One tradition that we have always observed at Easter is an egg hunt. We’ve done them at church, at school, and at home. Here are some planning ideas that I wish I had considered before shooting my first Easter Egg hunt.
Idea #1 – Before the Event
Take a group photo or any “posed” shots before you leave the house. I’ll admit, this is not a tip about using your camera, but more about getting a plan together to take photos of your event. Every single Easter egg hunt we have attended was set up so that the kids would be divided into different age groups to keep things safe and fair for the littlest egg hunters. Planning to take a group or family photo in advance can help you to catch the kids together before they scatter out to their age group areas at the event. Even if your children aren’t separated by age at the event, you might find that they are less distracted if you take this picture at home or at a quiet spot when you arrive at the event. Set up your camera with your favorite portrait settings to take a group photo, gather them up, and get it done before the kiddos get distracted and excited.
Idea #2 – Shoot to Their Level
Don’t forget to pay careful attention to perspective. Photos taken at adult level often can be less interesting than those taken from the viewpoint of the child. For the littlest ones, get down to the child’s level to capture the expression on their faces. Try shooting at a higher perspective to capture the whole scene. Shoot down to show the contents of their Easter basket.
Idea #3 – Lighting
Expect bad lighting and have a plan to do the best you can with it. My kiddos have been to Easter egg hunts at different churches we’ve attended over the years. Each one has been a little different in how they were set up, but the common theme among them was terrible lighting conditions. Accept that you likely will be shooting in midday sun, and try to teach yourself some strategies for shooting in bright overhead light before you get to the big day. What follows are two suggestions for dealing with the midday sun. Try them out before hand so you understand which method will work best for you.
Idea #4 – Spot Metering
Try spot metering. Place the spot on your child’s face. You will very likely have parts of the image that are overexposed, but the key feature – your child’s face – will be exposed correctly. On most Nikon models, you can quickly switch into spot metering mode with a dial on the camera body, but you’ll have to use Programmed Auto (P), Shutter Priority (S), Aperture Priority (A), or Manual (M) mode to have spot metering available. If you don’t have any experience using the “letter modes” on your camera, select “P” to let the camera select shutter speed and aperture for you. After you switch into spot metering, you will see a small square in the center of the viewfinder. That’s the same square you use to select focus, but it also selects the part of the frame to be metered. Use the multi selector dial on the back of the camera to move the spot around to place the square on your child’s face. Refer to your owner’s manual for directions for your specific camera model. Recognize that if you are far enough away from your child, the spot metering may cover a large enough area that it may not offer much improvement over matrix metering.
Idea #5 – Flash
Use your flash. Even though the sunlight gives plenty of light to make a proper exposure, the light isn’t terribly flattering if it’s directly overhead. A little bit of flash can lift the harsh shadows and eliminate the “raccoon eyes” created by the overhead sun. Generally, direct, on camera flash is not the most flattering choice. However, in this scenario, you are chasing kids and don’t have much of a choice. If you don’t have a shoe mounted flash or forget to pack yours, you can use your pop up flash in a pinch. On Nikon cameras, the flash can be popped up manually in P, M, A, and S modes by pressing the little button with the icon that looks like a lightning bolt on the left side of the camera. Again, consult your manual for specific camera model for directions on how manually pop up the flash. Recognize that if you are far away from your subjects, the light from the pop up flash likely won’t reach your subjects.
Idea #6 – Sun
Pay attention to the position of the sun. Try to take your photos with your child backlit – facing the camera, with the sun behind your child. Shade is your friend. If you get lucky and the event has shade, take your photos in the shade. Also watch where your shadows are at, although this is hard to do as your child is running around searching for eggs. Better to get a shot with your shadow than no shot at all.
Finally, don’t forget to have fun! And if you use these tips, please let us know.