Most parents would say that their favorite photographs to take, and look back on, are those of their children. But many little ones, from testy toddlers to shy 7-year-olds, are less than thrilled when Mommy and Daddy take out the camera to capture the child taking those first steps, balancing a two-wheeler or getting a home run.
Here are some tips to make the photo session more fun and productive for both parent and child.
Always have your camera out and ready to take pictures. Keep an extra roll of film around just for family shots. If you are ready to take pictures at the blink of an eye, you are less likely to lose the spontaneity of the moment.
In our house (and in our car), we always have a one-time-use camera handy to capture memorable moments that otherwise might have been missed.
Photographers would like to take credit for the 17th century proverb "The eyes are the window to the soul," because it is so true to their profession. So try to bend down to a child's level so you can see clearly into his or her eyes.
Keep 'Em Talking
Tell a child to "smile, say cheese" and begin to count "one, two, three," and you'll surely get an unnatural-looking picture. Your best bet is to keep your child talking . . . about something that is interesting to him or her, like a sport or a friend. I find thattelling silly jokes helps me to get the good expressions I want.
See the Light
Bright, sunny days are perhaps the worst days to take outdoor pictures--of children or anyone. Direct sunlight produces harsh, unflattering shadows on the face. Overcast days are ideal for outdoor pictures because diffused light produces a soft, pleasing effect. (Professional photographers spend thousands of dollars on studio equipment to simulate the soft light of overcast days.)
If that magic moment does happen on a sunny day and you must get the shot, activate your camera's flash to fill in the shadows caused by direct sunlight.
Check Out the Color
Pose a child under a tree on a sunny day and chances are your subject's skin will have a greenish tint because the leaves act like a green filter. In this situation, use your camera's flash to bring out the true color of your subject. (Some mid-range and most high-end advanced photo system cameras, known as APS cameras, have an IX or information exchange control. This feature helps to produce more accurate color in tricky lighting situations.)
Take Lots of Pictures
Kids' expressions change in the blink of an eye. To get a great shot, you often need to take several pictures. And speaking of blinking, the more kids you have in a picture, the more blinks you'll get. So as the number of kids increases, so should the number of exposures.
A final thought: When you take pictures of your children, you are not only telling them that you love them, you're showing them.