So you’ve made a cute little sweater or mittens for a special kid in your life, great work! They are super lucky to have something handmade just for them. Now, let’s get a picture before they grow out of it.
What You Need
A camera, a kid and the handmade item. You don’t need a fancy camera to take great pictures. Many of us already have a great camera in our phone. You can use an older digital camera that you have on hand, or find one at a thrift store. Whatever it is, the most important thing is to know how to focus it.
If you’re comfortable setting up artificial light, using a flash or manipulating photos with editing software, go for it. If you’re going for a good result and simplicity, pick a spot with lots of natural, even and indirect light. Outside is great, as is by a big window. Good light can make a photo awesome and poor light can make it really difficult to get a good, clear result.
Is the garment blocked, clean, dry? Even the most patient babies and children don’t want to wait around while we charge a phone or sew in an end. Think of where you want to take pictures. Is any weird clutter out of the way? Is your dog digging through the garbage? The point of having a simple backdrop isn’t to brag about how clean your home is, but invite the eye to focus on the cute kid and the knitwear, not on how everyone’s been throwing their coats on the floor in the entryway all week. Just push that mess out of the line of sight and deal with it later (or not! You can always crop your picture to suit).
If you’re photographing your child, you know when will be a good time to take a picture. Before or after a nap, before or after TV time, when they’re freshly fed. If it’s a friend or a niece or nephew, defer to their caregiver about a good time. Be prepared—waiting for the right time takes patience. It is your job to be ready. Be mindful of the seasons and what you’re having the child or baby wear. No one is happy wearing layers of wool on a hot summer day.
If the child is not interested in taking pictures wearing the garment, you’re not going to have much success. Here are some ways to get buy-in from the child about taking these pictures.
- Have them wear a funny hat or mask, ask them to make silly faces for some of the pictures
- You can say they can choose a photo to print off and keep for themselves or send to a loved one
- Play Simon Says and have the poses be the instructions
- Have them pose with a favourite toy, or a picture they drew
- Go to their favourite park! What can be better than taking pictures while they are playing? (Be careful not to take pictures of other people’s children without permission.)
- With babies, have someone they love or are attached to hold them or keep their attention while you’re taking photos.
If it isn’t working out, there is always another day, or another time.
Take Pictures, and Lots of Them!
Don’t stop after every picture to show your subject the camera screen; it might be fun at first, but it will draw out the process. Set a timer, or count the pictures and agree to look through all of them together at a set point, and you can each choose your favourites.
Know When to Stop
When it’s no longer fun for everyone involved, STOP. Hopefully you’re able to anticipate when you’re getting frustrated, children are getting bored, and babies are getting hungry, and you can end on a good note. Five to ten minutes should give you plenty of photo options to choose from.
Hopefully this advice helps you manage a good (and short) photo shoot session with the kids in your life. But all the preparation in the world won’t mean things will necessarily go smoothly. Have your camera or smartphone ready to snap a few pictures whenever they are wearing their handmade clothes. Those spur-of-the-moment pictures can be some of the best images, if you’re ready to take them.
All images by Gillian Martin.