I adore clicking photos of my little Meera. I love to catch her angles, snap her expressions and catch her in her candid moments on my camera. Yet, if I were to confess, I’d say that for every 20 clicks that I take of hers, only 2 are Facebook worthy. If you could see her, my beautiful, photogenic little girl; you’d know that the blame lands at my feet.
This is quite the same with the amateur-handling of my DSLR. As it is with my simple ‘point and shoot’ iPhone (where I am more of a selfie-professional).
Yet, when my 2-year old got her first encounter with lion cubs last week, only 3 of all the petting photos I took, made the cut. Only three met my own Instagram and Facebook sensibilities. That was a shame, a real shame. How many 2-year-olds can boast of these adventures? And how many parents can boast of having given their kids this exposure?
So I decided to do something about it and help some other moms like me in the process. Here’s are some tips given by professional photographers.
Don’t be afraid to shoot, shoot and shoot some more. Staying patient and taking as many pictures as possible is the key to success. Children are unpredictable and don’t keep still for long. Set a fast shutter speed and keep a patient head. chances are, you’ll be snapping the most magical photo, smack bang in the middle of the last 100 shot bout.
Use natural, indirect light when shooting your pictures. Also, shoot into the light if you can. Especially avoid dappled shade. Avoid facing your child into the sun or you are most likely to end up with a scrunched face and lowered eyelids. If shooting at midday or under the direct sun, head for a big tree or the side of a building.
Try to get your baby’s eyes completely in focus and the photos will tell their own story. Stand above your child if you want her eyes to be open for the photograph. Don't obsess over what the child is doing, rather, aim to capture who the child is. Embrace the moods, focus on the details and you’ll have a photo that you’ll be cherishing forever.
It is no good being a great photographer if you cannot get your subject to sit still long enough to get a half decent click. The trick is to distract the child with a visually-appealing prop. It could be a bright flower or an interesting toy. Use it to distract the child into stillness and add another interesting prop to your photo. Another way is to enlist the help of the father. Hand him the camera while you stand right behind him and call for your child’s attention. Or it could be vice versa. The second pair of helpful hands and eyes can do wonders for your photo.
Try to be creative in your photos and stop asking your kids to pose every time you want a pic. The novelty will wear off and you may have your children develop an aversion to photos. Keep them moving instead. The best photos are the ones that capture a child’s natural happiness and delight. While she’s facing, skipping, running or even watering the garden!
Colours and backgrounds can make or break your photos. A busy print can detract the focus from your child’s natural beauty and expression. Pale or faded colours fail to stand out and create an impression. A background that is dull and boring can take away the photo’s glamour quotient. A bright coloured outfit with a contrasting background can look amazing.
Long shots are beautiful, whether they are landscapes or portraits. They give you the creative freedom with choice of backgrounds and secondary elements. But close-ups are equally good, if not better. close-ups help you to capture all the little details. Hand movements, facial expressions, and character are better captures in close-ups. Especially with babies and toddlers, zoomed-in close-ups are absolute magic. These are the pics that will forever grace your frames.
A leading line is an easy path throughout your photo that makes it easy for the eyes to travel to your focal subject. They act as the link between the background, foreground and your subject. They add symmetry or patterns to an otherwise simple shot too.
Distractions detract from the real photos. Objects that attach to the subject do the same. For example, tree branches that form antlers over someone’s head! By being aware of your background, you can avoid most of these common mistakes.
If you own a DSLR, you are already on your way to the best frame-worthy Instagram photos. A few easy tips and you’ll be shooting like a pro.
Shutter speeds control the amount of time that light hits the camera’s sensor. Faster shutter speeds help to freeze a subject in motion. Slower shutter speeds are best for low light and night photography. You shouldn’t go lower than 1/125 (1 to 125th of a second) without flash. Go no lower than 1/80 (1 to 80th of a second) with flash, because going any lower can cause blurring.
Depth of field refers to the range of distances that are in focus within your photo. You need large f-stop to keep the little background and foreground objects in focus. A small f-stop value allows more focus on the subject and blurs the background. It is easy to set up your focal length as it is often printed right on the camera lens. The higher the f-stop, the smaller the aperture opening. This means better the focus on all the foreground and background objects.
Aperture is one of your three main camera settings. It controls the amount of light that reaches the sensor. For close-ups or pictures that contain one person, use high aperture. These pictures do not need as much light. For landscape photos or photos with more than one object, use low aperture. This lets the most light into the camera.
ISO settings are for light sensitivity. They determine how sensitive your image sensor is to the amount of light present. Your ISO affects the shutter speed and aperture setting and is very important for a good picture. Generally, the higher the ISO, the more the “noise” that affects your picture. When it is sunny, an ISO setting of 100 works well. A setting of around 400 works when it is overcast and light is poor. ISO 800 or more gives the best pictures when it is dusk and almost dark.
When clicking a photograph, check the split viewfinder. This is the one where the screen is divided into nine little blocks of three rows and three columns. Place all the focal elements of the picture on or near the intersection of these imaginary lines.
Move a little closer or zoom in on your object to create interesting crops. Of course you can do this cropping later, when you are editing your picture. But you run a risk of increased pixellation or loss definition when you do so then.
There is really no replacing a professional photographer. Especially when it comes to baby or newborn photography. Let’s face it, they have the experience, the right tools and the right props! But yes, they are expensive, as most professionals are. So if you want to add to your professional photographs, you can do so at home at lower costs and higher convenience. Here are some tips for that.
Baby close-ups are powerful! Close ups capture natural expressions up close and personal. When just your baby’s beautiful face fills up your frame you never have eyes for the props or the background.
Go creative with dressing up your babies. Whether it is a pumpkin outfit or a crocheted frock, make sure it's cute. Find the littlest wonder woman costume if you must. Play with different colours, styles, themes and fashions to up your pictures game.
Choose a place in your home with ample natural light and get about making it comfortable and cozy for your baby. Fluff it up with furs, add warm linen and plump up a few pillows. Choose blankets with different textures to add that extra ‘zing’ to your close-up pics.
Experiment with a few background if you must, but get the background right. Backgrounds can make or break your photos. Use soft tones in simple, single colour. Avoid chaotic, colourful and patterned backgrounds.
Shoot during mornings or evenings. There's better light and the baby is fresh and comfortable. Let soft light hit your baby’s face at a forty five degree angle. Harsh and direct light spoils pictures as well as expressions.
A baby’s eyes are very sensitive to light. A sudden flash of light can startle the baby at the very least and cause real damage to his sight at worst. Work with the shadows. Stay persistent and patient with natural light. Every few clicks you are sure to find the gem you seek.
Adobe Photoshop can be quite intimidating, especially for amateur photographers. But tutorial videos are available online on Youtube and learning is not as hard as it seems. Be sure to learn and use these tools. These help brighten photos, enhance the contrasts and colours and generally edit them to perfection. Try your hand at the black and white filters too. These pictures convey emotions better than anything else. Do not go overboard with these tools though. Stick to minimal filters, you baby doesn’t need them to look good!
Practice makes perfect. Keep practicing with your baby, after all, you’d never get a better subject. Grab your camera and click away, the most you click, the more your chances of getting a hit. Sometimes, all you need is a little bit of luck and timing.
Babies grow up way too fast. If you intend to do a newborn shoot, don’t procrastinate. The best time to get this done is within the first 10 days of your baby’s life. This is the time where you can get the best poses, since your baby will sleep comfortably through most of the shoot. Also, keep the duration of the shoot as short as possible by keeping all your props ready. Begin immediately after a feeding. You will have better luck keeping your child calm and peaceful through the shoot.
Don’t go overboard on experimenting with poses when shooting at home. Leave the complicated pictures and poses to the professionals. They know how to handle babies and how to get the best features and expressions out of them. When doing a shoot in a home setting always find poses and places where you can ensure the safety of your child.
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