What to Do with Your New Camera

Washington FAMILY Magazine is giving away a FREE digital camera this month!

There are tons of fun things your kids could do with a new camera:

Make a "My Day" Photo Journal
Dedicate a day to snapping photos of interesting things you see during the day. These can be as simple as a pet in a unique pose, a parent packing your lunch, or a pretty leaf on a tree. Use your photojournalist skills by organizing the photos on a poster or in a scrapbook, adding captions to each. A similar project would be a "My Neighborhood" scrapbook. You can take pictures of simple things, like the mailbox on the corner and the neighborhood park. These kinds of projects will be keepsakes later on in life. Not many people will have taken pictures of "ordinary" things in their past, but you will.

Take Mystery Photos
Snap close-up and partial photos of ordinary objects and have your family and friends guess what they are! A close-up photo of the eyes on a pineapple or potato are examples.

Put your Photos on T-shirts
With a print program like Print Artist and some T-shirt transfer paper, you can transfer your photos to T-shirts to create wearable photo art.

Make a Photo Puzzle
Glue printed photos onto a sturdy piece of cardboard, cut the picture into pieces, and create a homemade and personalized puzzle.

Set up Small, Detailed Scenes with Toys and Figurines
With control over a digital camera, one of the first thoughts on the brains of our group of kid testers was taking pictures of their figurines. This turned out to be a fabulous little project. Our testers made some fabulous scenes with Hamtaro figurines they called "Moonlight Dinner" and "The Wedding". With a little trial and error, they managed to snap some close-up photos that made the little figures look larger than life.

Learn Photography Techniques
Learning how to take a good picture comes quite naturally with experimentation. At first, kids will generally snap anything they see. But when they see the results of their pictures, they might notice that, for example, a cluttered background interfering with the overall look of their photo. Candid photos of people in natural poses often turn out the best, and taking pictures of objects at a slight angle often produces a superior photo. Experimenting with distances and lighting can be great learning experiences as well.

Take Your Camera on Day Trips
When a child has control of a camera, ordinary trips to the store, for example, take on a whole new meaning. Of course, you can take your camera with you on trips to the zoo, a farm, or other family outing that permits the use of cameras.


Holiday Photo Fun!

The holidays are a great time to capture those special memories. The family is all together, everyone's in a good mood from all the tasty food...what more could we ask for? The perfect holiday photos, perhaps? Done! Just follow these simple little tips for your perfect holiday shots!

Play Time
Keep that digital camera handy to capture some great candids. While pictures of the famous dinner (gobble-gobble) can make one drool, I love seeing pictures of the kids playing. I often get stuck at the kids table (yes, still at 22 years old) and realize there are some very funny pictures waiting to be taken.

Get Outside!
Make sure to bundle up and grab some cute shots of the family in the leaves before they're gone!

Don't forget about Grandma and Grampa!
If your parents are joining you (or you're joining them!), make sure to grab some shots with them and the kids. These can make priceless Christmas presents!

Lights, Camera, Action!
Another tip - make sure you have lots of lights on in the house when you're taking photos inside. Also, use the flash on your camera. This will ensure that your pictures are crisp and bright!

Family Portrait Tips
For photos with the whole family, remember these important tips!
  • If there are a lot of people, make rows. Smallest in the front, tallest in the back. Kids can either be held or stand in the very front.  
  • Make sure you can see everyone in the viewfinder when you set up the picture. Make people squeeze close together to fit! 
  • Make sure no one is covering another person. I like to tell the back row to find a space between two heads. 
  • Take multiple shots! That way, you can get a shot with everyone's eyes open. I suggest about 5 shots of the same pose.
  • Set the timer so you can be in the picture too! But usually they're pretty short timers, so make sure to get back into the picture as fast as you can!


Spooky, Fun Photos - A Halloween Treat!

Now that we've gone through vacation photos and back-to-school shots, it's time to have some fun with our Halloween pictures! Follow these simple steps to your perfect Halloween shot:

1.  When using flash, get close enough to your little subject allow the flash to light everything in the frame. Tilt the camera (like seen below) for a journalistic feel. (And don’t forget to fully charge your camera to make sure you’ve got the extra juice those flash shots will require!)

2.  Have your kids act out their costume. Have your little tiger show his paws or the witch ride her broom. It’ll not only be adorable, but your kids will have a blast pretending!

3.  Scariest face – Have your kids make the scariest, silliest face they can! This will produce many memorable photographs to show their first-dates, and is excellent for bribery to do their chores.

 4.  Lighting – While using flash is a good idea to get your pictures clear, try using some without the flash. Maybe have your kids hold a candle, or do the super-scary flashlight pose (underneath their chin). Make sure to place it on a tripod (or a chair, railing, anything that will hold it at the right level will work) so the picture turns out clear!

5.  Lastly, get a shot of the kids at the end of the night with their mounds of candy so they will one day understand where their cavities came from. 
*If your little one has a mask, make sure to grab a shot with the mask and without it. I look back at some of my old Halloween photos and wonder who that crazy-haired blonde is behind the leopard mask.

For more great Halloween photo tips, check out:


Back-To-School Photos!

5 Must-Have Back-to-School Photos

1. Candid Camera
My favorite shots are taken in the stolen moments, like the two sisters making faces at each other below. A picture of your child laughing, pouting or packing their backpacks captures small, but precious moments.
2. Ah, Those New Shoes
The one thing I remember always looking forward to was the new school shoes. Help your kids remember those cool "kicks" by taking a picture of them - and try different angles, like the one below.

3.  A Close-up
The cutest picture I have ever seen of my sister is on her first day of kindergarten. It's a close up of her face. She had decided that her bangs were too long, so she cut (more, chopped) them for her personalized back-to-school makeover the night before. Needless to say, the missing front teeth added to the "adorableness" of the shot.
4.  Off to School
Grab a snapshot of your little ones heading off. Barbie backpacks and all!
**Bonus points if you can get the whole outfit in the picture. I can't help but laugh when I see my first-day-of-school pictures. Did I really think those lime green socks matched with that orange jumper?
5.  In Front of the School Bus A really cute shot is an over-the-shoulder look before jumping aboard the school bus. The same shot can be just as cute in front of the family minivan.


Beachy Keen Jelly Bean

Heading out to the beach for a last-minute trip with the family?

Have no fear - Julien is here! I racked my brain (and grabbed some of my favorite pics from our Ocean City trip) for some important tips to make your beach photo picture perfect.

1.  OVERCAST – The IDEAL picture will be taken when its overcast. But if not...

2.  SUN SHINY - I love the sun, but not in my pictures. When you’re shooting a picture outside, make sure the sun is shining on the subject’s face.  If you take a picture with the sun in the background, faces are going to be too dark

3.  USE FLASH – If you’re subject isn't facing the sun, go ahead and use flash. Just make sure you’re about 2 feet away (zoom in if you need to) so you don’t bleach out their faces with the flash.

4.  SQEEZE! – Set the subjects close together…and have 'em sqeeezeeee in tight!!

5. CANDID – Grabbing candids while your family is getting ready for the photo can lead to some pretty cute shots too. 

You don't need a fancy shmancy camera to take a great beach photo. Try these tips, and most important, have fun!