How to take better photographs of your children
Ever heard the saying “Never work with kids or animals?!”. This is something that is said to me on a frequent basis by my clients, however, it’s the genre I love to photograph the most. I’m often praised for my patience on my shoots and that patience pays off when getting the best out of your children.
Kids sometimes need a bit of time to get used to me and the camera, and what I’ve learnt from experience is making them sit down in front of a backdrop and telling them to smile, just does not work – you end up with cheesy grins, tears and grumpy faces and in turn stressed out parents. Once they are able to crawl and walk, they naturally want to explore the environment around them and that’s why I suggest outdoor shoots. The opportunity is endless and you get much more natural and happy photographs of them that you will treasure.
Below I am going to share with you a few tips that will help you take better photographs of your own children. Whether you have an SLR, a basic point and shoot camera or prefer to use your mobile phone.
How to get your kids to look natural and not posed
So you spot your child in the perfect moment, laughing and playing in a beautiful setting. You grab your camera, but then… they see the camera and stiffen up or start posing and the moment is lost. What do you do?
The single most important thing to do, is photograph them often so it doesn’t become a big deal. Consistency is key and they will become much more comfortable.
- Let them play, don’t worry about them getting messy
- Play a game, dance, let them run around
- Pose them in a way that will engage them not bore them, give them something to hold or play with
- Let them be themselves
- DON’T tell them to sit and smile
The types of clothes that work best
Kids’ clothes are designed to grab your attention with bright colours, cartoon characters and writing all over them. The key here is not to dress them in something that’s distracting from the environment they are in. Keep things simple as clothing can take the attention away from your child in the photograph. Try to follow a simple rule, that the clothes they wear shouldn’t take the attention away from what’s happening in the photo, white t-shirts and bare skin work well.
Finding the best light
For indoor photographs use window light rather than flash. Flash can be very harsh without the correct lighting modifiers and you can end up with blown out highlights and horrible shadows, so turn flash off. What I would recommend is using window light, it is soft directional light and is much more flattering than flash. Look at how the light falls onto your child’s face, what you want is a nice little shadow underneath the nose, also look for catch lights in their eyes from the window, this will bring their eyes to life.
If you are taking photographs outdoors, the best time of day is early morning or evening. The midday sun is not flattering on anyone and can be especially harsh on your child’s perfect skin. If you do find yourself outdoors in the midday sun and have the perfect opportunity to take a photograph, try to find a bit of shade.
How to best capture kids of different ages
I adore photographing newborn babies, they are so fresh and new and small only for a short time. As a parent you will know the best time to photograph your newborn baby as you are around them 24 hours a day. You will know when they sleep or when they are awake and most content, so let your parenting instincts take over to help you choose the right moment.
The Golden Age: 2-4
I have photographed many children in this age range and one thing I will say is children around this age behave very naturally. They don’t care what someone thinks and they don’t care about the camera as they aren’t yet self-aware, in my opinion this is the age where they are most photogenic. So let them play, let them explore and let them have fun.
Ages 5 and above
Once they get a bit older it gets more difficult, they can become more self-conscious at this age and therefore more difficult to photograph. But don’t despair, the key here is to be patient, let them play whilst you disappear into the background, they will forget about the camera and once they do this is your opportunity to photograph them.
How to get good photos of your kids with pets
Just like children, pets can be difficult to photograph. One thing I would say is don’t give them treats, you end up with photographs of them chewing or licking their paws, which doesn’t look nice. You have to rely on a bit of luck and patience with pets. The best thing to do is keep snapping away whilst your children play with your pet.
Don’t give up
It’s easy to get frustrated and give up however, try not to. Your kids will sense this from you and won’t want to participate anymore. Don’t make it a big deal, just enjoy it and take lots of photographs. The good thing is we all have our mobile phones on us all the time these days, and to be fair the cameras on them are pretty good. So if you see an opportunity, get your phone out and take some photographs and most importantly, enjoy every moment. Kids are only kids for a short time.
I’d love to see some of your own images – please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org to feature on the blog.