Okay moms, I'm FINALLY going to answer a question that I've been asked over and over and over again. You know the one...
HOW DO I TAKE BETTER PHOTOS OF MY KIDS?!
I'm not an expert on family photography by any means, but I have a few simple tips that I think can take anyone's photos up a notch. I promise they're easy :)
*A few quick notes about the photos you'll see in this post:
My little guy was in a good mood.
The camera was on the shelf.
And they were all taken in the span of two minutes.
These moments don't last long, you've got to take advantage of them.
First of all, you need to get yourself a better lens than the one that your camera came with. I'd recommend a 50mm lens where the f-number goes down to 1.8. If you don't know much about what that number means, that's okay. For now all you need to know is that the lower the number, the better quality of the glass. You can pay about $250 for a new one or about $150 on Kijiji.
Now, set your camera to a mode that's called "Aperture Priority." If you see a series of letters on the dial on top of your camera, they stand for:
"P" Aperture Priority
"S" Shutter Priority
When you're using your camera on Aperture Priority, you're ultimately controlling that f-number on your camera. You're telling the camera that you'd like to shoot with a low f-number, and that you'd like it to automatically fix the other settings so that the photo is properly lit.
Use the scroll wheel to set the f-number to 1.8. This will help you get that really soft looking depth of field that you see in professional photos. As you get more comfortable with shooting in Aperture Priority, you can try playing around with Manual mode.
Okay, that's the boring stuff.
If that is already sounding wayyyy advanced and you're freaked out,
don't worry. The next few tips are fool proof.
LEAVE YOUR CAMERA OUT
It's the simplest trick in my book. I try to leave my camera out and on my kitchen table, loaded with a memory card, so that I can pick it up and snap a photo on a moment's notice.
The hardest part for me as a professional photographer is to suspend the feeling that if it's not "shoot worthy," that it's not worth shooting. Sometimes the lighting isn't good, or Cooper has stuff on his face, or there's clutter in the background. Even if it's not a professional looking shot, it's a memory for our family and that's way more important.
GIVE THEM SOMETHING TO DO
Once Cooper was older than about 8 months, he didn't sit long for photos. In order to get some real photos of him I have to give him something to do. Sometimes it's a snack (see Cooper eating raisins, for example), sometimes I hand him a football and tell him to run towards me...
The less you make it feel like a shoot, the better their spirits will be. Cooper has never heard me ask him to smile for a photo. To get a photo of him smiling, I'm usually chasing him around the room or tickling him.
In my books, a smile is a bonus. My hope is always to capture him being "him." When I can capture little expressions that cross his face, or silly little mannerisms that he has developed, those are my favourite photos. Sometimes my goal is just to capture the craziness of his hair on that particular day. That's the good stuff...
DUMP YOUR PHOTOS OFTEN
I tend to take the photos off my card immediately after having shot them, so that I don't forget about it. But if that doesn't sound like your style, you should at least dump your photos onto your computer every month.
I save my photos in a folder on my desktop called "Personal Photos," labelled by month, ex. "2015-10." I load the photos into Lightroom, do a VERY quick edit on them (and if the lighting is REALLY bad and the clutter in the background is out of control, I turn them black and white) and export them in this format:
"2015-10-Cooper in two minutes-1"
I started saving my photos this way when Cooper was born and I'm so thankful I did. I actually went back and re-labelled all of our old photos based on the month, and now when I'm looking for Halloween photos from last year, I know exactly where to look.
DO SOMETHING WITH YOUR PHOTOS!
This is my favourite part :) At the end of every month I add a few more pages to my Blurb book. I work on it little by little so that by the end of the year it's ready to order. There's nothing more daunting than trying to remember what happened in January in December.
If you're going to have beautiful photos of your family, you might as well do something with them! These Blurb books are perhaps my favourite things ever.
I've always wanted to do a workshop with moms about taking better photos of their kids. This post was super generic and I feel like there are so many more things to share, so who knows...maybe that's on the horizon!
For now, I hope there's one or two things in here that will encourage some folks to pick up their cameras this week :) Happy shooting!