Photographing Your Child

image003You’ve got your camera, you’ve got a kid that’s just as cute as the dickens, and you want to take the best photo you can in order to have it translated into a watercolor, pencil sketch, oil painting or pop art print. You’re just having a bit of trouble capturing your kid’s personality. Here are a few things to think about that will help you get the perfect shot.

How Does Your Child See Things?

We’re serious! The trouble with so many kid photos, what gives them that “snapshot” look, is that they’re taken from the perspective of a person looking at a child. You need to get up close and personal with your child’s world. Remember how things used to look so big to you when you were a child? Get down to that level again and look around. Get on your knees, or lie down on your stomach and prop your chin in your hands. Is he a small—oh, well, you get the idea. You want to look at the world from a kid-centric perspective. When you photograph your child, try to take the shot from the same position, as if you were relating as equals. Trust us, it will make a difference.

What Makes Your Kid Special?

Of course you’re saying, “Everything!” but you have to be a bit more specific. Remember, you want his personality to come through in the pictures you’re taking. What does your child like to do? If he’s really active, photograph him at play. If his idea of perfect happiness is snuggling up while you read him a story, catch him just waking up. You know your child, so you’re in tune with what makes him special, and what kind of opportunities to look for.

We can’t emphasize often enough the importance of candid shots. You know your little guy or gal is always doing something cute, so catch them when they’re not looking. Take pictures of your kid at play. Remember, we’re in the digital age – you can take all the pictures you want, because you don’t have to pay for film processing.

Do You Really Have to Dress Your Child Up?

You will never get a photo that reveals your child’s personality if you’re going to force him or her into cute little costumes. Things like that reveal your personality, not your child’s. Get rid of the foo-foo stuff, and photograph your kid being himself.

All right, you’ve just passed Child Psychology 101. Now go take some pictures!

Perfect Pet Pics? Perfectly Possible!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYou have the most perfect pet in the entire world. He or she is the smartest, most loving, most purely beautiful animal ever to grace the face of the earth, and you want the perfect picture of him or her. Maybe you even adore this animal to the point where the photo is just the first step – you’ve heard about having your pet’s photo turned into a beautiful oil painting, water color, sketch, or maybe even a funky pop art print. You know that the end result is only going to be as good as the photo you provide, so you need to get to work capturing your best friend’s personality in a digital image. So far, though, all you’ve been able to get of your pet is pretty decent snapshots, and you want better.

Okay, you’ve got some work to do. We’re going to share with you the best ways to get just the right shot. For conversational purposes, let’s pretend we’re photographing a dog. Why? Because everybody likes dogs. Even cat people like dogs. Also for conversational purposes, let’s call him Danny. Follow these helpful tips, and in very little time, you’ll be on your way to perfect Danny art!

Always Have Your Camera Ready

No, really! How many times have you missed something that was just outstandingly cute because your camera was in another room? Danny’s not going to sit for a portrait; you’re going to have to go to him. Whether you’re at the dog park, on your way to the vet, having his walkies, or just hanging around the house, keep the camera in your pocket or on a lanyard around your neck.

Think About Background and Context

There is a difference between background and context. Background is what’s showing up behind Danny. You want to make sure that the background isn’t cluttered and doesn’t contain undesirable elements, like trash cans or dead patches of grass.

Context is what’s in the background that says “This is a place that relates specifically to Danny.” The yard could be background, but the tree that Danny likes to lie under while he’s watching you in the garden provides context. The best photos have context, because that’s what makes you smile in years to come when you think of the happy times you spent with Danny.

Obviously background and context are important for shots that you’re trying to stage, but still, don’t lose sight of the importance of those candid shots we talked about earlier.

Be Patient

As we’ve suggested, Danny’s not going to present himself at 2 p.m. on Thursday for his photo appointment. You can try staged shots, but don’t be surprised if it takes a lot of tries. Remember, even though he’s the most perfect dog in the world, he’s still just a dog – don’t expect too much of him. You’ll get the right shot eventually.

Have fun with this – it’s time spent with your pet, so enjoy it.

Getting the Perfect Self-Portrait to Transfer to Canvas

Beautiful portrait

Beautiful portrait

If you’ve been envisioning a portrait of yourself hanging in your house, but have no talent for painting or sketching, you can have one made from a photo that you’ve taken yourself. It’s easy get the perfect photo if you approach it in the right way. Here are some more tips for getting that perfect shot that can be made into a work of art you’ll treasure forever.

Take at Least One Photo Every Day…

Everyone has a “better” time of day. Some people shine in the morning; others don’t fully come to life until long after the sun is down. Whatever time of day suits you best, that’s when you should take at least one photo. So, if you’re bright-eyed and bushy-tailed before the rest of the world has even begun to stir, put on something nice, apply a bit of makeup if you feel like it, and get to work, because that’s when you’re going to get the best picture of yourself! Feel free to experiment with locations – where do you look the most natural? Are you an “outdoors” kind of person, or do you feel more in your element lounging on the couch? Pretend you’re a wildlife photographer and photograph yourself in your natural habitat!

…Unless…

If you’re sick, or just feeling down for some reason, ignore the “one a day” rule. If you’re feeling “off,” the chances are very good that your mood will be reflected in your photographs. You might be able to tell friends and family, “I’m fine, really,” and have them believe it, but chances are you won’t be able to fool the camera, so don’t waste your time. Save the photo session until you’re feeling more yourself.

Get a Second Opinion

Speaking of friends and family, unless your more comfortable keeping all this a secret, you might want to get them to take a look at your photos. Often if you’re trying to decide which shot is best, you might just need a nudge in the right direction. Show you’re your best work, and ask a friend or relative to pick their favorite. For that matter, if you’re not shy, you could even get opinions from relative strangers. Sometimes they’re more honest – if the guy behind the counter at Starbucks says “I’d go with either #3 or #5, but I’m not crazy about #2,” that’s a good, solid opinion. Remember, though, the final choice is always yours.

Paint Your Life Artist Spotlight: Rebecca Palmer

Conceptual Portraiture by Rebecca Palmer

Here at Paint Your Life, we think of emerging artists as the life of any artistic community. From those of us who are more experienced, to those just joining the team, young artists inspire us and remind us why we started creating art in the first place. This interview with UK photographer Rebecca Palmer begins our series of artist interviews.

Paint Your Life: What is your artistic process like? Do you have any specific habits?
Rebecca Palmer: I always plan my shoots pretty thoroughly before going out to do them and won’t be happy until the photos look just like the image I have in my head. I think that’s about it, apart from that I tend to do things differently every time!

Copyright Rebecca Palmer

PYL: What inspires you to create art?
RP: Other photographers, nature, books and quotes, and most of all dreams and memories.

PYL: How has the place you’ve grown up shaped your artistic process?
RP: I live right next to the Peak District in the UK, so I’m on the doorstep of the countryside. I think this has helped a lot due to visiting different places around there so often throughout my life and always finding something new there to be inspired by.

PYL: Do you have any stories about projects that have gone really well or really badly?
RP: I can’t think of anything specific, mostly just things like traveling really far out to take a photo to see I’ve forgotten my memory card or that my camera battery is low!

That’s all for now. We hope this helps you to get out there, keep being imaginative, and keep creating! For more info on Rebecca Palmer’s work please visit her website here.