Family Snapshot Photography

 I don’t really do family portraits and the like… But I do have a family. 

Photographing Children

 Kids are such a great subject for photography but I’ll be darned if it isn’t near impossible to get a shot of my own kids. Because I am a professional photographer my little ones see cameras day in and day out so you would think they would get used to it and having a camera pointed at them should be almost blase… But no, out comes the camera and here come the goofy antics. I have had to resort to a 200mm lens and distance to even get a shot of them at all. 

 Here is my littlest guy (I call him Coconut Head #4) at a church event in Camarillo, California: 

Candid photograph of a child.

   He was watching his older brother (Coconut Head #2) doing one of those rock climbing contraption things with some serious longing ( he wanted in the worst way to climb up the tower himself … But alas, at 2 1/2 years old, he is by far too small to fit in the harness). I shot this from about 10 yards away waiting for an opening in the crowd of passers by. 

Now here is perhaps the hardest one of my kids to photograph: Coconut Head #3. Point a camera at her and it’s on… I don’t think it would be as hard to photograph a slap shot hockey puck as it is this little 4 year old.

Again shot from about 10 yards away, Coconut Head #3 at the Pumkin Patch in Ojai, California:

Candid photograph of a little girl holding a pumpkin
Candid photograph of Coconut Head #3 at the Pumpkin Patch 2010.

  Both of the images above were created with a $5000 Nikon D3  Professional DSLR body with a Full Frame CMOS image sensor (See my review of the Nikon D3 camera body here) and a $3000 Nikon Professional 80~200mm f/2.8 Lens which I guess is kind of overkill for family snap shots… When we are out as a family on a memorable event I always get the oddest looks from passers by when I whip out the camera.

You may ask:

How do I get great photographs of my kids?

 If your kids are anything like mine, and I assume they are having seen a lot of kids, that little pocket point and shoot is going to be hit and miss (mostly miss) for getting those great shots so I’m going to say at a minimum you are going to have to pony up for a DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex). The reason for this is that even though those Point and Shoots are getting really damn good they are still classed as Hit and Misses due to the “shutter lag” and the optics on these tiny things are crippling. A good consumer DSLR kit won’t set you back all that much though, both Canon and Nikon offer entry level Digital SLR kits from right around $500. 

 For quite some time now my wife has been a lucky girl in this department, she has inherited a professional grade DSLR body as I rotate out my cameras from the front line. I have to upgrade about once or twice a year and even then after I’ve gone beyond the “shutter life” on a body I can’t use it to shoot something critical even if the camera is up to date. But then there was the problem of my quite petite wife slinging around a Pro SLR camera… Her little hands could barely reach the shutter button and grip the camera at the same time.

 So… This year rather than handing her one of my old Nikon D2x (See my review of the Nikon D2x here) or a D200 ( See my take on the Nikon D200 here) Smaller but lacking in so many ways I should update the post) I ponied up some cash and purchased her the cutest little thing:

 The itty bitty Nikon D3000 DSLR


The Nikon D300. Cute little camera
The Nikon D3000... Looks like a mini version of a real Pro Camera.

Some Specs from Nikon:

10.2-Megapixel DX-format Imaging Sensor Delivers extraordinary image quality for breathtaking prints up to 20 x 30 inches. Compact Design Beautifully styled—Ready to go where life takes you. Split-second Shutter Response Eliminates the frustration of shutter delay, capturing moments that other cameras miss… (Continues here)

 What My Wife has to say about her new camera:

 It’s the perfect size for my small hands and it’s very easy to use.  The menus are fairly intuitive and if I get stuck there is an entire Help Guide right there in the camera. The auto function is really smart, I can set it to one of it’s Auto Programs and it takes really nice shots right out of the box. The image review screen is Huge, Bright and Crisp and the battery lasts a long time. Compared to Daniel’s cameras it’s light as a feather, I can take it anywhere and nobody stares at me like a freak.

This is pretty much it for a review from me because the camera is just too small for me to use… You see I can’t reach the shutter release button and hold the camera at the same time, it’s just too darn small…

 D3000 snap shots of the kids:

Girl at parl
Semi Candid Shot of Coconut Head #3 image credit My Wife.
Little boy blue. Child photograph indoor light
Coconut Head #4... Little boy blue.

 Here is an image to demonstrate what’s possible with this little camera and the “Kit Lens”:

 Eyes by window light shot with Sub $500 DSLR kit.
Eyes by window light shot with Sub $500 DSLR kit.

 I asked her how she got the kids to pose… Her answer is she didn’t, she just shoots a lot.  I am actually quite impressed with her photography work and would even say she is my favorite family photographer on her technique alone (I’m not saying this just because I’m married to her… So darling if you are reading this… Good Job!).

 My wife is also kind of lucky here because she has access to my Monster Computer and huge high resolution color corrected monitor with  Major Professional image editing software like Adobe Photoshop, Nikon Capture NX and many professional Adobe Action sets for image post production… However most of these things can be achieved with consumer grade versions of this software like Adobe Elements and a decent computer and monitor.

 The bottom line on photographing kids is: It’s hard to get the shot and especially if you are Mom or Dad… All kids seem to have a special way of tossing a wrench into the works for their parents… That’s just life… But don’t you miss it. One of my greatest sorrows is that I have so few great images of Coconut Head #1 and #2 at this age (4 and 2 1/2) but here are a couple I have shot recently:

black and white photography boy
Coconut Head #2's 11th Birthday
Photograph Two Girls
Coconut Heads #1 and #3.