Gearing up to capture the first day of school

Bradyn’s first day of school was emotional.  Emotional in that we were all experiencing all kinds of emotions:  anxious, happy, proud, sad, excited.  Mostly excited.  That kid was so ready to go to school; mostly to go to school on that bus.  He didn’t seem to have one second of nervousness.  He was clear that he didn’t want me to step foot on the school grounds.  For any reason.  That changed after a few months but he was just so ready to be a big kid at school.  So I didn’t have a lot of room to get melancholy.  I was too happy for him.

I felt good about the way I captured this day.  I was finally gaining some confidence with my camera so I was able to be in the moment while I kept snapping.  That second shot down with the bus pulling up was like “pa-DOW, I got it!”  Then the bus pulled off, I got choked up…and then thought, “Man, I need a better lens.”  No really, I was shooting with a kit lens and was frustrated by the variable aperture (the aperture changes as the lens is zoomed in/out which is a real pain if you’re trying to control your settings) so I focused my nervous energy on talking myself into ordering a Tamron 28-75 which, let me tell you, was a really good use of my nervous energy because it’s a fab lens.

Capturing emotional times like the first day of school is challenging because you’re managing your own emotions, clicking and still trying to participate in the experience.  My advice for times like this is:

1)  Test the light before the moment.  Use the most cooperative subject you can get your hands on.  I used a dad (lesser of the evils).  Meter off their skin, check your settings.

2)  Avoid over-chimping.  Try to either be clicking or participating.  This isn’t the time to scroll through the pictures you’ve taken so far.  Resist.

3)  Also be prepared to hand the camera off so you can GET IN A PICTURE.  Or two.  I usually tell Brian ahead of time something along the lines of, “I’m putting the camera here.  Stand here and take a few pictures.  The settings are set for this angle.  Don’t get fancy.”  He usually takes a shot of my rear or chest.  Immature much?  Anway, our neighbor took this gem:

So in preparation this year, I’ve seen this picture floating around on Pinterest quite a bit.  I love the idea of having my kids hold a sign with “first day of school” on it.  So I’m aiming high & have made printable signs for this year!

Who wants one?  I’ll happily email you one if you leave a comment & let me know which one(s) you’d like!



adam - good stuff, nancy.

Pam P - Hello…your pictures are beautiful!!!
I love the sign idea too!!!

I would love to have one with 1st day of Kindergarten and 1st day of Second Grade. Thanks..that is a very cute idea!

Andy - I would love a kindergarten sign! Thanks!

Sharon {Grumpy, Sleepy, and Bashful} - Oh, thank you for the tips! I usually (well, we’ve only had two years of preschool, so usually might be a stretch) completely wing it. But this year is his first year of Kindergarten, so . . . I’m thinking a little preparation might make the pictures a more memorable. I LOVE the idea of the sign!!!! His school starts in Sept 2011, so I will make my own. I love the hand-crayola’d one hanging on the mirror :)

So glad I found your site!

Tina Hunter - CUTE idea!! I’ll take a K and 2nd! and hopefully I’ll be prepared to use them 😉 Cant believe we’re talking about back to school already! UGH!

sora - would love a 1st day of kindergarten one

Dolly Dewes - I would love a 1st day of preschool sign! Any chance though that you could make it say September 2011 instead though? My baby doesn’t start till Sept. 6th. Thanks in advance! And I love the pics!

A Partner in Crime

Partner in crime…that’s definitely ME (especially when I’m partnering up with the fantastic ladies of this blog)! My name is Andy Weiss. I love to dance. I mean all of the time. I also love to cook. I am a wanna-be-photographer. I am learning. Learning how to make pictures and learning to find all of the special places to explore in Michiana with and without my family.  I am hoping to share pictures of these places with you! That is what this is all about. I am married to Jon, who has this wonderfully loud laugh that makes everyone smile. And we have 3 kids. Two of my three are pictured with me below:


I am secretly thrilled I was able to type above and below this picture. I am not sure how I did it, but I am excited about it.

We are eating ice cream at the Hayloft in Decatur, MI. Just a short 20-30 minute drive from Diamond Lake in Cassopolis, MI and about 45 minutes from the Granger area. They have the biggest selection of ice cream I have ever seen. Ever! Given my obsession with ice cream, it’s one of my favorite places.

I really want to hear about places in the area that are special to you. Please leave a comment.


Linda Ellis - Love your eyes!

Tina Hunter - I LOVE this picture Andy! Perfect in so many ways! What fun!

AndyW - Thanks Linda!

AndyW - Thanks Tina! It’s one of my favorites of the summer.

Hey out there, Michiana Mamarazzi!

Yeah you, I’m talking to you.  The mom snapping endless pictures of your kids.  You.

Let’s connect.

Let’s talk about photography.  Let’s talk about being moms.  Let’s talk about our kids.  Let’s talk about taking pictures of our kids.  Let’s talk about doing stuff with our kids.  Let’s talk about doing stuff with out kids that doesn’t suck.  And then let’s talk about taking pictures of all of it.

Who am I and why do you want to talk to me about any of this?  I’m Nancy Lary.  Mom to three.  Wife to Brian.  Photographer. Recovering diet Mountain Dew addict (yeah really).  Night owl.

We’ve lived here just over two years…after moving eight times in our eleven year marriage.  That sounds worse than it is.  Brian used to get transferred every two or three years.  And we’d move fast.  So we’d move into a rental house and then buy a house…so I count all those moves as real moves and you would too if you’d packed and unpacked that many times.  Kansas City –>Amarillo–>Southwest Iowa–>Northern Iowa–>and now here.  South Bend.  Granger.  We love it here and I, for one, plan to stay.  This is the perfect place for our family.  We’ve made some of the most amazing friends I could have ever imagined being blessed with.  And we’re still learning all this area has to offer.

We love the beach and the libraries and the fruit-picking and the schools…and on and on.

So welcome, fellow mamarazzi.  Let’s connect.  What are you most looking forward to doing with your kids in August?  Leave a comment & let us know.  Or just say hi.  And check back often because we’ll be pretty chatty…and I know you want to meet my partners in crime, don’t you?  And please, follow us on Facebook!

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Tracy Patterson - Ooh, am I the first one to comment? I feel like I’m a part of history! Or, I should win a fabulous prize. One or the other..or both. Congrats on the birth of your blog…looking forward to hearing your musings, and throwing in my two cents every now and then! :-)

Workshop One: Learning To Click | DLSR Basics has started!

online basic camera class

It’s here and the first assignment was just posted!  Want in?  Get registered:

We’ll start at the very beginning and cover basic settings on your DLSR and shooting techniques including strategies for capturing your children. We will also cover the basics of editing pictures in Photoshop, Photoshop Elements and Lightroom.

There will be one main assignment and one optional assignment every week for four weeks & the forum will remain open for an additional two weeks. I’ll give plenty of information and feedback daily. It’s a busy time for everyone so my intent would be that it would be “get out what you put in” situation so if you only have an hour or two to dedicate to this each week, you’ll still get your money’s worth. But if you’re lucky enough to have oodles of time to spend shooting and posting, you’ll really get some major bang for your buck.

The fee for the course will be $55. There will also be the option to add on an in-person meetup for $20.

Also, registration for this course (with or without the in-person add on) will score you a $50 discount off a session with Nancy Lary Studios. Do the math, it’s a pretty good deal!

Just think how happy you’d be documenting the upcoming summer with your kids…

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What Kind of NIKON Camera Should I Get?

My photogfriend, Britt Anderson, wrote this article for us with her recommendations on entry-level camera purchase options:

Nikon has a nice variety of camera bodies out there right now, but there is something to know about entry level Nikons. Some of them do not come with a focusing motor within the camera, which means they rely on the lens to do the focusing. This isn’t a bad thing until you get a lens that doesn’t have a focusing motor in it. So it is important to know which kind of camera you will be getting.
Currently, the camera models without an internal focusing motor are the D40, D40x, D60, D3000, D3100, D5000 and the D5100. These are all fine cameras, however know that if you purchase one of these bodies, you will need to ensure you purchase AF-S lenses so you can utilize autofocusing. While you will still be able to use non-AF-S lenses on these bodies, you will have to manually focus, and I don’t know about you, but my little one would never be able to stand still long enough for me to manually focus on her!

Britt Anderson photographer
So, with this in mind, my suggestion for a Nikon body would be a D90, which retails for just under $900.  If this is a bit pricey for you, I would suggest the D3100, which you can get with the kit lens for under $600. If you could get one with just the body, so you could purchase one or both of my suggestions below, even better!
A fantastic portrait lens, just like the Canon, is the “nifty fifty” 50mm f/1.8 which retails for around $220. This combination would be perfect for taking gorgeous portraits of your children. Because with the D3100 body, you would need to get an AF-S lens, I also suggest the 50mm f/1.8G (make sure you are getting the G version, due to be out soon, otherwise it will not auto focus) for both bodies.
If you are looking for a nice, fixed aperture zoom, I suggest the Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8, which you can get for around $450. This will also autofocus on the D3100.

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