March 16, 2012

Five ways to snapshoot a day out with the kids.

There’s probably nothing better – and just about nothing worse.

It’s March Break. You’ve packed up the brood for a day at the park/zoo/tutor (kidding) and you’re excited by the prospect of taking some great snaps of the day. Perfect for that shiny SLR you got on sale in January. You stuff a bag with a couple of lenses, memory cards, cleaner, maybe a flash (or two). Then you lug the thing to the park/zoo/tutor and spend the day cursing as you balance changing lenses with changing diapers.

Big cameras and multiple-lenses are great – for other days. When it’s time to get out and enjoy your family, you want to get out and enjoy your family.

So do that.

When I hit the park these days, it’s generally with a teeny-tiny iPhone in the hip pocket or a point-and-shoot – even a compact SLR with a small zoom lens does the trick. I don’t worry about the camera at all on days like these. I just head out and try to take interesting photos without worrying about the technology. And you know what? Mum, Nana and friends like that there’s a document of what’s happening, which is the real reason you’re taking photos in the first place.

How do you get the most out of that camera? Remember these (non-technical) details.

Tell a story.

Establishing shot - good to tell a story.
Balance the wide stuff against the portrait shots.

We went to the park the other day for a couple of hours of hanging off monkey bars and spinning in tire swings. To make sure we remembered the trip the right way, I started with an establishing shot of the park, the followed up with photos of each player – so we could remember each child’s day the right way. Create a story with lots of big wide shots and close ups to share with friends or family.

Shoot – a lot.

Shooting without regard for settings and other photo trickery means lots of overexposed images, blinking eyes and dirty faces. Work around that by loading up your camera with lots and lots of photos. Instead of snapping one picture at the top of the slide, snap four – you’re bound to get something you like.

Don’t get tripped up by the settings.
Stick the camera on “P” and maaaaaybe think about setting the white balance (not really necessary if you’re shooting RAW files). Let your camera or phone do the work today. You’ve got lots of chasing to do instead.

Outside? One word – shade.
Noonday will render just about every picture crazy bright and include squinty eyes from your subjects. Do your best to get them into a shady area (or hope for a nice cloudy day) to get photos that look evenly lit.

Inside? Look for nifty angles.
Put something in the foreground and focus on the background. Try getting down low to exaggerate the subject. Get in super close and crop out part of your subject. 

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