Thursday, July 23, 2015

8 Tips for Better {Kid} Photographs

I love looking at the photos my friend, Ruth, posts of her children and family. One time I asked her how she got such good pictures and she said, "The secret is in telling them what to do." With that one simple tip, my photos improved greatly! I figured Ruth had more tips, so I asked her to write a post and tell us some more of her secrets. 

Let me start by clarifying one thing.  I am not a professional photographer!  I have never even taken a class on photography—I actually dropped the class in college because it was my senior year, and the class was going to require more work than I felt was necessary to put forth!  

However my mother was always holding a camera, and took thousands of pictures of friends and family using a Nikon SLR (I don’t even know what SLR means!) and 35mm film.  She was also not a professional photographer, but loved capturing faces and the ever elusive smiles that she never knew if she actually had until she spent money to develop the film. 

I love it that now we live in the age of digital photography, and instead of getting maybe 8-10 good pictures from film, we can take hundreds of pictures, delete that ones that are blurry and where people aren’t looking at the camera, and still end up with…hundreds of good pictures. 

I may not be a professional photographer, but I know what I like, and what looks good in a photo.  Fancy camera equipment can still come up with mediocre pictures because the photographer needs some artistic concept that consists of more than just pointing and shooting. Looking at good photos, blogs, and magazines, will better develop that sense of what looks good through your lens, how to change your focus, or manipulate your subject to get attractive photos.  

For me, once I got an entry level DSLR, the quality of my pictures skyrocketed!  I was blown away with the colors and sharpness I got with this new fancy camera versus my older point and shoot digital.  The more I experimented with different settings and lighting, I grew comfortable with my camera and found the setting I liked the best and learned when to change that setting depending on the light inside or outside.  As I continued looking at pictures online, and comparing them to my own, I decided I needed a new lens different from the basic kit lens that came with my camera.  When I got a 50mm lens I was thrilled to be able to focus in on faces, blur the background of my photos, and use my camera without a flash.  I have since upgraded my DSLR camera and even gotten a better lens; I still can’t claim to really know what I’m doing, but these fancy new cameras have some amazing features that make it harder and harder to take a bad picture!  

I happen to have some pretty cute models to work with; (I may be biased because they’re my kids) but getting them to perform and pose for me is not exactly as simple as working with seasoned models who pose in pictures for a living.  

In spite of my limitations, I have some tips for getting great photos of your kids:

1. Imagine what the photo will look like while you are looking through your camera lens.  It’s easy to just focus on faces and make sure they are all looking at you and smiling, but... 

2. Don’t forget to notice the background and surroundings, as well as the person’s posture and proximity, because these are all just as important!  

3.  Don’t be afraid to tell people how to pose and stand, and smile or lean.  They really don’t have any idea what looks good through your lens, and need direction from you, the photographer, to lower their chin, not smile so big, and relax a little. 

4. Get creative with your ideas. Look at photographers' photo blogs for ideas.

5. Like me, take 200-400 pictures during a “shoot” and expect to get maybe 20 photos that are good!  

6. Crop them and tweak them in a simple editing program like Picasa to make them better.  

7. Remember even though convenient, the quality of phone photos is too poor to print or enlarge due to the lower pixels that the phones have.  An entry level DSLR is relatively inexpensive now days and worth the time and investment to record your family memories.  

8. Back up your photos! If not for Facebook, many of these photos would be lost in our computer’s hard drives!  I have also started creating yearly digital scrapbooks through programs like Snapfish, or My Publisher so that I have a hard copy of the memories of each year.  

When I look back at the pictures my mother took of my childhood, specific memories remain that surrounded that moment. I can’t help but think that if not for the picture, I might not remember that event at all today.       

Ruth is a counselor, wife, and mother of two.  She is a bi-lingual, third culture kid, who loves the black man she is married to, and has beautiful bi-racial babies.  She pursues friendships, and looks to include others in her life because she never really felt like she fits in anywhere.  She loves brownies, Coke, and salsa; and also enjoys photography, spending time at the beach, scrolling through Facebook, and reading.  All photos credited to Ruth S.

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For more ideas on photographing your kids check out this post.
For a fun family photography outing, click here.

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  1. Beautiful photos and fabulous photo tips, Sharon.
    Have a fabulous weekend!

  2. Fabulous tips. Thank you so much. I take thousands of photos of my grandsons in a year's time (sometimes in a week's time) and can STILL use tips such as these for improving the results. Glad to see this shared in the GRAND Social link party!

  3. Great pix! AND great tips. 5 and 6 were already my faves. And my kids who are GREAT photographers agree on that one as well. To all your tips I'd add one that I'm trying to change for myself - watch the lighting on the faces to try to have no shadow. A mild shadow in person is way worse in the photo. :)

    Thanks for a lovely visit from the Grand Social




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