I think one of the most common questions I get asked is, "What kind of camera do you have?!". This is an interesting question because I think the assumption among the general population is that the nicer a camera you have, the better your images will be. In a perfect world, this logic would perhaps have some weight. However, we live in a world of constantly changing light and shadows. Photography literally means painting with light. Our eyes adjust to light naturally, but our cameras do not adjust to the same level as our eyes do. Have you ever taken a picture expecting it to turn out the way you see it only to see that little Betty is blurry and the overall image is darker than anticipated? It's not the camera's fault, one must "tell" their camera how to see.
The more advanced the camera, the more control is given to the artist over how the image will turn out. It's a digital paint brush! :-) With research and lots of practice anyone can enjoy the satisfaction of creating a technically better image. I would highly recommend an entry-level DSLR for those just getting into photography. I have a quick link that will bring you to a wealth of information on learning about the technical side of photography. It's free and broken down into topics that are well written: click HERE.
I know that one of the hardest feats is to get natural expressions out of our kids! Just this past year I was at an old museum studying old photographs and it hit me, when did it become a requirement to smile for the camera? Who was the first person to alter the face of portrait photography so profoundly? Does it seem odd to anyone else but me that we are required to stop and smile at the camera? As if the only semblance of happiness and enjoyment is that one facial expression, and it must be done by looking directly into the camera lens!
I am putting in my vote that the madness needs to stop. Don't get me wrong, I believe that putting a smile on for the camera justly has it's place. But I find that some of my favorite images are ones where someone is distracted by something or someone else. I always look for the spark of liveliness that inevitably comes into the eye when genuine emotion is pulled to the surface. So, if you feel the same way I do, here are a few things that I do to engage my kids or, client's kids, to help relax and engage to help them forget I am getting them to cooperate! ;-)
- My first go to is to be silly. If I want smiles, this is a quick sure fire way to get the giggles going. (If someone turns to me and irritatingly commands me to "give a real smile", I just feel awkward, and self-conscious.)
- When photographing really young children (about 2-3 years) I typically follow them around and will take candids, and then either I or someone with me will act silly in order to get them to giggle (I'm seeing a theme here...silliness).
- 1-3 year age group is often considered very difficult to photograph since these kiddos are always on the move, however if given proper distractions it's a lot easier. Bring along a favorite blanket or favorite stuffed animal and watch the cuteness unfold as they cuddle!
- If you are seeing a fun moment where laughs and smiles are out, simply take a picture of the action instead of calling everyone to attention and expecting the magic to continue. Or perhaps you're looking in on a quiet moment and just photograph it as you see it. It's these beautiful moments that sometimes inspire us to take a picture in the first place. Eye contact isn't always a must.
- If eye contact is still desired instead of catching attention by saying "Hey Jane look at me and smile!", simply say "Jane!" and be ready to take the shot. It takes just a few seconds for the expression to change from laughter to serious attention and it's best to be ready when the window of opportunity is open. This works with people of any age, not just kids.
If you have any questions or comments feel free to post them below!