Advice For Parents On Photographing Children

January 27, 2010

Many who want to photograph children decide to do so when they first become parents. All at once nothing in the world is more important than nurturing and observing this perfect little baby that has joined your life.

Watching each and every movement, hearing each new sound, the softness of baby’s skin, the rosy cheeks and each awe inspiring change compel you to want to remember them forever, and photographing your child gives you that record.

Your Favorite Subjects

Each change, each miraculous moment helps you to begin to really see this child of yours. Whether it is sleepy eyes in the morning, soft light through a window as your child contemplates their day or a beautiful smile, they suddenly become your favorite subjects.

As a new parent you want to capture those images and remember them forever. Who has a better opportunity to photograph your child than you? You need to learn to relax and enjoy the pleasure of making simple and spontaneous photos of your child.

Silly Child

Child Acting Silly

You Have The Inside Track

As a parent you have the inside track on your child’s looks, moods and special quirks. You have access to your child all day every day which provides an opportunity to record the full range of their activities, interests and expressions.

Have you ever observed the photographers at those malls or mega stores? They aren’t exactly tuned in to your child’s idiosyncrasies and often have a hard time overcoming your child’s shyness and desire to be private.

Your Child Has The Inside Track On You Too

But, don’t forget – your child knows you too. Somehow kids know just what buttons to push and a friendly photo shoot can go from “Come over here and let me snap a picture of you, you look so cute” to “Stop teasing your sister and get the dog out of the picture!”.

Before you know it you are frustrated and threatening to put your child in timeout or send them to their room, all because you wanted a special photo of them doing something they love.

Caution – Remember Why You Are Photographing Your Child In The First Place

Be patient with your little ones, even when they are misbehaving when they are a little older. Don’t be so concerned about getting that “perfect shot” and forget why you are photographing them to begin with.

Try working with your neighbor and have them photograph your children and you photograph theirs. You know you will be nicer to her kids than you are to your own!

Be Inspired!

Pay attention to your creative journey, past and present, which will help you develop your own style and signature. That style enables you to create more interesting and captivating authentic photographs of your kids.

If you were to ask 10 people to photograph the same child you would discover 10 different approaches, styles and photographs, because the eyes of each photographer are influenced by their past experiences and their personal tastes, so don’t be afraid to develop your own unique creative style.

Remember, keep taking lots and lots of photographs of your kids. You will be glad you did!
BettySignature

Betty Muscott, Child Photographer

Betty Muscott, Child Photographer

Top Photographing Children Tips

October 28, 2009

TonjaEveryone who has children or want to take pictures of children knows that children can be unpredictable. Being unpredictable can be frustrating, but it does not have to be. Use the top photographing children tips next time you grab your camera.

Have Fun
Children can often feel your frustration so relax for your sake and theirs. Remember when children reach walking age and beyond they are up and consistently on the move. Do not expect them to sit for long periods of time for posed photos. Posed photo often look unnatural and are fine when the occasion calls for it. I think everyone has experienced when a child gets to be a certain age and knows the camera is on them they make silly faces. Keeping children busy, whether it’s props or toys, helps them relax and forget about the camera. This also helps you associate what the kids are enjoying during this time in their life. Included their friends to help capture their childhood moments and they will be able to look back at who they knew. You can even have the children take pictures to tell a complete story. When taking pictures of children on the move being able to take continuous photos can help you get just the right picture. If you camera has a sports or action mode use it during this time. If you have a camera shy child or a camera who acts up for the camera, then downplay the camera. Get involved with what the kids are doing but be ready to take photos at a moments notice. Taking pictures at a moments notice is excellent advice for the teenager who does not want to stand around to have their picture taken. The use of a zoom lens if you have a DSLR camera or just the zoom on a point and shoot can take you out of their element for the natural shots.

On their level
Since children are all different heights, it is important to get on their level. We all have probably seen a picture of a child taken from adult height. The picture doesn’t usually show the child in the best way, maybe the top of their head is mainly in the picture or they look smaller then they are. Getting down on their level helps you focus on their world. The picture is more natural and contains backgrounds from their height. Take the time to focus on the child’s eyes. This draws people in when looking at a photo. Pictures taken of different body parts can capture a mood or illustrate how they are growing.

Since most of us, now have a digital camera or you can take pictures on your cell phone you can take lots of pictures. We now have the ability to delete the unwanted pictures and pick and choose the photographs we want to share.

Express Yourself with a Photo Printed on Canvas

September 22, 2009

Creativity is important in our lives for self-expression and feeling fulfilled. Everyone needs some form of outlet for their creativity, and often our first thought is that we have to be good at art to be creative. But art isn’t just about tubes of paint and daubing still life scenes onto canvas. Photography is an art form that is open to all of us, even if we haven’t mastered the use of a paintbrush or pastels. By taking pictures of the important elements of our life, we can express ourselves just as creatively and we can even have our prized photo printed on to canvas for our very own masterpiece.

How can you be creative with photography, I hear you ask, when all you are doing is recording a scene? Well, you are doing more than that. You are interpreting the scene from your own perspective. You are choosing the angle you shoot from, the way the light falls on the subject, what you include and what you leave out of your photo. When you are taking photos of your kids it is the artist in you that sets the scene, decides to take photos against a backdrop of greenery or with a view in the distance. It is an art catching the fleeting expressions that cross your child’s face, and grabbing the moment when their personality illuminates their features in a glowing smile.

It is an art to use the light to soften hard angles, to get a halo of sunshine around your child’s head with a backlit photo. Your camera is your canvas and light is your paintbrush. Two different people taking a photo of the same child in the same surroundings will produce completely different pictures. Your own creativity has more effect than you think on your photography.

Of course you can get even more creative if you learn to find your way around a program like Photoshop. Then you can work on your image, reduce or increase the contrast, change the color balance and a whole lot more. But it is still a very creative process taking the photo in the first place and you can be proud of yourself when you capture that perfect picture of your children. Proud enough to want to display your photo on your walls and get it printed as a top quality canvas print, which will enhance the photo even more, giving depth to the colors and preserving it for posterity, just like an oil painting.

Why I Took Photographs Of My Children

July 11, 2009

When I was a young girl growing up on a dairy farm I experienced an awful lot of life. I was the oldest of five with two sisters and two brothers, and living on a working farm meant that we were always working. Whether that meant milking cows, running a tractor or doing our school homework, our lives were full.

And the time went by so quickly. My father taught each of us how to run farm machinery as soon as we were big enough to reach the controls, and safety was always an issue. Until we could prove to him we understood the dangers of the equipment we were not allowed to operate that equipment.

I suppose that is why I have always been interested in mechanical things, and why a number of my siblings grew up to be engineers, captain large ships in the U.S. Navy and why I fly airplanes.

But early on I became fascinated with cameras. My first camera, purchased with baby sitting money, was a Kodak Starmite and I had plenty of things to photograph. My favorite subjects were my younger siblings and the farm, and so I collected a ton of photographs over the years.

Today as a grandmother I look back and realize how lucky I was to have taken an interest in photography early on. It is amazing to me how quickly time has gone by, and my own children are having children of their own and are now all in their 30s!

When we are young we think we are going to live forever, and that we have all kinds of time to accomplish the myriad of things we have planned for our lives. When you reach my age you realize that you ran out of time, and much of what you planned to do simply went by the wayside.

Which is what I would like to talk about today.

Modern cameras come in all shapes and sizes, and have capabilities I never even dreamed of when I got that first Kodak Starmite. As I look through my aging and fading prints from years ago I realize how lucky we are to have all of the technology available today.

But technology is only useful if we use it. Young families today need to slow down and take time to realize that those “firsts” that your children do will only happen once. That’s why they are called “firsts”. And if you don’t prepare yourself to photograph them when they happen you will never have a record of those “firsts”.

And all of those activities that fill our young lives as our children’s lives accelerate from birth to college graduation provide opportunities for us to record each special event as they happen. But why would we care if we photograph our children at each of these events? Who will ever care enough to take the time and look at those old photographs of our kids?

Well, one of the reasons why it is important to photograph our children is that they change so much over the years. The little toe headed boy turns into a strong dark haired man working on DC 8s and flying all over the world. That petite little girl has grown up and is having her own children now.

And then the grandchildren start coming around, and they are filled with curiosity just like we were at that age, and like our children were at that age, and they want to “know” about their parents, their grand parents and their history.

I am sure all of us have seen those ads on tv about family tree history; I think the website is www.ancestry.com. We have friends who are researching their family history, even traveling to foreign lands to research where their ancestors came from and what records of those ancestors remain.

So the answers to why photograph your children are all around you. They are your children, your parents, your grandparents and your extended family. Don’t put it off, take the time to learn how to photograph your children and take lots and lots of photographs of your children as often as you can.

Believe me when I tell you that you will be glad you did. One of the advantages of becoming a grandmother is the perspective on life you have. It is only after time has passed that you realize how much you wish you had recorded those special events in our children’s lives.

Betty Muscott, Child Photographer

Betty Muscott, Child Photographer

Favorites

July 10, 2009

Thowing Rocks Into Lake Ontario

Thowing Rocks Into Lake Ontario

One of the great things about children is getting to experience your favorite things anew through them. When my son, Aiden, was born my husband looked at him and said “Won’t it be wonderful to show him everything!” Before Aiden I hadn’t realized what a privilege parenthood is. Everyday with my son I see things through his eyes and I am amazed at the world around me, just as I am amazed with him.

This weekend my husband and I took our son, Aiden, to his first Renaissance faire. This is one of our favorite events of the summer and we were both very excited to introduce Aiden to it. I think there might have been a little bit of sensory overload as he watched all the costumed people and odd shops because at first, as I photographed him discovering this new world, he showed little more than indifference. Not even the camel by the gate could peak his interest. After a while, though, our excitement caught on and within an hour his exuberance was radiated to the people around him.

Flipping back through the photos I can see the absorption in his eyes as he took in the new experience. I try to remember my amazement the first time that I had stepped through the gate at a Renaissance faire and the memory is hazy, but through Aiden’s experience I stop taking the wonders around me for granted. I got a great shot of Aiden looking up at the court jester and instead of the adult in me dismissing the stilts, I see an impossibly tall man with a wonderfully jingling hat.

Watching Aiden throw rocks into Lake Ontario at Rudy’s, my husband’s favorite hometown restaurant, inspires him to tell stories of his first family meals there. Crawling with my son around the yard I grew up in, brings childhood memories flooding back. Revisiting our favorite haunts to introduce our son to them is our new pastime. It inspires a kind of satisfaction in us to share our life with our child and see if he likes our interests as much as we do. Pictures of these wonderful moments reflect not only our current happiness but rekindle fond memories of good times past.

There is so much around me that being an adult doesn’t even register on my radar. From the confusion of traffic to the simplicity of toes, taking a moment to see things as my child does infuses every day life with wonder. Looking through my son’s eyes at his favorites and mine builds a great relationship and great photos.

The Importance of a Third Wheel

July 8, 2009

More often than not, our new little family unit goes on outings by ourselves. Until this weekend I hadn’t realized what we were missing out on. My friend, Amy, joined us for our trip to Longwood Gardens and in addition to providing entertaining company she also took pictures of us all together. It was really nice to relax on both sides of the camera and not worry about pestering strangers or coaxing a child to pose for a timer.

Because of the sheer volume of photos that I take compared to what my husband takes there is a far greater percentage of pictures of him with our son. Every now and again, I ask him to get his camera out and capture a moment or two with me in it so when our son, Aiden, looks back he can see what I looked like when he was young. This is an important issue for me because with my mother spending her life behind the camera there are precious few photos of her in front of it. I recently had to browse through three different family members albums just to come up with a handful of pictures with my mom in them.

When we go out as a family I always take a photo of all of us with my arm outstretched and the camera reversed. It’s not the best of shots, with us squishing together to make sure we fit, but at least it is all of us in one frame and happy. Occasionally I even ask a passerby to take a picture of us, although the expressions are often forced when you feel like you are bothering a complete stranger who was minding their own business. Having someone with you who is happy to take several photos and catch real moments of your family as they are happening is priceless.

If your photos are always lacking their photographer, perhaps you should invite a friend over and pass off your camera. The pictures needn’t be perfect, just real memories with your kids preserved for a lifetime. When your son or daughter looks back at his first photo albums will you be in there?

ChristyH

Sweet Dreams

July 6, 2009

Is there anything more peaceful than a sleeping child? I can easily get lost in my son’s sleeping face. Then there is the myriad of positions he can unconsciously bend into that would make a yoga master weep with envy, and the wonderfully vivid expressions that hint at what his dreams hold. All too often I find myself forfeiting my own z’s because I am so absorbed in his.

The photos of my little sleeper started early, back in the days when he slept most of the day away. Recently I started assembling some “Sweet Dreams” scrapbooking pages and I began flipping through his ten month history of photos to find the best ones. Once the pile on the floor beside me became a tower I realized that a page or two would require some unrealistic editing. The projected pages transitioned into a scrapbook all their own.

In an effort to keep it simple and yet a little more involved than a photo album I printed the lyrics of my son’s favorite lullabies in complimenting colors and tucked them in beside the photos. I absolutely love how beautiful this particular scrapbook came out, and how quickly it came together. After I had chosen the photos, I assembled it in one evening.

When we look at it together, Aiden is partial to the pictures where he is sleeping snuggled against his Mom or Dad. I often glance at it through the day just to catch a moment of serenity in my busy life. It’s strange that sleep takes up at least a third of each day of your life, if you are lucky, and yet it is rare to photograph it, especially past infanthood.

My son is the embodiment of so many of my dreams for the future; I can’t help but be curious about what passes beneath his closed eyes. Snap a few photos at your child’s next naptime and if you think the flash might wake them in the evening you can always plug in a nightlight and crank up your camera’s ISO. If glancing at your child’s smile makes you happy then peeking at their sleeping faces will give you peace.

Photograph Your Child

Photograph Your Child

Photo Rivals

July 1, 2009

My husband, Joshua, and I maintain a friendly rivalry when it comes to photography. He insists that he is the better photographer even though I bought him his first camera. I don’t take it personally though; he also thinks that he is a better cook even though his best efforts almost always include frozen pizza. When we do debate it, the contention point is usually equipment versus skill. Joshua has always been fond of the shiniest new gadget; he even beat me to digital cameras, thinking that it would give him an instant advantage. Of course, that was back when the best camera was five mega pixels and photographers everywhere were swearing that digital would never replace film.

I’ve seen a disposable camera catch phenomenal moments and I’ve seen a photographer with ten thousand dollars worth of equipment on location rely on an auto focus feature that resulted in crystal clear pictures of the insects buzzing between him and the bride and not one decent shot of the wedding party. That is to say that while a good camera is great it will only take you so far, especially if you don’t know what you are aiming at.

Josh only photographs on special occasions, it’s nice when we come home from vacations and have more than double the pictures to choose from. His photos do come out really well, but he does not share my daily passion to capture life moment by moment. Luckily for me, he affords me at least a little patience as I pop my camera out of my back pocket and snap twenty photographs of my son excitedly riding in a shopping cart while we grocery shop.

I know that my ever present camera drives him a little crazy, but I’m his wife, that’s my job. He may tire of the flash firing, but he really appreciates it when I can email him pictures at work of our son’s sweet smile that he is missing. He used to joke that our son would be the first to be flash blinded before he even left the hospital and that the other mothers would think that there were paparazzi in the nursery. Now he doesn’t even bat an eye that I had to get another hard drive to hold all the photos of our ten month old little boy. Like me he realizes that every moment is precious and if at least one of us manages to capture it to savor and share then we are very lucky parents.

Share Your Photos

Share Your Photos

Photo Gifts for Everyone

June 19, 2009

Think photo gifts are played out? Not possible. You just need to put your own spin on things. I love photo gifts because it is like sharing an emotion or a memory, something truly personal and one of a kind. There really is something out there for everyone; you just have to shop outside the box.

With Father’s Day fast approaching I’ve run into the same dilemma I do every year; what should I get for my father? My husband is easy to shop for. I see him every day and I know what he likes and what he’s run out of. My ten month old son will be getting him a photo collage mousepad and maybe a bottle of scotch.

My father is a different story. He works in construction, so the traditional office supplies or tie would be a lost cause. He doesn’t even drink coffee so the wide variety of mugs available is off the list of possibilities as well. I browsed all the available photo products twice before I saw the perfect gift. My father has a hearing aid and when he isn’t wearing it he keeps it in a candy tin to protect it.

Within minutes my son’s smiling face was on the cover of a similar tin and on its way to my house for wrapping and other final touches. I am positive he will love it, and it will be even more useful to him than a new tool or a restaurant gift card. The process is so easy; any photo that you can get into your computer can be on just about anything in minutes.

If you have only skimmed through the product pages of photo websites you are missing out. When you take the time and have someone in mind, photo gifts will leap off of the page. Would you deny someone special in your life a gift that is precious and meaningful because you didn’t take five minutes to browse all the options that are available today?

Family Photographer With Child

Family Photographer With Child

Christy

Take Pride In What You Love

June 18, 2009

There is no question that art enriches your life, whether it is your child’s finger painting on the refrigerator or the watercolor in the den that reminds you of your honeymoon. When the art is photography it tends to be even more special; one unique moment in time, captured in exact detail, set aside just for you. Getting your photo to canvas from your camera is easier than you would believe.

After discovering that my pictures could be converted to beautiful canvases with just a few clicks I became addicted. I’ve recently reached that point in my life where I relegated posters to children’s bedrooms and maybe the game room. For decorating the rest of my home the decision was between art and photos. Once I found I could combine the two, very reasonably, my house started to look like a gallery.

Like any addiction, even though I had enough, I wanted more. The canvases came out so beautifully, they were my own artwork larger than life or at least the typical 4X6. I was just so proud of them, plus many of them were gorgeous shots of my little boy in wonderful poses. My living room is like an Anne Geddes show without the flower pots. To keep them from overlapping on my walls photo canvases soon became my gift of choice.

Like at home, most of the gift canvases were photos of my son. Though, sometimes, I was inspired to convert other photos to canvas. Both of my uncles are artists, although Robbie, the photographer passed away several years ago. My grandmother has several large oil paintings from my other uncle, but Robbie’s photos, while framed and displayed, are no larger than the 5X7s that he originally gave her. When she went out of town I borrowed one of the photos, scanned it into my computer, and had it back on the wall with her none the wiser. When the canvas was delivered, she recognized it immediately and was ecstatic. A moment recaptured with her lost son, and his work on full size display beside his brother’s.

Have you run across a photo to canvas website thinking that there was nothing there for you? You should spare it another thought. You may not have a family photo that you want to hang in your galleria, but how about something else that you are proud of. It is the things that build who you are that deserve to be on display; your children, your pet, even your garden. If it makes you smile while you are tending to it, no matter what it is, won’t it make you smile when the reminder is right there on your wall?

Mother With Child

Mother With Child

Christy

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