Things Good Photographers Do….Apparently

I’ve noticed recently, from what I see on Instagram and Facebook, a few things that good photographers (apparently) do:

Make sure there is sun flare in every single photo they take and if it isn’t there add it in Photoshop. 

Take photos of your young children in a cart at target because target is..? High end Walmart?

Take photos of your babies in sinks (don’t forget the sun flare).

Take blurry photos but say it was “free lensed” which will make it trendy.

Take photos of your children splashing in puddles.

Take black and white photos of your children looking moody behind a leaf, leaves or tree limb.

Take photos of children on a swing, from underneath, make sure the sky is blue (sunflare? why yes, please).

Take photos of a child in a field of sunflowers (don’t forget the sun flare).

Take photos of your sleeping baby dressed in vintage clothes on completely white sheets (you should probably add some sun flare… Just to be sure.).

Take a photo of your child looking soulfully out of a large window.

Take a photo of a couple very small in one corner of the frame with rolling hills behind them (yes, duh. Add sun flare).

Take a photo of your child’s face illuminated only by the light of an iPad, leappad or something with the word pad or starting with the letter “I.”

Any other things good photographers should do? Let me know in the comments.

P.S. I may have done one or two of these things. *wink* except adding sun flare that wasn’t already there.

Tuesday tips for mom: Avoid saying ‘Look at the camera’

Every other Tuesday I will be offering practical photography tips for  moms who don’t consider themselves a photographer but still want to visually record the everyday lives of their children. These are merely tips or suggestions, not rules to follow. You should record your photographic memories for you in your own way and hopefully these suggestions will help give you ideas on how to do that.

For more photography tips see my What to Capture series. Other articles in the Tuesday Photography Tips for moms can be found in the Tips link at the top of the page or by clicking HERE.

If you are hoping to grab realistic, authentic images of your children, one tip I have is to avoid always asking them to look at the camera. 

I very rarely ask my children to look at the camera when I am photographing them. I prefer any image I take of a child to be as natural as possible, capturing their real personality. From my experience, children who are asked to look at a camera become self conscious or goofy, which sometimes is the enemy of authenticity.

Think about all the thoughts that race through your mind when someone suggests you look at a camera. Do you find your smiles and reaction forced? That reaction can be the same for children, though they might not think as much about what their hair looks like or how fat they look in their jeans. Instead, children think about putting on a show or being as silly as possible. Silly photographs and expressions are fun for a few photographs, but they won’t always show your child’s true personality.

You will actually find in most cases that a child will look at you even without you asking and that’s when you click the shutter.

Always be ready for the perfect photograph and perfect moment when you’re taking time to try to capture photographs of your children. 

Photographing them as they are engaged in an activity they enjoy, or interacting with someone they love, can create more authentic images of your children and also keep them more relaxed.  Their expressions when they do look at you will be less forced and more natural. 

Some ideas for activities to  help keep your child relaxed and capture authentic images,  maybe even a few looking at the camera, include:

  • Taking a walk in a park;
  • playing at a playground
  • jumping in the Fall leaves
  • interacting with their friends or a family member
  • place a loved one behind you as you photograph
  • swimming
  • hiking




Lisa R. Howeler is a wife and mom living in a small town located in northern Pennsylvania, less than a mile from the New York State border. She is a photographer, writer, chocolate lover, and one of those Jesus freaks your mama warned you about. Find her online at;; and Facebook,


Tuesday photography tips for moms: Get on their level | Athens, PA photographer

Every other Tuesday I will be offering practical photography tips for  moms who don’t consider themselves a photographer but still want to visually record the everyday lives of their children. These are merely tips or suggestions, not rules to follow. You should record your photographic memories for you in your own way and hopefully these suggestions will help give you ideas on how to do that.

For more photography tips see my What to Capture series. Other articles in the Tuesday Photography Tips for moms can be found in the Tips link at the top of the page or by clicking HERE.

This week my photography tips for moms (and dads for that matter) is to “get on their level.” In other words, when you photograph your child try to take less photos looking down on them, unless it is for an artistic reason. We’ve all done it – snapped a cellphone photo from our level and our child’s head looks huge and their feet small. This perspective can be used artistically but when used all the time it isn’t visually interesting ad doesn’t accurately portray your child for you future memories.

The looking down angle is great if you want to convey how small your child is in the big world or in comparison to the size of something or someone, for example, but it isn’t great when you miss out on a great expression your child has or an interesting activity your child is involved in.


My challenge to you is when you start to photograph your child as they are engaged in play or an activity, kneel or sit down or even lay down so your eye level is close to your child’s. Not only will this create a more compelling image that will bring viewers of your image into your child’s world,  it will also literally bring you into your child’s world. You will not only be on your child’s level with photography as a goal but with personal interaction being a result. 

Have you ever imagined what it is like for a child who has to always look up to see his or her parents? Not only is it probably bad for their spine alignment (don’t quote me on that, of course, instead ask your chiropractor) it creates an emotional distance between child and parent. Children are often delighted when Mom or Dad kneels down and looks them in the eye and actually converses with them instead of talking at them. 

In relation to photography, an image which creates eye contact with the viewer helps the viewer to see more of the subject’s true personality and see not only a pretty face but also, maybe, a little of the child’s soul.

I’m not a fan of asking a child to look at a camera because I find that causes them to either fake a smile or put on a show and not reveal their true selves. I catch most of my eye-contact photos when the child looks toward me or someone behind me.

Even if the child isn’t looking right into the camera, being down at the child’s level can create layers within your photograph that tell a story about what activity your child was engaged in.

Photographs taken from above, looking down, or from above, even looking up, have their place as well, so I’m not saying never take them (especially since I do all the time). We will discuss how different angles and perspectives in photographs tell a story in future posts. 


If you have any questions or comments,  feel free to comment below, contact me via the contact page or email me at

Lisa R. Howeler is a wife and mom living in a small town located in northern Pennsylvania, less than a mile from the New York State border. She is a photographer, writer, chocolate lover, and one of those Jesus freaks your mama warned you about. Find her online at;; and Facebook,

What to Capture: Tips for photographing baby showers

This is part of my weekly post, What to Capture, where I give you ideas what photographs you will want to capture at an event or family gathering to be sure you document the day for your memories.

To see previous posts you can see the link to the left or you can click HERE.

Your family member or friend is pregnant and you’re attending the shower. While the shower may not be as monumental as the birth, it’s still an exciting event the mother-to-be will love to have images of in the future.

We’ve all seen the photos from a similar event and usually the images are of the mama opening gifts and that’s about all. While photos of opening the gifts can mean smiles and laughs of the day documented to look back on, don’t forget the other important photographic opportunities. 

The mother-to-be may say she doesn’t want her photo taken because she feels fat. Be sensitive to mama’s feelings, but try your best to gently to remind her how much she will treasure the images after the baby is born and in the years to come. Remembering how friends and family came together to celebrate the arrival of a new baby, whether the first or otherwise, is more important than feeling fat.
If you choose to hire a photographer for the day, don’t be afraid to politely provide a list of images you would like captured from the day. If a friend is helping you, they will also appreciate some guidance on moments you would like to remember from the day.

The following list are suggestions for what to capture. These are suggestions, but you should follow your instinct on what you believe should be visually recorded from the day.

Mama with friends or family

Family and friends are attending the shower to celebrate the new life and the mama is going to want to remember that her guests felt she was special enough for them to take time out of their day to attend her shower and celebrate with her. Photographs of the mama with her guests, either individually or together as a group will create a nice visual memento of the day. You can accomplish these photos through candid interactions between mom and her guests or by asking them to take a moment and look at the camera. Either way, capturing each guest in the photos, in some way will be appreciated by your mom.

Mama with both grandmothers, aunts

Along the same lines of photographing the guests is the need to photograph mom with the grandmothers of the child and with any aunts who are in attendance. Traditionally, at least in the United States, baby showers are attended only by women, but if the grandfathers or uncles of the baby, or other special male members of the family, are in attendance then it’s important to capture them with mommy as well. 

Mama as she opens gifts

I don’t think mom will want photographs of every single gift being opened but a few images of the gift opening moments will be a good addition to the days’ collection of images. Photographs of the gifts themselves are less important than capturing mom’s reactions as she opens the gift. If a gift is especially special, either because of what it is or who it is from, be sure to capture some details of the packaging and of mom with the gift.

Mom with her friends playing shower games

If your baby shower features some fun shower games, be sure to photograph the moments of laughter that are sure to result from the guests interacting with each other. If you haven’t caught on, the theme of the day is “interactions” and “capturing them”.

Mom with daddy

If daddy attends the event, even to pick up some of the gifts at the end, a nice touch to the day would be to capture the expectant parents together. Daddies are important too, but often get left out of the baby shower phase, and in fact, a lot of the planning leading up to the baby’s birth. Remind Dad he’s as important as mom in the life of his child by including him in the celebration, even if it is only a photograph to say “he was there.”

Mom by herself

Keep in mind that for some women, being pregnant makes them feel self conscious. Hopefully it makes them feel beautiful because pregnancy can be one of the most special and amazing periods of time in a woman’s life. But if mom is sensitive to her appearance this day, be gentle and understand she may not want to pose for any photographs, especially if it means standing by herself. If mom is willing, good backdrops to a photo with her include the gifts or even a tree outside, if the baby shower is inside. If mom is uninterested in posing, capture her during the shower, instead of asking her to pose, which can often be uncomfortable, pregnant or not. Candid images are often the way to go when your attending an event, but of course I’d say this because natural and “in the moment” are my favorite photographs to take.

If you take the photographs yourself don’t forget to put the camera down part of the time and enjoy yourself, living in the moments of the event without looking through the viewfinder. And don’t overthink the photographs too much and cause unnecessary anxiety for a day that is meant to be fun and memorable. 

What  to Capture checklist, baby shower edition

  • Mama with friends and family (individually or as a group) 
  • Mama as she open gifts (it’s not important to photograph every gift she opens) 
  • Mama with the grandmothers either together or individually
  • Mama with aunts, sisters, friends, either as a group of individually
  • Mama and her friends playing shower games
  • Details of some of the gifts, little bows or teddy bears
  • Mama and daddy if daddy attends (don’t forget that dads are important too!)
  • Mama alone with some decorations or in a chair or with a pretty backdrop of some kind (even outside by a tree)

Don’t forget to print your images in some way, whether with actual prints you can place in a book, or in a photo album you can design online. Some suggestions for where to print include Shutterfly and Mpix. I make my memory books on Blurb, but Shutterfly also offers this service. Additionally, you can make books directly from your phone with aps such as Chatbook and Artifact Uprising.

Interested in other posts in the What to Capture series? Find more posts HERE.



What to Capture: Tips for photographing birthday parties

This is the debut of a new feature on my blog called What to Capture. This feature will offer tips to moms who want to document their child or children’s life through photography.

I am aiming these posts at moms because often it is the mom who enjoys capturing the everyday life of her children but these tips, of course, can be for dads as well.

My main message behind each of these posts can easily be described in four words: 
don’t forget the details, or if you are into non-catchy acronyms: DFTD.

This week’s What to Capture focus is birthday parties.

When photographing your child’s next birthday party don’t forget the details you might want to remember later. Will you want to remember him or her blowing out the candles on the cake? Certainly! Opening gifts? Yes! Playing with his friends? Of course! 
But don’t forget to get in close too. Capture her smile as she sees the cake. Photograph her hands unwrapping a gift so you never forget how little she was. Document him laughing with his friends so he and his friends have memories of their friendships.
Do you want photos of the streamers or balloons or other decorations? Probably not, unless they have some sort of emotional connection to that time in your child’s life – for example he loved batman and the piñata was a huge Batmobile
Of course you don’t want to miss out on experiencing the day yourself so if you want to live more in the moment hire a professional photographer to photograph those moments or ask an extended family member or friend to help you document the day. If you do hire a photographer don’t be afraid to jot down the checklist of images you are interested in and politely ask the photographer to capture those specific moments or items. Many photographers will not mind if you offer them your ideas for what moments are important because they understand these are your memories.
If you are the photographer for the day, making a checklist for yourself is always helpful to ensure you don’t forget any important moments.
And, remember, if you take the photos yourself, don’t forget to put the camera down periodically and remember to live in the moment, soaking in the feelings you have as you watch your child celebrate turning a year older.

Birthday party photo checklist suggestions:

  • The guests arriving;
  • The children playing;
  • Your child blowing out the candle;
  • Wider photo of your child preparing to blow out candles so you can capture faces of the guests;
  • The decorations, if they have an emotional significance for that particular time in your child’s life. 
  • Your child opening a few gifts;
  • Your child’s reaction to gifts;
  • Your child playing games;
  • A group photo of your child and their guests
  • You and your spouse and any siblings with the birthday child.’

Mobile Photography Monday | Tips for mom’s photographing their children

While I feel more comfortable capturing my memories on a larger camera with higher quality resolution,there are some days I know a moment has to be captured with whatever camera I have in my hand at the time. If it’s not my DSLR then it’s usually my cellphone, which is currently an iPhone 6s.
Each Monday I share my favorite iPhone photos from the week or weeks before. I do this to show you that you can use any camera to document your memories. I use Lightroom mobile to edit most of my iPhone photos. I also do this to encourage moms to create a visual diary of their children’s lives through photography. 

Don’t let the images merely sit on your phone, though. There are aps where you can print your images in books (Chatbooks, etc. ) or you can send them to your local drugstore or Wal-Mart to have them printed so you have tangible images as well in case your phone doesn’t back up and you accidentally drop your phone in the toilet. Not that I’ve ever done this. (My one year old at the time did it for me).