Meet Lynne Rigby, photography workshop teacher at the Clickin’ Moms online community. A member of Clickin’ Moms since the beginning and now serving as an admin, Lynne teaches beginner and intermediate photography workshops, Rock Your Camera 101 and 201 and a Lightroom workshop. She is also the editor of their quarterly e-magazine. Lynne lives in Orlando and has five kids aged two to thirteen, four boys and one girl, and they certainly give her plenty of photography practice.
Regarding photography as a business she says, “I tried my hand at the business side, but logistically juggling five kids, four of whom play every sport under the sun, a husband who works ridiculous hours and coaches all those sports and a business was just more than I could handle.” Many of us can also relate to Lynne when she says “it’s freeing to shoot what I want and how I want without having to meet anyone’s expectations except my own.” You can learn more about Lynne and her family on her blog.
- Take as many pictures as you can of your baby before they’re mobile because they’ll never sit still for you again!
- Always be on the lookout for good light, it will make or break your image.
- Watch your backgrounds and make sure they’re neat and uncluttered.
- Photograph babies in their element: lay on the floor and play a little, shoot a little.
- Change your angle. Don’t always shoot babies from where you’re standing, get low, get close, show scale.
- Toddlers and preschoolers may enjoy looking at their picture on the LCD screen and that can win you a few shots of cooperation.
- Engage them and don’t be demanding. They’ll quickly tire of you saying, “look at me, look at me!” And you definitely won’t get a natural expression that way. Remember, not everything needs to be a portrait.
- Don’t forget that YOU need to be in the pictures, too! Figure out that self-timer, buy a little remote or hand off your camera, whatever it takes. Your kids will cherish those images when they get older.
- Catch the details, the tiny fingers, the wisps of hair, etc. They change way too fast.
As a teacher of beginning photographers, Lynne is full of great advice for those wanting to learn how to shoot well-composed photos. Her first suggestion? “Practice! Shoot every day.” If you aren’t quite ready for Manual mode yet, she says, “practice your composition and try to follow the rule of thirds to make your shots more interesting than centered images.” Next, Lynne recommends turning the flash off. “It makes your skin tones yucky, creates pin lights in the eyes and creates harsh shadows.” Instead, work on finding nice light. “You’ll know it when you see it,” Lynne says. “It’s when people’s eyes sparkle and their skin looks luminous.”
For those ready to leap into the wonderful world of manual mode, Lynne offers the following advice: “Keep your shutter speed at 1/125 or higher if you are photographing kids. Don’t shoot wide open just to get that nice bokeh or background blur. Your first goal is to get your subject sharp. Start out at f/3.2 and once you can consistently nail focus there, then you can start opening up your aperture.”
What about ISO? Lynne encourages her students not to be afraid of using a high ISO. “If you expose your shot well,” she explains, “the grain will be negligible and grain is preferable to missed focus or motion blur or camera shake.” If you’re still struggling to understand exactly what aperture, f-stop, ISO and shutter speed mean and why they’re so important, then join the club! I asked Lynne for a simple explanation of these important manual controls and here’s her response: “All three are instruments to let light in or control the light that comes into your camera.” More specifically:
- Aperture or f/stop controls how much of your shot will be in focus. Small numbers (such as f/1.8) let more light in than big numbers (like f/10). Small numbers give you a smaller area of focus and larger numbers give you a bigger depth of field. When someone says they “opened up their aperture” it means that they let more light in by using a larger aperture, which is actually a smaller number. Confusing? Yes, at first, it absolutely is!
- Shutter speed is much easier to understand. If you want to stop motion, you need a fast shutter speed. The faster the shutter speed, the less light is let into your camera. If you are shooting your toddler running around the park, you probably need at least a 1/250 shutter speed. If your subject is an adult who is reliably still, you can probably get away with 1/100 depending on how steady you are. If your shutter speed is too slow, your pictures won’t have the clarity you want due to camera shake or motion blur.
- Finally, ISO is the easiest. Its only function is to control the light. ISO 100 is great for shooting outside or in bright situations, while ISO 1600 lets a lot of light into the camera and is commonly used inside. Higher ISOs create “noise” which can negatively impact your clarity.
Now, for practical application, Lynne says the trick is to find balance and consider your shot. Do you just want your two-year-old in focus? Try f/2.8 or f/3.2. What about the toys she’s playing with, do you want those in focus? Try f/4 or f/5.6. If she’s just sitting there quietly reading, you might try a shutter speed of 1/160, Lynne suggests. On the other hand, if she’s running around playing duck-duck-goose with her stuffed animals, you may need a faster shutter speed of 1/320. Finally, Lynne reminds readers to “check your meter and set your ISO so that your scene is properly exposed.”
When I asked Lynne what her most-used settings were she said, “I live in Florida, so I’m lucky to have a lot of light year round.” Although she loves to shoot with a wide-open aperture when practicing on her kids, if she wants to make sure one person is really in focus, Lynne will “shoot at f/2.8 and at least 1/200 and let the ISO fall where it may.”
If you’re wondering when to make the switch from a point-and-shoot to a DSLR camera, Lynne says it’s time when “you aren’t getting the shots that you envision.” However, she cautions that “a DSLR in auto is just like a big point-and-shoot with less shutter lag. Shooting in manual mode lets you take complete control of your camera so you can get those shots you want, not the ones your camera takes.” Essentially, moving to a DSLR means it’s also time to dig in and learn how to use those manual features.
Along with learning manual mode, photo processing can be a budding photographer’s best friend. As Lynne says, “processing polishes your images.” However, she also cautions against always using Photoshop and Lightroom to “fix” your pictures. “You just want to enhance them,” Lynne says. She’s a Lightroom girl herself. “I love the simplicity, the user interface and the speed of editing a lot of images.” Her favorite presets are the Paparazzi presets available in the Clickin’ Moms online store and Lynne says that “at least half the pictures from my [project] 365 are processed with one of those presets.”
Whether you’re just starting out with a camera or own your own professional photography business, Clickin’ Moms is a wonderful, helpful community. Kendra Okolita started the board in 2008 when she noticed the trend of moms trying to learn their cameras on an Ebay board she owned. Her goal is to create a supportive environment and promote artistic excellence for women at all levels of their photographic journey. Quoting from their web site: “Our extremely active forums address everything from marketing to lighting to step-by-step workflows in the digital darkroom. We host regular contests with major prizes from our 90-plus authorized vendors, biweekly creativity exercises, free actions and other downloads, regional boards for meet-ups, a quarterly newsletter and a line of very popular, members-only workshops.” Lynne shares, “I’ve been a member of various forums over the years and I’ve never seen such a respectful, kind and completely inspiring forum.” If you’re looking for a place to both encourage you and push your photography to the next level, check out Clickin’ Moms!