Sunday, July 18, 2010

Karyn’s Photography Tips

We are excited to post the first Karyn’s Photography Tips column!

Karyn is a fellow mom of twin five year olds, an eight year old and a Weimaraner puppy/studio dog (named Nikon) – all boys! Her love of photography started at a young age and carries through today, as she says “I am passionate about people and preserving memorable moments.” She has been professionally photographing maternity, infants, children, seniors, families, sports, weddings… you name it… for almost eight years. She loves every moment of it.


Naturally, your children are the most beautiful beings you have ever seen and you want to share their beauty with everyone you come in contact. Sometimes, though, when you see the photos that you took, you feel that you missed the true essence of them. The moment you captured on film was not exactly the one you saw in person. So, how do you go about capturing the true innocence and sweetness (or even the absolute orneriness) of your children? Here are some simple tips:


First, you must always know what you want the subject of your picture to be before you snap the photo. Focus on the subject, so your brain-eye coordination can quickly process where it is suppose to be looking. Modern digital cameras have a number of focus points that helps the autofocus lock onto the subject. For portrait photography, having a large number of points can be more a hindrance than a help. When using all the points, the camera will make a guesstimate based on the average of all the points. Sometimes this will work well, sometimes it won't and you'll be left with your subject out of focus and something in the background/foreground in focus. Not what you want. Instead, select one focus point only; usually done with a dial on the camera, check your manual for how to set it. The center point is the strongest, so use that one to lock your focus on what you want, not what the camera thinks you want.

Photos are much more eye-catching when you are not distracted by various subjects in the background. You may need to stand on a chair or get down on your belly. Aim to achieve simple backgrounds whenever possible such as a blanket or comforter, solid couch or chair or against a solid wall, without the distractions of furniture legs, toys or other items lying around the room or on tables.

Zoom in and focus on the eyes. The eyes are the most important part of a portrait because your eye is drawn directly to the subject. By zooming in on the subject, you certainly capture the pure essence of innocence or childhood. If they are sharp and in focus, the rest of the picture can be out of focus and still look good.

Fill the room with light. Open blinds, drapes, and curtains. If you use a flash, step back and zoom in before taking the shot.

One of the hardest things to master, especially with newborns and toddlers, is the patience to take the photo when they are ready, not when you have the time to take it. I always recommend keeping the camera as a fixture on the counter, battery always charged, memory card cleared. The worst situation is you go to snap the shot, and your batteries are dead or the card is full. How do you decide which photo to zap, forever lost, in order to get the “perfect” shot? By then, the shot is gone, your children have changed their expression or position, and you’re left frustrated because you missed what was potentially going to be the best image to share with family and friends.

Try different camera angles, take portrait and landscape off-center, tilt the camera, or crop to different dimensions in your digital software. Try to keep the arms close to the body and hands near the face if possible with infants; not so much with older children. Use mom or dad’s hand under a blanket to hold him up from the back. Get down on the floor and shoot your children/pet's photo at eye level.

Photographing twins or triplets babies? The closer together the babies are the better. Avoid spaces between the them. Nestle them with their heads touching. For triplets, consider placing the babies head to head with their bodies extending out from the center like spokes of a wheel. Same thing goes for older children.

If you want to photograph an older sibling(s) with your baby(s), avoid the “big sister holding baby brother” shot. The older child dominates the photo and steals attention away from the newborn. Instead, place the child and baby’s heads close together to create a balanced focus. Take a few photos with the sibling(s) looking at the baby(s) instead of the camera.

The focus of the photo should be your baby, not the clothes. Dress your baby in simple clothing and then let his face and expression be the focal points. Avoid swaddling the baby so that all you see is his head. Bare feet and toes are adorable.

You can always capture him in his “birthday suit.” Avoid car seats, straps, brightly patterned materials, toys, and pacifiers.

More to come... telling a story with just one photo; understanding aperture and shutter, indoor vs. outdoor, shooting sports in the gym, making sense of white balance.

If you have any questions regarding photo tips or have topics you would like me to write about, please feel free to email me.

Karyn is the owner of Karyn Hanley Photography. She offers a 20% discount for twins. Check out her website at and become a friend on Facebook to stay in touch with her portrait specials. COMING SOON – Children’s Portrait Parties. To inquire about becoming a host/hostess, call Karyn today at 614-288-0947.


Post a Comment

Blog Widget by LinkWithin