Editor’s note: Menlo Park-based photographer Laura Hamilton, a frequent contributor to InMenlo, has specialized in taking children’s and family portraits for the past 10 years. The owner of LuLu Jane Photography, here she shares some of her tips for getting the best results when photographing your children or grandchildren, as well as a few of her favorite shots from 2013.
#1- Find good lighting
I always look for something I call “open-shade”. It’s where you can find shade, but it’s in an open space. That way the light isn’t too harsh and usually has a “wrap-around” quality. I like to avoid the middle of the day shooting as well — it’s a little softer in the morning and afternoon. If you’re inside, I like right near a window or doorway. Be sure to put the kids facing towards the light.
#2- Pay attention to camera settings
Have your camera set to a high enough ISO so that you stop motion when your kids are moving around, but low enough to have the clearest resolution. Remember the rule that you need to be 100th of a sec PLUS your focal length to stop motion. So, if I’m shooting my kids dancing around with my 50mm, I need to be at at least 1/150 of a second in order to stop motion.
#3- Think BRIGHT!
I always look for a bright spot, and if I can put kids in a “pop of color”. Kids always look good in bright colors, and it makes images come to life — even if it’s just a bright accessory, like an umbrella or a scarf.
#4- Put your subjects off center, not right in the middle
I try to not shoot smack dab right in the middle of my image — put your kids a little to the left or a little to the right. It looks artistic and with such a small little adjustment your image will look like the pros.
# 5- Have fun!
If you tell your kids that they “have to smile” or just put them in a spot and say, “smile!”, you’ll be left with a stale phony smile. But, if you go out and have fun, jump around and be silly, it will look like they are having fun too! I try to be sooo silly there is no way they won’t be smiling. I like to ask kids gross questions like “Who in your family has the stickiest feet?”