Photographing Children Tips
One of my passions is photography. When I look through a camera, I can see the finished portrait in my head. I love the composition and framing aspect, but mostly I love photographing children and people. As a Mom myself, I know how important it is to capture and preserve as many memories and special moments of our kids that we can!
As a photographer, I often get asked on tips for taking pictures of kids. I have put together some tips and suggestions on taking some great photographs of your kids, and even teens! Capturing memories as pictures is a priceless gift. I know I’m not the only one that looks back at the pictures when my son was so little-I cherish those photographs. Life goes by so fast! Having pictures to look back on, helps us remember moments of our journey along the way.
Try getting down low so you are eye to eye with the child you are photographing. Take pictures of them as they crawl, walk, or even climb! The perspective of “being in their world” makes a great photo! You may even find yourself laying down to get the best shot. This method is also less intimidating to a child, and can put them at ease while you are trying to take their picture. Try it and see what a difference it makes.
Keep the Camera Going
Don’t just settle for one shot. Even if you are getting expression you want, keep the camera firing! More times than not, after shooting 10 or so frames in a row, you are bound to get some super cute photos. Plus if you haven’t captured that perfect smile, letting the kids be silly usually pays off with a great photo in the end! Sure, they may all not be perfect, but they can showcase a lot of personality! The above pics are of my nephew Logan. He is hilarious, as you can tell by all of his expressions!
Saying “Cheese” is So Yesterday
Gone are the days of saying “cheese” and magically getting the perfect shot. When my son started to understand that saying “cheese” meant I was taking a photo, he would grit his teeth together and give me that fake smile. Sometimes NOT looking at the camera creates a wonderful image.
- For toddlers, interacting with them will give you the best results. Talk to them, play peek-a-boo, act silly. The more comfortable they feel, the better pictures you will get. Follow them in their environment, watch and see what they do, and how they act-then capture it as a photograph.
- For school aged kids, some of the above holds true. Interacting with them will put them at ease and they won’t feel the need to “perform a smile.” Ask them about their favorite toys, favorite book or tv character, etc. One thing I always use is getting them to say “Mom or Dad have stinky feet.” Then I play off of their response. Most of the time, I get a great natural smile and even a laugh. If they are a little bit older, let them take the lead and listen to their suggestions for posing. It’s just about listening to them, playing with them and having fun!
- For older kids like tweens and teens, making them comfortable is key. They are going to know that you want a good picture and will likely try the fake smile ploy first. Simplicity is really key and making them feel comfortable is important. If they can’t seem to swap out the fake smile for a natural one, ask them to give you a little laugh. It usually breaks the forced smile and gives you the natural smile you are hoping to get. Less is more with this age group. The pictures above are my friend’s two daughters, my nieces and my son.
Harsh light from an on-camera flash can produce red-eye and often put out a very unflattering look. Whenever possible turn off your flash, and use natural light. Open up the curtains, or go outdoors to get the best results. Photographing under a canopy, an awning or even under a tree will produce natural light without the harshness of the sun or a flash. If you have an off-camera flash and are taking photographs inside, tilt the flash head up before you take a photo. Bouncing the light will create a much softer look, while still giving off enough light for a great photo. The above photos are two of my beautiful nieces.
Candid Pictures are Priceless
As a photographer, I take my fair share of “posed photographs.” However there is something special about candid photos. They capture an experience, a personality, a laugh, a cry, or an expression in a way that posed photos can’t. For example, photographing your child quietly playing or interacting with a sibling when they are unaware of the camera produce priceless photographs. For the teens I wanted something different, so I caught them sitting on the homemade swing in the side yard after swimming. I’m sure they will love me for that one!
Try looking at the view from behind. Sometimes there is a story there all on it’s own. I find this type of photo very unique. I strive to find more opportunities like this one. Try looking at things differently to capture that unique photograph. The above pic is my niece at a school performance. It was very difficult to get in front of her for a pic, so I moved to where I could get his shot-priceless! The other photograph is my son’s first time sledding!
I have taken a lot of awesome pictures of my son, when we were out on errands, out a local park, taking a walk, or even just over at my parents house. You never know when a great photo opportunity will present itself. This is where having a camera on our cell phones come in handy-as long as you are happy with the quality they produce. The bottom line is, bring your camera with you when you venture out. Two of the above photos are my friend’s daughter on the day we took her school shopping for the very first time. The other is my son about five years ago. He was just playing at the park and happened to look through the hole in the wood at me.
Little hands and feet are sometimes overlooked! As you other Moms know, these tiny features are gone too soon. Don’t forget to zoom in and capture these moments before they are all grown up!
When most people photography, our first thought is to frame the subject right smack dab in the middle of the picture. We don’t realize that this isn’t the only way-in fact it can get pretty boring and your pictures start to look the same. Try framing you subject slightly off center, or photography your child in action like running, swimming, etc. Try to turn you camera both horizontal and vertically. Experiment with tipping your camera slightly before you take the photo. We mentioned getting down to their level above, but you can also try getting high above them and shooting down. In some situations, it makes for a cool photo! Those are my nieces and nephews showing off in the above photos.
When you are composing and focusing your photo, make sure and focus on the eyes. They should always be in focus. If you are shooting on a slight angle you should focus on the eye that is closer to the camera. Try zooming in close and capturing the eyes of your child-the photos are remarkable! The above shot is my son making one of his wacky faces and then drinking hot cocoa after a cold day of sledding. Loving the eyes!
Don’t Forget You
We often are so focused on getting great photographs of the kiddos that we forget about ourselves. I am so guilty of this. If you’re like me, my excuses range from, “My hair and make-up isn’t done” to “don’t focus on me, get the kids in the picture.” Take pictures of your better half, your parents, friends that are sharing the play date with you and most of all-give the camera to someone else and have them photograph YOU! No matter how we think we look or don’t look, our kids see us in a different way than we see ourselves. They will want to look back and see how much fun we were having with them when they were kids. Above are photographs of just a few of the very important people in my life. I dedicate this article to them-all of the Moms, Dads, Grandmas, Grandpas, Friends, Aunts, Uncles, etc that have always been present in my life and now in my son’s life. Oh, and yes I am in the above pics too-bad hair days and all!
So What Kind of Camera Do I Really Need?
Let me first tell you that you don’t need fancy, expensive equipment to get great pictures. Sure a “good camera.” is required, but most of us have better cameras on our phones then some of the point and shoot cameras out there on the market. While having an expensive camera can surely increase your options and some can give you higher quality photographs, you can surely take great pictures without investing a huge chunk of money into a camera. In the end, the choice is yours. Below are a few cameras that I recommend from a couple different price points. For the average family, I would recommend one of the entry level DSLR cameras.
Point and Shoot Cameras Under $200.00-In this price range you are going to be getting a typical point and shoot camera. These types of cameras perform best outdoors, or in well lit situations. Most of them will have a built in flash, so shooting indoors is still possible. These type of cameras are not as good for action shots, or moving subjects indoors.
- Canon PowerShot SX280 12MP Digital Camera (Point and Shoot)
- Samsung WB250F 14.2MP CMOS Smart WiFi Digital Camera
Entry Level DSLR-Under $500-DSLR cameras produce high quality images due to the large image sensors they have. You also have the option of purchasing interchangeable lenses, which really opens up a world of possibilities for the kind of photography you can shoot. You can choose from wide angle, fisheye, zoom, etc. Plus DSLR cameras really show off in low light situations due to their large image sensors, which also produce significantly less noise than a point and shoot camera.
In the end, I hope you all take lots and lots of pictures! Capture those memories and preserve them forever. Don’t worry so much about getting the perfect shot 100% of the time-just keep on taking pictures and have fun!