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At least once a year, many parents will go out and pay a portrait photographer or a mall portrait studio too much money for mediocre photos of their children. It's not even something they really even think about it. They just assume it's just one of those things that parents are supposed to do. And when they get the mediocre photos back, they somehow end up thinking that the photos are decent because, after all, they did pay good money for them. And of course, they do it all over again the following year.

There are also parents who opt to take photos of their children themselves, but also end up taking mediocre-to-bad photos because they're unaware of a few basic camera and lighting principles. They'll see a great moment with their child, grab the camera, point and shoot, and then later wonder why the picture didn't come out looking anything like it did in person.

If you are one of these parents, then you've made your way to the right lesson! Here, you will learn about some simple, affordable and highly effective ways of creating beautiful photographs of your children that you will treasure for a lifetime.

(Most images can be clicked for an enlarged view.)

Topics Covered:

  • The shortcomings of built-in flash lighting
  • Creating a more natural-looking light
  • How to set up your camera for optimal results
  • The advantages of shooting at home

Equipment Used:

Camera/Media

Lighting Equipment

  • professional light modifiers

BUILT-IN FLASH LIGHTING
You see it everywhere, particularly around the holidays: bad photos of adorable children. So why are the common, everyday snapshots of children (and adults, too, for that matter) so mediocre? Two words can sum it up: built-in flash.

The built-in flash in your camera is designed to light your subject so that your photo will be properly exposed, but unfortunately it is also a very unnatural looking light source. Unless you happen upon a deer, caught in your headlights, where else in nature do find lighting conditions like this?

Now it is true that in some situations a built-in flash is not terribly intrusive, as when you are shooting in daylight conditions and need to illuminate the areas cast in shadow, but these are not the images you are going to treasure in the years to come. There are, however, much better ways of dealing with dark shadows than by activating your flash.



Figure 1

Let's take a look at some examples. On a recent afternoon, I decided to take some photos of my 9-month old son, Aidan, using a few simple lighting techniques. First, I took a point-and-shoot digital camera, activated the built-in flash and took a shot in the Program (automatic) mode. Again, this is how most people go about taking indoor portraits (figure 1).

As you can see, this result is a typical point-and-shoot photo. While the background is being helped out a little by the sunlight coming through the windows, the built-in flash has illuminated Aidan and the plants behind him in a very flat and unnatural way. Notice how he has that deer-in-the-headlights-look? It's unavoidable. And because the light is traveling in the same direction as the lens, it is difficult to get a sense of shape or dimension to the elements of the shot.


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Final Results



Figure 2

 
 

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Equipment Used:

Camera/Media

Lighting Equipment

  • professional light modifiers

Recommended Links

  • To learn more about Photoflex equipment, go to www.photoflex.com
  • For more tips and techniques on lighting and cameras, visit www.webphotoschool.com
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