My Photography Story – An Improving Beginner

My Photography Story

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How does a girl who doesn’t really pay attention to details get interested in photography?  She has a bunch of kids!  7 of them to be exact.  I am one who absolutely hates taking the kids to a photo studio to get their pictures taken.  We used to do it regularly when I had less kids, but as my family grew, I decided we’d have to take pictures of them at home and use those.  Only one problem… my photos weren’t that great.


I had seen pictures that I loved that I thought looked really good, where the main subject was in focus and the rest had a blurred background.  I studied and studied how exactly to get that affect and discovered I had to get an SLR camera.  It’s funny to me now looking back that my measure of a good photo was the blurred background.  I now know that there are plenty of great photos without that affect as well.  But, I was a novice, nonetheless, and decided I must have the camera that could help me do that.  Of course, having the blurred background is still pretty cool……


Quinnly by Autumn


We were on vacation when the urge hit.  It was time to upgrade that camera so we could get some great vacation shots.  My birthday was that week and my husband decided that we could buy the camera for both of our birthdays and Christmas and our anniversary, too, in order to justify paying for it.  Although I think we may have overpaid (being the ultimate deal shopper that I am), I’m so very glad to have my little Canon t1i DSLR camera.  While I can still take pretty normal, not so great pictures when it’s set on “auto” or when the lighting isn’t so great, I have the capability to take much better pictures when I want to or need to.  I’m learning as I go and it’s been a lot of fun!


Since we bought the camera, I do use it a lot for taking pictures of the kids, but I actually use it more for blogging.  I’ve been learning about using light and how to change the settings of the camera and how to shoot photos in manual mode.  I sometimes feel like it’s a huge learning curve and don’t want to mess with it, but when I do, I get some pretty great photos!  I’ve also learned a lot about how to edit my photos to enhance them, making them even better than they were, or to cover up any mistakes I made.


Because of my budding fascination with photography, my oldest daughter also developed the urge to learn photography.  In fact, we just bought her a new DSLR camera for Christmas.  She’s been practicing like crazy and has taken some beautiful shots.  She took this beautiful sunset photograph with her new camera and won 2nd place in a local kids photography contest.


sunset by autumn


Last year I bought a digital photography course for my daughter so that she can enhance what she’s learning.  We were going to use it as a course in school, because she is hoping to eventually start a photography business.  But….I learned about something even better than that course that we started with.  It’s called The Ultimate Photography Bundle and I’m going to use this as a thorough education in photography for both of us!  There’s 3 different levels to it, Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced.  We’ll have to start in the Beginner section, but there’s some things in the Advanced section I’d like her to learn as well, so I think I’m going to buy all 3.  The 3 things in the bundle that I think will help us the most in the Beginner’s section are:


  • Photography Masterclass: Your Complete Guide to Photography ($199 value)
  • Seeing the Light: Making the Most of Available Light and Minimal Equipment ($12.00 value)
  • iPhone Only Photography ($29.00 value – because sometimes I don’t want to lug my big camera)


If you’re interested in learning more about photography or just improving your photography skills, let me suggest you start with this free gift:  Free Guide to Photo Composition and perhaps join me in buying the Beginner’s Photography bundle.


What about you?  What’s your photography story?


Monday Randomness: Real Life Edition

Hey!  How was your weekend?  It’s been a while since I’ve shared a random update about my family and what we’ve been up to.  I thought, today is the perfect day to do just that.


What we’ve been doing….

We’ve been busy.  I told you all about our Schlitterbahn Kansas City trip and how I got a really bad sunburn.  What I didn’t tell you is 8 days later, I accompanied my kids’ youth group to World’s of Fun/Ocean’s of Fun, also in Kansas City.   June has been full of amusement parks!  While at World’s of Fun, I rode roller coasters that I haven’t even thought about riding in 15-20 years.  I found that I get more sick on them than I did when I was 18.  I also figured out that I must be getting old, as roller coasters aren’t nearly as fun as they used to be.  Go figure…


We just started roofing our house.  In fact, by the time this post gets sent out, I will probably be out on the roof with my husband, getting a couple hours of time in before he goes to work and before the heat takes over.  A hail storm came through a month or two ago and our insurance company is paying for us to replace our roof.  We decided to use part of that roof replacement money to buy a camper, so we are doing the labor ourselves.  We do have one friend we are paying to help us when he can, (he keeps us going in the right direction so we don’t mess up!).  In the mean time, we had to take off the satellite dish AND the internet antenna that picks up our wireless signal.  I’m having to use my iPhone hotspot to blog with…and can’t wait till our home is back to normal in the WIFI department.  :)  The TV I can do without.


We had a fun and restful Father’s Day.  We started the morning at church and then we took my dad and my husband out to Pizza Hut buffet for a fun, family friendly Father’s Day dinner.  Later, we came home and napped for 2 hours.  We ended the day by playing miniature golf at the park and then visiting Ryan’s (my husband’s) dad at his house.  It was a really nice day.  Especially since I beat the whole family at Mini Golf.  That’s a rare thing in this family!  Here’s a picture of my husband, riding a gorilla on the mini golf course, LOL.  He was having a fun time, entertaining the kids and just being all out silly.  Something my kids will always remember their daddy for.  I’m thankful to have him in my life as the father of my kids!


Ryan on the Gorilla


and what we’re planning….


This week, I’m going on an overnight trip to Dallas to visit the Dr. Pepper Snapple Headquarters.  They are paying my travel expenses and I get to go do a Behind the Scenes tour of the facility, do a little taste testing (Did you know that they have over 50 brands of drinks?) as well as help to build a playground as part of their Let’s Play Community Construction Grants.   I’m looking forward to getting away for a short trip, but I’m also a little nervous, as this is the first time I’ve ever been away from Quinnly (15 months) overnight.  She’s still nursing, and although it makes me a bit nervous to make her do without nursing for 2 full days, I’m looking forward to the kid break, too.  I’ll be sharing more pictures about my trip when I get back.


My 17 year old son is leaving us this week for a week of Summer Church camp.  He’s at that age where it’s tough to catch him at home any more, but I’m starting to really miss him and I’m not looking forward to him being gone another week.  (He and his dad were gone for almost a week already this month at a large paintball event.)  Here’s a picture of my son at the paintball event (he’s on the far right).


Baylee at D-Day


I know this is just practice for when he actually leaves home for good, but I’m not sure I’m ready for this stage of life (said in my best whiney mom voice I can muster).


3 of my daughters have been attending Children’s Summer Theater.  I’ve been the Mom’s Taxi Driver all month.  The final production of the play will be this coming weekend, with 3 separate performances that will no doubt be packed out.  They have loved their time in Children’s Summer Theater and while they’re excited to finally get to perform the musical they’ve been preparing for, they’re going to be sad to not have play practice any more.  Me, on the other hand, will be happy to go back to a more normal schedule.  June has been so busy!  Here’s a picture of them at their performance of Peter Pan last year.


Peter Pan Performance



So far, we’re having a fun filled summer, but now that the heat is kicking it up a notch, I have a feeling we’ll be staying indoors a little more and maybe tackling some inside of the house projects before the school year has to begin again.  I hope you’re having a great Summer Break so far!


85 TV Free Summer Activities for Tweens

Does your tween aged child get bored easily during the summer months?  Being a Tween is a tricky age (usually defined as a child between the ages of 9 and 12).  They often want to do grown up things, but younger child things appeal to them, too.  It kind of depends on their mood, and that always seems to be changing.


One of my pet peeves is seeing kids sitting around the house with their noses in a device of some kind all day long throughout the summer.  I don’t mind it for short bits of time, but don’t be trying it all day long.  In an effort to give my Tween aged children some ideas of what to do, I came up with this list of fun things to do throughout the summer months.  Some of them are more girly and some of them are obviously slated toward the boys, but many of them are unisex.  Feel free to pick and choose ideas that will work for YOUR Tween.  Hopefully these will get your kids excited about doing something that’s not on an electronic device for a change!  And do me a favor, if you find something not on this list, leave a comment below so we can add to it.




  1. Start a Book Club (in person or online)
  2. Write a Letter
  3. Explore Nature Around Your House, taking photos and sketching what you see
  4. Take a Babysitting Class
  5. Write a Story or a Poem
  6. Read a Book
  7. Make a Scrapbook of Childhood Pictures
  8. Entertain Your Siblings by Making a “Camp” for them to attend
  9. Go Camping in Your Back Yard
  10. Take a Bubble Bath
  11. Record Your Own Radio Show or Movie
  12. Interview Your Siblings and write a Family Newsletter about your “findings”
  13. Make Jewelry – Paracord Bracelets are pretty easy to learn
  14. Start a Business (mowing?, pet sitting, odd jobs, baby sitting, etc.)
  15. Make Popsicles for your Family
  16. Bake Something for a Friend
  17. Have a Picnic
  18. Play Charades
  19. Wash the Car and Play in the Hose
  20. Have a Tea Party (or a sports party!)
  21. Learn How to Hula Hoop
  22. Host a Scavenger Hunt or better yet, a Video Scavenger Hunt
  23. Decide on Something You’d Like to Improve About Yourself and Do it.
  24. Write a Play (and act it out?)
  25. Play Frisbee (or better yet, play night frisbee using a light up frisbee)
  26. Get a book about Braiding Hair and Learn How to Do Several New Braids.
  27. Shoot a BB Gun in the Back Yard (if you have the space and your community allows it)
  28. Play Catch
  29. Learn How to Make a Killer Paper Airplane
  30. Plant Something (and take care of it as it grows)
  31. Make a Marshmallow Gun (and have fun shooting it at your friends or siblings)
  32. Have a Water Gun Fight
  33. Play Croquet
  34. Go Geo-Caching using a GPS
  35. Take a Hunter’s Safety Course
  36. Build a Lego Masterpiece
  37. Play Dominoes, see how long you can make a domino train
  38. Craft with Duct Tape (Have you tried making a duct tape wallet yet?)
  39. Try Simple Woodworking Projects
  40. Play Board Games
  41. Volunteer Somewhere (church, library, animal shelter, etc. – this may require a parental volunteer as well)
  42. Learn Photography
  43. Learn to Play Guitar
  44. Try Science Experiments (You could use this cool book)
  45. Go Star Gazing
  46. Plan a Hike
  47. Make S’mores Over a Camp Fire
  48. Fly a Kite
  49. Try Wood Burning (with supervision, using this inexpensive wood burning pen)
  50. Go to the Zoo
  51. Make Your Family a Meal
  52. Go Fishing in a Nearby Pond or Stream
  53. Go Swimming
  54. Host a Fashion Show with Your Friends
  55. Get Your Ears Pierced
  56. Paint Your Nails Crazy Summery Colors (offer to paint your friend’s, too)
  57. Bake Cookies in Your Car!
  58. Make Ice Cream
  59. Go Canoeing
  60. Have a Water Balloon Fight
  61. Go Biking on a Trail
  62. Have a Mud Fight (get parent approval first!)
  63. Go Rock Skipping
  64. Go Fossil Hunting
  65. Host a Turtle Race
  66. Run or Walk in a 5k with your Parents
  67. Learn to Sew
  68. Go Garage Saling
  69. Brainstorm Ways to Turn $10 into $20
  70. Make Bouncy Balls
  71. Go Bowling
  72. Go Horseback Riding
  73. Visit a Flea Market
  74. Have a Relay Race with your friends
  75. Make a Sidewalk Chalk Mural
  76. Make a Box Maze (out of appliance boxes you collect from a local store)
  77. Go to the Beach (even if it’s at the lake and not the ocean)
  78. Create a New Food Dish Using 5 Preset Ingredients
  79. Tie Dye T-shirts
  80. Paint a Picture
  81. Design Your Own Clothes (by drawing them)
  82. Write a Summer Bucket List
  83. Feed the Ducks (or the Sea Gulls – ever tried throwing bread in the air to them?)
  84. Visit a Museum
  85. Shoot Air Soft Guns with Friends or Family


I hope this gives you a good starting point!  We really do love summer!  I hope you and your kids will embrace summer with me, get way from the devices and just enjoy being kids for a change!


I’m Sure I Left Something Off.  What Summer Activities Do Your Tween Aged Children Enjoy?