One of the biggest surprises of becoming a parent was all of the school photos. So many school photos, and it starts as soon as you have them in any kind of establishment: daycare, preschool and then, for forever for pretty much anything you sign them up for. I’ve always dreaded those days, especially the days where they dress up your child for you, and they have a barricade of giant framed photos out and they try to sell you huge packages before you can even get your kid. I’ve almost bought high-priced packages just because I don’t want to talk to anyone about how ridiculous Rhett looks in a page boy hat holding an apple… (guys, it’s awful).
The truth is, you know your kid best of all, and you’ll know exactly what colors look great on them, and what you can say to make them smile the biggest, and what kind of personality they have, so why not try to take some of these photos yourself? I’m not a professional photographer, but I like using these techniques an thought someone out there would like them too! If you have any of your own tips, and want to share, please comment! I love to try out new things and meet people through here 🙂
Now, I shot all of these on my iPhone 6s, but you can use any smart phone or camera you’d like. Portrait mode is great for close up shots, but I used the standard setting throughout these and just stuck to clothing items and props I already owned. This shoot cost 0 dollars for us to do, and we had so much fun. You can take great pictures if you have great lighting, a solid outfit, and having a cute subject doesn’t hurt either 😉 Thanks Rhett!
First, pick out some colors you know they look good in, and stay away from loud prints, logos, and anything distracting. If you don’t know what to choose, go for solid colors, and stay away from white unless it’s a theme of your photo you’d like to focus on.
Also, pick some layers! Even though you want to focus to be on your child, adding layers adds personality. If Fall is coming up, add another shirt, a jacket, a bag or a hat!
The idea is that even though it is just a picture of them, it should still tell a story.
So you got the outfits, but where do you take the photo?
Lighting might just be the single most important part of taking a photo. The best lighting I’ve found at home, is actually in the garage. Open those huge garage doors and the light floods in to the space, perfect for highlighting a subject for photography. It also gives you plenty of room to allow for space to shoot and hang a backdrop. If you don’t have a garage, choose a place like an alleyway where the light filters in, or even open your front door to let the light in.
For these photos, I attached a huge piece of upholstery fabric (see how it is see-through, giving it a gradient look?), which you can get a good amount of for fairly cheap. Other options are sheets, or even a proper backdrop and stand, which you can find on amazon ($13.50!) for way cheaper than those school photo packages.
Use things they enjoy, that don’t take away from the photo of them. Stuffed animals, a book they love, hats, chairs, a bunch of pillows. Make their space comfortable and not cluttered to you can play and interact with them so their personality shines through.
I gave Rhett a pack of google eyes and a pillow he could decorate, which resulted in some fun silly faces and lots of laughs.
Even as simple as just having them in a chair gives them something to do, and a way to interact with you.
But how do you get them to smile?
If you’re working with a toddler, you know they are moody, sometimes climbing the walls and other times crying hysterically because they broke a crayon. If you have a hyperactive child, like Rhett, try taking their photos before nap time or after they go to the pool. They’ll be tired and wanting snacks which you can talk about while you shoot. I like to talk about Rhett’s favorite things, like: popsicles, and then turn them into something ridiculous: popsicle cars. This always gets at least a smirk from him, even in his moodiest of days. Today we talked about BBQ Chip Ice Cream, and peanut butter toothpaste. He laughed. We laughed.
Hopefully this helps in taking some cute photos that you can share and treasure as they grow. I know Rhett grows so fast, and if I don’t try and take these moments to capture his sweet smile at this time in his life, he’ll grow into a whole new sweet stage before I know it.
Happy photo taking! Let me know if these things help out, and what else works for you!