1. Don’t say CHEESE (give them a task)
In many of my sessions you will RARELY see me say sit together and smile. If you have an older sibling, set them down where you want the photo and have the younger ones run to the siblings and hug them. Usually it’s fun and they run and hug their older sibling and laugh and when I call their names they are laughing AND looking at the camera. So the photos are so posed but more like everyday life. You can have them peek-a-boo around a tree (that is a great one that gives big smiles and laughs). Plus the tree or wall adds color or texture to your photos, and more of an artsy look. Younger kids think anything stinky is funny. Have them find the baby’s feet or bottom and pretend it’s stinky. I always like to get them into a conversation… about their favorite superhero. Then YOU take that superhero and have him doing something funny. Does Superman wear pink shoes? Nooooooooo, trust me, they think it’s hilarious. Simon says is the BEST as well. Have them jump, twirl and close their eyes, and when they open them do something funny. Just be silly. Telling young children to sit and smile or say cheese… fake smile alert.
2. Add props! (give them a task)
Bubbles, leaves, favorite books and stuffed animals. I never want to forget that my littlest had 5 lambies when she was little and how much she loved them. They are stained, and dirty and missing various eyes or ears, but still she snuggles up to them every night. Incorporate them into your photos. They will love to look back at those photos because they will remember what was important to them.
3. Use sports mode! (give them a task)
(The icon with the little guy running in your mode settings) It doesn’t mean they have to be playing sports. Sports mode is intended to capture them in motion. Essentially it increases the shutter speed so you can “freeze” them in action. Many times the camera will shoot in continuous shooting mode (take several pictures in a row). This mode will avoid blurry photos. If you have a DLSR, there is the same setting or you can bump up your shutter speed. (This is a great time to pull out your manual if you are not sure how to do this). Kids run, they play and they are movers, but these are the pictures that you will remember too.
4. Focus on the eyes! (give them a task)
If you look at some professional portraits, the eyes are what usually draws your attention and brings you into the photograph. These are from the catch lights! They make the eyes… and your photographs sparkle. Catch lights are a reflection of a light source. Here is where it gets tricky, but so rewarding. You always want to face your subject TOWARDS a light source, except in full sun. So what that means is face them towards a window, open door, the sky, a white wall, or if you are in a shady area look and see where the sun is and face them that way. Walk around the block with your camera and keep looking at your child’s eyes… when you see those beautiful reflective catch lights, look and see where the light is coming from. No catch lights will give you very dark eyes and you definitely don’t want that! If you do not have a light source, you can always use your flash. Flash tip for getting rid of the red eye or reducing that harsh “flash” light? Tape ½ a cotton ball over your flash, less if you have a point and shoot… it gives you beautiful diffused light for your photos.
BONUS TIP: Timing is everything! (give them a task)
If you are looking to take great pics of your kids, think about when they are best… are you excited about a photo session at the end of the day? After a long day of work… or for them… school, missed naps or missing you? Look for a time that they are well-rested and happiest. Usually for most people that I schedule sessions with, it’s in the morning. Always plan around THEIR schedules, not yours if you can, you will be so much happier with the end result.
ABOUT HEIDI WALTER: (give them a task)
I am a Southern California natural light photographer and specialize in newborns, children and families. I love to capture those little moments of everyday life to remember. I am strictly a natural light photographer, what is that? It means basically I travel on location and use whatever light is given at the place we are taking pictures. I use the sun, the shade, reflections, window lights, & doorways, always looking for that beautiful light.
YOU CAN FIND HEIDI’S AMAZING PHOTOGRAPHS AND MORE HERE: http://www.heidiwalterphotos.com/
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