With the sophistication of digital cameras today, great quality photos are easier than ever. However, there are some tricks of the photo trade that will lift your portraits from the snapshot pile and elevate them to the wall.

  • Choose an overcast day. If the weather is not cooperating, the shady side of a building is also a good option. Stay away from full sun, or worse yet, blotchy dappled light.
  • Choose a simple uncluttered background that is in the same light as your subject; the side of a building, fence, or solid row of large bushes. Steer clear of flower gardens or branchy trees. It never looks good to have things growing out of your subject’s head.
  • If your camera has a portrait setting, use it. Don’t just leave it on the green rectangle.

© 2010 Julie Horn

  • Move your child as far from the background as possible while maintaining consistent even light.
  • Put the camera at an angle to the background so you are not shooting straight at a flat wall. This will help to create depth to your image.
  • Provide something on which to rest their arms. Place a chair with the backrest at a slight angle toward the camera and have your child sit sideways, with their arms resting casually on the backrest. This will make them naturally angle their shoulders, which is much more attractive than squared, straight on to the camera.
  • Have your subject lean slightly forward toward the camera and make sure their chin is not lifted too high.
  • Fill your frame. Zoom in, cropping the image so that your child’s face and shoulders take up 80% of your image space.

© 2010 Julie Horn

Copyright 2010 by Julie Horn. Reprinted by CHEA of California with permission of the author.

After graduating her three children from homeschooling and spending more than 15 years working with CHEA of California as a member of the Board of Directors, Julie Horn returned to her passion for photography. Julie specializes in lifestyle family and children’s portraiture as well as weddings. Julie’s photography can be viewed at www.juliehornphotography.com.