June 10, 2016

How to Take the Perfect Father’s Day Photo

I get asked a lot about what apps I use to edit my pictures, how I’m able to get good ones of my daughter (when she’s always in motion) and about my Instagram feed. I’m by no means an expert or a professional but I’ve had lots of practice. And every holiday I take as an opportunity to gift my favorite thing: a photo. So I figured I’d show all of you the step-by-step process of the one I’m giving Zach this year as well as some tips on how you can achieve a similar shot.

1. Candids Always Win

When it comes to kids, do not try for a posed photo. If you do, have plenty of wine on hand. Even when working with a professional photographer, I opt for action shots over sit and smile snaps. No pained, phony or forced faces, cheesy setups… They’re just more natural and often elicit genuine joy and smiles. So be prepared. When they’re reading a book together, eating ice cream, about to give a goodbye kiss, having a tickle fight… Be aware, grab your phone and get clicking.

2. Shoot the Sh*t Out of It

Pardon my French but seriously. If you only snap one or two and wonder why you never get a decent shot, you only have yourself to blame. Kids don’t stand still. Ever. Nor do they do what they’re told. The chances of you getting a clear image are impossible with one take. Half the time someone’s eyes are closed, they’re looking down… Disaster. Pretend you’re a paparazzo and Brangelina just arrived. Shoot till your finger fatigues. Out of 50, there’s bound to be a good one.

3. Go with Your Gut

So you’ve deleted the bad ones and are trying to narrow down from the three acceptable shots. For me, it’s about what my gut says. Which photo makes me feel something? Sure, they’re all cute, they’re of my kid (What parent doesn’t think theirs is the most adorable?) but which one stands out? Which one tugs at my heart strings far more than the others? That’s the one!

4. It’s All About the Editing

A photo can go from fair to fabulous with the right attention. While I use Photoshop and apps like A Color Story, VSCO, Snapseed and Touch Retouch on occasion, I do most of my editing in good old Instagram. There, I crop (cropping is everything), brighten, play with the warmth, saturation and contrast. (I very rarely filter. If I do, I usually use Claredon at about 20-50%. Or, of course, B&W. See below for that.) Experiment with different options and levels and have some fun, you just may find your new formula!

5. When in Doubt, Black (& White) it Out!

There’s nothing that takes a picture from average to artist like black and white. It makes everyone look better and you, more professional. It’s also perfect if there’s too many contrasting colors going on. Are your loved ones sitting on an ugly couch? Is one wearing neon orange, the other in red and their dad in plaid? By applying a black and white filter, it tunes all of that noise out and focuses on just their features.

Head to the next page to see how I edited my photo.