Tips for Taking Back to School Pics of Homeschoolers
Just because you’ve made the decision to start homeschooling your child doesn’t mean he or she has to miss out on school picture day. There are many public school “traditions” that homeschooling parents want nothing to do with, but yearly pictures isn’t one of them. I pulled my daughter out of public school in 2nd grade, and I’ve been taking her yearly picture ever since. I’m nowhere near the level of a professional photographer – or even an amateur photographer for that matter, but I still manage to take decent portrait photos, worthy of gorgeous picture frames.
Here are some things I’ve discovered about getting good results from “homeschool picture day”:
Create a relaxing atmosphere – From personal experience, kids do not respond well to normalcy. You don’t want to force your child to smile for the camera, or act composed. If the environment is strained, the results will be strained. Props can help, but they’re not always enough. Just be patient disengage yourself as much as possible; wait for that moment when his or her personality shines through.
Cut the flash – Avoid flash and bright sunlight. My best results were outside in the open shade or cloudy day. An overcast day is a perfect time to take pictures because it provides an even, soft light. These photos turn out to be far more interesting than those typical, back to (public) school photos with the same generic props, year after year.
Take close-ups – Sometimes cameras can pick up things about our kids that we don’t even notice: certain freckles, exact shade of eyelashes, the way their smile evolves when new teeth start to come in, etc.
Background prop ideas – If you do want to take an indoor picture with a background prop, have your child help you pick one out. If you’re on a tight budget, you can make one on your own by hanging up inexpensive fabric. Muslin is a popular choice. BuzzFeed offers a huge list of DIY photo backdrops. I used a streaming stars backdrop a couple of years ago and got some wonderful results. My daughter really enjoyed helping me set it up.
Learn how to prevent motion blur – According to a post on Corel Discovery Center, motion blur is “by far the number one problem” for inexperienced photographers taking pictures of kids in action. As I mentioned above, we parents have to sometimes wait for that perfect moment for our child’s personality to shine through to snap a picture. But what if that image comes out blurry? While motion blur does have its place it some areas of experimental photography, most parents would rather see their kids clearly. To eliminate blur, simply use a faster shutter speed. PhotographyLife.com offers a great guide to shutter speed and how it can be set.
Using the rule of thirds – If you’ve never heard of it, the “rule of thirds” is a basic principle in photographic composition. Simply imagine breaking a photo down into thirds, both vertically and horizontally, so that you have nine parts. When taking pictures, try to get the focal points in the intersections or along the lines. Doing this will make the photo appear more balanced. In close up shots, the focal point is usually the eyes. In body shots, it’s usually the head.
Even if the results don’t turn out as perfect as we hoped, it’s still a lot of fun to experiment with photography and to take homeschool pictures of our kids!
Sam Jones is a digital marketing expert, social media and branding consultant and guest blogger for various publications, including Business2Community, Inbound.org and EZSiteBuilders. In her free time, Sam is an avid traveler, foodie and lover of all things technology. She’s also a fitness fanatic (in the making).