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July 4th – and the Family Paparazzi

Maya on July 4, 2011, Manzanita Beach OR

A bit of a departure from nature photography with this post – today we’re talking about photographing kids. I don’t know about your kids (or grandkids) but they all seem to go through a phase when they simply do not like being photographed, and do everything they can to subvert your efforts, either frowning or turning away whenever a camera appears. Yet, when the camera is gone, they leap and play and smile like the children they are.

I have struggled to get “natural” shots of my grand-daughter Maya, age 5. But she was having such fun in the Oregon surf on the 4th of July, and I wanted to try and get some pictures.  So I waded out into the surf, camera in hand (a dangerous game with a $500 DSLR!).  But instead of holding the camera up to my face, I held it down at her eye level, and snapped away without knowing what I was getting. This allowed me to be part of the fun, shoot from an unexpected angle, and avoid putting her on her guard about being photographed.

Yeah, a lot of the pictures had crooked horizons and cropped heads – but who cares!?What I wanted more than anything else was a moment of spontaneity, and this shot was one of the most satisfying – a fresh portrait of  little girl, having fun, with not an ounce of self-consciousness.

Not that I needed another reason to be grateful for digital,but the freedom to simply shoot from the hip, taking visual chances, is one of digital’s greatest gifts. Hope you all had a happy family 4th.

Nikon D200 w/18-200mm lens