'Say cheese...or else': The average parent's guide to good pictures

When it comes to taking pictures of my kids, I've been through the ringer. Experience has taught me that my children will not pose or sit still for more than 60 seconds for a family portrait.

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  • When it comes to taking pictures of my kids, I've been through the ringer. Experience has taught me that my children (and husband) will not pose or sit still for more than 60 seconds for a family portrait. Not even my gregarious 5-year-old who loves to have her picture taken has the attention span for a prolonged photo-shoot.

  • Here are seven tips on how you can take better photos of your kids, so that you can have good, low-cost pictures, without having to deal with the backlash of tantrums and tears.

  • 1. Go outside

  • Take your pictures outdoors, preferably on a cloudy day or in a shady spot, either early in the morning or late in the evening. Watch out for direct sunlight and bright spots that might be filtering through leaves, as these can create ugly splotches on the subject. Also, take care to pick a calm day without too much wind; a healthy breeze can do terrible things to meticulously styled hair.

  • 2. Take pictures on the move

  • Don’t force your family to sit still or hold poses. Doing so will only leave you with forced smiles, or worse, temper tantrums. Let them be, follow them around, and take as many pictures as possible. One will turn out!

  • 3. Make them stand out

  • Don't dress your family in colors that will blend with the background scenery. If the colors around you are bright, dress your kids in a more neutral shade. Likewise, if the colors around you are drab earth-tones, then dress your kids in something lighter. The point is for your subject to catch the eye of the viewer. Otherwise, the pictures you get might end up resembling a "Where's Waldo" book.

  • 4. Spice it up with props

  • Bring little items, such as baskets or wagons, to help add flavor to your photographs. Props will help create a moment, while at the same time keeping children happy and entertained. For individual portraits, consider having the subject pick out an item that represents some aspect of their personality. An athletic child might be holding a soccer ball, or a musical child might choose to be photographed with their favorite instrument.

  • 5. Change your point of view

  • Don't just stand the whole time. Change your angle, squat, sit, or lay on the ground so as to change the way you look through the lens. New angles provide new and interesting views, and can help create some very memorable photographs.

  • 6. Have fun with editing

  • Once you have a bunch of pictures, choose the best ones, and then use computer programs such as Photoshop, or free online software like iPiccy.comto edit your photographs. There is such a variety of things that you can do, that editing might just become your next hobby. Look what I did in just 10 minutes of playing around.

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  • 7. Print them!

  • This may seem a little obvious, but don't leave the photographs in your camera or on your computer forever. Download them at a local photo center or through an Internet based publishing service like Shutterfly.com, and proudly display your hard work!

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Silvina is a young adult fiction writer, a homeschooling mother of three, and a native Argentine.

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