Just the other day, I took my little one out to one of our favorite spots and I brought my camera along. This girl is very familiar with my camera, and especially with me taking pictures of her which is why the majority of the time I get cheesy cross-eyed photos. Well, I was bound and determined to get a few worth framing and I think I’ve done it.
A lot of professional photographers have their tricks on how to get natural smiles. Me? I’m no professional. I’m just a Mom with a somewhat nice, flour covered camera. So, what did I do to make my girl smile? Here’s what:
1. I picked a location I knew she would like. These photos were taken at a park behind our local library. There are stairs, ponds, ducks, walking paths, bridges and lots and lots of leaves. I knew she wouldn’t get bored too quickly. Oh, and I dressed her for the cold day because I knew it would be chilly out there!
2. Most of the time, I just followed her around and asked her to do things here and there. I wasn’t talking to her the whole time and bombarding her with requests like “look at me!” or “smile” or “don’t do your crazy eyes!”. Yes it took almost 2 hours, but I took 300+ photos and she was still happy by the end of it.
3. I tried as hard as I could to let her be herself and be in her natural state. Yes, I asked her to sit on the stairs, but she did the rest and I just had to be quick enough with the shutter button to catch all these faces she was giving me.
4. Don’t be afraid to just keep clicking. Yes, it uses the battery up faster and yes you have to go through a lot more photos, but it’s worth it! This is a totally natural picture I caught after my little one had just turned around to tell me something about the leaves. I was just following behind her snapping away. I got a lot of blurry shots, but I got a lot of clear shots too. This happened to be one of my favorites.
5. Please see numbers 1, 2 and 3. I knew she would love the leaves. I knew she would want to play with them. I knew I couldn’t stop her. So, I asked her to instead of picking and choosing her leaves to just grab a bunch and throw them up in the air again and again. And, I kept clicking. It soon turned into a song/game and I got some great shots of her throwing the leaves. *See top photo as well.
6. I sometimes used bribery. After an hour and a half, I was getting cold and she was totally fine running around. So, to speed things up, I said “If we go faster, I’ll take you to McDonalds for lunch”. WORKED LIKE A CHARM. And these photos were totally worth the $4 meal.
I also brought some bread so she could feed the ducks. These aren’t my favorite shots, but I think it captures her personality and the whole entertainment value of throwing bread into a swarm of ducks for a 3 year old.
And, just so you know, I shot all of these with my Canon Rebel XTi, with a 50 mm 1.8 lens and a 24-70mm 2.8 lens–the lens’ I use for my food shots. I edited these in Photoshop Elements 9 using PW’s Photoshop Actions.