Too cool for school!

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Everyone wants a picture of their child on their first day at school. But all too often it’s a mad dash to get out of the house, and the result is a quick snapshot in the kitchen. So how can you make sure you get a good shot on such an important day?

Well, you could dress your child up a few days before and take more time over the shoot, and I’ve shown you ideas on the second video for doing this, but I feel it’s important to take a shot on the actual morning too, as it’s such a special time. So the 5-minute option is shown on the first short video below. All of the shots on this video are taken with a small compact camera – you don’t need a DSLR and you could easily use your camera phone too.

All these tips work for shooting portraits in any clothes, and there are plenty of ideas for solving the problems of shooting in bright sunlight too (although this year, shooting in rain, may have been more appropriate!).

With a little careful planning, you can make that snap shot into something more special.

Left: Flash creates a harsh light. Centre: Bright sunlight causes children to squint. Right: Top shade found in a doorway creates soft, flattering light.

Left: Flash creates a harsh light. Centre: Bright sunlight causes children to squint. Right: Top shade found in a doorway creates soft, flattering light.

In the garden

If you can get up a bit earlier and allow enough time, you could try a few more shots in the garden and produce a nicer portrait – see the shots below and in the video above. Again, all of this could be achieved in 5-10 minutes before setting off to school.

Ellie is sitting under the shade of a tree which creates the same top shade effect as the doorway, and we've tilted the camera to make the shot more interesting. Check out the video above to see exactly how this is done.

Ellie is sitting under the shade of a tree which creates the same top shade effect as the doorway, and we’ve tilted the camera to make the shot more interesting. Check out the video above to see exactly how this is done.

In a flower meadow

If you have time, or can dress up the day before, you could get more creative! In the second video (below) we take Ellie to a field of flowers near her house, and dress her in her summer school dress to give variety to the shoot.

Ellie looks lovely in her summer dress standing in the flowers – try taking a number of shots from different angles, and with different crops, to create variety without actually moving the child.

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TOP TIP: If there is no shade, position the child with her back to the sun, and ask her to close her eyes. Then ask her to open them and shout, “boo!” at you – or anything you can think of – but be ready to take the shot – you will only have a split second before she squints.

Alternative background

Finally if you want to do something really different, look for some old sheds, with peeling paint and texture. This will make a great alternative background. See the video below.

Try and position the child in a section of the scene that creates interesting shapes. So, in these pictures below you can see the different blocks of colour and shape which work really well together. She would also have looked good standing against the blue door.

Note how the camera is slightly tilted in the bottom two shots, which makes them more dynamic than the straight one above. The straight one sets the scene, and the tilted ones make the shots look artier.

Note how the camera is slightly tilted in the bottom two shots, which makes them more dynamic than the straight one above. The straight one sets the scene, and the tilted ones make the shots look artier.

Have a great first day at school!

Annabel x


Videos: Matt Pluck and Charlotte Griffiths.  Originally appeared in Capture magazine – CLICK HERE for the video article – Page 6,7 and 8.

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