Written by: P&N February 10 2011
It's good to know some photography basics so that you can create wonderful mementos of your sweet subject's rapidly-changing first year and beyond.
Jennifer Gentry of Mesmerizing Moments Photography shares her tips on capturing practically perfect pictures every time.
Jennifer's tip #1:Focus, focus, focus
We all know what focus is, and it's pretty obvious and upsetting when we miss it, so I want to tell you a little bit about how it works, and ways to nail it every time! I recommend using auto focus with your camera. The technology in your camera and lenses is amazing, and with kids your camera will get that focus a lot faster than you think, so enjoy the technology and don't worry about twisting that focus ring! Now let's talk focus points. If you're note sure what I mean when I say focus points, I am talking about those little boxes that you see light up when you are looking through the viewfinder and focusing. They look something like this:
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All SLR (single-lens reflex) cameras have them and frequently these days even point and shoot cameras have them. Being able to change them is the beauty of an SLR, so if you own a point and shoot camera you'll need to look through your manual to find out if you can change them. If you can, perfect! Every camera is different, but you should have at least 5 points to choose from. If you don't know how to change them, read your manual to find out how. This is something simple and small, but having your camera set to “all points” can ruin a photo quicker than any other camera setting. Here's how: The camera will choose the point of focus for you. Cameras are smart, but the camera cannot read your mind, so telling it where you want the focus is the only way it knows where to focus. For example: What if you wanted a photo of your baby off to one side, but your camera chose a focus point that was off to the other side, in the background? Say it chose this red-circled focus point here because there was a bright leaf on the ground:
That would have ruined my photo, right? The leaf would have been the focus point, and the baby would have been blurry. I recommend learning how to change your focus points from your particular camera's manual, choosing one focus point, like the center one, and then change it as you see fit for different compositions. Placing the focus point you are using is entirely up to you. If you are taking a photo of a person, I recommend placing the focus point on their eye closest to the camera, but like I said, that is entirely an artistic option, so play around with it, and enjoy the awesomeness that is digital. You're not wasting a thing by practicing!
Jennifer's tip #2:Get down on their level
The best part of capturing your kids is capturing the little things, the day to day, the things that make your kids who they are. You want to tell a story with your photos. So enjoy yourself and play! Get down on their level. This is a big one, so remember it! I have shot many, many times from the ground on my belly. It truly makes a huge difference, so I know it is worth getting my shirt dirty. Shirts can be washed, but the shot cannot always be re-done! Getting the camera down to their height should be your #1 priority. So get down there with the kiddos, laugh, and have a great time!
Jennifer's tip #3: Come in for a close up
Get in closer … closer … CLOSER! This is a great way to make your subject pop, and create a great portrait. Otherwise it becomes just a snapshot with background clutter! When you are super close you catch every little feature of your cutie too, which is always nice to have. I love close up shots. They are always different and fun, so don't be afraid to cut off the top of a head here and there. 🙂
Jennifer's tip #4:See things from a different angle
Try new angles every chance you get! Squat down, lean over, look down at your subject, etc., and once you have the shot you want, take an extra 5 minutes to try and get different photos. Sometimes doing this will give you an even better shot. These also make great photos for storyboards and scrapbook pages, because they tell a story. Here is an example of two photos that were taken only seconds apart from each other, and nothing changed with the baby. I didn't move him an inch! I just stood up and shot him from above after I had gotten the first shot, which is the one mom had asked for.
You can see that by simply moving the camera, the photos became completely different. This is where the beauty of digital really comes in handy: Get your shot then take some extra time to try something you have never done before. You'll love it, I promise!
Jennifer's tip #5: Simplify
Make sure to simplify clothing, hair, location, clutter, props—the whole works! Having a lot of things in your photos can be distracting. The fan favorites are always the simple images. These are the ones people remember the longest, comment on the most, and the ones grandparents want copies of. So if you want to create one of those images for your wall, just remember to simplify! Choose a location that is monochromatic—some place with little to no contrast, somewhere your subject will pop! These places tend to look boring on their own, but that makes sense right? Then your child will be the wow factor! There are spots like this all over your home. When you want to take some special photos of little man in the bath, just clear away all the candles. If you want photos of your daughter playing in the playroom with a special toy, just take a few minutes to clear clutter behind her. It's a very small step for an end result you will love!
If you take away one thing from reading through this I want it to be “have fun.” Remember not to ask your kids to smile. Let them be themselves, and persuade them to smile naturally the best you can. When my little man was learning to count I would count with him from behind the camera. One would be spoken with a silly accent, two with a loud bing noise, three in a quiet stutter, and so on. It would crack him up every time! Every family has little fun silly things they do, so know what yours are, and use them to your advantage when you want to capture that cute little grin. You can always find me laughing behind the camera, and that is why I am so passionate about what I do, and truly enjoy it. I hope you've learned something new, and are excited to pull out your camera again. Happy shooting!
Want to learn even more? Leave a comment on this post before Monday, February 14, and you could win a spot in Mesmerizing Moments' Mom-tog online photography class!Class is once a week for one month, and will teach you more about aperture, shutter speed, compo
sition and more!To enter, tell us about one of the best photos you ever took.
UPDATE:Winner has been chosen!Thanks for participating!