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

Bonding With Your Rescue Animal

Bonding With Your Rescue Animal

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of The J.M. Smucker Company. The opinions and text are all mine.

I’ve always heard that a rescue animal will save your life. Boy, they weren’t kidding. We had recently experienced a pregnancy loss when Ella showed up, quite literally, on our doorstep. She was found in a toolshed in her former owner’s backyard. The woman had passed away and her children didn’t know what to do with her. She landed on the perfect doorstep as we were prepared to nurture someone who needed a home. She wound up healing us in so many ways with her gentle spirit, and sweet demeanor. Fast forward to today, she is still the princess in our home. Surrounded by a bunch of testosterone, I was relieved to have a female sidekick at home. Although she isn’t as meek as she once posed to be. These days she is usually hogging my side of the bed, vocally requests constant cuddles, and I’m convinced is trying to eat us out of house and home. Still, I wouldn’t have her any other way. Over the last two years we’ve really bonded, and it’s tough to imagine our lives without Ella in it. There are a few things we’ve learned about taking in a rescue over the last few years, enough so, that we have considered adopting another pet.

Time

Rescue Animal

I know it sounds cliché, but time really does heal old wounds. When adopting a rescue, you never know what kind of environment that animal has had to endure. Be understanding of the time it takes for a pet (especially a cat) to settle in. Two years later and I am still noticing changes in Ella’s behavior that exhibits just how much she loves us and is more comfortable with each passing day. It’s best to give it a good long try before making any rash decisions to pass on becoming a “forever home.” With rescue animals it takes time to build trust, but it’s worth it in the end. Once they love you, they love you with their whole heart. Perhaps it’s because they know what it’s like not to have someone like you in their life.

Honey

Animal Rescue

My grandmother used to say, you get more bees with honey than vinegar. She had a point, the best way to a hungry rescue animal’s heart is usually through their stomach. Utilize feeding time to really nurture and love on your pet. In the beginning, feeding time may be the only time you will see them all day. They usually find a space where they feel safe and spent long period of time there. It can help to get tasty treats to entice them to snuggle with you. Ella just loves the Meow Mix Brushing Bites Chicken Flavor as her favorite treat. Whenever I was concerned about her or needed to administer any medicines, I would offer her a few treats. She would thank me in purrs and cuddles.

Trial & Error

Animal Rescue

Like a marriage, bonding with your pet can take time and energy. Understanding that you both are trying to get on the same schedule and on the same page can make all the difference. It can be easy to get frustrated about not understanding each other, but knowing that it will work itself out eventually if you stay the course is enough to relieve some of that pressure. Ella wouldn’t eat when we first brought her home, and I was really worried. As it turns out, she is very particular about her food. It took a few tries before we finally found a mixture of the Meow Mix Bistro Dry Food in Chicken Flavor and the Meow Mix Tuna & Shrimp Lovers Wet Food at Walmart. This mix was the perfect blend of high quality, good taste, and I love the affordable pricing. Just because I’m ready to spoil my princess, doesn’t mean I want to spoil my wallet.

Cat Food

Cat Food

Cat Food

All of these Meow Mix products and many more can be found at your local Walmart in the pet aisle. With this Ibotta offer you can earn $1.50 when purchasing Meow Mix Dry, $1.00 when purchasing Meow Mix Wet, and $0.25 when purchasing Meow Mix Treats. Earn an additional $1.00 when you redeem two or more of the Meow Mix rebates. At the end of the day, rescuing an animal is really expanding your family. It may take a little getting used to, but once the dust settles, it’s worth every moment for a life filled with happiness.

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

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