The winter school holidays are upon us. Is it just me, or does this time of year fill everyone with equal parts relief and the threat of a total nervous breakdown? But a much-needed break from school helps to recharge frazzled batteries for the kids, and it can be a great time to capture some fun family memories. Here are 5 of my top tips for capturing your school holiday memories.
KEEP UP WITH THE ACTION
Have you got a stack of blurry, out of focus images of your kids running, swirling and jumping? Kids move fast, so when things start to get a bit manic, you need your camera’s shutter to keep up with them.
If you’re shooting in manual mode on a DSLR camera I recommend that you push your shutter speed to at least 1/200s-1/250s for kids that are playing sedately and go up to 1/500s+ if they start running around. If they’re jumping on the bed crank that sucker to at least 1/800s!
If you’re currently shooting on Auto you should consider switching your camera to sports mode when things get hectic.
If you’re capturing your memories on an iPhone turn on burst mode to give yourself the best chance of freezing the moment.
SHOOT HOW IT FEELS, NOT JUST WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE
Authentic storytelling is all in the details. If you’re keen to really capture the memory and not just the moment, make sure you capture the environmental aspects that convey a sense of mood, time or place. This is also a handy thing to remember when you’ve got kids that are so engrossed in what they’re doing that they can’t possibly pause for a photo (cue “put the camera away mum” eye-rolls here). What little details tell you that it’s a cold winter? How can you convey focused concentration on the face of that Lego master-builder? Whenever I'm photographing a client family I'm thinking "what deatils can I capture to help add richness to this story?"
GO OUT & AND GET SOME GOLDEN LIGHT
You know all those beautiful golden-light filled pictures you see on Instagram? Those don’t happen in the middle of the day. That look is almost exclusively created at a time of day know poetically as “golden hour”. In actual fact it’s more like a golden 90minutes, right before sunset. At this time of day shadows are soft and the light is warm and flattering. This is a great time for glowing pictures of your family - and its the reason why I'll always recommend an evening session if you're hiring me to photograph your family outdoors. And the best thing about winter is that sunset is that much earlier (it’s around 5.15pm at the moment). So why not embrace the chance to keep the kids out and about on a non-school night and find a park, beach or garden where you can get that golden setting sun in your backgrounds.
TRYING USING ALTERNATIVE LIGHT SOURCES
Winter can be dark and dreary. But I implore you, when it comes to taking great indoor photos on a bad day, don’t turn on your overhead lights (you’ll only end up with sickly colour casts and ugly shadows under people’s eyes). Instead get inventive with alternative light sources. That might mean using a table lamp to create some beautiful sidelight. Or seeing what you can do with a torch or iPad illumination. I love taking sleeping shots of my kids using iPad illumination. You can buy apps that essentially turn your ipad into a cheap soft box, but the cheat’s way is simply to open your iPad calendar to a blank page. You’ll get a white light that approximates natural light pretty closely. Hold that close enough to your subject and you can get a wash of light that can create some quite cool night shots.
WORK AROUND THE CLUTTER
Golden light is all very well when winter holidays can offer up some pretty grim weather! So what happens if you’re spending the bulk of your break indoors? If your place is anything like mine it’ll look like hurricane Mattel blew through, with cyclone Lego hot on its heels. So how are you meant to make eye-catching images in a house full of clutter? You need to get creative! Check out this previous blog post for 10 more beginners tips on shooting indoors this winter.