Many moms ask me, “How can I take better photos of my kids at home?” Although hiring a professional photographer will give you the best results to capturing key points in your child’s life, kids are constantly doing photo worthy things that you need to be able to take great pictures of them at home as well. With these tips, you can learn to take better photographs of your children in their everyday environment. While a fancy dslr camera may help in certain situations, most of what I do to create beautiful images of your children, families and babies includes some simple techniques that you can implement at home when taking your own photographs.
1. Get on their level- While photographing your child from your height can be cute at times, most great portraits require getting down on the floor and photographing at your child’s eye level. This will allow you to get more eye contact, interact with your child more easily, and avoid the dreaded “balloon head” that comes with shooting your kids from above. Let’s face it, our kids heads are big in proportion to their bodies already so they don’t need any help in that department. Try to avoid angles that accentuate those over-sized melons (although like every rule in photography, this one is made to be broken sometimes).
2. Use even, diffused lighting- Even when using natural lighting, you still have control over what kind of light you choose to photograph with. The sun is an amazing light source that can be controlled in many ways, you just have to know how to utilize your surroundings. Try to find an open shaded area if the sunlight is harsh and making harsh shadows on your child’s face. The shade from a building or a thick foliaged tree can provide nice, even shade but avoid shade that is spotty. Try taking pictures when the sun is diffused behind a cloud or even better use the early morning hours or late evening hours (around sunrise and sunset are best) to get that nice golden glow. 10 am to 2 pm are the most difficult times of day to photograph in the sun and will require more skill and expertise to manipulate the light.
3. Let your child go wild- Candid photos can be some of the best, most memorable photographs you have of your children. Most moms are so concerned with having their kid look at the camera that the child becomes either irritated or flashes a big cheesy smile. Allow your child to play with his/her favorite toy, dance around, or even play dress-up while you take photographs from a distance.
4. Be mindful of the background- Paying careful attention to the background of your images can make a world of difference. Distracting objects, dark or bright shapes, irritating colors and unattractive things like cars, trash cans, or busy patterns can take away from a good portrait. Sometimes, all that is required is choosing a slightly different angle to eliminate background intrusions.
5. Keep them still- You might say, “How do you do that? My child is crazy!” Giving a child a stationary object to focus on or limit their movement. Placing your child in a swing or on a slide can help make your child’s movement predictable. Keeping them in a small play area or letting them slide down the slide while you wait at the bottom for a photo is a great way to get a good candid smile and you always know which way they will be facing.
Remember to have fun and relax with your kids. Children will learn to love the camera and have their photograph taken if you make it fun for them. Instead of bribing your child with candy for smiling at the camera, make the activity itself the reward. Show them the picture on the back of your camera and let them see how great they look!