Photographing Very Young Kids

A great group of siblings taught me a lot about photographing very young children.  First of all, it’s a lot of fun!  To capture the candid shots as they act silly or ham it up or just run around being care free is a joy.

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Secondly, posing kids under two or three years old is no small feat, because they like to be on the move and focusing on the camera with a smile is not their top priority. Getting them to do it all at the same time as their brother or sister is even more challenging.

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One of the easiest ways to photograph young kids is to do it while they are doing what they love most – playing! In the hose, at the beach, with a ball, at the park, on the swings; even picking up sticks!  Just follow their lead…

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Finally, I think the best thing about photographing kids is getting to see the world through their eyes. Sometimes, as adults, we forget how truly wonderful and exciting it can be!

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All in One Back to School Photography and Parenting Tip

School is back in session for many kids, and for most others it will be this week, which means temperatures will soon be cooling off as summer gives way to fall.  Did you know temperature is involved in photography as well?  Not in degrees of Fahrenheit or Celsius mind you, but in “Kelvin.”

British Physicist William Thomas (Lord Kelvin) played a large part in the development of the Kelvin temperature scale.  During his research, he heated a block of carbon, which produced a dim red light at a low temperature that increased to a brighter yellow as the temperature rose and ultimately a bright white and then blue glow at the highest temperatures.  Based on these findings the following scale could be made:

 

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Temperature in photography is what people refer to as the “white balance” of a photo.  Most people keep their cameras set to auto white balance which works well in many situations.

However, when it comes something special, like sunset portraits, it’s important to not let your camera auto adjust those warm, golden tones right out of your image.  The best way to do this is to manually adjust your white balance to the cloudy or shady setting.  For more precise control, I manually increase the white balance temperature on my camera to around the 6000°K mark.  It may be different for your camera.  It’s best to experiement to find out.

I kind of liken this to how one might parent a child.  If we want those golden behaviors to continue then we have to be continually “warm” (and loving) with our own.

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This is my husband and daughter.  This photo warms my heart to about 10,000°K!

White balance is a bit confusing until you get the hang of it.  At first glance, you might think that increasing the temperature would add more blue tones to your image.  But, what it does is lie to your camera, telling it that there are more blue tones in the environment.  As a result, your camera tries to compensate by adding those warm, golden tones back into your images.

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So, the next time you go out and shoot at sunset (or sunrise), increase your white balance temperature setting.  You’ll be glad you did!

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Ethan: Where It All Began

Exactly one year ago, one of my best friends ask me to take her son, Ethan’s, senior pictures. This kid, now young man, whom I’ve known since the moment his mother exited the doctor’s office after receiving confirmation of her pregnancy with him, was going to be graduating from high school!

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He is the oldest of a clan of thirteen children born amidst four separate families whose moms (one of whom is me) all met in college 20 years ago. Since then to present day, our families get together four times a year, staying weekends at one another’s homes…all 13 kids and 8 adults in one house for the WHOLE WEEKEND. But, that is a story for another time.

You can imagine how special it was for me to be able to use my time and talent for Ethan and his mom to celebrate his final year in school, and at home (as he is off to college this fall), but hopefully not his final times at our special weekend get-togethers.

Ethan lives in a small town and his family has a farm nearby, so we had some awesome backdrops, including an old barn, shed, fence, and the railroad tracks. We made sure to shoot a little before sunset so the lighting was at its best.

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We had the best of both worlds, because while the country setting was beautiful, we also had some really cool, old abandon buildings to work with back in town.

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After arriving at our third location (and probably like my three hundredth shot) a little comic relief was in order.  😀

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We were losing light fast as the sun was almost set below the horizon when we spotted this great white brick wall across the parking lot. It was a perfect opportunity for me to make use of some negative space. One might contemplate possible interpretations of this photo of a young man getting ready to enter the adult world for the first time.

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Overall, the session was a huge success! Mom was happy. I was happy. And everyone in town gushed over how gorgeous of a model Ethan is, and I am guessing that probably made him happy as well. 🙂

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See more from Ethan’s senior portrait session here.