If you’re eager to try out that new camera you got for Christmas, but intimidated by previous DIY photo shoot fails, these surprisingly simple tips can make a big difference.
It’s the age-old problem. You’re enjoying a whimsical tea party with your little girl when you realize this is a photo-worthy moment.
You stop everything, grab your camera, and pose your sweet princess. But instead of rose-tinted bliss, your camera gives you this.
If every time you click the camera, you’re left scratching your head at the drab image on your screen that looks NOTHING like the joyous, sun-filled event happening in front of you, check out these tricks of the trade.
1. Get down on their level.
To avoid that faraway chasm look, make yourself child-height. As a photographer, I’m usually on my knees or at least hunched over for shots. Don’t be afraid to get flat down on your stomach if the shot calls for it.
Bonus Tip: Include an element that represents this moment in their life, like Daddy’s cowboy boots.
2. Don’t put your camera down.
Go ahead and start shooting early, even while the kids are getting into position. Keep shooting while you talk to them from behind the camera. You’ll be sure to capture some great candids.
Bonus Tip: It’s ok if your kids aren’t looking directly at the camera. At times, it’s even preferable.
3. Take several steps closer.
Remember who the star of the picture is. Remove background distractions. Get even closer and try to fill the frame with your child. Robert Capa said it best: “If your photos aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.”
Bonus Tip: If your little girl likes to paint her nails, shoot some pictures of her doing just that. She’ll be in her element, and you’ll be surprised at the results.
4. Don’t tell your kids to smile.
It’s hard to get a genuine smile going when mom is screaming threats about revoking TV privileges. To avoid that fake smile, you have to be smart and employ some tricks. Recall an inside joke your family shares. Go ahead and take advantage of the fact that your kids still think the word “poopy” is hilarious.
Bonus Tip: If you’re getting fake smiles, try asking her about her school crush.
5. Don’t hide their personality.
Close your eyes and think of your kids for a minute. What comes to mind? Mismatched pink and purple outfits. Your baby showing off his clapping hands. Magical moments of glee when your toddler clasps her hands to her cheeks. To capture their genuine nature, let them express themselves during the photoshoot.
Bonus Tip: Try letting her wear her favorite tutu for pictures and watch her beam.
6. Don’t wait for that perfect moment.
If you’re waiting for that “ideal shot,” you’re going to miss it. Instead of trying to manufacture a pretty picture, make sure your camera shows up for life and captures the beauty that’s already happening. After all, it’s the real moments you’ll want to remember for years to come: those chubby baby legs and incessant drool. Wild hair and flushed cheeks on the playground. Your pictures should tell a story that captures the enchantment of this time in your child’s life.
Bonus Tip: Find out what makes them giggle or stare in wonderment, and show up with your camera. This picture was taken while the child played on a slide.
7. Close the gap.
Your goal is minimal space between their bodies. Space distracts from the focal point – your beautiful kids. Even the smallest of gaps is magnified through the lens.
Bonus Tip: Explore different options for getting siblings closer together. Try having them stand back to back, or with arms around each other.
8. Take advantage of natural lighting.
When winter weather keeps you indoors, make the best of the sunshine you have available. Don’t use a flash as a substitute for natural lighting. Open all the windows and doors, and start shooting.
9. Don’t over-pose.
It’s time to break away from the rigid poses you can get in any mall studio. Get them to relax. And if the kids start acting silly, keep shooting. You’ll be glad you did.
Bonus Tip: Ask the kids to lie on a blanket or share a book. Mixing it up will distract them from the camera, and result in more natural photos.
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Kelli Pavlovec writes as a hobby and as a career. She loves running in the rain, old British TV shows, reading fantastic literature, and all things nature. She’s taking a course on Fiction Writing this semester and hopes to finally write and publish some books which she’ll post at kellipav.com.