Tag Archives: featured

Camera Buying Guide for parents

Are you confused about which camera to buy to get the best possible photos of your children? Are you finding it hard to keep up with all the new types of cameras on the market, and to understand all the complicated technical specifications? 

I've tinkered and experimented with *lots* of different cameras, fallen asleep with my head in a pile of detailed specs and spent many hours reading reviews to bring you a simple guide to what you really need as a parent photographer.

The most popular cameras aren’t necessarily the best choices when it comes to photographing children.   A camera that will produce excellent results for, say,  a landscape or nature photographer may not be so great when it comes to taking photos of active children, all year round, indoors and out. As a parent, you’ve come to a good place to get trusted information: when it comes to taking photos of children, I’ve done the legwork and the research (although don’t ask me about mountains or eagles).

Why parents should buy a digital SLR (and learn how to use it)

Choosing a camera isn’t as complicated as you think! If you’re serious about taking high-quality, beautiful, natural photographs of your children indoors and outdoors, all-year-round in any weather/lighting conditions, and your budget is less than £600, you should buy a Digital SLR (DSLR). Forget Bridge cameras/Superzooms, achingly-hip pocket designer cameras, Micro-four-thirds/Mirrorless/Compact System Cameras, I firmly believe that you should go straight to a DSLR without hesitation.

DSLRs vs other camera types

Camera TypesNot convinced that a DSLR is for you?

Do your think you might be better off with a compact? Or have you heard that the new mirrorless interchangeable cameras (MICs) / Compact System Cameras (CSCs) are every bit as good as a DSLR? And where does that leave bridge cameras/superzooms? No need to be confused. Find out more about about how well these other types of cameras stack up against DSLRs when it comes to taking photos of your children.

Best buy guide: DSLRs for parent photographers

I’ve researched every digital SLR on the market to come up with a list of absolutely cracking cameras that suit parents down to the ground…and the good news is, they’re all lower-priced models. I’ve included all the latest cameras, plus some older ones which still perform well and may save you even more money.

Shutter speed for a sense of movement

1/60 sec, f/11, ISO 200

Following on from my last post about photos that wouldn’t have been possible using the AUTO setting, here’s another example.  My son was having great fun on a zip wire at the park this afternoon and I wanted to get a feeling of the fast movement in the shot. I used Shutter priority mode (S or Tv on the mode dial) which allowed me to  set my shutter speed to 1/60 of a second: slow enough to get some great motion blur on the background and capture the speed and excitement. In the midday bright conditions we had today, my camera’s AUTO setting would have almost certainly selected a fast shutter speed and the result would have been a sharp image with no motion blur – technically acceptable, but not what I wanted.

If you want to learn more about shutter speed and how you can use it to take beautiful photographs of your children, why not enrol on a Small Beans photo class?

What do you want to remember?

One day your children will be grown up and you'll want to look through your photo collection and remind yourself how brilliant and bonkers and beautiful their childhood was.

I don’t know about you, but my children don’t tend to run through lavender fields wearing straw hats and very clean clothes on a regular basis. When they were newborns, as far as I remember (and that time is a bit of a blur), I  didn’t make a habit of bunging them in a rustic basket surrounded by daisies for a kip and  they didn’t wear teeny little crowns on their heads. But so many of us rely on the annual photo shoot with a professional family photographer to capture the essence of childhood. Plus the odd snap we take of them. Smiling. Standing in front of things.

Having REAL fun on the beach
Having REAL fun on the beach

When I’m old(er) and grey(er), I want my photo album to be real. The photos that I love the most in my growing collection are the ones of our everyday existence. The ones that sum up what a quirky bunch we are, that fact that we’re pretty noisy (sorry neighbours), we like making things and pulling silly faces and dancing around the kitchen.  Sometimes we’re REALLY grumpy, and shouty and messy, and we all get on each other’s nerves. Other times we’re the best of friends, pinching ourselves that we’re so bloomin’ lucky to be alive on this sunny day in our garden. Each family has its own unique character – you will have a different story to tell about yours – but I’ll take a wild guess that what unites all of us reading this is the desire to take beautiful photos that show what our family is REALLY about. Real life. Not lavender fields and charming baby receptacles. In a nutshell, while we like a *teeny* bit of rose tinting on our spectacles, we don’t want to so much that we can’t see what’s in front of our faces anymore.

Bean One likes cake.
Bean One likes cake.

Now here’s the problem. We know WHAT we want but we don’t know HOW to get it. The camera just frankly won’t play ball and all the photos just seem lacking in emotion and just a bit dull and meaningless.  A friend with two young children once said to me:

“I can see in my head exactly how I want my photo to look, I just don’t know how to make my camera take it”.

I KNOW how frustrating this is. You’ve bought the flashy DSLR camera (because that will take good photos, right??), but you’re totally bewildered by the complexity of the thing and the manual might as well be written in Ancient Greek. So you turn to the Internet or a book for guidance but everyone is saying something different and it’s so complicated and you don’t know who to believe. You’re not a technical genius, you’re not trying to become a great artist and you’re not interested in taking photos of mountains, eagles or naked ladeeeze. You don’t have time to sit down and eat lunch, let alone dig through an avalanche of information to pick out the bits you need. All you want is beautiful photos of your children so you remember it all how it really was. And you want it right away please, real life is happening right now and you need to hit the ground running.

I understand.

This is why I set up the Small Beans Photo School. I teach one thing and one thing alone – how to take great photos of your children. Our courses are short, simple and suitable for beginners (I know you’ve got enough on your plate as a parent already, so I’m not going to try to turn you into the next Annie Leibovitz).

Bean Two dines in style
Bean Two dines in style

I promise three things:

1. Your photography will get (a lot) better. Quickly.
2. You’ll have fun.  You’ll get to try things out rather than just sitting and listening, and share ideas with like-minded parents.
3. I’ll only teach you what you NEED to know. I won’t do photo geek on you.
4. You’ll get a nice cake (OK, that’s 4).

I would LOVE to teach you. I LOVE watching my students getting those lightbulb moments when they finally realise how to work their camera and take what’s in their head and squish it into a picture. But what’s EVEN better, the thing that makes me sing a little tune when I wake up in the morning, is seeing the AMAZING photos that they are taking and knowing that those pictures are going to be part of their family history for generations. These photos aren’t perfect, but they are beautiful and precious and unique. No props or lavender required.