Georgi Richardson is a celebrated photographer and the owner of Maggie Marguerite, a highly-sought-after events photography studio in New York city. Her work has been featured on Good Morning America, and in The New York Times, New York Magazine, and many more.
In Behind the Lens, Georgi reveals some of her best tips for taking beautiful photographs.
1. Get on your knees… or even your tummy!
Generally-speaking, being eye-level with your subject is the way to go. It immediately brings the viewer into the world of the subject. When it comes to the peanut gallery, you want to get down low.
2. Make ‘em laugh
…or at least attempt to do something funny as it will take their mind off the camera – and then be really quick to release the shutter. Taking pictures, a lot of the time, is about setting yourself up correctly (the right physical position, ISO/aperture/shutter speed set) and then waiting. So have your position and camera ready to roll and then engage with your subject.
3. Be prepared to be… silly!
Have a couple of silly things in your head to get your young subject to repeat back to you. What it achieves is to render the subject fully engaged in living right in front of your lens – all you have to do is release the shutter. Be as spontaneous as you can be by having a couple of silly phrases up your sleeve in advance. For kids under the age of three, have a few objects ready to use – like a balloon or some bubbles you can whip out and surprise them with – but be ready to take pictures as you will have precisely 45 seconds.
4. Be trigger happy
Once you have your “scene” set up and your subject is laughing or smiling, release the shutter as many times as you can. Maybe you even have the continuous shutter mode on your camera, in which case, press down until the action ceases. You can then edit out the winners afterwards. Just shoot as many images as possible in this short golden moment of real life.
5. Edit as you go
As in, check your shots. So after a burst of activity, stop and review what you’re shooting on your camera. Check exposure, focus, composition, feel – and then adjust accordingly BEFORE continuing the shoot. Do not shoot through a session – always check what you’re doing.
6. Lower your expectations.
Children under 8 have 10 to 15 minutes of concentration for something like this – maybe less if you’re their parent – so use your time wisely. Have a couple of different places/areas to work in and go from spot to spot. Keep the kids engaged, move quickly and with lots of laughter.
7. Know when to quit
Don’t push your kids until they cry – unpleasant and also a waste of time – you won’t want those shots anyway! Also your kids will grow up and take revenge somehow. Equally, you may have had a camera in their face too often and they may not want you to shoot them “anymore”. So give them a break – respectfully desist from taking pictures for a week or longer. Then try again.
8. Adjust your attitude
I always find a friendly yet slightly indifferent vibe is the way to go! “Sure, I can take your picture…or not.”. The attitude you bring to the table will affect your child’s behavior during a shoot – so relax as much as you can and let go. Actually – how’s that for a bit of advice in general as a parent – let go! Children can smell a desperate soul or an overbearing one – they won’t respond well.
9. Sometimes you can be a ninja
Sure, there will be those moments – but be set up for it and enjoy being a sneak. You will have a limited amount of times you can do this before kids get annoyed with you doing this! And remember a portrait doesn’t necessarily have to be a full-front face shot – it might be their tiny hands clutching their dad’s hand or the back of them.
10. Manual versus automatic mode on your phone?
You can switch between these modes on your phone. I generally find portraits of children look better with a little more exposure than normal – so where you increase the exposure by +⅓ or +⅔ or even a full stop. I would suggest practicing with this feature on your phone the day or night before a shoot – do not attempt to do this the day of the shoot. Depending on the lighting of the situation, increasing exposure may increase the pixelation/resolution of the image… i.e. the image will get grainier in order to compensate for the increase in exposure. You may be into this look, or not, but if this all seems a little overwhelming, manual mode may not be for you right now.
So instead, start with the simple portrait mode (2x) on your iPhone and make sure you are at least 8 feet or closer to your subject – it uses a wider f-stop so the depth of field is shallower and more “portrait-y” looking, which instantly elevates your imagery into the realm of fancy portrait!
Give these tips a try and let us know in the comments if they worked for you. Enjoy seeing your favorite family photographs for Mother’s Day on Meural WiFi Digital Photo Frame or Meural Canvas II digital picture frame, now available on the NETGEAR Online Store for up to $100 off and a free year of Meural membership.