Photoshop for my mum. Lesson Three: subject, consent and comfortable

I mentioned in the goals of natural portraits, you should have good light, good angles and a good subject.

What is a good subject?

Very SUBJECTive! I suggest begining photographing (and living life by doing) what you love. In my case, it’s people. Esp the little people. I like hanging out, I like their naturalness and they usually like their own image too. Unlike adults, who often don’t like themselves, they always like their children, indiscriminantly. If only we loved ourselves like children! Enuf said.

Little children have a variety of expression. They are pre ‘smile’-trained. Even from around 2, they can begin doing ‘CHEEESSSSE’ and it all goes awry.

The key is, to hang out, let them play and let them be comfortable just snapping away without expectation. Using digital media is ideal- no cost involved, just a big memory card needed! You need to increase the amount of photo’s you take.

In general, if you want to improve your photos, take more. The more you do it, look at your results, discuss them, the more you see, the more you get. Like anything.

So with little kids, you want to follow them doing what they do, with good natural light. To get a good angle, I usually sit or lie on the floor with them. Photo’s from ‘adult’ height don’t usually work for me, because you don’t get the same amount of respect conveyed. Get? Sorry, give (respect). Besides, if they are engaging in their activity, they are looking down.

Another tip, open the lens a bit, so if they move, and you click, you can still catch them. (That means, have more image in the picture). Also, by doing this, you can take you eye away from behind the camera to keep talking to the small fry. They prefer YOUR attention, to the camera.

Another good fun thing to do, is to still be playing with them or get the to be engaging with their sibling. Eg, I got the kids to go to outside, and we were playing chasings. That was quite fun, running with a camera. Keeping a very small one who thought me chasing them away from the road was the funny part for her-remember safety is number one at all times! It does add to the job description-so do try to make it easy for yourself; bear in mind age vs responsibility. (You know this!)

The other thing with photographing kids is consent. Parents are the ones who need to be asked, and usually love it if you take their chidren’s photos.

Parents are very wary of what happens with the end result though, with good cause. ( My naivity changed after talking to Michelle-I guess once you’ve worked in a prison, you have a different POV)

So I generally take photos above the waist of nudie kids, even if the parent doesn’t mind, or get them strategically modest. If you are using film, you don’t know what happens to the photos while out of your sight and if digitally online, who knows what happens. It’s sad, and disappointing because it takes the innocence away. I’ve taken so many gorgeous photos that I’d love to share, but don’t want to taint the positivity.

The other thing is, parents own the copyright to the children’s photo, so it’s not legal to use their kids image. Not sure how it works exactly. Not something you (mum) need to worry about-but other people may have more knowledge on that subject. It’s a pretty personal topic.

Getting back to it, taking photo’s for the happy snapper grandmother…on a then and there issue-subject should be comfortable. As a 2yo isn’t usually concerned with the above, but more, being warm, fed and happy. Recap-give them something to play with or do, make it less about ‘performing’ and posing, look at them as much as possible, so you don’t disappear behind the camera.

Again-PS tips?!

Watch for miscellaneous background objects. If they appear, after being more focused on the subject, blur them, rubber stamp them, or change the colour. More on that next lesson!

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