There are probably less than half a dozen photos of me as a baby/toddler. Growing up, taking a picture was big deal! You didn't have the luxury now provided by digital photography to take all the photos you wanted. You couldn't delete photos when you made a mistake. Parents now can (and do!) take limitless photos of their children, but how many of those photos are the ones you really want to look back on? How many of those photos are the ones will you look back on and be brought to tears at how little your baby was? Without having a professional photographer follow you around every day, how do you get those photos you'll really cherish at every stage of their life? Purchasing a high end, high spec DSLR camera is has become as important as a cot and carseat when gearing up for a new baby. Many parents still spend as much on a camera as all the baby's necessities combined! DSLRs are great but unnecessary for a lot of people. Chances are for many they will never learn everything their camera can do and many parents will ever learn to switch their camera's off the "Auto" switch and that's OK. You can take beautiful photos of your children while following just a few simple rules and it doesn't matter if you have the latest Nikon equipment or just your Mobile phone.
Lighting is the most important thing when taking pictures. Photographers are thinking about lighting all
the time. I'm thinking about and gaging the light everytime I walk into a room whether I'm holding a camera or not! Its just habit! Getting to know where you light is can change a photo dramatically, but you don't need to be an expert to start using light to improve your photos.
If you place you kid in front of a window, they will be back lit and dark. If you take a photo in the harsh afternoon sun, it will create unflattering shadows. The best time to take a photo is during the last hour of the day or the first hour in the morning when the sun in very low and warm.
2. DE- CLUTTER Items in the background of your photo can be very distracting and make for a "messy" image. Be aware of everything that will be in the final image! Move things if necessary and try and create a "clean" picture where your subject is the photos. This can include pictureframes or household clutter if taken indoor, however, if taking photos outside beware of telephone poles, fire hydrants, parked cars.
(There is far too much happening in this photo! A chair, a leg, a dog! No, no, no! A tighter shot would have been far more appealing!)
3. HOLD THE "CHEESE", PLEASE!
"Say Cheese!" I try to always tell my clients to not coach children beforehand on how to act in front of the camera. Getting your child to pose and smile can make for awkward poses. Instead of trying to capture just what your child looks like, try and capture that "moment" as its the moment you'll really want to look back on. Watch them as they play and interact with others and try to catch them when they aren't looking at the camera....you're more likely to capture a real honest moment in which their personality will really show through!
(Not the most perfectly composed photo, but is one of my favourites of my son with his Nanny. I saw a moment and grabbed it! Now I have it forever!)
4.GET DOWN LOW
Try and get down to your subjects height. Photos taken from above, looking down, can be distortive. Instead, get down on your knees if necessary so that your camera is face-height. Better yet, go even further and experiment with different angles and positions! There are not rules! When photographing toddlers, I'm often crawling around on the ground and hardly ever on my feet!
5. RULE of THIRDS Did I just say there were no rules? Ok, well I lied a bit. There is one and its a biggie. Its called the 'Rule of Thirds' and to describe it as simply and concisely as possible, it means that if you were to divide your image into nine parts the focus of the image should sit where lines intersect.
Basically, don't put your subject in the center of the image and see what happens if you try and move them to the left or right with negative space on the other side. Be creative! Try anything other than the middle!
The next time your our photographing your family, try these out and see what happens! It matters not if you use a DSLR or a compact or even your phone, you should see a big improvement in the photos your take. If you'd like delve further into the subject, I am hoping to hold "Parentography" workshops early in the new year! Let me know if you'd be interested or sign up to my newsletter to keep up to date on events!
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