Frustrated with your kids not cooperating when you pull out the camera? Do you feel like they will never hold still long enough for you to get a decent shot? Give yourself a break! Try shooting them from behind!
Shooting from behind your subject gives you an opportunity to work on composition and play with your camera settings. With a better-looking photo, you will achieve a more professional look and be happier with the results.
Excited to work on your composition but your subjects won’t cooperate? Tell them to get away from you, literally! Take your kids to a park, the backyard or out into the street if it’s not busy and get ready to shoot.
Use these basic rules for better photo composition as you set up your shoot-from-behind photo session (and any other time, too). These small adjustments make a great impact on how your photos look.
Use the Rule of Thirds. The classic composition tip is to use the rule of thirds, imagining a bingo-style grid when you look through the viewfinder of your camera. Try placing eyes and faces of your subjects along the intersection points in the grid. You can do this by cropping in Photoshop after you’ve taken the photo, but try getting it in camera to save yourself the extra step! (Editor’s Note: For basic instructions and visual examples of the Rule of Thirds, check out this post at alibony.com.)
Get your horizon straight. When you shoot, check your horizon to make sure it is straight. When shooting water, a tilted horizon can give the appearance of water falling out of the picture. Horizons placed on either the top or bottom third of your photo are typically more appealing to the eye than in the middle.
Allow space to grow. Place your subject in the frame with space to move. If your child is looking or moving to one side, leave space in the frame on the corresponding side. The open space around your subject feels better to the viewer.
Move in close or go wide. Fill the entire frame with your subject or leave some negative space. In between can look awkward.
Frame your subject. Use an object to frame your child. Playground equipment, windows and door frames all work to frame your subject and draw the viewer right in.
Use leading lines Leading lines draw the viewer through your photograph. Sidewalks and walkways are two examples of easy-to-find lines. Place the line on the diagonal so it ends in a corner of your frame for the most impact.
Ignore the rules. Sometimes the rules just need to be broken! Consider them guidelines for shooting, but don’t feel like you’ve got to be bound to them.
Capture the Story
I love the emotion you can capture in a shot from behind. It leaves so much to the viewer’s imagination making location and space in the photo even more important. Here are a few things to consider when taking your from-behind pictures.
Find a focus. When shooting from behind, watch the surroundings for details that enhance the photo. What tells the story? Identify the focal point before you shoot. What are the items that might detract from your focal point?
Ready, set, aim! So where do you focus when there are no eyes to focus on? I aim for the center back of the head unless there is some other detail I want to draw the viewer’s eye to. I love shots focused on clasped hands clasped or cute jean pockets.
The next time your kids groan, wiggle or get goofy when you want them to say cheese, give these tips and thoughts a try as you shoot them from behind. Get out there and enjoy this new photographic perspective!
Katrina Kennedy is a photographer, teacher, author and mom. She is passionate about documenting the everyday moments of her life. Katrina has helped hundreds of people improve their photography skills in her online classes at GetItScrapped. Her class Your Kids: Captured Through The Lens begins May 5th.
Katrina recently launched CaptureYour365, a community for ideas, support, and inspiration for your 365 project. She has taken a picture a day since February 2008, missing a photo on only one day. She still suspects that photo was misplaced somewhere! When not behind the camera, Katrina works as a corporate trainer where she is given the opportunity to help people identify ways to improve their lives.