From Alicia Ybarbo, TODAY producer & co-author of "TODAY'S MOMS: Essentials for Surviving Baby's First Year"
When it comes to getting my children to pose for a professional photographer, I wave the white flag. For some reason, I simply can't do it.
I've never been one to dress my children up, smooth their hair out and drive to Sears for a photo session — much less even make the appointment for one! When my first born was still a baby, I remember zooming past his first year birthday without ever having a professional photo taken. (Gasp!) I did eventually have one taken, albeit several months after his first birthday, due to some gentle nudging from mommy friends.
Instead of having my children take the traditional photo every year where they sit in a studio, I've been taking them to the green patches of Central Park in New York City. Once a year, I photograph them dressed in all white clothing — simple items that hold sentimental meaning. Since my son turned one, I've photographed him in an old white chambray shirt that my husband used to wear. The sleeves are three times too long and the neck is badly frayed. When my son wears it, it looks more like a dress on him than anything. But having just taken the sixth year of these photos I can see such an amazing difference in both his physical growth as well as his personality and spirit. He's actually starting to fill out the shirt! And since my daughter was one, I've put her in a white vintage tennis dress that I used to wear in my 20's. The goal is to take images of them in the same clothing every year until the items actually fit.
I'm not saying taking pics like these don't come with similar frustrations of sitting in a studio. Many times my kids become disinterested after I've run out of the lollipops and jelly beans used as bribery. They're hungry, tired or just want to go home. But the advantage I have is that they get to play, run around and be themselves while I snap away.
Today I produced a segment with Monica Rich Kosann on photographing your family. As a mom, designer and photographer, she shared a unique perspective on taking pictures:
- Strive for a less than perfect image.
- Don't ask your family to pose.
- Keep the camera out for moments after others put theirs away.
- Sometimes the best photo is when there aren't any faces in the shot.
The cool thing is that these guidelines are actually doable for the amateur photographer. I wanted to ask a few other folks about their secrets to successful picture taking. Here's what a few twittering friends had to share:
@kikaroseGetting down on their level. I find that the best shots I get are when I'm face to face with them.
@MrsMoNJHold the shutter down so that when the moment is there you can do a quick snap and the picture is done.
@cheekyandswank With digital..shoot, shoot and shoot more.
@nurserytales I usually bring the camera out when they are playing and crawling around. They end up posing anyway!
@gentleearth Take photos outside. Catch them when they are occupied with something.
@MidwestMoms Especially with young ones, don't say 'smile!' Say 'laugh' instead or have them say a silly word so their smile is natural.
@sweetlollipop The best pictures are taken with my digital outdoors in good sunlight when they're not aware I'm taking pic.
@jphay1) full bellies 2) nice window light 3) chair w/sides 4) zoom in close 5) shoot lots 6) shoes off/tickle toes
@MamalodeLay down and take the pic of them with the sky or leaves above, off center.
@TrakVuDon't use a flash! Turn up the ISO and take tons of pix. the random ones are the best!
@jsbagain I had the best luck with candids this summer...just letting them be and shooting away.
@lilsugar Go with candid rather than posed photos because they show your child's personality!
@allison_butt Just let the kids be themselves, you'll really capture their personality if you aren't trying to pose them all of the time.
@LittleSoles LOW STRESS = Best Pics.