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Photographing Children: Capturing Images of Kids
Take Good Quality Photographs of Your Children
You do not need to invest in an expensive camera or accessories to capture priceless images of your children. Cameras less than $100 can produce prints of excellent quality that you will be proud to share, particularly if you keep the following tips in mind when composing your shots. This article is written with digital cameras in mind, although some purists may still choose to use SLR (single lens reflex) film cameras.
"Photography" is a term that is roughly translated from the Greek phrase "light drawing." Before the advent of automatic digital cameras, photographers had to put a lot of thought into lighting and the adjustment of aperture and shutter speeds. The aperture is the size of the opening in the lens which allows more or less light in to expose the film in a given amount of time (e.g. f/1.4 is a wide amount of light and f/16 is a very small amount of light).
Today's sophisticated cameras, including many point-and-shoot models, allow people to produce sharp, technically correct photographs because the cameras "think" for the photographer. Auto-focus should be a standard feature on new cameras. Composition, on the other hand, requires some thought. The cameras cannot tell you how to position your subjects for the best possible shots.
All images in this Hub are the property of the author, Stephanie Hicks. Please contact me for permission to reprint or republish.
Zoom in Close When Photographing Children
Fill the frame with the face of your child for a striking photograph. Oftentimes, distracting, cluttering background takes away the effect of an otherwise decent photo. You need not set up a studio to have the focus be on your child. Outdoor settings can work well, as can close-up shots taken of infants on beds (mussed-up sheets are OK - try a few photos of baby in his or her diaper alone).
The children in the photo at the above right are seated before a dark fireplace. The background works because there is nothing else to compete with their images. All you see are the kids and their smiles! Taken from farther away, you would see more of the room, and the photo would lose its impact. Or, if the photograph was taken in a different location, say, in a cluttered playroom, a similar poor effect may result.
Minimize the Background When Taking Photographs of Kids
Along with the above tip, minimizing "information" in the background allows for more focus to be on the subject of the photograph. However, there are times, when it helps to have background included in the photograph.
For example, a birthday party, sporting event, or nature walk. Framing your subject so that the background is not cluttering, however, may be a trick. As shown below, the subject has just finished an early morning swim. Other swimmers are in the background, on a dock, and far enough away so that the focus is clearly on the photo's subject. The lake, mountains and sky complete the scene.
Once again, you should try to fill most of the frame with your subject, while allowing the background information to fill in around the edges. Take several shots and see what works best.
Experiment with Angles and Viewpoints When Taking Photographs of Children
In taking photographs of children, I have noticed so many adults standing at their full height pointing and clicking at subjects so much smaller than them. Adjusting your viewpoint to your subject's level can provide a better perspective.
Alternatively, looking straight down on a baby from a bird's eye angle will be a unique shot. Experiment with different camera levels and have some fun! Your kids will appreciate the end results, as well.
Another tip: Don't forget that your children are also beautiful from the side and the back! You need not take all photographs of smiling faces. Profiles, even back views (think of your child running along a garden path) are precious and priceless.
Use the Rule of Thirds When Taking Photographs of Your Children
If you wish to place your subject off-center, use the "rule of thirds" guideline for placement. This rule has been used by painters for many years, and is thought to be the way to create a balanced picture. In your mind create a "tic tac toe" graph over the frame in which you are thinking of creating your photograph: two vertical lines and two horizontal lines. Your subject should be placed at one of the two intersecting points. Many people believe that this positioning is more aesthetically pleasing than a perfectly centered subject.
If you are going to be taking a close-up, the subject's eye should be at one of the top two intersecting points in the frame.
See the photo below for an example of the Rule of Thirds:
Stabilize the Camera Before Photographing Children
To sharpen your images, use a tripod. These are not just reserved for large, fancy cameras. Even if your camera has stabilization features, you should try a before and after shot - with and without a tripod. Point and shoot cameras can be outfitted with tripods, as well.
If you wish to save money, however, you can have sharper photos by tucking in your elbows towards your chest before pressing the shutter release. You can also stabilize your body against a wall, or use a countertop to minimize shake. These techniques are especially important when using an SLR camera with a larger lens, and/or when shooting in low light.
Edit Digital Proofs of Your Photographs
What did we do 15-20 years ago when all we could do with a rotten shot was to take the film in, have it developed and then throw away the blurry, off-centered, poorly framed photographs? Today, even if your first try at framing your photographs didn't quite pan out, you can edit digital photographs online, with your own software, or even at drugstore counters! I won't go through the mechanics of downloading your images from your digital cards onto your computer and then uploading them to certain sites, like www.shutterfly.com, but suffice it to say, its very simple.
Once you have your images on your computer and you are ready to edit, you can adjust cropping, take out red eye and change from color to black and white, or sepia tone. More advanced software will allow you to adjust color saturation, brightness, take out shadows, and even whiten teeth!
So, improve upon your composition and you can take care of some of the other details in the editing process. Above all, take lots of pictures and have fun!
© 2008 Stephanie Hicks