Posted in Amish & Pennsylvania Lifestyles

Tips for photographing your children or grandchildren

The first advice I give to persons who want to improve their pictures of their children or grandchildren is: find the flash control and turn it off. Flash gives you a very flat picture and destroys interesting light patterns as well as rendering the background too dark. Natural light will make a much more interesting photograph. It will appear true and real as the actual situation.

However, be aware that making the picture without flash requires that you hold the camera absolutely still. You achieve this by tucking your arms against you body as you are making the photo. Also, you will need to make multiple exposures (click the shutter several times for the same scene). If you are indoors with minimal light some of the exposures may show blurred action (because the flash is not stopping the movement). If you have several exposures you will find one that is sharp. Keep that one and delete the others. These actions do not come naturally so you will need to practice them before you are with the children.

Here are ten additional tips:

1.  Keep your camera out of the case and ready when you are with children. If you are playing with them, lay the camera beside you or keep it in one hand. The more you have the camera near, the more accustomed to the camera the child will become so that you can make pictures without interrupting play.

2.  Indoors be aware of where the light is coming from–the window, a lamp, for example. Situate yourself so that when the child is facing you he or she will be looking toward the light. This will maximize the natural light and keep your photo correctly exposed.

3.  Play or talk with the child even while you are holding the camera up to make a picture. Avoid asking the child to look at the camera. Avoid telling them that now you are going to make a picture. This will make natural pictures of real life activities.

4.  Look for the unusual special expression.  Be ready to click, click, click.

5.  Look for pictures that make a statement about the child’s growth, about their skill development.

6.  Be sure to have your camera at the ready (out of the case, in your hand or close to you) for special relationships. In my pictures note the one when Sofia’s Aunt has come to help with the care when her baby sister arrives home. Also, hand your camera to someone else so that they can make pictures of you playing with your child or grandchild. Note the picture of myself and my granddaughter Jamila when I handed the camera to my wife.

7.  Apply the same lighting principle to the outdoors. Be aware of where the light is coming from and try to situate yourself between the light and the child. Avoid pointing the camera toward a white sky or white background. (Unless you know how to use the “backlight” feature on your camera. when using the “backlight” feature,  camera will adjust for light coming from behind the child. When used this can make very interesting photos. See my close-up of Jamila with the light shining through her curls).

8.  Make pictures with your camera lens set on wide angle as well as on telephoto. I use the wide angle much more than the telephoto. But be sure to have close-ups of the child’s facial expressions. When you are using the telephoto for close-ups you do not need to concern yourself about white or sky backgrounds as the cameras meter will make a correct reading on the close-up face.

9.  Again, avoid asking the child to smile or look at you. They will smile and they will look at you. You only need to be patient and ready. Waiting instead of asking gives the message to the child that they are great just as they are. They don’t need to put on a front.

10. Learn to use the adjustments to exposure when you upload your photos to the computer or to a printing device–especially, the adjustment to make dark areas lighter. This actually changes the photo to be more as your eye sees. The digital image (like film) tends to make shadow (dark) areas of the photo darker than our eye sees them. Use the adjustments to improve the exposure and contrast. If the photo appears to be too dark you can often make it satisfactorily lighter with the adjustments.

Of the photos I have placed on this blog six of them would not be acceptable for commercial use because, if enlarged significantly they would be too “noisy”, but they would be good for 4 X 6 or 5 X 7 inch family album photos. Also, within those six are photographs which would not be useful for publication in a magazine, textbook or for advertising because they have product logos on them. However, for your family albums this is not a consideration. I want to clarify this for any professional photographers who hope to lease their images for commercial use. All of my children’s photos on my website are model released. For these photos of my grandchildren, I have made an arrangement with their parents that one-half of any fees I receive from their photographs will go into a college fund for them.

I have chosen the photos on this blog to illustrate the tips I have given.  Happy play and photography with your children and grandchildren!

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