Throwback Thursday: Photo Centric


This month we’re taking a look back at some photo-centric posts. We can make dramatic improvements one our scrapbook pages by simply improving our photography. Over the years, we’ve covered so many timeless tips for improving photos. Here are a few of my favorites!

Learning Your Camera

Getting Out of Auto


Understanding ISO | Completing The Exposure Triangle

Understanding Shutter Speed

Working With White Balance

Understanding Aperture

A Lesson About Exposure

What’s That Little Line Thingy?

What’s That Little Line Thingy 2?

Improving Your Technique

What’s Your Angle

Great Photo Backgrounds Without Backdrops

Shoot One Thing

Creating Light When None Is Available

How to See the Light

How to Work the Shot

5 Exercises To Improve Your Photography

8 Tips for Great Candid Photos

How To See Your Photos With A Critical Eye

How to Photograph People in Glasses

Dealing With Dappled Light

Wait for the Moment

My Secret Weapon

Phone Photography

When You Don’t Have Your Big Camera

Smart Phone Photography Resources


Last year, I wrote a post called Photo Angles You Might Not Have Thought Of. I love inspiring and helping people with their photos and how to be creative with them as they try to tell their story in their images.

Today I’m back with another angle or method for photos: Only part of a photo.

While some people don’t like photos that look like they are chopped off or too tightly cropped, these kinds of images can be powerful storytellers. They invite people in to wonder…to let their minds fill in the gaps of the story.

Just like any other ambiguous image, our minds will complete was is lacking. It’s a pretty cool phenomena.

Photos like these are also good to help draw attention to just one thing. In this image, I could have photographed my son so you could see all of him, but that really wan’t the point of the story I was trying to tell. For months and months he called these little guys “my pets.” I wanted an image that showed how tenderly he cared for them. This didn’t necessitate his face being in the photo. Showing only part of the image is a much more powerful storyteller.

In this photo, I wanted to emphasize that my daughter was jumping and jumping HIGH. But cutting off her head, I can give the impression the is jumping right out of the frame.

In this last photo, taken just a few weeks ago, my son took my photo and was copying me—taking pictures of things he thought were beautiful. By moving in close and cropping much of his body out, I can tell the real story, with the emphasis being on the phone and the little flower.

I always encourage people to get their camera out and try new things. You never know what images you’ll end up loving!



Read what our first participants had to say about the class:

Enjoyed this class very much; Janet does a wonderful job of showing what she does. I’ve had LR for a year now, and after watching her, I feel more confident that I can make a difference with my photos.

I took this class as a Lightroom novice and I marvel at what I have learned in a short few weeks. This has changed the way I scrapbook!!

The class was more than I hoped for. I loved being able to communicate with Janet and other students; The content was well organized, easy to follow and Janet is a great teacher. It’s great getting to keep the content and videos for future reference, too. I’ve already bought another class!

I enjoyed seeing the processes Janet used to edit her photos. This class taught me what to look for and how to fix it.

This class gave me the courage to just load my photos into the LR catalog. All the additional information is icing on my photo cake. Clear, concise information and the downloadable videos are a great help. Because we all know once is never enough. 😉

Check out the video! (


Check out the video below to learn more and then head over to our classes page to get all the details and get registered!


If you register between today (September 24) and Monday (September 26), you’ll get $15 off the already amazing price.

P.S. As an extra added bonus, those that register between now and September 27 will receive my Lightroom Mini Class that was part of the March 2016 Digi Files….something to do while you wait for the class to start 🙂

From Above

Last week, I share how important it is to stoop to their level when taking photographs of children. I argued that a good photo would show the world from the vantage point of the child.

However, I have also shared that there are other photo angles you might not have thought of.

The angle in which you capture an image makes a different in the story you are telling. While shooting at the eye level of a child is often the best choice, there are other angles that at times tell a better story.

A few weeks ago, for example, my kids were out on the front porch playing with playdough (that my mommy bragging must say was made completely by my ten-year-old for his little siblings).

After taking a few photos straight on, I decided to try a different angle. I will often shoot multiple angles in order to see which I like best. I stepped up on the picnic table and shot from above.

I loved the vantage point I had and I kept shooting.

I love that you can see my three little ones all at once. I can’t see their faces, but I can see their little hands and I can see them all playing together. I see the playdough creations and the way they are interacting. I see the bright and happy colors of childhood and I see little details of who they are (my son is just in a t-shirt, my eight-year-old has the watch and hair band she loves to wear on her wrist, and my five-year-old is in a tutu).

Shooting from above let me tell a story I couldn’t capture from standing beside them.

Stooping to Their Level

One of the biggest mistakes parents make when photographing their children is to take photos from the vantage point of an adult. Most often, parents see a cute scene in front of them and they snap a picture. The problem is, as adults we are obviously much taller than our children. We end up with a “looking down on them” image.

These pictures don’t capture childhood because they are in actuality, capturing adulthood — meaning, the photo is simply showing what a child looks like from where an adult is standing. Rarely is it a good image (there are always exceptions!)

When we want to capture children in our photographs, we have to get down to see their world from their eyes. In doing so, a whole new world opens up and we enter into their world.

A few weeks ago, I was at the park with my kids. My three year old was playing on the swing as little ones like to do: he was swinging on his belly.

I could have stood over him and taken a picture, but instead, I sat down on the ground and photographed him from there.

The resulting images capture the world from his vantage point. He looks sweet and innocent, just as he should!

My older son was also playing on the swings, in the way older boys do. In order to get these images, I had to almost lay on the ground and shoot up.

As I mentioned in my post, Photo Angles You Might Not Have Thought Of, taking pictures from various angles is one of the best ways to improve your photography. When taking pictures of young children, try getting down to see what they see and capture their world rather than your own.

Dealing With Dappled Light

As I have grown in my photography journey, I have found myself being more and more picky about locations, ideal conditions, and getting the “perfect” shot. I am far from a flawless photographer (even looking at photos from a year ago make me frustrated due to all the mistakes I made.) However, as photography has become more near and dear to my heart, I have become more intentional in my efforts to create great images.

But that mentality can hold me back from actually being a part of my memories. I am a storyteller photographer, and like all stories, conditions and situations are not always perfect. Imagine: a story whose basic plot line is

“She was happy, healthy, wealthy and wise, and everything went her way. The end.”

No one is going to be hitting refresh to be the first to purchase that book!

A few weeks ago, my family and I took advantage of a rare North Carolina summer day when the temperatures were only expected to reach 80°. We drove to Hanging Rock State Park, looking forward to a beautiful hike somewhere we hadn’t been.

Admittedly, I usually plan our hiking trips for either early in the morning or late in the day. I could claim sunburn and heat as my reason, which wouldn’t be entirely untrue, but more than that—I am sad to say—is because I don’t want to deal with the bright sun and its results in my photos: dappled light.

So what is dappled light?

Dappled light is the light coming through trees or other objects that leaves a crazy maze of light and shadows on your subject(s). Sometimes it can be beautiful, especially when it helps create beautiful bokeh (the pretty little circles of light), but most of the time it is just frustrating.

With light coming through the trees, especially close to midday when the sun is overhead, you end up with all sorts of patches of light and shadows. When both of those things end up on your subject, it is impossible to expose properly and you end up with a speckled person. See the bright spots on my daughter’s forehead, my son’s elbow, the rocks, and my daughter’s clothes?

So yes, it bothers me. And yes, I try to avoid it by taking pictures later in the day (or on a cloudy day) when it won’t be as much of an issue. But you know what? Creating and preserving memories is much more important than having perfect photos. Hiking is something our family does a lot of and I want to have photos chronicling our many adventures of the years—perfect or not.

A quick side note:

If we were talking about professional portrait photography, then dappled light, especially on a subject’s face, would be completely inappropriate. But imperfect photos of a perfect day of hiking? Completely acceptable (especially when I am probably the only person in my family that will notice or care!)

But just because I can learn to be okay with imperfect, it doesn’t mean there aren’t a few options for dealing with dappled light. It can’t be avoided, but it can be dealt with.

Here are three strategies for dealing with dappled light:


I can get annoyed, not take the photo, or delete it when I do. Or, I can just be okay with working with what I have because…how cute are they? My sweet girls snuggled on a rock without me asking. My cutie-patootie son holding up his “power stick.” These are precious moments I don’t want to miss.

2. LOOK FOR BETTER (even if not perfect) OPPORTUNITIES

I definitely choose the special moments over perfection. However, as we were hiking, I was also looking for moments when the sun wouldn’t cause dappled light. I was aware of times when we hit pockets of shadow or when I could have my kids turn or me move to another angle when the sun wouldn’t hit their face(s).


I have explained some of the reasons I choose to use black and white photos. Dappled light is a situation that falls under the “poor photo quality reason.” Although far from perfect, the intentional use of black and white can go a long way it taking away the distraction of poor lighting. This is the same photo, but the black and white helps take away the distraction of blight spots and instead helps draw the focus back to the subjects.

Special memories always trump perfect photos, but it doesn’t mean I can’t look for strategies to work with what I have!

——> How about you? Do you have certain photo situations that cause you trouble or frustration?

Photo Angles You Might Not Have Thought Of

Photography is a true love of mine. I adore scrapbooking, but if in the end I had to choose between a camera and a computer, I would choose a camera—no hesitation.

My photography journey has been a long one. Every few years, as time in life allows, I become more intentional in my learning and growth as a photographer. In 2006, I bought my first DSLR. In 2008, I learned to shoot in manual. In 2012, I switched entirely to Lightroom for my editing. And in 2014, I started to stretch myself, trying new subjects, new perspectives, new lenses, and new techniques.

When I talk to people about improving their photography, one of my first pieces of advice is to simply take lots of pictures. The act of taking pictures every day, in many different ways, will always improve your photography. Whether it is because you got just the right look on your child’s face or if you try something and fail, practice makes perfect progress.

One of the best ways to practice your photography is to try different angles. In essence, photography is simply storytelling. And like any good story, hearing/seeing multiple perspectives always enriches the experience of the hearer/listener. An angle of a photo can make all the difference!

Way back in 2009, I wrote a post asking, “What’s Your Angle?” In the post I shared examples of how the angle you capture a subject in powerfully impacts the image. It’s hard to believe the angle of a photo can take you

from this:

to this:

But it’s true.

Here are some of my favorite angles to shoot from. Each of them serves a purpose and evoke different feelings and emotions. Perhaps some of these are ones you haven’t thought of (or hadn’t tried in a long time).

If you want to take your photography to the next level, you have to get out and practice. For a great experience, choose one thing (or person) to photograph, and try each of the angles mentioned. You’ll be amazed at the variety of shots and how much perspective changes the story.

And let me know how it goes!

Don’t Be Afraid to Fail

“To get good, it’s helpful to be willing, or even enthusiastic, about being bad. Baby steps are the royal road to skill.”

Daniel Coyle, The Talent Code

I love to read non-fiction books, my favorite being books about the brain and how it functions. Weird, I know, but fascinating nonetheless.

Earlier this year, I read The Talent Code, by Daniel Coyle. It is one of my most recent favorites, for a zillion and two reasons. The essence of the book is that talent isn’t born, it’s grown. And in the growth process, there is lots and lots of failure. If we want to be good at something, the author states, we must be willing to fail. Only in failure is greatness possible.

I have thought long and hard about this and I have discussed it endlessly with my kids, as it pertains to so many areas in life.

It is so easy for us to have the desire to be good at something, only to throw up our hands when it isn’t as easy as it looks or because we aren’t as good as “so and so.” However, with persevernce and a lot of mistakes, we can and will get better.

I’m thankful for this in so many ways, one of which is my photography. I was looking back at photos from 2008, a time when I thought I was soooo talented. And oh dear, the truth is: I was bad. And yet, eight years later, two other things are also true:

  1. I am much better. I’m not great, and I am by no means an expert, but I am growing in my skills and abilities.
  2. Although not photographically, my photos weren’t anything special, they are still my stories and for that reason, I still love them.

I still want to grow as a photographer. Being brave to try something new, I finally attempted panning. For those of you who don’t know, “Panning is a photographic technique that combines a slow shutter speed with camera motion to create a sense of speed around a moving object. It is a way to keep your subject in focus while blurring your background.”

I’ve seen many examples of panning and I was a bit envious. I was pretty sure I couldn’t do it, and so I never tried. The chances of my photos looking like these was highly unlikely. (click photos for source)

And yet, in the spirit of willing to fail in order to get better, I gave it a shot (no pun intended). And you know what?


I’ll put my photos into three categories: Bad, better, and almost. And then two bonus photos.






As you can clearly see, I didn’t get it right. But you know what? I got better.

It was my first try, and I did it without any directions. When I try again, I’ve now read enough to know more of what settings to use and how to go about it. I am sure I will fail again, but at some point, if I keep working on it, I will succeed.

In failing, I learned two important things:

1. Failing really does make you better. “Don’t look for the big, quick improvement. Seek the small improvement one day at a time. That’s the only way it happens—and when it happens, it lasts.” — John Wooden

2. Sometimes the worst mistakes end up being the best thing that happened:


Don’t give up. If you want to be great at something, be willing to fail.