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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Guest Blogger: Tracey Clark Shows You How To Take Great Pictures Of Your Kids

Hip Slope Mama asked Tracey Clark to contribute a few tips on how to take professional, artistic looking photographs of kids. Tracey is a talented photographer and a founding sister of Shutter Sisters. You are also welcome to get to know her via her blog Mother May I.

Taking pictures of our children is something we all do. Here are a few tips and tricks that will help you do it even better!

1. Try not to say “cheese”. When kids are asked to smile for the camera they tend to flash a big forced and fake smile. When taking photos of my kids I often will try to engage them in brief conversation. I will ask them something like, “Can you tell me about your favorite candy?” which almost always gets a genuine smile.

2. Turn off your flash. Often times with digital cameras you don’t need the flash to take a great picture. Try turning it off (you will have to learn how to do it on your camera and override the automatic flash-look at the manual) and see what happens. The beauty of digital cameras is you can experiment and see what you are getting as you shoot.

3. Change your perspective. Getting down low on their level can be a great way to capture a photo on their level. Or a fun thing to do is get really low and shoot up at them. You’ll get a whole different view point and background when you shoot up. Equally as interesting is shooting down at your subject. I often have my kids sit on the ground/grass/sand as I stand up and shoot down at them. It’s always adorable when they look up at the camera.

4. Don’t be afraid to use a simple photo editing tool on your computer. It doesn’t have to be Photoshop! Most software that comes with your digital camera has some kind of simple editing tool. I always add contrast to my photos. And it usually one takes one step to do. It makes for a more vibrant, fun photo. Again, it’s all about experimentation.

A nice, natural (unposed) shot of my daughter.

5. Let the kids move around. If you’ve got time to shoot, let your kids just go about their normal business of play and shoot pictures of them as they do so. Making the kids stand straight and still will always ruin the moment for a good picture. Often times, right before I shoot I will say something like, “Oh no! Is that a butterfly on my nose?” or something that will get them to look at me. Or I’ll start acting funny to make them laugh naturally.

6. Don’t be afraid to crop in close. Get close to your subject. Nothing is more frustrating than a great picture of your child with way too much background. Get a little closer than you’re used to. It usually helps. You can always use editing tools to crop in but it’s good to get into the habit of cropping as you shoot. It creates less work for later.

7. You don’t always have to have your kids look at you for a good photo. Taking pictures from the back or of their profiles can be a wonderful way to capture them in a photo. And they don’t have to be smiling all the time either. The less concerned you are about getting them to smile, the better your photos will be.

8. Have a good time! The less worried you are, the more fun you’ll have and when you’re relaxed about it, your kids will be too. Don’t pressure them. Photography is supposed to be fun. Just enjoy the process of getting the great shots and they will too.

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