5 Tips for Taking Better Pictures of Your Kids This Holiday Season

During this festive time of year you’ll no doubt be getting together with lots of family and friends.  And no doubt you’ll also be taking lots of pictures to commemorate the occasion.  If you are fortunate enough to have kids, grandkids or nieces and nephews you probably will focus much of this photographic energy on capturing the joy of the season on their beautiful little faces.  As a professional photographer and photography teacher I’ve compiled some quick tips for improving your portraits and taking those holiday snaps to the next level.  The list is by no means exhaustive however represents some easy fixes to the biggest issues plaguing the images I see from family, friends and students.

Don’t Bulls Eye Your Subject: Just because the auto focus sensors are located in the middle of your viewfinder or LCD doesn’t mean your subject should be.  Try focusing on your subject’s face/eyes and then move the camera slightly to one side, placing your main subject off center.  When main subjects are placed dead center the result is often a less dynamic or static composition.

Vermont creative child portraits

© Kurt Budliger Photography

Vermont creative child portraits

© Kurt Budliger Photography

Change Your Perspective: If you find yourself always taking photographs from a comfortable eye level position then this tip will definitely super charge your photography.  Try getting down low (hands and knees or belly) and photographing children in their world, at their eye level (works great with pets too).  It can also be fun to vary your perspectives, shoot from down low and then try some looking straight down.

Vermont creative child portraits

© Kurt Budliger Photography

Vermont creative child portraits

© Kurt Budliger Photography

Turn Off the Flash and Turn Up the ISO: Most people use the auto mode on their camera for 90% or more of their pictures.  When combined with low light (often the case indoors)  the auto mode yields an unflattering, if not darn right ugly flash exposure.  Take control of the situation by switching off the flash and turning up the ISO (sensitivity of the sensor) to get shutter speeds that are suitable for hand holding (minimum of 1/30 sec. for most point and shoots).  Today’s newer cameras are capable of great results at higher ISOs.  Sure there will be some noise but you’ll preserve the ambient light of the room without creating a spot lit subject against a black background.  Look for places inside where there is some nice available light, perhaps near the Christmas Tree, a window or lamp.

Vermont creative child portraits

© Kurt Budliger Photography

Vermont creative child portraits

© Kurt Budliger Photography

Use Exposure Compensation for Snow: With all the crazy storms on the east coast the past 24 hours it looks like much of the country will be having a white Christmas.  I’ve seen lots of shots posted by family and friends on Facebook this winter that are underexposed or too dark.  Without going into an explanation of why this occurs just know that your camera’s meter has a tough time calculating a proper exposure for scenes with lots of bright white snow.  The result is often an image that is too dark.  Use your camera’s exposure compensation (might need your manual for this, remember that thing?) to brighten the scene and make the snow white.  I find that most shots with lots of snow in the composition require at least +2/3 stop of exposure compensation.

Vermont creative child portraits

© Kurt Budliger Photography

Vermont creative child portraits

© Kurt Budliger Photography

Background, Background, Background: Simplify, simply, simply; all too often people focus (pun intended) their attention only on the main subject and the result is a busy or distracting background.  This quite possibly could be the single biggest killer of otherwise good shots.  Busy backgrounds include elements like furniture, other people, buildings, tree limbs, the sky, bright spots and myriad other objects that distract attention away from the main subject.  Instead find an angle to the subject or background that is free of “clutter” or distracting elements and your portrait subjects will pop within the frame.  If you can’t control the background try moving back and zooming in on the subject, this will reduce the angle of view and eliminate distracting elements.  Get used to looking beyond your subject and asking yourself if the background is complimentary or distracting.

Vermont creative child portraits

© Kurt Budliger Photography

Vermont creative child portraits

© Kurt Budliger Photography

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~ by kurtbudliger on December 20, 2009.

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