So sorry, everyone... wow, what an embarrassing amount of time has passed since I last posted! Yikes!
So, here are the long awaited answers to the comments from my last post:
1. What camera do you have? I have a Canon 20D, which is already 2 versions out of date - you can buy Canon 30D and 40D still from retailers. I bought my Canon off of ebay, in brand-new condition. I had wanted a Digital SLR (single lens reflex) camera for about 5 years, so I had a lot of time to think about/research what I wanted. The least expensive DSLR that Canon makes is the Rebel series, but I knew that I wanted a little more. I opted for a used older model because of price - it cost me around $600 used, with no lens. The 40D is around $1450. Some people feel that it's too risky to buy camera equipment on ebay, but I've had good luck.
This is the lens (Canon 50 mm 1.8/f) that I bought when I purchased my camera. All the pictures on this site were taken with this lens - it's inexpensive (about $90), and is a great lens for indoor and portrait use.
I have been saving all my pennies for months, and I just bought this lens, the Canon EF 24-70mm L f/2.8. I'm not going to tell you how much it cost - it was a lot. I'll post a couple of photos I took the other day with this lens in a minute.
Here, I want to reiterate that you don't have to spend oodles of money to get great photos. SLR cameras provide great shots, but you can still get really great pictures from a non-slr camera. I used an Olympus C-3000 for 6 years, and it gave me some really fabulous shots. The most important thing is to really read your camera manual and learn some basics about photography. One of my pet peeves is when people see my photography and say "Wow, those are great pictures, you must have a really expensive camera." You'd never say to an artist - "that's a great painting, you must have expensive paint." To take great pictures, you need to learn the fundamentals of photography. The website www.twopeasinabucket.com provides a really great online photography course that's easy to understand, and doesn't necessarily require an expensive camera. The first 6 weeks are here, week 7, week 8, week 9, week 10, week 11 & week 12. Start with the camera you have, and learn all the features it provides.
2. What photo-editing program do you use?
I use photoshop 7.0 - and I edit every picture I post here. I wish I could say that I take pictures like that out of the camera, but I always do a little tweaking. Photoshop Elements provides all of the functions that a typical photographer would need. 7.0 is woefully old, but I already had it, and sometimes I need some of the professional functions it provides for my scrapbook design work. I would LOVE to get CS3, but it will have to wait until I save up my pennies again.
3. How DID you get such darn cute kids?
I wish I knew! I only got a "C" in Biology 100, so maybe I'm not the best one to answer that - except to say that I think they inherited a lot of great genes from my better half!
4. Do you use actions at all. If so, what are your favorites?
I use actions all the time! (FYI - "actions" are a series of commands in photoshop that are all grouped together, so you just have to click on them to make it happen - it saves oodles of time in the editing process.) My favorite actions are the ones I downloaded from www.thepioneerwoman.com. They're great, and they were free! Pioneer Woman has a great photography section, too - I've learned tons from her. Lara, so sorry - I don't have any actions for Elements. But - you can download a trial version of CS3 for 1 month, and you can pick apart the actions, and then try to duplicate them in Elements. So sorry - that's all the advice I have to give. I did that for a month, and was able to sort of figure out how to use them in 7.0.
I'd like to buy some actions from Totally Rad Actions, but those darn pennies are still all used up from my lens splurge.
5. What do you say to get these kinds of poses?
A funny phenomenon happens when you take a lot of photos of your children. They turn into hammy little models - at least the girls do. I don't say a lot - they just do it on their own! I really love to get pictures of real life things, and do a lot of candid, uposed shots, too. When I photographing older children and adults, though, I usually try to get them to pull their chins down slightly, and angle their heads/bodies a bit. These tend to be a lot more flattering. My most favorite thing to photograph is families interacting with one another. I love to photograph relationships.