Photography Tips

The Power of Kind Words | 'Only Little Once' | Hampton Roads Photography Education

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I'm a big believer in letting the people in your life know what they mean to you. If you've learned from them, been inspired, or they have helped you in some way... shining a light on them helps you both shine brighter!

This might be why I love complimenting strangers. If you're out shopping with me, just know I'll stop someone at Target to compliment their hair or mention how patient they are being with their toddler. We ALL need words of affirmation, even if that's not our primary love language. ;)

There’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.
— Scott Adams

This week, I got the sweetest email from a previous student of the Only Little Once workshop. Emily is an amazing Mom of four sweet kiddos. I have photographed her family, mentored her in photography and I'm so grateful for her heart and friendship!

Since she's had her hands full (four kids, remember?) I was so moved she took the time to send me this thoughtful review complete with before and after example pictures. Talk about blown AWAY! Emily has always had talent with her pictures, but she is next level now! The lifestyle images she takes of her own kids... are beautiful. 

Reading this email, I had just gotten home from a beach session and was covered in sand. Pretty soon, I was blubbering through tears and showing my husband the email. It made my week! This is what kind words can do, friends.

From Emily:

"For as long as I can remember, I have loved photography. I love capturing those magical moments that become memories. 

And once I had children, that love of capturing those memories grew even more. Since I couldn't slow or stop time, I had the desperate desire to at least preserve it through photographs. My photos weren't "bad," but they weren't incredible either. I longed to take beautiful "frame worthy" images of my family, but somewhere there was a disconnect between what I was envisioning in my mind and what I was actually able to produce. 

Then my husband gave me the gift of a seat in Erin's Only Little Once course. To say it was life changing is not an overstatement. It was less than an hour into the class when a lightbulb went off and all of those little pieces of knowledge I had about photography clicked into place. Thanks to Erin's gift of teaching, I FINALLY "got" the puzzle!

I used to rely on post processing software to "fix" my photos since I could never seem to get them just right in camera. Now I use it only to enhance the incredible images I am getting straight out of the camera. 

If you have a love of photography, if you long to take beautiful photographs of your family, friends, or other interests, if you feel like you're holding some of the pieces but just can't seem to get those images right in camera - this course is for you! Erin is incredibly talented, warm, knowledgable, and, above all, an excellent teacher. You will be so glad you invested in this course and in your photography. After all - they truly are Only Little Once!"

Yep. This was me reading the email... only with crazy hair and sandy feet. The BEST!! I'm so grateful. xoxo

Look at these adorable before and after images!

Before:

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After:

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Before:

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After:

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If you can connect with anything Emily said, then I want to personally invite you to this workshop! I created this for Moms, Foster Moms, Fur-Moms, Hobbyists, Grandmas, anyone who wants to learn their camera. If your DSLR is sitting in the closet collecting dust... let's change that! 

The Details:

Saturday, July 28th in Virginia Beach

2-4:30 PM

Cost: $120

Includes a learning manual, instructional time, an opportunity to practice AND membership to our private, VIP Facebook group!

* If you register by July 1st, use the coupon code 'EARLYBIRD' to save $10! Yay!*

Space for the workshop is limited and seats are filling! For more details:

If you know this workshop is for you, YAY! Let's do this!


I can't wait to see you next month! If you have questions or are wondering if this is for you - I totally get it. Please feel free to email me and let's chat. :)

xoxo

Erin

3 Myths Around Starting a Photography Business | Hampton Roads Photography Educator

Raise your hand if you've ever thought...

"I would love to own my own business... I need more flexibility for my family."

"How are these photographers managing all.the.things!? They must be way more organized than me."

"What if I could make side income for my family doing something I love?"

"I'd love to run a photography business, but I'm just not "there" yet with my skills."

Friend, I am raising my hand with you. About five years ago, I was in the beginning stage of my dreaming. Wondering if I could provide for my family even if I wasn't where I wanted to be yet. If your arm is falling asleep because it's still raised - this is for you!!

I made a short video where I talk about 3 myths we tell ourselves around starting a photography business. I hope it inspires you to take that next step, because you have SO much to offer. 

Here's a brief summary of what I chat about in the video: 

Myth #1. Everything has to be perfect and then I'll start my business!

Truth: Nothing is ever going to be perfect. If you wait for perfection, you may never start. Focus on slow progress instead and moving in the right direction.

Myth #2. There's too many photographers in my area - it's already saturated!

Truth: Every market is different! There is a photographer for every person. Focus on using your gifts to bring more beauty into the world. Your talents and vision are needed!

Myth #3. I'm not good enough yet. Who would hire me?

Truth: Change your mindset! Quiet those self-defeating thoughts. You are unique and have so much to offer! 

I hope this encouraged you today! Let me know in the comments if owning a business is a goal of yours. Maybe you're in the beginning phases of building a portfolio and feeling totally overwhelmed. Just try to do the next thing on your list. Focus on your own path and remember you're not alone on the journey!

xoxo

Erin

Focus on What You Love | Photography Tips

At some point on your photography journey, you will hit a wall. Some sort of creative roadblock that leaves you feeling uninspired, frustrated or just... meh.

I'm not saying this is guaranteed at all, but I don't think I've met a photographer (or any artist) that has just glided seamlessly through his or her career. In fact, the BEST photographers out there have gone through phases or transitions and come out even stronger on the other side! I try to remember this when my well of creativity is running low. 

So how do we push through and find inspiration to pick up the camera again? It's not always this simple, but I try to re-focus on what I love. 

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Forgive the pun, but when we shift our artistic focus back to what really matters - it can really light us up! So, first things first. Ask yourself a couple questions:

1. What do you love to photograph? List them all. The options are endless!

You might love photographing your own kids, the backyard wildlife, beach sunsets, expectant moms or that new cookie recipe you tried last week. 

2. Which of these haven't you photographed in the last 3-6 months?

Has it been awhile since you focused on your favorite subject? Is there something you love, but haven't tried yet? Make a note of it. If you are in business, have you been head down in client work and missing your family's day-to-day? I've been guilty of this, so I tend to focus during the Winter months on images I want to create of my girls.

3. Take a mental image of what you want to capture. Close your eyes and imagine the completed image you want to take. It could be a series of pictures, but I want you to really grab it in your mind. Stay flexible though, we know things don't always happen how we envision. And aiming for perfection can sometimes set us up for disappointment. Especially when we're trying to get our toddlers to comply, haha!

4. Plan to make it happen! Even if it feels like homework, do it anyway. Stretch yourself and remember how much you love this subject - whatever it may be. 

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The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it.
— Ansel Adams

I hope this was encouraging for you! If your creative juices have been feeling dried up, just know you are in good company. We're all on this journey together! So lean in and set your lens on what you love.

Happy Valentine's Day, friends!

xoxo

Erin

P.S. If you're looking for more inspiration and tips, sign up for the EAP Education Newsletter! A fresh one is hitting inboxes this week. Click below to sign up! :)

3 Easy Ways to Improve Your Images | Photography Education for Moms

I love that photography is a continual journey. One where you're constantly learning something new and asking more questions. Pushing yourself as an artist is one of the best ways to improve your skills!

Unless you do something beyond what you’ve already mastered, you will never grow.
— Ronald E. Osborne

Here are 3 easy ways you can improve your images today! Can't wait to see what you create. :)

1. Skip the center framed pictures. When you begin paying attention to image composition and framing - you start to notice it everywhere! Consider famous paintings or photographs - they are rarely with the subject in the very center of the image, looking at the viewer. Sometimes this can be really soulful and powerful. But, I would encourage you to think outside of the box with this. Not sure where to start? Open up Google and search: Rule of Thirds. This popular photography 'rule' helps you understand composition a bit more. 

This image from The Office (who's binging episodes on Netflix with me?!) is a great example of the Rule of Thirds! #lovehim

 Source: Google Images

Source: Google Images

2. Look for even light. Shadows are fun and dramatic light can be amazing to experiment with! But, when first starting out, look for even, flat light to photograph your subjects in. I will sometimes use the back of my hand when finding light. I move it around to observe where the light is falling and if it's uneven. This will help with proper exposure in camera. Too many variations of light can be frustrating when learning manual mode - your meter will be hopping around like crazy!

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3. Get eye level. I love exploring angles, it's a powerful tool to use when photographing families. But, my favorite way to capture the portrait of a child - is on their level! I am pretty tall (like Amazon 6'1 status lol) so I always drop a knee when photographing little ones. Next time, get low when capturing your kiddo and see what a difference it can make!

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That's it! Now, get out there with your camera and start clicking, friends. :)

Want more tips? The EAP Education Newsletter is hitting inboxes this week! Sign up below for more updates, inspiration and photography support. Chat soon! xoxo

5 Tips for Christmas Morning Picture Prep! | Hampton Roads Photography Education

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1. Charge Batteries. This may seem obvious, but with the chaos of Christmas Eve - it can easily be one more thing that slips your mind. Prepare now! Charge and have back up memory cards and batteries ready to go. Set your camera in an ideal spot so that you can capture your kid's reaction as soon as they see the tree! Lay this all out well in advance so you're not scrambling last minute.

2. Set the Scene. Christmas decorations are so festive and happy, but can easily become cluttered. Take a moment to tidy up the space/background where your family will spend most of Christmas morning. Toss any newspapers, paper clutter or stray items. That way, the focus of your pictures will be on the memories and not last week's laundry piles! ;) 

3. Consider Camera Settings. - With all the paper flying and excited kiddos, make sure your shutter speed is high enough to freeze the action. I would suggest not shooting under a 1/200 shutter speed. Don't be afraid to increase your ISO, because most likely - it will still be dark out. You'll be relying on artificial light unless your kids are angelic wonders who actually sleep past dawn on Christmas Day. If that's your situation, I would keep that information to yourself, hahaha! Yes, a higher ISO may add more grain to your images, but they should print just fine. Consider how you want to use these images and if they are just for your family - then remember, it doesn't have to be perfect! 

4. Make A Mess! Resist the urge to pose your kids. Let them enjoy and try to capture the big moments. Not everything needs to be documented, but maybe there is that one special gift from Dad that you would love to see your daughter's reaction. Pick and choose what matters and then put the camera down in between. You can always stage images after or try again. No stress!

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5. Grab Those Details. I love capturing the sweet, messy bedhead of my girls. Their fuzzy slippers and chipped nail polish. These are things that pull at my Momma heart. I always take a few of these on Christmas morning to tuck into a family album.

Bonus Tip: Get in the Frame and Enjoy! If you have a tripod and remote, try to capture the whole family after the present opening is done. If not, prop your camera up on the couch and set the self-timer. Or, even better, pass the camera to someone else and have them capture you opening a gift or snuggling your kids. Mothers disappear from memories because we are often the ones behind the camera. Let's change that! Then, sit back and enjoy yourself. Your family deserves your attention, so try not to focus too much on capturing every shot. 

I hope these tips encouraged you! If you're looking for a photography community, come just us in the 'Stay Little' Lounge over on Facebook. We'll be sharing our messy memories and cheering one another on. See you there!

 

Merry Christmas, friends!

xoxo

Erin

'Only Little Once' Workshop | Hampton Roads Photography Education

Oh, Facebook Memories. Gets me EVERY time. I open up my FB app and am suddenly inundated with adorable images of my babies. WHY must they grow so fast!? I'm proud and broken-hearted all at the same time. Word on the street? This doesn't end. 

Ain't no 'hood like Motherhood. 

It's been amazing to watch my girls grow and change - but these snapshots are also a great reminder of how MY photography has grown! I was that Mom with the new DSLR taking ALL the pictures in Auto mode with no idea how to manipulate natural light or what all the buttons meant on my fancy camera.

Can you relate? While reading this if you find yourself nodding in agreement, then I have a photography workshop just for you! In the years I've been offering "Only Little Once" it has grown to share the love of photography with dozens of local Moms and hobbyists.

I'm gonna have to take a moment to humble brag on a few ladies. Here are their amazing before and afters! You guys - this is better than those weight loss side-by-side comparisons, LOL!

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MomTog Kristen has grown SO much in a short time. From auto mode with on-camera flash to manual mode with natural light. Check out her photography journey over on her Facebook page:

Little Moments Photography by Kristen Stewart

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MomTog Abigail has grown leaps and bounds! Although she had dabbled with manual mode before the workshop, she struggled with nailing focus and accurate white balance. She now captures beautiful and timeless images of her kiddos straight out of camera. No editing necessary! ;)

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MomTog Emily loved taking pictures of her littles, but was still frustrated with settings. She's now confident in her skills and is dabbling with editing! Love this before and after of her oldest girl. :)

The Facebook group is so motivational and positive!
— Kristen

After the workshop, all attendees are added to our VIP Grad Facebook group. It's a thriving community of supportive Moms and hobbyists just like you. No big, scary page with thousands of other strangers. Just a tight-knit group of ladies who love taking pictures of their littles, pets, and the world around them. It's a safe place to grow, ask questions and find inspiration. You'll also be able to join in our PhotoWalks we have 1-2 times a year. Check them out here:

Neon District PhotoWalk

Brock Environmental Center PhotoWalk

We can't wait for you to join us! :)

Still not sure if this is for you? Want to start learning now?! Join our FREE group, the "Stay Little Lounge" over on Facebook! Scroll through the posts and videos for inspiration, education and community. See you there!

Keep on clickin'! :)

xoxo

Erin

3 Outfit Tips for Cooler Days | Hampton Roads Family Photographer

Don't worry, I haven't decided to become a fashion blogger, haha! BUT, I do know the temps are dropping and families (okay, mainly Moms because #realtalk) often ask me for advice on how to dress their families for a session.

Luckily, we still have mild and even some warm days ahead here in Hampton Roads. November and December outdoor sessions are certainly cooler, so be sure to plan accordingly! Because nobody likes to be cold - especially the kiddos. Here are some tips on how you can dress to keep everyone cozy and toasty! 

1. Layer it up. Dress littles in several, warm layers underneath their 'fancier' clothes. Thermal long johns, leggings and thick socks will keep the wind from cutting right through their top layers. Opt for a cute puffer vest, tailored jacket or fleece-lined pants. Remember, fit matters in photos so avoid anything too big or bulky. I usually buy winter coats a size larger so my girls will use them for two Winters, but they are not the best choice for pictures. Save your receipts and watch the forecast! Shop ahead and return anything you don't end up needing. #MomHack

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2. Accessorize smartly. Hats, beanies, mittens, gloves, scarves, earmuffs, capes - the options are endless for everyone in the family. In my experience, kids often complain of cold wind on their hands and ears. Keeping those two covered during a chilly session will be well worth it. Plus, there is SO much cute stuff out there! Hit up Target or Old Navy and grab some color coordinated options juuuust in case. 

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3. Include a cozy blanket and/or use your surroundings. Have a favorite family blanket or quilt? Bring it along! Some of my favorite images are ones where everyone is snuggled up together. :) Also, position yourself in a location with tall trees or buildings. This will cut down on the cold wind whipping through and leaving everyone exposed in the open. 

Try your best to keep everyone comfy and then get some hot cocoa/tea after! Starbucks stop on the way home? Totally been there :)

Stay cozy, friends! xoxo

3 Reasons to Pick Up Your Camera This Fall | Hampton Roads Photography Education

Let's be real here. Do you have a DSLR camera somewhere in your hall closet right now? Or maybe it's packed up on the top shelf of your pantry?

Wherever it might be lurking - I want you to think about the last time you used it. Did you take pictures last Christmas morning and it hasn't seen the light of day since? I get it. Life is busy and full. I totally get how overwhelming it can be to learn something new. Especially with that handy Iphone camera in your pocket. 

Can I just encourage you today? I want you to feel motivated and inspired to pick up your big camera. Grab that beast off the shelf and challenge yourself this Fall!

And if you're still dragging your feet and thinking of 362 excuses - here's an extra kick in the proverbial pants. ;) 

1. Your kids are busy doing ALL the things. Soccer games, trick-or-treating, pumpkin carving, pony rides, apple picking, treat baking, bike riding... I mean, there are a TON of fun memories being made this season. Everyone says that childhood flies by, but you don't realize how fast until you're the Mom and those babies are growing at warp speed. Let's freeze time just a little bit. 

2. Better Conditions. With sunset time moving earlier, that means you don't have to keep your littles up past bedtime to utilize the best light. Temps are mostly cooler and those pesky mosquitoes are on their way out. Head out shortly after dinner time and pre-bath time to get some practice in. Kids sometimes need a switch in routine. Make it a fun weeknight adventure. :)

3. Golden Hour is really golden. Fall (in my nerdy opinion) has THE best light. It's my favorite. Golden beams and a softness that just doesn't exist in July. Pay attention next time you're walking around your neighborhood at sunset. As the leaves changes and the sun drops, it creates absolute magic. And so much of photography is about the light. Use it well!

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Are you wanting more encouragement and support with your photography? Join the 'Stay Little' Lounge Facebook group and get access to helpful tutorials, fun challenges and motivation to pick up your camera today. See you there! :)

The Art of Imperfect Workshop Recap | Hampton Roads Photographer Education

Ever realize how passionate you are about something when you talk about it to someone else? This is how I've always been. When I get talking, I use my hands a LOT. I start talking louder. 

 Really loud.

 I get extremely passionate and excited and can't shut up. I really can't control it. It all just rushes out of my mouth and I feel a little bad for whoever was listening on the other end, LOL. My husband usually laughs at me and says, "You've got that look in your eye again." It's true. But, it's an excellent gut-check for me to have these little outbursts. Did I mention I have very patient and understanding friends and family!?

It means something has lit a fire in me and I should probably follow that calling. If not, it's like trying to walk around with that kind of energy inside all the time. Not always a good idea, ha!

The Art of Imperfect Workshop started because of these spirited talks I've had with others about lifestyle photography. That imperfect art of capturing families in an authentic and story telling manner that goes beyond a simple pose.

Saturday's workshop was such a dream and I'm so grateful to all the attendees, models and artists who made it possible! Six months ago, this workshop was not even on my radar. The fact that it happened still feels pretty surreal. Here are some of my favorite images from the day!

Makeup: BlushTones Artist: Meg Bryan

Models: The Meek Family - The Fulrath Family

Special thanks to BlogStomp and Lens Pen for helping spoil the attendees!

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I loved the controlled chaos of the shooting portion of the workshop, LOL! So much fun, I can't wait to see all the images. :)

So grateful for these fabulous families - are they cute or what? :)

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The sweetest group of photographers joined us as well. Thanks to Dana Rae Photography for sending over these awesome behind-the-scenes shots. So much fun! 

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Loved my time with these talented ladies! I can't wait to see them grow as artists even more. Family Photography takes a certain heart - and these gals have it! xoxo

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Interested in joining the next workshop? Be sure to sign up for the EAP Education Newsletter and you'll be the first to know details once they are released!

Brock Environmental Center PhotoWalk | Hampton Roads Photography Community

You guys have heard me brag on my workshop grads before - but I'm not kidding when I say that they are increeeeedible. I'm so grateful they found my classes, but even more thankful for their friendships. Over in the Only Little Once grad private Facebook group, we're sharing images, inspiration and support. It's a solid group of women and Moms who love photography and have said, "yes!" to pursuing their creative goals.

Their talent and genuine kindness to one another blows me away. Every month, we participate in fun challenges and I cannot believe how much growth I've seen! Many of them are beginning to specialize and it just makes my heart so happy.

This was our 2nd official PhotoWalk - last Spring we went to the Neon District in Norfolk, which was really fun. You can read about it HERE! This time, we decided to explore the Brock Environmental Center in Virginia Beach. I've head magical things about the sunsets there and wanted to scout it at golden hour. We had fun experimenting and challenging ourselves to think outside of the box. It was so refreshing and I loved the opportunity to shoot for myself after a busy Summer season. 

After sunset, we headed over to the Leaping Lizard Cafe off of Shore Drive, which was delicious! Highly recommend their salads and veggie lasagna. Perfection. :)

Here are a few favorites from our night!

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To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.
— Elliott Erwitt
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Do you want to be in the know about upcoming photography events and workshops? Sign up for the EAP Education Newsletter and you'll immediately receive FIVE Tips for Finding Light Indoors right to your inbox. Nothing spammy, just nerdy photog love!

Struggling with learning Lightroom or wanting to take the next step? I offer one-on-one mentoring sessions year round and would love to talk all things photography with you! 

Happy Friday, friends!

xoxo

Erin