If you are like most people, when you have your first child you take a lot of photos. And I mean a LOT.
You may, or may not, print them out, but you certainly record their every move and milestone until they cease to take any notice of you doing it anymore.
In fact they start to roll their eyes at you every time you pull out the camera.
By the time you get to your third or fourth child you can’t even find your camera, let alone take any photos of your offspring. It’s just the way it is. Life gets busy and before you know it they’re borrowing your car and choosing your retirement home.
I write and take photos for a magazine, so I’m lucky, my camera is out and with me all the time. It’s become a habit to snap away every day, both for the magazine and for my blog. Somewhere in amongst the mix of my work photos there are pictures of my kids. And it’s probably because of this that I get more of the candid photos that really shine, the ones that really show their true personalities.
If you keep your camera in a drawer somewhere, and have to think about the times that you are going to bring it out, such as for a special event, then you are going to end up with a lot of posed photos and months of missed growth spurts and changes in your kids.
Here are my top tips for taking great photos of your kids:
Keep your camera handy
The key to taking photos of your kids is to always keep your camera handy.
With the convenience of digital cameras nowadays it doesn’t matter if you take lots of photos, you won’t be wasting any film, you can just hit delete. You don’t need a fancy big DSLR either.
The smaller compact cameras work just as well, and even your smartphone can take great quality shots.
Leave your camera in a spot where it is easy to grab at a moments notice; you never know when the perfect photographic opportunity might present itself.
When taking photos of children patience is important.
If you’re aiming for a natural shot of your kids you should give them something to do that makes them happy, whether it be drawing or painting or playing in the sandpit. Perhaps you want to have shots of them playing in the garden? Autumn can be a fantastic time for that. Find some pretty colour Autumn leaves, make a pile and let your children go nuts.
Instantly you have some dynamic, natural photos with real smiles, real personality and your kids will have a great time.
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Sometimes we really do want a posed shot. One where we pile our kids up in a mound of sorts and have them all smiling at the camera. These shots are fine, although keep in mind that with younger children they can be really difficult to get.
Kids have virtually no patience, which I’m sure you are aware, and will have trouble sitting still, there’s no two ways about it.
By all means, set up your children but my advice is to get in fast and take the photos as quickly as you can.
It is also a good idea to get as many shots as possible while they are still cooperating because without a doubt you are going to look through those photos later and find that only two out of the fifty you took have ALL the children looking the same way and NOT pulling some sort of ridiculous face.
Think about what is behind your kids before you take the shot. Is it really busy? Is there a rubbish bin? Does the wall clash with the pattern in their shirt?
These might seem like little things but thinking about the whole picture, instead of just the subject of your shot, can help you take a better photo.
If you are going to have your children in a shot together you might want to think about what they are wearing. Matching colours can be a bit obvious, but having them in neutral colours, or similar shades can be nice. Complimentary colours works well and plain colours rather than patterns will be less eye catching.
Rule number one, don’t shoot into the sun. Rule number two, sometimes you can break rule number one.
What I’m trying to say is be mindful of your lighting. To avoid sun glare don’t take a photo of someone with the light directly behind him or her.
You can, however, take some fantastic photos of your child’s silhouette, or the light shining through their hair if you do have the light behind them, so think creatively.
The best lighting is either early morning or early evening, so if possible go out and take your photos during what photographers often call the ‘magic hour’.
The light is warmer in tone and is infinitely more flattering. If you do shoot during the middle of the day when the light is harsher have your child stand/sit/lie in the shade.
Get down to their level
Make sure that you drop down to your knees, squat or even lie down on your stomach to take photos of your kids. You don’t want to have a great collection of photos where your camera angle is always looking down on them.
You will miss all sorts of great moments, like facial expressions as they are concentrating on their game, and a photo taken seeing life from their point of view will open up a whole new world of beautiful moments.
Hope this has inspired you to dust off the camera and take some wonderful photos of your kids.