How I am finally learning to use my fancy camera

May 5, 2014 in Coffee Table


I took a photography class in a summer rec program when I was about 10 years old. I loved learning to use the old cameras, developing the film, and the red glow of the dark room. I was totally hooked. And then this creepy kid in my class told me he could see through my shirt, and I didn’t want to go back. I hadn’t developed my thick skin yet at that age, and staying far away from creepy kids was high on my list of priorities.

That sad introduction to photography was the only formal instruction I ever had, but that didn’t stop me from thinking I could take amazing pictures. I admit, I was one of those misguided souls who thought the camera made the photo, so all I needed was a fancy camera to take fancy pictures. I had all these cute little kiddos and wanted to have awesome pictures of them throughout their lives.

Mr. 4018 and I weren’t exactly rich, but we saved up our nickels and dimes (and gifts from our parents) until we could finally afford a DSLR. I was so totally in love! When the girls got home from school that day, I had them start jumping in the air so I could take fun shots of them flying, messy room and all.


Why was that our first photo session? I have no idea. But we thought we were so cool. Every once in awhile I would accidentally take a picture I really loved.


But mostly it was like having a really expensive point & shoot camera. I didn’t know what I was doing, and it was always on auto. That’s when I learned the fancy camera doesn’t auto-matically create fancy pictures – the photographer does! And I was not a fancy photographer.

I kept reading that I needed to take more photos to improve my photography, but I quickly learned that just shooting more didn’t equate to improving unless you really worked on it. You actually have to figure out some things to change before your photography improves!

It took me way too many years to learn these lessons, and I finally decided it was time to really learn how to use my fancy camera. I’m still using the same DSLR we saved up for and bought all those years ago. (I decided I have to learn how to use it before I’m allowed to upgrade.) I bought myself a new 50 mm prime lens that came highly recommended but didn’t break the bank. And I begged my blogging/photographer idol, Kristen Duke, to save me from my auto woes.

Kristen Duke to the rescue! I had heard all about ISO, aperture, and shutter speed. I knew those were the keys. I pinned all sorts of charts and tips to my Photography Pinterest board, but I never really understood what to do with them.

Kristen took pity on me and generously sent me her Say NO to Auto e-book for beginners. She has it organized as 4×6 photos so it’s easy to print and carry around with you, and I ran straight to Costco to print it out so I could do just that.

And you guys… I finally get it!

Kristen makes it so simple and easy to understand. I started looking at the photos I was taking and actually having an idea of what I needed to tweak to make them better. I went from always shooting in auto, to {almost} always shooting in manual and getting good results!

I was able to get really cute photos of my daughter on stage in her school play in a dark auditorium with no flash (and no tripod).


I was able to preserve this beautiful Spring scene in my front yard


and capture the Easter fun with my cuties.



And this sweet girl who NEVER lets me take her picture, sat and told me story after story while I shot away.


Her older sister is not camera shy, but she is ALWAYS making a crazy face or awkward pose in every single photo – except this one.


I am even more hooked on my fancy camera now! I still have plenty of practicing to do and more to learn, but I now I have a grasp of the basics and actually have an idea of what to fix and how to make my photos better! I can’t even tell you how exciting that is for me.

I can’t wait to get started on Kristen’s next e-book, Get Focused, to take my photos up another notch, and I’m excited to see how my photography improves even more! These books are worth every penny!

If you have your fancy camera but you’re still on auto like I was for so long, do yourself a favor and let Kristen Duke save you from your auto woes. She makes it so easy to use and simple for any level photographer to understand. She even has a video workshop where she walks you through the whole book and explains every step in more detail. It’s like having your own personal tutor.

I still have so far to go, but thanks to Kristen Duke and her Say NO to Auto book, I finally know how to get there!

Do you need to learn how to use your fancy camera, too?

Giveaway Winners!

March 28, 2014 in Mailbox

All week you have had the chance to enter to win an free family photo session from my amazing photographer friend, Laura Hawkins Photography, and now it’s time to announce the winners!

This is my favorite part!!!!!!!

So…. I suppose I could draaaaaggg this out forever and keep you in suspense, but I’m too excited!

The winner of the family photo session with 5 edited images on CD is….

Birgitta Perrins

And the winner of the mini session with a free 8×10 is….

Maijia-Liisa Downing

Ladies, congratulations!!! You have 24 hours to contact me ( to claim your prize.

you win dice

Now, for the rest of us, let’s try winning something else. How about a vacation?

I think we all know how obsessed I am with all things Disney, so here are my latest Disney vacation giveaway finds. Good luck to us all!

Orlando Week: Win a 3-6 night Orlando vacation. Then you have the big decision to make: Disney World or Universal Studio: Islands of Adventure to visit Harry Potter land! (I get an extra entry when you use my link to enter this one.)

Adventures by Disney: Win a 7-night Frozen adventure in Norway.

Magic Flavor: Win a 4-night Disney World vacation for 6 including airfare, ground transportation, hotel, park tickets, and $500 Disney gift card, and a welcome basket.

Visit Orlando: Win an Orlando vacation for 4 including airfare, hotel, ground transportation, and your choice of 2-day amusement park tickets.

Frozen Adventure from Amazon: Win a week-long Adventures by Disney vacation in Norway for 2.

Have you won anything lately?

Remember to hop over to My Recipe Confessions and see if you’re one of Carrie’s winners!

Laura Hawkins Photography Giveaway

March 24, 2014 in Mailbox

Whenever we try to get family pictures, they usually end up looking something like this.


That’s why this year, I’m calling my friend Laura Hawkins. She is a fabulous photographer who could work magic with my little band of hooligans. Her photos are simply gorgeous, and she is so fun to work with.

Want to see what I mean?


Don’t you love those??? And now you want to call my friend Laura for your family photos, too, right?! Then you will love what I have for you today!

I have an amazing opportunity for a few lucky Utah locals to win a photo session with Laura Hawkins Photography! If you’re anywhere from Utah County to Salt Lake or willing to meet her there, this prize is for you! For the grand prize (I love the sound of that) she is offering a 45-minute family session with 5 edited photos on CD ($125 value).

Remember how I told you she’s great to work with? Well, she proves it by even offering a prize to the runner up! The lucky second winner will receive a mini family session with an 8″x10″ print.


Entering is simple. Just head over to Laura Hawkins Photography on Facebook and like the page! Then come back here and leave me a comment that you did it.

Want a bonus entry??? Of course you do! Do as many of these as you want, and get a bonus entry for each one.

  • Like Forty Eighteen on Facebook
  • Share this giveaway (Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Google+… you get the idea) and leave me a link to show me where you shared. (1 entry for each share)
  • Follow me! (links in the top right corner) and leave me your name or link to your profile (1 entry for each follow)

Don’t forget to leave a comment and tell me what you did. (You don’t need to leave a comment for each one, just let me know what you did, and I will make sure all of your entries count.) Remember to like Laura Hawkins Photography on Facebook first for any of your entries to count!

But wait — that’s not all! (Now I feel like an infomercial.)

Did you notice that adorable cover photo on Laura’s page? That’s Carrie from My Recipe Confessions and her stinkin’ adorable family! Carrie is also offering a family photo session from Laura Hawkins Photography, so be sure to visit My Recipe Confessions and enter again to win your own stinkin’ adorable family photo.

Winners will be chosen on Friday, so you have until Thursday night to enter. Good luck!

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