When you are the official family photographer you realize that you are never in the photos. I feel much more comfortable behind a camera. Always. And most of the time I avoid getting in front of it. There is one thing that saddens me and that is to realize the few photos I have with my daughter. Removing the “selfies” I can count with the fingers of the hand. The photos that I have with her in which we are both focused. Her father has many virtues. But photography is not one of them (he doesn’t mind me taking a tennis racket).
If the same thing happens to you as to me, you have no choice and solve it now. This year I have decided to make at least one selfie a week (or at most every fortnight). And whoever talks about selfies in a photography blog, doesn’t talk about those things you do stretching your arm with your mobile phone. No, we talk about a decent self-portrait, with your real camera. The one you love so much.
Today I will give you a few tips to achieve the best selfies with your children beyond a mobile shot. You’re staying, aren’t you?
This is not something really important, a spontaneous photograph can be just as wonderful. What happens is that if you take care of some details you have the possibility of achieving better results. Obviously you won’t miss a photo loaded with emotion because you haven’t planned the background or the wardrobe. But if you’re thinking about a session in a few days, try to choose the right place in terms of light (if you can photograph with natural light better than better), decoration or even a significant place depending on what you want to tell.
Prepare clothes, make sure they are colors that do not clash with the background or with each other. Soft colors are more appropriate for babies, as they transmit more tenderness. That doesn’t mean you can’t wear cheerful colors, but make sure they don’t kill each other! Let alone steal your limelight.
Choose the place where you want to take the photo. Good for the decor, for the light, because it means something special. Or because it is the background that best suits the image. Remove any objects that disturb the view. Concentrate well, because what at first glance may go unnoticed. In the image won’t that cable stick out, the broomstick, the shoebox or the coat sticking out the back of the door will ruin your picture.
If it’s indoors, try to get close to a good source of natural light.
Once you have chosen the stage, make the appropriate adjustments depending on the conditions:
- opening, speed
white balance, and so on. As babies and children are a bit shaky, try to use fast speeds, better if it’s over 100, so that you don’t get over this photo and your hand comes out shaken hiding the remote and some extremities of your little one as well.
Making all the adjustments beforehand and planning the scenario before placing your little one in the scene will prevent him from getting desperate too soon.
This is the key. At the moment you can put the focus in automatic mode. If your child is able to hold without moving, you can focus, if it is too small (or active) for it, better place a doll, a stuffed animal or similar in the place where you are going to place and focus on manual or automatic by pressing half the trigger button. Now that you have the point exactly in focus, change the focus to manual and there will be no unwanted refocusing.
Close The Diaphragm!
No matter how much I love wide openings and their corresponding bokeh and blurs, on this occasion I must recommend that you use somewhat smaller openings if you don’t want to find a sad blur on your faces. Use openings (“f” number) of 5.6 or more. You can save the loss of blur by using smoother backgrounds or by leaving a greater distance between it and you. This way you make sure that, even if it’s not too unfocused, at least it doesn’t take too much of the limelight.
Put the camera on the tripod. It’s not that a tripod is essential, but it’s a great help. You can also use another family member to hold the camera at the height and distance you want but I know few people with as much patience and good pulse as a tripod.
Remote Trigger Or Timer
I recommend the timer only if you don’t have any option to get your hands on a remote trigger. It’s not for nothing, but if it’s already a roll to make a self-portrait with the timer where you have to be running from one side to the other and often come out “moving”, if you add to that having to be aware of a baby or a child, really that the task is complicated. I’m sure you’ll give up.
The best thing is a remote trigger and use the delay option, because that couple of seconds you have of margin are used to release or hide the controller even if you close your fist. The first time you might get it, but then you get the hang of it.
Some cameras have the option to shoot at time intervals, this is widely used for Time-Lapse photography. You can program it to fire for example every ten seconds. There are also remote triggers with intervalometers. If you have any of these options, use it, this way you can relax, play with your little one and get much more spontaneous images.
Once you have all the adjustments made, the camera well placed on the tripod, the focus, and thought more or less what kind of photo you want, it’s time to involve your child. Never before!
Although I’ve talked to you about planning the photo and preparing some details, that’s something you shouldn’t notice in the photo. Try to make the situation seem spontaneous, that there is another person shooting and you don’t even know it. Your photo will surely be much more interesting than if you appear looking at the camera.
When she’s older, your baby won’t expect to find you in a makeup photo, elegantly dressed or with new hair or out of the salon. What your child will want is to have one (or many) picture with you, of the moments you spent together, of the laughs you shared, of the stories you read or the jumps in the garden. Whether you’re wearing a haute couture suit or a cowboy, whether your hair is disheveled or you’re freshly shaved, the most important thing is the smile, the gestures of affection, the closeness. That’s what it’ll be worth in 3 years (or more), that’s what he’ll want to remember about you.
Let Your Son Press The Button
If your little one is more than three years old, or old enough to press the button (and you are confident enough to leave the trigger on), let him “play” a little. In this case perhaps it is convenient that you deactivate the shot in burst because as it remains with the stuck finger you load the memory of the card in a blink. It will be fun for him, you will be able to relax, and also feel that he is helping you, participating and who knows … maybe in the future you end up sharing hobby.
Change The Perspective
Let creativity take hold of you and your photo will thank you. With children there are no rules, so there should be no rules with the pictures in which they are depicted. Lower the tripod to its height even if you cut your body in everyday situations. Drop to the ground and shoot flush with this one. Shoot from the back. Near and far. Capture your day to day from all angles, without a script, only with your heart.
You can also shoot from your own point of view, for this you don’t need the tripod, but you do need a wide angle that covers your hands or feet while you lift your baby or help him take his first steps (see this example).
Beware Of The Equipment
Unless we’re talking about a baby that doesn’t move, be careful with the equipment. The fall of your camera from the height of the tripod can be a good task (I still suffer the consequences of one of these falls with the focus. And as if that wasn’t enough, while trying to create some photos for this post he has suffered another fall…). Repeat, be careful!
You can propose a family documentation exercise. Dedicate a day that you think you are at home to immortalize your routines. Take the tripod wherever you go (from the kitchen to the bathroom, to the living room or bedroom) and shoot, capturing every activity of your daily life. It’ll be a story your grown-up kids will love. It will also help you to discover the most photogenic places in your house.
Another idea is to leave everything ready for the night so you can capture the moment of awakening. You may not have the best face, but those moments are so special and wonderful that in a few years you’ll be thankful you did.
You can take a self-portrait of yourself in places that are special to you: your little one’s favourite park, where he took his first steps, his first excursion, his favourite corner of the house…
Buy the same suit, identical pajamas or the same shirt. It’s also a fun photo.
You have a few more ideas on this Pinterest board.
This session is not to win a Pullitzer, it is to have a nice memory and have a nice time with your creature. If you don’t get what you expected, don’t get overwhelmed, another day will come. Don’t be obsessed with technical details, enjoy the moment and feel it, it will be what is most reflected in your image.
What problems can arise? Well, look, I’ll tell you everything that happened to me today in an attempt to capture something nice for this ticket. The day has dawned cloudy that seemed to be getting dark and so has remained until night has fallen. It didn’t give my little boy the timer because he caught it the first time and there was no way to release it. As careful as I have been, between being a bit clumsy and having an earthquake at home, the whole team has fallen to the ground (camera, tripod and flash). As you can see, it wasn’t the day.
Solutions? If you don’t have enough natural light you can try to do your session another day or use a handheld flash (please avoid at all costs the one built into the camera).
Use Wide Frames
If your little one moves as much as mine, you have no choice but to use wide frames (that live the big angular ones), small openings (number “f” high) and fast speeds, of course for that you will have to raise the ISO or shoot in exteriors.
He wants to take over the command, let him shoot until he gets tired, don’t fight, when he gets tired of shooting it’s your turn.
If someone can take care of your little one so that you can prepare everything calmly better than better (it may be the only way to achieve a correct pre-focus).
What if he wants to eat? Then you make a break (but half), do not release the trigger, you can get the best picture of the day. In fact, it’s the most decent one I’ve had today, I told you it wasn’t the day.
Don’t give up!
Don’t give up!
It’s the best solution for everything.
And practice, you’ll get better (and prettier).
If you liked this article, share it, the children of today will thank you tomorrow, and the fall of my camera will not have been in vain. Thank you and see you next time!