Shooting Snapshots
Pageant Retouching

Shooting your own photos can be fun and inexpensive.
Give it a try!
Follow these guidelines, but remember that it can take a few tries before you get the photo you are hoping for.
Each time you shoot, you'll get more familiar with it and your shots will get better and better.


Lighting is the most important part of taking photos.  Bad lighting can cause your photos to be blurry and grainy.  It can also make your colors come out bad, and cause shadows and/ or bleached spots on your child's face.

To get the best lighting for your photos, without professional photography lighting:

1.Take them outdoors, in a fully shaded area.  This will give you great overall lighting without shadows on the face.  Overcast days are the absolute best for shooting.  You can shoot without any concern for shadows or bleached areas.

2.Use your "Fill Flash" mode.  (This causes your camera to always flash, regardless of the lighting.)  This will help to prevent shadows and dark circles.  Your "Fill Flash" is usually symbolized by a crooked arrow or lightening bolt. 

Preparing Your Camera

      If you have "anti- shake" or "image stabilization", make sure it is turned on.  If not, use books, the back of a chair, or some other stable surface to rest your camera on.  Digital cameras blur a lot from the photographer's slightest movement.  If you are getting a lot of blurry shots, chances are you are moving slightly while pressing the shutter button.

Positioning Your Camera:

  1.  Turn your camera sideways, so the frame is "Portrait" shaped, not "Landscape" shaped.  
(In other words, the frame is a vertical rectangle, not a horizontal rectangle.) 

2.  Fill the frame with the child.  Focus on the child from the top of the head, to the chest.  Do not have a lot of unused background in the photo.  All of the extra space would have to be cropped out.  The more you crop a photo, the more you have to blow it up for printing.  This often makes a great photo unprintable. 

3. Don't stand too close to the child... it will make the nose look big in the photo, and cause the flash to bleach out the model's face.  Stand back and use your maximum zoom to fill the frame with the child. 

Preparing the Model:

  1.  Use bright or pastel colored clothes.  

2.  Hang a sheet or cloth behind the child as a back drop.  (Not too close behind her... you don't want to create shadows.)
If the child has brown or black hair, use white or another bright color.

     3. Make sure the eyes are always on the camera.  You can turn the head to the side a little in some shots, but always have eye contact.  If it's not totally possible, get the eyes as close to forward as possible.
I can move the eyes a bit to make contact.

4.  Keep the face basically "square."  In other words, no profile shots.  Turning the head slightly is fine, but do not turn the head so far that the eyes have to roll all the way to the corners.
Judges like to see the whole face.

Size Matters:
(Sorry guys)

A photo must be high resolution for it to be printable.
Resolution refers to the "dpi" (dots per inch) of the photo.
If a photo is low resolution, it cannot be blown up to an 8 x 10.

Blowing a low resolution photo up in your computer's photo program does not work.  The quality will be very bad.

To make your photos "high res":

 Camera Settings For Digital Shots:
1.  If you want 8 x 10 prints of your photos, you will need to use a digital camera that is at least 4 megapixels.  5- 6 megapixels is best.

2.  Make sure to set your camera to "fine", or it's highest quality setting.  (Any camera over 6 megapixels can be set to it's second highest setting.)  Generally, when you buy your camera it will be set to it's medium or low quality setting.  You will need to go into your camera's "settings" and change it.

Happy shooting!  Make it fun for you both!

Taking a funny face photo now and then keeps the mood happy.
Play and be silly with young kids.

Direct sunlight
causes shadows
on the face.
Shoot in full shade
for fresh all- over lighting.
Right position of camera:
Turn your camera
to make the photo a portrait.

This photo was taken with the camera in "portrait" position.

Wrong position
of camera.
This will cause the photo to need too much cropping.

This photo was taken with the camera in "landscape" position.
Stand back
use your zoom.
This model is turned too far.  The judges can't see her whole face, and her eyes are rolled into the very corners.
Try to get the face forward, even if the eyes are looking to the side.  These eyes can be moved forward during retouching.
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Too much space around the model.  All of the darkened area would have to be cropped out.  This would cut the original photo down to less than a wallet size.  The resolution becomes too low to blow it up to an 8 x 10.
(More info about resolution can be found below.)
Framed correctly, with little or no wasted photo area.