Spring time is time for renewal, of clearing out the old and making space for new. So what about your pictures? Is it time to update your framed photos? When was the last time you deliberately took some time to capture your kids on the camera, and we don’t mean selfies! More so, when was the last time you printed any of these photographs? If we were lucky, some of us got some nice shots around the holidays, but if not here’s your second chance!
Here are a few fail safe tips to making your family photos shine, no matter which holiday(s) you may celebrate this spring.
1) Love the sun, but not with your lens
To avoid (what’s called lens flare) blow out in your photos ensure that the sun is not behind your subjects (aka your kids). Having the sun in the picture often causes camera glare and takes away from the beautiful features of your child’s face. Instead, opt to find a place where the sun is behind you or off to one side of you.
2) Shadows vs Shade – How to make it work
Shade is good, shadows, not so good. If it’s high noon and a super sunny day, you’ll probably be better off in a shady area, or what photographers refer to as “open shade”. This type of shade is low contrast and has nearly no shadows in the shade. You can find open shade from a building, a fence or other tall, large objects. Trees can often work too, but beware, speckling may occur if you’re not careful. This is where light from between the leaves and branches will hit certain parts of your subject’s face, creating “hot spots”. When working in shade, understand that there is a difference between the shade created that is close to the source, called “deep shade” and the shade you find just before you step into the harsh light, called “edge shade”. Keep your kiddos in the edge shade for the best pics. If you have a manual camera, consider increasing your ISO, as you’e shooting in a darker space. Some might consider slightly over exposing your image too, creating a nice skin glow.
Encouraging playfulness leads to better photographs.
3) Silly Faces and Fake Smiles
Remember what it’s like to be a kid? All you wanted to do was play and goof around. So, why not let your kids do that? For the first two or three shots, tell your kids to do outrageous things in the photo. It will help them get the wiggles and wacky out of their system and then you may, if your lucky, get a genuine smile in one of your shots. It’s a win-win for everyone. Pictures they love and pictures you’ll love too. Everyone is happy.
4) Sneak Attack – The Candid Shot
If you’re looking for a genuine photograph, avoid the “posed” picture. Instead, try having your camera at waist level and “shooting from the hip”. Depending on the quality of light where you are, set your camera to the appropriate settings. You’ll have some great angle shots and capture those heartfelt moments without even being noticed. This may be a little difficult to get used to in the beginning, we suggest trying it out a few times so you can get used to using your camera in this way.
5) Glasses be gone
We may need them to drive or to see the chalkboard, but glasses can cause a real problem – that being glare- in our photos. You can do a couple of things. One you can simply have your subjects take off the glasses for a few moments to capture your photograph, or if they prefer not to remove them, then have them tilt their glasses slightly forward until you can no longer see any glare.
6) Giants & Minions
Families come in all shapes and sizes, it’s true. But to get a great looking photo you’ll want to keep everyone’s height at relatively the same level, within a couple of feet. So this may mean you have some orchestration tasks. Look for places with stairs, and stagger the shorter ones towards the back and the taller in the front. Alternatively, have the taller ones kneel down or sit on a chair, bench or prop that can hold their weight. And if you have enough trust, have an older sibling hoist the younger one atop her shoulders. If there’s a climbing tree nearby, this too offers some height assistance while adding some fun, just beware of potential “hot spots” and heavy shadowing.
7) Color Play
Notice the colors that your kids are wearing. What are the dominant and accent colors? Now take a look at your surroundings. When searching for a location, good lighting is important, but so is color. Be on the lookout for an area that would enhance the dominant color in your child’s outfit. Another option is to play on the accent colors. Perhaps it’s small yellow flower on their shirt and you happen to be by a yellow wall, this will really make the accent colors pop more in your photo and create a balanced and interesting photo.
Keeping the background simple keeps the focus on what’s important – her!
8) Busy Backgrounds
Of course you want your photo to focus on your kid, right?! So lets take out any distracting or busy backgrounds. Simply put, keep the background simple, avoid multiple colors and shapes that may distract from your subject. If a busy background can’t be avoided, try switching out your lens and shooting from far off so that your depth of field is altered and all background noise become blobs of color, adding value to your photograph rather than becoming a distraction.
Remember the days when mom and dad used to make you wear matching colors for your family portrait? Remember how much you hated it? Well, don’t do the same to your kids. Have some mercy. Instead try this: Have them pick out an outfit of their choosing, with the only rule is that the outfit be solid colors. No stripes, polka dots, designs, logos, etc. Instead, go for texture clothing- corduroys, lace, satins, you get the picture. This way your photograph won’t be too loud and it will make it easier to find a suitable background.
Jazz up a photo with some accessories. A purse, a hat, scarfs, headbands, bandanas, gloves. These are all great ways to jazz up your portrait, plus they can be used to help create more playful shots too.
Have any tips on how you take amazing photos of your kids? We’d love to hear from you!