Wednesday, November 23, 2011

5 Tips to Great Kids Photos for the Holidays

Great kids photos are not easy! Taking great holiday photos of our kids while cooking, wrapping gifts and entertaining friends and family may seem overwhelming but with these 5 tips you won't give in to the chaos and not take out your camera. Everyone else can use their camera phones but I beg you not to rely on the camera phone when taking photos of your family and sharing them (either via internet or prints) has never been easier and more fun.
Let's start with the camera you have and some easy tips on how to improve your photos now.

  • Tip 1 - capture a moment, no posing!
The holidays are a great time to take photos in your own home. You can do this in front of your Christmas tree, at the dinner table or for that matter on the couch! These are places where your family are interacting with each other, building memories and laying the foundation for fabulous photos - so sneak in - tell them to ignore you (for now) and start shooting. Look about what's behind them, do you want it in your photo? No? then zoom in and get close and focus on the eyes. If you would like to include the background then take a step back, look at the picture you are going to take - wait for that special'll feel it...and take your photo.
holiday tip photo 1

The above photo is Bodie's Grandma K sitting in the rocking chair with natural light coming in from the livingroom windows. Grandma is enjoying her time with Bodie and look at that - there's our Christmas tree in the background! By framing the photo with our Christmas tree behind them, I am able to shoot a great holiday photo of Bodie and his Grandma on his first Christmas!
Below is another photo taken later in the day with Grandma K and Bodie in their same spot. Notice how distracting everything is? It was taken at night with a point-and-shoot camera - with flash. Everything is cluttered and flat. It's not a horrible photo but it doesn't bring the same feeling to it as the one above. This folks, is how most of my photos looked years ago - before I started learning about what makes a great family photo!

  • Tip 2 - get close
holiday tip photo 2
By going over Grandma's shoulder and shooting Bodie while he is sleeping, I get a sense of just how perfect he is - especially when sleeping! At Christmas he was just under two months and still slept most of the time but this photo not only shows him as he is, it shows him how loved he is - nestled all comfy cozy in Grandma's arms.
  • Tip 3 - use natural lighting
great kid photo holiday tip 3
I have a large window facing south that casts soft light into the livingroom. By positioning myself at the window and asking Dad to take a quick photo I was able to get a nice warm photo of me and Bodie. I try not to take posed photos and go for more organic pictures - but sometimes it's not about taking a great photo - it's about Mom getting in the picture.
  • Tip 4 - you don't need to fill the frame
Sometimes not having lots in a photo can make it spectacular.
I used a boppy pillow, added a quilt and put it on a coffee table that I moved to my window. On the tv I draped a piece of large fabric I picked up on sale and used that as a backdrop. After all doing that, dropping Bodie onto the pillow and taking the photo was easy!!!! Really the hardest part was getting out and getting the fabric - the photo session lasted 5 minutes!
  • Tip 5 - open up the lens/use portrait mode on your camera
If you have a point and shoot camera there should be a portrait option which you should use often. This allows for the focus of your photo to fall on your subject and objects in your background appear soft, creating a much more appealing image to the eye. If you are using a dslr, open up your aperture as far as you can (the lower the number the less amount of focus in the photo), focus on the eyes and take your photo. Start with using auto focus and keep your subject in that focus spot whether the focus spot is in the center or to the side (you can switch focus spots on your camera, please read your manuals). In the above photo, Bodie is in focus but the poinsettia that placed behind him is out of focus, creating a soft red background.

With all the choices of cameras, photo editing software and printing options it can be overwhelming! In future posts I will address how I improved my eye, went from a point-and-shoot to a Canon DSLR (digital single reflex system) camera and started using Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop to improve my images.
For our Christmas card last year I chose 3 images - this was the middle image and shows Bodie coming out to take on the world!
I hope these tips to great kids holiday photos inspire you to break out your camera and start taking photos! Happy Holidays!