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tips for parents to take better photos of their kids

If you're a parent who loves to capture every moment of your children's childhood, this post may be useful in helping you maximise your phone's capabilities. Phones have come a long way since the days of Motorola and those early Nokia ones. Nowadays, phone have cameras.... However, it's good to note that professional photography studios use cameras with high megapixel and higher capabilities together with artistic skill and knowledge. At Olivia Christina Photography, your local photography studio based in Stanstead Abbotts, Hertfordshire, I use a Sony in the studio / and my Nikon camera for outdoors both with an impressive megapixel resolution, my Sony has a banging 42mp which produces sharp, high-quality images that can be printed on a large scale, I adore my camera, but the file sizes are massive!

While phone cameras may not have the same capabilities as our professional gear, they can still produce impressive results. For instance, an f/1.6 aperture is quite good for a phone camera and can create a nice, blurry background effect without the need for editing apps or external manipulation. Keep in mind that photo abilities are not the primary function of a phone. In short, the latest phones on the market are highly advanced, and this post will explore how you can make the most of them.

The most crucial element that I'll be discussing here is light. The word Photography in Greek (high five to my ancestors) quite literally means painting with light. It can make or break your photograph, and it's what distinguishes an average image from an Instagram-worthy one. When shooting outside, having ample light is crucial for capturing clear features, just not direct sun (yuk). In low light settings, our camera or phone will compensates for it, resulting in grainy photos, and not the desirable grain, with modern day cameras we have to add this back into our portraits - crazy huh.

Our phones can detect ambient light and even adjust the screens accordingly as its little brain (processors take readings). A great tip for Iphone users is if you touch your subject and slide up or down you can increase or decrease the light more specifically for your subject. In low light situations, such as in the evening, our phone camera adjusts something called ISO, this is the camera's sensitivity to light. When capturing a well-lit scene, the ISO can remain low to avoid too much grain. As light diminishes, the ISO increases, resulting in grainy photos with less details, making it harder to print them in larger sizes - generally these are ok for small prints, keeping your ISO as low as possible and using good external light is always the best option.

In the studio we use the flash, or I like to use something I call a wall of light (a consistent amount of light to mimic window light, just without the sun dipping in and out or our notorious grey dark skies, it's nice and soft for newborns and no bulb flashes. Flash can help with the grainy issues, but it can also make everyone look like they're caught in the headlights if done wrong, a direct flash is just pure yuk and a photographer will avoid this at all costs, it creates a flat light and no definition to our subject (we also call is fat lighting) as it does absolutely nothing by ways of creating shape so we just end up looking like the camera added all the pounds to us. However, it's better than having an underexposed image with insufficient detail, but if you can aim your flash at a white ceiling or a wall, the light will bounce much nicer and give more flattering shadow. Alternatively, we can shoot in ideal lighting conditions, such as early morning or late afternoon, or during midday in winter when the sun is not too direct or harsh. These are optimal conditions if we can capture them.

How about capturing photos of your children and family at home? The window can be a great tool to utilise for natural light, especially in darker rooms. If you have white or light curtains, use them as a diffuser on scorching days, by diffuse I mean something that softens the light as it comes through the window. Practice, go take a selfie of yourself at the window in full sun, then the curtain drawn (sheer or net I mean - NOT a black out haha) and finally move yourself away from the light gradually and you will see what I mean by soft light as the shadow and highlight on your face become nicer. THEN practice your angles, turning you face a few degrees at a time away from the window light and voila you are mastering light :)

To draw the viewer's eye to the subject and make the photo more interesting, use composition by placing the focus of the image in a third of the photo rather than bang spank in the middle. Also, consider the direction of light when photographing at home, aiming for a 45-degree angle for the most flattering results.

Both posed and candid photos can be great, but candid photos often capture the most authentic and priceless moments. Shooting at eye level or even from down low to create a different feel to the photo and capture movement. Practice, take the same photo from a few different angles and review them, you will see what looks nicer.

When it comes to editing, enhancing features is fine, whoa with this new AI technology out there and apps galore its easy to be tempted into using this but avoid completely deforming images. Using AI utilises millions of portraits from other images online, so whilst the mouth shape may be almost exact..... that finished portrait wont actually be your child for example. It will be bits of them and I don't know about you but I find that very uncomfortable as a mum. There is retouching (I do this...) to better an image and essentially polish it but that also like me swapping your child's features with another portrait from someone else, that would not be ethical would it...So do be careful using AI, the implication of this going forward for our young generation coming through may quite possibly be really disturbing and I wholly believe in making sure our kids love themselves the way they are. Perfect just as you made them.

Lastly......Always back up your photos to the cloud or another device to protect your memories, years ago I had a hard drive (my personal one) break on me and I faced losing all, ALL of my daughters baby pictures, I was effectively held to ransom to get these images back and had to pay the price to find someone who had the skillset to retrieve it all. Lesson well and truly learnt. Why would I treat my own photos any different to my clients...

Oh one more thing! As well as taking more photos and videos of your children to capture their daily changes, as these photos will soon become priceless, catch them rolling in mud and having fun - go for it, you only ever have this one day and please please please I implore you - GET IN THE PHOTO TOO. There is no nice way to say it, you wont be here forever and your children and grandchildren will NOT be looking at your photos think jeez she let herself go a bit didn't she. They will be going, oh wow wasn't she / he / they / insert whatever pronouns you like, beautiful and I can see where so and so gets their nose and eyes from etc. Long and short of it.... Get in the picture, even if you don't look at them. Or better still - come and see me and I will ensure you look lovely :)

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