Posted on September 27, 2011
I recently put together a list of photography tips for a group of moms that I am a part of. I thought I’d share them here with you as well, with examples of some of my own family photos.
As a family photographer and mom, I get asked often, “what kind of camera should I buy?” My stock answer is stick with what you have and make the most of it, or buy a good (but not necessarily top of line) version of whichever of the most reputable brands that you prefer. With the quality of affordable consumer cameras out there, it’s not the camera that makes good photographs, it’s the photographer.
Here are a few of my tips for parents who want to take better photographs of their kids and family.
1. Tell a story.
We don’t look through old family photos just to see what our ancestors’ faces looked like, but to learn something about them and the times and places where they lived. Take photos of your kids, not just in their Sunday best, in the most formal room in your house, but in the clothes they live in every day, doing the things that mark this particular day or stage or of life. Even if you just want a great head and shoulder portrait of your son with his gaptooth smile, you could take it out in his treehouse, or on his bike, and it would tell even more about what stage of his boyhood he is in. Also, think about taking photos of the objects or places that help tell your story, such as the beloved lovey, or their seat at the dining table, complete with highchair and sippy cups.
This captures the dynamic between my daughters when they were 2 and 5. The oldest clowning for the spotlight. The youngest smiling adoringly at her idol. Things have gotten more contentious since then, so I’m glad to have this to remind me.
2. Look them in the eye.
It’s a cliché for a reason. Eyes really are a window into one’s soul. I NEVER ask subjects to smile or say cheese, but I will ask, coax, or beg to get their eyes toward my lens. Of course there are exceptions, but eyes are usually the essential element to good portraits.
Camping out under the dining table on a cold morning.
3. Skip the cheese!
As I mentioned, before, I never ask directly for a smile. I might joke, dance, or make a fool of myself, but I never say, “Smile!” Want to loose an authentic expression on a kid in no time? Ask them to say cheese. And yet, we are conditioned to do it. Even my kids sometimes say it and I always cringe and ask them not to, as if they’ve just cursed in my presence.
Here’s one that my husband caught of me (pregnant, early this year) with my girls. We were enjoying the winter sun in St. Augustine. We know he’s taking our photo, but he’s just talking with us and not asking us to stop and smile for the camera. I love how relaxed we are, even myself, who is sadly the worst in front of the camera.
Try these out, and stay tuned for more tips later this week!
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