Smiles.

I just checked and I have 29,936 photos in my Photos app. And those don’t include the ones that haven’t uploaded from my phone this morning. Not to mention the serious (well, I consider it serious although it may have actually been weak) deleting of pics I did over the last few months.

I am obsessed with taking photos as most any other parent is and while my iPhone is constantly telling me that it is out of storage space, we also totally upped our amateur pics game over Christmas when Zach bought us a new camera. While we have no idea what we are doing with it yet, it is taking some seriously fabulous photos of the kids.

But, aside from our new camera’s automatic ability to focus really well, I wanted to know how all of us amateur parent photographers could maximize the good pics we get of our kids. And, I figured no one better to ask than a photographer who is also a mother. Someone who knows how important the pics are, how important it is to find a place for them in our lives and, how to snag a good shot.

Ali Wolfe is a photographer who I first met in my MOMS Club back in Utah and who snapped close-to-my-heart, I-cherish-them-so-dearly maternity photos of Radley, me and my belly when I was just two weeks shy of delivering Ace.

A third-generation photographer, Ali and photography are essentially synonymous. “My grandfather opened our family-owned studio in 1946 after coming back from the war and my father later took it over from him when it came time for him to retire,” Ali explains. “I worked in my father’s studio from about eight years old and really grew up in the business.” Ali started shooting professionally for her father as a junior in high school and she hasn’t stopped since. With a degree in visual communications, focusing on commercial photography, and a specialization in business, Ali was set to open her own business.  “After graduating from Ohio University, my husband and I moved to Utah for a change of scenery,” Ali explains. “I wanted my business to be built on my shoulders, rather than on the back of my family name.”

Six years in with her own business and two babies later – Nora, five and Elliot, two – Ali finds herself back in Cincinnati, Ohio now, still taking gorgeous shots. “What I love about photographing children is that I get a small glimpse into their little personalities,” Ali explains. “I see it as more of a gift that I get to give to the parents, but mainly the mother. The ability to capture that small moment in time that perfectly describes their child in that stage of their life is everything to us moms. As a mother myself I cherish the images I’ve taken of my girls over the years –  I love watching their physical changes as well as their changes in personality. I’m aware that I’m so fortunate to have the ability to take professional images of my girls and it’s really something I want to be able to share with other moms.”

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Taking Great Pictures of Our Kids with Ali Wolfe of Ali Wolfe Photography

  1. What are your top tips for parents for taking great pictures of their kids? 

Know how to focus your camera, whether you’re using a DSLR or your phone camera. Making sure the camera is focused on the person you want to highlight in the image you are taking.

A good light source! Photography was created from Greek roots and it actually translates to “drawing with light” – without light you have nothing. The best images have a great light source. Window light makes for beautiful portraits because the light gently falls off the subject – give it a go!

Perspective is EVERYTHING! I challenge moms to get at the child’s level. I often come back from shoots and I have to change my clothes because my pants are covered with dirt from getting on my knees or literally lying down. Try to get down to their point of view.

Think about the composition of the shot before you take it. You’ll want to keep your images free of busy backgrounds, place your subject off center (rule of thirds) rather than in the center, know what you want the viewer to focus on in the image and look for symmetry and leading lines. Applying these few concepts can really make your images stand out.

Interact with your child. Asking kids to “smile” is like asking them to do a chore and you have to say it 10 times before it will actually get done. Play with them while your camera is in your hand, then take the shot – you’ll get the genuine smile you want.

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Elliot July 2016-20 months

  1. What’s one line or a piece of advice to help parents in culling through their photos? Like, what can I say to myself to finally get rid of 34 of the 35 pictures of the exact same moment, the exact same smile?

Don’t waste the memory/space on a subpar moment that you’ve captured. Instead, find one or two from the same situation that is in focus and evokes the greatest emotion for you as the parent. Think, in 10 years do I really want to comb through all of these images?

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  1. In terms of editing, what are one or two things that parents could do to take a photo from OK to great? Do you have any favorite editing apps that are easy for the average parent to use?

What makes a great edit really depends on each photo. I’ve always heard, and felt for myself, that the best images will make the viewer feel something, and a good edit can certainly help. Adding more brightness to an image can make the image come across as a happier moment and making the image darker makes it more serious or gloomy. Editing the light can help dictate the mood of the image.

I’ll be honest, I’m not big on phone photo editing apps – I mainly work on my computer – so that doesn’t make me much of an expert here. However, I think Instagram does a great job with allowing the user to not only adjust the filter on an image but to enhance it by tweaking the contrast, brightness, highlights, and so on.

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  1. This has been plaguing me for a very long time and I absolutely need to get it figured out – my photos are pretty disorganized and are taking over my hard drive. What is your favorite program for storing photos?

There are so many options in this space but it can get very pricey. Google Drive offers 15 GB of space for FREE! There are a slew of other companies out there that will sell you cloud space storage, I however don’t use that option. I would suggest that parents purchase an external hard drive for their images and create folders from there. I started a series of folders when I had my first daughter Nora. The folder series goes like this: Nora>2011>01_January. Every month I catalog images of my girls just like this. That way if I wanted to take a trip down memory lane and sob my eyes out I can easily go back to a time when Nora was one month old. Obviously as the years go on you make more folders and another set of month subfolders. You can apply this setup to every child and then have another series of folders for photos of them together that you cherish.

August Wolfe Girls-We moved back to Ohio

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Nora October 2016

Elliot Sept. 2016

Nora October 2016

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Ali & Girls Feb 2017

Thank you so much Ali!

Now to all of you – get out there for some adventures! Take pictures! Then, organize them! And, back them up! And, print them, so that they are in your life.

Have so much fun making memories with those beautiful families of yours.

xoxo

K

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