Tips for Getting Cute Candids of Your Kids

Did you see Houston Family magazines associate editor, Dorothy Puch Lillig, live on KPRC-TV Channel 2 on Sept. 25 talking about photographing children? If you missed it, heres what she said. And dont forget to tune to Channel 2 on Saturday, Oct. 18, when Dorothy will be talking about Halloween activities around the Houston area and Halloween safety suggestions

Halloween is almost here, and Christmas isnt far behind. Its the perfect time to get out the cameras and capture the kids on film. Do you have what it takes to get that perfect portrait? Of course you do! All you need is a good location and the right techniques. You already have the cute kids.

Location, Location, Location

If youre looking for a unique shot to send to family and friends in other parts of the country, Houston has plenty of locations. Try the Waterwall at Williams Tower for a nice background, Space Center Houston for that classic Houston shot or take a snapshot of your kids ice skating at the Galleria mall.

The Childrens Museum of Houston offers the opportunity for taking photos of your kids next to giant-size kid sculptures. (Find the one that looks most like your son or daughter and pose them there.) George Ranch in Fort Bend County is a nice, low-key spot for taking Texas-style photos with cowboys and horses.

Dont forget to dress your children according to the theme. Put them in cowboy hats and boots for George Ranch. Dress them like astronauts at Space Center Houston.

You dont need to travel farther than your neighborhood park or your own front porch or backyard to get a great shot. Just find an uncluttered spot thats out of direct sunlight and shoot away!

Expert Equipment Versus Good Technique

Of course, a professional camera is more likely to produce quality photos. However, its mostly the photographers expertise, not the cameras capabilities, that lead to good shots. Dont worry if all you have is an inexpensive or even a disposable camera. You can still get some great photos with the following techniques:

-- Go outside. Most of us dont have the proper lighting equipment to take really good shots indoors. Houston is the perfect place to take outdoor photos year-round.

-- Schedule your photo shoot for early in the morning before the sun is too bright or for late in the afternoon when the sun has started going down. If you must shoot in the middle of the day, pick a spot in open shade. Too much sun will cause your children to squint and whine, and will produce shadows on their faces.

-- Shoot at your kids level. If you get on the ground with your children and zoom in, you will eliminate all of the extras that can clutter up your photo.

-- Use lots of film. Dont expect to get that perfect photo with just a few shots. Plan on using two or three rolls of film or, if youre using a digital camera, shoot lots of frames and expect to delete most of them.

The Subjects

You might have the right equipment and the right time and place, but your kids arent going to sit for a photo shoot if theyre tired, hungry or uncomfortable. Put them in comfy clothes and dont worry if they get dirty or their hair falls out of place. Make sure you have snacks on hand for breaks. Bring a treat - stickers, candy or a new toy - for after the photo shoot.

Provide your children with props to use during the photo shoot. Let them sit in a child-size chair, pull a wagon of gifts or hug a teddy bear. Let brother show sister a flower or have them hold up a Happy Holidays sign. For Halloween, let them unwrap some candy or hold some small pumpkins.

Putting the Photos to Good Use

You got that great shot. What are you going to do with it? Of course, you will want to send it to all of your friends or family. Why not send a holiday card featuring your cute Halloween photo? Or use a photo of the kids in the backyard to make holiday postcards or calendars for all of your relatives - easy Christmas presents!

And dont forget to enter your little goblin in our Cover Kids contest. Fill out an entry form found in the October issue or online at and attach your best Halloween photo.

Houston Family also features readers photos on a monthly basis. For December, the theme is Happy Holidays. Send photos by Oct. 15 to Houston Family Readers Photos, 11111 Richmond Ave., Suite 130, Houston, TX 77082. For January, the theme is Baby New Year, and your cutest baby photos are due by Nov. 15. For February, send your Puppy Love photos of your kids and their pets by Dec. 15. Look in upcoming issues to see whether your child is featured in our Readers Photos department.