Backgrounds, composition and angles, oh my!
I am so thrilled to start this tips and tricks section of my blog. I have had many requests over the years from my clients and friends to teach them some basic camera and photography tips to help them better photograph their families. I hope these weekly tips will teach you something new, remind you of things you are already know or encourage you to get out there and shoot more often and more creatively.
Backgrounds and location
Before photographing a family, my clients and I always have a planning session where we talk about what kind of shots they want, whether they want mainly prints, albums, canvases, etc, and what kind of mood they want to capture for their family. I encourage you to think about the same thing before you head out with your camera and family in tow! With kids, timing is everything and you have to do a little planning beforehand. Think about the mood and tone you want to set. Are you and your kids in a funky urban state of mind? Head downtown, find muted gray, blue and dark backgrounds, use a lot of black and white in your editing. Maybe throw in a pop of color such as yellow or orange to show your modern sense of style. Or are you knee deep in summer and want to photogaph your kids and all their summer glory of hitting the beach, enjoying ice cream cones and lemonade? Think of bright and highly saturated colors, such as reds, yellows and oranges. Spring always conjures up feelings and visuals of soft muted colors, florals, innocence and growth. Fall, I love deep colors of oranges, reds, browns, trees with leaves falling, even the lighting is just different every season. Maybe go beyond seasons and think about the stages your children are in. Last year, the night before Kindergarten, I took my son Max out to capture him as he was, right before he headed into elementary school. I love these images of him because I feel like it captures his budding confidence, all while clutching his childhood lovey, “B.”
No matter what mood or tone you would like to capture, equally important is the backgrounds and location you choose.
When photographing your children, you want them to stand out, so put them in front of a simple but graphically interesting background. A brick wall, some tall plants, a curved path or walkway will add visual interest without taking the main focus off your subject. Consider how the background colors and textures contrast to their clothing. Removing bags, shoes or other clutter around your children will make a huge difference, and eliminate the need for excessive “photoshopping” later!
Below are a few shots from one of my favorite sessions ever. This family was so much fun, the kids were awesome and well dressed, and I adore the shots I was able to get.
I love walking through Ybor for family sessions and coming across a small alley, a moss coverered wall, a set of metal stairs, etc. to add to the interest of my portraits. This family was up for anything, and we did just that – explored Ybor for some fun props to use. Being an on-location photographer (and you are too!), I do not have traditional studio props to work with. I prefer to use color, shapes, lines and graphically interesting backgrounds as my “props.” It helps to keep each session unique, have fun and create added excitement in each session. In these images, I love the blue building, with pops of red from her skirt, and orange from the leaves. The backgrounds are all simple yet interesting, and the angles in the third shot add dynamic interest. Don’t always shoot straight, try shooting on an angle, just to mix it up. A slight adjustment in angle can make all the difference in taking your image from a snapshot to a stunning masterpiece!
The next time you want to get great shots of your children, I encourage you to get out there and explore your town. Find a new park with mangroves and knotty trees, a beautiful park bench on the water, or head downtown for an urban feel. Jot down notes when you come across an interesting location so you can refer to them later when planning your family portrait session. Kids can explore, allowing you to capture more candid images that really portray your children in their most natural state- being themselves! For more information on how to get more natural shots of your kids, stay tuned for my next tips and tricks blog post – CUT THE CHEESE – Telling your kids not to smile is much better!