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Children

How to Photograph School Plays and Performances

Filed in Children, Tips by on April 6, 2017 0 Comments
How to Photograph School Plays and Performances

Over the years, I’ve talked to a lot of moms and dads about family photography and some of the common challenges they face. Complaints vary, of course, from getting moody teenagers to smile to capturing sports and other fast action. But one of the events that almost every parent tries to photograph that seems to cause the most frustration is the school play.

Many (if not most) schools have an annual play production, complete with costumes and props and a homegrown script. It’s a big moment for most those pint-sized stars—getting on stage in front of all those parents can be nerve-wracking, but every kid who does it experiences intense pride in what she’s accomplished when it’s all over. For this reason alone, parents attend those stage performances armed with their cameras and determined to capture the best photos possible. But so many of these parents come away from the experience frustrated and disappointed with the results. What can be done to guarantee good results when photographing plays? Read on to find out.
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How to Photograph Mischief

Filed in Children, Tips by on March 17, 2017 0 Comments
How to Photograph Mischief

I know, you hate it when your kids act up. No parent loves to find scribbles on the wall, broken family heirlooms on the floor or the dog wearing a pink tutu (well, maybe that last one wouldn’t be so bad), and no parent loves to have to discipline a child who isn’t behaving the way she’s expected to. But mischief, whether parents like to admit it or not, is a natural part of being a child. So it may surprise you to hear me say that I think you should photograph it.

Now of course, this is a challenging task no matter how you look at it. You know you don’t really want to encourage your children to be naughty, and as soon as you get that camera out to record their naughtiness, you’re sort of endorsing it. So you need to come up with some ways to capture mischief without making it seem like you’re giving permission. That is a challenging task. Read one for some ideas about how to do it.

##The blackmail photo

Every parent should have one of these. You know exactly what I’m talking about—it’s that photo of your child doing something really cute and funny, which will embarrass the heck out of him as he gets older. For example, I have a friend whose extremely macho 11-year-old, who, as a toddler, used to enjoy wearing his mother’s high heels. That is a photo that you absolutely must have, not only because it’s cute and funny but also because you can use it in the future as a viable threat for good behavior. “Make sure you come home by curfew, or your girlfriend is going to see that picture of you in high heels!”

Now, I will say that this is the sort of photo that needs to be kept under wraps—posting it on Facebook or framing it and hanging on the wall would just be plain cruel and I really am (sort of) kidding when I say you should use embarrassing photos as tools for blackmail. But it is the sort of mischief that you really do need to record on camera, not just because it laughably embarrassing, but also because it will remind you of some of the innocence of childhood, especially once your child has left that phase and moved on into the difficult tween or teenage years.

http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-3273013/stock-photo-mommys-shoes.html?src=fSZW797d9SdUKxcHrQFf1Q-2-44

##The aftermath

Have you ever turned your back just for a moment, just for a split second, and when you turned around again you found yourself viewing the aftermath of an unprecedented disaster? Children have an amazing capacity for destroying things in new and interesting ways, and at dizzying speeds. And if you can get past your initial distress, these are the types of images that you should capture for posterity. Let’s say, for example, that your child has found a box of powdered laundry detergent or a bag of flour, and decided to pretend that he’s playing in the snow. This kind of disaster can happen very quickly—often in just the time it takes for you to step away to the bathroom. No parent is immune, no matter how much you think you might be, unless all of your stuff is locked up or stashed in high places.

Laundry detergent all over the floor is going to be a huge mess, for sure, but it’s great fodder for photography in the meantime. Those flour/soap covered hands and faces are going to be adorable all by themselves, but a photo of your chubby little angel sitting there with the powdered destruction all around her is going to be something that will make you smile for years to come. Maybe not during the next hour while you’re cleaning it all up, but trust me, someday.

http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-420723289/stock-photo-cute-baby-girl-covering-her-messy-painted-face-with-her-dirty-hands.html?src=DprwtMaRHGt_QrBlauVJNQ-1-4

When you’re photographing this scene, make sure that you include both child and disaster. Get down to your child’s level, and try to make the disaster look even bigger than it actually is. One way to do this is by placing your focal point on a pile of flour or detergent and letting your child fall out of focus in the background. Likewise, if the disaster had anything to do with a black sharpie and/or a white wall, you can stand at somewhat of an angle to the new mural, select a narrow aperture to give you broad depth of field, and fill the frame in such a way that the graffiti appears to go on forever. Include your child in that shot too, of course, and although I’m not sure of the wisdom of asking him to wield the tools of his trade, I think you need to include the black sharpie as well.

Now again, you need to do this with some discretion. You don’t want your child to think, “Mom loves it when I make it snow in the house!” or “Mom loves it when I decorate the walls!” You can take these photos while still conveying a sense of displeasure, for example, “I am texting this picture to your father so he can see what you’ve done!” will give you both an honest and valid reason for photographing the mess without also condoning it.

Children also like to turn those markers on themselves, so if your child decided to paint himself red so he could become a baby dragon, or brown like a werewolf, that will be a pretty awesome picture too. And take it one step further—get some shots of him in the tub while you are trying to scrub all those bright colors off. Or have fun with it and have him act the part—a brown werewolf or a red baby dragon chasing little sister or the dog around the house is going to be a pretty hilarious photo.

http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-188997893/stock-photo-little-dirty-child-having-a-bath.html?src=ZjL9Em1Np0nt1560rEDuCQ-1-13

Sometimes it’s just a matter of letting go of your own personal hang ups—sure, your child wasted an entire tube of paint and sure, it’s going to be a pain to clean it off of him but there’s something to be said for giving his creativity free reign. Let him role-play a little and see what happens.

##Innocent mischief

There is such a thing as innocent mischief. How do you know when it’s innocent mischief? Because it’s mischief that bugs you, but in a very harmless sort of way. For example, your child may like to flip mindlessly through the channels on the TV set. That’s enough to drive anyone bonkers, but if it’s a habit of his, or he thinks it’s particularly hilarious, get your camera out. You might actually be surprised to discover that your camera can be used a little bit like reverse psychology. If you suggest to your child that you might be endorsing his behavior by taking a picture of it, you may find that he actually doesn’t think the behavior is so much fun anymore.

Whatever the end result may be, try to get a picture that lets the viewer know exactly what’s happening in the scene. Your child wielding the remote control and laughing hysterically is going to get that message across pretty well. Now, there may be some differences in interpretations—if your viewer doesn’t know your child, for example, she may think he’s just laughing at his favorite cartoon. That doesn’t really matter so much, as long as your images are well composed, and do a good job at conveying the silliness of the moment and your child’s personality.

http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-45876175/stock-photo-smiling-little-boy-holding-a-remote-lying-on-the-floor-in-the-living-room.html?src=mIXr47YWhYHRJqCGq4btFQ-1-9

You should also strive to capture a moment that you will be able to identify later on down the road—so make sure that you capture that moment as honestly as you can. That may mean taking a series of images—one of your child wielding the remote, and a couple of them over his shoulder with vastly different television shows on the set. On a similar note, mischief is nearly always accompanied by giggles (maybe not your giggles, but almost certainly the giggles of your child). Make sure that you are able to capture the spirit of the mischief as well as the mischief itself.

##Naughty mischief

Let’s say you catch your child in the act of some seriously naughty mischief, like throwing the cat in the swimming pool or drawing a star on the side of your car with a rock. Now, no one is going to argue that you should hide out in the bushes and take a picture of this while it’s happening, oh no, you need to save the cat first (or save your paint job). But you can photograph some of what happens after the event, and those photos can serve some very important functions. First, I promise you that one day it will seem funny when you think of that poor, dripping wet cat or your child’s beautiful but all too expensive art work. And as far as the family history book goes, it’s still going to be an important event because it represents a learning moment for your child, and maybe for you, too. And it may also serve as a stark reminder for your child of the importance of good behavior.

So how can you capture these moments without capturing the mischief in-progress? We’ve already talked about shooting the aftermath—the dripping wet cat (or the process of toweling him off) can be one way to record the event. But you want to record the lesson, too, so a photo of your child in time-out or looking longingly at his siblings while they play video games and he doesn’t will also serve the purpose.

http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-182845139/stock-photo-wet-cat-after-a-bath-wrapped-in-a-towel.html?src=iW6OYfM5lghJO4JCNOJlkA-1-0

##Conclusion

Again, don’t think that taking a picture means you’re telling your child it’s OK to misbehave. A good scolding afterwards is always helpful. And if they ask you why you took a picture if it was something they weren’t supposed to be doing—be creative. Tell them you want to make sure they remember how much trouble they got in on that day, and the best way to do that is with a photo. Whatever you do, don’t avoid taking the picture, and if you do have to hide in the bushes with your 400mm lens, well, I’m not going to say anything. What’s important is that you’re capturing a broad slice of family life with your camera, and that includes anything worth remembering, whether it’s good or bad, naughty or nice.

##Summary:

1. The blackmail photo
2. The aftermath
– Get down to the level of the destruction
– Make the destruction look bigger than it is
3. Innocent mischief
– Make sure the moment is identifiable (at least to you)
– Capture the spirit of mischief (facial expressions, etc.)
4. Naughty mischief
– Photograph it, don’t condone it

How to Photograph Kids (who don’t want to be photographed)

How to Photograph Kids (who don’t want to be photographed)

We all know about moody teenagers, right? In fact it’s almost a cliché—mom takes camera to event, mom points camera at moody teenager, moody teenager ducks behind another person or object in order to avoid being photographed. It’s maddening. And if you are the parent of that reluctant photographic subject, even more so. Continue Reading »

Birthday Coming Up? How To Take a Perfect Candle Blowing Image

Birthday Coming Up? How To Take a Perfect Candle Blowing Image

If you had to choose one moment from a child’s birthday party that perfectly summarizes the entire event, which one would it be? I’ll bet that most of you will say it’s the moment when the birthday boy or girl blows out his candles. That’s the right of passage that nearly all kids have as they mark each birthday. The candles are lit, they blow them out, and then they are another year older.

Unfortunately, this is also one of the most difficult moments of a party to capture well, particularly during an indoor event. And it’s a fleeting moment, too, which means is that once it’s gone, it’s gone. So how can you get in there, capture that elusive moment and do it in the most effective way? Read on to find out.
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How to Photograph (Moody) Teenagers

How to Photograph (Moody) Teenagers

One common thread I find in nearly all of my friends’ photo albums is this: lots of pictures of babies, toddlers and school-aged children. Not so many pictures of teenagers. It’s a very sad fact that as children grow, they start to like mom or dad’s camera less and less. Now, the camera on their smartphone is another story – I’m pretty sure there’s no such thing as a teenager who doesn’t take selfies. But family photos are a different problem altogether.

If your teenager ducks, hides, shields her face or otherwise retreats every time you lift the camera, you need some advice. Here are some ideas you can use to get great photos of your moody teenager.
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Taking the Yawn Out of Family Photos

Taking the Yawn Out of Family Photos

Here’s what I think a lot of parents do wrong when it comes to capturing photos of their children: they only take the camera out for special occasions. Birthday parties, family gatherings, trips to the county fair – these are all the usual reasons that people have for taking photos. But the problem with this approach is that those special occasions aren’t the only moments in your children’s lives that you’re going to want to remember.
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How To Shoot Maternity Photos

How To Shoot Maternity Photos

[This is a guest post by photographer Becki Robins]

There are a few truly life-changing events in a person’s life, events that dwarf all of those little every day experiences. Marriage is one of them. Purchasing a home is another. And for many people, one of the most profound of those events is becoming a parent.

I’m sure you’ve shot plenty of baby photos, but what about maternity photos? They’re important too, and you need some special knowledge to do them right. Keep reading to find what you need to know.
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Lifestyle Photography: Newborns

Lifestyle Photography: Newborns

There is nothing sweeter or more ephemeral than a newborn baby. Those sweet milk drunk smiles and three hour naps don’t last long. All parents will, at one point or another, find themselves astonished to look down at their child and realize that little baby has turned into a child.
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How To Capture Gorgeous Kid Shots

How To Capture Gorgeous Kid Shots

[I’m trying something new this week. I have asked professional photographer and writer Becki Robins to contribute a long-form article on capturing gorgeous photos of children. Enjoy! – David]

I take photos of everything. Landscapes, buildings, bugs, patterns, you name it. But my favorite images by far are the ones I take of kids. And why not? Kids are cute. Kids are genuine. They’re not trying to be something they aren’t – except of course when they’re trying to be dinosaurs or pirates.

Now here’s the problem with kid photography: when it’s bad, it’s really bad. No one likes to look at bad photos of someone else’s kids. And the vast majority of kid snapshots are the kinds of things that belong in photo albums, to be perused by the proud parents, their families and not really anyone else. And I say this as a parent, too, because I’ve taken my share of bad kid photos. In a lot of cases they do end up in that photo album despite the utter badness of them, because they’re the only shots I’ve got of Event Whatever. But my favorite photos by far are the ones where I really captured the essence of my child and whatever it is she was experiencing at the time. These are the images that I’d be proud to show to anyone, not just my husband and my mom.

Great kid shots are a wonderful thing to have, but how do you get consistently great kid shots? Kids can be hard to photograph. They’re generally uncooperative, they run around a lot and they enjoy making faces. All recipes for bad images. But you can’t not take pictures of them, because they’re so darned cute. So what’s a photographer to do?
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Photograph your Kids on Vacation (without boring your viewers)

Photograph your Kids on Vacation (without boring your viewers)

We’ve all been there. At a friend’s house, a photo album is plopped down in your lap. You try not to roll your eyes. It’s the dreaded vacation album, full of snapshots of kids – kids at the Old Spaghetti Factory with some kind of generic pasta sauce slathered all over their faces. Kids sitting in car seats, not really doing anything. Kids sleeping in hotel beds and posing in front of theme park signs. And somehow, that parental photographer has managed to get a bazillion shots of said kids at otherwise interesting places that still look, well, boring.

Now if you’re a parent, you probably hate the thought of someone rolling her eyes at those photos of your wonderful children. After all, they’re the cutest kids in the world–how could anyone not want to look at pictures of them?

Well, the very good news is that even the cutest kids in the world can appear in boring photographs, so don’t take it personally. And there is hope. You can take amazing shots of those adorable kids for your vacation album and not bore the hell out of your long-suffering friends. Here’s how.
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10 Tips for Photographing Your Kids

10 Tips for Photographing Your Kids

From baby drool to missing teeth to high school graduation, capturing images of your kids throughout their childhood is one of the most important extracurricular roles as a parent that you’ll ever have. Not only for you, but down the road for your kids to have photos to reflect back on. Birthday parties, holidays, and vacations are a given for photo-ops, but there are plenty of other times you’ll be photographing your kids. Making as many images as possible count is your goal. Here are 10 tips for getting the best photos of your kids.
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Photographing the Growth of Your Children

Photographing the Growth of Your Children

The excitement of a new baby brings out cameras faster than any other time until that child’s graduation. Almost everyone can access their baby photos that show their drooling smiles. It’s as though having your existence in the world documented is a birthright. Up until the day after your child’s first birthday party, the shutter doesn’t stop clicking. After that, there may be a drastic decline in photos until the first day of kindergarten. Life gets busy, the camera is put on a shelf, sans the occasional iPhone photo, and the rush is over. To ensure your child doesn’t end up in therapy due to a lack of photos documenting their upbringing, take note of these ideas:
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7 Tips for Photographing Teenagers

7 Tips for Photographing Teenagers

When it comes to photographing kids, most photography sites put their emphasis on little kids from chasing toddlers to capturing the crayon holding moments. Very few blogs focus their advice on capturing teenagers; however, technically, until they’re 18 in most countries, teenagers are kids too! And sometimes they can be harder to photograph than toddlers; however, the challenges are different. These can be some of the most rewarding images because you’re capturing them at a stage between innocence and loss of innocence. These tips will help you put a smile on even the kids sporting braces and attitudes.
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Tired of the same old photos of your kids? Use props!

Tired of the same old photos of your kids? Use props!

It seems like there are only so many photos you can get of your kids, and if you’re like most parents, you always want more. I know this when babysitting my nephews or bringing them to the local park. You get the classic pictures of them playing on the swing set, and then what? Well here’s a quick and easy thing you can do to make your photos of your children more interesting. Use props.
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Capture the moment – a wonderful newborn image

Capture the moment – a wonderful newborn image

I received a wonderful photo a few days ago from a reader, Roger Urquhart. Here’s his comment:

My daughter has just given me my first grandchild and i had my camera there and started clicking immediately I’ve attached a photo that i took within seconds of him being born and i am so proud of, it made my daughter cry. I really would like a honest opinion as the family and i are seriously biased and we only see what we want to see.

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