By Karen Hendricks
Photographs are some of our most treasured possessions as parents, right? From sweet baby pictures to fun vacations photos; photos of Christmas celebrations and special holidays, to treasured photos of loved ones who have passed away… Photographs can instantly transport us to another place, another time, directly into a precious moment.
I feel extremely blessed that photography, one of my favorite hobbies, also intersects with my job. Over the years, between photography classes in college and practical “on the job” training, lots of tips picked up along the way translate better-composed, more meaningful family photos as well.
I’m happy to pass along a few of my favorite tips, but first let me dispel a myth. Okay, it’s probably more of a pet peeve! People often say, “Wow, your camera takes great pictures!” So let’s set the record straight: People take great pictures; not cameras. Yes, a good quality camera certainly helps… but training the eye behind the camera is even more important! Glad I got that off my chest… Now for four fab photography tips:
1. Look them in the eye. In other words, get on the same level as your child(ren). This is especially important when photographing young children. Yes, it means crouching down or getting on the floor and risking not being able to get up gracefully (I’m speaking from experience)… but if you remain standing and shoot downwards at children, they will appear out of proportion or distorted. Getting down on their level allows you to capture their sweet features in a more natural way.
2. Use natural lighting as much as possible. Skin tones, especially for children, look absolutely radiant when natural light is used as opposed to harsh lighting and the camera’s flash. Experiment and try turning your camera’s flash off if you feel there is enough natural light present. Your subjects will also thank you for not blinding them!
3. Try the “rule of thirds” whenever possible. Ok, this may take some training and getting used to if you’ve never used it before… but basically the rule of thirds divides your photo into nine imaginary blocks. The points of intersection are the places where your eyes naturally gravitate when looking at a photo. So, taking Photography 101 and applying it to your photos: Try to place your subjects (aka your family) at those intersections whenever possible for better-composed photos.
4. Candids are king. Keep your camera handy and capture spontaneous fun as it happens. Your photos do not always need to be staged (aka: “Look here and smile!”). Feel free to snap candid shots of your family in action, even if they are not looking directly at you. Sometimes these are the most priceless photos because your family’s expressions and emotions are genuine.
I hope these tips inspire you next time you are clicking with your camera! Feel free to share some of your tips and tricks, below, as well.