How to take the best photos of your kids: part 2

Article and Photos by Michelle Mock

This is the second part of a two-part blog series with tips and suggestions on how to take the best photos of your kids. You can find the first blog post of this two-part series here. This second part will cover how to maximise the use of your camera so that you get the best results. It will be a little bit more technical than the previous post, but there are still easy tips and tricks contained within that I’m certain you’ll be able to benefit from by reading. Kids can sometimes be challenging subjects. But with these photography suggestions and tricks hopefully, you can get some pictures you’ll be able to cherish for years to come.

Maximising Your Camera

1.) Get outdoors.


Artificial light is rarely as good as good old-fashioned sunlight. Bonus points to you if you photograph your kids on an overcast day. Shooting while it’s overcast eliminates shadows and glare, so overcast days can be your friend. Extra bonus points if you photograph your child with their back to the sun. I find that if the sun is in their face it makes kids (a

nd adults alike) squint (not so pretty) and it also creates shadows on their faces. By photographing your child with their back to the sun, they don’t squint (which makes it easier for them to smile) and you get even light across their faces (yay no shadows!). So get outside.


2.) Shooting inside? Use window light.

Unless you’ve got the artificial lighting of a pro, it’s best to use that window light. Shooting by a large window will give you diffused natural light that will minimise shadows. Make sure you turn off any indoor lighting though so it doesn’t give you strange colour casts. If you find your window isn’t giving you enough light, lie a white sheet in the foreground of your shot. The sheet will act like a reflector and will bounce more light onto your scene. Even the best professionals have used this trick!


3.) Use a low aperture (also known as f-stop).

Using a low aperture helps blur the background of your child and leaves them in focus. Using a low aperture is also ideal in helping you have a lower shutter speed. Having a lower shutter speed means that you won’t get blurred photos (unless that’s what you’re aiming for). Kids move quickly so having a lower aperture keeps the focus on them and keeps things sharp. I recommend around 4.0 (or even lower) if possible.


4.) Use a high shutter speed.

Kids are always on the go, so you’ll need a fast shutter speed to capture them quickly. The faster your shutter speed, the less blur you’ll get. And if your aperture is low, then it will make it easier for you to have a high shutter speed (it should be mentioned that this is dependent on the light conditions you’re working with). I recommend at least 1/250 if possible.


5.) Stay away from a wide angle lens or from a macro lens.

You know how we were talking about getting close to your kids in the previous post and taking in some of the detail? Well having a lens that allows you to get a full scene and also to get close is a good idea. An 18mm lens is too far away from your subject and if you attempt to take closer shots you’ll notice distortion in your images. Alternatively, with a 200mm lens, you can take a great picture of your child’s eyelashes, but you’ll have to back up a good many meters to get in a whole scene. This is why I recommend a 35mm or 50mm lens. Either one of those lenses allows you to get a wide enough shot of your kids in their environment, but also lets you get close enough to get those details.


6.) Just shoot!

For those of you who aren’t familiar or comfortable with your camera in manual mode or don’t know what aperture or shutter speed mean, don’t stress it! Just put your camera on auto and go with it! The auto setting can help determine what settings you can use with the lighting conditions you have. And even a photo taken on auto can turn out amazing! The main point is to just get out and photograph those little ones while they’re still little so that you have memories to look back on and cherish.

Happy shooting!

Michelle Mock is a portrait and freelance film photographer living in Vienna, Austria. She has a soft spot for fresh, warm croissants, soya café lattes, travelling to new places, good dogs, and kind people. She blogs about all things photography, film and Vienna related. The photos in this article have been used with the permission of the photographer, Michelle Mock, and are subject to copyright.








How to take the best photos of your kids: part 1

By Michelle Mock

One day you’re teaching them how to tie their shoes and a few days later (or so it seems!), they’re packing up their lives to move out of the house for university, for that new job, or to start a new life with their spouse. In relative terms, the time that they’re still children is short in the grand scheme of life. Which is why I encourage parents to photograph their children while they’re still babies, kids, or young adults. Most parents will agree that childhood whizzes by (except during teething, terrible twos etc..) and clichéd as it is, one does wonder where the time went. You’ll be left with the memories of those moments and hopefully, because of some encouragement within this post, some great photos. Also, let’s face it, it is nice to look at their cute, smiling faces and remind yourself of how it used to be when your hulking, pimply teenager is being difficult!

That is essentially the overall purpose of this two-part blog series: to encourage you to photograph your kids while they’re still kids. In the first part of this two-part blog series, we will discuss how to prepare and position yourself so that you get the most out of the moments with your kids. The second part of this two-part blog series will cover how to maximise the use of your camera so that you get the best results. Kids can sometimes be challenging subjects. But with a few photography suggestions, tricks, poses, and angles hopefully you can get some pictures you’ll be able to cherish for years to come.

Maximising The Moments

1.) Anticipate their mood.

For most kids, the best time to take pictures is when they just wake up after a nap and are rested. Additionally, taking photos before they get hungry is also ideal. Trying to capture your child’s best side while they’re tired or hungry is usually not a good recipe for good photos. So make sure they’re well rested and fed before you start. Especially if you plan on shooting longer than 15 minutes.


2.) Capture the moment.

Now having made the aforementioned point, I’m going to directly contradict myself by saying that a lot of the best photos are captured spontaneously. So if you see that your child is having a blast with all the bubbles in the tub before bedtime…just capture it!


3.) Shoot everyday life.

Most of my clients come to me for posed photos to use for their Christmas cards and while those are great and have their place, some of the best shots can be taken during everyday life. Those can be an extraordinary treasure in the years to come. Over time, one forgets what it was like to walk your daughter home from kindergarten during the fall and seeing her stomp on those crunchy leaves, or the glee on her face jumping in a puddle or rolling around in fresh snow. Capture it, so that if you forget, that photo will remind you of that precious moment many years later.


4.) Get on their level.

It’s easy to stand there and shoot down, but you can get a better shot by getting down on their level and photographing them the way they see the world. Also, you’d be surprised by how differently you may see the world when you’re as small as they are. You may also think of capturing them in a different way than you would have if you towered over them and photographed them. So get down and see things from their perspective.


5.) Focus on the details.

Those tiny hands, tiny feet, and tiny lips don’t stay tiny forever. And those tiny hands are even more adorable when you get close and photograph them painting or holding snow for the first time. Some of my favourite shots of my clients’ children are of their fingers, toes, or tiny little lips.


6.) Lastly, get in the photos with your kids.

As a mom you’re so busy coordinating schedules, picking up after everyone, cleaning up messes, and doing the thousand other things you do. But take the time and be selfish and get in those photos with your kids. Even if you don’t feel like you look your best or are ready or want to see yourself in them. As an adult, the photos I cherish the most of my mom are the ones where she’s in the picture with us just being herself. I look back on those photos and wonder what my mom looked like when she was my age and when she had kids. If she wasn’t in those photos, I would never know what her journey was like. And if she was always picture perfect, well that would be an unattainable level of perfection I could never reach. I want to see her as she was, as I remember her. Messy, laughing, and just being herself, so I know that it’s ok for me to be messy, have a sense of humour, and most of all, embrace who I am. So, pass that camera off to someone else, get in those photos, and take advantage of documenting the quality time and moments you have with your little ones.


Happy shooting!

Michelle Mock is a portrait and freelance film photographer living in Vienna, Austria. She has a soft spot for fresh, warm croissants, soya café lattes, travelling to new places, good dogs, and kind people. She blogs about all things photography, film and Vienna related. The photos in this article have been used with the permission of the photographer, Michelle Mock, and are subject to copyright.


How do you organize your books in your bookshelf?

By Linnea Kralik

How do you organize your books in your bookshelf?

Me, I’ve decided on grouping books according to topic. I’ve got my historical fiction, my classics, my feminist literature, my self-help books, my current fiction, my “want-to-read-very-soon” section, my dictionaries and reference literature, my vampire fiction, my Swedish books, my uncategorizable miscellanea and my poetry. I also have a mountain of books on Emily Dickinson, from the time I was planning on writing a thesis on her poetry. Didn’t happen, but still have the books. My daughter Emily will want to read them one day, seeing as that’s where she got her name.

I’ve heard of people sorting books alphabetically regardless of topic. I’ve also heard of sorting books into “have read” and “haven’t read yet.” That actually sounds quite intriguing and I’ve often thought I should do that.

The choice of books on your bookshelf is a way to display your individuality. I guess some books we know we’ll never read again, but we keep them around anyway, as a way of showing who we are by the choice of what we read. There’s also a sense of pride in completion, “I’ve read all that!” that I’m sure many of us like to give off. Or maybe in some cases, “I know I should read all that and I certainly want to, but haven’t gotten around to it because I’m too busy rereading some old favorite…”

Some books you like and you give them away anyway, since you know you won’t be reading them again. Sometimes — rather often actually — I regret giving away books. We’ve given away quite a lot of children’s books, thinking the kids are older now and won’t be reading Fox in Socks or Peter Rabbit again any time soon — but I feel a twang of pain that these books aren’t kept as family heirlooms, treasured memories in my children’s cardboard boxes filled with baby socks and snippets of infant hair. Yes, most of these books are still within the extended family, but you can’t help but ache a bit — will they understand the magnitude of these books, will they appreciate them the way we did, will the lines in them become common family quotes? And the books are no longer on display, to show the formative literature that helped build my children’s childhoods…

On my e-reader, I have another mass of books. These are simply mechanically sorted, which in a way I guess is refreshing — to find cookbooks right next to Austen fan fiction. However, e-books have several things going against them – you can’t really put them on display in your home to show off (online you could I guess), you don’t really get that sense of completion like you get finishing a physical book held in your hand, it doesn’t have that comforting book smell, it doesn’t really give you the sense of its size the way a ‘real’ book does, and as you scroll through your e-book list, it doesn’t inspire the same kind of respect as the real deal does. Sharing books also becomes tricky – not impossible, but it’s a fiddle and you can share only with others that have e-readers. Yes, there are a number of benefits, I’m sure we all are aware of, the worlds of books all crammed into one shell – but these books become inaccessible if you forget to charge the batteries!


What method do you use to sort your books? Looking forward to reading your comments…



Notes from the editor:

About the Author: Linnea comes to Austria by way of America, taking a little detour via Turkey and a longer detour over Sweden. She’s been living here with her Austro-Swedish husband and 3 kids since 2003. She has a great interest in literature, languages and cooking. Linnea was the fabulous coordinator of the VFN Book Club 1 for the past 10 years or so. Our new coordinator is Kylene Landry.

About VFN Book Club 1: We are a group of moms who talk about books we have read, what we think about the book, if we liked it or not, and often we end up talking about our children, and living in Austria… it’s a very social and informal group. We meet one evening a month (usually at 8 pm), we choose a book for each month, and discuss it at the meeting. We meet in restaurants/cafés or at each others’ homes. Mainly it’s without babies but occasionally somebody brings a baby along. Mostly we read recent fiction, like NYT bestseller list etc, with the occasional exception of non-fiction, biography… Generally the person who has suggested a book is the one who hosts the meeting to discuss that book. About once a year we have a book selection meeting when we decide the books for the upcoming year. It’s also possible to swap and share books at meetings.

Time out for Parents

As Father’s Day approaches I’ve been thinking about the gift of quality time. As parents we are always looking for ways to save time, make time and be on time. In my work as a yoga teacher I’ve been studying the way we perceive time, which comes down to a belief that “there is never enough time”. I hear this every day, from friends, students and even people on the street. When my son was born I definitely felt like I had no time, especially for myself. The truth is, we all have the same amount of time. How we use our time is the variable and with children that variable is extremely unpredictable.
Last month this hit me full force when I was pushing my son out the door and he said “We don’t have enough time cause we’re late.” Hearing this echo from my 2 year old totally depressed me. I had to take a hard look at the language I use and how it reflects my beliefs. I have to work pretty hard to re-wire the years of thinking that there isn’t enough time. Of course some of us have longer work hours, some of us have help in the house, some of us have more children, some of us are single parents. Whatever our individual situation we still have the same amount of time. When I accept this it affirms my desire to live mindfully, to be more conscious of how I live and how I parent.  
Studies (and common sense) have shown that the biggest obstacle to being mindful and kind is the combination of stress and rushing. When people are in a hurry they are less likely to stop and help one another. When we are stressed and tired we are less likely to listen or notice the people we love, let alone how we really feel. I thought I knew what time pressure, tiredness and stress were before I became a parent, and then I became a parent. 
How we deal with stress and organise our time is personal, but there are universal human needs that we have to fight for. I say fight because our world pushes the idea that we need to do more or buy more. This attachment to more feeds the idea that we need more time, when we actually need to use our time wisely. All this leads me to the need for time-outs, for ourselves first. Just like on the airplane we put the oxygen mask on ourselves first then the kids. We need these time-outs, even just moments to take care of our own oxygen every day. No easy task, it can start with taking a slow breath when we feel rushed. The revolution can continue with looking in your calendar and marking out time for yourself to relax, to take care of yourself and do whatever it is that reconnects you with you. This is your oxygen, and when you are breathing well then you can see who else needs help. Feeling overwhelmed is a sign we need a time-out. I need a lot of time out and part of my time out is my yoga practice. Without that time I’m highly susceptible to yelling and overreacting and generally being the worst mom/wife/daughter/teacher/human. 
So my gift to my partner for Father’s Day is making sure I’m taking my time outs, and he takes his! Then we have a chance at being present, to celebrate Father’s Day by enjoying every moment just as it is.
Sarah is a Senior Yoga Teacher and Movement Director based in Vienna. She specialises in using yoga to deal with stress and has a public workshop on Restorative Yoga June 17.

VFN Open House: getting to know new people

By: Rachael Lloyd

In one of my upcoming posts I’ll be sharing some tips for new mums. One of the biggest tips is to find your “mum tribe.” In Vienna there is the Vienna Family Network (VFN) which is a community for international parents to join. It is possible to join from any age of your child – even pre-birth!

There is a rule with friends of mine that certain baby talk is confined to the baby group! With Little K, I joined the VFN about 4 months before he was born and started to meet my “mum tribe” and throughout realised how important this rule was. It felt great to be connected with other families going through the same things we were. It also helped to develop new friendships and meet some really interesting people. There were regular meet ups and we also organised things like the antenatal class, first aid course and of course group birthday celebrations.

Today, as a mum-to-be again, I joined the monthly VFN Open House which is on the first Thursday of the month. About ten parents showed up to get to know more about the VFN and how it works. There was a mixed group of people there – some still pregnant, one had a 2 month old, 2+ year olds and even older! A few of the older children were able to enjoy the play area and sometimes joined for some snacks. It was also great to see a dad there who is currently taking advantage of the great paternity leave in Austria. We shared our backgrounds, current family situation and also some tips on surviving parent life in Vienna. It was such a nice opportunity to meet some new faces and see that spark behind the eyes of some when they realized “this, is what I’ve been looking for!” Looking forward to having some new members to the Network and also one in my new baby group – May / June 2018.

The next Open House is on 3 May from 10:00-12:00 at a new location – please join if you would like to hear more and get to know some new people. Or just sign up and start meeting with your group!

About the author: Rachael Lloyd-Poetscher / A Brit who has been living in Vienna since 12 years and is now married to an Austrian – together we have a 2 year old son and one more on the way. Since having our baby, I’ve fallen in love with Vienna all over again with the great parks and activities to enjoy here and started my blog as a “Wiener Mummy” to share our adventures with other “expat” families.
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