HBA: More tips from a photo pro – photographing children

Published 10:07 am Tuesday, September 8, 2015

By BOB VAN LOAN / Guest Columnist

Helena and the HBA are fortunate to have one of the area’s preeminent photographers in our midst: Gretchen Birdwell of Gretchen B Photography.

Gretchen Birdwell's photography studio, Gretchen B Photography, is located on Buck Creek in Old Town Helena. (Contributed)

Gretchen Birdwell’s photography studio, Gretchen B Photography, is located on Buck Creek in Old Town Helena. (Contributed)

One of the many things that endears Gretchen to all who meet her is her willingness to share information with fellow photographers who are either just starting out or looking to improve their skills.

In this article, Gretchen shares some tips for getting the most out of your photos of the youngsters.

•Begin a photo tradition such as the first day of school, religious life, family trips, etc.

  • Be patient. Children do not like to be told what to do. Engage them in conversation or let them play with their favorite toy. And don’t tell them to say “cheese” – they almost always have a very tight smile after saying that. You want to capture their real smile.

•Photograph your children at their eye level. When you take a photo of them from above, they tend to look small. The photo will be much more appealing if you photo them at their level.

•Take candids. Photograph your children in their everyday play. They will enjoy looking at those photos a lot more than the ones where they are dressed in their Sunday best and told to line up for a photo.

•Include their friends. Encourage them to look at you but let them go into their “poses” – they love to ham it up when they are together. The photos will be more fun for them and for you.

•Get close. Then get closer.

•Lock your focus. You want the eyes to be sharp even if everything else has a narrow depth of field.

•Let the kids record their world. Let them use your camera. You’ll be amazed at what they capture.

•Place your subject off center. Bulls-eye is great for darts but not so much for people.

  • Create an on-line album to share with your family and friends.


Business Profile: Gretchen B Photography

Gretchen Birdwell started playing around with photography on a junior high school trip to her home state’s capital, Raleigh, and has had cameras ever since.

The twists and turns of fate brought her to wedding photography (over five years ago) and portrait photography (over 10 years ago).

Her studio is on Buck Creek in Old Town Helena.

The old buildings, narrow streets, park with a walking trail and creek including a spillway, make for interesting backdrops for environmental portraits.

Gretchen is a Certified Professional Photographer … translation: She cares enough about her work and your memories to continue growing her skills with posing (she loves the look of unposed photos–it takes skill to create those!), lighting, and her cameras.

Gretchen’s husband, Buddy, is an associate in the firm and a skilled photographer in his own right.

Gretchen B Photography offers both studio and location photo options but recommends that sessions involving children 1 year old or younger should be photographed in the studio.

The studio provides a safe and comfortable environment for you and your baby.

They also work with a local framer to ensure that your wall art is framed to complement the work and your home.

You are welcome to meet with the framer yourself or Gretchen can coordinate the framing for you so that when you pick up your portraits, they are ready to go on the walls in your home or office.

For more in-depth information and examples of their extraordinary work, please visit Gretchen B Photography at 833 Creekside Court, Helena, AL 35080 (call 205-999-3531 for an appointment) or on-line at Gretchenbphotography.com/.

Bob Van Loan is a board member and the immediate past president of the Helena Business Association and the president and principal consultant of Thoroughbred Strategic Services, a strategy management and performance measurement firm. He can be reached directly at bob75137@aol.com.