I’ve recently heard the same question, “Ally, how do you take such beautiful pictures of Maisy?” I soak in the compliment, and shrug my shoulders, “You know,” I reply, “It just sort of happens.”
I’m not trying to be coy or difficult. Truth is, it a miracle to me when I get even one image to plaster up on Facebook like the amazing photographer I pretend to be. With no formal photography training (does Pinterest count?), I chalk my successes up to a few basic tips and tricks that I carry with me everywhere.
Have an end-goal not an end-game
Set yourself up with some realistic expectations. You’re not going to always get a glowing, ethereal photo of your baby snuggled up under a christmas tree. Some times, you need to be happy when they sit still for just a moment.
When I take photos of Maisy, I shoot for one photo looking at the camera, no matter her facial expression; when I’m taking photos of the whole family, I want just one picture of us all together. It’s those obtainable expectations that will make the experience so much more enjoyable for everyone.
If your camera has a multi-shot mode, use it. Kids will look at the camera for an instant with the quickest of smiles. A multi-shot camera set on a tripod can get every instant so you never miss that perfect photo.
Make room for play.
I made room for Maisy’s favorite Mickey doll, I allowed her to sing and dance. I was there to observe Maisy being Maisy and that made the photos so much more sentimental to me.
At one point during her Christmas shoot, Maisy decided she liked pulling her hat off and putting it back on; she started playing with her shoelaces; she began putting a finger to her lips, saying “hmm” before putting the finger in the air and shouting “I know!”
The photos I took during Maisy just playing were some of my favorites. Those are the moments you see everyday and will want to remember, not necessarily a staged smiling photo.
Use a tripod.
Little ones move around like crazy, when they finally sit down for a snap, the last thing you want is shaky hands to fudge a shot.
Tripods are your best friends. You should use them often.
Take advantage of light.
One of the best things I learned about taking photos came from our wonderful maternity/newborn photographer, Claire. The best light of the day is first thing in the morning or just before sundown. I’ve tried to follow that advice whenever I take Maisy’s photos and I can truly say that it is absolutely true.
Early/Late light doesn’t make you squint, it won’t wash your subject out or bounce off your lens. It’s truly the best thing you can do for your outside photos.
Kiddos will be kiddos.
Maisy didn’t want to sit for longer than a minute, she wanted to cry, she wanted to throw the ornaments off the tree. She was hungry, she was bored, she was so confused why Momma was so interested in where her tree was. But it was all okay because Maisy was just being Maisy.
Have snacks, bribes, ideas in mind and on hand to help coax your little one away from the Jedi strangle-hold pose toward a silly little grin. As their parent, you have the ability to do what a stranger can’t: you know exactly how to make them smile.
There will be a bad photo for every beautiful one. Sure, you won’t frame the bad on your mantel, but they will definitely make for a laugh!
Happy Holidays, everyone!