April is a month full of awareness topics. One issue that I find especially important to me as I work with babies and small children is preventing abuse. This month is National Child Abuse Prevention month.
About a year ago I shared a post about "Purple Crying". In that post I talked about what to do when your baby is crying and won't stop. It was about managing your own emotions because sometimes babies just cry and it can be very hard to deal with.
This month I would like to talk about bonding with your baby which is one of the tips from childwelfare.gov's National Child Abuse Prevention month for Strong and Thriving Families:
"Here are some ways to promote bonding:
• Respond when your baby cries. Try to understand what he or she is saying to you. You can’t “spoil” babies with too much attention—they need and benefit from a parent’s loving care even when they seem inconsolable.
• Hold and touch your baby as much as possible. You can keep him or her close with baby slings, pouches, or backpacks (for older babies).
• Use feeding, bathing, and diapering times to look into your baby’s eyes, smile, and talk to your baby.
• Read, sing, and play peek-a-boo. Babies love to hear human voices and will try to imitate your voice and the sounds you make.
• As your baby gets a little older, try simple games and toys. Once your baby can sit up, plan on spending lots of time on the floor with toys, puzzles, and books.
• If you feel you are having trouble bonding with your infant, don’t wait to get help. Talk to your doctor or your baby’s pediatrician as soon as you can."
How to get clearer photos using your I-Phone
The biggest mistakes I see people make when it comes to taking pics with their I-Phones (or similar handheld point and shoot cameras) is just a matter of awkward handling. Are your pictures fuzzy? Foggy or Hazy? How do you fix that?
1. When shooting, hold your camera as still as you can. Especially in low light conditions. Your camera is designed to slow its shutter speed in low-light scenarios which means you gotta hold REALLY still to get a clean shot. So practice bracing your elbows to your sides while hold the camera up. Or, find a solid surface that works almost as good as a tripod. This will support the camera and hold it still much better. One more funny tip is to try holding your breath for a moment when you click the shutter! Kinda weird but sometimes that's what it takes!
2. Speaking of low light, the best way to get a clear shot is to light your subject properly. Back light is horrible for today's I-Phones. The phones just can't handle it. Place your subject closer to a window, or shoot outside in full shade. Just getting good light on the subject alone, will help the camera itself perform better. Check out my post on taking photos of your kids for more low light tips.
3. It may seem silly, but WIPE YOUR LENS! LOL. I can't tell you the number of times I've offered to help someone get a family shot on some travel adventure, and I look at the back of their phone at the actual lens. Surprise! It's grimy! A simple trick, but an effective one, and one we don't think about all the time- simply wiping off your lens will make your pics clearer. After all, we store that thing in our purses, and God knows what kid-size drama made it into my bag this week! (we can exchange stories on toddler messes when you next see me around!)
It's Hanukkah this week and the Christmas season is already in full swing! We've already visited our annual Nativity exhibitions this week both at the Creche of Palo Alto and at A Night In Bethlehem in Santa Clara. We are also planning on visiting the Holiday Train at Oak Meadow Park in Los Gatos. We might even brave the crowds to see Christmas in the Park at Downtown San Jose this year (we'll see if the introverts in my family can handle it!).
We are still new to the Bay Area so we're still learning about all of the most fun holiday events so feel free to tell me your favorite activity that your family does every year in the comments (especially celebrating Hanukkah, I have know idea where those events might be held, but I'd love to visit!!)!
Anyways. On to today's topic. With all of these holiday happenings I think it's important to take photos when you can to capture the magic on your child's face so you can remember it in the years to come. Here's my top tips for taking a better photo!
1. Watch your light! The biggest photo mistake (especially with babies) I see on my Instagram and Facebook feeds happen when the child has been lit from the bottom of their face. It's called up-lighting or ghoul lighting (yikes!) and it's a big no no. The best light should come from top of the face ideally from about a 45 degree angle and either from the front or either side (the light from behind is called back-lighting and can be tricky but doable with practice). (see my... quirky... stick figure guide for what I mean)
2. Don’t ask them to smile. There's nothing more cheesy than a child that's told to say "cheese!" (pun intended!). Just let them be kids and have fun. Let them enjoy the moment. If you do want them to look at the camera (and at you!) ask them questions, sing a song or do something silly! Make it fun! Start a tickle fight. If they have siblings have them do bear hugs. And if all else fails... bribe! No punishments though, those will just inspire resentment for future photos. :(
3. Focus and expose (balance the light on the subject) on the face (eyes or mouth area). If you're using a phone camera this can sometimes be tricky but click on the screen for where you want to focus (and expose at the same time). If you're using a DSLR try shooting in Program mode and use selective focus. (I wish I had time to share more DSLR tips, but that would take a lot more time than I have now in one post!)
4. Avoid flash if you can. A camera flash can be useful for freezing moments but most flashes that are attached to the camera are too close to the lens so the flash's light is quite harsh and flat on your subject. If you need more light in your photo get creative. Use a lamp or even a flashlight pointed towards the face (light needs to be above as in the diagram indicates). Use window light (open those blinds and curtains!). Turn on all the lights!
5. Know when to put your camera down. This might sound crazy but sometimes your kids just need you to have fun with them without something between you. It's okay to let go of capturing the perfect moment. Sometimes the moment even becomes more memorable. Trust your instincts and your children's instincts to let you know when to join them instead of photographing them.
And the most important bonus tip this holiday season: absolutely do NOT wrap your child (or anyone!) in Christmas lights. While cute and "pinterest worthy" it is dangerous. Wires can fray. Bulbs can break.
Glass + electricity = very dangerous. Add in possible baby drool and it's a recipe for disaster.
Please don't do it. Just say no.
This blog will feature new parent advice, what to expect when working with my business, as well as an ongoing series about safety when interacting with newborns
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