Here comes Part 2 to last week’s Photo-Recipe for the Family Photo When You’ve Got Toddlers!
After you capture the family photos, what is next when working with Toddlers? Well, give them a little playing room, and they may give you some great, unexpected ideas! This little guy wanted to crawl around in the leaves and pretend like he was a doggy! So stinking cute! This simple moment led to something much bigger.
When working with a two year old, you can do one of two things. Try to distract him from playing doggy, or go with the flow and see what magic may unfold.
When I least expected it, magic totally unfolded! His mama picked him up and brushed off his clothes–and that’s when it struck me! As I watched the two of them I thought ‘these are the kinds of photos I love from when I was a kid–that simple moment that shows how little I was, the funny things I did, and the glow of my mom’s love for me.’ I had to capture this! So I asked mom to brush him off some more (and more and more). If I don’t have cameras rolling on set and a live feed of every image I’m capturing for an audience to see on national television…I’m all about re-do’s! Amen sister!
I asked mom to turn a little more towards me and be sure to smile. I didn’t need to see her whole face, but instead, I wanted to capture her beautiful profile with her hair back lit by the sun.
My camera was set to Continuous Shooting mode. This allows you to take several photos at a time by holding down your shutter release button (the button you push down when you take a photo ). This camera setting is PIVOTAL to capturing these types of toddler shots! The actions and expressions of a toddler are SUPER FAST. If I wasn’t in Continuous Shooting mode, I may have missed the moments. In fact, you can watch this quick video clip of me taking these photos to see how fast it all went down! I’m not a video editor by any means, but I think you’ll find it helpful to see the simplicity in how I set this up and how fast it happened.
Within seconds we went from being a little doggy to joking with daddy (who is standing behind me). If one of the parents are out of the frame, I like to have them stand behind me and a bit off to the side. I encourage them to talk, joke, be goofy, even sing to their little one. It’s amazing what expressions will appear when dad starts to get silly behind the photographer!
This one is my absolute FAVORITE! Look at that SWEETNESS!
As we all know, photographing toddlers can be a HANDFUL! They are constantly on the go needing to be distracted (without them knowing you are distracting them). I find myself needing to create space within the shoot where I can watch them play, see what they are into, and within a matter of minutes they will almost always show me. “Doggy! Ruff-Ruff!” said this little guy. Crawling in the leaves and playing doggy is something this toddler loves right now. There isn’t anything sweeter to capture in that moment.
When I’m shooting, I can’t help but think to myself ‘When this little guy is a grown man, what photo–what moment–what expression–will his mama, auntie, or grandma want to put on their fridge? When he comes home from college, what photo will make him smile, even blush? What photo will make his girlfriend fall even more in love with him? What expression will not only remind his loved ones of how sweet he was but the young age he was–his innocence–the simple joy he brought to everyone around him (and continues to bring). These are the moments we are searching for when we hold our cameras. Simple, true stories. The kind that will bring us inner joy whenever we recall them.
Look for open shade if the sun is bright. Mama’s hair is back lit because I was shooting my DSLR in Manual mode (see below for those details). But if you are using a Point-and-Shoot, you may have a tougher time getting this look. My best advice is to still capture the expressions and moments, but shoot it in open shade where there are no shadows from the sun or unwanted eye squinting. If you like the buttery, blurred backgrounds like the photos in this blog post, set your shooting mode to P for Portrait or A for Aperture-Priority. These two modes will automatically give you a lower f-stop which creates the buttery, blurred background.
Go to Manual mode to have more control of your lighting and hair back lit from the sunlight. Try my DSLR settings below;
ISO 200 I keep it as low as possible for the best color results.
Aperture was f/2.8. I’m using a low f-stop because I love the buttery, blurred background. If you know you love buttery, blurred backgrounds but need help understanding them, check out our Beyond the Green Box DVD!
Shutter Speed was 1/400th of a second or some camera just say 400. I metered on the little one’s face and then adjusted my Shutter Speed so the meter’s marker was between 0 and positive 1. If this doesn’t make any sense, I’ve got another route! If your weather looks similar to what my weather was start with my DSLR settings. Then look at your photo. Is the photo bright enough? If no, slow down your shutter speed so more light can come in. For example, try going from 1/400 to 1/250. If your photo is to dark, roll your shutter speed dial in the opposite direction.
Remember to breathe, give yourself freedom to experiment and have fun. No critics allowed! Tell that critic voice to keep it zipped so you can play.
Post your questions about today’s Photo-Recipe! I’ll be checking in throughout the day! As always, feel free to post your own photo tips and tricks in the comments too! Your voice is one of the things I treasure most about this community!
p.s. And don’t be shy to post “I SUPPORT SOAR!” for your chance to win $100 GC to Amazon Giveaway! Details HERE!