Kids are cute. So why is taking frame-worthy photos of them often so impossible?
Blurry motion. Weird expressions. Bad light. And we still haven't figured out how to avoid the red-eye effect. So we approached professional children's photographer Rachel Hudgins, based in New York City, about her advice on taking fantastic, beautiful, charming, and, of course, well-lit photos.
We asked Hudgins to help us with all our frequent amateur photo problems.
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Parents: I own a basic digital camera. Is there any one setting or mode I can change on my camera that will make my photos look better?
Rachel Hudgins: You can read a lot of books and tips, but it really sinks in when you physically do it. Turn your flash off and experiment. Shoot the exact same thing in every mode. You may find a favorite.
Parents: I can never tell whether the lighting is any good. Any simple tips to achieving gorgeous lighting in photos?
Hudgins: In general, avoid direct overhead sunlight or overhead ceiling light. It creates shadows and the eyes tend to disappear. I really love the quality of natural morning light.
Parents: We've got one too many photos of the kids all sitting on the couch together.How do we get more creative about picking fun and beautiful settings? Any suggestions for great places to start?
Hudgins: The stairs or the front porch are always nice, because they make a nice height variation in a natural setting.
Parents: What if a toddler won't stop moving?
Hudgins: Get them involved in something they love to do.
Parents: One of my kids is going through that awful phase where they make a strange teeth-baring expression anytime the camera is out. They call this a "smile." But it's not. It's awful. Help!
Hudgins: I see this all the time! The good news is that they will grow out of it. For now, let them try being in charge and "direct" the photo. They pick the location, they pick where everyone sits, etc. You'll be surprised with all the ideas they will come up with. They usually love the responsibility. Because of that, they act up less.
Parents: I'm embarrassed to ask, but … red eye? What's the trick to avoiding it?
Hudgins: Detaching the flash from the camera is the answer, but not always possible with point and shoot cameras. Red eye is caused by your flash being too close to your lens. Try turning on some lights in the room so your subject's pupils will decrease in size.
Parents: We've got a big event coming up - a family gathering. How do I make sure I get a few wonderful shots amidst all the hubbub?
Hudgins: Don't put so much pressure on yourself to get something perfect. Keep your camera close and just shoot.
Now that you've got some great photos, what do you do with them.