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3.5. Kid Photography

Children are challenging for all photographers. They're like flash floods: fast, low to the ground, and unpredictable. But with a little patience and perseverance, you can keep up with them and get the shot (Figure 3-9). Here are some tips:

  • Be prepared. Rule one for capturing great kid pictures is to have your camera handy at all times, charged and with memory-card space to spare. Great kid shots come and go in the blink of an eye. Parents don't have the luxury of keeping their equipment snugly stowed away in a camera bag in the closet.

    Figure 3-9. If you want great-looking kid shots, you've got to play on their turf. That means getting down on your hands and knees, or even your tummy.

  • Get down there. The best kid shots are generally photographed at kid level, and that means getting low. (Flip screens are particularly useful for kid shots, because they let you position the camera down low without actually having to lie on the ground.)

  • Get close. Your shots will have much more impact if the subject fills the frame, plus you won't have to do as much cropping later in iPhoto.

  • Prefocus. Shutter lag will make you miss the shot every time. In many cases, you can defeat it by prefocusing—that is, half-pressing the shutter button when the kid's not doing anything special. Keep your finger on the button until the magical smile appears, then press fully to snap the shot.

  • Burst away. Use your camera's burst mode to fire off several shots in quick succession. Given the fleeting nature of many kids' grins, this trick improves your odds for catching just the right moment.

  • Force the flash. Indoors or out, you'll want the flash to fire, since it provides even illumination and helps freeze the action. Switch your camera's flash setting so that it's always on.

    Figure 3-10. Photographing fast-moving children is easier if you use your camera's burst mode, which lets you hold down the shutter button and fire off a sequence of frames. Chances are, one of them will capture the decisive moment.
    On most cameras, you choose burst mode using the onscreen menus. Nicer cameras, in fact, offer a choice of several burst modes: for example, one that captures full-resolution shots but not as quickly, or a more rapid-fire mode that takes lower-res photos.

  • Make it bright. See page 62 for a discussion of red-eye, but don't bother using the red-eye reduction flash mode on your camera. By the time your camera has finished strobing and stuttering, your kid will be in the next zip code.

    If red-eye is a problem in your flash photos of kids, make the room as bright as possible, shoot from an angle that isn't dead-on into your kids' eyes, and touch up the red-eye later in iPhoto, if necessary.

  • Fire at will. Child photography is like shooting a sports event—you'll take lots of bad shots in order to get a few gems. Again, who cares? The duds don't cost you anything. And once you've captured the image of a lifetime, you'll forget about all the outtakes you deleted previously.



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