Meet a Momtographer (+ Aspiring Photographer) | Northern VA Photography Lessons

Kerri was originally supposed to be an attendee at the March Momtography 101 class. Then life got in the way (as I am sure it can do juggling a houseful of kiddos!) and she contacted me needing to reschedule for another date. When she discovered the next class would not be until June we explored the option of doing a one-on-one session together and I am so glad she decided to take the plunge! A fellow small business owner herself at With Love Design, she was hoping to expand her design offerings to include photography as well.  She is now diving head first into building her portfolio and is on her way to doing great things with her photography.  Kerri is truly an example of what a little bit of knowledge, a good deal of practice, and a lot of drive, desire, and motivation can produce and I am so excited for you to meet her here on the blog today!

Momtographer and Aspiring Photographer: Kerri G.

Camera: Did my mentoring session using a Canon 50d. But during my mentoring session, while expressing some of my frustrations to Beryl, she suggested I might be able to alleviate some of those frustrations by using a full-frame body. So…a few weeks ago, I upgraded to a Canon 5d Mark II and L-O-V-E it!!

How many kiddos: 3

Age(s): 5, 3 and tomorrow my baby will be ONE!

Tell us a little about what makes your kids tick.What are their interests, hobbies, favorites. What makes them unique?

Tyler (5) is full of energy, like ALL. THE. TIME! This kid starts out the day like a rocket taking off and doesn’t slow down until he crashes. He loves to play and entertains himself very well. (He has one heck of an imagination.) He’s a typical 5-year old boy who thinks that there is nothing more fun that to be playing with cars or blowing up the bad guys! He is very persistent and observant and uses these qualities to his advantage. 🙂 Lucas (3) is completely different. While he is also a ball full of energy, he is more subdued than Tyler. Also very observant, you would never catch him trying to “outsmart” mommy. He’s a pleaser and a nurturer. I almost always hear “I missed you, Mommy” after being away from him (even if only for a few minutes). He is caring and always thinking of others. You will never find him taking the last cookie out of the bag, but rather trying to figure out a way to break it into multiple pieces evenly to share with all of his friends or siblings! Kate (1) is my girly girl. Don’t know yet if she WANTS to be a girly girl, but after spending the first four years of motherhood as a momma to boys, I am SO excited to get to buy pink now, too. 🙂 She is a momma’s girl who LOVES daddy (and her big brothers) dearly. She’s a determined little one and I can see her being a handful for us in the near future as she is determined to do anything that big brothers do!

Tell us what you love most about being a mom.

Hmmm…this is a hard one, b/c I know that this is the job that I was made for. I LOVE being a mom – period. I love the cuddles and snuggles I get from my little ones. I love seeing the satisfaction on their faces when they finally succeed in that task they’ve been trying so hard at (and the satisfaction I feel knowing I helped them achieve that goal). I love butterfly kisses and bear hugs. I love story time and hearing them say “cuddle with me, Momma”. But most of all, I love that I was chosen to be the earthly parent to these wonderful little beings and that I get to experience each and every one of their “firsts” in this crazy adventure called “Life”.

Biggest frustration(s) with your photos pre-mentoring?

Un-sharp photos and noise in my photos.

What was the best tip or trick you learned from our time together that you were able to use right away?

How and where to position my subjects to make the best use of my light, so that I could keep my ISO down to reduce the amount of noise in my photos. And also how to meter correctly, to give my photos the proper exposure.

What is the BEST moment you’ve captured of your kids or family ever on camera. Anything special come to mind?

Well…My name is Kerri and I’m a picture-holic (LOL), so I have SO many pictures that it would be hard to pick one I think. But, one of my all-time favorites is this of my two little guys kissing their little sister on the head at the same time. I mean how lucky did I have to be to actually catch this on camera?

One of Beryl’s elves told us you’ve been following along with her Christmas in July email gifts this month. Anything you care to share about what you’ve learned or the photos you’ve captured?

I especially love the last gift that was sent about having a plan. I’m a huge planner and list-maker (in all aspects of my life), but when it comes to photos, I often find myself picking up the camera and shooting, without really “thinking” about what I’m doing, and in turn missing the shot I was really looking for. So, Gift 7 (making a plan) and Gift 1 (making a list) are two great lessons for me.

Why should other local moms consider attending a Momtography 101 class or a one-on-one mentoring lesson with Beryl?

I was originally slated for the larger group Momtography class (a gift from my husband). But, due to timings and other commitments, I was unable to attend the session I had registered for. When I emailed her to tell her I needed to cancel, she was super understanding and said she could move me to the June session or we could do a one-on-one instead. While it was a little more investment to do the one-on-one, I was super eager to take her class and knew it would benefit me greatly to have some real one-on-one time where I could pick her brain and also have hands on guidance with lighting/posing and manually shooting with my camera. I would HIGHLY recommend her Momtographer class (I got the materials as part of our one-on-one) or a private (or even group) mentoring session. She is so professional, such a photo lover and a wonderful individual too. If you take a Momtography class OR do a mentoring session with her, you will NOT regret it. I cannot even begin to express how grateful I am for the time I spend with Beryl and all of the amazing knowledge she shared with me.

Before mentoring: Left

After mentoring: Right

Wisdom Wednesday | Making The Leap

This week’s Wisdom Wednesday was inspired by a recent question asked by one of my lovely Facebook followers. Shannon asks:

Do you provide assistance with selecting cameras? I’m looking to make the leap and purchase my first SLR.

As my photography classes has grown over the past few months, I have been asked this question more and more. At class last week one of the moms in attendance had actually purchased her camera only weeks before attending, after some consultation with myself and the internet. I definitely have a few thoughts on selecting an entry level dslr and I think this question is perfect to springboard into today’s blog post.

First of all I must admit, I am a little biased and will be talking mostly about Nikon cameras in this post. I have been a Nikon shooter since starting my photography journey and absolutely love the way both of my Nikons have performed. I do not have anything negative to say about Canons or any of the other major brands, in fact my point and shoot camera is a Canon, but I simply don’t have the experience or expertise in their dslr capabilities.

Now, first things first. I want you to answer two important questions before we begin talking more about the camera of your dreams:

1) What are your photography goals?
As a “momtographer” what will you need the camera to do? Portraits of lazy days at home or vacations with the family? Sporting events and lots of action? Crisp tack sharp focus? Video functionality? Extra durability when those kiddos accidentally knock the camera off the table and on the floor?

2) What is your budget?
The range of camera available to consumers these days is impressive. Entry level dslr cameras are at a price point accessible to most families, but keep in mind that more functionality and more bells and whistles usually comes with a higher price tag. Also, buyer beware the too good to be true sale or wheeling and dealing that often happens online. One of my recent class attendees bought her shiny new SLR on Ebay. She came to find out once it arrived that it was an overseas model and all of the menus were in Japanese and could not be changed to English. I personally found it VERY helpful to go to my local camera shop, try out a few different models, see which felt right, and purchase locally. The prices were comparable to online prices and I felt like I had really purchased the camera that was meant for me.

Now, as a mom I know there are a few top priorities on my list when it comes to having a nice camera. I want it to be able to: be easy and quick to be able to change settings on the fly (kids move a lot!), handle a quick shutter speed (to avoid blurry images), and have low light sensitivity (so I can take good photos indoors with out my flash), and have video built in so I only need one device to tote around.

My current top Nikon performer is the Nikon d7000. Why? It’s recently been released to market so it is new technology.  It gets glowing reviews for its ability to handle low light situations, it has a great video feature that has auto focus built in, it is durable and weather resistant, and it has many many many focus points (great for tracking moving targets!).  However, this is also the top of the line consumer dslr. If you are looking to pinch some pennies than the Nikon d5100, or d3100 would be my next momtographer picks.  My top Canon performers would be the Canon 60D (similar to the higher budget Nikon d7000), T2i or T3i (similar to the lower budget Nikon d5000 or d3100).

However, even more so than the camera are the lenses you will want to use after purchasing your new toy.

Lenses are really the star of the show. A lot of times it is the lens that determines what your camera can handle.  The lens can zoom or not zoom. The lens can tell the camera to be great in low light or not so great in low light.  The lens is what allows the camera to create a tack sharp image or not.  The lenses that come with these entry level SLRs are not always the most ideal for the momtographer.  They have minimal zoom capabilities, they don’t produce the most sharp images, and their capabilities in low light stink.

My #1 must have momtographer purchase to go along with your new shiny camera is the 35mm or 50mm / f 1.8 lens.  It produces GORGEOUS images. It shines in low light. It’s absolutely an amazing lens. And its a rather affordable top performing lens option.  The one downfall is that it isn’t great for sports because it doesn’t zoom. If zoom is what you need then I recommend investing in a 70-300mm zoom lens. That’s the lens for you.

Is your head spinning yet? I know there is a lot to think about when making this big investment. And don’t forget that once you’ve brought that camera home and you’ve started to play I’ll be here ready to teach you what you need to know to really use that baby to it’s fullest potential.

BUT, if you’re looking for a head start in your learning, hop on over HERE and sign up for Christmas in July. I’ll be sending free gifts to your inbox all month long with photo tips and tricks to get you snapping better photos this summer. You don’t need the dslr for this one so come join in on the fun!

Meet a Momtographer | Northern VA Photography Class

I am really excited to be bringing back the Meet a Momtographer blog feature! And, after just completing the third Momtography 101 class yesterday, I thought this would be the perfect time to do it.  This week’s momtographer took part in the very first Momtography 101 class and I must say she’s been one of my most enthusiastic. Meg’s awesome husband bought her a gift certificate to my class as a Christmas gift and I was so excited when she sent me a picture of her opening up her gift on Christmas morning. I am so glad that her participation in the class lived up to the hype and I am so excited to share her interview and her wonderfully improved photos.

I also want to remind you that my Christmas in July email freebies will begin later this week on July 1st. Don’t pass up the opportunity to get summer photography tips and tricks delivered straight to your email box all month long. Click HERE to get on the Be Young Photography nice list!

Name: Meg Holden

Camera: Nikon D80 with 35mm  & 50mm lenses, and a zoom lens.

How many kiddos: 2 kids & a husband (big kid at heart)

Age(s): 3.5 year old and a 3 month old… both boys

Tell us a little about what makes your kids tick. What are their interests, hobbies, and favorites? What makes them unique?

My older son is very inquisitive and likes to discover how things work, or the why’s of the world.  He’s a typical 3.5 year old, high energy and enjoying discovering his (limited) independent world.  Right now he loves being a big brother and all the “jobs” that come with it.  He takes his role very seriously.  My younger son is brand new, still figuring the world out.  He just started smiling, giggling, and finding his voice…   The boys are learning to share mom, and are starting to interact more and more everyday.

Tell us what you love most about being a mom.

It’s such a gift watching these amazing little boys grow into young men.  I love being there to share in all their “firsts” and all the everyday stuff in-between.  I love the quiet cuddling, the funny faces, being there to kiss their boo boos, or wipe the tears away, or just being there watching from the sidelines.  I cherish every moment I get to share with them.  Watching them learn to spread their wings and fly.

Biggest frustration(s) with your photos pre-Momtography?

Having a really great camera and getting “point and shoot” looking pictures.   I wanted that “professional” look to come out of my fancy camera… but was afraid of taking the camera out of auto mode for fear I might mess up the settings forever; or completely miss the photo opportunity because I was either a) playing with the camera settings, or b) took the pictures only to find later that they were no good.  Another one of my biggest frustrations was Christmas picture or low light, either to ruin the moment with the flash and deer in the headlight expressions, or to take a chance and get a blurry shot.  Getting kids to sit still is not possible, so I tended to either only take pictures outside in bright sun, or use the flash and was disappointed with the results.

What was the best tip or trick you learned from attending Momtography that you were able to use right away?

Turn your FLASH OFF!! And click click click…

What is the BEST moment you’ve captured of your kids or family ever on camera? Anything special come to mind?

Introducing the boys to each other.  As a parent there is no greater gift you could give your children than a sibling, a lifelong friend and companion.



Why should other local moms consider attending a Momtography class?

Beryl has a gift for teaching.  She breaks down the complicated world of photography, and finds a way to put it all into mom terms.  By using examples that a typical parent might run into when trying to capture their own personal tornados, photography comes to life.  I am a complete amateur with limited time (Baby Finn was born 1 month after I took the course) to practice all that I learned from Beryl’s course.  But my photos improved leaps and bounds already. It’s like motherhood, sometimes you just have to take off the training wheels and hope for the best.  I am more confident to leave my camera OUT of auto mode, and so much happier with the results.


Wisdom Wednesday | Breathe

When there aren’t enough hours in the day and your to-do list is a mile long, don’t forget to BREATHE.

When life throws you a curve ball and the odds seem stacked against you, don’t forget to BREATHE.

When you’re striking a new pose on the yoga mat, don’t forget to BREATHE.

When the kids are all going bonkers and you need that one photograph of them all smiling at the camera, don’t forget to BREATHE.

When it’s time for bed and your mind is still racing, don’t forget to BREATHE.

When another year seems to be passing by waaaaaay to fast, don’t forget to BREATHE.

Today begins my annual summer vacation.  8 years of teaching complete.  The perk of having a teaching job by day is the annual hiatus that begins every June. This summer I’ll be snuggling with my “little love”, relishing in 6 weeks of stay at home motherhood, and launching some really special new photography ventures.

But for tonight I am going to forget responsibility, put away the camera, enjoy the sound of silence, ignore the to-do list and simply BREATHE.