The great thing about technology is the fact that nowadays, DSLR's are fairly affordable and easy to use... making it simple to get wonderful snapshots of your children and family. Yes, having a professional level DSLR is crucial for a photographer. I'd be lying if I said that these cameras and lenses aren't amazing! But keep this in mind... if you have no culinary knowledge and were given a set of top of the line pots and pans, you wouldn't expect a gourmet meal. The same goes for photography. That's why it is so important to take the time to learn! In my line of work, I see so many subpar photos that have been "repaired" in Photoshop. While Photoshop is an invaluable tool, it's not a miracle worker! A great image starts in camera, and is simply polished in post-processing.
Here's an example. This image is "straight out the camera". A tad bit underexposed, but not bad (I tend to purposely underexpose a bit). Her skin tone is correct, the lighting is even, but it needs just a little bit of "oomph". It also is a bit hazy, as all images produced by digital cameras are.
And here is the after. I like my images light and bright, so I lightened it up a bit, boosted the saturation just a tad, and added some contrast. I also darkened the background slightly, removed a small bruise on her cheek, and sharpened the image to reduce the digital haze. Although the image now looks MUCH more polished and sleek, you'll notice that the change isn't too drastic. Starting with a solid image makes a world of difference in preparing the finished product!
With the right tools and some education, it's easy to get those beautiful snapshots to capture your day to day moments. If a DSLR is out of your budget, there are so many fantastic point and shoot cameras available. If you are in the market, be sure to do some research online to determine what camera will be the best fit for your needs and price range.
If you are interested in stretching your knowledge level beyond using the automatic functions, be sure to thoroughly read through your camera's manual. I highly recommend Understanding Exposure by Brian Peterson... this is a must read for any photography enthusiast! Practice makes perfect, but it is so important to take time to learn the technical side. It will make getting those great shots so much easier!
I totally understand that this stuff can be tough to learn, and I also understand that those everyday moments are infinitely important to capture. ABP will be hosting a one-night workshop (most likely this summer!) for beginners and enthusiasts who want to learn how to take better shots of their kids. Be sure to sign up for our mailing list to be the first to get the details on the event.
In the meantime... do you have a question for me about using your camera, taking better shots, etc. etc.? No topic is off limits! Leave a comment on this post and I'll answer your questions in a new post!