Family Pictures...Only Better! {The Momtographers}

Monday, September 27, 2010
Adrienne Gray and Krista Njapa are equal parts talent, class, smarts, and style. When I first heard that they were collaborating on a project together, I knew it would be nothing short of amazing. They did not disappoint. Last year, they launched the hit website The Momtographers - a site dedicated to helping moms (and pops too) improve their photography skills to create beautiful lasting memories.  I recently had the opportunity to ask Adrienne some questions about The Momtographers and asked if she'd be willing to share a tip or two with my readers. 

Tell me a little bit about The Momtographers and how it came to be. The Momtographers is a community of moms who love to celebrate our kids’ lives through photography.  Our aim is to help inspire, instruct and encourage moms to take pictures as incredible as their kids.

Krista Njapa and I met online while expecting our first daughters (who were born three days apart!).  Both of us had professional backgrounds that involved visual arts, but neither of us truly understood the importance of a camera until we held our little ones.  Then it was all pictures all the time... Except for one picky thing.  The dark and out of focus snapshots we were taking looked nothing like the pictures we saw in our heads and on other mommy blogs.  “The Momtographers” came to be after a couple of years of trying to figure it out on our own – we really wanted to save other moms the time (and frustration!) by helping them figure out how to take pictures that are truly worthy of the memories they set out to capture.

How long have you and Krista been involved in professional photography and what motivated you to get serious about your snap? I’m a video producer, so I’ve been involved with image capture for a number of years – though I typically hired the folks that set up the lights and run the cameras, so I didn’t have a ton of experience since I was rarely the person behind the camera. So when my husband gave me my camera a few days before my daughter was born, I had decent instincts and a basic understanding of what made things work visually, I just didn’t understand how to translate that to my still camera.  As I started to get my feet under me, I had people offer to hire me professionally to take photos of their kids but it just never felt right.  I couldn’t bring myself to charge someone for something that I knew was so precious to them – I wanted to teach THEM how to take their own pictures.

Krista actually has more professional photography experience than I do.  Her background is in marketing, so she had good built-in instincts as well.  But after she had Chloe, she took the bull by the horns and started apprenticing for commercial shoots in New York City. Before long she was producing shoots as well. But we both recognize that most new mommies don’t have the professional opportunities or time otherwise to get serious about their hobby, so we want to help them with that!

What type of camera do you use? Lenses? I (Adrienne) use a DSLR camera – a Nikon D200.  I like to use prime lenses when I’m in a controlled environment like around the house or somewhere I’m familiar with. Prime lenses are great because they offer a wider aperture which works great with natural light indoors. I have Nikon 50mm 1.8 and an 85mm 1.4.  But the drawback to prime lenses is that your butt is the zoom – you have to physically move back and forth with the camera to frame your shot.  When we’re in an unfamiliar location when everything’s happening quickly or I need to be more concerned about everyone’s safety than backing my butt up to get the shot, I use a zoom lens.  It’s a Sigma 17-70mm  2.8-4.5.

I asked Krista about her most recent camera combo and found out she uses a Canon 40D and a 50 mm lens, a 1.4. “I love the combo and can't complain as it's given me some amazing shots, but I do realize more and more especially recently that my camera bag could use a little bit of variety. I am a minimalist when it comes to equipment. And I think at the heart of the Momtographers philosophy is a minimalist approach, kids (especially young ones) come with enough gear, LOL! I shot with my sony point and shoot in manual for a long time, until I was lucky enough to have a Canon Rebel loaned to me. I shot with just that and the kit lens for over a year, until I finally upgraded to a 50 mm 1.8 lens ($89!!!). Eventually I had to give that camera back, and now I have the 40D, I also upgraded slightly to the 1.4 when my other lens literally fell apart in my hands at ChloĆ«'s 3rd birthday. I definitely see a zoom lens in my future!” 

What is a common mistake that novice photographers seem to make most often? Over doing it!  We’re not huge fans of posing the kids (i.e. the baby in the teacup) or otherwise adding things to photos to make up the story. That’s not to say that we don’t ask the kids to look at the camera, but we’d prefer to focus on the nuances of what’s already happening, and letting that environment tell that story.  Are you outside with the muchkins?  Take a picture of their feet in the bright green blades of grass.  Or if you’re at the beach and you just HAVE to get that shot of the kidoo perfectly posed in the sand, that’s great – just make sure to get some of them running in the tide afterwards!  In the end, it’s the authentic moments you’ll treasure most!

If you could give one crucial piece of advice to someone who is looking to sharpen their photography skills, what would it be? Learn all about natural light.  In our “Brand Spankin’ New” tips we advise that you find the pockets of light in your home that work consistently.  Once you practice there, you’ll begin to recognize other places that work too.  Find your safety zone and then experiment –it’s the best way to learn!


Any fun and exciting things we can be looking for at The Momtographers in the coming year? Yes!  We’re launching our Digital Darkroom soon for tips and tricks on digital editing.  We’re very excited about that!  We’re also appearing in some fun publications soon. Since our launch in January, we’ve been taking our time to make sure we listen to what our community members really need, so hopefully we’ll keep growing in ways that stick to our motto – Family Pictures... Only Better!

Thanks so much to you Adrienne for sharing with us! If you all haven't checked out The Momtographers yet, head on over there now. It is exploding with practical, easy to understand information and tips for novices to the more experienced photographer.

All photos in this post are property of The Momtographers.


Anonymous said...

Love it! Great job you guys!!! Can't wait for my life to calm down a bit to take full advantage of the Momtographers has already been so helpful!

Grace said...

I know it - I have learned so much from the site!! Now I just need these two to start having photography workshops. Could you imagine how fun and informative that would be?

Adrienne Gray said...

Grace!! :) Thanks so much for doing this! (and, hey, stay tuned...)

lindsey said...

I love this post. I am in dire need of a fancy dancy camera but hey my point and shoot works for the time being ;)
I am going to try and remember that natural light works a lot better then flash lighting.
Thanks for the tips!

Midwest Mommy said...

Thank you. I love learning new stuff.

sara said... going to check out the site now! Thanks Grace!!

Anonymous said...

Wow - every photo is completely amazing! I will have to check out that site as well. Everyone can use tips on photography! Photography is much more difficult than I had ever anticipated!

Grace said...

It is definitely worth the time to check out. I have learned so much from The Momtographers...still have a long way to go though ;)

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