Photo Tips

Grammie Photographs Little Ballerinas! by Laura Swift

Laura Swift

Yes.  I’m a grammie.  And this grammie photographs little ballerinas when they come to my home dressed in tutus!  Wouldn’t you?!

After working as a delivery nurse for over thirty years, I retired and found myself picking up the camera.  I fell in love with the creative voice it gave me.  When I’m not photographing my grandkids, I’m empowering other moms with how to use their camera through my CONFIDENCE Workshops in VA, and I’m also documenting…you guessed it…birth photography!  I’m back in the delivery room with a new gift to give to those I work with. 

Looking for photo inspiration, I leisurely browsed through Me Ra’s new book, Your Child in Pictures.  As soon as I saw the photo recipe “I love dancing” (pg 78), I knew this was the idea to try with my granddaughters who are almost 3 years old and 5 years old.

Grammie Photographs Little Ballerinas, laura swift photography

Grammie Photographs Little Ballerinas, Laura Swift

Calling my daughter-in-law, I asked if the girls could come for a sleep over (because I needed lots of time to get just the right photos).  And then I asked if they could also bring their ballet skirts and sequin princess dresses!   Ha! Ha!  The idea alone made this grandma giddy! 

I recently moved into a new home, so I wasn’t sure which time of day would make the best lighting.  With extra time, I would be prepared for both morning and afternoon window light.

Grammie Photographs Little Ballerinas, laura swift photography

As they changed into their tutus (at 7am!) on a Saturday morning, I moved the coffee table to give them more room on the rug floor, but I forgot to vacuum first!  I couldn’t believe it!

After just a few minutes of twirling to music, the dust started to rise and show up in the sunlight coming from the large window!

Grammie Photographs Little Ballerinas, laura swift photography 

Our wood stove creates more dust than I am used to.  But how could I stop the girls and start vacuuming?  Dancing was in full swing!  I moved lamps and couch pillows and closed the closet doors to eliminate any visual distractions from my beautiful granddaughters.  And after taking a few photos, grandma joined in the dancing too!

To my surprise, my best shots were from lying on the ground!

Grammie Photographs Little Ballerinas, laura swift photography

For those of you who are inspired to this photo recipe, check out Your Child in Pictures.  Me Ra walks you through how to get these results, step-by-step.  

These were my DSLR settings.  My ISO was 1250 to keep their faces bright enough with the window as my back light. My aperture was f/3.2 to give me even more light and a blurry background.  And my shutter speed was  1/200 of a second to freeze the action with all their twirling and laughing.

My photography goal was to highlight their sheer ballet and princess dresses like Me Ra teaches in Your Child in Pictures.  I love the outcome and most important of all, we had the most fun together.

Are there any other grammies out there who love taking photos of their grandkids?  Who have fallen in love with photography unexpectedly?  If yes, I’d love to hear from you today!  What do you like photographing?  It’s both scary and exciting to start learning something new.  But to empower other young moms with capturing their stories, encourage them in motherhood, find my own creative voice…the reward has definitely been worth the risk!

~laura (grammie with a giggle)

Laura Swift Photography, bio headshotLaura Swift is a grammie with a giggle, a retired nurse and is living a second life as a professional birth photographer. She is a certified Me Ra Koh CONFIDENCE teacher holding beginner and intermediate photography workshops for women in Virginia.



  1. Andrea says:

    I am a grammie who takes photos of the grandkids and all of their activities and have fallen in love with photography as well. My biggest struggle is photos indoors in poor light when the kids are moving quickly (fencing, for instance) and flash may not be allowed.

    Here’s a recent example!/photo.php?fbid=10202975437140450&set=a.10202975436860443.1073741874.1639660754&type=1&theater

  2. laura says:

    andrea, it is always a challenge in low light with action. place them near the most natural light such as a large window or an open door. ~laura

  3. Amanda says:

    These photos are great! They make me want to dance! I love the way the light interacts with the skirts.

  4. Shalene says:

    Very beautiful! They capture the deepest desire of every little girl wanting to be seen in her beauty and glory of the Lord!

  5. Lindsay says:

    Laura…. You have a true gife to capture precious moments. You amaze me always! I’ve never been a ballerina or a dancer, but these pictures make me want to be and bring out the giggles and little girl in me to dance fancy free!

    • laura says:

      lindsay, be free to dance. it’s exhilarating! i dance in my house when no one is home! thank you so much for the kind words. wow. now, i am giggling!

  6. Kathy says:

    Love, love, love! You can tell how much they enjoyed it by the looks on their faces! The joy of being a princess!!

    • laura says:

      Your response about “the joy of being a princess” reminds of the movie, the little princess. The little girl says to the lady that runs the boarding school, “Didn’t your father tell you that you were a princess?”
      As women, whatever our age, we need to remember that we are all princesses! ~laura