Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Using a chair as a prop to photograph your kids

I always try to create a mixture of candid shots, tight close ups and planned posed shots. For the more posed portraits, I will often use a chair as a prop.  It's not surprising that you would find a couch or chair in a portrait studio but it's a little more unexpected in an outdoor photoshoot location. The fact that a nice-looking chair is out of place in a natural setting is one of the reasons photographers commonly use this prop during portrait sessions. Kids will often have a hard time standing still in one place, but I've found that offering them a chair to sit in makes it a lot easier. It's also a great way to encourage and control interactions between siblings. For the same reasons photographers like to use chairs outside, the prop is a great idea for parents trying to take more posed portraits of their kids in a natural setting.  

Here are some things to consider when selecting a chair for your session.

(1) The chair, clothing and setting you use should all look good together.
When you are trying to create a more purposeful, styled portrait of your kids you must consider elements of design, such as color and texture, and how the visual elements of your photograph will all work together. This means that the color, texture and type of chair you select should go with the clothing and surroundings you will use.

(2) Size matters.
Consider the size of the child who will use the chair. A large chair can swallow up a toddler and steal some attention away from the subject of the photograph. One way to avoid this is to ask small children to sit on the edge of the chair not against the very back of it.

(3) Anything can be a "chair."
The "chair" you select does not necessarily need to be a chair. Below are a couple examples of objects I used for past sessions.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Autumn Portrait Session

These images are from an autumn mini session I recently did. I couldn't have asked for better kids to work with! :) The age difference between these brothers is about the same as my boys and it was so amusing to watch how the dynamic between them is so similar to what I experience day to day. Boys will be boys, right? ;-)  

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Pumpkin Patch

As far as I'm concerned, it's not really autumn (autumn sounds so much prettier than fall) until our annual trip to the pumpkin patch. It was really a trip too. We drove about an hour to get there, but it was totally worth it. I love the orange and green in the background of the pictures. Even in black and white, the ground and vines create such a beautiful texture. I also love how the images I take every year at the pumpkin patch document how much the kids have grown since the last October.

When I take photographs at the pumpkin patch I really try to let the kids wander around and do what they will as I snap candid images. I give them a little direction. When my youngest found the pumpkin he wanted, I asked him if he wanted to sit on it so I could take his picture with his pumpkin. He was happy to comply. :)

As always, it's important to shoot while the camera is at eye level with your kids. (alternatively I shoot from straight above them so the ground sort of becomes the backdrop for the picture) I always plan to take photos during the last 45 min or so before sunset as there is not any shade out in the field. And, taking pictures in the middle of a sunny day without shade is not ideal. This time of year, sunset is pretty early, so it doesn't interfere with the little one's bedtimes.

Just want to add a side by side comparison to illustrate the point I made earlier in this post about lighting.  The photograph on the left was taken close to sunset and the one on the right was shot in the middle of the day with no shade.

Bright sun causes distracting shadows on faces. Sometimes it can't be helped and you will be in the bright sun and want to take a picture. I mitigated this situation by making sure that the light was coming from his side as much as possible. It even helped that his head happened to be tilted in this frame. The sun was to his left and a little above him. When he tilted his head, the sun that was shining down on top of his head was now effectively shining across the side of his face instead. Looks pretty darn cute too. Lucky me! :)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Trick or Treat!

Tips for getting great costume shots of your little ones:

1. Try to take some pictures early enough to use daylight. Sunlight is definitely looks better than indoor lights or the pop up flash on the camera.

2. Get a shot of your princess, buzz lightyear, or pumpkin :) doing something (like walking down the street in the example below) instead of just sitting still for a picture. It's more fun and the picture will look more lifelike.

3. I like to take costume pics out on the street in front of my house.  The road provides a natural, blank backdrop against the costume and the sides of the street naturally frame your kids in the picture. The street also happens to be appropriate since they will, after all, be walking down the street as they skip from house to house.

4. Doorstep pictures are also nice with halloween decor and pumpkins.

Happy Halloween!!

Friday, October 14, 2011


This time of year there are wildflowers blooming all over the place. This week I took my kids to an empty lot in our neighborhood where there was some tall grass and lots of flowers. ( I checked it out ahead of time to make sure there was nothing that might hurt them!)  It was sunset and the light was soft and dreamy. They were so excited to pick flowers....for about five minutes. Then they were ready for something new. I only need a short time to snap some gorgeous pictures though. I love this time of year...cooler weather, earlier sunsets. Some time soon we are going out to the pumpkin patch! Can't wait to post those pictures! :)