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Photography 101: Getting Great Pictures of Your Family

June 5, 2012

My first pictures of my 8 week old, Annabelle, taken with my new camera.

Whether you’ve been getting by with your smart phone’s camera for years, or you’re a pro with a digital SLR, if you’re expecting your first child, you’re probably starting to think about how to get the best pictures possible of your baby. Read on for some tips on buying a great camera, getting a decent shot, and coaxing that elusive smile out of your child!

If you’re not an enthusiastic photographer, but need something more advanced than your iPhone camera or the Canon you bought in 2004, you might want to upgrade to a simple point and shoot camera without a lot of bells and whistles. When you’re buying, stick with a brand that you’ve used in the past, as the controls and menus will be similar and the transition will be easier. And don’t get too hung up on mega-pixels when you buy. Any camera with more than 8 mega-pixels will be fine for your purposes, unless you plan on printing life-size portraits of your kids!

When perusing reviews online, pay more attention to what users are saying about a camera’s low light performance, as that will have a much larger impact on the quality of the pictures you take. Those shots you take at bedtime, on Christmas Eve, and on Halloween will be much better with a camera that performs well in low light conditions. If you’re a camera buff and are thinking of upgrading to a digital SLR, consider buying one with a “fast” 50 mm lens. This lens will enable you to take pictures of moving objects with greater ease, and as your child gets older and faster, you’ll appreciate the value of this feature!

We all have a friend or two who takes fantastic photos of his/her kids. How do they do it? First of all, focus on your child’s face. Even if her body is moving, or you can’t quite get the very top of her head or every finger and toe in the shot, if you’ve got her face, you’re going to get a good shot. And get low! Crouching down to her level will allow you to catch every smile, laugh, tumble, and grab. And speaking of all of those rapid movements, take pictures in rapid succession. Instead of steeling yourself to get the perfect shot, just snap away. The beauty of digital photography means that there’s no film to waste, and if you take 10 shots in 20 seconds, you’re bound to get one from a good angle and with eyes open!

And then there’s the smile. It seems like your baby smiles away when the camera is out of reach, but the minute you put a hunk of plastic and metal between the two of you, she turns shy. When your baby is very little, make silly noises and sing songs to coax a smile out of her. As she gets older and learns animal sounds, put a sticker of a horse, duck, or lamb on the front of your camera. Ask her to look at the animal and make the same sound it makes. When your child whinnies or quacks, you’ll get a cute shot! And as your children get older, instead of asking them to say “cheese”, give them sillier alternatives. Does the word “pickle” make your two year-old crack up? When you ask her to “say pickle” you might get a huge smile and laugh that makes for a great picture.

Remember that there’s no need to bankrupt yourself buying a top-of-the-line camera if it’s out of your budget. And there’s no such thing as a bad picture when your subject matter is so cute! Have fun with photography, and your child will have fun on the other side of the camera.

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