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Taking your own portraits at home during the quarantine

As we move into the 7th week of the shutdown of schools we are reaching a point where a number of milestone events were due to take place. Proms, recitals, award ceremonies, graduations are postponed or won't be happening this year at all. Lots of dresses, caps and gowns, and costumes were already purchased and you want some nice pictures of your child in them, right? Here are a few tips! Plus some examples using pictures of my own family members from my phone.

1. Choose the right time of day. Early or late in the day is going to give you the best lighting; since you probably don't want to do portraits at 7 or 8 am let's assume an hour or two before sunset. :)

Here's an example of too early in the day; the spotty shade made for the bright spots on my son and my niece. But, this was when we were all together so sometimes you are limited by that.

2. Choose the right background. You don't want a busy background and you don't want a background that's brighter than your subject ideally. I chose the example below for the bright background; obviously the point was to take a photo of my kids in front of the Liberty Bell and that's what I did! But because that was indoors and the day outside was bright and sunny the phone's camera sensor was confused--light or dark? By tapping on your subject's face(s) you can tell the camera what you want to adjust for, but it only works to some extent.

3. Choose the right light direction. This one is has some flexibility. Ideally your light source (presumably the sun) is going to come in from an angle to give your subject dimension but I'm giving the background priority here. If the sun is going to be right in their eyes wait until it's a little lower in the sky or starting to dip behind some trees or houses. Same if the sun is going to be directly behind them so you don't end up with super-hazy images and can barely make out your subject. The example below is a great example of a lot of things coming together for a good photo; it was late in the day, the background is mixed but a lot of it is darker and the light is coming in from an angle. And the love is there between these cousins!

4. Choose the right angle. It's natural to stand straight and face the camera head-on but it's not the most flattering angle! Here's a perfect example of my son (who doesn't worry too much about what perfect posing), straight on and at an angle. He's so slim that flattery wasn't the big issues here but angling the body/face adds interest to the photo. Note the dark background! A little haze from the sun because it was still a couple of hours before sunset when this was taken but he was out of direct sun.

Now you are ready to take some photos! Good luck!

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