Since I was a kid I’ve been fascinated with photography. I remember carrying around my Kodak point and shoot, back in the day before digital cameras were around. Probably before the idea had even been born.
Am I ageing myself? Probably. Oh well.
I always want to capture the type of photos you see in magazines. Sharp details. Vibrant colors. Dramatic moods and scenes. I wanted to grab an everlasting moment that would conjure up the same feelings, years later.
Somehow, at the tender age of 10 my photos never lived up to my expectations. Of course this was before the time of photo editing and Photoshop.
Over the years my photography and editing skills have greatly improved. At least I like to think so. I’m not an official expert, but I do know my way around a camera well enough to capture the moments that I want, in the way that I want. Manual mode is your friend, if your camera offers that option. Knowing your camera is only half the battle, though. A good camera is awesome, but not something that everyone has access to. Heck, sometimes I get the best pics right on my phone.
Nobody’s perfect. You know those beautifully posed photos of kids sitting peacefully, side by side, all with perfect smiles plastered to their faces? Yea, those aren’t real. At least they aren’t real in my experience. Go in with the attitude that they won’t be perfect, and you won’t be disappointed.
Capture personality. My son is the sassiest, poutiest, most handsome boy on the face of the planet. Nope, I’m not biased. Not at all. I love capturing all of these aspects of his personality. Those photos of kids sitting side by side, there’s no personality there. I need to see his true self, so I can remember exactly who he was at this age.
Get down on their level. When I have my camera attached at my hip, or more accurately, my face, I’m down on the floor, amongst the dust bunnies and dog fur. Yes, I may need to vacuum more often. I’m laying on my belly, I’m on my knees, or I’m sprawled out across the floor, so I can capture life from my son’s view point. It’s amazing what you see when you get down on their level. Also, who wants to see the top of your kid’s head in every photo? Not me.
Pay attention to your surroundings. Yeah, the kids are the main focus. Obviously. But what’s going on in the background? Is the TV on? Turn it off; you really don’t need that episode of the Ellen show stealing the thunder from your kid. Really, you don’t. Try changing locations to hide the pile of laundry on the couch (what, is that only at my house?). Back up, get closer, see how it changes the background, and ultimately, the focus of your photos.
Give it time. The second I reach for my camera, or my phone, my son is all wide-eyed full of whiny protests. “No-oooooo. Don’t take my picture.” I sigh, put on a fake sad face and put the camera down. Still within arms reach of course. Within minutes, he’s totally forgotten about it and I can casually, with stealthy ninja-like skills, retrieve the camera and snap off a few photos before he’s even noticed. More often than not, he just shrugs it off and lets me continue on. Sometimes, if I’m really lucky, he’ll even start to play along.
Bribery. I so badly wanted to get a photo of my son with his arms wrapped around my baby belly. But every time I would suggest it, or even simply bring out the camera, he would turn into the stubborn old man down the street: he was NOT going to do anything that I suggested. No. Matter. What. So, I bribed him. With leftover Easter candy and cookies. Not my proudest moment, but whatever, it worked, and I have the photos to prove it.
Edit, edit, edit. There are roughly a hundred million ways to edit photos. Adobe Photoshop is purely amazing, but a bit on the pricey side, especially if you are only using it for editing home photos. Adobe Photoshop Elements is a more reasonable option without all of the bells and whistles. But, say you want something, I don’t know, free. You still have plenty of choices. Picasa is of course the first one that comes to mind, along with Picknik (which also has premium, paid options as well).
Do you have any tricks for capturing the best photos of your kids?