Take Great Photos of Kids, part 4

Great photos are over-rated: they take forever to set up, the "right" equipment costs an arm and a leg, and nobody really notices the difference anyway, do they?

No, they don't, at least not consciously. But subconsciously, people can tell the difference between a great photo and a mediocre one. But in order to take great photos, you need to know how to take bad ones first, right? As part two of a series (In part one, I talked about the light) here's another simple rule to keep in mind in order to take lousy photos:

4. Only shoot when you want to
This one sort of goes along with rule # 3, but it's an extension. Not only should you ignore the light, but you should ignore the moment. After all, how often are candids better than staged shots? Er, hmmm... well, maybe

Bottom line: If you're not ready to shoot when the opportunity presents itself, you'll miss a lot of great candids.

This rule applies to composition as well as light. When you learn to recognize great light, you'll learn to keep the camera handy and to change your priorities to accommodate photography. As it turns out, great light is predictable. It happens in the same place at the same time every day (depending on the weather, of course).

Our side yard has fantastic evening light, so I'm ready when the magic time rolls around. This magic time is earlier in winter than in summer, but it's always when the sun is at the same height in the sky. Learn to look for it, and you'll be able to set up, and come away with, some great shots.

Also, be willing to experiment with strange lighting conditions. Sparklers at night for example, are a great opportunity. Jack up the ISO to as high as you can, turn off the flash, and start shooting. Slow down the shutter speed for more light. When slowing shutter speed, it's helpful to have a tripod, but it's not absolutely needed if you take extra care to anchor the camera steady (Dig your elbows into your gut and don't breathe).