Sunday, December 02, 2007

Don't pose the kids, Geddes says

Everyday moments are the most precious ones

Anne Geddes' images are iconic — tiny preemies cradled in large hands, cherubic faces peeking out of flower pots, chubby-cheeked infants dressed as sunflowers and ladybugs and bumble bees.

A bit of advice to shutterbug parents, though: Don't try to replicate her work at home. It's tougher than it looks to tuck a sleeping infant into a watermelon.

"My images are created in a careful and professional environment, with a very experienced team of people, and some can be deceptive in terms of the degree of difficulty involved," she writes in her new book, A Labor of Love (Andrews McMeel, $50). The autobiographical narrative is illustrated with images from Geddes's childhood in Australia, candids and portraits of her own family and behind-the-scenes snapshots of her 25-year career photographing babies.

With the holiday season approaching, parents are sometimes tempted to arrange children into complicated, posed tableaux for the family Christmas card. But Geddes, whose portfolio includes shots of nearly 10,000 babies, suggests snapping them in a relaxed setting.

And use a real camera — not a cell phone.

"Call me old-fashioned, but cell phones are for making telephone calls," she writes. The file sizes captured by most phones are too small to enlarge as quality prints. She recommends investing in an inexpensive digital camera and using it often so your children get used to having their pictures taken.

But don't make them the sole subjects of every shot. Make sure you're frequently in the frame, too. Your kids will thank you, Geddes advises. "Try to include yourself as often as possible in images with your children, because when they are older they'll also be very interested in how you looked at the time."

You won't be sorry, she writes. "You only have one chance to record your lives together when they were small, and you will never regret any photograph that you take, whether it has significant artistic merit or not."

An excerpt of tips from A Labor of Love follows:

• Always have your camera on hand and your battery charged.

• Aim to keep your images as simple as possible. A simple image will invariably have the most impact.

• Be aware of your light source. The best times to photograph outside in natural light are early morning and late afternoon, when the light is softer and more flattering.

• Try to use elements of scale in the image, such as hands or everyday objects. Newborn babies grow very quickly and within even a few weeks can look quite different.

• Don't use flash unless it is absolutely necessary (and by that I mean that you are surrounded by complete darkness. Even then, try to go without).

• Always be aware of what is happening in the background of your photograph when you are composing your image. The background is often overlooked, resulting in trees or poles growing out of heads. Try to keep your background as simple as possible.

• Avoid asking your children to pose for photographs, or that's exactly what they'll do. Just let them be themselves and you'll love the image even more.

• Beware of deleting images too soon after you have shot them — give yourself a few days and then revisit them. If you still feel the same way, then go ahead and delete. But you may change your mind about something that you thought was insignificant at the time ... I know I have.

• When photographing babies and small children, try to get down to their eye level. It will help you to see from their perspective.

• The simple little everyday moments are the most precious of all.

• You can never take too many photographs of your children.

1 comment:

One Wink at a Time said...

Interesting article. Thanks :-)