Snapshots of children are the touchstone of lifelong memories. Making them good photos, and not just blackmail fodder for the teenage years, is easier than you may think. It does not take over-advanced photography skills or ridiculously expensive equipment to capture your little beast for posterity.
1. Go natural.
Turn off the flash and use ambient or sunlight to take better quality pictures of your children. Take morning photos in the sunniest room in the house. Stroll out to the yard or playground in the morning or early evening when the sun is providing very even, soft light.
Bright sunlight and on board flashes produce red eye and wash out skin tones. This handicap cannot be overcome with natural color film.
2. Get on their level.
Lie down on the floor, sit on the sidewalk or kneel down to get at your child’s eye level. This will produce the best candid shots, take away any posed look and decrease the number of shadows on your child’s face. This is the only way to shoot your four-legged children.
3. No horns.
Check out your background so when you do snap the shutter, you will not end up with a mailbox as your child’s hat. Whether you take a step to the side or move the activity altogether is solely a matter of preference. Do be mindful of the other things which can detract from your wondrous subject.
4. Leave it alone.
Do not retouch photos of your child. If you take away the scratch on her face from when she met your Aunt Gertrude’s Siamese cat or the proud bruise he earned learning to ride his two-wheeler the first time, you are taking away from your child. You should remember these times for everything that they are.
5. This is not the military.
Do not expect a 3-, 5- and 8-year-old to look at you, be still and smile all at the same time. Catch the little monsters in their natural habitat. The one who is looking to the left is the one you will always remember for his incorrigible, roving eye. A kiss on the cheek makes for a terrific shot.
6. Don’t wait for a holiday.
The best pictures are taken when your child is enjoying the task at hand. Bring your camera (and your ostrich plumed straw hat) to her tea party. In between the digging of the fox holes and G.I. Joe’s leading of the offensive against the army of Hot Wheels, grab a shot of the commander with dirt on his face and a shovel in his hand.
7. Pick up the pace…and some higher speed film.
Forget trying to make them sit still. Catch him at the top of the half pipe! Get her in profile, hair straight back in the swing! Add some action.
Life does not stand still. Neither should your memories of it!
What is your favorite picture you have taken of your children, two- or four-legged? Do you have some secrets for great kiddo pictures? What is your favorite film or are you all digital?
(c) Ann Marie Dwyer 2008-2012
All photographs (c) Ann Marie Dwyer 2010
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