School is around the corner (if it hasn’t already started). Then Halloween, Thanksgiving, & the holiday season. So many picture opportunities! What a perfect excuse to have my good friend, Ana, post about a subject she knows tons about (& trust me, I’m taking notes). Please, help me welcome a woman who specializes in infant and child (& just about everything else) photography – Ana Brandt of Ana Brandt Photography in Old Town Tustin…

If I had a dollar for every time a client told me their child won’t look at their camera or take a photo, I could quit my day job. Yes, it can be challenging, but it is possible. The best way to do it? Don’t let them know it. If you are telling them Mommy is going to do yet another photo shoot, chances are they might run the other direction, or do everything in their power to drive you crazy. I love to catch my kids off guard and I often don’t mind what they are wearing. My girls in these photos were wearing pajamas and on a couch in my garage – which I found for $25.00 at a garage sale and couldn’t figure out what to do with it, so there it sat. Turns out the lighting when the garage door was opened was amazing, and it reminded me of back in the day when I had a garage studio! So here we go, with the Fall season upon us, here are some tips to help you photograph your children.

1. Be prepared with your camera at any moment: all too often we see things and wish we had our camera. I have a camera in my car at all times, in my purse and at home. No, you can’t have three cameras. But, if you can keep a small one in your purse or car (and no the iPhone doesn’t count) you can be ready.

2. Go unnoticed: I love to grab my camera and long lens and just work with available light and sneak around when my kids are playing. They get very used to the camera and will sometimes just look up at me and give me a great expression.

3. Don’t force it: grabbing your kids and putting them all on the front step and asking them to say cheese will rarely work, unless they are really trained, and even then, you may get fake smiles. If they are all playing together nicely, ask them to all jump on each other so you can get a quick pic for Grandma. I use Grandmas name because if I say Mommy, they won’t comply. If I say Grandma, I can usually get a quick reponse.

4. Forget perfection: That’s what photographers are for. You want to be able to capture those fun moments – even the messy, muddy, all over the place moments. Save the perfect portrait family taking pictures for trained professionals.

5. Learn to see the light: Before you snap that shutter take a look around. Where is the light falling. Does it look dark or is it too sunny you can’t see anything? Chances are the photo isn’t going to come out great either. Move the child and look at the light again and you can usually see a difference.

6. Go for cover: You are going to get the best light when it is diffused in some way. Whether its under a cloud cover, under a tree, behind a bush, a rock at the beach or wherever – you get the idea. On the bright days, run for shade that is not too dark, and still allows light to fall through.

7. Get in the photo: Yes you can get photos of you and the kids. Ask your husband to take them or when your kids are ready have them take some photos. Some of my favorite photos were taken by my children.

8. Get down to their level: On your knees, on your belly, whatever you need to do, shoot at the childs level.

9. Keep it simple – Pay attention to backgrounds, clutter and other distracting elements. Keep them at least 6 feet away from walls to avoid shadows.

10. Don’t stop: Whatever you do, don’t stop taking photos. Much like continually putting barrettes in a little girls hair until she gets used to it – so is taking photos of your children. Pretty soon they will adjust and will be asking you to take their photo!

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Ana Brandt is a Mama of 3 and runs a portrait studio in Old Town Tustin, California. Sessions are available on location or in studio.

Want to learn more? Check out Ana’s MyLIFE Workshops coming this Fall (a hands-on class, where she actually teaches YOU to take great pictures using your own camera). Sign ups are available now. Visit: www.mylifeworkshops.com

xoxo, K
images via ana brant