TWiP Family 65: Questions about Blinking Children and Metering for Portraits

This week it’s a question and answer episode. We talk about what to do about children blinking in photos and metering for portraits.

The first question is from Florian. He asks what to do about his “photographic kryptonite.” When he takes photos of his friends and family, they are very often blinking. Is there something he can do about this? We talk about some things he can try. Maybe slowing down will help? Alternatively, maybe it will help to speed up and use burst mode. Florian is doing a 365 Project and sharing photos in the TWiP Family 365 group on Flickr. I ask him about how his project is going for him.

The second question is from my sister, Maureen. She is also doing a 365 Project this year. Recently, we were working on our photos for the day together. Maureen was taking photos of my niece and we were talking about metering for portraits. What metering mode should she use to get a good exposure outside. To get me to answer her, she had to ask her question for this episode. Of course, I also asked her about her 365 Project too.

Find Jenny on Flickr, Instagram, Facebook

I’m doing a daily photo project. You can see my project and the 365 projects of other TWiP Family listeners in the TWiP Family 365 Project 2016 group on Flickr. It’s not too late to start a project. Join us.

Thank you to Marcin for this week’s intro. I’d love to hear your voice on the show. Record an intro and send it my way.

Do you have a family photography question? A guest suggestion or topic you’d like to hear about on this family photography podcast? Use the Contact Us button to send me an email. Contact me on the TWiP Family Facebook page and  join the TWiP Family Facebook group.


  1. When shooting a group of people, statistic plays against you.
    Let’s assume the chance of a person to blink, yawn, or looking otherwise bad is 20%.
    Shooting a family of 4, you’ve got a 41% chance of a good shot. Add granpa and gramma and you’re down to 26%.
    I usually keep my camera in slow drive mode, and take as many shots as there are heads in the viewfinder, as insurance.

    Mobile phones are out-innovating cameras on several aspects: my phone has a “group photo” mode that takes a photo only when everybody’s eyes are open. Let’s see which mirrorless camera gets it first.

  2. I think it was Florian who mentioned that his dad said that years ago everything was very hard work, but that people were not stressed. I would like to add that the word “stress” barely existed. I am over 60, and worked hard on the farm while growing up, lived in an uninsulated house heated by an old coal furnace, no air conditioning, etc. Lots of hardship, but never recall hearing the word “stress” in conversation.

  3. Hi Ann,

    Thanks for your comment. I thought about Florian’s comment too. I like hearing your perspective – that you don’t remember hearing the word “stress.” Words have power! I wonder if we invite stress by talking about it so much. Do you remember people talk about being busy all the time?


  4. Hi Jenny, It was a different kind of “busy” than what we think of today. On the farm anyway, people got up very early and worked hard, but, as a rule, they were done at the end of the day. In the summer our parents spent most evenings just sitting on those metal lawn chairs in the yard talking or reading the paper while we played in the yard. We had a very basic metal swingset and spent many evenings just sitting on the swings (in the country the newspaper was delivered the next day after it was printed…our family didn’t subscribe to it, but our grandparents who lived across the field got the paper, so we got it when they were done with it…so the news was a bit outdated by then!) Stuff like that kind of forced a person to slow down..there was not information-overload bombarding us and sending us in all directions. No one had to log on after the kids went to bed and work for a few more hours. You could kind of enjoy the moment…all of the social media today has robbed us of living in our moments. Also, back then, I don’t think that people craved as many material things as they do today. The ownership of so much “stuff” definitely causes stress today. Even with my own kids who were born in the 70s and 80s…life was so much slower than it is today. And my kids for sure did not have the incredible amount of toys or activities that my grandchildren have!

    I don’t mean to say that things were ideal all those years ago, but increased earning power comes at a cost…and the things that are now affordable are hardly enjoyed due to the frenzy of life and the endless job demands that consume evenings and weekends sometimes. And, I would be the first to admit that I love technology and it has made our lives easier in a lot of ways. But, there is no doubt that it has changed us! I was 10 years old before our house got a telephone….or a TV…which only got one channel, but we LOVED it!

  5. Ann. Thank you for writing this. I read it to my husband and it made us both smile. It’s great to hear your perspective. – Jenny

  6. That would mean, that only 41% of the time, the mobile phone camera takes a picture, when you click the shutter-release button 😉

    Anyway, I know that some wedding photographers actually photoshop group shots using several individual shots, so that, in the final one, everyone has their eyes open and smiles.

    In those cases I would actually think about shooting a movie. 5k is possible on some cameras, which should, without having done the math, work for most print-sizes… Anyway, with a movie-file you have more than enough individual frames to choose from to use for the final image

  7. I was struck by this observation as well, and I think a lot of it is due to many people these days not being able to “leave work at work” – ie there’s no hard stop to your day. Emails and calls still come in, you may need to put in some time after the kids are in bed, etc. Projects last over weeks or months, and as soon as one ends, you get another one without a break. IE, you’ll never feel like you *finished* anything.