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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Take Better Pictures Of Your Children with
A Little Help from Connie Groah and Nikon

Photo HH

Welcome Connie Groah to Raisin Toast Photography!  We are excited to learn from your experience as a professional photographer!  Take it away Connie ...

My name is Connie Groah and I am a contemporary child photographer and the owner of Barefoot Photography® (http://www.barefoot-photo.com) in Annapolis, Maryland.  I use a mixture of documentary-style photography and relaxed poses to capture my young subjects and specialize in birth through teens.  Susan asked if I would be willing to share some photographing thoughts and tips with her readers from time to time and this is my first share here at Raisin Toast.

There’s more to getting great photos of your kids than the right equipment, a great pose, or simply “saying cheese.”  You don’t need a fancy camera to capture great snaps of your kids - even a simple point-and-shoot will do.  But there are some tips and guidelines you can follow to maximize your chances for getting a shot you will love.



Photo A

KEEP IT SIMPLE

When photographing children, it’s easy for them to get lost in the picture.  But there are some simple steps you can take to help keep the focus on the child.   Simple clothing tends to work best toward keeping the attention on the child.  Little Emily may love Minnie Mouse, but some patterns, logos or emblems can tend to compete for attention in a photo.  Often solids are easiest to keep the focus where it belongs- on your child!


WHAT AM I SEEING?

One thing that can really get in the way of a great photograph is a distracting background.  You may realize that the tree behind Johnny is a good six feet back, but somehow, after the frame has been snapped, the tree suddenly appears to be sprouting from Johnny’s head!  Likewise, clutter or junk in the background can steal the attention away from an adorable expression, so when you can, remove these obstacles.



Photo close up

GET CLOSE

You may end up finding yourself down on the floor to do this - that’s OK!  Kids are short or at least I haven’t seen too many 5-foot tall one year olds.  You may have to get down and dirty on their level to really capture them at their best.

Even then, it’s often as important to think about what you want to leave OUT of the frame as what you want to include.   Don’t be afraid to get in close and really focus on your child without all the distractions of their environment.  There’s nothing I love more than a super close up shot of an adorable little face.



Photo D

BE CREATIVE

You know that little square smack dab in the middle of your viewfinder of your camera?  Well, ignore it!  Most people like to line faces up with that little square but dead-centered pictures tend to be much less visually interesting than shots that are composed a bit more creatively.



Photo E 

As Dr. Sheila Cason discussed in her article on composition, the rule of thirds is a composition tool for photographers to line their subjects up along the vertical lines or intersections that are created if you were to visually divide an image into nine equal parts with two equally-spaced horizontal lines and two equally-spaced vertical lines.  For those of us shooting children, this means that as a general rule, we try not to center the eyes in the middle of a picture (think of those elementary yearbook pictures!) but instead try to line up the child’s body with a vertical line and their eyes with a horizontal line.  See the difference?



Photo F 

Along these lines, using negative space can also be quite complimentary when used creatively.  While there are times when filling the whole frame is a great idea, other times you may want to create a sense of space and give your little subject some breathing room.



Photo G

WATCH YOUR LIGHT

Some of my favorite shots ever were taken in the “golden hour," just before sunset.  The light has a completely different quality to it in the early morning hours or at the end of the day before sunset.  When possible, aim to shoot during these picture-perfect times.  The light is softer and more flattering than during the middle of the day when it is beating down from straight overhead.

If you find yourself shooting mid-day, don’t despair!   There are still ways to soften the light a bit.  Try guiding your little one under the soft shade of a tree or perhaps under a porch overhang. 

Finally, if possible, turn off your flash.  Natural light is always more flattering that the harsh light put off by a flash.



Photo H

DON’T SAY CHEESE!

Lastly, in my opinion, and most importantly, stop with the cheese already!  I have yet to see a child smile naturally when told to “say cheese."  Yet parents insist on asking their children to do so when taking pictures.  Then they wonder why sweet Alyssa looks like she’s growling with her face contorted into a shape they’ve never seen before.  Saying cheese simply does not elicit natural smiles.

Talk to your child, act silly, sing songs, tell jokes - whatever you need to do to engage them and get their mind off the fact they are being photographed.  Besides, if you can make it fun, there’s a lot better chance your child will be excited to see you coming the next time you pull out your camera!

***************************************

Connie Connie Groah has quickly become a sought-after children’s photographer in the greater Annapolis area for her unique eye and her ability to preserve little pieces of this precious time as she captures your children exploring their expanding world. The pensive stares, pouts, smiles and giggles are all part of their unique personalities. A child’s innocence, curiosity and natural state of wonder make for perfect opportunities to capture life as art. Connie believes that every stage, every milestone, deserves to be remembered and that you will never regret having too many pictures of your children. They grow up so fast, and the stages they go through pass quickly. The way he sticks his tongue out when he crawls, the way she giggles excitedly with her first steps, his proud smile after he loses that first tooth, her nervous fidgeting before her first prom date… these are the moments that we wish to imprint in our memories.  Connie will document these genuine expressions, moments and little details that may otherwise be forgotten.

Connie Groah is having 35 of her beautiful baby images published in The Big Book of Babies, released in March, 2008. She is an Approved Registered Member of the International Registry of Children’s Photographers (www.irocp.com), an exclusive collection of the finest children’s photographers from across the world promoting the highest standards in children’s portrait photography. She is also a member of the Professional Photographers of America, Wedding and Portrait Photographers International, and Professional Photographers of Greater Annapolis. She resides in Annapolis, Maryland with her husband and their two active sons. She is available for commission for portraits as well as commercial work with children in the Annapolis, Baltimore, and Washington DC areas. Inquire about availability for travel.

NikonD80

Now for the kicker - I've got a great surprise for my readers.  How would you like to start taking excellent pictures of your children with a brand new digital camera?  And, how would you like that camera to be a brand new Nikon D80? 

Hmmm.  I thought so.  Are your eyes popping yet?  You are going to love this camera.  Hey, it's a NIkon so you know it's going to provide you with the best pictures ever! 

Just answer the following question in the comments:

NikonD80Back

What gives you the most frustration about taking digital pictures of your children?

This contest will end at 4pm EST on Thursday, March 19th.  Winner will be announced at about 6pm EST on Thursday evening and chosen by the Sponsor who is providing this wonderful camera to my readers! 

Sorry guys, but family and close friends are not eligible.  I know, life stinks sometimes, but if I want to keep my sponsors I have to be honest - and uh, I'm an honest doobie.

Now, start thinking about that question and leave a comment ...

SusieQSignature 

I know that one reader is going to be one lucky duck enjoying "her" new Nikon D80.

So, you all shared with me what your biggest frustrations are in photographing children.  Fortunately, we have Connie to help us get it right.

And the winner of the new Nikon D80 is ...

ALICIA C.!!!  CONGRATULATIONS ALICIA!

Alicia wrote the following:

NikonWinner

  

Thank you to everyone who entered.  I'll have more great contests soon!  

Alicia - contact me at susan@raisin-toast.com to claim your great prize.


Note: SusieQ sponsored this giveaway on Raisin Toast.  Since I love Nikon cameras, it was easy for me to agree to this gift for you.  If it is Nikon, I know it is great.  I will tell you, though, that I do not know anyone at Nikon, or Wolf Camera, or B&H Photo.  I just hang out at the camera store a lot.




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