Some of you wanted picture taking tips so here are all my secrets!!!
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR FLASH!!!! It is ruining your pictures!!!! A flash often wipes out the natural shadows created. It generally makes people look flat and plastic. Of course it can be used in wonderful ways but I find that natural light is always a better bet. So whenever possible open all the blinds and doors to let in lots of light or take the kids outside when snapping photos. Try using lots of bright lights in the house if it's too dim. If you have to use a flash distance yourself a bit from the subject and then zoom in with your lens to get a closer shot.
Get closer, CLOSER, CLOOOOOSER! Most people take pictures from way to far away. Focus WAY in on your subject. It may feel very strange to get in that close. When you are starting to feel ackward you are getting close enough. Remember, you don't want to get a picture of the big tree behind your child. You want to get that gleam in their eye. You can't get that if you are afraid to get up close and personal..
Don't take pictures when it's too sunny! Most people think bright sun is great for pictures but it's actually very harsh. Sunlight like the pics at the strawberry farm in the blog entry below is way too strong. It dulls the colors and takes away all the shadows that convey emotions. Pick an overcast day if you can. If you can't wait for cloud cover take pictures in fully shaded areas.... under a tree... on a big porch...in your house in front of your windows... in a pickle you can use a garage with the door open! Evening light and morning light are also great.Buy a piece of insulation! :0) For ten bucks at Home Depot you can get a hard sheet of insulation that has foil on it. Buy it and break it in half. (it is huge) Get someone to stand on the side with half the board and reflect some soft light on your subject. The overcast sky allows the colors to pop. The reflector gives your subject a soft glow. It will make a BIG difference.
Take LOTS of pictures. A typical photo shoot for me will last 30 minutes to 1 and 1/2 hours depending on whether it's just a simple thing with the kids in the back yard or a bridal shoot. In that time I will take between 100-400 pictures. I take a TON of pictures. With those kinds of odds how can you NOT get something wonderful?
Keep the clothes simple. Don't have any logos or crazy patterns. We want to see the people- not the latest fashion craze. Solid colors are better. Keep it soft and muted. Bare feet and natural hair are usually a good call. On the beach stick to white, khaki, denim or MAYBE light blue.. With little ones don't be afraid to show their beautiful skin. Their rolls and pudges are so wonderful. Hair and make up should usually be as simple and natural as possible.
Get a good, user friendly digital camera. I have a digital Cannon Rebel. It's not the newest or best or most expensive. I don't really need all that. I just need something fast and easy. Point and shoot cameras are TOO SLOW! You can't keep up with a two year old zooming through bluebonnets with a point and shoot. They usually only take about 1 pic per 6-8 seconds. By then your cute kiddo is out of the field and screaming for a drink! :0) You need something fast!
Don't always get a smile. Emotions are beautiful in so many ways. I love seeing something different. Of course the smiles are wonderful. Then again so are the tears, the frustration and the looks of pure exasperation! Our lives aren't all one emotion. Why should our pictures be one sided?
Just try to capture a moment. It's the feeling of where you were at that time. Try to make it fun and natural and you will all have a blast!
Okay... that's probably more than you ever wanted to know but you asked. Now go take some kick butt pictures of your cutie pies!