How To Take [Frame-Worthy] Pictures

How To Take [Frame-Worthy] Pictures

Wouldn’t it be nice to take really beautiful pictures that you are proud to frame (because of the people in them and the quality)?

 

 

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I’m proud of my T-ball kid crushing that ball like he’s a pro. And I’m proud of the image quality and fine details that help me relive this.

If you loved, How to Take Good Photos of Kids, you’re going to love this! That’s specifically written for moms and dads wanting to learn the basics of taking quality pictures of the kids. Today, we will continue on with the photography tips as promised!

What do you use to capture most of your pictures; cell phone or actual camera? What is your goal of snapping each photo; is it meant to message a friend or share on social media? Or do you actually plan to print those?

An average DSLR camera takes at least 3x better quality pictures than that of an average cell phone camera. So with that said: know your goal of each photo. You certainly want to photograph in higher quality if you want to print and even frame it!

So, here are some simple pointers for you to try your own mini sessions or candid shots at home:

 

Prep Equipment:

Before you are ready to shoot, you need to have all of your equipment ready:

  • DSLR camera (set on “Fine” if printing, can also try RAW settings)
  • Fully charged batteries (backups are always good)
  • Preferred lens (I like a 55-200 mm lens for portraits)
  • High speed memory card (with plenty of space available)

I like to use a 64 GB high speed card. This just means that your camera will process the image faster, which is important when shooting in high quality or RAW.

Then I keep my photos on it until I have backed them in other places or printed them. Then that should be it for equipment. It’s best to shoot outside if you have minimal equipment. Then you don’t have to worry about (indoor photography) adjusting shadows, highlights, and coloring.

 

Background:

Then choose your background. Something less busy or neutral will look nice. A clean, unfocused background. Your subject needs to be in focus and stand out.

10 years ago I was a little league photographer. Our go-to was having the kids stand about 10 feet out from a (pine) tree line. The kids would stand in the shade of the tree also, to soften the sunlight.

 

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The background here isn’t busy. It’s blurry and neutral, which helps my subject stand out better.

Angle:

The angle will do a couple things; change your perception of how large or small the subject is, help you to see into the face and eyes of your subject, change the background, and also gives your image more focus. This is because your subject is going in the same direction toward you, instead of  running across your screen.

If you change the angle of a photo, you change the whole perception.

 

 

Take multiple shots:

Even professional photographers have to take extra shots. If I want to print pictures, I’m careful to take at least 1 or 2 extras. But if I’m dealing with running kids, or wiggly kids, I take at least 20. I hardly ever ask them to sit still.

It takes patience to photograph kids. Mini sessions may require a little bit of instruction. Like “I want you to sit here and hold this prop.”

It is your job to have that background (natural outdoors or a cute set-up you made) ready to go before putting your subject in place. Also know the perception you’re going for ahead of time.

Ideally, you want to eliminate kids becoming too impatient. So, after everything is set, you should be able to place your subject and snap a few. Switch them to standing up or holding different props. You know that attention span of theirs won’t last long.

Plan for 20-30 minutes of camera time depending on their age. If your kids are hungry or tired, you may just want to stop.

The best part about candid shots are it should be free and easy. They play while you look for new angles. There is no instruction. These are the most sentimental to me anyways.

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This day I let the kids play while I took at least 100 shots. I was really enjoying this vintage look! This would look great on my wall!

So remember:

  • Picture Purpose
  • Prep equipment
  • Clean Background
  • Angles/Perspectives
  • Extra shots

 

The real reason for the picture is key. Memory preservation. Don’t try to perfect the way the kids are standing and things. Just make sure you get shots of them having fun, smiling, and just being themselves. Trust me, you won’t care in future years if you have the perfect image as much as you will care about seeing their playful young selves.

Now you just need to combine this with the 5 photography tips that I gave you last! If you haven’t read that article yet, here it is. How to Take Good Pictures (of Kids)

 

Now, do you have enough frames for all of the amazing photos you’ll be taking of your family?

 

 

 

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How to Take Good Pictures (of Kids)

How to Take Good Pictures (of Kids)

Want to start taking more professional quality pictures of the kids? Here are 5 basic techniques!

You came to the right place because I have experience. 10 years ago I became a photographer for a company that specializes in little league team and individual shots. At that point, I didn’t know much about the capabilities of a DSLR camera (Digital Single Lens Reflex)! Since then, I have learned so many other dynamics of professional photography!

You have potential too! You have this incredible opportunity to capture your family’s “behind the scenes”.

These blips of the ordinary day create the most sentiment. The first steps, slobbering babies, sleeping angels, tiny bare feet, that glowing soft skin of theirs, sparkling eyes, fuzzy blankies, cracker-crumb faces, their smallness, that special look they give only you….

You can create beautiful photos of your family. Don’t be overwhelmed though. You don’t need 10 years experience to start taking great photos of the family now! I will walk you through some simple tips to get you started. And we will fill-in-the-blanks another day!

5 ways to get a professional quality:

#1 Use natural light

Think softer light! Use natural light by shooting outside, or near a well-lit window. As far as the best day and time… pick an overcast day. If it’s clear and sunny, choose morning or late afternoon. Even shooting in full shade on a sunny day will provide that soft light.

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The first photo was shot on a summer day outside in full shade. The second was shot indoors with two well-lit windows. There aren’t any overly white highlights or overly strong shadows (except a little whiteness out of the window). You want to see soft skin and true coloring with this soft light.

#2 Stabilize the camera

Get those blurry photos? It’s because you aren’t holding still long enough. A photo that requires a slower shutter speed has a higher chance of becoming blurry. Lack of enough light will cause the shutter to release slower in order to capture more light. To fix this, stabilize the camera on a tripod, platform, against a wall, on a bench, or other fixtures. If you are don’t have something to stabilize on, get a good stance and exhale as you press the shutter release.

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On this shot, I set my camera down on the rail that goes around this exhibit. No shake here!

#3 Use the 3 main shots:

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Close ups are great in the fact that you really see all the physical details. And on top of that, close ups capture raw emotion best! Here my son was hanging out on our deck while snacking. Maybe I’m just partial, but this is pretty adorable!

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Three Quarters shot (or head shot) are perfect for individuals or fewer people. When you are planning to print pictures to hand out, these are a good solution. It showcases a little bit of the personality and the outfit.

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Full Length shots give a perspective on the surroundings and actions. Full length shots are also easier to use for unpredictable or uninstructed kiddos. Sometimes it’s fun to just let my boys play and for me to capture what they are doing on their own.

 

#4 Get on their level

For example, if your munchkins are on the floor, lay on the floor and shoot at the same height across. This helps attract their attention better. You won’t be seeing tops of heads as much. Peek out often from behind the camera too. Kids and babies are drawn to faces more than a lens.

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Being on your kids’ level really helps you see from their perspective and it helps you to see their face (regardless if they aren’t always looking back).

 

 

#5 Focus

Auto focus can be a great tool with wiggly kids. It locks onto your subject and focuses as you are pressing your shutter release button. For older kids who have a greater attention span, try manual focus. Lock the focus onto their eyes and face area. When the image is crystal clear, snap.

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This is one of my absolute favorites! The best part is he was looking at me, with a few attempts. I was able to shoot this with natural light from a well-lit window and get a crystal clear focus.

Get creative with trying different focuses (in manual focus mode):

  • Foreground (what is closest to you)
  • Middle ground (what is between the foreground and background)
  • Background (what is on the horizon or farthest from you)

 

 

If there is one thing I want you to get out of this, it’s that you are capable of taking great photos of your family. Just remember; Natural light, Stabilize, 3 main shots, Get on their level, and Focus.

Lastly, don’t try to do it all on your own. If you are trying to get everyone in a family photo, hire a photographer. They will be able to tell you if your necklace is sideways, or if one of your kids isn’t paying attention. But when you don’t have a photographer and real life is happening, it’s up to you. You’re only a few steps away from ideally capturing those sentimental moments!

 

Read more tips here: How To Take [Frame-Worthy] Pictures.

Keeping Christ in Christmas

Keeping Christ in Christmas

We made it to December! What a great month to celebrate Christmas! Right after the month of being thankful, we celebrate a month of giving.

This warm season can be chaotic. Bake the cookies. Send the greeting cards. Select the tree.  Decorate the house. Buy the gifts. Wrap the gifts. Visit Santa. Cook the nice dinner. Get everyone a nice outfit. Family Photos. Prepare for guests. And the list goes on.

So how can we keep Christ in Christmas?

As a Christian, growing up, I’ve stopped to think about all of the traditions that many families still hold today. Why on Earth do we chop down a tree to put inside? Why is Santa the mascot of the holiday? Why do we even give gifts if it’s Jesus’ birthday? Some of these seem silly, but many of our traditions are simple symbols of God’s presence and love.

I love these traditions that we still hold today! I love that our kids get so excited for what’s to come. They talk about how Santa expects good behavior. Even my 5-year-old thinks I’m going to get coal because I was teasing his little brother!

#1 thing I want to uphold for my family though is continuing to make religion a priority. I want my family to celebrate Jesus’ birth, knowing why they are celebrating. I want my family to become closer with God. Understanding this journey that took place over 2,000 years ago.

Did you know Jesus was the most influential person in the world? And that the Bible is the first book to be printed? Did you know that everything in the Bible was prophecy? And did you know that all scientific evidence points back to the Bible and God?

For Starters

Our 5-year-old was writing his Christmas list to Santa yesterday. As I helped him spell it all out, we stopped at “Christ.” “Now underline it. What does that spell?” Once he knew, I helped him add on “mas.” I said “don’t forget who we are celebrating!”

Then we had to pick out a tree.

We just drove over to the tree farm recently. My husband wanted to explain the symbolism of the tree to the kids. What we were taught back in grade school is it’s triangular shape represents the trinity. It also represents new life. The star or angle on top represent the star that guided the shepherds and wise men.

This year the boys were able to assist us, with some very close supervision of course. I will always remember special moments around the holidays. By keeping tradition alive, we are keeping family even closer.

 

 

Here are 20 ways the whole family can all keep Christ in Christmas:

  • Pray for someone in need of God or an intention
  • Open our hearts to God more/Let Him know your every feeling
  • Teach your child different ways they can pray/things they can pray for
  • Take your family to church as often as possible all year long
  • Read the nativity story from the Bible more than once
  • Put on Christmas songs about Jesus and Mary
  • Make an Advent Calendar or wreath
  • Be more positive. You are blessed.
  • Make a donation(s)
  • Be respectful and listen
  • Do good deeds for each other, small or large
  • Put the phones away until a better time, for quality time
  • 3-5 gift rule per kid (i.e. book, toy, outfit, art/science kit, and game)
  • Let your child buy/make gifts for family/friends
  • Let your child make cards for family/friends
  • Let your kids act out the nativity scene
  • Craft your own nativity scene
  • Explain who St.Nick is
  • Explain why the Christmas Tree is symbolic
  • Explain the gifts of the wise men and the significance of each

 

Try to enjoy the whole month of December, even as chaotic as it will be! And don’t forget the real reason for the season!

 

 

 

How to Encourage Young Artists

How to Encourage Young Artists

Are your kids artists? Are you creative also?

Kids can be some of the most artistic people. I think a lot of this has to do with perception. Art is a physical and digital form of perceived angles, new ideas, old ideas, and is also a way to express feelings.

It does take practice. And it takes A LOT of viewing pieces from other artists.

Ways you can encourage young artists:

  1. Show your kids some styles of art, like Picasso’s upside down drawing of Igor Stravinsky or Eric Carle’s collage type of art used to illustrate his children’s books. What are both of your favorite artists? What art museums or galleries would you like to visit?
  2. Provide lots of art supplies like a sketchbook, drawing pencils, colored pencils, crayons, markers, pastels, watercolors, and acrylic paint for younger kids.
  3. Let them choose from a theme: favorite activity, home, family, friends, a pet, farm animals, a scene from a favorite book or movie, the future, a place they’ve never been to, their current feelings or mood…
  4. If they are elementary school aged, you might be able to ask “Can I make a suggestion?” Maybe their house needs a sidewalk, or maybe you can show them how to draw perspective angles…. Positive critiques are also good if your kids let you share feedback. “This is very good. Although, this tree could be smaller for the background, see?”
  5. Lastly, you want to take note of how good they are doing. Keeping pictures from early years is a good tool to showing them how they’ve improved. You don’t even need to point that out, they will probably see it. And it is always a good idea to display their pictures!

Here is our version of a kids Fine Art Gallery at home. An idea from Craftionary! Here is the link http://www.craftionary.net/display-kids-art-at-home/

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Before this, we had an empty wall first thing when you walk in the house and it looked so boring. At the same time, we don’t like to hang too many things on the fridge, but needed a place to display art work.

For a unique look, we used some old frames mixed with some newer, canvases, and a small chalk board. These are all finger-paintings, but that’s not all we do.

Our oldest loves to draw football and baseball games. He recently drew a very detailed picture of our house. Our middle is learning to draw people and spiders. And whales. And now cats. Our youngest still scribbles, but soon we will be working on shapes and people. We try lines and circles to help him perfect control of utensils.

Here is how art has worked in my life.

Ever since I was young I loved art. I spent a good couple of hours drawing my dad’s Jeep from the window one day. Soon after, my dad let me draw a portrait of him. It’s no blue ribbon art work, but it still looks like him. Then in my fashion designer stage, I had a whole notebook designated to drawing clothes and outfits that I would make.

Later on, I really started to love photography. So later on, I went to college to study it. I have worked with photographers, I have worked in a studio, and I have done some freelance work too!

Even if your kids seem more talented in another area, art is good for the soul.

 

Here is Huffington Post’s “Top Ten Reasons Why Art is Essential to the Human Spirit”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/maria-rodale/top-ten-reasons-why-art-i_b_214504.html