my {top 3} fail-proof tips for photographing children

Hi there! It’s been forever since I have posted anything.  Don’t know why, but I’ve been feeling creatively stagnant for a while.  Maybe it’s the long hours I’ve been working, or being locked up in a cubicle.  I don’t know.  It could be that our toddler takes up A LOT of our attention these days, as has our bathroom renovation.  It’s funny how you think a standard renovation would take 3 weeks.  I think ours is going on 6.  Well, we’re doing it ourselves (aka Derek is doing it himself), and we work.  Enough about that.

I want to talk about 2 topics that are near and dear to me: kids & taking photos.  I have a feeling that I’m going to sound like a snob here, and that’s OK.  When it comes to kids and photos, I kind of am a snob.  I don’t know.  I get so bored of seeing the standard pics parents take of their kids.  Little Johnny is riding his bike, or Sally Jo is playing with her Barbies and the parents say, “Look at me! Say cheese!!”

What you don’t see in these pictures is any personality or anything really interesting happening.  See, I sound like an ass hole.  Sorry.  But don’t get me wrong– I do it too. I put sunglasses on Ella and snap a picture of us making silly faces and post it on Instagram.  But as for the pics that I put on my walls (parents still do that, right?) or the ones that make it to my Shutterfly books, I want those to be special.  I want those photos to showcase my kid’s personality.  And the control freak that I am, I want all my friends to do the same. I’d like to share some simple strategies for taking better pictures of your children.

So, here is a picture I took of Ella while she was sleeping one day.  See what I mean? The typical Mom photo taken from too far away and from too high a vantage point.  There is so much going one here.  The first thing the eye sees might be the big green frog or the pink stuff in the background.  Maybe you see the mirror on the wall near the basket.  Your eyes are too busy scanning everything else to realize that it’s supposed to be a cute picture of our daughter sleeping. See how she’s washed out by everything else?  Yeah, no good.  There is really nothing cute about this picture.  Sorry, if I saw it on Facebook, I probably wouldn’t give it a “LIKE.”

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Tip #1: eliminate the background “noise” and get at your subject’s level.

See, now we’re getting somewhere.  I’ve captured her pretty pink lips, the silly sticker on her shirt, and most of all, her.  But, there was still something just not right.  That’s the beauty of digital photography–you can keep doing it until it’s right.

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Tip #2: adjust yourself to get a better shot and try to line up the area of interest to the left or right of the frame.

I moved my body slightly over to the right so I could get her face at a better angle.  She’s not all scrunched up.

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Tip #3: don’t be afraid of post-processing.  In other words, crop it! And have fun with some of the software out there.

I used the “Intrepid” filter on PicMonkey for this. And I cropped in on her face.  Now you can see the swipe of jelly on her cheek that was left over from lunch.  Woops, we forgot to clean her up before nap time.

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See what I’m saying?  A little personality in this shot and definitely wall or album worthy.

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Here’s another one I like.  I was a little off on my exposure, but I love the moment that I captured.  We had a make-it-yourself pizza night a while back.  Ella created her own using turkey pepperoni and this pic summed up her night.  Again, I could have shouted at her to “say cheese” but this moment is so much more real; much more genuine.

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Of course, if you don’t give a crap about taking better photos, my words will be lost on you.  That’s OK.  Thanks for toughing it out with me.  But these 3 tips work like a charm when you take any picture of almost any subject.  And you don’t have to have an expensive camera to take nice photos either.  I used a good old fashioned point and shoot for a long time before I upgraded.  Make sure it’s a passion before you spend the money.  And just like golf clubs, the more you spend doesn’t guarantee your success.  You have to practice.

So the next time you’re at the zoo, dog park, your own backyard, focus on getting the distracting elements out of the background (unless they need to be there), get at your subject’s level and maneuver yourself into a great shot.  Think about what exactly you’re trying to capture before snapping senselessly.  Trust me on this.  It takes time and some practice, but you’ll see the results immediately.

You can thank me later.  I’ll be here 😉

xoxo ~M

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