Friday, July 24, 2015

Photographing Kids at the Beach

I'm in the middle of sorting through our images from our trip to Ocracoke (that was a month ago), and while I'm deciding which to keep and which to toss, I've also done a lot of thinking about how I photograph our vacations. More importantly, how I photograph Landon on our vacations. There will always be room for improvement and when I get home I am always critical of what I did or didn't capture, but I also realize what I have learned on my photography journey. So today, instead of posting about out trip to Ocracoke (which I hope to post about soon!) I decided to share a few of the things I've learned that are most helpful when photographing your kids at the beach, or any vacation for that matter.

1. Don't be afraid to brave the elements with your camera. No, I didn't go into 4 foot water with my camera, but I'm not afraid at all to take it calf/knee deep into the water to get pictures of Landon swimming or playing in the surf. Our cameras are tougher than we give them credit for. Yes, I have to clean it when we get back and protect it a little bit more- but thats okay. I spent good money on this fancy DSLR and goodness gracious, I'm going to use it!

2. Just photograph them being kids. Landon isn't looking at the camera 100% of the time, his smiles are not intended for me and the camera, but are truly how happy he was in the moment. And that's the way it should be. Not every picture needs to be styled, and posed and perfectly planned. We didn't spend our vacation in our Sunday best, we spent it in our bathing suits, sandy and sweaty and on the beach- and thats how I want to remember it. 

3. If you are going from an air conditioned condo or house into hot, humid conditions- your camera is going to fog up as soon as you take it outside. You'll need to allow time for your camera to adjust (which can sometimes take 30 minutes or more). The last thing you want to do is miss a sunset or great lighting because your camera was foggy!

4. Bend down or sit down, and take pictures from the level that your child sees the world from. I am always crouched trying to be eye level with Landon- otherwise the perspective my images take are me looking at the top of his head. Not me looking through his view.

5. Take pictures of details- toys, swim shorts, sandy toes, shells that are collected, crabs or fish they catch- it tells the story and gives creativity to your photos rather than just "here we are at the beach again." Sometimes this one is more of a struggle for me...but I'm trying to improve!

6. Straighten horizons- I've said it before in my beginner tips post, but goodness I can't stand a horizon slicing through the image at a crazy angle. Straightening the horizons (or any sharp lines in the picture) will instantly make you're images more professional looking and less amateur looking. (Thanks Dad for drilling that tip into my noggin from day one :))

7. Be mindful of people in the background. If you're intentionally trying to photography a crowded beach, then leave them. But if not, try to move around and not get the random lady in the background of your photos. Or...learn how to edit them out. I like images of just Landon, not Landon and the people next to us or the ones walking down the beach.

8. Pay attention to the sun- morning or evening is best. Trying to get images that don't have shadows or harsh light at 12pm is near impossible. (Although sometimes unavoidable). If they catch their fish at 1:00, then you don't have much choice if you want to document the moment.

9. Be in the photos. This trip I wasn't so good at that. John isn't one to just pick up a camera and start taking pictures when something is going on- so I had to ask him to take some pictures of me and Landon playing in the water. Aside from those photos- it looks like I'm not on the trip.

10. Relax. It's vacation. I think this year I listened to my own advice a little more than usual. the camera was in my bag more than in my hand, and I wasn't constantly worried about "getting the shot" or documenting every single thing that Landon did. I got the big moments, and enough to look back on and remember our week there, but didn't go overboard. I didn't stress out if they weren't good enough. Find a balance between being and photographing. Be present.

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