Taking Better Pictures of Your Kids – Peter Gregg

Sometimes, once in a blue moon, your kids can all of a sudden become co-operative and let you take some pictures of them. The window of opportunity can be quite small, so it is better to gain some skills ahead of time so you can be ready.

There are times when a teen will actually be looking forward to having his or her pictures taken, like the Senior pictures they all look forward too. You can use the school photographer or go to a photographer that specializes in making your kids look great and capture who they really are rather than the cap-and-gown smile and shoot pictures. It will be an investment well worth making.

More after the jump (click Read More)

When the rare time happens when your boy or girl will let you grab a few shots, let me share some ideas to help you make better pictures – and do it fast :)

Normally you would grab your camera, put your subject in front of a wall, have the hair combed for whatever look they might into for that week, turn your flash on and fire away. The picture would look something like this:

So, scout out a few locations and you can merrily take a couple of shots, you will be happy plus they “might” be happy. Here are a few shots all within 3 feet of each other:

Looking at the pictures they don’t look all that bad. You may be tempted to take your subject outdoors, but at that point you risk losing their interest completely so you will settle for what you got.

What can you do to make these few pictures taken within a few feet and inches of each other look better?? Come to my studio and I will take care of it for you – ha :)

Actually, there are a few very simple steps you can do to quickly change the look of these shots. You may be surprised just how easy it can actually be. Lets take these shots over and do some of the tips and tricks I will show you.

Do Your Own White Balance

First thing I do is my own white balance. I will be writing a little report on white balancing in the future, but the bottom line is my weapon of choice is the Colorrite Max Portrait color balance tool. Yup, it may sound like a push for this product, but I bought it myself and also own a lot of the other white balance products too and this is the one I rely on and use on a constant basis.

First thing to do is to turn off the flash unit and open the front door. This will give you full rich shaded light. Turn your subject towards the door, and do an easy and quick custom white balance. With the Colorright Max you can do it in reflective mode like the picture above, or thru the lens much like an expodisk would work.

Here is our first picture with the front door of the house opened and providing the main light. It already looks MUCH better:

And then I custom white balance it using the Max:

Wow, with just a couple of changes I went from the first try (first picture below) to the second try (second picture below):

Notice I also got in a little closer in my composition or framing of the shot. Not too close, and not too far. I call it Goldilocks Right composition :)

While I have my subject captured – I mean seated in the chair, I make an effort to turn her towards the direction of the light to get a rich beautiful look and use whatever is happening in the background to add depth to the picture. Here is the next shot I took while we were still in the chair:

With the next shot I simply maneuvered her and the table so it was in my light and used the table as a prop. I didn’t even bother to get rid of the lamp that I had to move out of the way and I think it actually adds character to the picture. What do you think?

It all happened quick and I haven’t lost the interest of the subject yet – it will happen soon, but so far so good :)

With the next picture I went from this first original shot below:

To this next picture below by simply opening the front door and turning my subject towards the light source and leaning her towrds the wall. What a huge difference a simple 90 degree turn can make right?. Suddenly I get a well lit subject and lots of non-distracting depth to my picture.

Here is the picture including a little special Photoshop work I would use in my studio on a daily basis to present a finished picuture to an actual client.

I cleaned the face of any blemishes, increased the contrast and saturation a bit. Suddenly I have a world class shot using nothing but natural lighting and no reflectors or any other equipment but my Nikon D3X camera in hand and an 85mm lens:

So all the drama comes from changing your mind set from snapshot mode to looking to use natural lighting. I love using flash too, but for this article I wanted to use the least amount of equipment as possible so you can try and do this at home too.

Happy Shooting and see you online :)

Peter Gregg

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