Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Photographing Your Kids...(10 tips from a non-photographer)

I'm not a photographer.  It's not something I have ever felt I had any talent for.  But I can't afford to hire a photographer every time I want portraits taken of my kids (and I hate portrait studios even though they can be cheaper.)  I have a bunch of talented friends who own fancy cameras, but I'm uncomfortable asking them all the time when I can't pay in more than favors.  Fortunately, though, I discovered some tips that have helped me capture some really great pictures of my kids myself.

1. Go somewhere your kids enjoy being.  For us, that place is the Temple.  I realized that they just can't help but be happy and smile for the camera when we're there.  Also, there are plenty of places to pose with pretty backgrounds.

2. Let them pick the places to pose.  If I try to take too much control over the photo-shoot, the kids rebel and then the smiles cease.
Isn't this tree the best?  All them.

3. Also, don't get too pose-y with the group shots. If I try to place each kid "perfectly," usually someone will get bored and move by the time I'm ready to take the picture.  Give them a chance to position themselves and see what works out.
This was one of the first pictures taken of the day.  I think I just said, "give hugs" and this is what they came up with.  Quartus isn't enjoying the moment very much, but the other three look incredibly sincere.

4. It's ok to gently guide them towards shade, though.  I explained to them easily that if they stand in a sunny spot, they will end up squinting and the photo won't be the best.  Often they would pick a bench to sit on for a picture that was in the sun.  But it was easy to remind them of why it's not the best idea and then suggest a bench nearby that was better.
Most of this bench was in direct sunlight.  But this little corner was perfect.

5. Sometimes sitting poses are better.  I did get some cute ones of them standing, but there were also several that just looked awkward.
Like this.  No matter how much she tried, she just could not stand there without sticking her hip out.

6. Stick an easy prop in the baby's hand.  Grabbing a leaf from a nearby bush was an easy way to get Quartus to stay in one place long enough to take a picture.  The shot sometimes ended up being of him looking down, but I thought it was still cute.

7. Ask the kids to say "monkey" instead of "cheese."  Go ahead and try it out.  "Cheese" gives you a funny face.  "Monkey" produces a more natural smile.
Definitely a monkey face.

8. Let them have fun.  Don't be too focused on the staged poses.  Sometimes the candid shots when they're just playing around are the best. 
Here he was so happy to be walking on the edge of the planter like brother.  I just had to crop out my hand holding his to make sure he didn't fall.

9. Take a ton of pictures so at least a couple will turn out.  If you take 100 pictures but only 10 look good, don't be discouraged.  Just be glad that you scored 10 great photos!  And to go along with that, don't be afraid to delete the ones that aren't perfect.  Just delete them!  Only save the very best ones that you would be proud to post on your wall (real or Facebook.)
Primus reminds me a lot of myself.  She just looked very uncomfortable in most of the pictures that I took of her and didn't seem to be able to decide how to smile.  But the handful that did turn out cute are excellent!

10. Pay attention to the background.  Watch out for photo-bombing people and things behind the kid that just look weird and distract from the star of the shot.  Some background issues can be fixed with cropping later.  But try to keep an eye out for that kind of thing while you're taking pictures, too.
A little above that window and to the left there was a little red circle (fire alarm?)  So I had to crop that out.  This picture should actually be cropped a little more, in fact, to focus in on Secundus and her adorable personality shining through.

What are some photography tips that work for your kids?