In the spirit of summer and family vacations, we reached out to our scoop clients who are professional photographers for their tips on how to make the most of the hundreds of summertime photos you are about to take.
No need to waste a thousand words on this post! The “pictures” below tell you all the story you need, and the handy tips and suggestions from these immensely talented local ladies make this one of my favorite posts this year.
Enjoy it, and if your photos aren’t quite up to Holiday Card standards, reach out to any of these photographers to schedule a session ~ you literally can’t go wrong. Just pick the one whose style most appeals to you, and call or email them today for pricing and availability.
Tips for the Best Family Photos
1. Put your subject off center. An age old computational “rule” is the Rule of Thirds. Imagine there are three vertical and three horizontal intersecting lines over your image, like a tic-tac-toe board, dividing your image into equal thirds. Place your subject in the intersection of one of those dividing lines. This creates a more interesting visual than having your subject dead center.
2. Framing. A great way to create dynamic interesting is to frame your subject. Lines, shapes that surround your subject make the viewer narrow in on what you are wanting them to focus on. You can use windows, trees, playground equipment, or even light to create frames.
3. Silhouettes. Oh my I have a love for silhouettes. Full blown silhouettes where you only see an outline of a subject or ones that show subtle details, either way I love them. They create such a dramatic feeling focusing on the shape or form of a subject. Creating silhouettes is easy just place your subject in front of a very bright window, room, light, or have the sun behind them.
1. Get down on your child’s level. Depending on your child’s age, you may tower over him or her. If you have a toddler, lay down on your belly with your elbows stable on the ground to avoid camera shake and take your image from there. If your child is a little older, have him or her stand while you sit, making your face even with theirs. You will love the difference in your images.
2. Be uncoventional in your background choices. There are some really cool places in Charlotte to take photos. NoDa is one of my absolute favorites – there are so many varying backgrounds that aren’t your standard park picture. The Green uptown is another favorite. There’s even a fun fountain there that your kids can splash around in! A lot of people think of Freedom Park as the go-to for great pictures and while Freedom Park is awesome for an afternoon stroll or picnic with your kids, it’s usually incredibly crowded making it tough to get good images of your children without unintentional photo bombs from others enjoying the park.
3. Find unique composition by lettting your child’s face fill up the whole camera. Many people will photograph a wide picture then crop from there. It is best to crop IN CAMERA for the sharpest, most vibrant results. Love your child’s lashes? Make their eyes the focus and blur out the background by putting your DSLR on Aperture priority and putting it on the lowest number (for example, if your camera’s aperture goes down to 3.5, do that instead of 7.5 and you will notice a huge difference). Be sure the focus is on the part of your child you want to appear most prominent. For example, if you’re focusing on their eyes, make sure the focus button that you can see through the viewfinder between your child’s eyes.
4. On sunny days, find open shade and don’t photograph your children standing in direct sunlight. Open shade can be found in an area that is shaded from direct sunlight but is illuminated by reflected light. Don’t use your flash. Finding open shade makes such a difference in your images because it allows for nice, even light on your subject instead of the harsh shadows direct light will cast (making even the most adorable children appear down right scary!). My favorite spots for open shade in Charlotte are beneath the shadows of buildings or walls (like at the Greenway at Metropolitan). Make sure your kids are standing all the way in the shade, not with one half of their face in, one half out, and have them face the light for the best images.
Laura Frederick Tompkins
Photographing kids is my absolute favorite. They have such an innocence and ability to be free in front of the camera. Here are a few of my best tips about how to photograph your kids (and family).
1. The last hour of daylight has a softness that no amount of editing can make up for. Photograph at sunrise or sunset to get that golden light with minimal shadows. Remember that your best tool can be cloud coverage- harsh sunlight is not what you want.
2. Backlighting is your friend. Position your subject in front of the sun (whether it’s outside or inside in front of a window) to have the light peak out from behind without glares. Then up the exposure to have the background lighten and the subject well lit. If you’re using an iPhone you can up the exposure or contrast after you take the photo with your editing tools. If you’re shooting with a DSLR I would do it in camera when you take the photo.
3. Once you get your kids in the right spot of course you can tell them to smile and look at the camera. But with my subjects I prefer to not say much and see what they do because most kids have the best natural poses. Also remember to get on their level and to not angle your camera down- have them straight across from you.
4. A simple but basic photography tip is using the ‘rule of thirds’. By thinking carefully about your composition and spacing it will help you to take your photo to the next level besides looking like every other iPhone pic. Read more about the rule of thirds here.
1. Lighting is crucial. My favorite times of day to do family photos is either early morning around sunrise (around 7:15am or 7:30am) or later in the day when the sun is beginning to set and we get the “golden hour” which is my absolute favorite time of day to shoot. You get the creamy golden light which is flattering, romantic and whimsical (makes my heart smile!). Taking photos in the direct sun light in the middle of the day can be extremely challenging and typically does not result in the desired product because the harsh light can “blow out” colors. Greens become yellow, colors are washed out. Harsh shadows begin to develop.
2. Wardrobe is also crucial. Often, people don’t realize how important the wardrobe can be to the end result. I actually spend a good deal of time in my pre-consultation calls with my clients talking about wardrobe “dos and don’ts” I recommend avoiding patterns such as stripes and plaids and graphic prints of any kind. Avoid white and black. White particularly is contrary to what a lot of people believe but it is easily “blown out” meaning that the white becomes way too bright in comparison to the rest of the photo. Instead, shoot for muted colors. Greys are actually my favorites because they blend nicely with most any environment and the subject is your primary focus and not the color of the outfit. I recommend finding materials that are soft and “flowy” for women and girls. Choose materials with textures. They look great and adds dimension to the photos without taking away from the subject. Ultimately, with portrait photography, your subject is the focus of the photo so I recommend choosing wardrobe that compliments rather than overtakes the photo. I want the eye to go the subject, not the clothing.
3. More is Less. You can do so much with so little and oftentimes, my most successful photos have very few props and are in locations that you would never guess they were taken. Choose props that compliment and not take away from your subject. Something very subtle like a flower can be so much more appealing that an overly ornate set. Focusing on your subject’s eyes or fingers and toes if you have a baby you are photographing doesn’t require anything added at all and these little details are beautiful to have as keepsakes. As for location, take a second look. I guarantee there is a space in your own backyard or around your own home that is MAGICAL if you just look from a different perspective. A nice green backdrop of trees in the backyard can work perfectly or perhaps laying the kids down in the front yard near a flowering bush of garden. Sitting in the middle of the sidewalk taking the photo sitting down on their level and zooming in to remove the “clutter” or distractions can result in an amazing photo in your own neighborhood!
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