Here in Niagara, the weather has been absolutely beautiful - truly the perfect fall climate for amazing family photos. This is probably my busiest time of year for family sessions, and I LOVE FAMILY PHOTOGRAPHY! I love the energy children bring into a session, but I'll admit, I'm spent after a day of back-to-back mini sessions! It's work - fun work - but still work.
I know a few things about managing children during photos, since I have 4 kids of my own, currently ages 4-11. I don't always get it right, but I wanted to share some of my tips with you! My hope is that you'll take some of these and apply them to your own picture-taking...and/or realize when to hire a professional. (Even I have a hard time taking my own family Christmas card photos...and they never turn out like I want them to...as evidenced last year when I gave up - see previous blog post.)
There's alot more that goes into getting the best candid family shots, but these are my top 5 tips that I use all the time:
1. THROW PERFECTION OUT THE WINDOW
Ask yourself if you really want that perfectly posed shot. If you do, it'll be worth your time/money to hire a professional. But even then, it's a good idea to redefine what makes a beautiful photo. In my opinion, the best family photos are the ones that show emotion and warmth. If you can keep the mood light and fun, the emotions you'll capture will most-likely be positive. Focus less on getting "the shot", and work towards maintaining a fun mood.
2. TIMING IS KEY
If you have small children, it might not be a good idea to plan photos during naptime, after a long day at school, or right before a meal. If you've been a parent for more than 30 minutes, you've probably gathered that strategy is key, especially when you have more than one child. Align your own stars by having snacks ready, choosing a time that is typically peaceful for your child, and plan ahead so you are not rushing the photos.
3. AVOID TRIGGER WORDS
The best family photos happen when the child forgets we're there to take pictures. Focus on having fun with your child, and put your photography ninja skills to work. Don't use phrases like, "look at the camera", or "smile for the picture". Many children are allergic to these words and will do the opposite when provoked with them. Instead, use phrases that pull their attention towards you, like, "Aaaaa! Is there a bug on me?" or, "Do I have something in my teeth? or, "What kinds of things do you see in the sky?". I always try to be a little goofy when I'm taking family photos, strike up conversation with the kids, and snap photos in between...all while subtly avoiding the fact that we're actually here for photos.
4. EYES ARE EVERYTHING
Never underestimate the power of the eyes in a photo. The entire photo can be so-so, but if the eyes are crisp...and showing emotion...that's a win. Keep focused on the eyes, especially when they are looking at the camera.
5. KEEP SHOOTING
Once your settings are good, and you have the child where you want them, take multiple photos. During a typical family session, I expect to shoot about double the amount of photos that I would on an individual portrait session. Kids are quick, and that adorable moment may only be seconds long. And the fact is, kids never repeat the same moment twice during a session. Especially if you try to recreate it. So you have to calculate, and then shoot more frames than you think you'll need of that one particular scene.
I hope this has been helpful! You can get beautiful candid family shots this fall if you do a little planning and alot of letting go! :)
I think it's safe to say I have the most gorgeous friends.
I mean, this girl is a light in my life. She's beautiful on the inside, and obviously, the outside is a reflection of that. Christina is a writer, musician, mother of 2 amazing little boys and wife of a talented musician and entrepreneur, Joel.
We became friends while working on a business project together, and now I can't imagine not having her in my life. We always pick up where we left off, and she never judges me for not "having it together". I just love her and her incredible smile and love for life.
Maybe you've seen my updates about recent photography workshops and you're wondering,
"But...people hire her to take their pictures. Why would she teach them to take their own?"
That's a really great question. It's definitely one that I asked myself before I started teaching workshops.
And here are some of the reasons why I get so excited about teaching this workshop:
1) I believe everyone should know how to take beautiful photos.
Everyone deserves to have photos of their childhood - photos that show the essence of the moment - photos that are properly exposed and composed - photos they would be proud to have in their wedding slideshow someday. I like looking through old photos, but I love stumbling upon an old photo that was obviously taken with skill and intention.
2) You spent money on a nice camera, you should know how to use it!
Many of you bought that nice camera thinking great shots will just pop out of it automatically (not you, of course...I'm talking to that other person reading this). Many of you have a budding passion for photography that needs a little push in the right direction. You need someone to help you grasp the technical side or the artistic side (or both!). I am passionate about helping you maximize the camera you already have!
3) I can't be there to photograph every one of your milestones.
As much as I would love you to hire me to photograph every cute/new thing your baby does, let's face it, that's not practical. At all.
Hire me for the big stuff - family, milestones, maternity, birth and new baby, etc. - and take beautiful in-between photos on your own! Learn to take photos that you'd be proud to print big.
4) We should all "stop and smell the roses".
I lead a pretty active/full life, but I am constantly reminding myself to have a "slowed-down" view of the moments I experience. In this busy culture we live in, it's important to cultivate a gratitude for the simple things. It makes life richer. There is beauty everywhere, and everyone should know how to find it. Photography is one way to exercise that. Photography takes you out of the busy, and gets you on the ground looking at the ants, or paying attention to the way your child concentrates on their task. It's a simple thing you can do to help point your attention in the right direction.
So, those are some of the main reasons I get excited about teaching photography workshops. I know I get to help people do something they've maybe been wanting to do for a long time. I am grateful that I get to inspire them on their artistic journey.
This Spring I am so excited to offer 2 days of mini sessions in the beautiful Niagara region!
What are mini sessions, you ask?
Well, they are basically, small photo sessions clumped into one or two days, at a specific location.
What's the benefit to you?
- 30 minute, quick sessions
- 10 beautiful images on usb, with permission for unlimited printing
- free 8x10 print of your choice (!)
- cost efficient
These sessions will take place on:
Friday, May 15th at Jaycee Gardens (St. Catharines)
Saturday, May 16th at Charles Daley Park
If this excites you, contact me to book right away to get your preferred timeslot! Spots will fill up QUICK!