For Misty Hofert, photography started as a means to capture her daughters’ various memories and milestones and has since grown into a serious hobby. The Buffalo mom of two captures everything from major to everyday moments with her two daughters, Calista (6) and Camila (4), whom she affectionately calls Cali and Mila.
“Photography wasn’t anything I ever had an interest in until I became a mom,” Misty says. When her eldest, Cali, was born, she began posting a picture of her every week for family and friends, and that quickly morphed into a weekly tradition.
When Cali turned two, Misty bought her first ‘real’ camera, an entry level DSLR (“The Canon Rebel series is great for beginners!” she says), and forced herself to learn to shoot in manual mode. While she has no professional training, Misty attributes much of her growth to what she deems a long while of trial and error, including joining photography groups and learning to look for natural light.
“If you ask any seasoned photographer how to get better at photography, they will tell you to shoot every day. So in 2020, that’s what I set out to do,” Misty says.
The 365 Project
When the world shut down in the early months of 2020, she says her task of taking at least one photo every day was still going strong, and that became the year her passion for the art of photography really took off.
“I work full-time as a healthcare professional, and there were days I didn’t even feel like picking up the camera,” Misty says. At the end of 2020, despite all the difficulties and uncertainties the year entailed, she says, “I had so many photos of my girls. Every day of their childhood that year was documented: the good, the bad, the fun, the mundane…and everything in-between.”
The following January, she decided to give the challenge another go, and is now on her fourth consecutive 365 Project. At the end of each year, Misty creates an album that her daughters love flipping through, and she knows they’ll have something tangible to remember fleeting moments of their childhood by.
While she might make a few alterations here and there, her photos are largely unedited, as she opts for a more candid style.
Hot Spots for Photo Ops
While a majority of the photos Misty takes are in their home or neighborhood, she also has a few favorite locations her family returns to annually:
• Sunflowers of Sanborn
“We’ve been going since they first opened when my oldest was just a year old. It’s become incredibly trendy, and I think everyone in Western New York probably has a photo from here every summer!”
• Smith’s and Blackman Homestead Farm
“I always take our orchard photos at the tail end of the season, when the orchards are still open but the apples are scarce. After we purchase apples from the bins, we go for a walk through the orchard for that beautiful golden hour sunlight.”
• Buffalo & Erie County Botanical Gardens
“They have a ton of fun events for kids throughout the year, and it’s a great place to warm up during the cold winter months! The natural light and gorgeous greenery make for a great place to take photos.”
• Buffalo Murals
“These beautiful murals make for really fun backgrounds. The back wall of the Town Ballroom is actually where my friend’s daughter chose to do her senior portraits.”
• The Beach
“It’s where my girls are happiest and I am always guaranteed to get at least a few genuine, natural smiles. In Buffalo we have a lot of great locations: Beaver Island, Woodlawn, Wright Park, or even the little beach in Olcott are all places I’ve captured my girls enjoying the sun and the sand.”
Another favorite is a day trip to Rochester’s Ontario Beach Park to walk the boardwalk, play on the playground, grab some ice cream at Abbott’s, and build sandcastles. “When I plan to take photos at the beach, I try for an overcast day and go later in the year when the sun sets earlier in order to avoid that harsh midday sun.”
Quick Tips for Success
When it comes to improving photography skills, Misty asserts that, like anything else, it’s best to practice every day. Taking photos with kids isn’t always an easy task and she finds the less she pushes, the more cooperative her daughters are.
“Don’t force it,” she advises. “Make sure they’re not tired or hungry. Most of the time my photos happen by following my girls around and doing things they normally do. If they’re not feeling it, I let them choose to take a picture of something they want to do first, which often helps get them in the mood for what I have in mind. I love to incorporate their ideas and sometimes my favorite shots are ones they make up all on their own.”
As she shoots and edits, Misty selects her favorite photo of the day or one that best captures a moment and adds it to her 365 folder and a folder for the corresponding month. She names each file with its date to easily keep track. For photos of special events, she recommends keeping them in separate folders within the corresponding month for easy access.
Her biggest advice, though? “If you’re a mom who is always behind the camera, don’t forget to hand it off and get in a few photos with your kids once in a while!”
Follow along with Misty, her husband, Carl, and daughters Cali and Mila’s adventures on IG @mistyhofert or start a 365 Project of your own!