Sunday, 8 February 2015

Family photos - how to take them and how to keep them

I feel a bit of a fraud writing this post, because in all honesty I'm not a great photographer.  It's one of those things that I'd really like to be better at.  I do, however, love to take pictures of my little ones, and I really need to get more of them too.  Two key things hold up my photography - light and a dog.  My current home has quite small windows for the size of room, so it's difficult to get good light for photos, which is why so many of the ones that I do take are outdoors... but when I'm outside, I often have two children and a dog and all the related paraphernalia, which means that I don't always have space in my hands for a camera.  Nevertheless, here goes:

  • When taking photos of kids with a digital camera don't be afraid to get in close.  True, you'll have a few messed up ones where they moved out of shot, but the close up ones of their gorgeous faces are the ones you'll love.
  • Use the "sports" function.  It means that your camera will take a quick series of photos as your child runs around, most will be poor, but you might get that one awesome shot.  Better than trying to get a shot of them sliding down the slide and missing because they slid past before the camera shot.
  • Try to get plenty of natural light for your photos rather than bleaching flash light, but don't be afraid of a bit of shadow either for some moody effects.
  • Get the children doing silly poses or telling jokes, or looking at something funny, or just catch them being natural - natural smiles are so much better than those fake photo grimaces.
  • If you're always the one taking the photos, do give somebody else the camera and get on the other side of the lens.  When your kids look  back at the photos in ten years time, they'll want to see you there too, to spark all those memories of the fun things that you did.

What to do with your photos?  How to store and display them?

With digital photography there have never been so many photographs, and yet they are often tucked away on the computer or phone, and so few are deleted that it's difficult to see the good ones among the rubbish.  
  • transfer your photos to one place, preferably organised by year and month, so you can easily find what you are looking for.  If you can also label them with key words that will also make searching easier, though can be time-consuming.
  • DELETE - pleeeeassse delete the rubbish photos right away.  Go through those photos and get rid of the ones that don't mean anything to you.  The photos you took for an ad on e-bay, the blurred or too dark or too light ones, get rid of them.  If you took 20 photos of the same sunset, choose the best three and get rid of the rest... you DON'T NEED THEM ALL!
  • BACK UP - yes.  You're left with your most precious and wonderful photos, the ones that you'll want your kids to see when they are grown up.  So back them up.  You can use online storage facilities like clouds and drop-box, but I know that some people have concerns about their security, so if you're not comfortable with that, then save them to a pen-drive and keep it somewhere safe.  Keep adding a back-up of your favourite photos to that so you've always got them.
  • PRINT - I know you can get digital photo frames, and people have their photos as screen savers and wall-paper, but nothing beats a real photo.  Real photos can be put in a wallet, sent to a friend, or put in a frame.  Now that we can print at home or from machines in supermarkets, you only need to print the very best pictures.
As for display, here are a few ideas:
  • photo albums - every year I create a photo book using the best photos from the year, arranged chronologically.  We can look back and see the children growing, and each album tells the story of the year.  I use the 30cm x 30cm books, about 30 pages, from Bonusprint.
  • poster or canvas - there are some great photo websites out there who turn your photos into posters or canvas for a very reasonable price.  This picture shows the huge photo collage poster I made for my Dad's 60th birthday, with all his family on.

  • other display ideas - you can turn your photos into keyrings, cushions, t-shirts, or bags.  I also made these photo blocks of our family (and made a set for each of my sisters' families for Christmas too), as a novel way to display photographs.
Just a small note to point out that this post was not sponsored or endorsed by anybody.  Any mentions of a particular item or company are just because that's genuinely what I like or use.  If any company would like to sponsor a post - I'd be more than happy to discuss it, please get in touch!