How to Take Great Pictures of Your Kids
to Create Books, Cards and Memories.
Jane Hanstein Cunniffe
TABLE OF CONTENTS
New and inventive ways to take pictures of your kids and how to create
amazing projects: including announcements and invitations, books, calendars and scrapbooks.
Chapter 1 • BASIC EQUIPMENT & KNOWLEDGE
Š Why a digital camera?
Š About megapixels
Chapter 2 • TAKING PICTURES: Things you need to know
Š Avoid clutter
Š Cropping is key
Š Daylight works best
Š Perspective. Get down to their level
Š Designing your shot
Š Wardrobe – keep it simple
Š What to do when Junior won’t smile
Chapter 3 • STEP-BY-STEP DO-IT-YOURSELF PROJECTS
Š Start with one letter: The Making of R is for Raisin Bread.
Š Take a series that spell out a word or name
Š Teach your little one colors
Š Easy and original gift ideas
Š Celebrating hands and feet!
Š Emailing pictures
Chapter 4 • MAKING YOUR OWN CARDS
Š The Birth Announcement
Š Personalized Thank You Cards
Š The Birthday Party Invite
Š Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and other holidays
Š The ultimate holiday card
Chapter 5 • CREATING YOUR OWN BOOKS
Š Why bother?
The Positive Effect on kids [parents and teachers, too]
Š Counting Books – as easy as 1-2-3
Henry Counts and Eli Counts Too
Š ABCs and Beyond
From Henry’s Delicious Alphabet to ALPHaTRUCKS!
Š Storybooks: Write (and shoot) your own.
The making of No Train for Henry!
Š Celebrating the Cliché & other great book ideas.
Š Recreating fairy tales
Chapter 6 • NEXT YEAR’S CALENDAR, THIS YEAR’S HOLIDAY GIFT.
Š 12 pictures make a calendar: Choose your theme
Holidays, Colors, Seasons or Clichés
Chapter 7 • DOCUMENTING YOUR FAMILY HISTORY
Š Pictures preserve and create memories
Š Monitoring your child’s growth
Š Start a family tradition
Š Record history [recreating photos from earlier generations]
Š Same time next year [series and collections]
Š The Classic Group Project – everyone submits a page
Chapter 8 • HIGH-TECH SCRAPBOOKS, ETC.
Š Create a digital scrapbook
Š Make your own memory book
Š Launch your own homepage
Chapter 9 • THE CLASSROOM
Š Enhance your teaching with Project ABC
Š Student involvement guaranteed
Š A step-by-step guide to making an ABC book with your class [including sample permission slip, as well as a template]
Š Make a counting book to learn Math
Chapter 10 • COMMUNITY PROJECTS
Š The perfect fundraising concept.
Š A step-by-step guide to making a book for and with your community. [Including a sample project showing how you can do the same.
Chapter 12 • TRADING PLACES
Š Letting Junior take the pictures
Chapter 13 • THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND
Š Picture taking and Birth Order
Don’t forget to take pictures of your 2nd Born
Š What might the future hold?
Š Keep your camera with you and your batteries charged!
Š Back up your files.
Glossary of Terms
Inspiration, Influences & Acknowledgments
• • • • •
What’s so great about these books and pictures?
To see samples of the books and photographs explained in the book, visit SmilingGoat.com [for a chronological overview: http://smilinggoat.com/Mac.html]
This book is based on a simple premise:
If you take 50 pictures of your kid, one of them is bound to be good.
It’s part how-to book, part memoir. It’s a book about how to take amazing pictures of your kids and what to do with them once you have. You’ll find easy-to-grasp digital photography tips and explanations – not so much about f-stops and aperture, but new and inventive ways to have more fun taking pictures. All you need to get started is a digital camera and a little imagination.
Instead of taking the same picture of your child over and over, hopefully this book will free your mind to imagine all sorts of pictures to amuse and educate the whole family. You’ll find great ideas, simple step-by-step instructions on how make an educational counting book, create an original birthday card, or invent a new family tradition. The process itself should be a good time, and the end-result, a picture or picture book you will enjoy for years to come. The ability to take dozens of pictures at no extra charge, with instantaneous results, gives this next generation of parents a massive advantage when it comes to taking pictures of their children.
In early 2000, I got a point-and-shoot digital camera. At the time, I was a stay-at-home mom with a ten-month-old and too much time on my hands. Three years, thousands of pictures, eight books, two boxed-card sets and another baby later, I am setting out to show others how to do the same. This book is about that journey.
It is also aimed at early childhood educators for whom it can provide a useful guide to innovative classroom projects. Whether you’re teaching wide-eyed three-year-olds or boisterous second-graders, it will give you a variety of ways to entertain and educate children by involving them in the process. You’ll find easy steps explaining how to turn your photographs into creative learning tools that work extremely well at home or in a classroom setting. Put your child or student in a book, and you’ve got their full attention. It gives them a sense of ownership. They are the focal point and the hero.
The best advice I can offer: Buy a camera and use it.
Take pictures of a glass of milk, or your front door or a box of cereal. Making books for your kids is all about celebrating the ordinary. If you use your camera for a few weeks before you really care about the shots, you will be more confident. You’ll start to understand that if you take enough shots, surely you’ll get one that you like. I sometimes take fifty to 100 photographs for every shot that makes it into a picture frame or book. Also, I’m often surprised by the pictures I cherish most – many are cropped just so, or a choice I’d never have expected or planned.
Given the time and inclination, what kind of nifty book might you create for your toddler?
You’ll also find a series of do-it-yourself projects and exercises that will keep any beginning or accomplished photographer entertained. You won’t be able to help yourself. Soon you’ll be wondering what you would do, knowing full well your little one would enjoy his own counting book, that she’d delight in her very own ABCs.
Whether you set out to make Greta’s Alphabet Soup, Hannah’s Holidays or Brandon, Boy for all Seasons; when you place your child in a book’s title and their pictures in the pages in between, you simply can’t miss. You can make a quirky book called Eleanor’s Days of the Week; or encourage your toddler with How Olive Learned to Tell Time. No subject is too small to be a book. Anything from “All about Lemons” to “Leah likes Milk,” you’ll find new ways to think about taking pictures of your children. Hopefully, you’ll also discover an inventive approach to run-of-the-mill activities. You’re going to be taking pictures anyway, so why not make something that actually sings.
You’ll find a new way of looking at the world.
Chances are, most of the time you just shoot random shots of your kid in their element: Sitting in their high-chair sloppily eating spaghetti or on a swing at the playground. From all of those pictures, some may be brilliant, others your favorites. Save them. They may very well be perfect to include in one project or another. Whether Z is for Zebra, or as a page in a story you’ve yet to write. Be they card or calendar, counting book or work of art – these images celebrate life and can give your kid a sense of importance. Trying all the time to avoid the cliché, we dive right in and pay homage. Sue me for liking the visual pun. To prove it, in these pages you’ll find well over 100 clichés, ironically illustrated and otherwise.
Finally something to do with all of those pictures!
If your children are older, this book will also be useful because chances are you have shoeboxes filled with pictures. That means you may be sitting on a gold mine. You can use this book to learn entertaining ways to organize your favorite pictures, make books and cards, and/or celebrate your family. To be able to manipulate and use the printed photographs you’ve already taken all you need to do is a scan them into your computer.
Most people might not bother, but you’re different. Your kid’s going to be different – a learned soul. Start simple and work your way up to more complex projects. She may not tell you now, but one day she’ll let you know that she appreciated your efforts. Or at least that’s what I’m counting on.
– Jane Hanstein Cunniffe