i'm so thrilled to have Cassidy Miller on the blog today sharing a few tips on photographing your little one. she is an amazing photographer and mama to two beautiful little girls, harlo and stella. without further ado, miss cassidy miller... Hi! I am so excited to be a guest on Holdenonbaby today!
I am Cass Miller, I'm a lifestyle photographer and blogger over at cassmillerblog.com. My photography career actually started through my own family blog. Just over 4 years ago, I inherited my first DSLR. At the time I was expecting my first baby and when she was born I became obsessed with documenting her every day life and writing about it on our family blog. I got a few requests from people who had come to my blog and liked the pictures of my darling babe and wanted some like it of t heirs. It was then that I realized photography was something I clicked with and really started embarking on that journey. It took me a few years of experimenting to come full circle and realize I am a lifestyle photographer. I like documenting the everyday things that make life beautiful. This is my passion.
On my blog, I sometimes write about photographer tips and tricks. While those are helpful to people who know a little bit about cameras and photo editing software, it leaves out the moms who just want to know how to take a decent picture of their kids. Today I'm giving some tips TO MOMS on how to document your child's stages with your camera. Whether it's a phone, a point and shoot, or a fancy SLR.
First of all, when my little girls were babies, I would like to document their first bath, their first foods, first crawls, etc. These milestones are easy to point out with the young ones, but as they get a little older I feel like this stuff gets a little harder to pinpoint. One thing I've always done is set a weekly or monthly goal to write or photograph what my kids are into, what they're saying, etc. I call these "tidbits" on my blog and this alone has really helped me keep up on documenting my girls as they've grown into toddlers and beyond.
So there are really two parts to this post. Deciding what to document, then how to document it.
To decide what is the best thing to document, you simply just have to look into your daily life. What are their favorite toys right now? What are their favorite books? Favorite character? Snack? Do they like playing inside or outside? Photograph that! If your child is potty training, take a picture of that sweet little panty bum or those little feet as they dangle over the top of the potty. If your baby is loving books right now, take a picture of him flipping through the pages of a pile of books. These types of things will help you remember these fleeting times. As children grow, their interests change. My 4 year old no longer cares for her once-beloved elmo toys. My 2 year old has outgrown eating bananas and puffs for her favorite snack. Now they're onto new things. Think of what your kids are loving these days and make sure you have a picture of it.
It doesn't have to be hugely significant, and it doesn't have to be perfect.
Stella, my two year old, is loving this old hand-me-down scraggly looking dress right now. I wont let her wear it out of the house because it's too big and it's worn almost completely out. But she loves the thing! Every time we're home, she's heading for the roses dress. We've also been spending a lot of time on our front porch lately. The weather has been beautiful and the girls love to twirl and dance on the front lawn. I sometimes wish I could pause time and savor it forever, and with my camera, sometimes I can. -- so here I go. This is what I wanted to document in Stella's life right now.
Pro tip: work those angles!
Here are 3 angles to remember,
This sets the scene and tells us exactly whats going on. (Observation: Stella in front yard, dreamy golden light, twirling her heart out in her favorite raggedy dress.)
Notice in these shots I'm shooting from her eye level. This is the most important and most common mistake in mom-photography. Coming down to their level, you can see the world from their point of view. This is crucial for taking a shot from snap-shot-mom to pro-mom.
Once we've got that down, we're ready for the next...
There's something about this shot that gives a mothers perspective. It truly is life from our eyes and I think it's an important way to photograph our kids. Some of my favorite shots of my girls have been from this way, I think just because this is exactly how I see them. It also gives a completely different feel than the images above, doesn't it? For this shot, I try to be directly above or as close to it as possible. I want to be shooting straight down.. that's the trick for the above shot.
I always try to get a close up of what I'm trying to document. For this shot I was laying completely down on the ground and I love that I can see her chubby little ankles, that swirling dress, and that sweet dimple in her elbow. Swoon... I would have never noticed those things in the wide angle or above shot.
Bonus! When you're documenting your kids doing what they like to do, they usually cooperate way better than if you're sitting them down and making them say "cheese!" and because they're having so much fun, sometimes you get a gem and a real smile. (while you're doing silly things like laying flat down on the grass in the front yard.)
My almost-4-year-old is quite the artist. She loves to paint and I love watching her concentrate on her masterpieces. This is a fun way to document those doodles and scribbles for kids when you don't have room to keep everything they do. I try to take pictures of Harlo working on her art from time to time as a way to document how her technique and style is evolving.
I shot this one just as I did the other. A wide shot to document the setting, a shot from above/close-up to give me the mom perspective and capture the details. I love each of these shots for different reasons. In the wide shot, I can see her posture and how she always sits in her chair, the above shot I can see her art, her little paint set-up and the ring on her finger, that's so Harlo.
Pro tip: Natural light! This is another one of those crucial steps. The lighting we use in our homes are very yellow and will give a yellow cast to whatever you're photographing. Turn off the over head lights and open the blinds, prop open the door, do whatever you need to to get some natural light in. There have been times where I've moved our set-up closer to a window or door just so I could photograph it in better light. Especially with younger kids and babies where we spend so much time inside, this will make a big difference. You don't need a flash, you don't need over head light. Just the good ol' fashion natural stuff.
Another example is of my girls together. I think it's important to document what they enjoy doing together. This is their childhood and I want to help them remember this time as best I can. What games they liked to play with their siblings I think is a big one. One thing my girls love doing right now is dumping the blocks on the living room floor and building towers. This keeps them occupied for hours and I love watching them work together. This might seem small or insignificant, but it makes my mama heart swell and to me, that's worth documenting.
See the difference of me just standing up in the room taking a picture in this shot...
To this shot ^ where I came down to their level. It really puts you right in the game and helps to connect with what's going on.
Here are my close-up and from above shots. This is a daily scene in my house and I promise you in 5 years when they no longer care for blocks, I will be so glad I have these.
So here are just a few examples on how to document your child's stages. Whether you have an iphone, a point-and-shoot or a full DSLR, get out and document those kids! You'll be so glad you did. To keep up with how I document our life, head on over to cassmillerblog.com.