With Summer here and all the fun family days ahead, I have put together 8 tips to help you take better photos of your kids mama!
I tried to keep it simple without getting too technical and confuse you with your camera settings; so if all you want is taking better portraits of your kids and are not interested in learning the settings of your camera, then ignore anything below that talks about aperture, ISO or shutter speed; and use the automatic modes in your camera. For the more enthusiasts, I have included a pinch of technicality so you can start having a better understanding of your camera. Most of all, these tips are to help you feel more confident and get better images.
1. Let them be themselves.
This is probably one of the most important tip. Too often parents try to pose their kids and ask them to smile to the camera. As much as this is fine to do sometimes, if you are after a portrait of your child that will melt your heart, this type of shots will most probably not do it. My advice is simple: to capture their spirit and personalities, you need to let them be themselves. Take a step back, put your camera settings on wide aperture to get a nice blurry background (so that your little one is the centre of attention), observe them playing or exploring their environment and shoot away.
2. Be quick.
This is not news: kids are moving fast and don’t stay still for too long, so you need to be quick. To freeze a movement or action you will need to use a fast shutter speed, so increase your ISO to make sure you can reach it. It is also best to use the continuous or burst mode; which allows you to take several photos in quick succession. If you are not interested in learning the settings of your camera, keep on taking advantage of your camera’s automatic modes: most of them will have a sport or action mode, which will allow you to take better images at sport events, or in the playground. Another advice to be quick: if you feel a moment is about to happen, don’t put your camera down!
3. Avoid harsh lighting.
A common thought is that a sunny day is a perfect day for pictures. Well, it is not always the case. When the sun is very bright, it can leave harsh and unflattering shadows on your child’s face. To avoid these, move to a shaded area, under a tree for example. A softer light will make for a more flattering portrait. Window lighting is usually great for portraits, so take your kids near a window and take their portrait there. Again, this can be a pose & smile portrait if you want to, or simply take some toys near the window and let them play. Taking photographs indoors can be tricky due to the low light, so try to increase your ISO.
4. Focus on the eyes.
“The eyes are the windows to the soul.” This tip is pretty straightforward: focus on the eyes, and if they are not on the same plane, focus on the one closest to the camera. It will make for more powerful portraits.
5. Keep a clean background.
Another pretty straightforward tip: to keep the focus on your kids and give a more timeless and professional look to your photos, keep the background clean and simple. Use a wide aperture to get a blurry background, which will help keeping the focus on your child.
6. Get down to their level.
This tip will help improve your photos almost immediately. Often, parents will take pictures of their kids from their own adult’s level. Kneel down to their level and engage with them. By getting down to your child’s level, it will allow them to connect with the camera, and the viewer to get a glimpse of their world, the way they see it.
7. Get close.
Another tip that will improve your composition almost straight away: take close-ups. Too often, parents will take all the photos of their kids the same way: head to toes. Try to diversify your images by getting close and fill the frame with their beautiful faces or tiny details. These images will be a fantastic addition to all the full-length portraits you have of them.
8. Try different angles.
Not all photos need to be a smiley one with your kids facing the camera: diversify your collection of images by trying different angles: above, eye level or down. Get down to the ground, take the shot over their shoulders, climb (carefully) to get a shot from above; or even from behind while they are busy doing something. Also, try to capture candid portraits of them playing, drawing, dancing etc. These make great memories of who they were during their childhood.
The last advice I will give you today is for you to relax, smile & have fun with it! Don’t stress out or overthink it. Follow their lead, don’t force anything and your photos will most likely improve immediately.
I hope you enjoyed reading these tips and that they will be helpful next time you take your child’s portraits, feeling more confident and relaxed, and getting a better result.