10 tips for taking better photos of your kids
Whenever I am out and about, people assume I have a magic camera that creates fantastic images no matter what. However, what I have found really useful is that there are some really simple things that you can do to improve your photos of your kids. A fancy camera is not always essential!
1. Forget the word cheese. We teach kids to make really strange smiles which don’t really capture who they are. And once they have learnt this, it can be a difficult habit to break. One way that works for me to capture kids’ unique personalities, is to chat to them and not make a big deal out of the fact that I am taking their photo. Never ask them to freeze! You want to be quick and capture what’s happening in front of you, without the cheese. You can definitely tell when the spark and emotion of a big proper grin shows through in someone’s eyes, as opposed to a grin that is forced or instructed. Instead, why not say something that will make your subject laugh?
2. Turn off your flash. The deer in the headlights look is not something which anyone aspires to. My basic rule of thumb is that if you can see your subject, the camera can see them too (within certain limits of course!). If possible, I would suggest trying to steer your subject towards a window rather than using artificial light. Get into the habit of opening the curtains up during the day so natural light can stream into your home.
3. Pay attention to what’s in the background. One of the most impactful (and easy!) tools is carefully selecting exactly what you would like your viewers to see in camera. Once you have removed distractions from your images, like the overfull laundry basket, you definitely will see a massive improvement in the images which you are taking. This doesn’t mean you have to tidy up every time you take photos, but its more about being aware of what’s in the background, while you are taking photos.
4. Allow for freedom of movement. I leant very early on during my adventures as a family portrait photographer that young kids do not want to sit down for more than a few minutes, especially when we are out and about somewhere fun. So if you can’t beat em, join ’em. I make sure when I am photographing kids that I am wearing comfy shoes, and I am ready to run with them if need be!
5. Engage with them. Play! I encourage imagination and interaction during my sessions. Ask them about Spiderman, whats the latest scoop on Elsa? We sing songs, play hopscotch (yup, I’m old school) and look for fairies at the bottom of the garden.
6. Look for sparkly eyes. When you are indoors, face them towards your light source (such as the window or even the sky). With a bit of practice you’ll be able to see those catch lights brightening up their baby blues. No catch lights = dead eyes. If you are struggling to find a good light source, try using a teeny tiny bit of fill flash to introduce some reflected light.
7. Get down to your little ones’ eye level. Rather than always taking photos from your own perspective all the time, get down to your child’s eye level. See how they see the world. You will be amazed at what a change in perspective will do to alter your images, making them a lot more interesting.
8. Time of day is key. Let’s talk about racoon eyes. As much as it’s lovely to be out in the sunshine when it pokes out in the UK, the harsh midday sun is not your photo friend. Try taking photos in the early morning or late afternoon, when the light is best for portraits. If you can’t avoid taking photos at midday, look for open shade, like in the shadow of a big tree, or next to a building. This is where the soft beautiful light hangs out, trust me you want to be there.
9. Keep your camera to hand. The best camera is the one you have with you. (Thanks Chase Jarvis!) Fancy DSLR or just your iPhone, if you don’t have it to hand when the action starts, the moment is gone.
10. Get in on the action. And finally, put the camera down and get involved! Why not try using that ol’ self timer on your camera, or a remote trigger to make sure you have a least a few photos of all of you together (did someone say selfie?). You will be glad you did. I would also suggest that you consider arranging a date with a professional photographer too. Even if it’s once a year, or every other year, they will be able to capture your whole family together in an authentic and beautiful way.