Mastering Children’s Photography – Episode 1 – On Camera Flash

For something a bit blog different, I have decided to do a blog series on mastering photographing children for those mum and dad’s out there in Rocky.

If you know me, I am a little bit (OK a lot) fussy on photography, and when I take my kids to the park in Rockhampton and see parents take photos on DSLR’s, I really have to control myself from grabbing their camera and saying, if you just do this and this, you will get much better photos.  In fact a few years ago I did used to grab strangers cameras and give tips, but nowadays it seems every second parent at the park has a DSLR, and a better form of teaching medium is required (and I won’t get snotted in the nose).

So I am starting this blog series for the mums and dads of Rockhampton to get better photos of your children, either with your shiny new DSLR or iphone.  I will update this series a few times a month, and hopefully make it simple to follow.  If things are not simple, please tell me.

So blog lesson one for all those mums and dad taking photos of their children
- On Camera Flash

This lesson is very short and easy

Turn off camera flash, better still get some Gaffa tape and tape it to closed on the camera so that it never pops again.

Photography is about capturing light, including representing a 3 dimensional object (like your child) on a 2-dimensional photograph.

A camera mounted flash effectively makes a 3-dimensional object 2-dimensional

Using a camera mounted flash
- interferes with natural side lighting that creates beautiful 3 dimensional faces, and makes children look they are 2-dimensional cardboard cut-outs
- makes everybody look like they have just been hit by a frying pan before they were photographed – that stunned mullet look
- creates harsh ugly shadows on any objects behind the child.

Not to say that all flash is bad, flashes that are off the camera (triggered remotely) or bounced off walls and ceilings is great, but this requires expensive external flashes and triggers, and for the most part you can get some nice children portraits without this gear.

In many older (but not usually recent) photography books you will hear about fill flash – using flash in the day to brighten those highlights and get catch-lights in the eyes (I will explain these concepts in later series).  Do not believe these books, it still looks mostly crap.  Yes – no fill flash as well.

So when your camera tells you that it needs flash, ignore it, bump up the ISO or just move to a brighter place – and see the difference it makes – it will be great.

This comes to another important photography technique that I will come to back again in other posts.  You take the photo, not the camera, so you often need to ignore all the auto settings on the camera and take charge.  When the camera says you need a flash, take control and do something different.

Rockhampton photography training

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