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A Guide to Child Photography

Will with stuffed dog

Not that I pretend to be a great photographer.  I am not.  I’m not even good at hiding my flawed photography with fancy editing software like Photoshop.  But I love light and expressions.  The faces and the world around me are a constant source of inspiration.  Capturing them on film seems as natural as shoveling food at them.  Oh, and I do shovel food at people.  No one is safe.  Not even the UPS man.  But back to photography.

Will peeking
Josh and I love wandering around snapping pictures, messing with camera settings, and just taking it all in.  More than anything, we love the money we save on buying art for our walls and gifts for our friends.  Sometimes this means that we get to save our friends money, too.

Like the star of this morning’s post, Will, who would have cost his exhausted (but completely adorable) mother a small fortune and at least four nights of sleep had we not been able to nab some nifty S.O.C. (straight out of the camera) shots of the boy.  **Those of you without children are scratching your heads and wondering what a trip to Olan Mills has to do with losing four nights worth of sleep (I know this because I recently woke up as a parent to four children and still have a memory of things being just “Josh and Lacy”… though it is quickly fading… and couldn’t imagine how stressful simple tasks become when you must haul a squirming youth along with you).**

Trying to get kids to a photographer is like herding hamsters.  Only worse because you must have them napped, fed, bathed, primped, combed, plucked, scoured, clothed, and lassoed before getting in the car.  Once you are in the car and driving, your child manages to magically and mysteriously return to his/her previous state of resembling a fraternity boy at six o’clock on any given Sunday morning.  Then there is a rushed trip to the cramped bathroom at the studio (which always smells strongly of coffee, cigarettes, and stale popcorn) where you rebathe your child in the shallow sink, dry him/her under the automated hand dryer, and scramble to get the little monster out the door before he/she discovers the soap and lotion dispensers.  You get several shots of your child appearing to float on a box covered with black fabric and black background (smelling faintly of Baby Magic and poopy diapers), mop up tears & comb hair, and finally pay for the shots while picking damp Cheerios off of your shirt.

So, photographing children at home or at the park seems like a safe and happy alternative to the misery above.  Don’t you think?

Will having fun

First: Do not change your child’s pants or tights.  Keep your wardrobe selections limited to attractive but easy to change into items. For little boys: bring a few nice polo shirts (like three).  For little girls: jumpers or dresses — not both.  If you pick jumpers, keep the same blouse on under each jumper.

Second: Bring a comfort item (washed & cleaned) for them to play with and snacks that aren’t very messy like banana chips.

Will Warming Up

A typical warm up shot.

Third:  Do a few warm up shots to get your child used to be stalked by paparazzi.  These warm up shots may be taken before you mop up your child.

Will walking

Fourth: Have a friend entertain your child and help you get them to climb on items, run, and explore.  Do not expect the child to sit still and pose for the camera.  It is not a stationary shoot.  Keep your settings simple, avoid using your flash — just use the natural light and make very subtle changes with aperture (when photographing kids, I keep a wide aperture and a fast shutter speed).

Close up of Will

Fifth: Enjoy the process.  Don’t forget snacks for yourself, too.  Your child will feed off of your energy so if you are cranky, hungry, and stressed — guess who else will be cranky, hungry, and stressed?

Thank you for tuning in to this post.  Come back often because I’ve got a giveaway just around the corner and you’re going to LOVE it!

  • ellyn - I love to outdoor pictures of the kids. They look so natural. It’s a little harder now that it is winter. Snow tends to wash out pretty faces.

    Beautiful pictures. He is a real cutie.ReplyCancel

  • Michele - Very nice, Lacy. I love straight out of the camera shots.

    That is one handsome little guy.ReplyCancel

  • Rosa - Your pictures are really perfect and the model is so sweet ;-P! Great job!

    It is a little like taking pictures of cats. They always move and will not pose for you…

    Cheers,

    RosaReplyCancel

  • Simple Livin' gal - Hey Ellyn! Thank you for the compliment! I thought he did a stand-up job of getting in the light and being a real cutie-pie.

    Good Morning, Michele! Aren’t S.O.C. shots the best? I adore them. I can’t stand what Photoshop does to eyes — turns them into demonic anime critters. Yuck!

    Rosa! Thank you so much! I’m so glad that you like my photos. I really love taking them. You take such gorgeous photos — a compliment from you means so much!!!

    Love,
    lacyReplyCancel

  • Julie at Elisharose - Those are some great shots. Wish you were around to shoot my babies…when they were babies.

    Thanks for your kind words. I’m perking up already. But it is going to be a long month!ReplyCancel

  • Tina - very nice photos!ReplyCancel

  • The Cotton Wife - You completely NAILED the going-to-a-photo-studio experience. That’s why I use the outdoors as my studio – Period.

    Also? My UPS man and the girls’ school bus driver pack on the pounds because of me. I love watching people eat! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Linda Sue - Very good tips – I ran a photography studio for a short time and trust me – most of what you get from them is sales pressure and stuff you never knew (or really) wanted. Take LOTS of pictures and praise the Lord for digital cameras! Thanks for coming by my blog and never apologize for not visiting more often – you have such beautiful reasons to be uber busy!ReplyCancel

  • Aunt Laura - This was the easiest photoshoot we’ve had. The last trip to Olan Mills ended with a bloody lip in the ER.

    Thanks for taking so many gorgeous pics, I’m still not sure which we want to frame.ReplyCancel

  • Valarie Lea - Very Very good advice and he is a cutie!!!ReplyCancel

  • Kim - I loved your post. I have never had my kids “professionally” photographed. Well, I attempted once when Luke was a baby and that did it for me. I said “never again” and I have not and they are 6 & 8. I love to take pictures too and I took nearly 2000 in 08′. I am striving to be better but it takes time and practice. Great photos and cute boy!ReplyCancel

  • Paulette - That is one cute kid! Good shots.ReplyCancel

  • Kath - You are such a quick study!!! You have that photo shoot nightmare down to a T. Been there and did way too much of that!

    I need to get looking for someone to do a family photo shoot this summer. Someone casual and gifted like you! But in South Dakota!!!!

    Ups man must look forward to stopping by!! LOLReplyCancel

  • Dawn - What gorgeous photos. He is adorable. I must confess my children have not had professional photos done in years and my mom keeps nagging. A couple weeks ago, she asked for photos we had taken to get prints of them. I told her she should do prints of photos she has taken on her more fancy, expensive camera. She said, “Like that will ever get done.” I said, “Must be genetic”. She dropped the subject. When there is so much to do and limited finances, some really important things go by the wayside. I think you did a great job photographing the young un.ReplyCancel

  • rue - Hi Lacy 🙂

    Great post! I need to learn how to change my shutter speed and I’ll give this a try. Thank you 🙂

    rueReplyCancel

  • Robin - You have done an undeniable wonderful job at catching this little guy’s personality, Miss Lacy! :mrgreen:

    I miss you. It’s been a really really hard month.

    You are such a WONDERFUL mother! Love & hugs, RobinReplyCancel

  • Holly the Knitter - Wow, Lacy, those are great photos and fabulous tips!ReplyCancel

  • Dianne - ADORABLE little subject and wonderful photography! Great job, Lacy! I’ll look forward to seeing your four in the future…I’m sure you’re taking some wonderful pics of them and enjoying every minute of it!

    Love,
    DianneReplyCancel

  • Laurie - He’s a cutie pie, for sure! Great photos!ReplyCancel

  • LoriW - And here’s another thing Lacy…..years from now, when the kiddos are grown up and moving away from you bit by bit, it isn’t those Olan Mills photographs that touch your heart so much…it’s those less then perfect, caught in the act shots that bring a warmth deep down to your toes; that cause a tear to form in the corner of your eye and a smile to tug at the corners of your mouth…..

    I know of what I speak….my staircase photo wall doesn’t have one Olan Mills photo on it …..every one is a snap shot of a moment in the past 25 years of child rearing……..Dad and babe sharing a good night kiss, or a rocking chair moment, big sis speaking softly in baby brother’s ear, a set of four cousins with their backs to the camera but with arms around each other listening to a beach concert, two little ones fresh from a swim in a kiddie pool peaking through a fence with their wet panties hanging to their knees….those are the priceless shots…..moments in time that never come this way again…..ReplyCancel

  • CrossView - I love that little face! And the puppy in the top photo…. =DReplyCancel

  • Tipper - Lacy-your photos of the little one are amazing! And I so agree with you on the whole professional photo shoot thing!ReplyCancel

  • Laura the Other Knitter - Ha! thought this might have been #5 for a moment!!

    Yes, I will be over–just getting carried away with the home improvement (and please-let-it-sell-before-PCS) projects!

    Hmmm, may even have some fabric for the keep them interested in sewing projects, too!!

    Happy Parenting and Knitting!
    LauraReplyCancel

  • Barb - These are adorable Lacy! Much better than going to a Pro! YOU are the pro here and these are so precious!
    Keep the pix coming of the kids! I love them!
    {{hugs and love}}
    Momma BarbReplyCancel

  • Michelle - So cute!ReplyCancel

  • Laura’s Laundry Tips — Save Water and Money! : Razor Family Farms - […] by Laura Bailey: Southern belle, mom to the charming Will (click here to gaze adoringly), and friend to the author of this […]ReplyCancel

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