Wednesday, September 26, 2012

We are in love

I am a casual photographer.  I've had my own camera since junior high, when my dad got a nice compact film camera from a colleague in Japan, and generously handed it over to my excited 10-year-old self, because he had a *really* nice Canon himself.

I used that verysame camera through middle school, high school, college, a trip to India, grad school and the first couple of years of work, until 1998 when I finally joined the digital world and bought a 5MP HP digital point and shoot camera that was ENORMOUS. 

And even then, I didn't take TONS of photos, but enough to document interesting stuff here and there. 

And then we got a dog.

The number of photos I took vastly increased, and most of them were of The Peanut.

Then we got another dog.

When we got engaged, I knew I really wanted nice photos of our wedding, and that was my top priority.   This got me hooked on professional photos.  Not the "dress up in sweater vests and haul the kids off to Sears" but candid, photojournalistic awesomeness at a location of our choice.

Photo by Bradley Hanson

Since we've had BabyT, we've gotten professional photos every 6 months.  Luckily for us, Baby X' will be born around the same time of year so we can keep that same schedule for a while, corresponding to birthdays and half-birthdays.

Photo by Kristi Romain

But since having T I didn't want to miss all the "in between" times.  Babies change a lot in 6 months, so I stepped up the picture-taking.  I had an ambition to do a DailyBaby shot every day of T's first year, but didn't quite make it everyday.  Still, I'm only missing a handful of days so I'm pretty proud of that.  Mind you, not all of them have been uploaded online but that's a different problem of mine ;)

Doing Project Life this year has made me even more motivated to "capture the everyday".  I've finally had some time to go back to my 2011 photos and process them, and I've noticed a definite improvement in my photography since then.  Practice really does help even though I wasn't actively trying to get better.

I'm a gadget girl.  I've wanted a fancypants DSLR camera since 2009 when we upgraded my 2005 teeny tiny PowerShot to the more powerful, but still point-and-shoot, Canon S90.  I chose the S90 because it was much smaller than a DSLR and I figured I'd  be more likely to toss that in the diaper bag for outings.  I was right.

But the DSLR bug was in my ear.  When I was looking into photography classes to learn some technique, most are geared towards DSLR owners.  My friend Laura, who is amazingly talented, is so enthusiastic about her camera and lenses that every time she'd mention it on her blog, it reminded me that maybe I should look into getting a DSLR.  A lot of the scrapbookers who frequent forums I read are also avid photographers, as are many of my real-life friends.

So one day, with idle hands performing the devil's work, I read tons of reviews on Amazon and finally plopped the Canon Rebel T3i DSLR onto my Wish List.  Which is private, and no one ever looks at it but me. But it was there. Staring at me. For an entire year.

But it's a BIG purchase and I always had an excuse for why I couldn't or shouldn't buy it.  After seeing the pro photos from T's recent birthday party, and noticing that one group of them had this "look" that was different, and really, really awesome, I couldn't wait any longer.  I wanted to learn how to take photos like that, with that cool blurred background and the subject super-sharp in the foreground. 

It's a testament to my self-restraint that I was able to wait so long, really.  So one night last week I put up an innocent query on Facebook: did any of my friends have a "starter" DSLR they were looking to sell. Because I'm friends with a lot of engineers and scientists, I knew there was a similar gadget-love going on, and people upgrade their gadget goodness ALL.THE.TIME.  Within 5 minutes, a coworker posted that he was looking to sell his Canon T3i.

Uh, yeah.  The same *exact* camera that's been on my wishlist for a year.  Is that the Universe talking to me or what?  (Ok, I was looking for an excuse, but that was really too good.)  The nice thing about staying with Canon is that the menus and controls are pretty similar to the S90. 

So I jumped in feet first and bought it with the money I've been hoarding from my Etsy shop revenue.  We're MFEO, right?  (Meant For Each Other, for those who haven't watched Sleepless in Seattle in a while.)

And I am SO in love.  By just upgrading the camera, my photos have gotten a huge boost.  Imagine what could happen if I actually learned some things, and *practiced*?!  The mind boggles.

The other thing I've discovered - my friends are a knowledgeable and generous bunch.  I've gotten tons of useful tips on lenses and technique that would have taken me ages to figure out myself.  They've given me lots of links to bookmark for later, classes to consider, things to try on my camera, and the confidence to go forth and shoot and learn.

Given the timing, I can't jump into taking photography classes right now, but hope to squeeze one in sometime during my maternity leave.  In the meantime, I'll have a lot of opportunities, and a new subject on which to practice.  I am SO excited, peeps!


  1. Have fun discovering your new toy!!!!

  2. Congrats on your new toy!! Have fun!!

  3. That's so exciting! Enjoy it!!

  4. Congrats, and enjoy your new camera!

  5. Thanks for the shout out! I will say, I have always firmly believed that using a camera you love will pay for itself bc you capture memories that you keep forever. And if a good camera makes you more excited to take photos, that is reason enough to own it.

    That said, I used to think that kind of price tag was expensive but I have quickly learned how expensive of a hobby photography is! On a recent shoot, someone asked me how much my camera was and I explained to them it wasn't the camera. It was:
    $2200 camera body
    $2000 lens
    $500 battery grip
    $200 in batteries
    at least $1000 in memory cards
    $1000 in software (CS4 and Lightroom)

    Not to mention my back up camera, other lenses, flashes!! And that's why I charge people.

    Next up on the purchase list when I make enough from shoots are the 85mm and the 35mm.

    1. OMG that's a lot of equipment, but then again, you are a professional :D I'm still terrified I'm going to drop or break something.

  6. Yay! Congrats on your new camera! I upgraded my phone to that one too and I absolutely love the pictures I can take with it! Have fun learning! I've told my dh that for Christmas I want to sign up for photography classes at a local camera store so I can do more than point and shoot!

    1. That's something I want to do too! our local camera store has a crash course on my camera brand specifically, plus a digital photography overview just for beginners. I'd like to take one or both of those, but with a newborn that's going to be hard to schedule around feedings, etc.

  7. We got a Rebel last year and I *still* take completely crappy pictures of it, but Gregg's look gorgeous. I think he's handicapping me somehow.

    1. Is he messing with the settings? Maybe he's leaving them on manual, and you need to play more with the preset/auto modes? This happens to me (in reverse) when TJ uses my camera for stuff - he uses Auto mode and flash and then I'm wondering why the photos look so crappy when I get it back.

      If you want to practice sometime we could go somewhere and take pictures of stuff?

  8. You've definitely got a good eye for photography. I'm happy to welcome you into the world, dangerous world, of DSLR photography. And I'd like to state for the record that I WILL enable you where photography is concerned. You've been warned.

    1. I've already spent $ for a cute camera bag, strap, extra battery and the lens so what's a little more. Sadly, the supplies for the DSLR are a little more expensive than papercrafting (see Laura's list above, but then again, she has a much nicer camera!)

  9. Awesome photos!! I'm glad you finally took the plunge, I think you're going to really enjoy it. I just have a really basic pentax dSLR, but it has let me take way better pictures than my old digital point and shoot. Oh yeah, I've dropped it a few times. Get a good strap!

    1. I have the strap it came with and am forcing myself to wear it even though I feel dorky. I also have one on order from so I'll feel less dorky. But yes, I'm terrified of dropping the thing.

  10. I love my T3. I've have a Rebel XTi since 2006 when we went to Europe. I wanted the best camera I could handle for the trip and it lasted me almost 6 years. I broke when my son knocked me over mid photo and I 'HAD' to get a replacement. I love mine and I've noticed that my photos are better. I took a class with a local photographer I found on Groupon. $69 for a 4 hour class at the beat where she walked us through some basic settings and numbers. I got enough out of it to play for a while and practice.

    Good luck and have fun!

    1. That class sounds great. Our local camera shop has some good ones that I've been eyeing. And how sad were you when your camera broke? That's what I worry about with such a big, expensive camera.


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