Shoot Along This Year To Better Photography

How many more nights will she climb into bed with us at two in the morning, Lambie in hand? She just turned 5 and seems like a “big girl” in so many ways, but she still wraps her chubby fingers around my hair to snuggle me in the middle of the night. Will I forget that? Will I forget waking up every morning with her next to me, quietly tip toeing out of the room some days, other days giving her my phone and begging her to let me sleep just a little bit longer after she wakes?

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I wondered that this morning, so I snuck back into the room and snapped this shot. It seems simple enough, but it’s not a shot I could have captured at the beginning of my photography journey.

I had to know to open the blinds (quietly and very slowly and oh so carefully) directly across from her as the rising sun shot in from an angle. I had the knowledge that the white bedding would act as a natural reflector, and didn’t even think of turning on the lights. I held my camera over my head to avoid an up-the-nose shot, getting a more visually interesting view.

I set my camera settings before even walking in the room, knowing I’d need an ISO of 6400 in the low light, but not worrying about the noise/grain because I’m familiar with the noise reduction slider in Lightroom. I knew to expose for her skin and not the bedding around her. I knew with my wide aperture I’d have to be sure I got the focus point to fall on her face, though I did try a couple shots with Lambie in focus before she started to stir and I ran like the wind out of there. And I’m really proud of how I can read a room’s temperature pretty well as of late, and set my white balance with Kelvin.

This morning, it was a quick mission- run in, know what to do, get the shot, run out, grab coffee, enjoy silence. Photography is mostly fun and freeing for me that way these days. I see an image in my head that I want to capture, and I can figure out what I need to do before even picking up my camera.

But I remember in the beginning of my photography journey, that was all VERY stressful, and it really wasn’t much fun sometimes. Sometimes I’d give up, put my camera down and not touch it for weeks, intimidated and overwhelmed.

And you know what? That never helped me learn how to take a single picture. The only thing that ever worked was shooting and shooting and shooting some more, and making mistakes, and learning from them.

Shoot Along with a supportive group every week!

So when Amy Tripple, a photographer from Chicago and one of the two founders from Shoot Along, contacted me to see if I’d be interested in telling you all a bit about this program they have to help you become better at capturing your family’s big and little moments AND hold you accountable when you are feeling like you just want to give up— well, I was all in.

Because, honestly you guys, I feel like this knowledge of how to use the camera I have- and that includes my mobile phone!- to capture pictures that I will cherish forever is just one of the greatest gifts I can give myself.  And you deserve that, too. You deserve to find photographing your family fun and joyful, not stressful or disappointing.

So here’s a quick run down of what Shoot Along is and how it works:

Amy Tripple and Heidi Peters (another Chicagoland photographer) founded ShootAlong.com in 2014 as an online photography project designed to give structure and accountability to busy parents of ALL photography levels.

Each week you’re sent a photography lesson by email, including editing videos (soooo helpful!), and even a list of suggested shots to work on that week’s skill as a jumping off point.

There is a private “Pinterest-style” board (read: easy to navigate and look at) that only Shoot Along members have access to to upload your work and share with others.

There is a membership for parents with DSLR cameras, AND there is one for those of us with just mobile cameras!! For so many of us, the best camera we have one us nearly all the time is our iPhone or Android, and YES you can get gorgeous pictures from these, too.

(Here’s a picture I took of Leyna this morning with my phone, right after I got the shot with my DSLR.)

A photo posted by Jill Krause (@babyrabies) on

Okay, so I know a lot of you are thinking, well, it’s nearly the end of January. Isn’t it too late to start? NOPE. You can honestly start at any time, but of course, the sooner the better. At this point there are 4 weeks of (SIMPLE) lessons up that you will have access to all year. So you could jump in and get a few done this week, a couple done next week, and be all caught up. Or just take your time. Or skip ones you already feel like you’ve mastered.

Another thing worth noting- they use Adobe Photoshop Elements 14 for editing in the videos, but you don’t have to run out and buy that. I edit in Lightroom and so far think I could replicate what they are suggesting by using the sliders and tools I know in LR. Older versions of PSE should be mostly okay, too.

And if you don’t have an editing program yet, you will still get a lot out of the lessons. The photo editing is just that extra step.

Also, I really think the price is stellar for what you get- an entire year of instruction and support. It’s $79 for the WHOLE year for the DSLR membership and $49 for the year for the mobile membership. Y’all, that’s less than I spent on books about photography the first year I was learning to use my camera.

I’m signed up for this year’s Shoot Along and am going to do my best to get involved. If you sign up, let me know! I’d love to watch you grow!

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  • Emily - I received my first “big girl” camera this Christmas. I’m excited to learn to use it, but am easily frustrated! Thanks for the encouragement!ReplyCancel

  • Alyssa - This sounds awesome. Time to dust off my DSLR that I don’t k ow how to use and put it to work. Thanks for this post.ReplyCancel

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