Saturday, February 14

Kid Pics, Volume 1

A while back someone was harassing me about photography and basically asked me to explain how I manage to get so many halfway-decent photos of Alexis. I happen to think there are lots and lots and lots and lots of people who rock the camera action MUCH better than I do, but after some brow-beating, I agreed that I would post a few tips to getting halfway-decent photos of a kid. I figured I would post them on the weekends when hardly anyone is reading anyway. I'm not sure how many there will be . . .until I get bored of it, I guess. Anyhoo.

In the not-so-distant past, I was one of those people who bought a disposable camera once per year, and still never managed to actually fill it. In fact, I know that somewhere in this house is an undeveloped disposable camera that has the before photos from when we remodeled our kitchen five years ago. I never had it developed because I never managed to take 36 photos, and now the camera is lost. Nowadays, I take more photos in one day than I used to take in a year. Nearly all of them are of Alexis, and the #1 thing I have learned with all that practice is to fill the frame with kid. For example:


See how it's hard to focus on the kid with all that crap in the background? It's distracting, and Alexis is so small in the photo that you can't really see her.

But if I move in closer, it's a much better photo:

(Totally a crappy set of photos, but they serve the purpose.)

Here's another example of filling the frame with kid:

It's no secret that I lurve me some extreme close-ups. I happen to think kids have the most incredible facial expressions, and the only way to truly capture them is to get close. (BTW, I have been using a 50mm lens--i.e. NO ZOOM--since mid-December. So far I have found that using my legs to get closer to what I'm photographing is much better than any kind of camera zoom because it forces me to really "see" what I'm trying to get in the frame.)

Of course, sometimes you want to photograph more than just a kid's face. You still probably want to fill the frame with kid. Like this:

Just to complicate things, there are times when the "rule" is meant to be broken. Like this one:

In that photo, it's the white space that makes the photo. If Alexis were filling the entire frame, you wouldn't be able to see the trail of footprints, or the otherwise undisturbed snow. All that blankness gives the photo a certain tone, and that would be lost with a close-up.

I tend to check my backgrounds and figure out if they detract from the photo. If they do, I move closer. Once I think I'm close enough, I move even closer. That's how I end up with a lot of photos that I'm happy with. Like this oldie but goody.


  1. Oooh, a series of posts for the idiots among you. I'm appreciative, and may stop browbeating you for help. But I wouldn't hold your breath.

  2. This was helpful to me - so thanks!

    I love these shots - the snow prints one is great, and the raincoat, and that last one. Excellent!

    Helps to have such a sweet subject.

  3. Awesome Chicky! Those are awesome and I agree completely about her face and facial expressions!

  4. ooh good tip! As soon as I get a camera that can actually keep up with my whirlwind kid, I think I'll be in business, heh. Mine is tooooo sloooow.

  5. I always enjoy hearing others' tips. My only real thought tends to be to take as many photos as I can. If I take 60, I might keep 25 and actually edit 6. Isn't it fab to be able to edit? I can't imagine being stuck with 24 or 36 photos again and being unable to manipulate them. Funny when I think how hard I resisted giving up my film!

  6. These are excellent tips. I have learned a few things from Mr. TR just by observing (and hounding him for help) and one of his big talents is a great ability to be mindful of background.

    Also, looking at your shots, you're definitely using the rule of thirds! They're gorgeous.

  7. Yup, great tips!!!! But I do have to are NOT breaking the rules with the footprint photo - you are illustrating a perfect example of the "rule of thirds"!!!

  8. I wish I could explain all that to My Sweetie and his family--they love taking photos, and take millions of them...but they're all such wide shots, most of the Howler wonderfullness gets lost in the shuffle. There's always a billion busy things (and people) in the background. It's one of the reasons (along with the *ahem* 10 lbs the camera adds anyway--oh yes it does!) I generally refuse to be in any of their photos if I can help it.

    My Sweetie does the same thing--"Oh that would make a cute picture!" so let's gets as far away as possible and make sure everything we've ever owned is in there, too. Ugh.

    Christmas is the worst. Take my picture by the tree? Okay, do you want a picture of ME or a picture of your tree? Decide, then let me know. Take a picture of your tree without me beside it for scale. double ugh.

    Thanks for the vent!

    You take such nice pics of Alexis, and I wish I could do so well with the ever-in-motion Howler.

  9. I always love reading photo tip posts! This is great. LOVE the photo of Alexis in the snow. Thanks for the linky love! :o)

  10. Thanks for clearing things up smartie pants.