The Easter Poppy Shoot

otherwise entitled: A Good Camera Does Not a Good Photographer Make.

Have I mentioned that I got a new camera? The SLR of my dreams? Well I did. I saved for a long time for this treasure, and as soon as Allan got a job, I finally made the plunge. I’ve had a lot of fun playing with it, but I’ve learned a sad truth which is: I still don’t know how to take good pictures. Bummer, right?

I had been planning on doing a little photo shoot with my kids in their sweet Easter get-up I made them, and when we moved into our house I found the perfect location. Across our street there’s a lovely little house that has this mini field of poppies in happy bloom, with a tiny little glade complete with deer statues.  I asked my very nice neighbor if I could take pictures there, and then I waited til Saturday when Allan could help. In my mind it was going to be just brilliant, and I was already printing large beautiful copies of the fantasy photos in my head. It turned out a huge disappointment. As soon as I got out there I realized that  A) Tiny was tired and cranky, and in no mood for pictures. and B) Neither was Tito and C) the lighting was awful. But I didn’t even know what time of day would be better (it was like…2 pmish). Or what equipment I need to buy (one of those light diffuser thingies?) I’m lost! And half the pictures aren’t focused, and my kids aren’t really smiling in any of them. I didn’t get a single really good shot, and I’m kinda bummed. I mean, it’s something, and I’m glad about that, but I can see that I have a lot to learn. My fantasy photography skills aren’t just going to blossom overnight.

So I’m asking you. Where did you learn how to use your SLR? Any ebooks/courses or books you’d recommend? What are your camera must-haves? What time of day is best to take pictures?? Where should I start?

(For all the mad sewing details of their outfits see here——> Twinkle:cardigan and tee. sundress. Tito: vest and skinny shorts. Tiny: dress)


Marci Negranza

These are gorgeous shots, just a teensy bit dark! I am far from an expert, just a short bit ahead of where you are on the learning to use the camera curve. But I loved the scraped up knee shot so much I played with it in photoshop a little and can email you what I wound up with if you like. Not sure what I can do with my limited knowledge but I’d be happy to give the rest a try too if you like. Knowing as little as I do it doesn’t take long. Just let me know!


Marci, I would LOVE to see what you came up with! That is sooo nice of you! As far as the others go, what I would really love, it just throw me some tips as far as editing goes. I do have photoshop, and I do use it a lot, I just don’t know if I’m on the right track. Any tips will help! Thanks MArci!!


These shots are great! Your kids are darling and I love their Easter outfits. I’m no expert either but i’ve learned that knowing your way around a photo editing program is half of the game. Some of them are free and by playing around with different features and levels you can brighten pictures up easily. I believe the best lighting is in the morning and in the evening before the sun sets. some of the hardest lighting to work with is in the afternoon when the sun is high in the sky. Have fun with your new camera!!


Yes, I do have photoshop, and until now, that’s how I’ve been able to take any pictures at all what with the horrible lighting I had down in our basement. I guess I have a lot to learn with both the camera and the editing…XO Maren!


-dawn and dusk are the best lighting.
-there are lots of blogs that have photography helps. If I can find any of the ones I’ve used in the past I will pass them along.
-The best photos I have gotten are when you let the play and follow them around a lot. Then they tend to bring out the real smiles.
-Just be okay with deleting 100 pictures for every 1 good picture.
-Practice and have fun.

Marci Negranza

I can send you what I did but if you have photoshop you can do at least as well! I like “guided” for stuff like this and then keep adjusting skin tone. Like I said, I don’t know what I’m doing really…I just play because I know you can always “undo!” (P.S. Just send me an email addy if you want me to send it anyway.)

Beth M. Stephenson

Wow, Mim, you have very high standards. I was pleased with the muffin shot I put on this morning! Anyone want to advise me on photographing food?
The pictures are darling. I’m completely amature but find that a cloudy day can substitute for dawn or dusk. Photographing kids at dawn and dusk makes pretty certain that they won’t be smiling!
Josie is going to end up looking just like you and Merritt is going to look just like Alan. I think Harper will favor you, too. She looks like she’s thriving. All the Easter garb is darling, (and so are the kids!) I’m making Harper’s dress this week and the maternity dress from the archive too. Thanks so much for all the tutorials!


Hands down the best book is “Understanding Exposure” by Bryan Peterson. If you read that book and actually mess with your camera while reading, you will really get it. I joined the Clickin’ Moms site for a while and they have a ton of tutorials for photography, photoshop and lightroom. They also have a great community of people to help answer questions. I started there and asked a million questions then went through understanding exposure. I figured out shooting in manual mode and have never put the camera back on auto since. Most of all it takes practice.

If it’s sunny outside I try to find and overhang where the son is not directly on the kids but they can still get good reflected light.

I think you’ve made a great start 😉

Here’s the book

Emily Balling

Thanks Mim for posting these beautiful pics. I think a good camera makes an amazing difference. I pinned the awesome helps you were sent they looked really good about photography! I have a friend who gifted herself a mother’s day present, as a photography class. I would ask Sarah, have you already? She’s studied a lot on photography and does a great job. My photos are shameful on my blog…ehem. I have a cheap camera…and don’t accomplish what you managed to do with your cheap camera, but I guess I don’t try that hard. I’ve fooled around a bit…and ended it with, this is just a really crappy camera.

Maybe I’d scrap the dear pic. But then you were probably trying to be funny. 😉

Just fyi, I copied that cute knot on Josie’s jumper when I lost the button on mine. I like it better now I think its a little more playful and less drab. Being that it is a dull gray-blue color and as plain as can be, that really was in order.

Love the bow tie coordinating with Harper’s dress. I’d like to collect the whole bunch into my Easter basket. 😉 What a handsome dapper and lovely little gals. Moon beamers the lot of them.


It’s very difficult to take pictures of kids, especially your own! In the summer, I find around 5-7pm is the “golden hour”. Have kids stand at the edge of shade, and look towards the light (it should be not too bright at that time). Watch that your shadow isn’t in the picture 🙂 You want the light to be reflected in their eyes. I think “Lil Boo Blue” blog had a good post recently by a guest blogger on “soft shade” (I always go to her blog by clicking on the link on “The Sewing Dork’s” blog since I can’t seem to favourite LBB).
There is a photographer in Indianapolis named Stacey….something…her site is and she has a really good, not too technical book about being a “Mammarazzi” (my neice is in the book!).
And keep practicing! I learned in the days of print film and no photo editing programs (or computers even!). I envy all the moms out there with DSLR’s!


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