Tell Your Little Story

Give Your Child a Time Capsule by Andrea Moffatt

Imagine being the age you are now and having in your possession, the full story of your first birthday party, including your close extended family, with less wrinkles and several decades younger. 

Imagine seeing the way your parents looked at you. The way your grandma planted a kiss on your chubby cheek. Your uncle, decades younger, playing peekaboo with you or laughing in the corner with your late grandfather.

Imagine getting to take a good look around your very first home- some familiar furniture, not yet broken in.

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Pittsburgh Family Photographer | What is Family Documentary Photography? by Andrea Moffatt

If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you've probably heard me toss around the term, Family Documentary Photography. But what exactly is it? And why would anyone want to hire a Family Documentary Photographer? 

If you are loving life (most days anyways), have much for which you're thankful, and ever find yourself thinking, "I will miss this someday...", then very likely you should have your story told before it passes you by. 

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'Tis the Season to Use Light Creatively by Andrea Moffatt

Only a couple week until the Winter Solstice, and you know what that means! Time to put away your camera till spring? No way! Time to get creative with your indoor light sources. 

If you were stranded in Alaska during the winter with only your camera, could you survive? Ask yourself, how can I become an indoor photography survivor like Kristina? What light sources could I take advantage of this winter?

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November Favorites: Pittsburgh Family Photographer by Andrea Moffatt

From trees bursting with vibrant leaves to bare branches and the first snow, November lived up to its name. I know many dread this slow march toward winter, but November is one of my favorite months for its direct shafts of fall light, warm colors, indoor coziness, and quiet anticipation of the approaching season. 

It's also the official month of gratitude, and focusing on that never fails to make my heart full. At the end of this post, I'll share with you a little about how shooting from a place of gratitude can free you up to create images that mean something to you. 

Here's my November gratitude list, in pictures...

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Carving Out Quiet for Composition Work by Andrea Moffatt

Have you arrived at that point in your photography journey where you find yourself confident in your technical skills, but not consistently happy with your artistic skills? Good composition is a skill you must strengthen by daily practice. But it can be stressful to practice it during a paid photo session or when you are in a familiar, cluttered environment, such as your house. 

In the past, I've recommended photo walks for relaxation, breaking out of a rut, and new learning. (Yes- I really like photo walks!) Now, I'm going to suggest another reason to take your camera and hit the road. 

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The Art of Sticking With It by Andrea Moffatt

Well, I said I would keep my Lensbaby Sweet 35 on my camera for a week, and I did it! (It was hard, but I did it!) The lens has such a unique look that it was a real test to leave it on for all occasions and genres of shooting. On the other hand, what an awesome challenge that opened my eyes to possibilities I hadn't previously seen! 

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Documenting My Family on a Cloudy Beach Day by Andrea Moffatt

Before summer is gone, I wanted to share with you the story of a summer day with my family in the beautiful Outer Banks, NC. So often we associate summer with sun and clear skies. So much so, that when it rains or is overcast, we don't think to pull out our cameras. Our mindset for summer pictures can be so rigid, that it can cause us to miss a surprisingly beautiful, more unconventional story playing out before us. Here is the story of how one cloudy, rainy day at the beach became my favorite day of vacation pictures....

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Rock the Camera You've Got by Andrea Moffatt

Listen. We all have the very best of intentions. But life is big and messy and busy and we can't possibly master everything under the sun in our short time here. For me, it's sewing. How I would love to not just sew simple things but big, beautiful quilts! Photography falls into this category for most - many of us would love to learn every dial on our cameras, but as it turns out, it's not as easy as Step 1, Step 2, Step 3. Like any craft, it takes years and years to master (most say 10,000 hours +, if we want to get specific :-)). But luckily, 99.5% of us have a powerful, high quality and above all SIMPLE camera in our pockets and purses all the time! 

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4 Ways to Compose a Clean Frame in Nature by Andrea Moffatt

I think that too often, photographers and non-photographers alike talk about people having a "good eye" instead of attributing their successful images to a strong understanding of composition. Composition is most simply, the arrangement of visual elements in the frame. Composing a frame in a city or in a building can often be a little more straight forward because you have so many lines and shapes with which to work. But stick your subject in the chaos of nature and often it isn't so clear cut. Here are four ways to thoughtfully compose a clean frame in nature. It's ok to go with your gut, but a little planning and purposefulness goes a long way too!

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Documenting a Season by Documenting a Day by Andrea Moffatt

One of the best ways I know to remember certain phases, ages, and stages is by periodically doing full day Story of a Day session with my own family. There's nothing like revisiting a day in my life from morning till night to immediately trigger memories - of tantrums, milestones, emerging independence, favorite toys, and beloved rituals. These are the things that are envelope us when we are living it, but then quickly fade into one big generalization of life at that time.  

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Taming Nature's Chaos by Looking for Lines by Andrea Moffatt

“Chaos was the law of nature; Order was the dream of man.”  ― H. Adams

In my last blog, I shared 4 ways to compose a clean frame in nature. One of the ways I wrote about was lines. And on a recent trip to the overflowing, green, and growing Phipp's Conservatory in Pittsburgh, PA, I followed my own advice. There was something so appealing to me about the man-made lines encasing & taming the wild, natural, and twisting world under them. Try these easy tips when working on strengthening the lines in your photos:

Straighten that camera!

(This one seems easy but it's not!) For example, in the second picture below, I wanted to capture the straight vertical lines and the depth of the next room, but to do it, I had to turn on the live view on my camera and hold it up over my head. Otherwise, it would've looked like I was short and shooting pointing my camera up. All the lines would be distorted. If you want to create the look of order, you need to get your camera parallel with the lines you are shooting, straighten up your left to right tilt and perhaps more importantly, your front to back tilt. 

Don't be afraid of center composition.

Sometimes, it just feels good to accentuate the perfection and order of symmetry. As in the large golden leaf image below, sometimes it's more than OK to center your subject. Centering the straight vein of this proud looking leaf gives it the respect it deserves and unapologetically splits the frame in half. 

What is YOUR Story? by Andrea Moffatt

Ever consider booking an in-home documentary photography session, only to put it on the back burner because you don't know what part of your life is interesting enough to photograph? It's something I hear again and and again: My life's just not that interesting.  To that I say, do any of these moments look familiar? Do any of these moments look like something worth holding photographing?

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5 shots for a Gloomy, Rainy Day + Tips by Andrea Moffatt

I'm big on challenging myself. When I'm feeling uninspired, when the light is less than ideal, when I don't feel like picking up my camera, a simple, self-issued challenge will sometimes snap me out of it.

The weather report for today and tomorrow is full of rain and clouds, I haven't taken a good picture in days, and all I want to do is drink coffee. Time for a challenge!

Here are 5 shots for a Gloomy, Rainy Day + ideas to keep you inspired on your less than inspiring days:

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Documenting Your Child's Space by Andrea Moffatt

One of my favorite places to photograph my kids is in their bedroom. Why? 

Why NOT? Their bedrooms are like an extension of them. What they read, play with, hang on their walls, set out on their shelves... all tell a story about who they are now and who they are becoming. As you read the rest of this article, don't forget about older children and teens. It is at every stage of your son's and daughter's childhood that you will find satisfaction in this process.

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