Capturing the very best essence of a moment in photography is almost never by chance and definitely not without a creative eye and hard work.
The very creative and cool photographer Laura Smith (from Laura Smith Photography) is here to give away her top secrets on how to better capture the innocence, the beauty and the natural when working with tiny humans. Why is she so successful in creating the perfect snap? Let’s find out…
1. Why did you choose photography?
I think there are a lot of reasons why I chose photography and ultimately why I love my job. The element of creativity is hugely appealing to me – every shoot is different and offers an opportunity to create a new composition or use light in a new way. I also very much enjoy capturing natural moments between families. It gives me so much fulfilment to send the final images to a family, knowing that they will be enjoyed and remembered for years to come. It really is all about seizing subtle moments of love and happiness that emulate family life. This is another reason why I love working with children – they are so open and honest and full of true personality!
2. How would you describe your style?
3. Which type of shots do you enjoy working on more?
I love photographing every day moments – parents just tending to their children’s needs like changing clothes, combing hair, singing together etc. They are precious moments of tenderness and closeness and just don’t last forever! I always try and imagine what the subjects will think when they look back in 10, 20, 30 years about the natural interactions they had between each other. I also love photographing mothers breastfeeding their babies. It doesn’t get much more personal and beautiful!
4. What are the challenges in working with young models (new born, toddler, child models)?
Each shoot and every child is so different to work with. I have never not enjoyed a shoot but it’s so important to go into each one with an open mind as to how the child will react to me and the camera. The key is patience and smiles. If the little one doesn’t want to cooperate I just wait a while and usually after some food or cuddles they are happy to continue! A change of scenery also usually works! Newborn shoots are tricky if the baby won’t sleep – I always try to do these shoots within the first week so we have a very sleepy subject! Toddlers are usually pretty easy to work with as they are so full of energy and personality! Probably my trickiest shoots are those that involve 3 siblings all under 5 who have different needs and require careful set ups to get the all important group shots! Again – patience and smiles are key!!
5. How do you bond with your subject? Is it always easy to make them engage and ease for the photoshoot?
I love working with children – I love how natural they are in front of the camera and so all I try and do when meeting new children for the first time is to make them feel at ease. I try to bring myself into their world so I come down to their level and show interest in their clothing and toys and immediate environment. I ask them to show me things and tell me about nursery etc. Anything that gets them talking really! Singing songs, counting, animal noises etc all go down very well! It’s also very important for me to make Mum and Dad feel at ease too! I try to approach my shoots with a very informal and friendly attitude. The perfect shoots always feel like an hour or so of playtime and never like a rigid photo shoot!
6. Which are your top tips in family photography you’d like to share with mums?
There are 3 small tips I would offer to any parent looking to capture
beautiful photographs of their little ones:
1. Think about your light source – don’t use bulb light if at all possible. This will give a horrible skin tone and pronounced shadows that will look horrid! Use window light – even an iphone will give you some gorgeous shots if your light source is decent.
2. Try not to think about it as a photography session – the best photos are natural. Asking your child to smile or say cheese rarely works! If they are occupied whilst you photograph them, natural smiles will follow. Often the most beautiful photographs dont even need smiles. Also, take 5 or 6 photos rather than just 1 – approx 10-20% of what I take ends up being of great quality.
3. Think about your background – nothing too busy or brightly coloured. Soft furnishings of your bedroom or your little ones bedroom look great. The same goes for clothing – simple and neutral are my favourite!
Final tip – display your photos! So many are stuck on hard drives and it’s a waste! An annual photobook on display in your home makes for great viewing!
7. Where do you take your inspiration from?
I always look at other photographers work to inspire me. I follow a couple of professional ladies in America that produce breathtaking work. This really helps me to come up with new compositions and keep my work as fresh as possible. Pinterest is so amazing for seeking out new ideas too. I look anywhere that people post photographs really. Some of the most talented people are so understated and actually some of my favourite work is produced by amateurs just photographing their own children! There is an amazing community of Mums and Dads on Instagram who document their children’s lives through gorgeous natural photographs. I’d recommend checking out @fionaannal and also @susanbrooksby – just 2 of many talented parents on instagram.
8. How important is Photoshop in your final images?
I do use quite a bit of post processing in my images. Mainly just to brighten skin up or balance the colour – often skin tone is all wrong in camera and can appear orange or yellow depending on the light source – this is my main editing job! I also freshen up dark circles on adults and skin blemishes on newborns etc but I try to leave things as natural as possible. Photoshop can alter an image so much but it’s important to know when to reign it in! There’s a fine line between accentuating and altering completely!
9. What is the hardest part of your job?
I really can’t moan about anything to do with my job. I genuinely love it and I’m constantly surprised and delighted by the people I work with and the photographs I produce. It’s so amazing to be constantly challenged by new situations. I guess working freelance there is always the small concern of maintaining the number of jobs I require each month but so far so good and I never rest on my laurels! It’s important to remain customer focused and be grateful for each shoot I am offered.
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