Capturing beautiful and simple images of your baby needn’t be hard and complicated and it doesn’t need to include lots of fussy props. This guide is non-technical and instead focuses on simple instructions you can follow with any camera.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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!
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.
Love the look of that soft, glowy, blurry background in portrait photos? You can achieve it too! Follow our 4 foolproof steps!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Feeling like you’re taking the same children’s photos over and over again?
It’s so easy to fall into a routine with anything, photography included. We tend to be drawn to the same poses, the same angles, the same perspective and before we know it, we’re in possession of hundreds of photos that only vary ever so slightly. If that rings a bell, it’s time to set yourself up a challenge and see how what you see through your lens, changes – and with it – your photos.
Today’s challenge, if you’re willing to accept it is COLOUR.
It’s amazing how a choice of colour can make or break a photo. Use it to accentuate a point of interest and that’s where everyone’s eyes are drawn. Usea toned down palette of similar pastel colours and your photo goes from boring to dreamy. Use contrasting background and make things ‘pop’ agains it.
Your challenge for the weekend is to pick a colour or a colour palette and try to incorporate it into your children’s photos you’ll be taking throughout the weekend – be it in the background, as an accent element or just recurring splash of colour. Think about how it dominates or defines parts of your photo. Observe how using it in the background or the foreground makes a difference. Match it with similar or contrasting colours. Whatever you do, it has to be in every photo you take.
Some inspiration for you below:
If you flick through your photo collection, you are likely to see quite a few photos that look distinctly like one another. We tend to find one or two angles that ‘work’ and produce satisfactory results and just limit ourselves to them. The thing is, however nice they are, they rarely tell a powerful story and can get a little bit…dare I say…boring?
This little creative exercise doesn’t require anything apart from 15 min of your time. Try it! It may just help you shake things up!
1. Get yourself a timer ( the old fashion kind or on your phone – we’re not fussy)
2. Pick a time of the day when your child is calm, preferably preoccupied with something, or for babies – asleep.
3. Make sure your camera is ready, you checked your light settings to make sure the photos have the best chance of coming out bright and then…
4. Set the timer on for 15 minutes and take as many VARIED photos as you can. Move around your child, shoot from above, from behind, from the floor. Go very close and move a few feet away. Shoot the little details and take in the whole scene. Notice the light and how moving around your child will change things.
5. When the time is up, stop shooting and review your photos.
Most people will exhaust their ‘go-to’ poses in the first 5-10 minutes so the last 5 minutes is the time when you push yourself and are forced to find different angles and perspectives. Some of the photos will turn out great, others not so. It doesn’t matter, if you discover even just a couple of new angles, this will be worth it.
Give it a try!