Thursday, May 28, 2015

LET THEM BE LITTLE: Tricks to taking better pictures of your children

Over the last few years I have been learning more and more about photography. I started really loving photography after food blogging and learning how to stage pretty pictures and work with natural light.
The more I used those tricks on my food, the more they spilled over into my other "everyday life" photography. The pictures of my kids started looking better.
I wanted to share these tricks with you, so that you can better document the life around you that you never want to forget!

 So here are my 5 tips for better pics' of your children
 1. Quit trying to get perfect pictures. This is a hard one since we live in a world of visual interest all around. Everything has to be perfectly staged and born on pinterest or it seems unworthy to post on the internet. I say fooey on that. Sure, when I capture pictures of  my food, or a room I have decorated, I like it to look clean and "perfect". If we are talking about people and memories, throw that thought out the window and go for the candid moment. After all, that's how we record the memory in our minds right? Instead of a cheesy smile or an awkward pose, go for the moment while its happening. Capture this memory and freeze it in time. The absolute best photos I have taken of my children are when I sneak up on them while playing and imagining. While they are busy dreaming and wrapped up in their own whimsical world. These pictures are priceless to me. Messy hair, dirt covered, boogers and all- I cherish them.


2.Try to take advantage of natural light. Sunlight always makes for better pictures. If you are outside, avoid taking pictures in harsh mid day sun. Wait until the sun is "diffused" a bit, this will help you get a softer light on your subject's face rather than harsh shadows and lines. If you are inside, use window light. If you child is playing, position yourself to get the best shot of light on their face. If you like the look of a silhouette (cool!) then position yourself directly opposite the window light, or sunset if you are outside.
Sometimes when you are trying to capture a memory, you have to forget the rules and go for it. Messy hair (check) Mid day sun and harsh shadows (check) Crusty nose (check) Perfect moment (check check)... This is a perfectly imperfect picture to me. I disobeyed the rules and that's okay.
Here is a fun example of me positioning myself against the sun, to get the silhouette look.
Here is an example of better sunlight, the trick I have learned is 2 hours before sunset usually gives you great diffused, buttery (non harsh) sunlight.

3. It doesn't matter that you don't have the fanciest camera. A lot of people have fancy cameras that sit and collect dust because either they are too intimidated to learn how to use them or it's easier and more convenient to snap pics with your cell phone that is usually in your pocket.
I think any documented moment is better than none, but take time to pull out your camera and get some good quality shots once in a while. I promise you won't regret it... time goes by way too fast and there are special (and quickly changing) details you do not want to forget!

4. Watch your backgrounds. Try to avoid weird backgrounds. Sometimes all it takes is repositioning yourself to get less distractions behind your subject so that all of the focus goes to them. You can use the different automatic settings on your camera to help you get the best focus on your subject if your are not familiar with shooting in manual mode. Here is a great article that talks about all of the automatic settings on digital cameras. Digital camera modes

I took my children on a "lady bug hunt" and we had so much fun. My son caught a handful of lady bugs and shared with little sister. The memory and imperfect pictures are treasures to me. Open fields, hiking paths or textured buildings always make fun backgrounds.

5. Edit if needed. Don't own a professional photo editing program? No problem. Have you heard of Picmonkey? Its a great (free) tool you can use to edit pictures. Sometimes lightening the pic just a tad, cropping it the right way or even turning it black and white can make all the difference! Check it out.
I have tried so hard over the past year to really make sure I give my children some time each week  to adventure or play without me having to instruct them to "hurry up!" or  "Come on lets go!" "Don't go there, don't touch that!". Because I am a high anxiety personality with my kids and always worry about them, its good for them to have a break to get wrapped up in a world of imagination and pure play. And you know what? It's really great for me too.
These are the moments I have captured the best photos of my children, in their element. When you sneak around and observe them in their world, you will start to see magic happen through the lens, and you love and appreciate their wild and curious little spirits more because of it.


Keep practicing and don't get discouraged! Happy shooting.

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