photo tips

There are a few "frequently asked questions" that I get on this blog, and in e-mails pertaining to the blog...and in phone calls.

And since I'm putting my new 2009 word to work, CHOOSING to totally limit time on the phone or on the computer, I figure it's better to answer the questions here rather than always e-mailing people back or figuring out their whole life history on their blogs when I return comments. I have the toughest time not being able to get back to people, especially when people write such nice things, but I have to simplify where ever I can.

So here goes: My Five Top Simple Tips for Capturing Kids (these are from that tv segment I did a while back...scroll down to see the place to push "play" to watch it if you want)

...and just a disclaimer: I definitely don't "know it all" about photography...I'm still learning more every time I pull my camera out...just sharing stuff that I've learned that people ask about.

1. Turn off the flash. Lighting is key in taking good pictures. If you look for beautiful light, you are almost bound to end up with beautiful pictures. Adding a flash is, in my opinion, a great recipe for messing that up. Flashes distort what could be beautiful. Sure, there are occasional times you must have night (if you don't have a high-enough ISO) or sometimes to use as a fill-flash. But as a general rule, get rid of that flash!

When I first started family photography I did it purely on my driveway in front of my garage. I know, that sounds very picturesque, right? But I promise it looked like studio lighting. I bought a black, king-sized flat sheet and hooked it up to the bottom of my open garage and shot away. Something about the light bouncing off the pavement with that backdrop created beautiful light.
And this one was on my back porch (which is north-facing, my personal favorite):
Porches or garages are great in the shade….again, the pavement creates a great reflector of beautiful sunlight to light up faces.

This one was on our front porch:

Open doorways (with you outside and your child/children looking out the door...great light). This one is right inside our back door:
Even though shady areas work great, don't limit yourself just to that. In the early morning or evening when the sun slants just so, there is gorgeous light to be found.
...and don't forget back-lighting:
If it's too hot outside (like it is most of the time where I live in the desert), you don't need to invest in expensive lighting equipment if you want to get good indoor shots. You just need to know where to look for the light. Almost every home has got some good lighting somewhere if you just look for it.

I utilize beautiful light inside my house wherever I have north-facing windows:(that's my bed in the background)

This is by my friend's north-facing window:
2. Composition. Get creative with it.

Get down on the ground:
Look down at subject from high above (try standing on a stool or chair):
Get closer. The closer we get, the more we really "see." Try getting so close you only capture half of the face. Get close-up and take pictures of toes, fingers, just a smile. You'll be so happy with the results.

3. Catch emotion....and relationshipsI also always asks kids to laugh instead of to smile. If you ask them to smile they undoubtedly make a super cheesy smile, and I'm not a huge fan of the cheese-ball smiles...unless it's totally "them" in which case, I love the cheesy ones.

Remember, subjects don’t always have to be smiling...
...or looking at the camera...
4. Capture the little things.

I think it's important for moms to remember to capture little things about kids whether it makes an artistic picture or not. I love this one of my Lucy because it epitomized her at that time in her life. With her bedrooom around her and her morning smile and her blanket there beside her that she HAD to have to sleep with every night. I want so much to remember all those little things. So I take pictures of them. I wish I had pictures of things like that from when I was growing up.

5. Always have a camera ready.

My big camera is too big to carry around all the time, (although sometimes I do feel like it's attached to my body), but I ALWAYS have a point-and-shoot in my purse that I can pull out when I have an opportune moment. It also videotapes which I love so I can capture things on the go. (My six-year-old has captured some masterpiece videos with it that we are going to love some day.) You don't need a bunch of fancy equipment.
I seriously LOVE this picture of my baby. Because that's how she sat every, single day in her high chair...legs crossed neatly over each other while the top half was certainly far from "neat." And I'm glad I had my camera right there to get it.

And this is one of my favorite pics. with my old camera...totally Claire. She always ran like that...with her tongue hanging out. And if I didn't have my camera ready I would have forgotten that.

Let's remember though, that I'm a little bit crazy when it comes to trying to capture every moment. I want to hold on to time a little too much sometimes.

But photography helps slow things down for me. And that makes me happy.