Festive Photo Tips from the lovely Mother Scuffer

In 2012

I took some photographs

Of our beautiful baby Matilda Mae

It was the beginning of advent

She looked like an angel

Playing with the stars

“Silently, one by one, in the infinite meadows of heaven, Blossomed the lovely stars, the forget-me-nots of the angels.”

“Silently, one by one, in the infinite meadows of heaven,
Blossomed the lovely stars, the forget-me-nots of the angels.”

Little did we know

That in two months time

That is exactly what she would be

Our angel baby

Our baby in the stars

Taken from us to the sky

Our Baby Tilda

Our Matilda Mae

starlight

Since then

These pictures

Taken purely by chance

I have not dared take any others

But this Christmas

Is Edie’s first Christmas

And our last first Christmas

I want to remember it for always

I want to take some magical photos

And include Tilda

By including lights

This week I was lucky enough to see

Mother Scuffer’s beauriful family photos

Adorned with the magic of fairy lights

If you do not already follow Corinne on Instagram

Then you really really should

Her photos tell stories

Her photos have love and tenderness shining out of them

Character bursting from every frame

Each image feels like a moment that can be touched

Each one a memory to be cherished

Natural snatches of childhood

Shared frames of family time

I love them

And I am delighted that Mother Scuffer

Has written an awesome post

Describing how to capture moments to treasure for all time

With children old and new

Oh, and her children are GORGEOUS by the way

Here they are …

A post shared by corinne (@motherscuffer) on

After sharing some photos on Instagram I was thrilled that Jennie asked me to write a post with some tips on taking festive photos of children, I love taking them as there’s something about fairy lights that makes everything feel magical!

I took my initial photos on a DSLR, but as lots of us use phone cameras more often I thought I would give tips for taking lovely photos using a phone. I have an iPhone 6S, but I’m sure similar results can be achieved using whatever camera phone you have. The ideas can be used with a camera too.

Firstly you need to get organised without the children realising, so that it doesn’t feel like a photo shoot, ideally you don’t want them to feel pressured or stressed. If you have a string of fairy lights not on the tree they can be really useful, just make sure they have no exposed wires and aren’t ones that get too hot. Make sure you don’t leave children alone with the lights, both for their safety and to stop the lights getting damaged.

Once you’re ready with the room give the children’s faces a quick wipe if necessary and check for breakfast spills down their clothes, it’s quite frustrating getting a lovely picture and then spotting they have a mucky face… unless of course, you’re happy with mucky faced photos, sometimes these are the best ones!

It’s lovely to take photos in the evening when it’s dark outside, but realistically this isn’t going to give you great results with a phone camera, they simply don’t take in enough light. Ideally you want to be taking your photos near a window during the day to make the most of the natural light. Make sure the area is clear of mess and be aware of things in the background like radiators that you might not want in your photos.

I want to mention composition of photos, simply because it makes a big difference to your results. I won’t go into it much here, but if you look up the rule of thirds online it might help you compose your photos better. Imagine your screen in split into a grid (shown below), you want to aim to get a point of interest on one of those lines. It’s absolutely fine to break this “rule”, but it often is a good one to follow.

composition

With small babies it’s lovely to lay them on a blanket and surround them with lights, I wasn’t able to be near the window to do this as our tree is in the way, but there was enough natural light filtering through combined with the light from the fairy lights for it to work.

baby lights

baby lights 2

Try different angles for the photos, getting down at the side of the baby can be nice, especially if your Christmas tree is in the background. On an iPhone you can press and hold on the screen where you want it to focus (it will say AF lock), if you do this on the baby it creates a good depth of field and a bokeh (soft) effect with the lights in the background. Sometimes, like here, balancing the light is difficult due to the lack of natural light from the window, but it just works I think, ours is a very dark room, ideally I’d do these at the back of the house where we get more light, but our tree is at the front!

tree lights

If you have an older baby or child you can sit them in front of the tree with a bundle of lights on their lap, you will find they are fascinated with the lights and it creates a lovely warm light on their faces. Again, add depth of field if you can. I did one while it was still dark and another when it got lighter to show the difference.

lap bundle

lap lights

Another way to make use of the light is to put your phone within the branches of the tree and have the children look at the decorations. If your tree is near a window the light from outside will really improve these photos.

tree shot

I very much prefer natural photos, rather than enforcing smiles and insisting children look at the camera, try and take some as they are playing or watching TV. This morning I got some just as the boys were standing in front of the tree watching CBeebies so they were completely at ease.

cbeebies face

cbeebies smile

Once you have some photos, you can edit them on your phone. Just play around with the light settings and things and see what you like, don’t worry about messing up the photo as you can always revert to the original settings. I don’t like to mess around with them too much, but sometimes it can improve a photo to reduce the highlights or lift shadows. At this point you may want to crop a photo to fit the rule of thirds, or straighten it if you notice it’s wonky. When it comes to filters, I prefer not to use them, but this is totally personal taste.

So, my top tips:

1) Get organised and tidy first

2) Check for clean faces and clothes

3) Keep it relaxed and natural

4) Find a natural light source

5) Think about using different angles

I hope this is helpful, if you have any questions or want to share your photos with me I’d love to see them, I’m on Instagram as @MotherScuffer.

I was lucky enough to meet the lovely Corinne recently

And plan to see her again in the new year

When I am hoping she will help me

With some tips for taking photos of active kids outside

Corinne got some lovely shots of us

When we were with her last month

Including this one

Featuring the lesser spotted Daddy!

My plan now is to try to take some natural shots

Of my tribe

Centred around some festive lights

To capture Edie’s first Christmas

And to illustrate our family complete

If you are inspired by Mother Scuffer

Do please let us know

Ans share any photos you are proud of

That tell a special story

Or capture a magical moment

I will let you know how we get on

Thank you Mother Scuffer!

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