … good light on her face and an uncluttered background.


In the photo below I turned the chair back to its normal place and took another photo to show how much of a difference the light makes. Its not a terrible photo … in fact, I wish I had photos this “good” of my older son at the same age. But something as simple as moving a chair so that your child is facing the light coming from a window can make a big difference.

Give it a go with your child …

Janet x



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On the 12th day of Christmas …

Wait until dark and let your Christmas lights sparkle! Christmas trees are lovely during the day but are at their absolute best when they are twinkling at night. I’m going to ask for a little leeway on the quality of this photo as I seem to have misplaced my tripod during our house move last week and a tripod is really important for taking these photos at night.

To best capture your Christmas tree lights, turn off your flash and the lights in the room where your tree is. I did have the lights on in the rooms adjoining this space. Crank up your ISO which means you’ll have noise in your photo but that’s ok. And then you have two options:

  • If you want your lights to have a starburst affect, close your aperture down which means using f/18 and above. But you’ll definitely need a tripod because your shutter speed will need to be really really slow.
  • Since I didn’t have a tripod (and gosh I’d love to know where I put that in the move!), I opened my aperture right up to f/2.8. This meant I don’t have the star burst affect from my lights. I’ll have a play with this more when I have found my tripod. The softness of my lights is due to camera shake from not using a tripod.

If you haven’t got a sleepy bundle to place in front of the tree, you will need to ask the kids to be really still as the slow shutter speeds will blur any movements they make. I took a photo a couple of nights ago of the three children reading a Christmas story in front of the tree. The activity was perfect to freeze them.

Janet & Liana xx

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