Children are among the most common subjects of photography. Family albums are filled with uncounted photographs of children taken over the decades and many of them are unfortunately forgettable to anyone but mom and dad. With pictures easier and cheaper to take now, parents still depend heavily on professionals.
Posing Children for Photography
Children do enough memorable things so that posing is often unnecessary. Have a digital camera ready and take frequent pictures. When a child is playing with a pet, for example, things can happen rapidly. Parents are advised to just keep taking pictures. Most will not be great but one or two might be.
Computers allow parents to keep the best and even improve them with cropping and adjustment of color and exposure. If a child needs to be posed with a memorable backdrop like Mount Rushmore, have them stand facing the mountain and point toward it to make it look more natural.
Avoid a posed appearance. Family albums can be terribly boring with picture after picture of children standing at attention in front of some natural wonder. Study pictures in magazines to get an idea of what the professionals do. Take pictures of children doing things. Modern cameras can freeze movement in most lighting conditions.
There is no longer a need to tell everyone to stand still and smile. As a matter of fact some of the best pictures can be taken when children don’t know parents are paying any attention.
Children at play or sleeping make great subjects. They tend to have pronounced features – especially eyes. Close-up shots that emphasize eyes wide open in surprise or delight are always winners.
Parents Should Take Pictures at a Child’s Level
Another common aspect of family albums is the appearance of small children staring up at the camera being held by an adult. Generally speaking, unless the photographer wants to emphasize some type of special perspective, it is best to stoop to the level of the child’s eyes.
Getting down to the child’s level might mean getting down on the floor. Great! Now the picture has a perspective that more accurately shows the world as a child sees it.
A Flash may or may not be Helpful
Part of learning how to use a digital camera involves knowing when to use its features. Flashes for typical amateur cameras are of little use beyond 10 to 20 feet.
Also, available lighting – no flash – can be more pleasing is many cases, as flash photography can cause harsh shadows or “red eye,” caused when the light from a flash bounces straight back to the camera after lighting up the blood rich capillaries in the eye.
Red eye is more likely to be a problem when the subject is looking directly into the lens. Flashes that can be elevated a couple of inches or more above the camera body can change the angle enough to eliminate the problem.
Sometimes there is enough available light being cast on the subject to provide suitable illumination while creating a dark background. Darkness preserves the reality of the scene and may emphasize pleasing feature.
For example, A Christmas tree loses its charm when the lights are washed away by the light of a flash. Try a silhouette of a child in the dark with the tree illuminated tree in the background.
Flashes are often helpful during bright daylight to fill in dark shadows on a face or to illuminate a subject standing in a shadow with a sunny area behind them.
Take Lots of Pictures
The price of flash memory cards for digital cameras has plummeted. Thousands of pictures can be stored temporarily on one card costing less than $15. There is no need to be stingy with pictures. Of course it is best to delete the bad shots and have photos made of the best.
Friends and relatives will appreciate a variety of interesting pictures rather than dozens of the same theme. For parents who can’t bear to delete any pictures, the good, the bad, and the ugly can all be cheaply burned onto a CD and kept forever and serve as backup files.
Learn Basic Functions of Photo Enhancing Software
There are many software programs available for editing pictures. Often a basic program will come with a digital camera. For the amateur functions that allow adjusting exposure, color, cropping, and red eye removal are generally sufficient.
Expensive editing programs are often too complex in purpose and operation for amateurs. Expensive, high quality cameras will likely have a complete editing program that might require some special knowledge. Fortunately, newer versions of Windows Office allow simple editing with Office Word, as well as templates for projects such as greeting cards.
Google offers a free download for Picasa, which is easy to use and performs the operations mentioned above as well as filing and sorting functions.
Digital photography has made taking family pictures easier and cheaper than ever. Children make great subjects and with a few tips parents can greatly enhance the quality of their family albums. The use of editing software is an almost essential skill to get the best pictures. Basic software is cheap or even free.