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My top ten tips for getting the best photos of your kids.

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We all want precious photos of our children.  Luckily, most of us have great cameras on our cellphones which help make it easy and convenient to always have a camera nearby. However, we all know that just pointing and shooting a camera does not always yield the best results. As a photographer – my main goal is to connect with my subject. If you are photographing your own children you have a head start. But here are some pointers to take your skills up a level.

1. Get down to the child’s level. Pictures are fine from adult height. But switching up the angles and getting low and close can add a lot of interest to your photos. Get eye to eye with your subject and see what happens.

2. Be aware of the light and where it is coming from. I like to shoot with the light either behind me or over my shoulder. I don’t want the light shining right into my subject’s eyes and making them squint – but I do want to see that sparkle that can make a picture feel magical. Once you have caught the light in someone’s eyes, you can really draw the viewer into the photo.

3. Focus on the eyes. The eyes are the window to the soul and also the heart of every photograph. Tip one and 2 are leading you that way – but never lose track of your subject’s eyes and making the eyes the focal point.

4. Avoid harsh light. If it is a gorgeous sunny day – it is instinctual to want to shoot in direct sunlight. Fight that instinct. First of all , the light at sun-up or sun-down is much more flattering than harsh midday sun. If you are shooting in midday – look for a covered area. Be careful if you are standing under a tree – the leaves can throw horrible shadows.

5. DONT SAY CHEESE! Do whatever it takes to get your subject to smile – but do not say, “say cheese.” Play, make funny noises, tell a joke. If you tell your subject to smile, you will end up with a series of fake, uncomfortable smiles. Use any silly method possible and make it fun!

6. Take a gazillion photos and don’t try to edit and look at them while you taking them. You risk losing the moment. Take a lot and look later on. On the flip side – don’t just keep pushing the button. Take your time, see what is happening in the background and around you, change angles, try moving around.

7. Don’t try to force it. Every time I go into photo shoot with a plan in mind – it falls apart but I still get great photos. Sometime you have to go with the flow and follow your subject’s lead. It will be unpredictable but fun and you will learn new things. What good is a perfect portrait anyway?? You want a fun slice of life.

8. Try to avoid flash. Even if you are inside, you can get a good photo without a flash. Unless you are really good at flash photography, which is an art unto itself, try to avoid it and maximize the natural light. Get close to a window and experiment.

9. Timing is important. Don’t try to force a session when your child is tired or hungry. You will all end up frustrated and unhappy. Take your time. Plan a photo session for when everyone is relaxed, fed, and rested.

10.  Have fun. If you aren’t having fun, your subject won’t have fun. Take it easy and you will end up with some amazing photos!

And bonus tip 11 – if you master all of that – try not to cut off fingers and toes in the photos! Remember to use your entire picture and get close, but be aware of where the hands and feet are. Better to crop it out later than have an odd missing limb 🙂

A spring hike through Parc de Sceaux and Arboretum de la Vallée-aux-Loups, Paris, France

A gorgeous 9 mile hike through Parc de Sceaux and Arboretum de la Vallée-aux-Loups.  Luckily the cherry blossoms were at full bloom!

 

 

Parc de Sceaux, Paris, France Cherry Blossoms
Parc de Sceaux, Paris, France
Parc de Sceaux, Paris, France Cherry Blossoms
Parc de Sceaux, Paris, France
Parc de Sceaux, Paris, France Cherry Blossoms
Parc de Sceaux, Paris, France Cherry Blossoms
Parc de Sceaux, Paris, France Cherry Blossoms
Parc de Sceaux, Paris, France Cherry Blossoms
Parc de Sceaux, Paris, France Cherry Blossoms
Parc de Sceaux, Paris, France Cherry Blossoms
Parc de Sceaux, Paris, France
Parc de Sceaux, Paris, France
Parc de Sceaux, Paris, France
Parc de Sceaux, Paris, France
Parc de Sceaux, Paris, France
Parc de Sceaux, Paris, France
A cute window front near Parc de Sceaux, Paris, France
A cute window front near Parc de Sceaux, Paris, France
Arboretum de la Vallée-aux-Loups, Paris, France
Arboretum de la Vallée-aux-Loups, Paris, France

Arboretum de la Vallée-aux-Loups, Paris, France

The Paris blooms are amazing right now!  It is the perfect time to photograph the city and enjoy the spring vibes.  I just can’t get enough…cherry blossoms, orchids, magnolia blooms.  And I am on the search for more, so if you have a spot to share, let me know.

Hat Maker Extraordinaire

In a brief departure from photographing blooms and families, I had the real pleasure of photographing a friend and extraordinary milliner. She makes the most amazing hats and kindly modeled them for me. Not only that, she made her dresses, too. A special woman with so many talents. If you need a one of kind hat – she is the person to call or email! (moniquexp10@hotmail.com)

Looking for the Little Miracles

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I am lucky to be surrounded by miracle workers.  Routinely, I see two big pots of soup multiply before my eyes to feed 200 hungry people.  I am not sure how this happens, but just when you think we are down to the last ladle of warm soup, a few more hungry people turn up, the pot gets refilled, and there is more to offer.  And when that goes, the miracle workers still find more.

And then there is the 70ish year old lady, who,while helping to serve others last week, turned her ankle but continued to serve and smile and laugh about her accident – only to find out later that day she had actually broken her ankle.  It made me wonder, who gave her the strength to serve and laugh and keep moving when she must have been in tremendous pain?  From where did she dig that reserve of kindness and pleasantness to help others without sharing her discomfort?

There are about 10 Mother Teresa quotes I want to put in here, but this is the one that is echoing through my head: “There are no great things, only small things with great love. Happy are those.”  Everyday, I am lucky to witness small things people are doing for each other.  Don’t get me wrong, my heart breaks when I read the world news.  But when I see someone help an elderly person cross the street or hand out a sandwich to a homeless person, my heart feels a little less burdened.  There is the miracle of looking a homeless person in the eye and smiling.  We are conditioned to ignore those sitting on subway grates and in doorways. The small human interaction of offering someone a piece of bread or a sandwich and looking that person in the eyes is a miracle.  These are small things, done with great love.

And then there is the miracle of nature.  I walked around the park the other day. Even in December, there are small pink blooms on the trees.  I noticed one tree – and then  another and another. I was surrounded by blooms.  I stopped by the lake to take a picture of an egret.  For four years, I have tried to get a good picture of him, he never obliges, but he is frequently there, sharing his elegant, grey, graceful beauty.  As if to tease me, I turn my back and I can hear him spread his wings and fly away before I can capture the photograph I want of him.

Other miracles I have seen this season?  Certainly it feels hard to see the miracles in the face of the American political scene, in the face of Aleppo, in the face of children starving and people sitting on the cold streets without homes. But I see the miracle of compassion, even on Facebook, when people are feeling moved and energized to speak and act out on the causes important to them, whereas previously those assumptions and freedoms could have been taken for granted.  

So – in this holiday season, instead of looking in shop windows, I am looking for miracles – of the everyday garden variety.  Someone offering an olive branch to a person with whom they are in conflict, offering a smile to someone who feels unloved or lonely.  I know many of us feel down to our last ladle of soup – but I promise you there is more.  Unexpectedly, miraculously, there is always one more serving to be given.