Of all people, parents have the biggest advantages when it comes to getting the best photographs of their children. You’re there for all those precious moments, you know the best ways to make them laugh and smile, and most of all, your child adores you and is the most comfortable in your presence. So with all those advantages on your side, why does it seem so darn hard to translate those precious moments on camera?!
Now before you throw in the towel and rush off to invest in a fancy new DSLR and lenses, let’s take a step back! After all, no matter how top of the line your new camera is, you’ll still end up with the same kind of images (just in higher resolution and a little better in image quality). Remember, photographers make photos, not cameras!
Whether you own the latest and greatest SLR or a cute little point-and-shoot, the following tips can be applied to anyone with a camera, a set of eyes, and a passion to shoot! Let’s get crackin!
1. Get Personal
Getting down to eye level with your child will allow your camera to peak into the world from your little one’s perspective. Don’t be afraid to get as close as possible to your child when shooting. This allows your camera lens to “frame” your little one closely, which avoids distracting background details.
Also, you don’t always have to make sure your child’s entire body fits in the frame. Try cropping into only their hands, their feet, portions of their face, or a close up of their eyes. You’ll be surprised at all the compelling compositions you can come up with by looking more closely!
2. Let there be Light!
One of the biggest mistakes to make when taking photos of your kiddo is using the on-camera flash. Not only can this create harsh shadows and highlights, it makes the skin of your baby appear waxy and discolored instead of soft and natural. Instead, turn off the flash and start using the world’s best light source available to you – good ol’ natural lighting!
If shooting outside, the best times to shoot are 1 hour after sunrise and 1 hour before sunset. Avoid at all costs to shoot during high noon when the sun is the strongest, which will leave you with pictures of squinty-eyed kiddies and harsh shadows and highlights on their faces. Shooting on cloudy days are an exception and can actually provide soft, beautiful light to work with. In fact, our favorite times to shoot are on days with overcast since the clouds act as a giant diffuser for the sun’s rays.
If shooting inside, choose a window that is bright but doesn’t have direct, harsh lighting pouring through. For example, a west-facing window during the morning works beautifully. If none of your windows provide soft lighting, use a sheer white curtain over your window which will diffuse the sun’s rays and give you much softer lighting for your photos.
3. Eye Candy
One of the most important rules of portrait photography is to focus on the eyes (especially when it comes to photographing children). A lot of personality and expression comes from the eyes alone, and when you focus on those pretty peepers, your photos will become that much more compelling.
We know it’s easier said than done since kids don’t seem to sit still for very long, but if you can keep at least this one golden rule in mind, you will have more success when trying to captivate the true personality of your child on camera.
4. Less is More
Study your surroundings when choosing the location to shoot and remove any type of object that might be a distraction in your picture. Solid colored walls, sofas, and bedding offer wonderful, simple backdrops to work with. Also try to keep your child in solid colored or lightly patterned clothing, minus any outfits with big distracting logos or goofy cartoons.
Sometimes a chubby naked baby in just a colorful knit hat and diapers can make for the best wardrobe! Remember- the more simple you keep the photograph, the more your child will be the focus.
5. Little People, Little Spaces
One of our favorite things to do when photographing little ones is to position them in the nooks and crannies of slightly larger objects. Not only can this be gosh darn adorable, but emphasizing the tiny scale of your child in comparison to the environment around them can make for some interesting and humorous photos!
Think dresser drawers, baskets, small suitcases, and buckets and get a little creative with the potential props around you!
Photographing children is no easy task, but with consistent practice and being mindful of the simple guidelines mentioned above, you’ll be well on your way to capturing gorgeous images of your kids!
We can certainly get into more depth with posing, types of lenses to use, technical details, and so on, so if you have any questions, we welcome you to ask away! In the meantime, grab your kids, grab your camera, and go snap happy! Cheers!