Make sure you have back up batteries and SD card.
Ok, so this might seem like overkill, but I’m sure we’ve all had that moment where the entire family is all together, you’ve convinced even the most unenthusiastic family member for a “quick pic” , everyone is finally in place, perfectly in front of the fireplace and BAM-you’re battery is dead on your camera. You’re then scrambling around asking everyone if they have an extra set of batteries, while the once perfectly posed children start to fuss,the new baby in the family starts to cry, uncle Ned is agitated because someone snagged him for the “quick” family photo just as he was getting ready to go outside for his smoke and grandma falls asleep in the chair. Not fun. So bring along a backup set of batteries so you can switch out the old ones and keep taking great photos. I usually keep mine right in my pocket for quick easy access. Maybe even check the battery level BEFORE you gather an entire household of family and pose them.
Always have an extra SD card on hand too for multiple reasons. First is the obvious, you never want to get that message “card full” when you’re right in the middle of shooting the perfect picture and you don’t have a backup card to put in. A good rule of thumb is to start with a fresh clean formatted SD card each time you go somewhere or want to use your camera, then you probably won’t even need the backup unless you’re like me and just keep taking photos the entire time-I usually go through a FEW SD cards. The second reason you want an extra SD card on hand is that sometimes you just get a dud SD card or it gets old and it fails. You’ll see an error message (depending on your camera) “card read error” and I won’t lie, most of the time you’ll lose those images that were already on the bad card …..so back up back up back up!! That is why it’s never good to keep a ton of images on that SD card, just in case it does fail, you won’t have photos from last year on it that you just haven’t uploaded to your computer.
2. Anticipate what the child will do next.
Ok, so last year you asked Santa for that fancy schmancy digital SLR camera and, well… it just wasn’t in his budget. So you feel like you are “Stuck” with your point and shoot and can NEVER seem to get the shot you wanted because it was done and over by the time you pushed the button. Before I had my SLR and started my business I actually started on a point and shoot (well, I even had a film camera llllllooooooonnnnnnggggggg before my point and shoot, lol) and I took a bunch of great shots. In fact, I still like taking my point and shoot with me when I go to small family functions rather than carting around my big luggy SLR. The key to a point and shoot is to ANTICIPATE what will happen next and take the shot just a few seconds BEFORE it actually happens. This is a tricky one, but you know your kids and chances are, you know what’s coming next. It takes a little practice but start to notice when you are actually pushing the button, if you are missing the shot, and then adjust your timing a bit always thinking about what might be coming and if you want that shot.
3. Help reduce the blur.
If your camera doesn’t have image stabilization then you have to have a steady hand. One of the ways I help reduce blur, no matter what kind of camera I am using, is to hold the camera out (or up to my eye) but bring my elbows into my body and steady them on my chest. This helps reduce the amount your arms are moving and hands are shaking. It sounds simple….and it is….but it makes a BIG difference. I also will hold my breath when I go to take the final shot. This way your chest isn’t moving your elbows thus moving your camera. You’ be surprised how much breathing can shake your camera. And this one might be an obvious, but with kids it can be a hard one…..stand still! Chasing them all over WHILE taking photos probably won’t end with a good result. Slow down, stop moving even for just a second, take your time, and steady your hands on your chest, take a breath in, and TAKE THE SHOT! (Then don’t forgot to breathe out of course, lol)
4. Get down to their level (or up if they are a climber, lol)
If they are on the ground you should be on the ground. My favorite place is on my belly, elbows steadied on the ground, camera in front of my face. Getting down on their level gives an entirely different perspective in the photos. It makes you feel like you were part of what they were doing, connected in the action, not just a passerby. If you have a climber, like my son was, then climb too. Ok, maybe grandma shouldn’t be doing this one, BUT if you feel comfortable and are healthy enough to climb then climb with them; trees, couches, playgrounds. If you’re not adventurous, scared of heights, or have medical problems that may prevent you from climbing a playground jungle gym no worries, use your camera zoom and make it feel like you are right there with them. The key is to not just look down at the kids from a standing position or to be half a football field away when they are on the playground. Make it feel like you were part of the action!
5. Don’t make everyone stop and say cheese!
Long gone are the days of making the kids stop and say cheese. Don’t get me wrong, a family photo all cozied up to the fire or a family reunion of everyone posed smiling is great. I take those every year. But what I mean is that the kids are globing gravy on the turkey and have it smeared all over their face and you pull out the camera because it is such a cute moment only to make them STOP what they are doing to look at you and say “cheese”; mouth full, gravy coving the table and now pouting because they don’t want you to take their photo… the moment is gone. I think that telling kids to stop what they are doing and smile at the camera only takes them away from the true moment that needs capturing. Instead, try to be as inconspicuous as possible. Sneak up, maybe use some zoom so they don’t even know that you are taking a photo. Try to catch them doing the things they love as they happen. If you can’t be inconspicuous then sometimes it’s easy to partner up with another parent, grandparent, uncle or friend and one person can just PLAY with the kids and get them laughing, smiling….have some FUN. Then your partner in crime can take a few shots (with or without you in frame) and you will probably get genuine smiles and laughs instead of those goofy fake smiles they give when you say “hey guys look at me and smile” Bottom line: stop interrupting the real moment to say cheese. Photos that are not staged tell the story of who they are and are magical when you look back at them!
Best of luck this year and remember to be yourself, have fun and if you have any questions feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org To keep up with new images and posts follow me on Facebook too http://www.facebook.com/jaimebrookphotography (bc can you believe that Photography by Jaime was taken?)