Mommy Matters: Family Photography

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Kristie Touchstone talks about how moms can photograph their children for the holidays.

Here’s some great tips.

1. Equipment (what camera is best for the $, important settings on a camera, other important add-ons like tripod and zoom lenses)

  • The ‘best’ camera is relative to the user
  •  35mm DSLR – commit to taking class before buying one if you are a beginner
  • Compact digital (8M resolution or higher) – focus on 2 settings – ISO and shutter speed.
  • When considering a camera, especially a compact, finding one with a RECHARGABLE battery is the way to go (and buy one extra!).
  • SLR’s come with a rechargeable battery and charger.
  • Tripods for large groups, but otherwise not necessary for daily use
  • Removable zoom lenses (SLR) – more for the seasoned photographer.
  • USB Thumb drive – very universal if you plan to take your pictures somewhere to be printed in-store. Pictures can be copied from your camera/computer to the thumb drive. Otherwise, not every store may have the card reader for the card that your camera uses.

2. Other techniques to consider – foreground, background, black and white, etc.

  • Background shouldn’t be distracting
  • Background should have a good contrast with the subject(s) clothing (not blend in)
  • Watch out for things that appear to be coming out of someone’s head/body
  • Don’t cut off (out of the frame) at the ankles or the wrists
  • Family photos: if you have a zoom lens of any kind, do not use it as it will alter the resolution of the photo. Walk up as close as you can to the group getting everyone in the shot and leave some open space around them. This is to allow for cropping if needed. It also allows you to choose a wider variety of ‘frames’ to use for holiday cards other photo projects later on
  • Balance out spacing in group photos – works best with a larger group if some are sitting, some are standing, etc.
  • Black & white: most cameras (and/or basic software) have the option to switch a color photo into black & white.

3. Logistics: best time of day to photograph inside and outside; stand in front or behind the sun; overhead best/worst weather for photographs (sunny, overcast, snow, etc), window light, tricks to manipulate indoor outdoor light?

  • Outdoor photos: best on a more overcast day (not many shadows)
  • OK to use flash outside to ‘fill in’ any shadow lines (applies to people pictures)
  • Avoid having people – especially children – towards the sun (squinting eyes, hands up)
  • Lighting inside – use flash, use higher ISO (400 or 800) especially at night when there is little natural light
  • Manipulating indoor light…I don’t typically do this so I really don’t have any special tips.

4.Once the photo is taken – best places to turn it into a holiday card

  • Again…all relative based on how much you want to spend
  • Most affordable are places like Wal-Mart, Sam’s and Costco or Walgreens, CVS, other drug store chains
    – In-store or online ordering / pick-up
    – Customization may not be as versatile as some of the online stores

5. Pricier but more original – Shutterfly, Tiny Prints, Snapfish, VistaPrint.

  • These are online stores – some people may be intimated by them
  • Some of these will offer to address envelopes/stamp them for a fee
  • More customization…more options on card style and size
  • More upscale looking
  • Usually an option to include more photos on the back and short blurbs
  • Can get matching items – return address labels, sometimes envelopes