I am so thankful that the Lord has gifted me with a love and passion for photography. It is sort of wacky because I often see things through the lens of a camera when I'm looking at an object, or landscape, or person. It is truly special to be a part of such tender and important moments in people's lives. I am often asked about tips on taking pictures of people.....namely children.
This is a pretty important thing that we as parents do in order to document our children's lives. Aside from all of the everyday snapshots, it is very easy to turn these moments into a photo session without your children even knowing it and walking away with amazing pictures that YOU took. I have had my fair share of taking pictures of kiddos. It is always interesting, never dull, and full of laughter.
Here are a few tips (some technical, some not-so-much) that I use to help you capture those special, fun, sweet, and hilarious moments.
1. Give them something to do.
It never ceases to amaze me that once a child clues in on the fact that the camera is watching them, they turn into a totally different creature.....some become weird, some become possessed, some become silent, some become angry.
Instead of making them sit perfectly still and silent beaming into the lens of your camera, give them a task. Tell them to touch a flower, blow bubbles, blow kisses, play peekaboo, hold hands with a sibling, etc. You almost have to coach them along the process and keep their little minds and hands occupied. I have taken some of the best pictures of children just playing on the playground. By doing something that keeps them occupied that they love doing, you will keep them focused on something other than the camera.
2. Catch them when they are the happiest.
Don't try to take pictures right before they are supposed to take their nap or if they are hungry. This makes for a complete disaster and lots of spankings!
There is one exception to the rule- newborns. I love taking pictures of newborns when they are sleeping!
3. The time of day is critical to taking good pictures.
I never do a photo shoot unless it is in the evening 1-2 hours before sunset. This is the optimal lighting situation for your pictures. Your pictures will have a rich color and good contrasts if you wait until the sun is lower.
If you attempt to take pictures in the broad daylight, chances are your children will have squinty eyes and lots of shadows all over the place. The colors of the pictures will be blown out and way over-exposed.
If the day is overcast with lots of clouds, you can take pictures any time. Clouds are our friends.
4. Invest in a really good, really fast camera.
If you are in the market for a good camera, invest in a camera that will allow you to capture moments right as they happen. Taking pictures of children is challenging enough. It helps to have a camera that is going to react as fast as your children are moving.
Digital SLRs are the way to go. They shoot just like a film camera, but you have the benefits of shooting digital. There are several really good ones out right now on the market. They tend to be a little more expensive than a point and shoot digital camera. But, are well worth it in the end.
5. Use natural light as often as possible.
Pictures that are taken outdoors or by lots of window light allow for the most natural looking setting. This will cut down on the 'deer in the headlights' look of your subjects and overexposing faces.
I still use my flash outside, but only as fill flash. Fill flash means that you are filling in the spaces on your subjects around their eyes, nose, mouth, and other areas that would typically cast shadows.
If you have ever noticed your pictures having an orange or blue glow to them, it is probably because of the lighting situation. Tungsten light (regular ole' light bulbs) casts an orange glow. Fluorescent light casts a blue glow. And besides, who wants a picture in fluorescent lighting anyways. Huh? I say down with the fluorescents.
6. Pay attention to your backgrounds.
Make sure that there is not anything distracting, wacky, or downright ugly in your background when taking pictures. You can also create some really cool effects by choosing neat backgrounds with textures and colors.
7. Know your camera!
There are lots of great cameras out there that will allow you to do lots of neat things with them. By knowing your camera and its capabilities, you will be able to switch modes really quickly and get the shots that you want while taking pictures of your children.
The best way to get to know your camera is to shoot with it as often as possible and venture out into the settings unknown. Try different settings instead of keeping it in Portrait mode (You know, the picture of the lady with the hat) or Auto all of the time.
8. Be creative!
Digital is so amazing and cost effective. It allows you to take a risk and be creative. If it works- YIPPY! If not- DELETE!
Instead of shooting everything while standing up, trying getting low to the ground or even laying on the ground. This works great when you are taking pictures of your kids because you are on their level.
Or you also get up in the air really high on a ladder or piece of playground equipment and shoot down with your children looking up at you. Don't be afraid to try various angles and heights.
Try to catch your kids in action by anticipating what their next move will be. This will help you get some great candid shots of them. And always be ready to snap away.
Here are some pictures of Kaylyn on the farm this week. You can tell I wasn't looking for a photo shoot by her hair being a mess! But, she was just too cute walking around in her cousin's rubber boots while we were doing our evening chores around the farm. I had to grab my camera and snap a few. At the end, there are some cute ones of KK and daddy!
KAYLYN ON THE FARM