Month: November 2015

How to Get the Most out of Membership in Facebook Photography Groups

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You can’t avoid them. Photography Facebook communities are everywhere now. Most photographers belong to at least one. You don’t even get a choice – people just add you to groups, and before you know it your newsfeed is just one long stream of photography chatter. And, let’s face it, the quality varies!

Becoming an active member of a great Facebook group can be a fantastic source of inspiration, support, motivation and friendship. It can be a wonderful, life-enhancing experience. I have met true, like-minded friends via these groups over the years.

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I used to be a member of a zillion Facebook groups. I tried to engage with all of them before realizing that I was losing weeks of my life interacting with stuff that didn’t really add any value to my photography, or to my life in general. So, I made the decision to cull the groups that I didn’t get much from, and just removed myself without a second thought.

Out of the groups that remained, I chose just three in which to be active. These were the groups I felt strongly connected to. I had become a core member of each and truly enjoyed the people and the chats.

This left a small number of groups in which I decided to become a silent member. I didn’t feel a bond with the group, but I was still getting value from the content. Yes, in some groups, I am one of the lurkers.

I don’t contribute. I might click Like occasionally if I see something wonderful, but I don’t post, but I am not alone. In larger Facebook groups the majority of members are silent. However, you are looking and reading, this doesn’t make you any less important. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. I am admin for a fabulous Facebook group of learning photographers, and I often get private messages of thanks from members who have never once contributed to a thread. These lurkers are actually very important to me. I know they are quietly consuming the content in the background.

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But there is another type of member. They attempt to engage but others don’t respond. They post sporadically in different groups, get dejected, and sometimes even defensive when their posts do not get the engagement that other active members enjoy. No one commented. No one even pressed Like.

Some will grump in silence and decide never to post there again. Some are a little noisier about it…

It is human nature to feel this way. If we go to the effort of putting ourselves out there, then of course we hope for a positive response. When we don’t get one, we feel disappointed, or even rejected. They may think:

  • They are cliquey.
  • They are unfriendly.
  • They have not accepted me.

Sometimes stuff just gets missed. People are busy, posts get buried – that’s life. However, often the reason for the lack of response (or maybe the negative response) is much more to do with you than you might want to believe.

Let’s say you have found a photography Facebook group that you like. It just ‘fits’. You feel an affinity with the other members, the ethos of the group works for you and the content is pitched at your level. Maybe you have just joined or maybe you have been lurking for a while and now you would like to enter the fold.

How do you go about doing that? Especially in a well established group?

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I have seen many newbies join Facebook groups and become much-loved members within a few weeks. However, I have also seen others try, only to crash and burn. Here is what I have learned from those who manage to succeed.

1. Take your time. Don’t ask for something straight away.

I see this all the time. A newbie’s first ever post is asking for something from the other members. It might be a request for critique, or a question about a challenge they are having.

Asking for something at this point is not ideal. The other members don’t know you. They don’t feel compelled to help you yet. Not because they don’t like you, but because you haven’t given them a reason to want to help you.

So how do you make people want to help you?

2. Introduce yourself (but your life story isn’t necessary).

Tell everyone who you are, that you are glad to be there, and that you’re looking forward to getting involved. Don’t post an image. Don’t ask for anything at all.

Keep it short and sweet. No one wants to read a random stranger’s autobiography on their newsfeed, however interesting you may think it is.

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3. Give of yourself and watch it come back.

If you don’t take the time to respond to others, why would you expect them to respond to you?

Find images you genuinely like and compliment the photographer, or ask them a question about how they achieved it. Photographers love to be congratulated on their work and they enjoy talking about how it was created.

If there was a question posted that you know the answer to, then take some time to craft a response.

If you can identify with a challenge someone else is having, say so. Empathize. The person on the receiving end of your time will be grateful, and they will remember.

4. Engage selectively.

Don’t misinterpret number three above. I am not saying that you should hop onto every thread gushing about everyone’s images, answer every question, and agree with every statement. People-pleasers never win. Not only would other members see right through this, but you would also have no time left in the day for anything else.

Engage with posts which add value to the group and ignore the nonsense (there will be some). Be present in interesting discussions, and frame your responses with respect and intelligence.

You will be remembered.

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5. Reach out to like-minded individuals.

We live in a new world. A world where it is actually possible to have good friends you have never met in person. Making friends online can be similar to making friends the traditional way, in that we gravitate towards those we have something in common with.

Look for those people in the group. Maybe they have a similar style to you, or they seem to get your dry sense of humour. Perhaps, like you, they love to geek out on equipment specifications, or they are struggling with the same issues that you are.

Connect with them within the group at first (in a non-stalker way) then later send them a friend request.

6. When posting or commenting, consider motive, wording and tone.

So let’s say you have done everything in numbers 1-6 above. Now your fellow members are much more likely to respond positively to you! They have seen your name pop up for some time now, alongside your considered comments. Maybe they have even been on the receiving end of some of your genuine praise.

They still have to feel inclined to engage with you though. Your motive, wording and tone will all contribute to whether other members interact positively with you.

That, however, is a whole other article…

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Do you belong to a Facebook photography group? What makes you decide whether to become a part of that group, whether to remain a lurker or whether to leave?

The post How to Get the Most out of Membership in Facebook Photography Groups by Julie Christie appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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Categories: Digital

4 Tips for Connecting and Photographing Kids More Naturally

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We’ve all seen family photos where everyone is happy, kids are smiling, and the whole brood looks like they are having the time of their lives. Photos like this seem so natural that it’s easy to think they required almost no work at all, when in reality the photographer was likely working like crazy behind the scenes trying to get the perfect pictures.

Shooting photos of adults is one thing, but working with kids brings a whole new set of challenges to the table. Whereas adults generally take directions and respond to requests, kids can be running all over the place, and getting kids to cooperate can be a bit like trying to herd cats. If you have ever had an experience like this, or if you are thinking about getting into family photography, here are four tips for photographing kids that might come in handy.

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These usually help when I’m doing a family photo session, and if you struggle when taking pictures of kids, some of these tips might be just the ticket for that elusive perfect photo.

Get to know the children

Anyone who has spent time doing family photos already knows this rule, but I have seen plenty of photographers fail to get the shots they were aiming for, because they did not do this simple initial step. The first thing I do when taking family pictures is spend a few minutes getting to know the kids. I ask them what their names are, their age or year in school, and have them tell me a little bit about their lives. Ask them specific questions, otherwise you’ll get answers that are too general and unhelpful. “Do you have pets? What are their names? What’s your favorite kind of ice cream? What’s your favorite movie?”

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By learning a bit about these kids they felt more comfortable working with me and I got much better pictures as a result.

Don’t stop there though. Use these first few minutes as a chance to build a relationship with the kids, and tell them a bit about yourself too, so they see you as a friendly photographer, and not a scary adult with a giant camera lens. One trick to doing this is answering the questions you pose to them after they have had their turn. I like to get a little goofy and set a fun tone for the shoot by giving fake answers that usually make kids laugh. “I’ve got a pet iguana named Mr. Pickles. I like peanut butter and green bean ice cream.” You might feel a bit silly doing this, but it accomplishes two very important things:

  1. It helps establish a relationship and sense of trust between you and the kids, making them much more likely to cooperate during the rest of the session.
  2. It shows the parents that you care about their kids, which can make all the difference between a successful shoot, and a series of awkward moments that will haunt you for weeks.

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Have them bring something special

Once you have a foundation built with the little ones, it’s time to actually take some pictures. This can be a little difficult because kids aren’t used to doing things that you usually want them to do when taking photos. You might have a specific pose or composition in mind, but the kids would much rather be running around or climbing trees.

One of my favorite tricks is to have children bring artifacts from their own lives such as books, stuffed animals, or a favorite toy. Not only will it give them something on which to focus their attention during the photo shoot, but it gives you something you can talk about to build a good working relationship for your brief time together. Have them tell you a bit about their stuffed animal, ask if you can read a few pages from the book, or spend a minute playing with their toys together.

It may seem silly to have thousands of dollars of camera gear sitting idle while you and the kids are pretending to play house with stuffed bunnies, but think about the big picture (ha!) here: by doing this you are sowing the seeds for a successful session and impressing the adults at the same time. And that can be worth a lot when they call you for more pictures in the coming years.

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This boy’s grandfather told me this was his favorite photo of his grandson, partially because of the book which was a family favorite.

Take some information and twist it

One of my favorite tactics to get kids to smile and laugh, is taking something they already told me when I was getting to know them, and asking about it later on, but with a twist. I purposely get some basic facts incorrect.

If a little girl brought along her favorite toy truck, ask her about her airplane. “It’s not an airplane, it’s a truck!” she will often reply with a huge grin. If a boy told you he is five years old, ask him how he likes being seven. When he corrects you, tell him you’ve always been bad at math so you might keep forgetting.

My favorite trick is to make up my own words. A couple of kids brought their well-worn copy of the children’s classic Green Eggs and Ham, but when I talked with them about it I pronounced it Green Freggs and Fram. These little intentional screw-ups almost always make the kids laugh and smile, and it also gives them a chance to teach you something in return, which kids almost always like doing. Let them correct your mistake and show you how to do it properly, and they will start to feel like they have a true back-and-forth relationship instead of seeing you as just another adult bossing them around. In doing so you will find the kids to be much more cooperative when you really do have instructions for them to follow.

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Embrace the absurdity

As adults we have all too many inhibitions when it comes to expressing ourselves. We worry about what people will think, how our clothes look, and what everyone around us is doing, and as a result we generally don’t like to make waves, cause a ruckus, or deviate from the norm. Most kids have no such filters, and the results can make for some hectic and stressful photography sessions – if you let it. If you’re the kind of photographer who relishes control and order, perhaps photographing kids is not your particular cup of tea. If you can learn to accept the absurd serendipity of kids, you will not only get some better photos as a result, but you and your clients will have a much better time as a result.

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This girl was so bubbly that she rarely stood still, and by embracing her goofiness I got some pictures that her parents were thrilled with.

Rather than telling kids what to do and how to pose, let them just be themselves and capture pictures in the moment. Shots of them playing, goofing around, and jumping on each other might not be what you had in mind initially, but these are the kind of pictures parents, family, and friends often enjoy the most. If your clients do want some specific poses try to get them done first, and then let the kids have fun and loosen up a bit.

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“Mr. Ringsmuth, can we take some photos in a flower pot?” “Sure boys, why not?”

One point to remember is that you’re not just taking pictures but creating and capturing memories. Months down the road when clients show your photos to their friends and family, they will often discuss the photo session itself, and how you treated them and their kids. Even if your photos are stunning, your clients will often sour the moment with a bit of commentary about you as an individual. “Yeah this photo is nice but the guy who took it was such a jerk! He practically yelled at our kids to get them to smile.” You want them to be saying things like “We are so happy with the pictures, and our kids had such a fun time with the photographer. She really connected with them and made them laugh.” Not only are your clients more likely to appreciate their pictures, they will be more willing to book future sessions with you, and sing your praises to their acquaintance,s which will often lead to more customers.

What about you? What are your favorite tips and tricks for taking pictures of little ones? Share your thoughts in the comments below, along with any examples of your favorite kid photos.

The post 4 Tips for Connecting and Photographing Kids More Naturally by Simon Ringsmuth appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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Categories: Digital

Getting the Most Out of Each Portrait Location Spot

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Some photographers are very inefficient when it comes to shooting in a portrait location. They will take a photo here by this tree, then move over to another tree, then by the pathway, and one at the rock. Then they can’t figure out where to shoot next, because they’ve already used every “backdrop” they can see in that area, and they only have a handful of shots to show for their efforts.

I’d like to share a few tips with you for using your locations fully and completely, without leaving any leaf, tree, stone, or pose unturned. You’ll speed up your sessions, and get a lot more useable photos by adopting these habits.

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First, find a background that you like. Look for good light, elements that frame your subject, colors that complement, something to lean or sit on, etc. Once you’ve found a spot or background to start with, use it completely and quickly before you move on to a new spot.

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I’ve created a few lists that can help you remember all the ways that you can pose your subject(s), and use a background fully, before you move on. Use these ideas to create your own list that you can carry with you until “wearing each spot out completely” becomes second nature.

All subjects with any background

  • Standing
  • Seated
  • Smiling
  • Serious
  • Laughing
  • Looking away
  • Close-up
  • Far away
  • Portrait (vertical) orientation
  • Landscape (horizontal) orientation
  • Full body
  • Head shot
  • With a prop
  • Without a prop
  • Unexpected composition (such as subject on the very edge of the frame, subject centered right in the middle, etc.)

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Families, couples, or groups with any background

  • All looking at the camera  and smiling
  • Looking at each other
  • Hugging
  • Laughing
  • All sitting
  • All standing
  • Some sitting, some standing
  • Parents
  • Kids
  • Boys
  • Girls
  • Parent with child
  • Individual portraits of each family member
  • Couple hugging facing each other
  • Couple hugging, one behind the other
  • Holding hands
  • Walking towards you
  • Walking away from you

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Individual with trees or walls (something to lean against)

  • Shoulder leaning on a wall or tree
  • Back to the wall or tree, looking at the camera
  • Hand to the tree or wall
  • Head leaning on the tree or wall
  • Arms folded
  • Hands in pockets
  • Hand on hip
  • Sitting against the tree or wall
  • Any of the above, looking away from camera
  • Funny/silly looking around tree or wall

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If you move quickly through each of these poses, your subject won’t feel like she’s stuck in one place forever, but you will have so many options to choose from when you are sorting through the photos later. You might not choose to edit every pose, in every location. But, you may find as you go through the photos later, that you really like the serious face in one location, and you really love the close-up in a different location. Shooting so many options in each location at that moment gives you that choice, instead of being stuck with the one and only option you thought of in that moment.

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Some of your photos may end up looking very similar to each other, but you may decide that you really like the full body pose better than the tighter shot. If you had only shot that location with a cropped pose, you wouldn’t have that option. Alternatively, if you don’t shoot a cropped-in pose at that time, youhave the option to crop it later, but you will lose photo quality by cropping it the file smaller.

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As you learn to use each location fully, you will find that you can get many more useable photos in much less time, with less effort, and in locations that you might not have even noticed before. One tree and one person could be one photo, or it could end up being a hundred photos if you are extremely creative and efficient.

Give yourself a challenge to figure out at least 10 different photos in one location spot, and share a couple of your favorites in the comments! I’d love to see what you come up with.

The post Getting the Most Out of Each Portrait Location Spot by Melinda Smith appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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Categories: Digital

5 Questions to Help You Make sure Your Photos are Safe Inside Lightroom

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Lightroom quiz lead image

New Lightroom users often get into trouble because of a lack of understanding as to how Lightroom works. Unfortunately the result of these misunderstandings is often that their precious photos are lost, either permanently or temporarily. When you are new to Lightroom it can help if you understand some basics about how Lightroom works to ensure that your precious photos are safe.

Here’s a quick five question quiz to see if your photos are safe in your hands.

Question 1: True or False?

Lightroom stores a copy of your photos for you. When you delete a photo from Lightroom even if you opt to delete it from disk, the original is still safe.

What happens when you select to Delete from Disk in Lightroom

Answer: False

Lightroom simply keeps an record of where your images are on your hard disk. It does not actually store any images. So, if you remove a photo from Lightroom, and when prompted select Delete from Disk, then then you’re deleting the original of that image. If that was your only copy you’ll have deleted that forever.

Question 2: True or False?

You have deleted all the photos from a folder inside Lightroom. This means that there are no photos left in that folder so it’s safe for you to open Finder or Windows Explorer and delete the folder itself.

Is an empty folder in Lightroom really empty?

Answer: False

Lightroom can only handle photo and video file formats. Even if you delete all the photos and videos from a folder in Lightroom there may still be other files in that folder that Lightroom can’t handle, such as PDF files, Microsoft Word, Excel and Quicken files. You cannot know that a folder is empty of files unless you check it by opening it in Finder or Windows Explorer.

Question 3: True or False?

Your photos are safe because every time you see a prompt to backup Lightroom you always click to do so.

Does Lightroom backup your photos when you select to Backup?

Answer: False

When you choose to backup upon exiting Lightroom, all you’re doing is backing up the Lightroom catalog, NOT your photos. Your photos are never backed up by Lightroom, so you will need to set up some other routine for backing up your image files. Also note that, in most cases, Lightroom saves the catalog backup on the same drive as the original catalog is stored so, if your drive crashes, you’ll lose the original catalog and all backups – so make sure you change it to save the backup on an external drive. (Note: you can only do this in the dialog box above when it pops up)

Question 4: True or False?

When you make changes to a file in Lightroom those changes are written to the file so, if you open the file in Bridge, Photoshop or some other graphics program you will see the image as it was edited in Lightroom

Are edits always saved to your Lightroom files

Answer: Not necessarily True

Whether or not the changes that you make to a photo in Lightroom are written to the photo files will depend on how your Lightroom preferences are configured. Choose Lightroom > Catalog Settings (Edit > Catalog Settings, on the PC) and select the Metadata tab. There are two settings of concern here: Include Develop settings in metadata inside JPEG, TIFF, PNG, and PSD files and Automatically write changes into XMP – for the edits you make in Lightroom to be written to the files themselves, both checkboxes should be checked.

Question 5: True or False?

You have moved or renamed some folders on your drive which contain photos. When you next open Lightroom you see that Lightroom can’t find those photos any longer. You must now reimport those photos into Lightroom.

how to resolve issues where you changed files outside Lightroom

Answer: False

When you move or rename folders outside Lightroom it is true that Lightroom will report the images as missing. However, instead of importing the images again, you simply need to tell Lightroom where the images now reside. To do this, click the exclamation mark icon, and choose Locate. Navigate to the folder that you renamed or moved, and select the image that matches the one that was missing (you need to find the exact image that was marked as missing). Click the image, and make sure that the Find nearby missing photos checkbox is checked, then click Select. The Lightroom catalog will be updated with the new location of the image and any other images that are in close proximity to it.

Note: You can also do this by right-clicking on a missing folder in the left panel of the Library module. Then navigate to find the entire folder and relink it to Lightroom.

In future, it is best to move images and folders, as well as rename folders, inside Lightroom. Changes such as this, that you make inside Lightroom, are written to your drive automatically. The benefit is that when Lightroom makes the changes, it always knows where your photos are, and won’t report them as being missing.

How did you do?

If you answered any of these questions incorrectly, your lack of understanding of how Lightroom works might be putting your photos at risk. Spending some time learning how Lightroom operates will help you keep your photos safe.

Now if you got all these questions right and if you are a Lightroom expert – what questions would you ask of a new user to help them keep their photos safe? We invite you to pose these as True/False questions – but remember, to help folks out – you should give them the answer, as well as pointing them in the direction of keeping their photos safe.

The post 5 Questions to Help You Make sure Your Photos are Safe Inside Lightroom by Helen Bradley appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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Categories: Digital

5 Tips for Photographing Your Own Children Stress-Free

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As a mother to three little ones, I can say without any doubt nor a moment’s hesitation, that my kids are my most difficult subject – ever. My usual tips and tricks with other families, simply do not work with my own kids, and I have to employ new strategies along with controlling my own emotions. So yes, I do fully understand, despite my profession, the despair and frustration many of you parents go through when capturing photos of your very own children.

But, fear not! Below are my top five tips for taking the stress out of photographing your own children.

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1. Prepare yourself mentally

Keep your expectations realistic so that even if only one photo comes out decent, you can consider the shoot a success!

2. Plan the photoshoot

Plan the shoot in advance – a long way in advance. The first step in planning is visualizing the photoshoot. Schedule the shoot in your diary. Do mental and physical preparations weeks before; raid the wardrobes to see what clothes the kids can wear, accessories they can use, what might you need to buy to add to the clothes if necessary. Decide which areas of your home you want to use for the shoot, and choose well-lit one, or if you are going to the local park plan the spot ahead of time. What toys and props, if any, can they play with that goes with the tone and colour of the shoot – for example favourite teddy, lego, craft sets, etc?

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3. Talk about it with your kids – also way in advance

Chat informally to your kids about it far in advance, so they know it is happening at some point, and will not be taken by surprise. Slip it in conversation casually like it’s no big deal (of course it’s a huge deal) and that you are going to have some fun during the photoshoot.

4. On the day of the shoot

Leverage novelty and adventure.

If doing the shoot in your garden or patio set it up nicely so it’s a novelty. Keep it a surprise too, so you can capture their excitement. Use a tent for example or some buntings or teepee. Or better yet, take them to your local park for a little adventure or picnic. The important thing is to make the photoshoot a special experience for them.

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De-clutter if doing the shoot in your home

Clear and prepare the areas you want them to sit in so they are free of clutter, and other objects you don’t want to be in the photos. Choose a spot with ample natural light, somewhere next to a window for example. Put some favourite toys in a bag nearby. Get your camera settings ready and put your camera to one side. Make a clear space where you want your child to sit, and a clear space for yourself as well. Take out one toy from the bag you have already prepared, and put it in the space for your child. Invite your child to play with it.

Look towards the light

Make sure your child is either facing the light, or that at least half of their face is in the light. Whatever camera you use, especially if you are not using manual mode, the more light there is – the less the chance of getting blurry photos. If you shoot in semi-automatic mode (such as Aperture or Shutter Priority), just make sure you set a minimum to your speed so that it’s fast enough, at 1/125th or higher to avoid blurry photos. You can also bump up your ISO to make your camera more sensitive to light. If you can change your aperture, change it to a low number (larger opening) such as f/3.5 or lower, so you let in more light and also get the blurry background effect.

Cheese…NOT!

It’s always nice to have a mixture of candid shots, and portraits, and your child need not smile at all. Steer clear of making them say “cheese”, as that almost always gets a fake-looking smile. Trying to get a genuine smile or laughter captured on camera isn’t always easy.

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With younger children five and under, singing their favourite tunes and rhymes work well. If you have someone with you, get them to do silly things like crazy dancing, making bunny ears with their fingers behind your head, playing peek-a-boo and making toys dance behind you to some silly singing. The noisier, the sillier, the crazier – the better.

With older kids, talking about things they find hilarious is the key. Get in close so you can capture those expressions, the gappy teeth, the precious look in your child’s eyes. Ask them about their favourite activities and things that they LOVE, and you see those eyes begin to sparkle as they start talking candidly.

Use flash or a reflector if shooting backlit

If you want to shoot with a backlit effect so that your child is facing away from the light, you will need to use a flash or a reflector, otherwise you will end up with a silhouette. If there is some clear profile of the face or outline, a silhouette could be a very nice photo too.

Direct your flash

If there is not much light available, turn your camera’s flash on, but stick a card around the flash so that it directs the flash somewhat sideways, rather than firing the flash straight on which flattens the face and creates harsh shadows under the chin and jawline. Directing the flash provides light and shade. Bouncing the flash upwards or backwards gives you a natural look, as you are just using the flash as a little fill-light.

Take time to play

Play a little game with your child, talk, cuddle, create a relaxed atmosphere. Take some photos while your child is playing with the toys you have prepared. Interact with your child so you get photos of your child looking at you, as well as looking away, which are great candid shots.

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Top tip: give your child an activity and make your child laugh. Be mindful of your child’s attention span.

The younger your child is, the shorter the attention span. Don’t offer all the toys at once. Stick to one area for a quick photoshoot, or if your child gets bored take the adventure into another spot nearby, and start fresh but keep that quick too.

If your child has had enough, it’s probably better to stop and continue another day. In my experience, the ages between one and three years are the most difficult time to get clear, sharp, and good photos of your own children. But don’t forget to take a snap or two of those pouts and long faces – the images may come in handy at their wedding reception many years down the line, as well as being a special memory.

5. Celebrate!

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Have some snacks and little treats ready so you can celebrate afterwards. Even if you only manage to get ONE decent photo, it’s always good to celebrate. It makes the photoshoot a positive experience and will work in your favour at your next photoshoot. If you ended up with nothing, still celebrate that you had some play, snuggle, and cuddle moments together.

If the shoot does not go well at all, well there is always a next time…

Do you have any photos of your kids, or some other tips and tricks that have worked well for you? Please share in the comments below.

 

The post 5 Tips for Photographing Your Own Children Stress-Free by Lily Sawyer appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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Categories: Digital

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