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Sunday, October 28, 2012

photography 101 for moms - part 1

We moms all take them - on our iPhones, mini point and shoot cameras, or even our big fancy ones we got with wedding money back in the day. We know it's important to capture the memories our children are making. Some are better at this photo gig than others are. Some just do it for fun. Some want to document every little step of the way as their kids grow from itty bitty wee ones to big sassy ones. Some want to save money by taking pictures themselves or want a different type of photo, instead of going to Sears. Whatever your reason is for aiming the camera at your kids, here are some tips that may help you out.

In part two, coming soon,
I interviewed a great friend and professional photographer on her tips for successful photographing of children. Stay tuned for that.

In addition to being mommy blogger here, I have been taking photos for years. I've been OBSESSED with photos for years is more like it really. I photograph families on the side over the last few years as I've tried the whole "practice makes perfect" thing to improving my skills. Here is what I've learned both professionally and as a mom of 2 taking my photos of children:

Tips for Taking Pictures of Your Wee Ones:

* Let them be. I have seen many, many parents fuss over their children - how they are acting, where their hair parts, the type of smile they are showing in front of the camera, how busy or energetic they are acting, etc. etc. It's natural for us moms to want to make sure things go OK or to help out the photographer by assisting. A little of this is helpful to the photographer, but don't go overboard to the point that your kids end up acting worse. Just let them be. The more natural the kids act, the better the photos will come out anyway.

*Accessorize - Use hats, blankets, special teddy bears, etc. in the pictures. For maternity shoots grab some adorable newborn size shoes or a special book. For newborn shoots, get out a cute outfit you hope she'll wear soon or the first item you bought for her room. Photography is about telling a story, as much as it is about showing images, so help tell your story with artifacts that matter to you.

*Capture it ALL. Photograph the baby room, crib, socks and shoes, a favorite outfit hung in a dresser drawer, etc. Snap away at the sun coming in through the window and the cute curtains you chose for the nursery. Get those sand pails and shovels out in the sand box, or the flip flops thrown off by the water hose in the summer. Get all of it. You'll want to remember these tiny parts of the bigger moments someday.

*Lighting -Shut the lights off, see how that changes your photo. Use well-lit open rooms. Set up near windows for natural light. When outside make sure the sun is not shining directly on the lens or making your subject squint because it's in their eyes.

*Backdrops - Use blankets as backdrops, put the baby in a basket (even a laundry basket works) with lots of pillows and blankets to have a space to work. Newborns can fit anywhere, just make it comfy!

*Nakey - Do some naked, some with just diaper, some with cute outfits - for newborns. I have the most adorable picture of my son on his first birthday sitting in a rocking chair in just a diaper. I LOVE this photo. It shows how little yet big he was in that moment. So strip 'em down to diapers from time to time, they are too cute not to take these pictures!

*Patience is a virtue - Expect to take some time, babies need to pee and eat too! With newborns, you can expect 1-3 hours for a photo shoot typically. You need to take time out to feed them, rock them back to sleep for those adorable sleepy photos, change them, etc. Be patient with the process. It'll be worth it in the end! And if you have a professional photographer, they should be patient with you as well. They expect that you will need to feed and change a newborn, so don't hesitate to do as you normally would when they are shooting.

*Location, location, location. Go some place cool, unique, new, fun. The beach is always a great place for photos. Playgrounds are easygoing and fun, and you honestly can get some great shots there of your kids being their natural funny selves. Go to a big open green grass field. And yet, your backyard has GREAT spots, too, so have fun looking for new spots in your own yard or home to photograph your kids if you can't get some place else.

*Timing - Time your picture-taking right. If you want some formal, nicely done photos of your kids, make sure they are well-fed and well-rested. If they are sick, reschedule. It won't be fun for any of you if you force it when they are under the weather. Also with timing, do the formal posed shots right away at a photo shoot, then let them run around and possibly get dirty but be themselves for some candid shots. While everyone is neat and tidy right out of the car though, take those formal ones first.

*Details - Focus on details - a foot, fingers, ear, hair, etc. Get it all! You will want to remember all of this someday, so take pictures of all the little itty bitty parts - as they grow this becomes even more adorable. Even 3-year-olds have adorable feet and hands, so capture them by zooming in on just those parts.

*Do a little searching - Check out Pinterest or type into Google for images of newborn photo shoots for ideas. They have great family shots and sibling ideas, too. Give credit where it's due to the photographer, but recreating what you see can be great!

*Get all fancy - Learn the Rule of Thirds - meaning you don't always have your subject in the center. Move it to the right, left, top or bottom, in thirds. Google it if you need more help.

*Keep snapping! You cannot take too many pictures of your children. They grow too fast, you have said this, right? You know this to be true. So take a zillion pictures everywhere you go. You can always delete what you don't like. Kids also MOVE fast, so to keep up with them you have to be fast also, always snapping away.

*Get on their level - Don't always stand up and point the camera down at the children. Pictures come out far better of kids when you are on THEIR level. Kneel down, lay down, sit down, whatever you need to do to be closer to their eye level. Lay down and take the picture looking up at them for a cool effect.

*Don't always say "cheeeese." Let them be, again I'll say this. Don't always beg them to smile or look at you. Take some when they have no clue you are taking the picture. Take them when they are mad, annoyed or frustrated or confused. You adore those faces, too, right? So take a few pictures of them just to remember.

*Don't always stage it. It's great for you to try to have a mini photo shoot in your backyard with the nice fall leaves, however don't always do that. Take the camera out for mundane moments, too. When your son is sitting on the potty reading a book, or when your daughter is asleep in her crib or car seat. Take those photos also.

*Keep the camera handy. We leave our mini camera on the counter in the kitchen. It's accessible from anywhere I am in the house. I remember to take it out with me when we leave some place because it's right there where I keep my cell phone and car keys. We have one big nice camera that we take out to special things and outside when I have time to focus and can hold it without anyone dropping it, and then we use this smaller one for everyday playground or beach events, etc. Have yours ready. Many of you have great cameras on your phones - so use those, too! Just remember to upload them to your computers for printing though, otherwise they are wasted on there.

*HAVE FUN! Truth is, you are the mommy, not the professional photographer. So HAVE FUN with your kids, while capturing a few of those great memories.

*Last but not least .... GET MOMMY IN THE PICTURE!
Don't always be the one behind the camera taking pictures of dad with kids or just of kids together. Take some of yourself. You will cherish those later, even if they're pretty close up because you're still holding the camera while juggling a child on your lap! SMILE! :)

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