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Camera lenses parents need and how to use them (sibling photos week 49/52)

As anyone who has taken any of my workshops knows, I recommend the 50mm f/1.8 lens as the best portrait lens the least money can buy that can give you the "subject in focus, background blurry" look, also known as shallow depth of field.

But I also get questions from my 50mm users asking what the NEXT lens they should get that allows them to get more in the frame without stepping back so much. This is a particularly pertinent question for New Yorkers who often don't have much indoor space to step back into!

So, after the 50mm I recommend a 35mm or even a 28mm or 24mm lens.

This photo was taken with my 35mm, which also allows me to get closer to my subject than my 50mm. At this crowded cafe, it enabled me to photograph Liam and Jack while sitting right next to them! As a mom, I find it is a great lens for capturing those moments when my kids are in my face or, in some cases actually on top of me while I photograph them as in these photos from the summer.

My 35mm is also my go-to lens for group photos, especially when there are other parents photographing the same group with their phones - with a 50mm you won't be able to get far enough away without having other parents in the photo. In fact, even a 35mm may not be wide enough for that - be ready to either yell at everyone to get out of the way or to whip out your phone yourself!

Got photo questions? Send an email to!


History and creativity at the New York Transit Museum

I remember my first visit to the New York Transit Museum. I was expecting something very kid-oriented, which of course it is, but I was blown away by the exhibit of subway cars from across time. Riding the subway is to me such a quintessential part of New York life. A typical New York commuter might spend 375 hours a year on the Subway, which is the equivalent to over 9 working weeks! That is a lot of hours.

So it kind of took my breath away to stand inside a real live subway car from over a hundred years ago, or from the 1940s or even the 1960s - from any period of time really - and to imagine what it was like to ride the subway, and live in New York, then.

It had been a few years since that visit and Jack is really into trains right now so last week I took the boys and we had a great time exploring the exhibits, "driving" buses.... and seeing the historic subway cars (although Jack couldn't understand why they weren't moving!).

And as a bonus, it turned out there was a free workshop for kids to design and build a prototype for their own vehicle. They had a lot of great materials including blank boxes, wheels, ribbon, stickers and metallic tape that encouraged open ended yet easy creativity. Liam made a submarine.

All in all it was a great visit, highly recommended even if you don't have kids. The New York Transit Museum is located at Boerum Place in Downtown Brooklyn.


Your must-take holiday baby photos

Over on Mom365, I'm talking about the 5 holiday photos you must take this season.

Whether it's your baby's first Christmas or you are stressed about when and how to capture the moments with your older kids this season, check out my advice for making this holiday - and your photos - memorable.

Read more on Mom365.


Start with now - the photo tip we all need to embrace (sibling photos weeks 45-47/52)

One of the principles I teach in Photosanity is "start with now." What this means is, if you've fallen behind in some way or never even got started with photo albums, or a photo-a-day project or photo organization, don't try to catch up or start from the beginning before going forward - start with now.

Start your photo-a-day project today, start with this year's album, start organizing this month's photos, because if you try to catch up first you may never catch up and the further "behind" you fall, the more disheartened and less likely to catch you will be.

The same goes for, oh, say a weekly sibling photo project!

Yes, I have fallen behind in editing and sharing my weekly photo. But I am going to practice what I preach I start with now, or rather the three most recent weeks, and I will fill in the gaps later.

A few weeks ago, we were hanging out at my sister-in-law's new house. The kids were so excited to explore and ended up running around and around in the basement through the tv area, into the workout room, and through a bathroom with two doors - perfect for capturing the moment each time they came around!

The following week we were at a new (to me) cafe we've started going to. To be honest, the visit was a little harried but this moment I captured in the mirror was one of the high points that made it feel worthwhile!

Last week we decided to take a trip out to the New York Aquarium in Coney Island and we had a blast! Lighting conditions can be a little tricky at an aquarium but you can use the light from the tanks to your advantage.

Both boys were very excited and running around a lot, but I did manage to capture Jack's more quiet wonder.

I was really sad to find out that certain areas of the aquarium have still not been renovated after the damage from Hurricane Sandy. But the kids had a great time and in fact wanted to go again the next weekend!


Happy thanksgiving!

For me, every photograph I take is an act of gratitude. Creating, surrounding myself with and and sharing beautiful photos of my kids fills me with joy.

Here are my favorite photos from 2014.

Happy thanksgiving!