Photography is not my profession. I have never taken a class or read a book about photography. I have never read the manual that came with my camera. I don’t know a lot of the technical terms, I shoot mostly in automatic and I utilize only 20% of my awesome Nikon D80.

Even so, my friends ask me questions about photography and trust me to take photos of their kids. Just yesterday, my friend Melissa was desperate for some photos of her two year old. Long distance Grandma wanted to see her baby. She knew she didn’t want to drag him to Wal-Mart and get the posed ugly studio shots. She also knew she couldn’t afford to hire a fancy photographer to take candid shots.

So she called me.

I’m not fancy. I’m no professional. I don’t have Photoshop. But I can relate with Melissa because I don’t want to spend the money or the time to have someone else to take pictures of my kids. So I am learning to do it myself.

Today was a cold, cloudy, wet ground kind of January day. Taking shots outside was not an option. One might be tempted to think that because we are taking indoor photos, we must use the flash. One would be mistaken if one thought that.

The first step to better photos is all about lighting. Look around your house for the most natural, warm light. If the kid has the perfect outfit with the perfect smile but the photo is too dark, it is hard to work with, especially if you don’t have Photoshop like me.
In my house, the brightest room is our sunroom. Lined with windows and skylights, this room provides great light during most times of the day. Cloudy days are actually better, as I don’t have to worry about shadows.
If I knew more about the manual settings on my camera, I could control the light and exposure a lot better. And the photo would be better for it. There is no doubt. But I haven’t the energy, time, or motivation to learn about settings. So I put my dial on the “P” for “Program Mode” and shoot away. Sometimes when the lighting doesn’t seem quite right, I do something real fancy: I make the photo black and white.
If you don’t have a sunroom in your house, no worries. Just open wide your front door and plop the kid on the steps in the foyer.
No foyer? No front door? No problem! Find a bedroom with a window, pull those curtains back, sit your baby in a red rocker with a couple of trains and shoot away.
You may not get a frame-worthy photo every time, but you will get lots to choose from: some for you and some for Grandma. And you don’t have to leave your house or pay a dime.

Related Posts:
Unpacking Treasure #4
Tripping Over the Awesomeness