Every other Tuesday I will be offering practical photography tips for moms who don’t consider themselves a photographer but still want to visually record the everyday lives of their children. These are merely tips or suggestions, not rules to follow. You should record your photographic memories for you in your own way and hopefully these suggestions will help give you ideas on how to do that.
This week my photography tips for moms (and dads for that matter) is to “get on their level.” In other words, when you photograph your child try to take less photos looking down on them, unless it is for an artistic reason. We’ve all done it – snapped a cellphone photo from our level and our child’s head looks huge and their feet small. This perspective can be used artistically but when used all the time it isn’t visually interesting ad doesn’t accurately portray your child for you future memories.
The looking down angle is great if you want to convey how small your child is in the big world or in comparison to the size of something or someone, for example, but it isn’t great when you miss out on a great expression your child has or an interesting activity your child is involved in.
My challenge to you is when you start to photograph your child as they are engaged in play or an activity, kneel or sit down or even lay down so your eye level is close to your child’s. Not only will this create a more compelling image that will bring viewers of your image into your child’s world, it will also literally bring you into your child’s world. You will not only be on your child’s level with photography as a goal but with personal interaction being a result.
Have you ever imagined what it is like for a child who has to always look up to see his or her parents? Not only is it probably bad for their spine alignment (don’t quote me on that, of course, instead ask your chiropractor) it creates an emotional distance between child and parent. Children are often delighted when Mom or Dad kneels down and looks them in the eye and actually converses with them instead of talking at them.
In relation to photography, an image which creates eye contact with the viewer helps the viewer to see more of the subject’s true personality and see not only a pretty face but also, maybe, a little of the child’s soul.
I’m not a fan of asking a child to look at a camera because I find that causes them to either fake a smile or put on a show and not reveal their true selves. I catch most of my eye-contact photos when the child looks toward me or someone behind me.
Even if the child isn’t looking right into the camera, being down at the child’s level can create layers within your photograph that tell a story about what activity your child was engaged in.
Photographs taken from above, looking down, or from above, even looking up, have their place as well, so I’m not saying never take them (especially since I do all the time). We will discuss how different angles and perspectives in photographs tell a story in future posts.
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to comment below, contact me via the contact page or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lisa R. Howeler is a wife and mom living in a small town located in northern Pennsylvania, less than a mile from the New York State border. She is a photographer, writer, chocolate lover, and one of those Jesus freaks your mama warned you about. Find her online at http://www.lisahoweler.com; www.instagram.com/lisahoweler; and Facebook, www.facebook.com/lisahoweler.
This is part of my feature called Tiny Tips Tuesday, where I offer you tiny tips related to photography.
Today I’m going to offer you tips to help your photographer capture the most natural images of your children. I’m sure you’re wondering why I would suggest you “help” your photographer when your paying them to capture the images, but you can make their job easier, which in turn will make the final product worth your money.
First, two DON’Ts.
DON’T say things like “Timmy, look at the camera…” or “Smile for the camera.” Nothing tenses a child up more than being told to do something and nothing makes them more unlikely to smile than being told to do so. Not to mention, posed smiles often look forced and uncomfortable. Let the photographer handle capturing that “looking right at the camera” moment, if that’s what you want. Some of the best photos, though, are those where the subject isn’t even looking at the camera. Photographs where a child or person is simply “in the moment,” can mean the most in the future.
DON’T fix their hair and tell them it looks awful right before the photographer takes the photo. Nothing wilts the spirit of a child faster than their parent suggesting they don’t look good enough for their photos. If you must fix their hair, do it with a smile and remind them they are beautiful and you love them. But I’d recommend not even fixing their hair. Let their hair do whatever naturally comes to it, just as your child should be allowed whatever comes to them naturally during a photo session. Letting them be natural will produce the best, most authentic images that will capture your child’s personality, but also your memories of them when you look back on the images years down the road.
Now three DOs:
DO laugh with your children. Like Donald O’Connor said in “Singin’ In The Rain” make ’em laugh. Tell them a funny story while your walking or playing and the photographer will capture the result. The laughter will help them relax and a relaxed child is what you most likely want to remember as they grow. The best images are often those where the subject isn’t paying attention to the camera. What is better for them to pay attention to than their own parent?
DO let your child be a child. Let them climb a tree (if it’s safe) or even stomp in a mud puddle or roll down a hill. If you want your child’s true spirit to be captured then you want to let them be themselves as much as possible. Let the photographer harness that energy to bring you the best images of your child during that time in their life
DO stay relaxed because children feed off the emotions of their parents and if you are stressed they will feel it and reveal that stress in their images.
Bottom line: trust your photographer to get the best possible images of your child. If you can’t trust your photographer then you shouldn’t hire them, which brings me to the topic for a future Tiny Tips Tuesday: “How to Choose A Photographer.”
For more Tuesday tips: