Photography Tips for Beginners

Photography Tips for Beginners

This post is sponsored by KEH, Inc. As always, all opinions expressed here are 100% my own. This post contains affiliate links, purchases through these links will support essentiallyerika.com.

Photography has always been a passion of mine – I will never forget my very first camera! It’s a passion I likely inherited from my father. When I was ten years-old, he got his hands on an old manual Pentax camera. A fire ignited and suddenly he was capturing photos of my younger brother and framing them in the back office of his storefront. I watched as he would learn how to get the right exposure, then have the film developed to see his handy work. It inspired me to photograph the parts of life that spoke to me, the details that perhaps were overlooked. A set of hands, feet, cars aligned perfectly.

Tip #1: When photographing kids be sure to have your fastest shooting speed available. For a DSLR, this may be a sports mode or the “CH” setting on a Nikon. There is magic in child photography, but they are quick and you need to be ready!

Travel Photos

Today, one of my favorite subjects to photograph are my children. Motherhood is perhaps the greatest inspiration and can spark all kinds of creativity from every day moments. I also have an affinity for lifestyle photography. Travel, architecture, are all interesting to me and beg for a little camera time. In 2008 we booked a two-week trip to Hawaii. We spent a week in Waikiki and a week in Maui. I knew we needed a decent camera to photograph the beautiful sunsets we were promised, and boy was I right. I hit a local electronics store and bought my first DSLR. I went with Canon because I’d heard they were very user-friendly, and would be a simple start. I got some great shots in Auto mode, and I still treasure these photos.

Tip #2: Shooting in manual or aperture mode takes some practice, but the payoff is sweet. There is nothing wrong with shooting in Auto, it’s a great way to focus on other things, like composition.

Travel Photos

However, when I first started my blog, I knew I would need to step up my game and learn to shoot manually. I spent a good amount of time discovering which brand I wanted to put my trust in, as well as the best way to purchase. I landed on a trusty Nikon, and bought the body separately. Selecting a lens was a bit trickier than I’d expected. Like the camera shop told me on my first visit, “photography is not a cheap hobby.” So I quickly learned that buying used / refurbished gear was a smart investment. With a trusted name like KEH, who has been helping photographers buy and sell used photo gear since 1979, you can rest assured that what you are purchasing is a wise investment. The savings comparison between KEH vs purchasing at the store is considerable. This is perfect for novice photographers looking to save as well as expert photographers looking to branch out.

Tip #3: Kit lenses are generally very limited. When purchasing a lens, make sure to factor in all types of pictures you want to take. An all-around good lens that is great for photographing lifestyle, food, and portraits is ideal.

KEH

Photography

Apart from my children, travel photography is one of my favorites. You can use up to three to four different lenses on one trip, this can be pretty expensive. I rely on the folks at KEH to help me sell a lens I may have outgrown, and search for high quality lenses that I like to think of as “pre-loved.” I’m a thrifter through and through and often enjoy the character that comes with pre-used items. I believe it adds character, and I can’t help but wonder what amazing photographs this lens has capture previously.

Bonus Tip: IF you don’t feel it, don’t photograph it. Love can be felt through a lens, don’t force the photo.

Nikon

KEH’s online ordering system is simple and easy, making the time between you click the button on your laptop to the moment you can snap a photo minimal. I rest assured knowing I am just a click away from some incredible images coming my way. Cutting down on the worry and stress help to keep momentum going and ensure the inspiration keeps flowing.

You can appraise your camera gear or browse items for sale on the KEH website.

Happy Snapping!

Essentially yours,

Erika

Keeping Your Gut Healthy All Summer

Keeping Your Gut Healthy All Summer

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. All opinions expressed here are 100% my own.

Summer comes with laid-back vibes, later bedtimes, and subsequently, lazy eating habits. It’s the time of year when we most want to kick back, take it easy, and usually end up ordering out. I’m doing my best at home to keep things even-keeled, but it’s an inevitable beast. Eventually, the lazy summer monster gets us all.

One of the ways I try to keep the good stuff going in with a busy schedule and two kids, is by enjoying a delicious smoothie each day with the family. We enjoy participating in smoothie challenges and coming up with new and interesting recipes to keep the kids engaged in healthy habits. Good Karma Flaxmilk is a wonderful way to add protein to your smoothies. It’s made with cold-pressed flax seed oil, a rich source of Omega- 3’s without all of the calories. Plus, it’s dairy-free for my lactose sensitive boys. I use both the Unsweetened and Vanilla flavors depending on the type of smoothie I’m making.

Smoothie Recipe

This Banana Mango Protein Smoothie is excellent! It’s the perfect frosty beverage for summertime (you can add spinach or kale to turn it into a green smoothie. Just add 16oz of frozen mango to 3 cups of Good Karma Flaxmilk, add 1 ripe banana and blend. It’s a simple favorite that is frosty and refreshing. It’s easy to take this on the go on a summer adventure.

Smoothie

Probiotics is a great source of good gut bacteria necessary for optimal gut function.  Traditional Chinese Medicine believes the gut is the epi-center of the body. That without it’s optimal health, the rest of the body cannot function effectively. Implementing healthy gut behavior with Drinkable Yogurt, yogurt packs, and probiotics is essential to our well-being.

Good Karma Drinkable Yogurt  is packed with dairy-free probiotics, making it a great summer treat by the pool. It’s easy on-the-go caps mean you can just drop it into the cooler and enjoy.

Smoothie

I rest easier knowing I’m injecting good practices even while enjoying our laid-back summer vibes. The kids enjoy the dairy-free yogurt as a fun summer treat. With up to seven live and active cultures, Omega-3 healthy fats, and five to six grams of plant-based protein, I’m happy to let them enjoy this delicious snack.

Kefir

Essentially yours,

Erika

Kids Lunch Box Ideas for Back To School

Kids Lunch Box Ideas for Back To School

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #GetCheesy #CollectiveBias

School will be back before we know it and the lunchtime struggle is real. Making the effort to  provide your child with a healthy and nutritious lunch they will enjoy can be a tough task. Especially when you are trying to keep things new and exciting for picky little palates. I do my best to keep from packing a sandwich with deli-meat each day. These tips have helped me develop fun and creative kids lunch box ideas and themes for the summer, and I’m ready to start creating more for back to school time. It’ll be here before you know it..

Kids Lunch Boxes

The Eyes Have It

Developing minds rely mostly on their senses (sight & smell mostly) to function. Fewer things can draw kids in more than bright vivid colors and a fun invitation. My kids attend a Montessori school, and the thinking behind the Montessori method is to respect the individual by setting up an invitation to learn. The shelves in a Montessori classroom have materials laid out in a fashion that would invite someone of interest to take part in that particular lesson. The same goes for kids lunch boxes! By arranging the food in such a way that it looks inviting could be enough to get your kids munching in no time.

Organic Valley

Organic Valley Stringles and American Singles make it easy to pack individual sized portions for lunch-time snacking. Right now you can save $1.25 off any Organic Valley Cheese at your local supermarket.

Cut It Out

A simple slice of watermelon may not seem enticing to a kid. But a melon ball they can pop in their mouth and is easy to hold can be a blast. Making smaller and creative portions of food, it invites the child to take part in eating a well-balanced meal. Organic Valley products are all organic, without antibiotics, synthetic hormones, toxic pesticides, or GMO’s. Cutting your items into fun shapes and sizes makes kids lunch boxes a little less intimidating, and a little more exciting.

Kids Lunch Boxes

Kids Lunch Box Ideas

When In Doubt, Stick It

Kids will eat just about anything you put on a stick. Our new favorite kids lunch ideas mostly involve Kids Kabobs. A simple salad may not be enough to get your child excited about lunch, but throw some spinach, string cheese, and tomatoes on a stick and you’ve got yourself a winner! My boys love finding new and interesting ways to incorporate kabob-style lunches into their school lunch. Organic Valley Stringles makes that easy by simple cutting up a cheese stick and adding it to most of the fun lunch-box combinations. You can create fruit sticks, salad kabobs, and even quesadilla on a stick. It’s become such a hit they have started requesting their breakfasts on a stick (french toast kabobs anyone??).

Kids Lunch Ideas

You can find the Organic Valley cheese products easily in the dairy aisle at your local Publix supermarket.

Essentially yours,

Erika

Subscribe to Essentially Erika!

You will receive updates on All Things Organic & Essential!

DON'T FORGET TO SUBSCRIBE!