Proof that owning a DSLR does NOT mean that you’re magically a great photographer.

Daddy makes everything all better.
It never fails.
Every year, just before Christmas, one (or, like last year, all three!) of my children gets sick.
I thought that maybe I’d get lucky this year because (knock on wood) not one person is sneezing or wheezing or coughing. I was hopeful and even grateful that with just one week left, everyone seemed healthy.
Then, on Tuesday, I got The Call from day care.
“Hi, your daughter just threw up. Can you please come pick her up?”
It’s been non stop Puke and Runs ever since.
Taking care of a sick toddler isn’t very much fun; especially when puke is involved. However, I can’t say that I mind how tightly my daughter has been clinging to me. (Well, except for when I was working and she refused to leave the comfort of my “fluffy” lap and I had to try to work with one hand while I held her close to me with the other. THAT was a leeeeettle annoying.) She’s Little Miss Independent now and while she still has plenty of hugs and kisses for Mommy, she’s usually too busy doing very important things to snuggle with me on the couch for more than a minute at a time. So, while I’m sad that she’s not feeling well, I’m happy to hold her close to me all day long until she gets better.
I’ll take The Cuddles anyway I can get them.
When I bought my new camera, I had visions of taking The Perfect Picture of my children for Christmas cards this year.
Obviously I didn’t take into consideration the fact that I would need to know about things like “aperture” and “ISO” and hey! A tripod would be really fucking nice because did you know that if you move the camera even just a little bit EVERYTHING COMES OUT BLURRY?
I took over 50 shots. The kids were “over it” by the 5th shot, which meant there was much whining and words like “ALL YOU EVER CARE ABOUT IS TAKING PICTURES!” shouted in anger. I finally said “eff it!” and let them get up so they wouldn’t like, DIE or something from the pain of having to just sit there and smile thinking that maybe, possibly I could find one decent shot to have printed out so that I could mail out pictures tomorrow.
Out of 50 shots, not ONE came out right. They were all too dark or too blurry. I feel like crying and I know that is stupid, but I don’t have time to try it all over again tomorrow and damn it! I wanted some pretty pictures of children this Christmas.
I went ahead and picked out the best of the bunch (but again, they’re all horrible.) and I was wondering if you would be so kind as to do me a tiny, little favor and tell me, if you HAD to choose one, which one would you choose? I know that I have a lot of nerve asking you for a favor with the way that I’ve been neglecting you, and I’m really sorry about that. I blame my thyroid. It’s dying and it’s taking my ability to think straight with it. Can you forgive me? And then, can you please look at my pictures and tell me which one you think sucks the least?
I would appreciate it more than you know.
Picture or Video 769 copy
(This one would be great if Gabby’s face wasn’t blurry. AHHHHHH!)
Picture or Video 780 copy
Picture or Video 790 copy
Picture or Video 778 copy copy
(Wouldn’t suck too much had I not cut Ethan’s entire body out of the picture. “Merry Christmas from Ethan’s head!”)
Picture or Video 794 copy

150 thoughts on “Proof that owning a DSLR does NOT mean that you’re magically a great photographer.

  1. Anna

    Long time reader (omg have I been a lurker for years now? Wow) and first time commenter. I find the third one down is the most adorable shot ever! So the third one gets my vote. Now that I got that out of the way, I’m really glad that I’ve gotten to read your blog over the years. I totally admire you for being so honest and funny. Have a great Christmas and don’t worry, some of the best photos I’ve taken have been shots that I absolutely despise but people seem to love them 🙂

  2. Monet (aka Birdsboss)

    OK…i coulda wrote this exact post ummm but without pighunter pic and ofcourse the fact that i am not Y….my daughter had the throw ups and was sooooo sick…she is barely getting better…i hate daycare cooties man!!! and i cannot figure out my new camera as well…what is ISO? lol…so my holiday pics will be ummmm…i still don’t know!!!! Ughhhh what a week so far!!! But i have to say…these pics came out pretty good considering getting three kids in a happy moment at the same time!!! I love the third!! the colors everything!!! choose the thirdddddddddddd!!!!

  3. SJ aka Simple Family

    I vote for Ethan’s head one or the one just above that with them kissing her.
    Also, there’s a boy who looks EXACTLY LIKE ANDREW that rides his bike past my house every day. And, every day, it freaks me out because I wonder what A (and his manly man voice) are doing on my street.

  4. Sarah

    Third from the bottom, with Gabby getting kissed. What my mom did for our cards one year when all the pictures sucked was make a christmas tree with space for 6 ornaments. In each ornament, she had one of our faces (three girls, 2 cats, and one of my rats) Everybody loved them, and cooperation among the spawn was not required for an excellent card. Just a thought.

  5. Karly

    They don’t suck!! I would have a hard time choosing between the one of them kissing her (LOVE IT) or the very last one (LOVE IT, TOO!). Either way, they were all plenty cute.

  6. Katie

    I like the 1st and 3rd ones. As someone who knows precisely nothing about photography, the blurriness is not a problem in the 1st picture to me. In fact, if you hadn’t pointed it out, I never would’ve noticed (I’m also not terribly observant).
    The 3rd one has a special charm to it also. I think they’re all great and you’d have a hard time going wrong with any of them (how’s that for blowing rainbows and sunshine up your…um…thyroid?)

  7. nazilam

    I also love number 3, you can use it for gabby’s engagement picture as well.
    Gosh, your kids are amazingly photogenic even when they are not feeling well.
    Treasure that girlfriend.

  8. Michelle

    I’m breaking from the majority and going with the very last one. I like that one the best. You have beautiful children!

  9. tonya cinnamon

    the first oine is great for the ones for family and so on.. but the thrid one is the best in my view.. its not about the perfect smile but about the attuide..
    take it from a part time photograher… i sell more of those then the smiling ones…
    hugs and merry christmas!

  10. mandy

    You don’t have to be a perfect photographer, you just need some editing software. They all look great. I would get picasa2 by google, it’s free and works great on mine. I have the same camera, and I use it all the time. I vote for the first and the last. Can I pick two?

  11. Kay

    I think the one with the brothers kissing G is the sweetest thing ever. It will also be the one to make you cry years from now.
    Go for it.

  12. Norma

    I vote for #3. I just got me a Nikon D40x several months ago and have been pretty upset with myself because my photos had not turned out as well as I had hoped (I thought it was magic too!) But I’m working on it. I think your recent ones are terrific! You are doing a wonderful job. Take care.

  13. Carrisa

    Well #3 does rule because of the expression on Gabby’s face. It looks like it would be the cover of some dvd movie about “mis hermanos locos” or however you say My Crazy Brothers in Spanish. It’s just too bad you can’t see the boys’ faces better. But still, it’s the best one.

  14. Helen

    number three is perfect and Ethan head picture? Divine!! I love Gabby’s face she has the most expressive face, number THREE makes me go all gooey and number 4 makes me laugh ( out loud even) and argh… I am and only 5 days left in Cal, have to drive to No Cal tomorrow for 3 days, to see MIL who hates me…then back to England,we missed getting together which is my fault because SHOPPING! TARGET! SHOPPING! Can’t stop shopping unless it is to EAT. Darn it.

  15. Christine

    Clearly I’m in the minority, but I like the last one the best. I feel your pain. We just went through the Christmas photo hell, um, I mean session a few days ago.

  16. margalit

    I vote for numbers 2 and 3. Cute and cuter, those kids. I think you are doing a great job with your camera. I’m soooo jealous. I want one too!

  17. Kat

    I like #1 best but #4 is a close runner up. OMG that look on her face, HEH! Your kids are beautiful Y. Ok, I’m sticking with #1.

  18. Kandace

    I got a DSLR last March and promised myself I would figure what out what the hell to with it, but, ya know life happens and you just pray that fact it takes 3 pictures a second will save your unskilled self. And it does once in a while. Good luck with your new toy.

  19. lilyruth

    I love # 3 its so darling. Listen your very good with a that camera. Also I wanted to let you know that I do wish you would stop by and pick up your Best Friends award that is on my site its a very specail award it ws given to me and I was tole to pass it on ans I thought of yo so do pick it up and place it on your blog OR at leat go and leave a comment on how you feel on receiving this special award Look for Jessies Girl there.

  20. Maria

    I don’t tthink they suck at all. I vote for #3, with the boys kissing Gabby.
    I’m still fiddling and learning how to use my new camera, which I got in September. I think it is going to take awhile. I had visions or shooting perfect photos too. I didn’t get a good shot my my dogs, so no card. 🙂
    I plan to copy Zoot next year and do a collage of my favorite photos of the year.

  21. Maria

    I have an idea and offer for next year. If shooting the three of them together doesn’t work out, shoot each one individually. The individual shots will offer you an opportunity to be creative. I would be happy to design the card for you of your three favorite photos.

  22. Sarah

    My vote is for the boys kissing their sister. Yes, she looks a little troubled by it, but it’s a sweet and funny kinda troubled. Ethan’s sideways glance is fun too.

  23. MamaLee

    Boys kissing their sister gets it, in my book. And doesn’t it truly capture their relationships? DO IT! They came out FINE, so stop worrying!

  24. Jezer

    Kissy one and the last one. Honestly though, they are all precious.
    But now, a question. In the first photo with Gabby and PH, how in holy hell did you keep the background white? I always have to set up the ol’ ghetto studio lights and light the background to get that to happen. So, yeah, how’d you do that? BTW, we have the same camera. 🙂

  25. AlwaysCurious

    #3 definitely. It’s so cute and the look on Gabby’s face is priceless. In 10 years you won’t care that it was less than perfectly crystal clear, you’ll just love how adorable they are. 🙂

  26. maya

    #3 is the best/cutest/funniest. the look on gabby’s face is priceless.
    unsolicited advice: with one kid it’s really easy to put the aperture on the lowest number and get all that pretty blur in the background, but with three kids you have to either make the aperture number higher or ask them all to sit in a row and to put their noses to an imaginary glass window that’s in front of them, so they’ll all be at the same place and no one will be blurry.
    ISO: looks like you have good natural light = great! put your camera on Av setting and set your aperture and let the camera figure out exposure. take a couple test shots and if the shutter is slow (which creates the blur), up the ISO, a bit at a time, until the shutter gets fast.
    maybe someone who reads your blog knows more/better and can give you better advice, but that’s what i do. other than that, believe me, i don’t know what i’m doing either. but i’m learning.

  27. Rachel May

    Number three is totally the best…. is there room for two pics on whatever you’re sending out??? Maybe you could do 1 and 3 at the same time. At any rate, get a big ol’ 8 x 10 of #3 and put it up in the house somewhere…. it’s just so classic!!!!

  28. Christina

    Normally I wouldn’t do this as it seems a bit odd but, I borrowed a copy of pic #1 and messed with it till I got Gabby’s face unfuzzy. I can send it to you if you’d like.

  29. Opal

    I vote for the under-the-tree smooch.
    I hear you on the DSLR woes. I’ve had mine for months, and I’m only starting to come to an “agreement” with it, you catch my drift. Photoshop is my friend!
    (Speaking of which, check your email!)

  30. Stacey

    The last one is perfect. PERFECT!!! I love the one of the boys kissing Gabby, too. I think you should scrapbook the kissing pic and use the last one for a Christmas card.

  31. Suebob

    I like #1 because Gabby is smiling so cute. She isn’t that blurry. In the others, she looks like she is being tortured. Poor child – having to have photos taken is SOOOOO taxing LOL

  32. josey

    definitely either the first or the last one! the smoochie one IS totally adorable, but its more of one you’d hang up in the house or scrapbook, as stacey said. i think you did an awesome job taking the pix! just think of how good you’ll be by next christmas!
    have a wonderful holiday! =)
    and btw, your children are GORGEOUS!! (((hugs)))

  33. anne nahm

    They are pictures of your kids, how could they not all be adorable? Sorry about the ongoing problems with thyroid. And you know: Details! when you have a free moment.

  34. Lisa

    Definitely number 3 – it’s cute, shows personality, and I always go for the fun photo first – and much prefer to get them too!

  35. marjorie

    I didn’t look at any of the comments to see what anyone else thought, but I think the first picture was the best. I didn’t really think Gabby’s face was blurry (well, maybe a tiny bit but who cares, she’s so cute and that’s all that matters.) Your boys are awesomely handsome. Now I’m going to check the comments and see if anyone else agreed with my choice. Have a wonderful Christmas!

  36. Kristie

    Yes, definitely the one with the boys kissing her. She’s thinking, “The INDIGNITIES I have to put up with! First, my mom’s annoying camera obsession, and now THIS!?!?”
    Ha! It totally makes me laugh. 🙂
    PS. If it makes you feel any better, I’ve owned a DSLR for four years now and my annual Christmas pictures still usually stink. In fact, this year I paid a friend to take them. Of course, that probably says more about my total and complete lack of camera knowledge than anything else.

  37. Vicky

    I am waiting for the call from Daycare today, as my son puked all over my husband this morning (better him than me!)
    Okay seriously I just love picture #3.
    Okay so I have to say(because you are probably thinking who the eff is this random chick) that I just love your blog, just never had the courage to comment. I blame it on the big gulp coffee and lack of sleep.

  38. Much More Than A Mom

    I like the top one and the bottom one. I’m no pro, but it looks to me like you’re using the portrait setting (?) and as a beginner I found that the auto setting was better for portraits because of the blur issue – at least until I had a lot of practice, and even sometimes now.

  39. deborah

    Gabby has got the pookiest lips I’ve ever seen. I don’t mind the first one, her face isn’t too blurry. Or the one where the boys are kissing her. I love her hands.

  40. AMomTwoBoys

    I vote for number three. Gabby’s face is adorable and the way Ethan is checking out the camera is priceless. I’m totally in favor of using pictures that actually capture the children’s REAL personalities instead of having them look like Stepford children.
    They’re all adorable! Nice work! Hope Gabby’s feeling better. Don’t let her throw up on your camera (or computer)…what would we do then?

  41. AMomTwoBoys

    I vote for number three. Gabby’s face is adorable and the way Ethan is checking out the camera is priceless. I’m totally in favor of using pictures that actually capture the children’s REAL personalities instead of having them look like Stepford children.
    They’re all adorable! Nice work! Hope Gabby’s feeling better. Don’t let her throw up on your camera (or computer)…what would we do then?

  42. lottifish

    I like the first one. You really have to look to see that her head is blurry and they all look happy 🙂

  43. Amy

    I like the very first one, or the very bottom one. 3 is cute and all, but Gabby isn’t smiling and her smile is just sooo cute!

  44. Beth

    Number 1, because the kids’ faces are all clearly visible, even though your boys look a teeeeensy bit like you’re getting on their last nerve. But that’s how teens and preteens are supposed to look, so it’s all good. ;^)

  45. JenniferB

    I love the one of the boys kissing your daughter on her cheeks — so cute! That is the one I would choose if they were my kids. 😉

  46. Stephanie

    Number 3 definitely! I love it. The boys are all adoring over Gabby, and she’s all “whatever, I’m the sh*t, can you get these icky boys out of MY photo already.”
    I also like #1… seems to really capture each of them at the stage of childhood they’re in.

  47. Les~

    #1, and #3 would be my pick…
    However, having said that — each one of the pics portrays them them all beautifully as the siblings they are! Great job, Y!
    Happy Holidays everyone!

  48. oceanbug

    The first one looks nice, they look natural and gabby has the cutest smile oh her face.
    I like the last one to.
    I don’t like the third one much because it looks so posed and you can’t see their faces all puckered up. But the idea is cute, don’t get me wrong it is a sweet picture!
    Just my input, they are all well done, and they DO NOT SUCK!!

  49. Candy

    Ok, the blurry face on the first one isn’t THAT bad. For me, it’s either that one, or the last one. Even though Gabby is looking away. She seems…pensive…ha!

  50. REINA

    I would not pick 3 because you can’t see your oldest boy’s face. It’s definitely a keeper, though, for the family album. If you are sending a picture out to family/friends, #2 is the way to go, they can see what all of the kids look like.

  51. Liana

    Whoa- 99 comments already! I’m delurking a bit to say that I don’t think ANY of those are horrible! If I had to choose a favorite, it would probably be #2. It’s funny and cute…a little pouty, which I think adds character to the shot.
    Who needs perfect smiles, anyway? Their expressions are great 🙂
    Second place would be #3 (the kissing one), for sure. 🙂
    By the way, do you know you have some lovely children there? They are adorable (but don’t tell the boys lest they be annoyed by that- tell them they’re handsome instead, which is true, too 🙂

  52. Lena

    Number 3. DEFINITELY! I love Gabbie’s attitude. I can see her telling people where to point in no time. Hahaaha.
    I love you Y. Come back to me. My voicemail doesn’t work! I SWEAR IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIT!

  53. Safa

    I vote for the last one but I also think number 3 is too adorable. BTW, my 13 year-old stepdaughter who was looking with me swears up and down that your oldest looks like Ray Romano.

  54. Ξ_Heather

    Some years we take a “mere” 20 or so photos…other years it’s over 100. I think these are a pretty good selection, actually!
    My favorites are the first two, probably #1 even with the blur because WOW what a smile!
    So wadja pick?

  55. Pops

    Here you go…get them infront of their gifts on Christmas morning take their picture and use it next year for your card….They are cute and you should be proud…..Even Kelly Ripa can’t get a good picture of her kids either!!!
    Happy Holidays…..2008 is going to be your uear!!

  56. amanda

    everyone wants number three… i feel weird now! i definitely vote for the last one. partly because i think it’s the cutest and partly because #3 is blue. do you have any software that can help you adjust the color? (One with the “magic instant fix” button?)
    and not to be all bitchy but i do photograph weddings! does that give me any weight for my vote?

  57. holly

    The kissing one is hilarious! I love the look on Gabby’s face. Next choice is the second picture from the top. Really, they all look good, though. I thought you said you only had bad pictures!

  58. Eliza

    This may have been said up-thread, but your oldest looks just like his dad!
    They’re all good looking kids–but I sympathize that having them all look good in one photo is a challenge.

  59. holly

    Okay, having read other people’s comments, I change my vote. The kissing one still makes me laugh, but for a serious Christmas card you should probably use picture number one, which shows off how handsome your sons are, and still shows Gabby being cute (the blurriness is barely noticeable). Then you can put the kissing picture on a wall and laugh yourselves silly at home. Unless, of course, your goal is to make Christmas-card recipients laugh, in which case switch the two suggestions above. 🙂

  60. jessica

    i vote for #5. it shows enough of all the kids, everyone looks fairly happy and gabby looks so sweet!!!.

  61. ericalynn

    um. holy crap. andrew looks OLD. in a good way. but omg. where did the time go?!?!? he looks like a MAN. i’m not hitting on your teenage son, I swear. hahahaha

  62. Lynne

    Number 3.
    And Y – I think I have the same camera as you do and I had the same problem. What I found solved the problem is that you have to hold the clicker (I so know that is not the right term but it is escaping me now) halfway done for a second and then push it all the way down. Once I started doing that I quit having the blurry pictures.
    These are good though!

  63. Oh, The Joys

    I like #2.
    (And I’m not buying that, “Lawsy! I don’t know nuthin’ ’bout takin’ no pitures” crap from you. Sheesh. You’re a great photographer.)

  64. Wrybred

    Only photogeeks notice little details like what you’re complaining about. Everyone else will see the beautiful kids, beautiful tree, (especially in #1) and the kids’ expressions, which is what most of the posts are about. So pick the expressions you like and have a merry Christmas!

  65. Janelle

    The kiss!! I vote for the kissing one. It is beyond precious.
    I have had my new camera for over a year now and I still don’t understand all the functions. I also have 4 very uncooperative kids. I feel your pain.

  66. hil

    #3 is hysterical. But you can’t see the boys’ faces.
    #2 screams with their personalities. I vote #2! They are kids with their own ideas in that one…it speaks volumes!
    Merry Christmas!

  67. Ella

    it doesn’t really matter, people aren’t really interested in other peoples kids! despite what they say

  68. Deanna

    So sorry about the losers on here that have nothing better to do with their time but put down your pictures. I think they’re cute. I’d go with # 3.

  69. trish

    I’m in the minority, too, but for a personal reason. I like #2, not only because it’s a good shot of all their faces, but because Andrew’s hand is on Gabby. And, having a son the exact same age as him, it reminds me of how old they seem as they become teenagers, but their hands still show signs of childhood.

  70. ~Cat

    I love the one where the brothers are smooching their sister. SO adorable.
    As for me, I’m too afraid to get a DSLR just yet. I haven’t mastered point and click!
    Oh, but tripods! I love me a tripod! 🙂

  71. Sarcastic Mom

    Oh, shit, honey, do I understand the thyroid f’ing up your life deal. Just had blood drawn for a check up on the old Hashimoto’s.
    And the pictures? You are just too emotionally close to them, because they’re darling.
    The third one down is FABULOUS. I know you’ve already picked by now, but I just wanted to tell you.
    (PS: YES. Get a tripod. They aren’t that expensive and you will be SO happy you own it.)

  72. Denise

    Either the first or last one is my fave. Sorry G is sick…I hope she’s better soon and noone else gets sick. Merry Christmas!

  73. Therese

    I like the one where the boys are kissing G. She has this look that says, “Oh, yes, boys adore me. That’s the way it should roll. Now let’s get this kissing junk over.”

  74. robyn

    Hey, you need to quit beating yourself up and go look waaaay back in the Shutterblog archives when I first got my D70 in ’04 — you know, that entire first year when I didn’t take the camera out of “Auto” mode. And then hit me up after the first of the year for tips on head-swapping (my card SO had a head-swap on the cover) and programs like Noise Ninja with free trials. Oh yeah, and no way in h-e-double-hockey-sticks I was taking my own boys’ Christmas card photos this year. I had another pro photog do it. So see? You just need to learn how to cheat better! (And personally, given their ages and how recently you got the camera — I think you did GREAT!) Merry Happy!

  75. Brenda

    Try a monopod instead of a tripod… might help you out with the blurriness and is a heck of a lot more movable than a tripod!! You can get them at walmart and they are cheap!!

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