Friday, July 27, 2007

Picture Perfect

I am so thankful that the Lord has gifted me with a love and passion for photography. It is sort of wacky because I often see things through the lens of a camera when I'm looking at an object, or landscape, or person. It is truly special to be a part of such tender and important moments in people's lives. I am often asked about tips on taking pictures of people.....namely children.

This is a pretty important thing that we as parents do in order to document our children's lives. Aside from all of the everyday snapshots, it is very easy to turn these moments into a photo session without your children even knowing it and walking away with amazing pictures that YOU took. I have had my fair share of taking pictures of kiddos. It is always interesting, never dull, and full of laughter.

Here are a few tips (some technical, some not-so-much) that I use to help you capture those special, fun, sweet, and hilarious moments.

1. Give them something to do.

It never ceases to amaze me that once a child clues in on the fact that the camera is watching them, they turn into a totally different creature.....some become weird, some become possessed, some become silent, some become angry.

Instead of making them sit perfectly still and silent beaming into the lens of your camera, give them a task. Tell them to touch a flower, blow bubbles, blow kisses, play peekaboo, hold hands with a sibling, etc. You almost have to coach them along the process and keep their little minds and hands occupied. I have taken some of the best pictures of children just playing on the playground. By doing something that keeps them occupied that they love doing, you will keep them focused on something other than the camera.

2. Catch them when they are the happiest.

Don't try to take pictures right before they are supposed to take their nap or if they are hungry. This makes for a complete disaster and lots of spankings!

There is one exception to the rule- newborns. I love taking pictures of newborns when they are sleeping!

3. The time of day is critical to taking good pictures.

I never do a photo shoot unless it is in the evening 1-2 hours before sunset. This is the optimal lighting situation for your pictures. Your pictures will have a rich color and good contrasts if you wait until the sun is lower.

If you attempt to take pictures in the broad daylight, chances are your children will have squinty eyes and lots of shadows all over the place. The colors of the pictures will be blown out and way over-exposed.

If the day is overcast with lots of clouds, you can take pictures any time. Clouds are our friends.

4. Invest in a really good, really fast camera.

If you are in the market for a good camera, invest in a camera that will allow you to capture moments right as they happen. Taking pictures of children is challenging enough. It helps to have a camera that is going to react as fast as your children are moving.

Digital SLRs are the way to go. They shoot just like a film camera, but you have the benefits of shooting digital. There are several really good ones out right now on the market. They tend to be a little more expensive than a point and shoot digital camera. But, are well worth it in the end.

5. Use natural light as often as possible.

Pictures that are taken outdoors or by lots of window light allow for the most natural looking setting. This will cut down on the 'deer in the headlights' look of your subjects and overexposing faces.

I still use my flash outside, but only as fill flash. Fill flash means that you are filling in the spaces on your subjects around their eyes, nose, mouth, and other areas that would typically cast shadows.

If you have ever noticed your pictures having an orange or blue glow to them, it is probably because of the lighting situation. Tungsten light (regular ole' light bulbs) casts an orange glow. Fluorescent light casts a blue glow. And besides, who wants a picture in fluorescent lighting anyways. Huh? I say down with the fluorescents.

6. Pay attention to your backgrounds.

Make sure that there is not anything distracting, wacky, or downright ugly in your background when taking pictures. You can also create some really cool effects by choosing neat backgrounds with textures and colors.

7. Know your camera!

There are lots of great cameras out there that will allow you to do lots of neat things with them. By knowing your camera and its capabilities, you will be able to switch modes really quickly and get the shots that you want while taking pictures of your children.

The best way to get to know your camera is to shoot with it as often as possible and venture out into the settings unknown. Try different settings instead of keeping it in Portrait mode (You know, the picture of the lady with the hat) or Auto all of the time.

8. Be creative!

Digital is so amazing and cost effective. It allows you to take a risk and be creative. If it works- YIPPY! If not- DELETE!

Instead of shooting everything while standing up, trying getting low to the ground or even laying on the ground. This works great when you are taking pictures of your kids because you are on their level.

Or you also get up in the air really high on a ladder or piece of playground equipment and shoot down with your children looking up at you. Don't be afraid to try various angles and heights.

Try to catch your kids in action by anticipating what their next move will be. This will help you get some great candid shots of them. And always be ready to snap away.

Here are some pictures of Kaylyn on the farm this week. You can tell I wasn't looking for a photo shoot by her hair being a mess! But, she was just too cute walking around in her cousin's rubber boots while we were doing our evening chores around the farm. I had to grab my camera and snap a few. At the end, there are some cute ones of KK and daddy!



Anonymous said...

Oh how I love my KK!!!I am so thankful to have such a talented photographer as my sister!!! Love you guys!

The Kramer Family said...

We will have plenty of pictures of that precious one you are about to have. I can't believe he/she will be here any minute......literally!

Love ya sis!

Hendrick Family said...

Hey! I recognize dem boots!!

What a beautiful girl...seriously...I think she is so gorgeous.

I love the ones of her and brother's looking TAN...and in love with his daughter...two very good things!

See you this Sunday night at the hiz-ous? I'm trying that cool French Toast...we'll have to eat it as dessert though...

I love my LOVELY family!!


Judy said...

What a cute family! I love the pics of KK in the mud...precious!
Love you,

Michelle said...

KK is beautiful - just beautiful!!


The Kramer Family said...

These boots have unleashed a whole new girl! Seriously. She goes tromping through tall grass, mud puddles, and just about anything.

They have given her the confidence to tackle anything and everything on the farm.

Pre-boots was a commical production with lots of tip toeing and prissy little steps. She did not like the grass touching her legs either and the minute she got overwhelmed with it, she would just stop in the middle of the pasture and scream for help.

Needless to say, we needed an INTERVENTION! She loved these boots so much, I knew we were going to have to eventually give them back. So, we went and bought her some of her very own baby blue rubber boots with ladybugs on them. They are too cute!

Ashton, thanks to you, my KK loves walking around on the farm. You will be receiving your boots shortly little man!

Hendrick Family said...

I can't wait to see the lady bug boots! So cute!

Ashton's legs look like fat butter ball boy legs in them...KK's look like beautiful girl funny how different boys and girls are!

Love those girls!


Sarah Shalley said...

I love the pic of the dirty hand prints on the BOOTY! PRICELESS!
Thanks for all the're always SO helpful to us all.

ps - KK's feature's are changing and I just met her a year ago! She's growing up FAST. When do you wanna do lunch?

The Kramer Family said...

Hi Sarah,

Thanks! Oh, I never answered your question about my lab. I use Full Color in Dallas to get my stuff printed. They are really fast and terrific. I've never had anything done there that I didn't like.

We need to do lunch soon! I can't wait to catch up.

Love ya,

shauna maness said...

PRECIOUS! i love the pis of KK an jason! he has got himself a tan! i guess that comes from farmin'!
love the photo tips, that is such a great idea!
beautiful wedding too!~
LYNSEY GIRL! Jesus has blessed you hasn't he???!!!
love you!

Anonymous said...

Lyns, no doubt that you have a little "Miss Hootapa" on your hands. What about that long waist and junk in the trunk of that KK. She is gorgeous. And, make sure that Jason doesn't end up with a farmer brown tan. He will have to take his shirt off when only the cows can see him. We don't need to cause a multiple car pile up from ladies rubber-necking.

You're the best.

Ryan Price said...

Great tips... I think that you should just start a blog with photo tips!!

I know what you're talking about when you said that you see everything though the eyes of a camera lens. I completely do the same thing. It's kinda a blessing and a curse.

Sarah Shalley said...

Love the Pottery Barn Kids lady. She's great! Can you tell that I'm infatuated with reading other people's blogs? I call it my "research". :) Love it! Jasmine Star is becoming a fave of mine.