If you plan to send out holiday cards, now is the time to start preparing. Hoping to include the perfect shot of your little ones? You're going to need patience, practice and maybe a little luck. Thankfully, there are some things you can do to improve your odds of getting a great shot. Houston photographer Joslyn Paris (www.jparisphoto.com) offered these tips for snapping great photos of the kids.
1. Consider the best time of day for your children.
The best photos are taken when the subjects are relaxed, well-fed and happy. You know your kids better than anyone. Pick a time that's good for them.
2. Choose comfortable and colorful clothing.
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The most important thing is that kids wear clothes they like and are comfortable wearing. Color is great. Children can show their personalities and energy through their clothes. Avoid anything with large logos or writing that might be distracting. For a family shot, it is best to coordinate outfits, as opposed to having everyone match. Solid-color shirts are always a great choice, especially for adults. Then throw in a pattern or more colors for the children in the group.
3. Natural lighting is critical.
The best natural light comes early in the morning and an hour or two before sunset. High noon is usually a difficult time to photograph due to the harsh shadows and strong sunlight. An overcast day is actually a great time to take photos and will allow more flexibility than a completely sunny day.
4. Location, location, location.
Consider the style of photograph you want before choosing a location. Also be sure to check out what -- or who -- is in the background of your shot. Try to eliminate any unnecessary distractions, such as parked cars or pedestrians.
5. Don't force children to say "cheese."
It is parents' natural instinct to tell their children to "say cheese." In most cases, this has the opposite effect. Engage your children, get down on their level and just let them play. Their natural smiles and personalities will show through when they are simply having fun.
6. Bring some favorite things.
Set everything up before you begin to photograph. Children engage more easily when objects are their size and on their level. Try using a small chair or tricycle, and bring along a few of their favorite toys. Avoid any items you don't want to see in the final photographs, however, such as a pacifier or a blanket.
7. Take a snack break and offer treats.
Children love to be rewarded. Use this to your advantage when photographing your kids. Small treats such as M&M'S can be eaten quickly without creating a mess. It is also helpful to take a quick break if children become restless. A few Goldfish crackers and a juice box can go a long way.
8. Act silly.
Your kids think they know you inside and out. Think of something fun that will create the true belly laughs. Sing the ABCs backward or pull out some silly expressions to surprise your little ones.
9. Know your camera.
Today's point-and-shoot cameras are extremely sophisticated and take excellent photos. It is important to understand your camera settings in order to maximize the potential of capturing a great image. Take a quick read through the manual and master the auto settings, and you will be a step ahead.
10. Have fun!
Photographs capture a moment in time. Be sure to enjoy the time you are trying to capture.