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Simple and modern baby photos – getting started

 

 

 

Welcoming a new baby into your life and your heart often means a beginning of a little bit of baby photo obsession. Trust me. I’ve been there, done that, got myself into photography business 🙂

But all too often, the great kind of baby photos seem elusive. We end up with hundreds of phone camera snaps but not so many of the better quality ones, suitable for printing. And I know that often parents start with their ‘proper’ cameras, only to become disappointed with what they get out of it, where in reality, sometimes a few very simple tweaks is all it takes to make the photos look great.

With that in mind, we created a guide in which we explain 10 beautiful, modern and simple baby photos which you can achieve with almost any camera and no fancy props beyond a simple blanket laid out on your bed. The guide is free for you to download and put into practice  🙂  It’s a non-technical guide, meaning we don’t go on about specific camera settings, instead focusing on how to capture the images, using almost any camera, where and how to position your baby, what shooting angle to choose and what common pitfalls to look out for.

Below are a couple of pages from the guide to give you an idea what you’ll be getting:

 

 

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5 tips for taking great photos of your children in the bluebells

 

 

Are you getting out there with your camera today?

If you want to make the most of the bluebells while they’re still in full bloom, here are our best tips for seriously beautiful photos:

An important caveat here : bluebells are an ancient wildflower but they can be vulnerable to habitat destruction so make sure that when you go exploring your local woods, you cause as little harm to them as possible = don’t pick, don’t trample, leave them as little disturbed as possible. 

 

1. You want LOTS of them

Pick an area where the bluebells are nice and dense – the strength of a flower carpet is in the sheer volume of the photos – give yourself the best advantage by finding somewhere that has an abundance of flowers! Here is some help finding bluebells near you from the Woodland Trust. Our student Sarah Gannon used the abundance of flowers beautifully – by focusing on the logs in the front, she made the bluebells melt into background, creating a beautiful scene, rich in colour and with subtle texture.

Sarah_Gannon_bluebells

Photo by student Sarah Gannon

2. Think big picture

Before you zoom in on the photos, consider the overall magical scene with the gorgeous flower carpet that’s painted in front of you and shoot that as well – make your photos high and wide, choose a wide angle focal length and picture the whole scene.

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3. aaaand the detail

Once you’ve got those wide images, don’t forget to explore the delicate nature of the flowers by going closer in and creating tighter frames. Putting the wider shot and the detail together can give you a really beautiful collage.

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4. Get your angles right

Most people shoot from where they stand, without varying the height of the angle and you can make such a difference by getting a bit lower to the ground, you know, where your subject is. Try shooting low, at around the flower height, get your kids to crouch down or sit down amongst the flowers to get the most of it. By shooting low,  you allow yourself to develop a good depth in the photo, almost multiplying the volume of the flowers. Shooting from above and into the ground takes away the sense of flower abundance. In the photo below, the little girl is crouching among the flowers with some at the front being out of focus and some lovely and sharp ( for those of you comfortable around a camera, that’s playing with a shallow depth of field)

bluebell_woods_2013-79

5. Bluebells as foreground

Don’t just think of the bluebells as a gorgeous background. Bringing them to the front and either keeping them sharp and your subjects blurry or just using them as a bit of a blurry background can bring a real 3D dimension to your images, lifting them from ordinary, to something a bit more special. Our student Valsa Shah kept the bluebells sharp in the foreground which adds lovely texture to the image. The silhouette of father and a daughter in the background has the perfect blur which means our eyes don’t go there first, focusing on the flowers instead, but at the same time it’s delicate enough to make it clear who they are.

photo by student Valsa Shah

photo by student Valsa Shah

 

 

 

Camera settings:

Choose a shallow depth of field for creating varied texture in the images – ideally you want some flower details around your subject that further melt into the background into a blur of colour and light. You can create it either by picking a wide aperture ( the smallest possible number on your camera), getting close to your subject and zooming in ( ideally all 3 ). Don’t just think background when it comes to creating a texture in the photo – shooting through the flowers brings in a great candid dimension to the photos.

And above all – have fun and mess around with your kids – let them play and  capture the joy! Get them to hide behind logs and flowers and examine the flowers from up close! Play pick-a-boo behind the flowers and encourage them to explore by themselves. When they have fun, beautiful photo opportunities will always follow – you just need to capture them!

Happy snapping!

Want to learn more of what your camera can do? Check out our photography courses, designed especially for Mums and Dads with a passion for photographing their families – just like you! Pick from face-to face, London based classes and Online workshops.

check out our courses

London classes

online_classes

 

 

 

 

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How to take blurry background photos?

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What to photograph when you photograph babies?

What to photograph when photographing babies? Because, well, they don’t do a lot, do they? How to capture something interesting when all they do is lie there / sleep and feed? HOLD THAT THOUGHT.

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The most common mistake in portrait photography

There is one thing, that without you ever touching any of your camera settings, dials, buttons and modes can be the make or break of your photo. It’s a mistake we see most often with new photographers. And it’s one you can correct with a flick of your wrist.

I’m talking about your zoom lens. Or rather the fact that your zoom lens does an awful lot more than just zoom.

Most people assume that your zoom is there to bring distant object closer to you. The more you zoom, the more you can bring them in. By the same logic, your ‘least zoomed in’ lens position is therefore the ‘neutral’. Right? WRONG! 

Check out the two images below. The first one was taken with the lens not zoomed in at all and the second, zoomed in to the max (within the constraints of that particular lens). We moved a few steps backwards with the latter photo to maintain the same proportion of the portrait in the frame for comparison.

 

Quite a difference, wouldn’t you say? Now, you may not know the child in question, but I can assure you, that she looks nothing like the first photo. So what happened here?

The photos above illustrate beautifully how the length of your zoom ( or to give it it’s proper name – your Focal Length) changes the way the space in your photograph is shown.

So what does the zoom actually do? 

The less you zoom in, the more your camera will stretch the space – if you take a picture of a room at your least zoomed in and compare it later to what it looks like ‘to the naked eye’ you will see that the photo will make the space appear larger, longer, deeper, more spacious – now you know the estate agent’s favourite tool!

So far so good, but unfortunately, especially when you take a photo up close, it will do the very same to the person’s face – stretch it, skew it, exaggerate the facial features, producing an extremely unflattering image.

By contrast, zooming in, compresses and compacts the space, making the space look smaller, distances shorter, and human faces – much, much more flattering (with the added bonus of often creating the blurry background we like so much). It will also reduce the amount of visual clutter in the background of your image. Just compare the two images below and how much you can see behind the child in the first and second image.


lensWhat is best for portraits then? And how do I know how much zoom is enough?

If you have a DSLR, chances are that when you look on your lens, you will see some numbers on the side – on most lenses that come with DSLRs as a standard, they will often go from 18 – 55.

  • 18mm, for most entry level cameras will be the shortest Focal length – the least zoomed in – it will give you the widest, longest largest space and alien looking portraits
  • around 30mm – this will be most ‘life like’ when compared to the view with the naked eye. The portrait will be fine, though if you get to close, it may still look a little ‘off’. Generally safe enough for portraits though.
  • 50mm and more – that’s when the compression comes into play and people start looking their best.

If you’re shooting with a compact or a bridge camera ( where the lens doesn’t detach and there are no markings on the lens) you’ll need to do a little trial and error to determine where your good portrait range starts. Test your zoom range by standing in the same point in the room and taking a succession of images of the space , changing nothing but the zoom – a little bit at the time. Witch each picture compare how the space feels to what you see with your naked eye – when it starts looking about the same or smaller than your actual space, that’s where your good portrait range starts.

TEST YOUR SKILLS

  • Find a willing portrait volunteer
  • Set your camera on the longest zoom first – try to fill the frame with your subject’s face so that their face covers at least 50% of the frame – leaving just a little space above the top of the head and below the shoulder line. Take the picture
  • Try to recreate the same image with reduced zoom ( around 30mm this time). You will need to get closer to your subject to achieve it. Take the picture.
  • Bring your zoom all the way down and get closer still to your subject – you may be finding yourself almost uncomfortably close to them. Remember, we’re trying to get the same proportions of face to frame.
  • Compare the images – notice how the face changes with each zoom change. If you have a longer lens ( 100 or 200mm) try it as well to see how it affects the image.

A little caveat here. I am not actually advocating never using short focal length ( small zoom) with people photos again. The advice above, applies mostly to portraiture, and especially when you are relatively close to the person you photograph. It is still absolutely fine if you want to capture a wider scene and when your subject is a little distance away.

WANT TO LEARN MORE? 

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Love the look of those festive lights in the background? Here is how you get them:

I really really really love Christmas. I cheer up instantly pretty much from the 1st December or as soon as the fairy lights start going up all over the place. They’re such a lovely accent among the doom and gloom of the winter, I really couldn’t be without them.

But photographically speaking – if there is such a thing – they are great because they give you fabulous opportunities to get some beautiful BOKEH.

Bokeh is a real word ( I promise), it comes from Japanese and describes the light circles we can get on our photographs, usually in the background. Like the ones below ( all our students photos).

The great news is that they are actually not difficult to capture and they bring such a lovely festive feel to your photos. Follow our 3 steps and you’ll be bokeh-in all over your photos.

The process:

Before go go any further, make sure your camera is set right:

If you’re shooting on auto: set your camera to Portrait or High Sensitivity.

If you’re shooting in semi-auto or manual mode : set your aperture to the widest available setting ( smallest number you have) and ( unless you;re using tripod or something else where you can just set your camera steady by itself) up your ISO to 800 – 1600 ( or until you’re able to get a shutter speed above 1/60s).

If possible, try to make sure that the subject you’re photographing is facing a window or another source of light.

To make bokeh as attractive and as effective as possible, we are essentially trying to throw them out of focus as much as possible. And here is your 3 step plan to achieve it.

Step 1. Distance to the lights

The closer your lights are to your subject, the more in focus they will be. So to give yourself a chance of getting it right, move your subject a little distance from the lights.

xmasbokeh-page-1

Step 2. Distance to your subject.

The further you are from the point you are focusing on, the more everything in the frame will be in focus. Easy way to test it – grab your camera and hold one arm in front of your lens. Take a picture focusing on your hand. Now without moving an inch from where you are or changing anything on your camera, focus on something a bit further away. If you compare the two pictures, you’ll see that one has comparatively much more blur in the background than the other.

xmasbokeh-page-2

 

Step 3. Zoom in

The more you zoom in on your subject, the more you compress the entire space in your frame ( trust us on it) and the more your lights will be thrown out of focus. So use as much zoom as you can in the space you’re in – longer zoom will require you to be physically further away from your subject or it won’t let you focus. Yes, I know in the step above we made a point of saying – get close to your subject – this means, get as close as you can with your zoom stretched out. Try to zoom in so much that your subject occupies at least half the space in the frame.

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IN SUMMARY

1. Get your subject away from the lights

2. Get close to your subject

3. Zoom in on your subject

Good luck and a very happy Christmas from The Photography for Parents team!

Feast your eyes on more wonderful examples of bokeh from our students!