the great kid capture

I hope you have enjoyed soaking up all these great tips from Shawni of 71 Toes. We should all be professional photographers by now! In her last post, Shawni gives us all her best tips for photographing children. As a mother of five, she has had her share of practice!

1. Turn off the flash.
Lighting is key in taking good pictures. If you look for beautiful light, you are almost bound to end up with beautiful pictures. Adding a flash is, in my opinion, a great recipe for messing that up. Flashes distort what could be beautiful. Sure, there are occasional times you must have one, at night, for example, if you don't have a high enough ISO, and sometimes you need to use just a fill-flash. But as a general rule, get rid of that flash!

When I first started family photography I did it purely on my driveway in front of my garage. I know, that sounds very picturesque, right? But I promise it looked like studio lighting. I bought a black, king-sized flat sheet and hooked it up to the bottom of my open garage and shot awqay. Something about the light bounding off the pavement with the backdrop created beautiful light.

And this one was on my back porch, which is north-facing. My personal favorite.

Porches or garages are great in the shade. Again, the pavement creates a great reflector of beautiful sunlight to light up faces. This one was on our front porch.

Open doorways, with you outside and your child or children looking out the door, also provides you with great light. This one was inside our back door.

Even though shady areas work great, don't limit yourself to just that. In the early morning or evening when the sun slants just so, there is gorgeous light to be found.

And don't forget back-lighting.

If it's too hot outside (like it is most of the time where I live in the desert), you don't need to invest in expensive lighting equipment if you want to get good indoor shots. You just need to know where to look for the light. Almost every home has got some good lighting somewhere if you just look for it. I utilize beautiful light inside my house wherever I have north-facing windows.

This is by my friend's north-facing window.

2. Composition: get creative with it.

Get down on the ground.

Look down at the subject from high above. Try standing on a stool or chair.

Get closer. The closer we get, the more we really "see." Try getting so close you only capture half of the face. Get close up and take pictures of toes, fingers, just a smile. You'll be so happy with the results.

3. Catch emotions and relationships.

I also always ask the kids to laugh instead of smile. If you ask them to smle they undoubtedly make a super cheesy smile, and I'm not a huge fan of the cheese-ball smiles. Unless, of course, it is totally "them," in which case I love the cheesy ones.

Remember, subjects don't always have to be smiling.

Or looking at the camera.

4. Capture the little things.

I think it's important for moms to remember to capture little things about kids whether it makes an artistic picture or not.

I love this one of my Lucy because it epitomized her at that time in her life. With her bedroom around her and her morning smile and her blanket there beside her that she HAD to have to sleep with every night. I want so much to remember all those little things. So I take pictures of them. I wish I had pictures of things like that from when I was growing up.

5. Always have a camera ready.

My big camera is too big to carry around all the time, although sometimes I do feel like it's attached to my body. But I ALWAYS have a point-and-shoot in my purse that I can pull out when I have an opportune moment. It also videtapes, which I lve, so I can capture things on the go. Even my six-year-old has captured some masterpiece videos with it that we are going to love some day. You don't need a bunch of fancy equipment.

I seriously LOVE this picture of my baby. Because that's how she sat every single day in her highchair, legs crossed nearly over each other while the top half was certainly far from "neat." And I'm glad I had my camera right there to get it.

And this is one of my favorite pictures, with my old camera. This is totally Claire. She always ran like that, with her tongue hanging out. And if I didn't have my camera ready I would have forgotten that.

Let's remember though, that I am a little bit crazy when it comes to trying to capture every moneht. I want to hold on to time a little too much sometimes. But photography helps slow things down for me.

And that makes me happy.

Thanks so much to Shawni for sharing a little piece of her life and her passion with us. To learn a little bit more about the things that are important to Shawni, read up on her real passion, the I Love Lucy project. You can also hear more about Lucy's story here.


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