Wednesday, February 7, 2018

How I get great photos of my kids + edit my photos!

Hi friends!

I've received a lot of questions about how I edit my photos & get my kids to cooperate when I take them.  Since I've been doing this for years & have learned a lot of tricks along the way, I thought I'd share some secrets.  I am by NO MEANS a trained photographer, so if you want a professional course, this is not it.  I have a fancy camera that I have no clue how to use on manual mode (that will be for another day when I have a hours of free time - which is never). I do however have a few tricks under my sleeve that help achieve professional "looking" photos using only your smartphone, & that's what I'm going to share with you today.

Tip #1:  LIGHTING IS EVERYTHING.

Obviously the outdoors are always optimal for a photo with great lighting.  If you're going to take photos in the middle of a sunny day, only shoot in the shade.  If you're wanting perfect lighting though, take your pics during golden hour right before/during sunset.  Cloudy/overcast days are GREAT for taking pics outside as well.

This photo was in the middle of broad daylight, but there was shade in front of the fence.  With a little bit of editing afterwards, I was pleased with the results!  Also, the kids weren't squinting with sun in their eyes. ;)

That being said, you don't have to be outdoors to get great lighting. In fact, some of my favorite photos have been taken of my kids indoors!  I have sort of memorized the areas of the house that have the best lighting depending on certain times of the day.  For example, Jace's nursery is facing the East, so his room is brightest in the morning.  My bedroom is facing West, so it's bright in there in the afternoon.  When you open up your blinds/curtains & place your kids facing towards the light, you'll be amazed at the lighting you can get!  *PS: Turn OFF your flash.  Just do it.  It's worthless.*

Here's an example of an indoor picture in front of the window with plenty of natural light!


Tip #2:  SIMPLE BACKGROUNDS.

This tip alone can take any normal pic of your kids (like the type that flood your Facebook feed) to the type photo that catches someone's eye & makes them stop.  Eliminating clutter, random people, etc from the background of your photos draws focus onto your subject (AKA: your kiddo/s).  This doesn't mean the background has to be one solid color (although walls are a great backdrop too).  Just look for open spaces, light colors, pretty views, or simple settings.

One of my favorite things to do is lay my babies/kids on a white blanket.  I know I won't be able to do this for much longer, so if you have little ones - capture some of these before it's too late! Throw in a fun prop or sign to make it even more adorable.  You won't regret it later when they're older & too cool for school.

Also, in this tip I want to mention the rule of thirds.  You may have heard of this before.  Imagine drawing to lines down a photo vertically, & then across horizontally.  In the photography world, the 4 points where these lines meet are the best spots for placing your subject.  If you don't have time to think about that, just put your kids to the side of the pic a little bit & take the pic.  OR, crop the photo later making it look like you used rule of thirds to begin with. ;)

This pic is a good example of rule of thirds.  I used self timer on my camera for this as well!


Tip #3:  GET FUN ANGLES/BE SILLY.

If you follow me on Instagram, it's no secret I love the shots from up above.  I sleep stalk Jace all the time to capture these gems.  I've also achieved some super cool shots of the kids at this angle while they're awake, & that's where being silly comes in.  Sometimes our kids get sick of saying "cheese" for photos, & I think every single photo of them smiling the same way gets boring anyway.  Have some fun, & make silly faces for your kids.

When I took this photo, I had to do the most ridiculous voices they've ever heard & it made them all crack up.  It was worth it to get this shot.  This is now framed on my living room wall.  But be quick... once you get them in the spot you want, make sure that camera is ready, they won't hold still for long.


Tip #4:  VIDEO SCREEN SHOTS.

Kids won't hold still? That's fine, take a video of them & then screen shot it.  Once you've gotten a video in an area with good lighting, go to the bottom of the screen when viewing that video.  You can scroll through the clips of your video at the bottom of the screen & screen shot what you like.  THEN, edit the photo.  (Which I explain in my next tip)!  This is also great when you need to get you and your husband in the photo too!



Tip #5:  EDIT YOUR PHOTOS.

There are a LOT of great photo editing apps, like VSCO, Snapseed, Color Story, etc.  My favorite for making my photos light & bright though is Adobe Lightroom.  It's free.  Here are the main steps I take when editing in LR:



1.  Go to light settings.  I turn up the Exposure, the whites, & sometimes the highlights (depending on the lighting from photo to photo - my editing can vary & be in different amounts.  I just eyeball it).  Sometimes I will turn down the blacks if there are any black colors I want to pop after turning the light up.




2.  Go to color settings.  Go to Mix, & turn down orange saturation to eliminate any orange tones (orange hues make a photo look unprofessional & like a cheesy filter was used IMO).  If you're in the photo with your kids, turn down the luminance a bit to give yourself a tan. Then turn down the yellow saturation.  Also, to make any colors in your photo pop, turn the saturation up on any of those colors.


3.  Go to detail.  Turn up the sharpening a bit to make the picture more clear after all of the light/color filtering.  Then, turn up the noise reduction to smooth out the photo. After I export my photo out of LR, I crop it in my phone however I want it.  I prefer iPhone cropping tool.


Here's an example before & after using the editing steps listed above:



I have a feeling I will come back & edit this blog post from time to time to add in any tips I forgot, or learn as time goes on.  Just remember to have fun with it... the best pics of your kids will be of them having fun, not being forced into a photo.  (I am totally guilty of making my kids pose for photos from time to time, but doing that too much makes them despise getting their pictures taken)! Also, GET IN the photos with your kids sometimes!  They will want to look back in the future & see mommy with them too.  Have your hubby take them, or set up self timer to have you and/or your hubby in them as well.  Keep your eyes open for good photo opps.  I sneak up on my kids all the time when they're together being super cute & not fighting for once. ;)  Or, if I see a beautiful back drop, I'll get my camera ready & then ask the kids to turn & smile just for a moment.  These turn out to be some of my favorites.

If you have any questions about these photo tips, the editing process, or anything I forgot to mention, PLEASE let me know! You can email me at: sincerelystevieblog@gmail.com or message me on my blog Instagram page!

Thanks for reading & I hope you find some inspiration from this post. :)




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