I guess most of us are quite busy these days with all our preparations for the holidays. I know I am, and one thing I have left to the veeeeeeeery last moment is making a Christmas card for myself. Therefore, today, in like 2 minutes, in between all the other things I need to get done, like packing for our Christmas vacation in Norway, I needed to get a decent shot of Sophie for a card, as I wanted a new picture, not something I had already used.
Ok, so how do you get a decent shot at home, in two minutes? Here is my answer: pure bribery: Sophie gives me two minutes picture time, I give her ice cream. As simple as that. Probably very politically incorrect, but it sure works. And for the record, it is the healthy yogurt ice cream with almost no sugar blablabla.
More specifically, here are my tips for getting nice pictures of your kids with no fuzz, taken at home, no studio, all natural light.
1. Light: when using natural light, try to pose your subject close to a window, to get good, natural light, preferably from the side.
2. Camera settings: Shoot wide open! I used an aperture of 2 for the pictures below. That way you will blur the background and put only your subject in focus. I used my 50mm 1.4 lens in these shots, and a shutter speed of 1/60 to make sure the pictures were sharp. Don’t go lower than 1/60 if you are not using a tripod, and shooting a child that will be moving around. Just keep it at least at 1/60.
3. Talking about background: Think about it! I always try to get a simple, one colored background, preferably white. As you can see from the ice crem pictures above, I posed my daughter on top of the couch, and managed to get a white background from there. It was really a narrow space, but you dont need more than that!
4. Get sharp pictures: This is something most of us need to work on. And I don’t mean that the entire picture has to be sharp, just the parts you focus on. And what should you focus on? The eyes. The eyes. The eyes. This is super important. As long as the eyes are sharp, the rest can be as blurry as you want, and it will in fact be kind of blurry when you shoot with an aperture of 2. For the record, I always use a manual sensor so I can really get the focus in the eyes. This is the time to get your manual out if you dont know how to do that. I promise, it will make a really big difference!
5. Fill the frame: Go closer and let your child fill the entire frame, don’t leave a lot of extra space in the picture, that is just not necessary! Don’t worry if a little part of the head is not in the shot.
6. Rule of thirds: uTry to use the rule of thirds, which is the very very basic rule of thumb for composition in photography. If you are not familiar with it, read about it here. Try to get the focus in the eye in one of the upper intersections in the 9 part grid. It is a simple, but powerful tool! But it does take a little bit of practice to get it right.
7. Shoot! Take as many pictures as you can in the short time frame you have. Ask your child to look down, to look out the window, and say something funny to make them smile. Whatever works, just shoot and get different angles and directions, and most probably you will get some very cute shots!
Good luck! I hope you take lots of pictures over the holidays to have nice memories for the future!
Here are the pictures I got in less than two minutes today (quick-edited in Photoshop though, not straight out of the camera):
And here is the Christmas card I made. Merry Christmas everyone!