It’s that time of year again, the frantic scramble to get a decent photo of all of the family members to put on your holiday card. Or maybe that’s just me… If you’re like me, getting everyone in one spot, smiling and all wearing pants is almost impossible, then scheduling and actually making it to a photo session with a photographer? Not going to happen.
Since we live on the opposite side of the continent from most of our friends and family I make sure that we have a family card to send to everyone during the holidays. I’ve been taking our family photo myself since my son was born, and it’s a bit of point of pride for me. So here are my tips for taking your own family portraits.
Always Be Prepared… like a boy scout, but cooler obviously
I’ve found that the way to limit the craziness is to plan my shoot. I make sure to pick out everyones outfits or the color scheme that I want to work with. Posing is harder then it looks so take a couple of minutes to search Pinterest for ideas about what style photos you want, and types of poses. Do you want props? Keep in mind that the extras will add extra time and stress to your shoot.
Location, Location, Location… and dont forget about your light!
Choose your location in advance, the more time you spend looking for an ideal spot the less time little kids will play nice for the camera, trust me I make this mistake every year. It’s best to choose a place where you will have some privacy, while you run back and forth from the camera looking like a maniac. If you’re planning an outdoor shoot, which is the easiest way to get good light, remember that you need to shoot early in the morning before 10am or after 3pm or else you will get harsh light that will not be flattering. Don't worry if the day is overcast, this is actually the most flattering and easiest light for taking portraits. If you’re shooting inside, make sure you're in a location with a lot of natural light or else your shutter speed may end up being too slow especially if you have small children who refuse to sit still.
Set It And Forget It… but not really
I would recommend using a DSLR with a tripod and a timer or a shutter release. If you don't happen to have a fancy camera, no worries, an iPhone will do. Especially if you happen to have an Apple watch. You can use your watch as a remote shutter release for your phone. Use an iPhone tripod or McGuiver that shit and prop it up on some thing. Which ever kind of camera, use all of your auto settings, especially if you dealing with kids. Set your camera for multiple exposures so you only have to press the shutter every ten photos or so, and to help capture whatever crazy thing your toddler is doing.
Last word of advice, relax and have fun. They aren't going to be perfect so don't stress, you might be surprised by how much you love how not perfect they are.
Welcome to the second installment of How To Take a Selfie: OOTD edition. If you’re not sure what OOTD stands for (hi Mom), that would be Outfit Of The Day. I personally love OOTD posts, and there are some amazing style bloggers out there offering inspiration for a wide range of styles, budgets and body types. I found that most style bloggers outline how they achieve their OOTD photos in their FAQ sections, usually with some helpful tips.
I ended up taking these photos inside with a backdrop, and I shot five outfits all at one time. I used a tripod, a canon T3i with my 18-55mm kit lens and I set the timer to 10 seconds with continuous shooting. This allowed me lots of time to get into place and move through a couple of poses without having to go back to the camera as often.
Putting together an outfit for an OOTD shoot takes a bit of thought. The camera will catch any wrinkles, stains or poorly fitting clothing and freeze them in time. Things that you can get away with in real life, or at least think you can get away with might be the thing that ruins a look. This was a bit of an issue for me because I’m apparently a slob and the last time I ironed anything it was with a hair straightener…
Posing in front of the camera is my nightmare. It took me three outfit changes to even start warming up and having fun in front of the camera. I definitely felt that the pictures when I was a little more relaxed and playful looked a lot nicer. I ruined a ton of shots because I over exaggerated a pose. If you're looking off camera try keeping your gaze just to the side of the camera or straight a head of you to prevent only seeing the whites of your eyes, its not a good look.
Here is what I’ve learned so far… This is harder than it looks. Take as many pictures as you can stand. Practice your poses and try a lot of them to figure out what works for you. Use good posture, this is so important. Find good light, possibly the most important. And finally, relax and have fun, like I said it’s harder than it looks. All in all I ended up with enough pictures that I’m going to do an individual post on each of them over the next month so stay tuned.
It occurred to me the other day that if I’m going to write a blog about my life then I’m probably going to have to be in some of the pictures, and you know what that means… selfies. It’s not that I’m against the selfie, I fully support them, but I am not good at them. I need about a thousand takes just to get a photo that looks even sort of okay. There is something so enviable about those girls, you know the ones, who have perfected their selfie game to one shot that takes less then a minute and looks totally flawless, duck-lips and all. Okay, I make fun mostly out of jealousy.
A huge part of writing this blog is for my personal growth, to learn new things and accept new challenges. So I decided to embrace something that I would normally run from and learn how to take a good selfie. And if I’m going to spend all this time wading through internet tutorials and Pinterest infographics then it would be unfair of me to withhold my new found knowledge. So, without further ado, I introduce my first feature, How To Take A Selfie. I've been practicing...
As a photographer I’m familiar with all of the rules for taking portraits; nose shadows, flattering lighting,and making sure nothing in the background is growing out of the subjects head. But when it come to taking pictures, especially candid ones of myself I’m am terrible. When in doubt ask Google, unless it's a medical question because never ends well. As I was scouring Pinterest for tutorials it occurred to me that I should share my new found knowledge with you. The selfie possibilities are endless and I am terrible at all of them. That being said I am totally open to any styles you would like to see me explore, and definitely any tips and tricks you’d like to offer, I need all the help I can get.