Make Your Family Photos Fun
Enlist Props: Build a Scene
"When taking pictures of my daughter, Mila, I use stuff that's hanging around the house. It's more fun and ecological to discover these household items all over again."
Adele Enersen, author and blogger at milasdaydreams.blogspot.com
The inspiration: "One afternoon Mila fell asleep on a blanket on the floor, stretched out like she was dreaming of a fencing match. So my husband put his conductor's baton in her hand like a little sword and we took our first 'daydream' picture. After that, I kept thinking of new ideas to make little scenes about her daydreams," says Enersen.
Get the shot: Wait for your child to fall asleep on the background blanket so you can create the scene around her quickly. Use blankets and sheets to make the tree and grass, then craft the swing out of string and a stick or rolling pin.
Photo tip: You don't need a ladder to shoot a tiny baby from above!
Enlist Props: Get Dressed Up
Experiment with simple accessories from the closet. Let your child don Dad's dress shoes and power tie for the shot or put on an oversize hat or sunglasses.
"People tend to take too few pictures when it comes to motion. Just keep shooting. It's the unexpected ones that can be really terrific."
Thayer Gowdy, photographer; thayerphoto.com
The inspiration: "I was shooting the kids swimming but for something more playful, I had them jump all together into the pool," says Gowdy. "They loved it!"
Get the shot: Using your flash, even if you're in a well-lit place, will give you a crisp photo. Or you can turn the flash off and try panning: Move the camera along with your subjects at their speed. It takes practice, but it will blur the background while keeping the kids in focus.
Photo tip: If your camera has a function that shoots a few pictures in rapid succession, use it!
"Getting away from overhead or straight-on shots will allow your baby to play in the environment and not concentrate on the camera."
Nicole Hill Gerulat, photographer; nicolesclasses.com
The inspiration: "The baby was looking up when I noticed the shape of his profile from this angle. It made me wonder what he was staring at and drew me into his sweet little face," says Gerulat.
Get the shot: Put your baby on a large table next to a window without direct sunlight. Turn off your flash, snap your fingers or dangle a toy above his head to get him to look up, and start shooting!
Photo tip: Use a tripod to free up your hands for wrangling.
Use Technology: Combine Photos
"If you want to create images that aren't the norm, photo-editing programs can help instill a sense of fantasy and add a lot to your photos."
Jason Lee, photographer; kristinandkayla.blogspot.com
The inspiration: "I look to my kids for ideas," says Lee. "I took this picture on my older daughter's birthday just after we saw the movie Up, where the balloons carry the house away."
Get the shot: Snap photos of your child or children in two different poses, then use a free online image editor, like fotoflexer.com, to cut and paste part of one photo pose onto the other and erase anything you don't want.
Photo tip: A simple background makes marrying images easier.
Use Technology: Smartphone Photos
Snap a picture on your smartphone. Then, with your digital camera, take a photo of your kids holding it.
Play With Your Pics: Photo Chop
Add cool effects to your favorite photos with these fun and free apps.
Cut faces or pieces from one photograph and paste them onto another to make interesting scenes.
Play With Your Pics: Dash of Color
Turn any shot into black-and-white, then choose where to bring back color.
Play With Your Pics: Photo Captions
Decorate photos with creative captions, frames, emoticons, and icons before sharing them with friends and family.
Play With Your Pics: Lunapic.com
Choose from more than 30 effects, including reflection and kaleidoscope, to enhance snapshots of your kids.
Originally published in the May 2011 issue of Parents magazine.