Sunday, May 06, 2007

Shoot Your Own Child's Portrait

How to Work With, Not Against, a Kid's Rowdy Nature

Yes, you can take your own baby, toddler or child's portrait with your digital camera. It can be a challenge to get good pictures of such squirmy subjects, but it can be entertaining and worthwhile for everyone involved (even your child).

I’d like to give you some tips on photographing those little wonders in a way that will allow you and the children to have fun, all the while creating some great photographs and memories.

Get down to their level. Let the photo show the world from the child’s point of view. This also allows for even exposure from the flash on the child's face.

Consider taking "candids," which are non-posed photos. Candids always make great pictures when it comes to children. Don’t let them know that the camera is out. Just watch and wait for them to do something entertaining, which usually doesn’t take too long. This method also shows the child's personality (or a great tantrum shot can also be used as evidence when the future teenager claims they are so well-behaved you should buy that new car for them).

Portraits can sometimes be a grueling task even when photographing adults. Kids can be, well, kids. A couple of things you can do to hopefully help things go smoothly is to let the child pose the way they want. It's more comfortable for them, which in turn will make them happier. No one wants a portrait of their child staring daggers at the camera.

The more you can do before the actual shoot the better. Decide where you want the portraits to be set before you grab the child and the camera. Maybe there is a place your child likes to go. Does he or she have a favorite room in the house or place in the yard? What about a playground? If the child is happy and comfortable in the setting, that will help tremendously.

Do they have a favorite toy you can use as a prop? Maybe the family dog? Allow the child to take part in the building of the portrait. Like I said before, the photo will show what the subject feels and if the child starts to become bored and begins wandering physically or mentally, take a break and come back to it later.

Try to take photos when you will have good natural light. Repeatedly using a flash can make any kid (or adult) grumpy. Be sure you do not have your light source directly behind the child, or the kid will become a mere silhouette. For outdoor shooting, a slightly overcast day is better than noon-day bright sunshine (which creates unpleasant shadows).

Get rid of any clutter in the background, and try to let the child fill as much of the frame as possible. Don't be afraid to take several photos. One great aspect of the digital camera is you can easily delete bad ones, either on the camera itself or on your computer.

The number one tip is to have patience, patience, patience

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