Take Better Photos With Your iPhone | Southern Co Family Photographer



Tips and Tricks for the Iphone 7

Let’s be honest, how many of you use your phone to photograph almost every part of your day to day life because it is SO much easier to just grab it and go? (Raises hand) Ok, I’m going to get REAL with you guys. Even though I’m a professional family photographer, it’s still hard for me to have my “real” camera with me at all times. I mean as much as I would love to have perfect, amazing photos of my kids at the Sand Dunes (with sand and water all in my camera) it’s just not practical all the time. So you know what I have done? I have learned how to use the camera on my phone and a lot of it’s great tricks to take GREAT photos of my kids and our daily life! And today I’m going to share everything I know with all of you!


Tips based on iPhone 7:

1. To focus your camera simply tap the screen in the spot that you want to focus on. A square will pop up on your screen where the photo is focused. Once the square shows up, this means that your focus is locked until you move it.

2. Phone photos are almost completely all in full focus. But I have found that if you tilt your phone and get closer to your subject, you can get a little bit of beautiful bokeh (the beautiful blur behind the subject in your photo) which will add great visual interest to your photos.alamosa-colorado-family-photographer-candace-miller-photography

3. Once the photo is focused on the correct point, you can lighten or darken this point. Do this by sliding your finger up or down. You should see a + or – sign next to the square. This will add or decrease the light hitting the focal point of your photo. This is known as your exposure for your photo. If you tap on a bright part of the photo, your phone will expose for that and darken down. If you tap on a darker part of the photo, your phone will expose for that area and brighten up a bit.

4. Don’t ever use the zoom on the phone camera. When you do, it will make your photo look completely grainy and pixelated. If you want to bring a part of your photo in closer, there is a crop option in the editing software.

5. Another thing that I don’t ever use on my phone is the flash. When using flash you want to make sure you have a way to soften it so that you don’t get harsh light and harsh shadows, and with the flash on the phone there isn’t a really easy way to do that. Even in low light, no flash is better than flash. But it’s tricky to photograph in low light right? Well, it can be but just make sure you stabilize your camera well and take your time.

6. You can use your volume buttons as the shutter button, not only the main shutter button. It comes in handy for selfies!

7. The FaceTime Camera has slightly less megapixels than the everyday camera. For that reason, anything that you want to print, you will want to use the everyday camera.

8. Children’s photography can be really fun with your phone camera. It’s easy to have on hand, take unique places, angles, and not be afraid too much of ruining expensive gear. But remember, to hold it like a camera because you are using it like a camera and not a phone for photos.



9. If you are having trouble finding great composition for your photos you can turn on a grid that looks like a tic-tac-toe screen. There is a rule called the “rule of thirds” when it comes to photography. This means that you divide your photo into thirds. This grid will help you do that. You can place your subject on one of those grid lines and it will give more visual interest to your photo. This is by no means an everyday, all day answer for every photo. Photography is meant to be open to the creative eye of the artist. This is just a suggestion of where to start. You can find the grid by going to your settings, photos and camera, grid, then just move the slider to on.

10. Don’t be afraid to play! Try different angles. Use lots of colors. Try different focal points. Use different exposures. The possibilities are endless and people will be wondering when you learned how to use a camera so well *wink*. Just tell them your friendly, neighborhood, southern Colorado, family photographer gave you a few tips.

Would you like to learn more great tips and tricks from CMP? Want to know what a session with me is like? Join my VIP list and you’ll be the first to know!

your friendly neighborhood southern colorado photographer


  • Ivory - Great article, and very helpful!!ReplyCancel

  • Andrea - Great post with really helpful tips! I kinda want to upgrade to the iphone 7 now 😉ReplyCancel

  • marty - This was a very well written and helpful post…I had no idea about number three! ReplyCancel

  • olivia - what a fun session at the dunes, makes me want to go thereReplyCancel

    • candacemillerphoto - It really is a fun place to visit! We live super close and still don’t go as often as we should. But it’s a lot of fun when we do!ReplyCancel

  • Jennifer - A lot of these same tips (sliding for brightness/darkness, volume button, etc.) are true to android phones as well!ReplyCancel

    • candacemillerphoto - Oh good, Jennifer! I wasn’t sure about the different phones so I’m glad to know that it works for different types as well!ReplyCancel

Lollipops and Gumdrops | Children’s Photographer San Luis Valley, CO



Lollipops & Gumdrops Limited Edition Sessions

Summer is in full swing in San Luis Valley, CO. It has been HOT, HOT HOT!! There are always a couple of weeks out of the year that it is just hot here. And by hot I mean in the 80s and 90s and lows in the 50s. Nothing crazy like you friends that live in the South. BUT, we don’t have air conditioning, so my house was 90 degrees at bedtime the other night!! That’s just crazy!!! It’s cooler outside than it is in our house. So, whenever we get a chance, we hang out outside in the shade or at the local pool!

And thinking about summer and watching my kids play I have decided to offer Limited Edition sessions in July! What’s more fun than Lollipops and Candy!? I love thinking about childhood and special moments that don’t happen everyday. As a children’s photographer I wanted to be able to make one of those childhood dreams come true for some kids this summer! The saying, “kid in a candy store” comes to mind…


In order to book your Limited Edition Session you will choose ONE of the Collections below. This must be paid before your session in order to reserve your time slot.


Collection 1:

20 Minute Session

8×10 Canvas

Mobile App Containing 5 Images

Total: $412   Value of : $626



Collection 2:

20 Minute Session

11×14 Canvas

Accordion Mini Album

5 Digital Files

Total $528  Value of :$983


Collection 3:

20 Minute Session

Vertical 4 Opening Organic Bloom Frame

11×14 Canvas

All Digital Files

Total: $731  Value of: $1,928



Sessions will take place on July 22nd at Cole Park and the times available are:

9am   9:40am   10:20am   11:00am
2pm   2:40pm   3:20pm   4:00pm

While these sessions won’t necessarily relieve the heat, they will make some memories for your kids that they won’t soon forget! My kids have been talking about their candy session for days! AND they got to invite some friends to join them and they had so much fun! You can see in the photos that it was all giggles and smiles for these kiddos. Summer for us is all about capturing that classic childhood free spirit and this will be something to remember for years to come…the innocence of childhood summers eating a lollipop.

If you would like to book your session:BOOK NOW!

If you have questions about your session: Click Here

I hope you are all enjoying your summer and staying cool!

your friendly neighborhood San Luis Valley, CO photographer,


Decorating Our Homes | Family Photographer San Luis Valley


Mantle Photo and My Amazing Husband

My husband made this perfect mantle for our fireplace about a year and a half ago and we have been struggling to find just the right piece to decorate it. He’s a bit of a woodworker. He’s made just about all the furniture we have in our house, besides like couches and chairs. And he does all this in his free time…as a hobby. He’s kind of amazing. I kind of have a crush on him.

Anyway, back to the mantle. It’s a reclaimed wood mantle from an old wooden sign that we found on our property. Finding the right photo when you take hundreds of photos (probably closer to thousands) a year can become quite daunting. As you see, I don’t take photos lightly. Being a family photographer makes it a process for me. But I think that decorating is that way for a lot of people. You don’t just slap something on the way and say, “Yep, looks great.” For me and us, it has to mean something. A place we’ve been, something we’ve done together, etc. We are lucky. We have been able to travel to some really beautiful places so we have a lot to choose from.

IMG_0787.JPGThese photos are also a fun reminder for our kids. They see the photos and it automatically reminds them of something fun that happened and takes them back to that time. Photos are such a sweet reminder for everyone, especially kids. It’s sometimes hard for them remember something without seeing it. That’s why we have photos of our family and friends that we don’t see often, right? So we keep them close to our heart. Because they are important to us. When our kids see these places and people in our homes they understand so much better what has important place in our lives. So we think we finally have the photos. Photos that will bring back fun memories for all of us!


We have chosen one photo for each season so far (except for spring – spring here is just really windy so a dust storm didn’t seem to suit what we were looking for, ha!). The winter scene that we have chosen is from a place that we visit often and means a lot to my husband. He went there a lot growing up. The summer one is from a short little trip we took as a family, and the fall one is from a family cabin that we frequently go to to get away from the business of life.

*On a side note – these photos are also showing in a gallery that is about to end at the local hospital gallery. You can view the post about that below and if you would like to purchase any of them, there are copies for sale as well. Just hope over to the contact me section:Let’s Chat to find out more information!

Filling the Artrium


What brings you joy in your home? Do you have photos of your favorite places on your walls? Where is your happy place?


your friendly san luis valley family photographer


  • marty - I love the photos you chose and the idea of doing a seasonal one. I have two main picture walls in my house full of pictures of the kids over the years. I’d like to incorporate more non people pictures but just really haven’t worked to cultivate that enough. This was an inspiring post so maybe I’ll get on it now!ReplyCancel

    • candacemillerphoto - Thanks Marty! We have walls dedicated to our children, but felt for our space they would be larger than life 😀ReplyCancel

  • Laurie Hasan - Wonderful! How awesome that you and your husband’s talents have combined to make your home so special!ReplyCancel

    • candacemillerphoto - Thanks, Laurie! It really is special and something we hope to pass down to our kids some day. My husband has made a lot of our furniture in our home, including the kitchen table and their beds…maybe they will love them enough to want them in their homes when the time comes <3 And I know they will want to see themselves as children when they grow up. They love seeing themselves as babies now and they are only 4 and 6 years old. So I know that is something special!ReplyCancel

  • Sara - Great post!ReplyCancel

  • Liz - I love decorating my home. Especially will photos of memories I have taken. Great content! ❤️ReplyCancel

  • Angela - Love this idea!! And what beautiful locations! ReplyCancel

    • candacemillerphoto - Thanks, Angela! We are very blessed to have lived in so many beautiful locations and to have ended up where we are! The mountains call to us <3ReplyCancel

8 Book Series for Young Kids | Alamosa, CO Photographer


alamosa colorado children's photography candace miller photography


Do Your Kids Have A Favorite Book?

I don’t know about you, but my husband and I are constantly on the lookout for new great books to read to our boys. We began reading chapter books to them early because we want them to enjoy reading and we want to enjoy the books as well! Of course we still read and have them read short, non chapter books as well but when we are reading bedtime stories, we like to read a really nice chapter book.

Being a children’s photographer, I feel like part of my job is being able to tell a good story. Well, in order to do that I have to know some good stories too! We are incredibly lucky that both of our boys LOVE books and really get into the stories! After we read the chapter or two they have to act out everything that has happened…it’s so cute! Here is a list of some of our favorites so far! However, we can’t wait until they are old enough for Harry Potter!!

alamosa colorado children's photographer candace miller photography1. The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis – some parts of this were a little scary for him (the witch )so it had to be edited but he loved the adventure.
2. The Magic Tree House by Mary Pope Osborne
3. Nate the Great by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat and Marc Simont
4. Geronimo Stilton and the Kingdom of Fantasy by Geronimo Stilton
5. Dragon Masters by Tracey West and Damien Jones
6. Dino Mike by Franco
7. The Impossible Quest by Kate Forsyth
8. Thornton Burgess Old Mother West Wind Series

Reading to children just 20 minutes a day exposes them to 1.8 million words a year. It teaches them to be better listeners, they have higher test scores, on average attend 3 more grade levels than those who read less than 20 minutes a day, not to mention all the ways they learn to use their imagination. Not only do they get to experience new adventures but also new places, cultures, and ideas.

All of the books listed above have left my boys laughing and acting out scenes from the book. The Magic Tree House takes them all over the world! With Nate the Great they get to be detectives. Geronimo and the Impossible Quest take them into the world of fantasy in so many different levels! Of course dragons and dinos are always a favorite of every little boy! My 4 year old wants to be a paleontologist when he grows up…at least for today. I didn’t even know he knew that word!!

To me all of those things are priceless. As I said earlier, one of the things I try to do as a children’s photographer is tell a story. The story of the child. People always say, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Well, I want those thousand words to tell your story. Photographs can be a book about our lives and the stories we leave behind. Let’s leave behind some good ones!

What are your favorite books to read to your kids? Do you have any favorites that you are looking forward to reading to your kids from your childhood?


your friendly neighborhood alamosa children’s photographer
  • marty - We love books in our house too! When our children were about the ages of yours a few favorites were Hank the Cow Dog (hilarious!) and Owl Upstairs and the George and Martha series. You might also want to check out books by ND Wilson as your boys get a little older…great adventure stories!ReplyCancel

  • Mariko - My son has recently gotten in to chapter books. He likes Junie B. Jones. He also loves to read superhero readers. Together we usually read picture books since my younger kids have a short attention span. I’ll definitely have to check out some of the books on your list. Great list!ReplyCancel

    • candacemillerphoto - These are so fun Mariko! I have one that has a really short attention span as well…he’s 4 after all, but he loves all of these books! I’ll look into the ones you suggested as well! I’m so happy my list is growing! Thank you!ReplyCancel

  • Laurie Hasan - Reading is so important. I love that you are using your talents as a photographer to highlight this.ReplyCancel

    • candacemillerphoto - Thanks so much Laurie! I’m a photographer 2nd only to being a mom, and my kids’ education is very important. Since my son just finished kindergarten we are always on the lookout for great books! We started with C.S. Lewis so we are kind of going top down…ReplyCancel

  • Aly - Oh this is an awesome and timely post! I have a friend visiting with her six year old who looooves to read! Thank you!ReplyCancel

Boredom Busters for Summer | San Luis Valley Children’s Photographer

alamosa colorado children's photographeralamosa colorado children's photographeralamosa colorado children's photographer


If your kids are anything like mine, they are CRAZY EXCITED to be out of school!! But, they also get bored very easily. My boys are constantly busy. They don’t really stick to one activity for more than a few minutes, which makes for some really long days during the summer. So I have come up with a list of things to keep us busy during the summer! Some of these things we will do repeatedly. They have bubble guns and have already gotten their money’s worth out of them! Great purchase…Daddy level up points! And some of the things on the list, we will have to make a special trip to do. So hopefully this list will help you out, and you can capture some great family photos while you are at it!

The Summer Bucket List for Kids:

  • Go to the Sand Dunes
  • Visit a Children’s Museum
  • Go Bowling
  • Go to the zoo
  • Go to the beach (see sand dunes for us)
  • Go fishing


alamosa colorado children's photographyalamosa colorado children's photography

  • Make lemonade
  • Make homemade cookies
  • Play with bubbles (every day if you want)

alamosa colorado children's photographyalamosa colorado children's photography

  • Have a water fight
  • Make popsicles
  • Scavenger Hunt
  • Swimming (of course)
  • Make bird feeders (super easy: mini water bottles, cut small hole for plastic spoon to sit slanted, fill with bird seed, replace lid, tie twine around tip and hang on tree)
  • Cookouts
  • Splash pad
  • Visit the Planetarium
  • Visit a Farm
  • Play with sidewalk chalk
  • Make homemade ice cream
  • Go for hikes
  • Have a pillow fight
  • Go camping
  • Finger paint
  • Handprint art
  • Painting rocks to look like bugs
  • Play at the playground
  • Ride bikes at the park
  • Plan a picnic
  • Play card games
  • Teach them to cook a favorite recipe
  • Play board games
  • Movie day
  • Library summer reading program
  • Make cars out of boxes
  • Play dress up
  • Temporary Tattoo Day
  • Go to festivals
  • Play baseball
  • Play frisbee
  • Kids’ choice dinner
  • Make t shirts – you can use fabric paint and let them each paint their own design on their shirt
  • Build a card tower
  • Play dough dayalamosa colorado children's photography
  • Make paper airplanes – Usborne has a fantastic book for this called “200 Paper Planes To Fold and Fly”. It teaches you how to fold different types of paper airplanes.
  • Camp in backyard
  • Reading party
  • Snow cones
  • Photo booth
  • Write stories
  • Catch bugs
  • Plant flowers
  • Make and compete an obstacle course
  • Go to parades
  • Eat s’mores
  • Lego competition – see who builds the coolest lego invention, have an unbiased third party vote without knowing who built which one
  • Science Day – This is the book we have and it’s fantastic! My boys love it!! “101 Simple Science Experiments for Kids” 101 science experiments for kids
  • Water beads


alamosa colorado children's photography


These are just some of the ideas that I came up with. Please feel free to add to the list in the comments! I’m always looking for new ideas and would love to know what your favorite summer activities are! And don’t forget to show me some family photos from your favorite activity or vacation! I hope you all have a fantastic summer and I hope to see some of your beautiful faces!

NOW BOOKING SUMMER AND FALL 2017 – if you would like to schedule your session click here and let’s chat about what type of session is right for you!

your friendly san luis valley children’s photographer



  • Hannah - Love the bucket list!! Those are awesome ideas!ReplyCancel

  • Janie - Well now there are is no room for a summer boredom excuse! This list was perfect! Thanks so much for the ideas! ReplyCancel

    • candacemillerphoto - No problem! But if they are anything like my kids, they will find a way to be bored 😀 Each activity with my boys lasts about 2 mins. and we are on to the next thing!ReplyCancel

  • Yvonne - Great ideas to do with the kids!ReplyCancel

  • Christine Diorio - I love these ideas!  Especially plant flowers! Great idea! 🙂ReplyCancel

Chore Charts – You Got ‘Em, I NEED ‘Em! | Children’s Photographer Alamosa Colorado



Chore Charts…Help!

Having two amazing mini men has been the most rewarding and challenging job of my life, a close second to that would be my job as a children’s photographer. I love them more than anything but getting them to help out around the house is like pulling teeth. They are only 4 and 6 years old so it’s totally understandable that they would rather play than help out around the house…and let’s just be honest, I would rather play than do house work! But this summer, my husband and I have decided is chore chart summer! We are starting chore charts to teach them responsibility. To teach them that in this family we are a team!




So, here we go! There are age appropriate chores that we would like to do all summer, but getting them used to the idea of doing chores everyday is going to be more work for me than if I just did it myself. Here are few things that will be on their list:

Clean their rooms
Pick up toys
Help with laundry – (they can’t reach to put the soap in but they can do everything else)
Load and unload the dishwasher
Pick up dog poop (yes they can do it, they have asked to help before)
Take out the trash
Sweep the floors
Wipe down the tables



So I’m not talking about making them do anything ridiculous. But how to put it in a chart and get them to actually do it without me having to nag them all. day. long. is another story all together. Now most of the time, I’m pretty good at getting kids to do what I ask. I can make them laugh and giggle. I can get them to show me their real personalities. But when it comes to my own kids(!!) getting them to help me out is sometimes a daunting task. I will say though, that my 6 year old loves having a job, so he is usually willing to help with most things that I ask.

So friends, I’m asking for your help! What are the best charts out there? What have you used in the past? How do you get your kids to help out around the house and teach them responsibility? Do you give them an allowance? How do they earn and learn about money if you don’t give them an allowance? Tell me all your secrets!! I want to know!



your friendly neighborhood alamosa children’s photography




  • Mariko - I have a magnetic chore chart that isn’t getting much use. Thanks for reminding me to get on that. ReplyCancel

  • Lauren - I really need to start chore charts for my 6 and 8 year old boys too!!! I want to start a reward system but overwhelmed with the choices…I’ll be following to see what you choose and what other people recommend!ReplyCancel

    • candacemillerphoto - I know! I feel the same way! There are SO many options and I don’t want to be nagging them all summer!! I’ve noticed they do like it better when we call them “jobs” so we’ll definitely be going with that…but that’s all I’ve got so far, ha!ReplyCancel

  • Stella - I am only now starting to look at chore charts. I know Melissa and Doug have a nice one that I got my nephew. I think a sticker chart is awesome as you can keep track of numerous charts!ReplyCancel

  • Angela - Great post! We are a chore family too. We just use boring old lists that I made on our computer. There are so many cute and fun options out there! ReplyCancel

    • candacemillerphoto - I haven’t been a chore chart family but I feel I need to be to get them to stay on task. Maybe at the end of a week give them a prize and at the end of the month something bigger? I don’t know. Just putting it out there so maybe someone wiser than me can throw me some great ideas 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Sara - This is perfect! I have an almost 2 year old and I’m starting to think about chores. I’m saving this! Thank you! ReplyCancel

    • candacemillerphoto - That’s great! I wish I would have started a chore chart when they were 2!! Of course I made them start cleaning up but nothing consistent or daily. And one of mine has a personality to please and the other will do whatever possible to NOT do what I ask!ReplyCancel

What’s In My Camera Bag | San Luis Valley Family Photographer

The Gear Behind The Girl

If you have seen my video post on Facebook, you will know that I’m a Canon girl. If you haven’t watched that video, please DON’T watch it. It’s the worst video ever made!! Hahaha, but for real, it’s terrible. I tried my hand at live video for the first time and I’ve never heard so many “um’s” in my entire life!! Anywho, people ask me all the time, what gear I use and what is my favorite lens, SO I figured I would just let everyone know right here.

The Camera BodyIMG_1950.JPG

Right now in my camera bag I have a Canon 5D Mark II. I would love to upgrade that to a 5D Mark IV soon. The reason I shoot with Canon and not something else? It’s not a very technical answer. I started out shooting canon. Canons are lighter than most other brands. Not because they aren’t as good and can’t do as much, just because they are built with different materials. People say they are the women’s camera. Maybe so. That’s just what I started out with and once you have lenses that go with one you don’t really want to switch out and go a different direction…they are pricey.


My go to lens for forever has been the Canon 50mm F1.4. This lens has been my baby for the better part of 10 years. I LOVE this lens. I love the shallow depth of field I can get with this lens, it’s beautiful for my portraits. I hardly ever take this lens off my camera, until recently. I also have a Canon 16-35mm F2.8L. This is a wide angle lens that I absolutely love. Photos with this lens just show a full view that I cannot get with a 50mm. It’s a beautiful piece of glass. I’ve recently added a Tamron SP 45mm F1.8. This lens is technically supposed to replace my 50mm since I’ve been having some sharpness issues with it but I’m I just can’t bring myself to get rid of the 50mm. The Tamron is sharp and crisp. It’s a very quiet lens and also has a stabilizer which is very nice.

FlashesFullSizeRender (2).jpg

One very old school Canon Speedlite 550EX and TT 560 Speedlite. The TT560 Speedlite is what I use most of the time when I need a flash and it was really inexpensive. It works great and has all the functions that I will need since I’m a natural light photographer.

Extras To Take Note Of:

  • Rain sleeve. I carry this at all times. I live in Colorado now but I used to live in Washington State and this was a must.
  • Shutter Hugger. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B007SL8UXS/ref=twister_B0080D60E4?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1 – This little guy helps me keep the attention of all the little kiddos if they get distracted.
  • Compact Flash Cards and Batteries – you can never have too many!
  • Light meter
  • Remote Shutter Release/Timer
  • Lens cloths

Do you have any questions about what to put in your camera bag? What is your favorite lens to use?


your friendly neighborhood san luis valley family photographer



  • Jodi - Canon girl here, too. Ned sugar that’s what i saw first when i decided to buy. 🙂ReplyCancel

    • candacemillerphoto - What did you start with Jodi? I started with a Canon Rebel when it was film and then went with a Canon F1! Soooo many years ago, haha!! I was shooting film for weddings for a few years before I went digital. Talk about lots of film!!ReplyCancel

  • Ashley - Oh my goodness, I know what you mean about doing live videos! Ha! Definitely out of my comfort zone… which is probably why I haven’t done one yet! ReplyCancel

    • candacemillerphoto - Yes! OMG…live videos will be the death of me, ha!! Maybe I’ll get better with time…one can only hope. It can’t get any worse!ReplyCancel

Candace Miller Photography|719.298.2593 |candace@candacemillerphotography.com


Alamosa, CO