Note: Welcome to our new Homeschool Hobbies Snapshot series: Learning, Knowing, Creating. Hobbies for Homeschool Moms. You can read more about why hobbies are important here. Each month for the rest of this year we plan to spotlight homeschool moms doing their hobbies. We hope to give you ideas for possible hobbies if you need them or just some inspiration to seek out something of your own.

I’m so happy to introduce you to Heather Tully today.  Heather is my dear, personal friend. She only had time to learn this hobby after she moved away from me and I no longer spent days in her home with my small children.  

But I’ve watched her skills (not to mention her family size) increase and knew that if a mama of soon-to-be 10 children could homeschool, keep house, and learn a hobby in her spare time, she was one lady I wanted to introduce you to.  She is one of the hardest working people I know – in fact I think their family motto is something like “Tullys work hard,” an example I would do well to emulate.

Her advice is a little bit technical for the uninstructed (like me!) in places, but I think you’ll be inspired. At the very least, you’ll love her beautiful photographs.

Heather please tell us a little bit about yourself, your family, your homeschool, and the ages of your children.

I’ve been married to my husband, Eric, for 17 years. Somehow, a New Yorker city guy & a country gal have made it work. God is indeed good! We have nine children ages 16 to 19 months with baby number ten due in August! We’ve always educated at home- it started classically but within the past few years, I’ve been learning a lot about Charlotte Mason (including the idea that she’s classical) & I enjoy incorporating her principles also. We’re a part of an amazing co-op at our church- no way could I do this alone! Life’s a bit crazy & whole lot busy but I’m so thankful to be on this journey!

 

What is your hobby?

My hobby is photography. I specifically enjoy using it as a means to document our lives- unscripted & authentic. I try really hard to preserve those memories by printing those images & making books, adding narratives to my pictures. I enjoy occasionally shooting for others too!

How long have you been practicing photography?

I’ve always taken pictures but my journey began in earnest in April 2013 when I bought my first DSLR.

How did you get started or interested in photography? How would someone else get started?

I’ve always loved pictures & the stories they represent since I was a little girl. I have fond memories of sitting & sorting through boxes of loose pictures, as well as listening to my grandmother share stories. But in 2013, after reading several blogs, I knew I wanted my skills to improve so I could better capture our family. I knew that meant I “needed” better toys. I mean equipment.

If you know of someone who enjoys photography, ask them for advice- we photographers love to share our passion with others! Blogs, online forums & classes were the primary ways I learned.

What kind of equipment or resources are needed for photography? Are there books or instructional guides that you’ve personally found helpful?

Equipment…

I always tell people shoot what ya got. If it’s a phone, use it! If it’s a point & shoot, rock it! But if you want more, start saving for some better tools. It doesn’t take much but sadly, it’s not always cheap.

Save for a DSLR (I shoot Nikon so I’m partial to it but there are other brands). Buy the camera body- skip the kit lenses. Trust me on this!

Then, buy a PRIME lens (I’d recommend a 35mm, especially if you buy a crop sensor camera body). A prime lens doesn’t zoom (you’ll have to move your feet- think of it as exercise) but they tend to be cheaper than a quality zoom, often have sharper focus & can enable you to shoot at a lower aperture. (Confused? It’s all photo talk that you’ll learn in time.)

Tips…

  1. Learn to shoot MANUALLY. Most people want to achieve bokeh (blurred background), specific focus in one area or shoot in low light conditions. You need to tell your camera what to do! It’s a foreign language at first but with lots of practice, it comes!
  2. Practice!!! Like every day. It doesn’t have to take long but the more you put in, the faster it comes and then you’ll get to where you can focus on artistic aspects instead of the technical jargon.
  3. If you want to learn to edit (it’s fun!), start with Lightroom. It’s user-friendly. Photoshop is fun, but it’s a bear- don’t start there.

Where can we learn more about photography?

I tried reading just blogs in the beginning but the pieces didn’t come together till I took “Mastering Manual Exposure” from Click Photo School. Highly, highly recommend!

Clickin Moms has a great blog, an online forum where you can ask questions, share images & take tutorials, as well as classes.

Courtney from Click it Up a Notch is a great FREE blog- she was the reason I got my DSLR.

A fun book for inspiration is Capture the Moment.

How do you make time to practice photography?

My camera lives in a basket in my kitchen- just out of reach from little hands but close enough for quick & easy access for me to grab & use.

Because I shoot documentary, I rarely ask my kids to look at me or move into a certain spot- they just do their thing, happy to ignore me while I grab a shot or two (or twenty- yay for digital). When I was first learning or if I’m learning a new skill/taking a class, I’ll carve out time during the day- it’s a fun distraction from chores & lessons. I usually edit & write in the evenings after kids are in bed. On a good day, I’ll edit/write a bit in the afternoon during quiet time. I’m constantly reading or participating in a class or forum- that happens mostly in the evenings.

When I was first learning or if I’m learning a new skill/taking a class, I’ll carve out time during the day- it’s a fun distraction from chores & lessons. I usually edit & write in the evenings after kids are in bed. On a good day, I’ll edit/write a bit in the afternoon during quiet time. I’m constantly reading or participating in a class or forum- that happens mostly in the evenings.

On a good day, I’ll edit/write a bit in the afternoon during quiet time. I’m constantly reading or participating in a class or forum- that happens mostly in the evenings.

Where can others find you online?

My blog is Heather Tully Photography. I post almost daily on Instagram.

Dawn again … I’m so thankful that Heather took the time to share her story and her pictures. I love her story – that she began loving photos at a young age and has come back to it as an adult.  Her Instagram feed is one of my absolute favorites and I’m always curious what she’ll be sharing on any given day; her way of documenting and writing her thoughts on every picture is beautiful and I learn from her attitude toward situations and joy in the journey every time.

Her Instagram feed is one of my absolute favorites, and I’m always curious what she’ll be sharing on any given day; her way of documenting and writing her thoughts on every picture is beautifu,l and I learn from her attitude toward situations and joy in the journey every time.

Dawn Garrett
Find me at

Dawn Garrett

Dawn Garrett lives in Ohio with her husband Jason and their three always-homeschooled children, ages 12, 11, and 10. In her homeschool, she and her children learn about God and His cosmos by studying the seven liberal arts in order to know Him better, imitate Him and His ways, and share about Him with others. Her home blog – about books school and life – has been at ladydusk for 15 years.

She is the author of the free ebook: I Am, I Can, I Ought, I Will: Charlotte Mason’s Motto Explained for Upper Elementary Students.
Dawn Garrett
Find me at