photo tip {prepping for the moment}

Constantly talking about ice skating, our oldest daughter has been dreaming of getting on the ice for the first time. The other kids weren’t interested, so Chris and I planned a special night just for her. We took her to dinner and told her a big surprise was in store for her. Next, Chris began telling her about an outdoor ice skating rink and how her dream was about to come true. We were going ice skating!

I’ll treasure this picture…

1.15skate-07While downloading pictures from the night, I thought it might make for a good little photo tip post. So here goes…

When we arrived at the restaurant, we chose a table near the windows. I knew going into the night that I wanted to capture her reaction to the surprise news. As we began to sit down, I pulled out a chair for her that was opposite the windows. I sat with the windows to my back. The sun was quickly setting, so I was hoping to get as much light onΒ  her face as possible. Also, the seat I picked for her meant there wouldn’t be strangers in the background of my image.

I thought through all this in a matter of seconds as we approached the table. She and Chris just followed my lead, unaware I was picking seats based on a goal to get light for a photo.

As we began munching on chips and salsa, I got out my camera to pick out my settings. It was pretty dark. The shot below is a sample of one of my practice shots while I was playing with settings.
1.15skate-01As I was playing, the shades covering the windows suddenly lifted and I might have let out a squeal. I adjusted my settings to ISO 2000, 1/125, f/1.8. She was distracted and didn’t even notice my camera.1.15skate-02Once I was ready, I nodded to Chris and he began telling her the surprise news. I was able to capture a series of photos that tell the story of her delight.1.15skate-031.15skate-041.15skate-051.15skate-061.15skate-071.15skate-08

Sometimes capturing a moment just takes a little thought beforehand. It doesn’t have to take tons of time, but if you can make the most of lighting and take 20 seconds to pick your camera settings first, the results are often worth it.

We finished dinner and headed to the rink, where her daddy took her hand on the ice and her dream came true. I think his might have too.1.15skate-10She fully believed she would step on that ice and be able to spin and twirl on her own. Instead, she learned sometimes things are much harder than they look and sometimes daddy’s arms are not only safer, but more fun.1.15skate-11Before the night ended, she stood on her with her daddy close by if she fell.1.15skate-121.15skate-13I wore my mom’s ice skates from the 70s. I made it one lap around the rink,Β  holding the wall the whole time. I needed someone to catch me if I fell. So, I put my boots back on and did what I love – I watched them dance.

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  • Reesa - Love watching her little face light up! Great job, Mom and Dad!!!

  • kristin - wow. i love that you guys were able to bring a dream into action. AND that it was still a great experience even though it wasn’t an easy reality to skate. πŸ™‚ i remember my first time, and i have a diary entry to go with it (a lot of unnecessary bragging about how many falls i had).
    my heart leaps for joy at these ideas. we need to get together a group of people to watch the kids we have so we can do these things. i usually send my husband out to do the adventures with the kids and i stay home. this would be SO much fun.

  • carol - Those skates hold a lot of memories. I remember skating at the fairgrounds thinking in my mind that I was an olympic skater!

  • Meg - Beautiful post. I appreciate that you took the time to explain that these beautiful candid photos that you share take a little bit of planning. πŸ™‚

  • grandma - Great pictures its fun to be in on the action she will do great wait until next year

  • Melissa - ok, those pictures gave me cold chills! Those pics are sweetest thing I’ve seen in a long time! Love your posts, and have loved your blog for such a long time! Thanks for the great tips!

  • Monique - I saw this on Instagram and thought, “Of course! Figure skating! That’s the perfect sport for her!” I thought at the time you’d surprised her with skating lessons, but a date with mom and dad and learning to skate in daddy’s arms is WAY better. I figure skated for 8 years as a kid and it was my love. I’ve never felt so free as I do on the ice. If you have a rink nearby that offers lessons, and if Firecracker loved it, I think she’s the perfect candidate for a figure skater. Your family’s athleticism, her spunk, a grandma who could probably make killer costumes, her love for twirling and the spotlight… she’d have it made πŸ™‚

  • Julie - What a feel good post! Thank you for brightening my morning. As a childless old lady ;^) it’s fun to enjoy these moments with your kids, so beautifully captured. Each new post feels like a little present to open.

  • Erica - Oh, I just love this post! From the practical app to the sweet story of desires fulfilled (how could I not laugh and smile at the joy on Firecracker’s face?) and finally to the last line, you watching them dance because you love it. So precious!

  • Maria - She is such a beautiful girl with wonderful expressions! Glad you all had fun!

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - I just love this!!!

  • Lakmali - wonderful!!!!!!! you guys know how to light up a kid’s dream!!!! <3

  • Heather - One of my favorite posts that you have written! You have such a gift with words and photography-thank you for sharing ????

  • Katie B - Such a beautiful post…photos, story, everything! What fun for Firecracker (and you parents)!

  • nicci - Seriously – Pretty much you are the coolest parents ever even though you have so many little ones, you make sure you take care of each one individually! And you have these wonderful moments recorded!!! Thanks for the puddle of tears! πŸ˜‰

  • Sarah - Ahhhh I absolutely felt her joy by looking at those photos!! What a great moment you captured! Got a big smile on my face now! πŸ˜€ xx

  • Jennifer - it is impossible to look at that series of pictures without smiling.

  • kris saia - I had a very long day at work… came home, looked at the pictures of your daughter’s happy face and it just
    Thanks for the lift!

  • Nichole Young - Might be my favorite Firecracker post of all time! The hair, the expressions! Oh my heart!

  • may - That series of photo is amazing!

  • Natalie - I love this. Thanks for sharing!!!

  • Lisa - That is the BEST!

  • Rikki - Be still my heart. The moments we live for.

  • Jolene - She’s so beautiful! What a neat surprise!

  • Krystin - I love when photographers capture real, genuine emotion. I think you did that perfectly. This story is so sweet, too. I will try to keep your tip in mind.

  • Tara S - LOVE this post!! You seriously brought tears to my eyes. Love your words. Love the pictures. And love living the surreal moment with your daughter. Just beautiful.

  • Diana - These are adorable! What joy!

  • Lisa Reed - My 5 year old thought the same thing about ice skating! She was convinced she would be spinning and twirling her first time. She was so disappointed in herself when she realized she could barely stand up. Girls and their twirling!

  • Andrea - I’ve been reading your blog since before you adopted your youngest; have loved your photos and watching your family grow and learn. This photo series brought tears to my eyes; such a great moment to capture.

  • Paula - took me forever to find out but hockey skates are the absolutely most comfortable to skate in! Good ankle support, etc. I got my tacks from play it again sports for a steal! they’re still in GREAT SHaped even though I haven’t used them in years (oldest daughter has used them a few times-probably need blades shapened)

  • Olivia Stewart - That picture series is pretty much the cutest thing ever! I can’t wait to take my 2 year old ice skating when she is bigger!

  • Laura - ADORABLE. I love this, the behind the scenes explanation and her gorgeous excited face. πŸ™‚ And I love ice skating!!!

  • Randi - oh my gosh that string of pics are priceless! she is so happy! i love it.

  • Yusraa - I just love these shots! Great tips. I always love to read your blog for years now.. thanks for sharing your beautiful stories, tips and writing!