Not your average tutorial

Tutorial can be a daunting word; I am striving to change that image.

Have you read my first two photography posts? They are guidelines to help the everyday photographer take photographs like a professional. I may be writing myself out of a job here, but taking a quality photograph is achievable by anyone. My tutorials explain, in non-tech language, basic guidelines that will help you elevate your snaphots to photographic art.

Today I am breaking my trend and sharing not one but three tips that you can easily incorporate in your photo-taking. Combine them with my first two and you just might not need to ever pay studio prices again.

First...don't ask your kids to, "Say Cheeeeeese!" I can't tell you how many perfect images I had in my viewfinder before some well-meaning parent instructed their child to SMILE! It might sound like a good idea at the time (and believe me, when I am taking snapshots of my kids I sometimes find myself fighting the urge), but I promise you...your favorite pictures of your children won't be those with the plastered-on grins. Your favorites will be the ones that capture their real spirit and personality, which is only visible when they are unselfconscious. That cheesy grin is a mask over their real selves...and nothing is more precious than that.

Secondly, take it outside! As long as the weather won't destroy your camera, you can bet that going outside for a mini photo-session will usually help you capture your child at their most authentic. Let the kids play and just shoot...don't censor yourself or them. Go ahead and take a picture of them as they spin past you on the merry-go-round. You might get an amazing shot! Or, stand at the top of a slide and shoot as your child slides down...you'll be amazed at how much you love that shot later. Best yet, creep up on them as they are engaged in some quiet play time and catch them unawares.

Lastly, for today, I'd like to encourage you to use your flash ALL THE TIME. That's right, just override your camera's ability to decide for itself if it needs the extra lighting and use it ALWAYS. In a super sunny situation, the flash helps get rid of annoying facial shadows - which aren't flattering to anyone. In a back lit situation (that means, for example, your child is sitting in a window seat through which sun is streaming; it creates a silhouette), the flash makes sure the subject is lit. In just about every situation, having the flash on makes for a better shot.

The bottom line is, no-one will ever be able to take better photographs of your children than you. They will never comfortable with a strange photographer, so with you behind the camera, images of their true selves will be possible. What more does a parent want?

More next week!


  1. Thanks for the tips Christine!

    What if you find the flash (indoors, at night) is washing your subject out? I've tried it without a flash but then the exposure is too long to be practical and things come out all blurry. With the flash I'm taking pictures of pasty white ghosts. Help please!

  2. Yes, please answer Robin's Question this week!

    I can't take a decent shot!

  3. One thing I do is to take one (or two) more step towards the subject (If possible)... even with my zoom. Everyone loves close-ups, but no one ever gets close enough.

  4. beachmom4:35 AM

    Thanks for all of your tips ... they are wonderful for a mom desperately trying to figure out how to take great candids of the kids! Can't wait to try these out...

  5. Great tip!!!! Thanks for sharing

  6. I really liked your tip. I love taking pictures but need to practice more. We bought a Nikon D50 and I love it but I know I don't use it to its full capacity.

  7. When I get around to getting a better camera I am coming to your site and stalking your archives - who needs a class! Thank you!

  8. ALl I want is a good camera... sigh...

    I always preferred to shoot with natural light, I love the way shadows really can make scene dramatic and have a whole different feel, but that generally isn't the same when shooting people.

    I work in an industry where I have to work with other people's photos and OMG some of them don't even know how to focus. Maybe you can write a blog about how to use their camera properly and then I can send them here :)

  9. see Christine! PERFECT example of why you should go for that link I sent you!! Do it, girl!

    This is so helpful. I usually hear NOT to use the flash, but now I'm going to try using it all of the time for awhile and see how it changes my photos.



  10. Thank you for that post! I LOVE taking pictures, especially of my kids. I totally agree with tip #3. I always leave my flash on. The pictures just seem to look so much better when I do that. Thanks for the other tips too. It gave me a lot of good ideas!

  11. Hi Christine - very nice tip. I'm a bit of an amateur photographer with an aspiration to make myself into a professional amateur. ;)

    Seriously, I love taking photos, so I will have to keep reading your blog and see what I can do with some of your tips. The other content looks great too. It was nice running into you on Greeblemonkey's site... Thanks again!

  12. Thanks! I would have never known that flash thing which I will try...also waiting on the answer to Robin's question.

  13. Great tips! I love taking photos of my son. We have 2 cameras - one that takes excellent photos, but is large so I usually don't take it along. The other is a point & shoot that handily fits into my pocket and usually captures the fun moments! With my little one - I find that if the flash is bleaching things out - I keep the flash on, step back and then use the zoom. Also - if I can angle the flash a tiny bit away from aiming directly at what I am taking a photo of - that helps. Now, I know that the people who were wondering about this won't be checking back to the comments section but I thought I would share with you what has been working with me. I will check back to see if you have any other pointers - I love pointers!!!



  14. I came here to read your photography tips, which were very helpful, but I noticed in your "about me" that you are a physician-turned-SAHM. I am a veterinarian-turned-SAHM, and I get a lot of people who don't understand or support that I "gave up" my career to stay home. Is it the same with you?

  15. great tips, I'll fight the cheese urge next time!

  16. I'm pretty good about keeping the flash on, also because it speeds up the shutter speed...hence less blurry kids! I'd horrid at the "cheese" thing and my daughter looks freakish when she tries to pose for a picture!

  17. Bobbi4:47 PM

    For Robin - Try using a tripod. Blurry photos happen when you hand hold your camera and shoot with a slow shutter speed. A tripod would eliminate camera shake.


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