How to Capture High Quality Photos in Average Family Moments

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Ever wonder what magic it takes to capture a great picture in the middle of an everyday family event? Start here for the best tip! As you know, I like to tell stories, so here we go!

Dad and toddler son fist bump while sitting side by side on matching Harleys

My little grandson turned two the other day.  We felt honored to host his birthday party at our home.  For many years my house was not suitable for entertaining, so now that we have upgraded, it’s lovely to be able to fit a small crowd into our space.

Read all about the new house in  This is What Happens When a Photography Blogger Buys a House

On Saturday afternoon, we all gathered in the backyard for the big event.  It was a lovely group of all of my grandson’s favorite people, including his mom and dad, two sets of grandparents, four sets of great-grandparents, and his uncles, aunts, and one cousin who is just a few months younger.

We celebrated with cake and the birthday song, none of which thrilled him.  Ya know, it must be a bizarre thing when you’re two to have a crowd of people singing and fussing when you usually go about your business at grandma’s house.  I stationed myself across from the birthday boy so I could capture his expressions while he opened gifts.  I love this winner with his nervous face and mom and dad both helping with the candles.

child being held by parents blowing out 2 birthday candles
He was unsure of everyone singing his birthday song. Dad and mom helped him blow out his candles.

Birthday Gifts!

After cake and punch, it was time for the birthday boy to open gifts. The usual assortment of presents made their appearance, including several toys and some clothes for the newly minted toddler.  Finally, the big moment – the gift from mom and dad (insert drumroll here)…  the mini Harley!

You see, my son is a Harley guy.  He and his wife worked hard, running their two businesses to save enough money to buy a Harley.  My son picked a yellow beauty, and he enjoys riding in the summer.  They were so excited to find a tiny battery-operated chopper-style bike on Amazon that looks just like dad’s.  They got it in plenty of time and put it all together for the big day.  Then the unveiling!  He loved it, and I was so happy to click my shutter mid-oooo when he saw it!  It’s safe to say he immediately loved it and jumped right on. 

Toddler opening birthday gift
He had a great time opening his birthday gifts!
Toddler touching the bow on his birthday gift
The birthday boy really loved the bows on his gifts!

To order your very own mini motorcycle just like this one, click HERE

And the big moment has arrived!

After the fun of the party, the various grandparents and uncles and aunts headed home or out to other activities, and my son prepared to leave.  See, it’s fall in Michigan, and hunting season is close.  He needed to do some work on his hunting space to ready himself for opening day.  He hopped on his bike as Wayde was playing on his new chopper. I quickly had mom line them up to grab a couple of shots before the moment was gone.

mom wiping off toddler's face while he sits astride a mini motorcycle next to dad on a full sized Harley
Mom gives him a quick spit bath before taking a few photos

Here’s the secret!
Preparation + Opportunity = Success

As I stood there with my camera in hand, they began interacting naturally.  One of the things they regularly do is bump fists.  My lil grandson says, “bumpies, daddy,” so that fist bump was a perfectly natural moment.  Because I was there and ready with the camera, I was able to capture the moment as it unfolded!

It has been said many times by many wise people, including Zig Ziglar and Oprah Winfrey, that “success or luck happens when preparation meets opportunity,” and this is the perfect example.  A whole bunch of practice at shooting in various situations met the opportunity today to capture this perfect moment, and you can’t argue with the results.

These are going on the wall!

What a great day we had, and now we will forever treasure these photos.  We could have dressed both father and son in themed clothes, and perhaps a real face wash instead of a quick spit-bath would have been preferable, but in the end, it is the moments we captured with photos that matter the most.

A little editing helped take care of the small stray hairs and extra schmutz on little man’s face, and once again, preparation met opportunity.  I have been learning editing for almost as long as I’ve been learning photography skills, so I was able to quickly make a few adjustments to enhance the subjects on the background and make them pop!

Success is where preparation and opportunity meet - on a poster

Here is a summary of the adjustments I made in Photoshop:  I selected the subjects, blurred the background some using the tilt-shift option, and adjusted for color and clarity.  I was able to bring up some of the detail in the bikes by lowering the shadows with a brush.

These are all skills I’ve picked up and honed by playing in Photoshop on practice images. Once again, it pays to have lots of practice in preparation for when the time is right to make these changes in earnest.

Read all kinds of interesting editing information in The Power of Editing:  Taking a Photo from Average to Astounding

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  1. Veronique….I did comment here. Not sure where it went to.
    Besides saying the photos are beautiful….
    I was wondering if you got photos of all the grands and great grands with your grandson?

    • Well that’s strange. I don’t see the previous comment. I did get a few photos of the grands with the grandson. Some are a little shy about having their photos posted, so I didn’t include them! Thanks for the comment and thanks for reading!

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