I can't believe that it is now the last week of August and summer is officially winding down. I am sure most of you are busy preparing for the new school year and are excited for the start of a new year. The first day of school is an important milestone for every child and it is one that should be documented. We all know how quickly our little ones grow and change over the years, which is why we take those first day of school photos every year. I put together a few tips to help you to make the most out of this moment and improve those first day of school photos.
1) Leave yourself extra time to properly photograph your child. I know, I know. There isn't enough time in the day. Even I have been guilty of leaving myself very little time to properly document the most important of moments, but I have learned that leaving yourself extra time is the most important rule to follow. You need more than two minutes to get those money shots that properly document this milestone. So, as hard as it may be, get up an extra 20 or even 30 minutes earlier so that you leave yourself enough time to handle any eventuality that may occur, especially if you are photographing a toddler. If you don't think you can squeeze in the photos on the first day, consider taking the photos the day before or a few days before. It will eliminate the stress and pressure and you can always snap a few quick pictures on the first day of school too.
2) Get those back to school details. Before you get caught up in the portraits of your child, take a few minutes to document the details of the first day of school. Get a photo of those brand new kicks your child has been dying to wear for the last few weeks. Take photos of the lunchbox, backpack, the never ending supplies, favorite snacks. Your child's taste will evolve over the years and it will be nice to have photos that reflect those changing taste throughout the years. Try to get really tight and close up shots of these details. Another great detail to capture is handwriting. Try to get a close up shot of your child writing his/her name. It will be amazing to see the evolution over the years.
3) Choose a good location with proper lighting. A good location is one that is properly lit. You want to avoid areas that are harshly lit and in direct sunlight because it will create harsh and unflattering shadows on your child's face. Your optimal location will be one that is in open shade. Have your child stand just within the shade facing outward toward the light. This can be done in your entryway, under a porch, in a courtyard, or under a tree. For example, in the first two images my daughter is positioned under an awning. In the second image, she is standing at the very edge of the covered space and I am standing in the open sun photographing her. In the third image, I backlit my daughter and the stairs are providing some shield from the harsh midday sun. You want to also make sure that you avoid dappled light or sunspots on the subject.
4) Ditch the word "cheese." I know...I know...we all grew up taking pictures in response to "cheese." However, the instant you say this word, you will elicit an expression that is tense and anything but natural looking. Instead, focus on getting an authentic expression from your child, even if it isn't a dead on smile. Talk to your child while you photograph him/her and ask questions...engage with your child and make the photo experience a fun adventure. Ask your child to look down at his/her shoes and on the count of three look up at the camera. If all else fails, try a a fart joke...yes, they are immature, but they tend to elicit natural laughter every time. My favorite photos of children are those that represent their true personas and not ones with a terse smile. The first photo below is in response to me asking heR to smile. The photos that follow are amongst my favorite from this session because they capture my daughter's personality. She is very silly and extremely expressive. She may not be looking at the camera, but the images capture her true emotions.
5) Try different angles. First and foremost...get in the habit of getting down on your child's level, which is a basic rule when photographing children. If you look back at most of those images above, I am down on the ground at her level shooting the images. After you take a few of those eye level images, try taking the photo from different perspectives, capturing different details. For example, seat your child sit and take photos of your child looking up at you. Take a few images in which the child's face fills the frame. A child's face changes so much over time; getting a tight shot of the face will help you to preserve all of the beautiful details of his/her face. Also, shooting from above creates beautiful catchlights in your little one's eyes that will melt your heart. Get images of those little details you want to capture, preserve, and remember.
I hope these tips help you to capture images you will treasure. I am wishing all of your children and All of my teacher friends a wonderful and successful school year. If you are interested in a back to school at home mini session, I am offering a limited amount of sessions this week. Contact me at 516-521-7456 for more information.