Are you ready for the fun part?! Getting the shot. So far we have set the stage now we need the performance!
How do you actually click the shutter button when you are in the photo? The answer is of course to use a tripod, but I prefer people over tripods if possible. I set my tripod up. Then I start looking around for that sweet neighbor who is walking by who may offer to click the shutter for me. I have never been able to call a neighbor ahead of time because of all the crazy stuff that happens while we wait for everyone to gather. With 6 people it can be a challenge to get them all sitting down and looking toward the camera even for 5 min. We can’t find Andrew, where is Andrew? He is in the bathroom. Evan was just here but now he is on the trampoline. Adam went back to his computer while I realized that my memory card only had 8 more shots and I know better than to start another photo shoot with only 8 shots. I go back in to empty it. Melissa? Where is Melissa? She was just here! Oh no, she changed her shirt,why did she do that? She is 13. Shoot, back upstairs for her. Ok, now what are we doing again? The twins are gone and I hear Melissa bribing them to come back outside telling them that we are going to Target to buy them a toy if they do (the apples fall right under the trees!)
Great we got the kids out but now where is Dad? He went back in to watch the game and won’t come out again till everyone is totally ready. Do you see why I don’t ask a neighbor to join in? Yet.
I take a few test shots while we wait for dad. This is where you check your settings to be sure the exposure is correct. Oh no, someone just hit Evan …wonder who?!…and it is hard to concentrate on my numbers. I used the following settings: ISO 125, F-Stop 4.5 (but it should have been over 5 or 6 because of the number of people), SS 1/125. Camera: Canon 50D. Some shots I used my 50mm lens some I used my 24-70. I can’t stress enough the need for some practice shots ahead of time to get the setting right there is nothing worse than watching great ‘shots’ pass you by while your are fooling with your camera. For this very reason, I also recommend moving on over to the green box for a few shots just to see what that does. I am not a ‘green box mom’, however, certain stressful times call for desperate ‘green box’ measures!
What? Adam took his red shirt off! He goes back in the house to get his shirt and Chris.
Great! Here is Dad! Doesn’t he look happy?! Who is missing? Oh, it’s me, better jump in after I find Adam!
Here are some of my top secret tips from one Camera Mom to another.
Tip 6. Learn to bribe your family. I am not a bribing mom for the most part, however, there are certain times when it is necessary and this is one of those times. Another time might be when you are at the doctor’s office. Maybe just offer to make pancakes for lunch! Do whatever will work to get them to think this is fun. For little kids a quarter can work, for big kids you may need something a little more fun, a trip to the dreaded McDonalds? For teens…haven’t figured out what works for teens. Just do what you can to make people happy this one time of year! Feel free to give me some of your favorite ‘bribe’ ideas, I will post them.
Tip 7. Get food. Food makes people happy. You are a Mom, you know this is true. I spend a lot of my life in the kitchen making people happy! My family tends to show up when there is food. This tip helps gather the kids to one place. So, bring some non-messy chips out or some sort of snacks, pretzels etc. Don’t forget to eat something yourself; you will need your energy! How about some tips for photo snack food…I’ll post those too!
Tip 8. Show them where to look. This is one of my favorite inventions for my camera! I call it my Lens Buddy. Andrew named him Turkey Man, Evan named him Chicken Dad. That doesn’t make sense but that it what it is. They can play with him till I need him, then I just pop him back on the camera and I tell them to look at Turkey Man! Everyone seems to enjoy watching me do this. If I don’t do this, and there is a tripod instead of ‘me’ or another person behind the camera making funny faces, the kids are looking all over the place and not at the lens.
Here is Turkey Man, a simple finger puppet that I secure on my camera with sticky Velcro so he can come on and off:
Here is the Velcro.
Right now at Target, you can get finger puppets: 2 for $1!! Go get some! What a deal! I haven’t tried to put them on my camera yet but I am thinking of a way to attach them with a rubber band. I will also use them as finger puppets when I am working with little kids on everyday shots. I’m excited to have some new toys to work with!
Tip 9. Figure out your composition before you go outside. I have a landscape design in mind for my card so I am telling everyone to just sit on the bench. But if you have a square card you would want to change up the composition. When I am photographing my family for this kind of shot I don’t worry too much about composition, people seem to sit where they want. When I ‘direct’ the sitting arrangement too much they don’t like it. They don’t seem to mind it if someone else tells them how to sit, but it is hard for mom to tell them. I do give general direction if I know that the photo needs to fit in a certain card or if I am looking for a certain shape.
By now I am hoping for an unsuspecting innocent neighbor to walk by. But in the mean time I will start shooting with the tripod. I set it on 14 seconds and run and get in the photo and this is what I get (below)… not too bad everyone is looking. I take a few more and run in and check it on the computer and …. bummer…..the tree leaves are in perfect focus but the faces are not! They are blurry! My camera viewing screen is smallish and it is hard to see the focus until I get to the computer. If you have been reading my site you will know that one reason for the blurry focus is that my center red dot was pointed at the trees and not the faces. The disadvantage of using the tripod instead of a human to take the shot. But the good news is that I like the general composition. Oh no! Call everyone back to the bench! It is a good thing that I am just making the tripod wait now and not the neighbor!
Back out at the bench…I have to re-gather everyone again…where did they all go?
It is really hard to take a family shot with you in it, by yourself. I can’t stress enough how helpful it is to get your photo friend to help you out. You go help her out when it is time to get her family shot. All my photo friends were busy for the holiday weekend, and my son was home only for a few days from college, so I was a little stuck.
OK, here we go….all set….again…. and guess what?? My neighbors are out walking their dogs! I hear a small voice say, “Would you like me to take the picture?” YES! Here they are, aren’t they wonderful?
And they have 2 of the prettiest dogs ever. I take their picture too for a perfect Thank You. (I actually think they are going to use them for Christmas gifts!)
They take a few more shots and I believe we have success!! But I have about 50 shots to go through by now. While I do that, you do your best to review the above and get your ducks in a row. Make a list and figure out what you need; don’t underestimate the planning.
I want you to be encouraged by my story here. It really is worth the effort and as I explain to my kids, they will be happy that we did this one day! You will be so happy that you put the effort into the project. Don’t be discouraged. If it is not working, take a break. Remember to get your camera ready. Review the Most Prepared Camera Mom in Town post on this site (under the Inspire Me tab). You don’t want to cause the delay yourself because your camera is out of battery power, you can’t find your tripod connector or some other crazy mishap. Get your supplies together early and get a plan and have fun!
Tomorrow I will review cropping details and offer suggestions for inexpensive cards that you can make quickly yourself using your own priceless photo! Check back tomorrow for the final tips! You have plenty of time to get a card out this year, why don’t you plan your photo shoot for tomorrow?
I’m cheering for you!