We all want precious photos of our children. Luckily, most of us have great cameras on our cellphones which help make it easy and convenient to always have a camera nearby. However, we all know that just pointing and shooting a camera does not always yield the best results. As a photographer – my main goal is to connect with my subject. If you are photographing your own children you have a head start. But here are some pointers to take your skills up a level.
1. Get down to the child’s level. Pictures are fine from adult height. But switching up the angles and getting low and close can add a lot of interest to your photos. Get eye to eye with your subject and see what happens.
2. Be aware of the light and where it is coming from. I like to shoot with the light either behind me or over my shoulder. I don’t want the light shining right into my subject’s eyes and making them squint – but I do want to see that sparkle that can make a picture feel magical. Once you have caught the light in someone’s eyes, you can really draw the viewer into the photo.
3. Focus on the eyes. The eyes are the window to the soul and also the heart of every photograph. Tip one and 2 are leading you that way – but never lose track of your subject’s eyes and making the eyes the focal point.
4. Avoid harsh light. If it is a gorgeous sunny day – it is instinctual to want to shoot in direct sunlight. Fight that instinct. First of all , the light at sun-up or sun-down is much more flattering than harsh midday sun. If you are shooting in midday – look for a covered area. Be careful if you are standing under a tree – the leaves can throw horrible shadows.
5. DONT SAY CHEESE! Do whatever it takes to get your subject to smile – but do not say, “say cheese.” Play, make funny noises, tell a joke. If you tell your subject to smile, you will end up with a series of fake, uncomfortable smiles. Use any silly method possible and make it fun!
6. Take a gazillion photos and don’t try to edit and look at them while you taking them. You risk losing the moment. Take a lot and look later on. On the flip side – don’t just keep pushing the button. Take your time, see what is happening in the background and around you, change angles, try moving around.
7. Don’t try to force it. Every time I go into photo shoot with a plan in mind – it falls apart but I still get great photos. Sometime you have to go with the flow and follow your subject’s lead. It will be unpredictable but fun and you will learn new things. What good is a perfect portrait anyway?? You want a fun slice of life.
8. Try to avoid flash. Even if you are inside, you can get a good photo without a flash. Unless you are really good at flash photography, which is an art unto itself, try to avoid it and maximize the natural light. Get close to a window and experiment.
9. Timing is important. Don’t try to force a session when your child is tired or hungry. You will all end up frustrated and unhappy. Take your time. Plan a photo session for when everyone is relaxed, fed, and rested.
10. Have fun. If you aren’t having fun, your subject won’t have fun. Take it easy and you will end up with some amazing photos!
And bonus tip 11 – if you master all of that – try not to cut off fingers and toes in the photos! Remember to use your entire picture and get close, but be aware of where the hands and feet are. Better to crop it out later than have an odd missing limb 🙂