28 September 2012

10 expert tips for better photographs / guest post by jessica haderlie

after our baby boy was born, i received a lovely email from a local photographer (and blog reader!) named jessica, kindly offering a photo shoot for my boys. she explained how much she loved working with newborns. we've been lucky to work with some amazing photographers in the area and i was excited to check out her work. after a thorough examination & admiration of her portfolio, i was nothing less than ecstatic to have the chance to work with her.

i noticed a common theme throughout her website. her photos have a beautiful timeless and classic appeal; nothing frilly or unnatural about them. (i am not one for propping kids in luggage or on train tracks. ha!) just gorgeous lighting and happy families. i wondered if my family would be the right material for her lens. (lets just say i warned her that she might be up for a challenge!) jessica turned out every bit as wonderful (and talented!) as i'd hoped. she arrived bright and early and put me at ease in front of the camera (which is no small task). having children of her own, jessica was awesome with my kids. she was so good at swaddling and comforting my tiny babe. and my toddler turned into a flirt and immediately starting cheesing it up for her lens.

i wasn't sure if i had the right photo shoot 'props' or if my home was the best setting, but she showed up and assured me that what i had was just right. she didn't need much to get started... just beautiful babes as her subject! i love that she photographs kids just as they are and in their own setting too. i learned a lot from reading her tips below and look forward to working with her again. (stay tuned for a peek at our photo shoot with jessica!) for now, brush up on your photography skills with your own darlings and these ten tips. p.s. all of these photos were taken by jessica and used by permission.

10 tips for photographing your children by jessica haderlie

no. 01 Get close to the light. Snug up close to the windows, open the front door, and put them right in front of it. When I'm taking a picture indoors, my subject is usually facing the window and I will stand to the side of the window or below it. Experiment with light and your position. Try different angles. Here's something I do a lot before I start taking pictures with kids: I start with taking a few pictures of my hand; really what I'm looking for is great illumination of skin. So look for great tones on skin and that's when you've found great light.
 no. 02 Speaking of light, look for the catch lights in their eyes. What I mean is great reflections of light coming from their eyes. It can make a photo, those lit-up eyes. Have them face your light source or looking up can help.

 no. 03 Shoot at a quick shutter speed with kids. They say don't set your shutter speed below 1/250 with kids. It depends on how good your light is but it's a great "magic" number to keep in mind. Start there or above and then adjust your aperture and ISO.

no. 04 Fill your frame. It's not for every shot but getting up close and personal makes for bold, meaningful shots. I like to see my babies faces up close because that's the way I see them every day and it's the way I want to remember them, so that's what I shoot.

  no. 05 Now that being said, try using negative space. I love me some negative space. Especially with kids, it can put in perspective just how little they are.


no. 06 Photograph them as they are. Let them be their selves. Keep it simple. Keep it natural.  I think sometimes the simpler the shot the bigger impact. You don't need bows and ruffles to make your kids' photos great. They don't have to be in their Sunday best. Get photos of them doing what they do everyday, messy hair and all.  Get them playing with the pots and pans, cooking in the kitchen, twirling to their favorite music. It'll help you remember them as they were at the stage they're at.

no. 07 Be silly with them. Kids love to play, so let them play. Make a game out of taking pictures.  Never tell them to say "cheese".  That will just get you cheezy pictures. Make them laugh. Ask them who their boyfriend is or what their favorite dance move is. This is the oldest trick in the book but telling them to not smile, that there is a rule about no smiling always works. Ask them to laugh really hard and after they are done, that's when you'll get those real, natural smiles, because they'll be in a playful mood. no. 08. Get down on their level. Half of the time I'm taking pictures of kids, I'm sitting on the floor or laying on my stomach. Meet them at their level and see eye to eye with them. It's the easiest way to take a normal photo and make it more interesting.
 no. 09 Capture connections. Show relationships in your photos. The most meaningful photos that I know I'll love when I'm a reminiscent old woman are the ones of our family being together as we are, not all dressed up, posing for the camera. Snuggling on the bed, hanging out in the hammock, the kids being silly together, these are the photos that I'll hold dearest, as sappy as it sounds.  Those are going to the the perfect photos to me. The perfectly imperfect ones are sometimes the best ones out of the bunch.

 no. 10 If you aren't already doing so, shoot in manual. You'll challenge yourself and learn so much faster. You'll have control over so much more. Learn about shutter speed and aperture and ISO. Practice focusing on each one individually. First, practice using shutter speed. Capture movement using a fast shutter speed like 1/2000 and then using a slow shutter speed like 1/125. Then, do the same thing with aperture. Set your camera to f2.0 and then for f22. If you don't know what I'm talking about, read up on aperture and shutter speed. Pioneer woman has a series of posts on aperture and has a way of explaining all of them that really makes it sink in. The more you practice the easier it will come. Check out my pinterest page for lots of links on photography tips. i loved these genuine tips, jessica! thank you for sharing a bit of your expertise with us.
find jessica haderlie on her blog and view her incredible portfolio on her website.


Meg said...

Great tips! Thanks so much for this! I love this bright style that is just simple, it really shows off these beautiful kids smiles.

Julia at Calm Cradle said...

I love that natural feel of Jessica's photography. Looking forward to seeing photos from your shoot!

paper{whites} said...

GREAT tips! Love the photo topic. Keep it coming and can't wait to see your session!

Julia at Calm Cradle said...

I loved this baby-in-sink photo so much that I used the ideas for my daughter's 7-month portraits. Thanks to you and Jessica for the inspiration! I mentioned you both in my post:

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