“Smile, please just smile… smile while also looking at the camera… well at me then… no not pulling that face!!”… Argh!!
If those kind of frustrating conversations with your kids sound familiar then you are in the right place!! 😀
Perhaps sometimes you do manage to get a gorgeous photograph but are not actually sure how you managed it?! And when you try and take something similar again you have no idea why it doesn’t turn out the same way!
As an award winning professional photographer who also juggles being a single mum to 3 year old triplets and an 18 month old (yes our life is every bit as crazy as you imagine), I understand how tricky yet also rewarding getting a beautiful shot can be!
If you love photography, just a quick note to let you know I also run an online photography course for Mums (and Dads) and have a massive 70% off promotion running for the next two days (ends Saturday 20 August ’16!) Just use the promo code 70OFFNOW to get your discount when you sign up! To find out more details, click here!
Even though it can be very stressful to take the camera out with your kids, it is breathtaking how fast children grow. Like hello, just stop growing already!! My little guys seriously wake up looking older just overnight sometimes!
Because they grow so fast, I am incredibly grateful to have beautiful pictures to look back on from the last three years. Can you imagine sharing all their childhood photos with them and the fun you had together when they are 18?! It’s going to be awesome!
So although it sometimes feels like a huge faff to get the camera out, being willing to learn the skills to take beautiful photos of the kids really is so worth it!
“although it sometimes feels like a huge faff to get the camera out, being able to take beautiful photos of the kids really is worth it!”
With this in mind, I have come up with 14 secrets to getting great photos of your children (with any camera, not just the big fancy ones) that should help you on your way. I hope you enjoy them and find them useful! Do let me know in the comments!!
1. Find (and Utilise) Natural Lighting
You need light to take a great picture. While you can use artificial light, there’s nothing quite like natural light for photography. That means your goal as a photographer is to find it, and get your children close to it.
If you’re indoors, look for sunlight coming in through a window or sliding door. And if you’re outside, make use of shade on hot sunny days!
Ideally, you’ll be standing between the light source and your child (unless it’s the blazing sun – do not do that, they will squint and look terrible!!). But for any other situation, standing between the light and your subject will usually cast a lovely glow on their faces.
2. Get Down to Their Level
When you are taking photos of children (who are notoriously unpredictable for actually looking at the camera!) it can be very difficult to get a nice shot if you are standing up and pointing the camera down at them. Often you won’t be able to see much of their faces, especially their eyes which is important for a nice image.
Instead, get down to your child’s level. Get on your hands and knees, or even flat out on your tummy and propped up on your elbows. Heck yes it’s undignified trying to get up again but you’ll get a gorgeous photo.
Taking a picture from these lower angles will help capture a perspective that you just can’t get from above. You’ll be looking at the world more through the eyes of your child. The difference in your shots will be huge!
3. Capture Your Child at Play
Don’t wait to snap the picture until your child is perfectly posed. You’ll be waiting all day, and the photoshoot won’t be a pleasant experience for either of you.
Rather, be prepared to take a series of impromptu shots of your children playing and talk to them while popping out from behind the camera to make eye contact with them.
“Talk to your children while popping out from behind the camera to make eye contact”
The best thing to do is to give them a little direction while playing, so you get to choose the background and then try to connect with them by asking questions and being silly while also taking photos. This is how you’ll get their genuine laughter, and find pictures that really capture your child’s personality.
4. Don’t Say Cheese!
Asking your child to look at you and say cheese or even asking them to smile pauses the natural beauty of the moment you wanted to capture. It adds pressure, and usually ends up in a not very convincing smile anyway!
The beauty of digital photography is that you don’t have to spend money developing film for pictures that didn’t turn out. That means instead of asking your child to give you a smile, you can simply take several pictures in a row and try and make them laugh while taking them. This series of shots will allow you to capture a variety of natural movements and facial expressions.
5. Have Fun with your Kids!
You don’t want your children to feel dread each time you bring out the camera. Instead, you want to take pictures when they’re relaxed and enjoying themselves so that you can all enjoy real authentic memories in your photos.
The best way to make that happen is to have fun with them. Take silly pictures, join in their games, and let having fun be the main goal of your picture taking. Your pictures will be cheeky and you’ll have less stress – and they will be more likely to want to take more photos again in future!
I loved this shot I got of Jacob and Summer holding hands while on holiday in Wales! It captures a totally genuine moment and I’m sure will be very precious to them when they are older!
6. Be Patient
Photographing kids isn’t an instantaneous event. They move around, a lot! They wiggle, run away when you call (I know this one too well!!), and hold back their genuine smiles.
Be patient and don’t try to force your shot. You’ll just end up with a bunch of fake smiles instead of the beautiful picture you were dreaming of. Try not to have your ideal picture in your mind in advance – it’s best to be flexible and just see what you manage to get otherwise you’ll end up very frustrated!
8. Don’t Try for the Perfect Shot
Perfection shouldn’t be your goal. You want to capture the heart of your children—their true selves. Perfect clothes, perfect hair, and spotless faces won’t give you much emotion.
Keep it real, and capture the love of your children. These kind of authentic shots will truly be ones you’ll cherish forever – like this super fun one of my gang in the bath! They don’t stay little for long, so capturing these kind of moments is really important. Well I hope they won’t be bathing like this when they’re 15 anyway, could be awkward!
8. Have Photo Friendly Distractions Handy
If your little one is losing interest, have one or more of these distractions handy. Not only will these items take your child’s mind off the current situation, but they’ll also add an extra layer of interest and fun to your photos:
- Their favourite teddy
- A favourite food
- Anything they can hold and do something with – like this watering can which went down really well with Sienna!
9. Let Your Child See the Pictures
As you’re taking pictures, take time to let your children see some of them. Seeing pictures of themselves on the back of the camera is really fun for kids. They’ll want you to take even more!
“Show your children the back of the camera as you take a shot”
Also take time occasionally to go through old pictures, especially if you put them in albums (seeing your photos in albums really is so special – so much nicer than just on Facebook or the computer!). Talk about the memories with your children. See what they remember about what was happening. It’s a fab way to connect as a family!
10. Capture Memories as They Happen
Being prepared is essential to capture memories. If you’re heading out to the garden for playtime, grab your camera. Even if it’s just your smart phone, you can take great shots of your kids. It can feel a pain to always take your camera and be thinking about photos, but if you don’t then so many moments will be lost and you’ll regret it after the event!
“Always bring your camera with you!”
Are you going on a holiday? Bring the camera. Let your kids experience something new and capture their joy as it happens – like this photo above when I took the children to the seaside and they paddled in the sea for the first time (we have spent the last three years screaming at the sea so this was a major milestone moment for us!).
You can’t recreate these emotions in a staged way, you have to just capture them naturally. Just remember to keep coming out from behind the camera so that you stay connected and involved in what’s happening so genuinely have your own memories from the moment too and don’t fall into the trap of just being a spectator!
11. Let Your Child Add a Costume
Dressing up adds a whole new level of fun to your pictures. Capture their current interests by having your child wear a costume for a photo shoot. Then ask them to act out their character. Capture their action shots and see what great angles you can take. You’ll end up with some really fun shots that capture the essence of childhood!
12. Experiment with Moving Around
Some shots look best when they’re captured up close. Others can look really arty if you add a bit of distance. Feel free to experiment with your camera’s zooming abilities – or zoom with your feet! Moving about can give you lots of different looks to your picture!
Take the same shot from a couple of different perspectives. Zoom in. Change your angle. You can go through later and delete any shots that just didn’t work. This experimenting will help you get a better natural feel for different types of shots.
13. Know How to Use Your Camera
Knowing how to use the settings on your camera really helps in getting great shots of your kids. Take time to read the owner’s manual, watch YouTube videos, and experiment.
“Practise lots and get to know your camera!”
Try different settings and also watch how the light changes as you move into different situations and how that affects your pictures. Take lots of pictures and learn as you go. Don’t give up—just keep trying and studying and you’ll soon notice an improvement.
14. Get Your Child Used to the Camera
If your children aren’t used to you taking pictures, they won’t act naturally for you. That means you need to pull your camera out frequently. Take pictures daily if you have the energy, or at least several times a week. I personally go mad on the weekends when I know we’ll be doing fun things together!
“Whip out your camera often!”
Your kids will get used to you having a camera. They’ll eventually not even think about it, especially if you make it a fun experience. Once they forget to pose and say cheese, that’s when you’ll capture the fabulous pictures that show them loving everyday life.
If you enjoyed this article, then I reckon you’ll absolutely love my online photography course for beginners! Photography for Mums (and Dads!) is an easy to follow, step by step course to getting great photos of your children with any camera! And for the next 72 hours I am giving a totally amazing 70% discount when you use the promo code 70OFFNOW – Don’t miss out (offer ends Saturday 20th August 2016)! Find out more here!