Wellington based Peta Mazey is what I would refer to as a “child whisperer”. I’ve followed her beautiful photography work for years and have spent many a procrastinating hour scrolling through her creative, fun shots of kids. She has this knack (skill!) at capturing children in natural, candid moments which just scream their little personalities.
So when thinking about who I might haul on board to present the very first of my planned weekly, FOCUS posts – I thought some tips for taking pics of your own kids might be handy and no one knows how to do this better than Peta!
First things first – Peta believes the best camera is the one you have on you … she happily and readily uses her camera phone for many of her photos! So relax! This is not a post to sell you a DSLR!
“LOW LOW LOW LOW (OR HIGH)”
The floor is where it’s at in kidworld. Get on their level and your photos will be awesome. You might get mucky but it will be worth it. My only exception to this rule is when you want to show their tiny-ness, in which case birds-eye-view rules. Stand right up over them and use a wide angle, just be sure to exercise caution.
“STRAIGHT LINES ARE COOL”
Every time a horizon line is wonky a fairy loses her wings. Or something. Once you start being vigilant about straight horizons it will become second nature. If you’re at an angle to a scene that doesn’t have a horizon line, then make sure your vertical lines are nice and straight
“GO WITH THE FLOW”
It’s so tempting to attempt to recreate an amazing photo or set up you have seen somewhere, but usually kids have a different idea about that. Down the line those aren’t the photos that will make you the happiest anyway. The photos that make me smile are the ones where everything was real – Sally was wearing mismatching socks and Billy was covered in dirt, but their smiles were real because they really were having fun!
“GOOD LIGHT IS GOOD, BAD LIGHT IS BAD “
It’s easy to think ‘good light’ means ‘lots of light’ but actually, full sun is the worst kind of light to shoot in, it’s really harsh and casts lots of weird shadows on the face. If you want to learn about what light is cool do some googling on ‘open shade’, backlighting and ‘the golden hour’. Also, turn off your flash when you can, keep those hands steady though!
“DON’T DISAPPEAR (OR DO!)”
When you want a nice portrait of your little cutie make sure to stay in the moment. The camera is only up to my eye about 10% of the time when I am photographing – maintain eye contact with your wee one and be fun, laugh and joke and talk and tickle, then duck behind the camera to get the shot when they are being cute. Peekaboo often works a treat with the baby set. If you have snuck up on a cute moment then by all means stealthily hide behind your camera, like a ninja.
“DON’T BE ANNOYING “
Sometimes you just don’t feel like having your picture taken right? If your kid is getting fed up with having the camera in their face just say “that’s cool” and put it down for a bit. You’ll have plenty of other chances to get great photos of them!
“PRINT YOUR SNAPS”
Kids love tangible evidence of all that snapping you do. It’s so easy just to leave your photos sitting in folders on the computer, but next time you are at a department store picking up socks and lightbulbs print out some cheap 4×6’s while you’re at it. I printed a bunch of my faves to cover my 1980s monstrosity of a fridge. What I didn’t expect was the kids in my life to be so proud of their place/s on it. I noticed the ones that had grown a bit camera-fatigued became way more into having their photo taken after seeing that.