10 Tips For Taking Better Photographs of Your Child

March 15, 2010

We are thrilled to announce that starting today, Sabra Krock, a Manhattan-based photographer who creates luminous and intimate images of children we truly admire, will contribute a weekly series of posts on the Estella blog aimed at teaching you how to shoot the best possible images of your child.  You’ve seen her work on our site before, check out our current homepage and ones to come!
Sabra has a particular passion for photographing newborns, but her full-service studio in Chelsea caters to portraits of children of any and all ages as well as maternity images. A photo session with Sabra can take place in her studio, your home, a park or another location of your choice. For more information, visit sabrakrockkids.com and follow Sabra on Twitter and Facebook.

Tip #1: Turn Your Flash Off and Use Natural Light

Thank you, Estella, for the opportunity to share my tips with your customers. I look forward to sharing some of what I have learned over the years with you, combining my perspective as a photographer with my perspective as a mom.

As a starting point for this first of 10 posts, let’s begin with the most essential ingredient of every photograph: light. Do some of your photographs make your family look like a herd of deer caught in the headlights? Camera flashes can cause red-eye and produce artificial, unflattering, often harsh-looking, light.

Unless you use an off-camera flash set-up, I urge you to muster the courage to turn your flash off and make use of natural light. While it is sometimes a necessity for me to use artificial light in my client work, I almost never use it when I photograph for personal use. Even when I do, I never ever use the built-in flash on my camera. Instead, I use professional studio lights and so-called modifiers that produce a much more pleasing effect than the harsh light cast by the camera’s built-in flash.

When you begin experimenting with natural light you will appreciate how much it flatters your subjects. Your subjects will appreciate this too! You’ll start to capture beautiful, organic-looking scenes and portraits. What’s more, turning off your flash will make your camera less conspicuous in public and open up more opportunities for candid situations.

Look for indirect natural light it shade of a tree or an awning, or diffused by your window. When light shines beside your child, you will notice interesting soft shadows adding dimensionality to your composition. Facing your child straight on, light from the front creates a very soft, shadow-less portrait. Behind your child, backlight enhances colors and creates a bright backdrop. For more information about how to avoid using flash, see Tip #2 in next Monday’s post.

These three photographs of my almost 8-month-old son, Max, illustrate the three different effects you can expect with diffused window light from the side, front, and back.

Notice the dimensionality in the first image where light is coming from a window at left:


In this shot, soft, shadowless light is coming from the window straight on.


And here’s a pop of color created by strong backlight.


This is the first installment in a weekly series of posts by Manhattan photographer Sabra Krock on how to take better photographs of your child. Come back next Monday for Tip #2: Get to Know Your Camera.

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