I am a wife and a stay-at-home mom of three young children, Ryan 7, Ezra 3, and my little lady Adeline 1. My interest in photography started when my parents bought me my very first disposable camera at age 7. I still have these early photos with stuffed animal props against my bedsheet background with a dismembered lamp as my light-source and my (very willing) sister who was thrilled to be my model. I didn’t know what the term ‘macro’ was, but I attempted lots of macros. They never really turned out very good (turns out disposable cameras aren’t great for that). We all have to start somewhere! I really became invested in photography (only about 3 years ago). One of my goals in photography has been to see the calm in a busy situation. We all know how loud a household of 3 little people under 7 can be.
Keep it simple. I try not to have multiple things, or even people in my shots. When I set up for my shoot, I find myself taking things away rather than adding them. Unless a mess is a part of the story, avoid clutter. I love to shoot against open walls and areas in my house that are esthetically pleasing. I love close up shots which can emphasize details of my kids that I don’t ever want to forget. Sometimes, I am lazy and don’t pick up around my subject, so close up is my only option.
Move away from distracting things and multiple colors (with few exceptions, such as rainbows or other complimenting colors). Keep in mind you can always change hues and colors in post production to create a complimentary palette, but you need to have a good base. If something is stark black it’ll be harder to brighten it up to a natural, vibrant color. I love neutral clothing, grey, tan, brown, oatmeal. Also, be aware of bright color casts, such as red from a brick wall or a neon green top your subject is wearing. These are harder to fix can result in a lot of unnecessary work, though I totally get it if your kid is doing something cute and you have to take the shot, all else aside!
Where is your focus? What emotion do you want the viewer to see? Is it the detail of your little one’s profile? Or bubbles on a newborn baby’s lips? Is it a pattern or texture? Or a beam of light? This is where you want your sharpest point in the photo. Generally speaking, the lower the aperture, the better. I absolutely LOVE beautiful background blur, so in most of my photos my aperture is set to the lowest possible setting. If the shot has more movement, you will need to increase the aperture in order to catch more things in focus, but sometimes letting things be out of focus can convey a beautiful mood. A note on composition – I find it comes after the first click. I look at the back of my camera a lot and I see things on there that I didn’t see when I was actually taking the photo. If you shoot to compose rather than compose to shoot, you can do things like combine several photos to make one. For example, I would much rather re-shoot my rug with zero Legos on it than go into Photoshop and clone each one out. Just make sure you do this all at once, because light changes by the minute.
First and foremost, never ever, ever choose a photo by it’s thumbnail! I don’t know how many times I made this mistake. I’ve gone through an entire edit of what I think is my best photo in my session to discover I had something astonishing after opening my thumbnails. I pick my crop and work my way down the adjustment panel. I eyeball white balance. But for those of you that have the gusto for an absolutely correct white balance, there is a calculated way of doing it! Next, I bring down blacks and lift whites and shadows. Sometimes I’ll use curves in Lightroom if I’m not doing a big photoshop edit, otherwise I’ll do several curves layers in Photoshop. Finally, I use those radial and gradient filters like its nobody’s business. Photoshop is where the fun starts. I love gradients in Photoshop for bringing depth without actually increasing contrast in photos. I also do a soft light layer for added depth, and a levels layer to brighten my subjects skin. Be mindful of the direction of light, and compliment it. Make what is dark, darker, and what is light, lighter. Observe where the natural light is coming from and enhance it.
This point really could have come first or last. When you spend time observing other peoples creativity you have more tools to tap into your own. Never stop learning! Never stop creating! Your next photo will be your best photo.