The main issue with photographs snapped in the moment is everything going on around the subject. Whether it is the pile of toys they have flung haphazardly over the floor or the glasses and plates from lunch left on the table.
These are all distractions that can be simply moved away out of sight. If a table or pouffe is in the way, move it aside or use it as a prop. Take down a couple of framed images from the wall if they are encroaching into your camera frame.
Simply finding a plain coloured or brick wall can make all the difference to your photograph. Even a plain carpet will do!
If moving furniture out of the way is too awkward, another way to minimise clutter in the background is to get closer to your subject to cut out more of the background.
Please note that I say “get closer” rather than “zoom in”! Especially on a phone camera, you will get a better quality image if you use your feet rather than the zoom feature to get closer.
However you do it, clearing the background of any unnecessary clutter will keep your images cleaner and put more focus on your subject.
Pay special attention to your background if you are outside in an urban area. Is there a streetlight poking out of of someone’s head or an accidental pair of devil horns sticking out of the top of your two-year old’s angelic blonde curls?
Town and city centres are havens for all kinds of backdrops, from ornate, decorative walls to industrial rolling garage doors, to quirky and sometimes hideous-but-interesting-in-an-artistic-way architecture. Pavements with unusual tiling patterns make for unique backgrounds and perspectives (more on perspective in Day 3!).
Once you have found your ideal, clutter-free background and took as many photos as you like, now is the time to get creative with props!
A bright cushion, blanket, pouffe or even a favourite toy can add more colour and interest to the image. Blankets and rugs can even be laid out on the floor to act as a temporary background!
Also, children love showing off their favourite toy doll, car or dinosaur so encourage them to play with it as well as hold it out towards you.
If you are out in a local park or wood, ask them to find a prettily coloured fallen leaf or acorn. Shells and stones are plentiful along beaches and no doubt if you build a sandcastle together your child will want to show it off in a photograph!
Look out for benches, railings, bannisters, steps and even logs and low tree trunks that can be sat, stood, knelt on or against. No doubt your little monkeys will want to hang and swing from any railings, it’s up to your own personal health and safety criteria whether you let them or not!
On your sojourn through the park you may come across a play park where the children want to let off some steam. Use both what you have learned today as well as yesterday’s light tutorial in order to find the best background and lighting to shoot your photographs as they play.
There it is! A short guide to clearing the background in your images and finding props to work with.
Week 3 is all about changing your perspective, so look out for it in your emails next Monday!
Thanks for reading!