Tired of returning from vacation, downloading 1,000 photos and realizing Little Johnny is squinting or has his eyes closed in most of them? Find it daunting to flip through them and figure out what to do with the other 999 of them? Here are some tips to make taking photos of your kids this summer a little easier (on everyone!):
1) Find Shade: Although it's a common misconception that sunny days make for beautiful photos, it's actually the opposite. Cloudy/overcast days are ideal for photos, both because the subject isn't squinting and because the cloud cover brings out gorgeous color tones in your surroundings that are often washed out when the sun is beating down. Try to take photos in the early morning or late afternoon, and if you need to take them mid-day because you're at a picturesque lunch, find shade to snap that shutter.
2) Play Games: Most kids rate having their picture taken right up there with having a tooth pulled. Why is that? Because many parents make it about the picture...but if you make it about the kiddo, all of a sudden it's not so bad. Find yourself in a gorgeous setting and want to capture it? Play a game with your child (depends on their age, but it's as simple as singing a song or playing peek-a-boo or asking ridiculous questions like, "Do you think Mommy should eat a spider for lunch?")...they are much more likely to engage with you and have a genuine smile on their face if you make it about them.
3) Put Away the Camera: If your child thinks that your iPhone is an extension of your fingertips, put it away for a few hours. Cameras on cell phones or actual cameras are used so much on kids these days, they are either immune to them or they are really annoyed by them and our constant harassment ("look at mommy! look at mommy!"). Put the camera away for a bit and just enjoy the freedom of doing nothing together. When you take it out again, they're more likely to be refreshed and ready to go!
Now...when you get home...that is the other part of the challenge. What do you do with 1,000 photos? The quick answer: delete! I recommend deleting 75% of the photos taken. Yep, I said it. Delete! The truth of the matter is that an overabundance of photos weighs heavily on all of us. We think that because digital photography is "free" (i.e. no film to develop), we should keep everything we've ever shot, lest we risk missing 10 seconds of our cutie-patooties lives.
Here are my quick tips to free yourself from digital photo overload:
1) Organize: When you download your photos, put them in folders and sub-folders (yes, sub-folders). So if you took a week vacation to Hawaii, the folder would be: 07.13.2011 - Family Vacation Hawaii and then you'd have sub-folders according to date and activity (i.e. "07.14.2011 - Snorkeling" and "07.15.2011 - Luau"). Taking the time to organize photos from the point of origination (i.e. download) will save you lots and lots of time later.
2) Star & Delete: If you use a program like Picasa (my favorite for consumers...free from Google) or iPhoto (very similar), there is a rating system (either stars or numbers). When you load your photos into these programs, go through and star your favorites. If there is a numbering system for selecting favorites, go through and choose all of your "1's" (i.e. anything that has a chance of being salvaged) and then number some of your favorites "2's". My process is then to go back through the "2's" to edit my favorites of those and making them "3's" which are those I'll share with family. I may then select my top 10 images as "4's" which are the ones I'll share on Facebook. Nobody needs to see all 50 family photos...just pick the very best-of-the-best. And what to do with all of the pictures that didn't make it to be a "1"? Delete. Let 'em go. Adios. When you want to go back at the end of the year to create a calendar/Blurb book/etc, you'll be grateful that you just need to flip through your BEST 25 images from that trip to Hawaii and not all 1000.
Have questions? Let me hear 'em!