Learn To Take Beautiful Photos With The Shoot 2017 Year Long Project

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post but all thoughts are my own.

I’ve really been working hard to improve my photos this past year and I think I’ve come a long way when it comes to photographing stationary objects for my blog posts. Taking pictures of the most important things (aka- my kids) has been a harder task to master. I feel like one of them is always moving or the photos look so forced with their pasted on smiles. I want to take more ‘real’ photos that capture genuine emotions and the smiles that come to their faces naturally.

I’m so excited to share about a photography project I’ll be joining over the next year called Shoot Along 2017 which was created by award-winning photographers, Amy Tripple and Heidi Peters. Designed specifically for parents, it encourages parents to remember to pull out their cameras more often to document the every day moments of life. Weekly photography lessons are sent via email to give structure and accountability to busy parents of ALL photography levels and help parents improve their photography skills.

Shoot Along 2017 membership includes:

  • Photography Instruction: Week-by-week photography lessons delivered by email. Learn new concepts, build on your existing skills, or embrace topics as inspiration to remain technically and creatively open-minded!
  • Inspiring interviews: Respected professional photographers from around the world give a glimpse into their personal images, sharing pictures of their own families. They will describe how they get shots that are meaningful and authentic.
  • Discounts & trends: The Shoot Along leaders keep an eye on what’s happening in the photography community so that you can concentrate on photographing your family. They’ve also arranged exclusive discounts for members throughout the year from suppliers of beautiful photo products.
  • A Supportive Online Community: The Shoot Along Facebook Group is a supportive online community where members connect & share photography throughout the year.
  • BONUS Editing Tutorials*: Step-by-step videos delivered by email each week will show you how to add magic to your images. *Editing uses Photoshop Elements 14, which must be purchased separately

The year long course covers all of these things:

Looking through the images from Shoot Along 2016, I’m inspired by all the parents that have been participating. I see unique angles, unusual crops and tiny details captured in ways I would have never thought of.

This is an example they showed on their site of how much techniques and creativity can dramatically improve your photos. Can you believe that these pictures below were taken just seconds apart with the same camera and same lens?

Here’s what past participants had to say:

  • “Shoot Along had been a tremendous resource for me. I was new when I joined… my boys see to it that I don’t have all that much time to participate, but I’ve taken away so much in the small amount that I have been able to be involved. I’ll definitely be joining again next year!
  • “[Shoot Along] has been an amazing resource for me as a photographer. It has been a great frequent reminder to get out and shootpictures of my own kids, which (as someone who does family photography part-time) I sometimes forget to do!”
  • “The lessons have been a great way to expand my creativity and try new things in my photography style. It’s been fun to see my work progress from what I thought was “pretty good” into something that continues to get better and better. I now have a collection of beautiful photos of my family that I’ll cherish forever!”
  • “The project has allowed me to capture experiences of my family that tells a story of who we are. From looking at lighting differently to seeing my everyday surroundings – these projects have really helped to open up what was definitely a narrow mindset.”
  • “I feel like I have such a better understanding of what goes into making a great image, from the basics of focus and composition to more artistic elements such as framing and color and texture. I will definitely be back!”

Want to join Shoot Along 2017? Now is the time to sign up because it starts January 1st! Typically this year long photo project costs $159, but it is on-sale for $129 through January 1st. Sign up here.

I also get to host a giveaway for Shoot Along 2017 so one lucky Making Time For Mommy reader can participate for free! See the giveaway below. Since this giveaway ends after the lessons start, I’d suggest signing up now so you don’t miss any lessons and then if you win you will be refunded for what you paid.

 

Fall Pictures {Taken By Mommy}

While we were on our picnic the other day I wanted to take some pictures of the boys since I actually had my nice camera and not just my phone. I haven’t touched up the photos, just posting the raw images. I think they came out pretty good considering I don’t have much experience taking pictures.

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Free Back To School Printables

Have a child heading back to school soon? Check out these great new back to school printables from Paper Coterie that are perfect for those first day of school pictures! There are preschool through twelfth grade ones available. Download them free here.

Image courtesy of Paper Coterie

 

10 Halloween Photo Opps Not To Forget

Image courtesy of Shutterfly. Do something special with you Halloween pictures and make a Halloween photo book! Currently their photo books are 50% off :)

(Disclosure: I was sent a Trick or Treat bag from Shutterfly with no requirement to post. I’m posting because I think these are great tips.)

The Stories Of Autism Gallery Is Live

Last month I told you about Stories Of Autism and the great photography experience we had with Megan of Firefly Nights Photography. {If you missed it you can find that post here}. I have been checking to see if the gallery was live pretty much every day and I’m happy to say that it went live this past weekend! Along with the beautiful photography are some stories and words full of love from the parents that raise these amazing children. {You will notice mine is a little short but that’s because I thought we were only supposed to write a couple sentences.}

**CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE COMPLETE 2012 STORIES OF AUTISM PHOTO GALLERY!!**

Stories Of Autism & Firefly Nights Photography

In December, Lucas was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. We found out about this wonderful non-profit, Stories of Autism, that is “dedicated to heightening autism awareness through the exhibition of its portraits and stories of children and adults on the autism spectrum.” They match children who have Autism to a local photographer to tell the children’s stories through a picture and we were matched with Megan of Firefly Nights Photography.

I was kind of nervous because our last experience {at a department store photography studio} was an absolute disaster. My children were antsy and didn’t want to sit still which made it difficult to get a good picture but, even worse, was the negative attitude of the photographer. Every minute or so she’d make a comment or disgusted noise every time my 3 year old son moved. Not only did she do this in front of our family but she made the comments loud enough for people outside the room to hear. I was embarrassed and furious at the behavior of this so called “manager” of the studio so I finally just blurted out that they had special needs. It stopped the constant stream of comments on her end and I got a “sorry, I didn’t know”. I was so upset that, after over 3 and a half years of going to the same photography studio, I never returned to get pictures taken there again. I even received a coupon for free portraits as an “apology” from their corporate office but my experience was so horrible that I don’t intend to use it. I didn’t want anything free. I just wanted assurance that these photographers would receive training on dealing with children who had special needs so no family would ever have to go through what ours went through.

I didn’t know that there were photographers out there who specialized in taking pictures of children who have special needs.

After being matched with Megan I looked through her site and saw that she took stunning pictures. That was wonderful but what really excited me was that she had experience working with children who had special needs and was the mother of one herself. Even more reassuring was the contract that I had to sign that had a rule saying parents could not apologize for their child’s behavior. It was comforting to know that I was not going to have to stress out if Lucas didn’t sit still or if he had a meltdown. She would understand because she’s been there, too.

On St. Patrick’s Day we headed over to her photography studio. My mom came with so she could help with Jacob while Lucas was getting his pictures taken. The Firefly Nights Studio was nice and spacious and Megan encouraged my two little sensory seekers to run from one end of the room to the other while we got set up. Deciding that it would be tough to get pictures of Lucas while his brother was there my mom took Jacob out for a walk. We started with trying to take pictures of Lucas jumping on the bed but he didn’t want to do that. Megan did get some great shots of him on the bed laying down. Here’s one of them:

Megan was very patient and had no problem switching up what she was doing depending on Luke’s cues. She didn’t try to force any poses {which my little opinionated Lucas would not have allowed anyways}. Eventually he ended up sitting on a crate in another part of the studio, eating a lollipop and playing with a box of band-aids. Megan assured me that she could edit some of the shots so those distractions wouldn’t be in the pictures. She ended up with a beautiful photo to send in for Stories of Autism that I absolutely love. You can see which image she chose over in her blog post.

I am so thankful for Megan donating her time to Stories of Autism. I wanted to share that she also does something special for Autism Awareness Month in April. She has two days that she offers mini sessions to families with no session fee and no minimum order. April 14th she is offering sittings for children with Autism and on April 22nd she is having “sibling day” and taking pictures of children who have a sister or brother on the spectrum. You can learn more about these very special days on Megan’s blog. Sessions are filling up fast (if not full already) so make sure to contact her as soon as you can.

If you take your child, with special needs or not, to Firefly Nights Photography I’d love to hear about your experience and see the pictures you get taken!

(Disclosure: My son received a free photography session and we are receiving a disk of images since we visited through Stories Of Autism. I was not compensated to write a post about our experience but I wanted to because we had such an amazing experience and I want other families in the Chicago area to know that getting pictures taken of their special needs children can be a great experience.)