Category Archives: CAMERAS + CHILDREN

cameras and children // direction

cameras + children |workhouseblog

For our fourth and final part of this series I will give a few pointers on how to engage with your little ones when you’re trying to photograph them. Trust me I’ve had a few hard audiences when it comes to kids, I even had to soothe a crying baby in the middle of a shoot once. I’ve seen and done it all. Keep in mind that the one thing that makes your photographs special is the the people in them. The stories you are capturing, the beauty in the everyday and the moments in time that you’re persevering will mean so much to you and your family in the years to come. Imagine when everyone is all grown up, you’re all gathered around albums reliving memories and retelling stories- no one will even give a second thought about composition or lighting.

A good friend of mine who is also a photographer once told me something that will forever stick with me and is something that I use at every single shoot. It was something so simple yet so profound that I couldn’t believe that I had not thought of putting it into words before. “Give them an action and then shoot the reaction.”, brilliant! While most people think that the money shot is a posed one, its really in the moments in between: the gestures, facial expressions and movements that show your child’s personality. This is where the magic happens. While this may look effortless in professional photos know that behind the scenes is a completely different scenario, it may be in the 4th shot that the everything comes together in harmony.

It’s always been my philosophy to try to make art out of the everyday and ordinary…it never occurred to me to leave home to make art– Sally Mann (one of my all time favorite photographers)


Most frustrations come when you’re rushed to take a photo and your little one has other plans and won’t stay still or do what you envision to be the perfect image. A simple direction like can you count the petals on that flower or can you see my nose behind my camera from where you’re at can do the trick, so can sharing a funny family moment or an inside joke or even asking them to play a character . When shooting action shots ask them to do a couple of steps before the action that you’re hoping to get, like can you run up that hill and then jump as high as you can or can you show your sister how you dance like a penguin then jump in that puddle. Giving them a series of actions helps take the pressure off the action itself and allows them to enjoy the experience. Getting them to participate in an activity is a great option too: gardening, painting, jumping rope, etc… For posed shots you can do the same, saying can you all stand next to each like you really REALLY like each other or having someone directly behind you getting real genuine laughs always does the trick and is the most authentic. There is nothing better than getting that real giant smile that you adore out of your kid.

While posing can be the most challenging part of taking a portrait, at least it was for me when I first started out, being fun and upbeat really does make a difference, crazy baby talk doesn’t. I always ask my subjects to take a deep breath, to relax their face or jaw and to think about something that I know they love and brings them happiness. Unfortunately, I’ve seen fart jokes work too. You know your child best so this should come easy.

For this part of the series, play with your child. Plan what it is you want to get out of this session and be prepared to shoot and shoot and shoot, those little humans can move! Give them a series of actions, get in place and click away, you’ll be surprise by the beauty and life in those images. Make sure when shooting action shots that your have your camera on the right setting so that your camera is able to focus and is up to speed. Don’t be afraid to zoom in and catch the details of a missing tooth laugh or zoom out to seize the feeling of what its like to run on the shores of the beach.

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Thanks for all the feedback in regards to this series, I have really appreciated all your comments and remarks. If there is anything else you have questions about please feel free to ask. And if any of you are interested in a one on one, I would be happy to discuss the details of that with you. Happy Shooting!


cameras + children // angles

cameras + children |workhouseblog

Now that you’ve got a few things under your belt we can move onto playing around with the way you shoot, deciding what angle is the best for your particular situation. What exactly are you trying to emphasize in your image, it is the depths of the forest, the details of tiny toes, a halo of sunlight or the massive world around? This is where your voice will really start to show, the way you see something is the way your viewer is going to experience it as well. Finding your angle is what’s going to make your photos different from any one else’s and give the viewer a visual of how you see the world and your little one in it.

Tip No. 4

For several years I volunteered at a youth photo program, we would meet our mentees in different shooting environments, both of us would shoot, watch each other and take note. One of the first things I would say before we started shooting was to try shoot from all sorts of angles and perspectives: a bird’s eye view, a bugs view, a baby’s view, a giant’s view and your personal view. Think about your subject’s perspective, how they are viewing the world at 2 feet tall?  What is your perspective in relation to your subject? What would make the most beautiful/interesting/powerful shot? I notice when I am shooting little ones I find myself at their eye level a lot of the time. I also like to shoot from above or wide, as it gives a sense of size and is a great way to mark growth throughout the years.

For this part of the series, let your subject shine! Whether it be the soft curl atop your babe’s head, a messy face or the beauty in the way your little one creates with their hands, let that be the focus. Next time you’re photographing your child get to their level and see how it affects your imagery. Finding the right angle takes years and years of practice and honing in on but the more you are able to run through these steps the more they’ll become like second nature. Be free, try things you wouldn’t normally do, move around your subject, look through the viewfinder and see how the image looks once its cropped in the frame of your camera. Take the shot. Then try a different angle. There are 100s of ways to take one photo, so just take a shot and see where it leads you

One doesn’t stop seeing. One doesn’t stop framing. It doesn’t turn off and turn on. It’s on all the time– Annie Leibovitz cameras + children |workhouseblog

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cameras + children |workhouseblogcameras + children |workhouseblog cameras + children |workhouseblogcameras + children |workhouseblogcameras + children |workhouseblogcameras + children / 01 / 02 / 03


cameras + children // background

cameras + children |workhouseblogOkay, this one’s a big one for me. For people out there who post on FB and Instagram be aware that the background in those photos are speaking to us all, some folks are scoping out the books you’re reading, what’s on the floor and what kind of animals you have or what you’re snacking on. Its a visual thing, my eye too wanders all around a photo whether its intentionally shot or not. Notice where your eye wanders when looking at an image.

After having my nephew my sister in law asked what she could do to take better photos of her new babe, my first answer was to pay attention to the background. Most people just want to ‘get the shot’ and the idea of what’s happening in the background is an afterthought. This simple step can make a big change in your photography, by simply taking a moment to see the image as a whole you’ll start train your eye.

For me, the subject of the picture is always more important than the picture – Diane Arbus

Tip No. 3

If something can easily be moved out of the way, move it. If there is another way to take the shot by eliminating the extra noise, do it. Every element in your photograph becomes part of the story you’re trying to tell, every piece of information your are giving to your viewer creates a visual dialogue. That being said be mindful of what is in the background and foreground, for that matter.

I went to a family shoot and the family wanted a formal portrait in their living space. The mom had just finished laundry and left it with the empty baskets on the dining room table (which was in the background) I asked if it could be moved. Her reply was, “No, that’s real life around here and it doesn’t bother me.” So folded laundry and all made it to their Holiday card. It told a story of a family of 6 whose life was full, filled with the every day chores and busyness that we all know too well. She wasn’t trying to hide it or make her life seem picture perfect, it was reality and she owned it.

For this part of the series I want you to to scroll through whatever images you have on your camera right now and see what’s in the background, how does it relate to what you want to say and are you okay with it? When you’re in a public place take a few seconds to wait for the area to clear out in the space you are wanting to photograph, 9 times out of 10 people will gladly give you space to take the shot.  When you’re outside be aware of cars, people, trash cans; when you’re inside be aware of the space all around your subject and take a few moments to remove whatever you don’t want in your photograph. Or better yet keep the stuff around and take a shot, then remove it and take another, compare the two- how do each read to you?  What would you make different?

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cameras + children // light

cameras + children |workhouseblog

The second part of our series is going to focus on the most important part of taking any photo: LIGHT. It is the essential part of photography and what gives life to any exposure. I also want to say  that I would love to see any images you’ve shot while following this series.  If you’re on instagram #workhouseblog or if you have a blog please be sure to leave a link in the comments!

Tip No. 2

Turn off your camera’s flash and use natural light, it’s the most forgiving, the most flattering and you can use it to create dynamic compositions. Indirect light is the simplest and easiest to work with when first starting out, try sitting your subject facing towards a window.  Look at where shadows lay, where the light falls on your subject and where you are in relation to the light. Photographers use the light at the “golden hour” which is the first and last hour of sunlight of the day to create those magical ethereal images that we all know and love.  Indoor lighting is the least forgiving and most bothersome, just try to avoid it for the time being.

This week try putting your subject in different lighting situations. What happens when you put your subject in front of your light source (backlit)? What happens when your light source is filtered (e.g. lace curtains, trees or window)? What about direct overhead sunlight; what part of your subject is lit, where are the shadows? The afternoon sun is the hardest to work with but something as easy as moving into a shady spot can resolve the issue. Use shadows to your advantage to create an interesting composition. Try shooting the same image in the same spot at different times throughout the day or week. Play around, there’s a delete button so no harm, no foul.

Use this tip too when you’re using Instagram, which is a wonderful tool for honing your eye. Adding up all these little tips, one at a time, will help your eye evolve and let your images have a voice.

A good photograph is knowing where to stand – Ansel Adams

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Cameras + children part 01


new series // cameras + children

cameras + children |workhouseblog
This is the first installment of cameras and children, a series that will hopefully inspire you to take some chances with your photography and help you towards creating the images you want. One of the biggest questions I am asked when people find out I am a photographer is how to take better photos of their kids. I thought I would share some basic tips to hopefully change the way you look through your camera and give you the confidence to play around a bit more.  There seems to be a lot of fear in using a camera, especially a DSLR, understandable since its an expensive piece of equipment and all the control settings can be intimidating. Cameras are meant to be used, they are (mostly) durable, trust me I’ve dropped mine on a rare occasion and other than a terribly crack and mangled lens filter my camera has survived. Forget all the control settings for the time being and just get comfortable with it. Get a feel for holding it and carrying it around with you. One of the biggest things you can do to improve your images is to really get to know your camera and just shoot,  take your camera with you everywhere and take a photo whenever something catches your eye. The more you shoot the more you will be able to find your style, figure out what worked and what didn’t, what you like and don’t like.

Tip No. 1
Hold it,  you should be supporting your camera body with one hand and lens with the other. Is it comfortable? Look through your viewfinder, how do you know when your subject is in focus? Do you know what the light meter is telling you? Zoom your lens in and out to get a feel of how it works and what happens when you move it. Get familiar with the menu on your camera, scroll through your options, see what happens if you change modes or settings. Pick a shooting mode/setting you are most comfortable with and shoot. Pay attention to the signals your camera is telling you before you take a shot, even if you don’t know how to change them. Its good to start learning how to read your camera, even in its most basic form. *For more advance users I recommend setting your camera to manual and try to get your light meter to read right in the middle.

For those of you using a point and shoot or even your phone, play around with your settings and pay attention to when and what your camera is focusing on. Using you phone is another great way to practice, as far as phone apps go, this one is the one that I use.

Next time you go for a shot, look to see what your camera is focusing on, make sure its sharp and in focus. Next notice to what lights up inside your viewfinder, even if you’re not sure what it means, notice it. Figure out what it the most natural way to hold your camera and shoot away! Most importantly, take images of what you love and have fun!

“Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson

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