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No. 1    Get closer

Great photography is so much about what you leave out of the picture.  Getting closer to your subjects edits out all the unnecessary clutter and draws the eye to the important details that really matter.  Clear the background and foreground of tables, trees, power poles, strange people.  Make a decision with every photo. What do I want in this image, and what don't I want 

No. 2

Get closer with your feet not your ‘zoom’ 

If you have a good camera with great lenses then zoom away but most phones and many smaller cameras have ‘digital zooms’ which means they are not zooming at all, just cropping down.  You lose a huge amount of detail so your images will be fuzzy and unclear.  Moving closer with your whole body will give you a much better quality image while also covering tip number 1.  

No. 3

Learn how to spot great light! 

Find the good light!  So easy to say I know, but if you really want great photos its worth learning what “good” means.  

Bright sun on faces causes deep shadows. Shadows can mean eyes are dark and shadowy, or just squinty. Shadows accentuate wrinkles, kids don't have this problem at all but the same can't be said for the rest of us!  Bright sun also means really bright glare off light coloured objects so you may lose large parts of peoples faces or white clothing. 

Sunny days don't mean you cant take great photos it just means you might want to find a shady spot.  Facing your subject out towards the light so that all the light is reflected back at them much more softly.  If you have nowhere to hide from the sun you could always put the bright light behind your subject and experiment with a bit of backlighting. 

The easiest, kindest light is just after sunrise and just before sun set when the light is filtered through the thicker atmosphere and the suns rays are softened.  

Bright cloudy days are great too, clouds become a giant filter to spread light evenly around. Great light can make magic in a terrible location.

No. 4

Turn OFF that flash! 

On camera flashes just don't make us look good?  They like the bright sun create harsh shadows on faces and seldom put the light where we want it. 

Professionals use special off camera lights to make people look good. Any camera with a flash built in is just not putting the light at a flattering angle for people.  If you really don't want to miss a moment that you cant get with out a flash then of course use it but it is unlikely to be well lit photograph. 

No. 5

Getting kids to sit still can be tricky so work with their energy. 

Set up but don't over control If you do want to take photos in a particular spot and know no one is going to play ball, try giving them something to do.  Move a chair or two to the garden, at least you know where they are even if they choose not to sit down but stand on them instead.  If all else fails let them chase each other around the chairs, play a 'no lose' round of Musical Chairs. 

No. 6    Not just the big moments.

Of all our family photos, my favourites are the quite moments, the snaps I sneaked while the the kids were busy painting, eating, chatting, hanging with their friends in the garden.  Don't forget to photograph them doing the everyday things.  They don't need to be clean or perfect and your house does not need to be tidy.   

No. 7    Get down to their level

Its the first mantra of photographing children "get down on their level "   We are so used to seeing our kids from above we don't even notice we it see in images but try getting down and looking them in the eye, even if it means lying down.  Not only will want to engage with you more, you'll  get more facial expression and less top of their head and your photos will be more interesting because you are seeing the world from a different angle.

No. 7

Know your (homes) good side.

Everyones home has one or two places that are better than the rest, inside and outside.  It may not actually be your prettiest spot but a wonderful location is no good with terrible light so find your homes good spots where light filters in from one or more windows and make the most of it. 

 

Take note of where these are, grab your camera if the kids happen to be playing there, set up an activity there or direct the kids to there if they have something to show. 

No. 8

Take the good with the bad and keep shooting! 

You are not going to get the perfect shot in one click, take lots and ignore the bad ones, dump them without a worry.  So many elements have to align for the perfect shot you have more chance of getting it right if you don't get put off by the first missed shots.  You wont get a great shot from every session either but in ten or twenty years when you are looking back at them, that wont matter at all.