what I would change

Real quick since so many asked yesterday….places to find cute tape:

Craft sections at most stores now. I’ve seen tape in the dollar bins at Micheals, at Hobby Lobby, the Dollar store, etc. You can also find it by searching etsy and google. The more you buy at once online the better – saves shipping costs. This type of tape usually isn’t in the ‘tape’ section of stores. I tend to find it with the scrapbooking embellishments. A sweet reader living in China sent me some beautiful floral tape. I hope to find a little shop when we travel this summer. Maybe I’ll bring an extra suitcase to fill just with great tape!

Last week my boys found piles of ‘helicopters’ at my sister’s house. Well, most were actually in the road in front of her house. They filled a butterfly cage to the very top and we brought all those crazy things home. When they were ready, they set them soaring. This was a shot I got with my phone:

Two things about that shot drive me crazy.

1. My oldest’s hand cropped out.

2. My daughter’s hand cropped out.

In the SnapShop course, some students choose to share photos with me for a bit of feedback. Critiquing photos is both easy and hard for me. I can spot things I’d change, but I hate giving the idea that every photo I take follows all the things I teach those taking the course. The fact is many of my pictures have plenty of room for improvement. Though I share photo tips here and in the course, my own photos can always use tweaks too. I am a mom before I am a photographer. I get caught up in the moment and don’t think through all the little things that make a great photo. And just because the photo isn’t ‘technically’ great, I still keep them and share them here.

Sometimes it is easier to learn from others mistakes, so I thought I’d share a few things I would change on some of the following pictures if I could take them again.

I’d wait until he was not talking before I snapped this photo.

I like this one.

I would NOT crop out his feet.

Again with cropping the feet. There is no good reason to crop them out. They should be included.

I’d move my angle to either include more of her or crop her out completely.

I’d make sure she was in focus, he was cropped out or all the way in and I would not crop off her hand & feet.

I like this one. Some would say that is a bad crop on her, but I like it.

Again with cropping the feet. I’m not sure what I was thinking on all of this. I kind of like the younger brother only halfway in.

And again…I cropped the feet. I’d like the younger brother a bit more included or all the way out.

Lesley, we’ll need to come get more helicopters so I can try again!

So…a different kind of photo tip post….helpful for anyone?

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  • Leila - Your photo posts are always helpful!

  • Heather - Thank you. Great and helpful post.

  • hanna - would love to see more posts like this. Karen Russell had a great point in her photo class about a photo being emtionally vs. a technically perfect photo.

  • Felicitas - Very helpful! Thank you so much! I always try to take similar pictures but they never turn out as good … Beautiful!

  • Stacey - That’s helpful for me.. I feel like a lot of times I get an awesome picture and then there is a hand missing or half of a foot. I need to work on that! 🙂

  • Rebekah - I feel SO much better! Cropping feet is my most common mistake!!! I’m constantly reminding myself to back up or drop the camera down just a tad. I look at my pics when I’ve done that and scold myself, “AMATEUR!!!” I think I will give myself a little more mercy. I started a pinboard this week of my own favorite images to remind myself that sometimes I DO get it right, though. I forget that.

  • Molly - your posts are always helpful!!! i mean it! all of them help me in some way or another….with photography, with my faith, with being a mom, with being creative. always helpful!

  • Lyn Ann Towne-Smith - Thanks for this tips. THey are always so helpful!!

  • kiley - Of course it’s helpful! I constantly need reminders that even though there are things I don’t really like about pictures I’ve taken doesn’t mean they’re a total loss. There can still be wonderful memories captured in not so perfect pictures. (I’m just repeating the helpful advice I receive from this awesome mom who happens to teach an online photog. course…he, he!)

    Just you, being real again…that’s why I like you so much 🙂

  • lindsey - ashley – this was probably the best lesson I took away after SnapShops. Unfortunately, I still forget so many times and then want to smack myself later! I find that it’s so much harder when kids are in movement because I get so focused on the facial expressions that I forget what the rest of their body is doing! thanks for posting the reminder!

  • Crystal - I loved the idea of these photos when I first saw you post it on Instagram. (I’m crystalchick.) I want to duplicate it. We have so many whirly birds right now. I agree with almost all of your ‘critiques’ above. I even agree with the horizontal one of the two boys and half of your girl. I like it. I have to remind myself constantly not to crop feet out. It’s definitely a challenge to remember all the body parts when you’re photographing quick moving children. With the IG shot where your oldest boy and your daughter’s hand are each cut out, it *might* be better if their hands were all in the shot, but I think because it crops out a hand on each side, it actually works!

  • Alicia - Very helpful tips!

  • Seriously Sassy Mama - That is helpful. I really never look at my pics like that when I take them. I still do everything in auto, because I am too lazy to learn. I am wanting to start hanging pics of my girl, so this reminds me to really pay attention to what I am looking at thru my lens. Thanks!

  • Christen - Yes! Very helpful. On another note; I remember doing this very same thing as a kid. Helicopters. Every kid should get to play with these!

  • Shana - Ashley, I cracked up reading this – I knew exactly what bugged you in your first critiqued shot. Man, that snapshot course was still on of my fav things I’ve done.

    And have been meaning to comment for a while now – your adoption posts have (repeatedly) moved me to tears. You guys have been in my thoughts so often. Waiting with baited breath over here…

  • ko - Super helpful! I’m hoping to sign up for your class in the near future but for now I’m just soaking up all these helpful tips 🙂

  • Abigail C - Very helpful. Thank you 🙂

  • Julie - Thank you! Since getting our SLR I feel like I’ve spent SO much time trying to learn to take pictures in manual mode that I don’t take the time to pay attention to how I set shots up. I’m often guilty of centering subjects. One more thing to practice! I love all of your photography posts!

  • Molly @ mixedmolly - Love this post! The best thing a girl can do is to review and critique her own work. Cropping is so subjective and truly an art!

  • kara @ june & bear - i love this kind of post. i find that i focus so much on the eyes, that i forget about where i am limb chopping. maybe if i ever get back button focusing down it will help. but i still love a lot of photos that aren’t technically perfect.

  • Carol - So helpful. Cropping is one of the hardest things, especially with kiddos. Thanks for letting us see your process!

  • RaD - It’s funny. I was just looking at another bloggers photos of an engaged couple and was thinking, man these are great but why did they crop his elbow out or why is the top of her head cropped off like that? I may not have noticed it so much if not for what you have stated previously on your blog. And BTW, I’ve tried that rule of thumb for myself too and am liking the results. Thanks for sharing!

  • Andrea L. - I have some Washi tape (from seeing it on here and loving it!) It sits in my craft corner in the basement so when I watch tv I can glance over at it and it makes me happy. Im kind of glad I didnt know about it when I was in middle school…glitter pens and cute tape…I would never have done my work, but my notes and trapper keeper would have been super cute!

  • Amanda L - I have been reading your blog as well as another and both of you have sent and recived your paperwork at the same times and she recived her loa today so I hope yours is on the way as well praying for you all!!

  • Sara M. - I love using decorative tape and have found some at Target in the office supply section (near paper clips and rubber bands). The tape comes in a four pack of similar colors and I think there are 3-4 packages to choose from. The best part – only $4 for the four pack. Happy taping!

  • Trinity - Good post Ashley! Love getting photo tips from you. Thank you!

  • angie - oh, helicopters! I know they were not entirely the point of this post but seeing those just made my heart skip a beat! i haven’t seen helicopters or thought of them in probably 20+ years. My siblings and I loved them as children. We’d do the exact same thing! Another favorite was to peel the front ends apart when they were still green and adhere them to our nose with the sticky sap inside. Thanks for bringing back a long forgotten childhood memory!

  • Nicole - I just found similar deco tape at Target near the office supplies. Four different colors & each pack has 4 rolls!

  • meg - your photo tips are super helpful, keep ’em coming…I have too many pics of my kids without feet and hands and I’ve never thought about it before, so thank you!!

  • Tammia - Your “what should be different” photo posts are always very helpful. I took your snapshops course (and learned so much) and I appreciate any more visual examples you provide. Thanks!

  • Crinkled - As someone who knows nothing about photography, I have to say I think the first photo looks great with the side arms cut off. It’s a cool action shot and lets you imagine what is happening all around them.

    The first photo that you didn’t like that had the feet cropped off, I thought would look better if it was cropped even higher, perhaps to just below his hands, so all you can see is what’s showering down on him.

    The photo of your older son with his feet cropped off and your younger son getting ready to throw stuff, well, I think that photo looks brilliant just as it is.

    But, obviously I’m not looking at them with a photographer’s eye.

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Very helpful!

  • Kimber - loved this, thank you! it really is helpful and it’s so interesting to hear your thoughts on what you do and don’t like about your own photos! and ps- i’m so excited for this new little girl to be coming to your home!!!

  • Whitney - Love this! I grew up in Oklahoma and remember the “helicopters” fondly. How fun!

  • kathy - I really like your blog and have been reading awhile- love the photo tips- keep ’em coming.

  • Marci - Always helpful! I wouldn’t have looked @ any of your photos & thought anything was wrong with them, but when you point out the feet, it makes you realize that sometimes things could be better another way. I can definitely work on my cropping. Thanks for sharing your talent & knowledge!

  • Una - I like your idea.

  • Rebecca H. - Love it. Very helpful! Thank you.

  • Trysha - Very helpful! I guess I tend to overlook the feet/hands cropped because I get caught up in the emotion of the shot. I love what’s going on with their faces and how they’re interacting with each other. 🙂

  • Jane - Wow – we had a ‘helicopter’ tree at our house growing up and I have many fond memories of this very activity.
    Looking forward to seeing photos of your newest little one soon – praying God will gift you with the patience you need to wait out this tricky time.

  • Allison - So helpful! I do that too, crop hands or feet and I usually beat myself up over it. I think, Ashley Ann doesn’t do this to her photos! Sometimes being a mommy and a photographer is hard. Thanks for sharing!

  • Elise - Hi Ashley,
    I love love love your blog! I am always trying to improve my photos of my kids, so I end up taking thousands of pictures, as I’m sure you do. I’m just curious what you do with all of your photos. I have such a hard time deleting even bad photos because they catch even the simplest of expressions, and once you delete that moment is gone forever. So, I’m just curious- what do you do with all of your photos?
    Thank you for your time!

  • Jolie - That’s really helpful, thanks! I like seeing – and am starting to understand on a conscious level – the difference between a *technically perfect* image and one that might not be technically perfect but is perfect in the emotion it conveys…and most of that I’ve learnt right here! (I’m hoping to have enough schekels together by the next course to enrol in Snapshots…I’m super excited, but my MIL is coming over for a week next week, and the money that was going to pay for the course is now being earmarked for the reptile zoo…which is definitely the right thing for our wee family – the kids are going to be crazy excited – but I’m a little sad i’m bumping you in favour of crocs and snakes and lizards, hahah!)
    ps. do you need another fruity hat for your newest to complete the set, or would you rather wait until winter…Oklahoma probably doesn’t have much need for Wool in Summer!

  • Kimberly - Absolutely helpful! I took your class and my favorite part were your photo critiques. Keep these coming, please!!

  • Erin - So very helpful! This type of critique helps me to realize all that I didn’t realize. Thank you.

  • Tricia - As always, your posts are so filled with beauty and tons of info. Although I have to say (because photography, like all art is subjective), I don’t mind hands cropped out in many instances (the ones above). The first photo is actually one of my favorites. It makes me feel like I am really close to the action. I can feel the excitement. But I absolutely agree that you can not “properly break the rules” until you learn them. Thank you for always sharing your talents.