Friday, November 4, 2011

The One With the Mommy Photography Tips

This post could also be called, "Confessions of a Mommy Photographer" because I'm going to admit that I am certainly no professional, and a lot of my pictures are the result of trial and error, and a lot of learning from mistakes. But, I have been receiving several compliments and inquiries regarding my pictures of the girls (and I am SO flattered!). So, I wanted to compile some tips and suggestions for all the mommies out there who want to take great pictures of their kids. While I don't claim to know everything, these are a few of the things that have worked for me.

Let's focus today on portraits. These are not action shots, but staged or somewhat-staged photographs. In other words, I contemplate what, where and how I'm going to take the picture before I do. Whether you have a DSLR, a point-and-shoot, or a phone camera, these tips can help you get better shots.
1. Get good lighting. Get outside whenever possible. If you are taking pictures indoors, which is likely, especially if your kids are very young, open up! Open up your curtains and blinds. Put your kids next to the light source. Find a favorite place and stick to it. I often photograph the girls in the living room where I can use our big picture window as a light source. Or on the bed in our bedroom because we have a lot of windows in there, too.
   Avoid using your flash whenever possible, and instead opt for turning on as many lights as possible.
   Photograph in rooms that are painted white or another bright color that reflects instead of absorbs light.
   (If you do have to use your flash, step back from your subject and zoom in. Get the flash as far away from your child as possible so that it doesn't wash out the colors in their beautiful face.)
This picture of Liam was taken while he was sleeping in his bassinet outside a big window,
the main light source in the room.
Putting a white blanket behind your child can help to reflect some light, as well
as reduce "background noise" in your photo. 

2. Keep snapping. As an amateur I don't have a lot of experience with correct lighting and positioning and such, and then throw in temperamental babies and I've got a problem. I snap many, many pictures to end up with a just a few keepers. But that's ok! It's the beauty of digital. If you've got some wigglers on your hands, or just an average toddler, it is going to take some effort to get good shots. 
In all honesty, it probably took at least 50 shots to get one where both of the girls were
cooperating. The more babies you add, the more pictures it is going to take to get a good one.
3. Steady yourself. A lot of blurriness happens when you're chasing around rambunctious children. Don't add to the blurriness yourself by having an unsteady hand. Hold you camera with both hands, and if possible, lean against a wall or a counter or something to steady your body.
4. Open up your aperture. If you have a DSLR I would recommend a lens like the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 lens. It allows your aperture to open up really big (f1.8) so that you can get a ton of light in your picture. Of course, you have to mess with your shutter speed so you don't get too much light. If you just have your standard lens, practice with decreasing your shutter speed and increasing you ISO in the manual settings.
    If you don't have a DSLR, most digital cameras come with several different settings. Play around with your camera and get to know it. Try photographing an inanimate object in your living room in the afternoon and mess around with the settings on your camera until you find one that allows you to capture lots of light.
This was taken in Olivia's room, which is not extremely well lit. I used my 50mm lens to
open up the aperture in order to get a soft, light picture.
5. Don't neglect post-production. I would love to say that all my shots are straight-out-of-camera and that I just naturally take these. But that's not true... not yet, anyway. Even if you don't have Photoshop or something fancy like that you can do a lot with just whatever picture editor came on your computer or with your camera. Try increasing the brightness and the contrast. For softer looking pictures, lower the saturation just a bit. If you do have Photoshop, play with the "Curves" under "Image - Adjustments" to get some more light in your picture.  
6. Finally, keep trying. At least for me, this hasn't been an overnight process. It takes practice and a lot of it. It takes looking up tutorials online (there are so many). And it takes time and patience to get better. 

Most importantly, though, give yourself a break. Your pictures don't have to be perfect to capture memories your children will treasure. Even pictures you snap on your phone are going to be special to them someday. So don't hold yourself to the impossible standards of professionals who happen to be able to take amazing pictures of their children every day.
 P.S. The following sites are some that I have used to gather tips and inspiration. I would recommend you check them out:
  • Katie Bower over at Bower Power has an adorable little boy she likes to photograph. She's got lots of tips and she's totally self-made!
  • The Pioneer Woman offers great little posts about all sorts of photography-related issues, including lighting, getting to know your camera, and post-production. She even has some awesome actions for Photoshop that I am a huge fan of!
Linked up at Crayon Freckles


    1. Thanks for the tips Michelle, they are all great! And you do take wonderful pictures of your children!

    2. Hey Michelle! Your girls are beautiful. :) We just got a DSLR and I am attempting to make sense of all that aperture/shutter speed/flash stuff. You sound like a pro!

      Regarding Sure Cuts a Lot: I have SCAL version 2 and they came out with a v3 that isn't supported by the Cricut. I would think you could still buy v2 somewhere, unless the reason v3 isn't supported by the Cricut it because Cricut didn't like that people no longer had to buy as many of the formal cartridges? I love the program especially for the fact that it can cut any font that I have on my computer, as opposed to buying individual cartridges with just one font on them.

      Hope that helps! Thanks so much for the visit yesterday! :)

    3. Such sweet pics and darling models! I'm your new GFC follower :) (I'd love for you to link these shots up at my photo linky party going on now!

      (ps - Be sure to check out my giveaway going on now too!)

    4. Thanks for linking up at "Life as this Mommy knows It"!!

      Oh, and don't forget to grab my linky button, showing others your linking up ;)

    5. great tips!! your photos are amazing! thanks for linking this up to last week's tip-toe thru tuesday party! i hope to see you again this week!

      andie @ crayonfreckles


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