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Photo Tips for Kids

>> Tuesday, October 11, 2011

This is the time of year I start going back through the photos I've taken since January and preparing my yearly photo books.  When I get my book done I'll show it to you, but I'm pretty far from completion at this point.

As I was going through my photos, I thought of a couple of tips to share.  Again,  I am far from an amazing photographer, but I do enjoy taking photos of my kids and learning how to make them better.

Tip #1:  Get close.  I notice that sometimes I get stuck in a rut of taking whole body shots that all end up looking similar.  Some of my favorite shots are the close-ups of my kids' faces.  When you compose your photo, remember a basic rule of composition called the rule of thirds.  Basically, you do not want your subject's eyes centered right in the middle of the photo.  Divide your photo into thirds, and place the eyes at the 1/3 mark (either horizontally or vertically) rather than the half.  I'll try to find some examples of that later, or you could google for lots of tutorials.  But the placement makes a huge difference in the shot.  Here are some close-ups.  I use a 25-70 mm lens and at 25 mm you do get some facial distortion (most notable in the first picture).  I personally like that look for this purpose, but for a more formal portrait it might not be desirable.

This one could benefit from a little cropping to bring his eyes up a little.  They're too centered here.
 Tip #2:  This is similar to my first tip, but for this one focus on things other than faces.  Toys, hands, feet, hats, zippers, boots,etc.  As I go back through some of these pictures I've taken, I'm amazed at how many memories about my child from that age come back to me by looking at the photo.  For example, this first picture -- my oldest son used to beg for cookie sheets full of snow to bring inside so he could drive trucks through it.  By snapping a picture of that it enables me to remember forever something I may not have otherwise.

And this one- we spent hours watching The Polar Express, driving his train, and listening to the Polar Express soundtrack.  He is out of that stage now, so it makes me smile to remember that.  And I'd forgotten how he used cotton balls to represent snow.
And although this one isn't the greatest quality, who doesn't love a monster truck bus driven by a toddler in pajamas with green marker on his chubby little thumb?

#3 - change your angle.  Experiment with different angles to make more interesting photos.  The following show my son in the same spot.  I just changed positions.

4- Be creative with your location.  I'm mixing snapshots and portraits in this post, so hopefully that isn't confusing.  With a snapshot, you are taking photos of life as it happens.  You're just capturing the memory.  Don't try to control what your subject is doing or where they're standing, don't ask them to smile, or even look at the camera.  Just focus on capturing the moment.  You can still change your angles, composition, play with your camera settings, etc.  Just don't try to pose your kids.  So this tip is for when you are trying to take a more posed portrait type picture.  I am planning another post on locations for photos, but since I had the above photo up I wanted to show this example.  In the version above, the background isn't so desirable at first glance.  But with cropping, the shape of the buildings disappear and you just get the pops of color.  I should add that technically, it is not a great photo because the junction of the concrete and base of the buildings forms a line that goes across the top of his head.  I am terrible about noticing those things sometimes, and other times I just don't really mind it.  Here's the same photo above but cropped and edited with more of a color pop,

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