In my experience, photographing children is always a bit of a challenge. Kids have their own way of doing things. When photographing children’s portraits I have had anything from ‘the posers’ to ‘ the wall flowers’ and everything in between.
One of the first questions people ask me is - What camera should I use?
In my opinion the best camera to use is the one you have with you. Since you pretty much carry your Smartphone with you at all time, I would say that this is the best camera to use to capture stunning shots of your children doing what they do best ‘being children’. Unlike large DSLR cameras, Smartphone’s are compact, light and unobtrusive. They are less likely to startle children or make them stop to ‘pose’ or give a ‘cheesy’ grin so you can create more natural photographs.
Below are a few tips to help you to capture some wonderful photographs of your children.
No one knows your children better than you, so play on your relationship and create genuine smiles, laughter, giggles, joy, puzzlement, embarrassment and any other emotion you can think of. As a parent you will never be short on opportunities to capture real emotion in your photographs.
Being unobtrusive, patient and trying to predict what is going to happen will transform your photographs from posed ‘cheesy snapshots’ to genuine ‘captured moments’.
If you are looking to tell a story with your photographs then try to capture the relationship between people. This is especially effective with siblings, parents and grandparents. Capturing the love between a parent and child, grandparent and grandchild or siblings is a wonderful way of creating truly stunning photographs of your family. I know this is easier said than done, but give it a try – you’ll be amazed at what you can create just by being patient.
Take a look at the photographs you currently have on your phone or camera. You will probably find, like most of us, that nearly all of them are taken from your eye level. This is ok for certain situations, but not for photographing people especially children.
It’s time to change your outlook on life, get the low down. This is one of the best ways of creating more intimate and compelling photographs of your children. Get down to their level, see the world from their perspective and capture it. Try taking photographs from their eye level rather than yours, you will see a big difference in the images you capture.
If your kids are anything like mine they can rarely stand still for more than a few seconds before they are off onto their next adventure. Children move, it’s what they do and let’s face it we wouldn’t have it any other way – how else would they expel all that energy so that they sleep well at night..!!!
So don’t stop your children from being themselves. Let them move around and capture that movement. It makes for some wonderful photographs. I don’t mean that you should be chasing around after them with your phone at the ready, what I mean is don’t say ‘Stand still and say cheese’ – Instead capture what is going on, the activity they are involved in and you will find that your photographs tell a completely different story.
The essence of photography is to capture light. This sounds a little pretentious, but that’s exactly what it is. The gadget in your hand only captures the light reflected off whatever it is pointed at.
What is good light and what is bad light. Well as we are talking about portrait photography (photographs of people, children etc) the best light you can look for is what is called soft or diffused light. Might sound a little complicated but it’s really quite simple.
As a general rule bright sunshine or a single light is not a good light source to produce pleasing photographs of people (although it can be manipulated to create stunning shots). When you are photographing your children try to look for a softer light, if you are outdoors then the best ‘diffuser’ are clouds. Try not to take portraits in direct sunlight, this creates harsh shadows across the face and people often end up looking like The Phantom of the Opera (Google search images..!). Finding a shaded area will have softer light and eliminate these harsh shadows.
If you have to take photographs in direct sunlight then add your flash (sometimes known as fill in flash), this helps to soften the shadows or you could take your photographs early in the morning or late in the evening when the sun is lower in the sky.
If you are indoors then a large window (again with no direct sunlight) can work really well, especially if the window has a voile. This can ‘diffuse’ the light and make it softer, therefore eliminating harsh shadows and creating a much more beautiful portrait
Without the expensive DSLR cameras and lenses it is sometimes very difficult to get that lovely ‘blur’ in the background of photographs. We have all taken photographs where the subject (in this case your children) look fantastic, but there is something else in the frame that distracts us from the main subject.
When taking photographs of your children you need to be mindful of the background and choose it carefully. Try to pick a plain background wherever possible, not easy I know especially if they are running around in the park for instance. Again getting down low is a good way of creating a plain background. The sky is a great source of backgrounds, when you focus your camera on your child the sky will normally be too bright for your camera and will therefore appear to be white or at least a lot brighter than it actually is – this helps to focus the attention on the subject. You can also keep a look out for natural scenery a plain wall or hedge for instance – just be sure that there is nothing ‘growing out of their heads’.
Try not to get bogged down with the idea of capturing the perfect photograph. Your subjects are your children, so the best advice I could give you is to enjoy them and your photography. You will probably find that the best shots you take will be when you least expect it..!!