As most of you know, I’ve been a professional photographer for 10 years now, but there is nothing I love more than taking pictures of my own little one. After all these years, I am confident in saying that I have mastered photographing young kids. Here are a few of my favorite tips to help you photograph your own kids or nieces or nephews!
1. Natural light, and lots of it. – Go outside, or take pictures near a window. If you want to have a great photo, natural light enables you to capture colors much more accurately and gives depth to the picture. Kids can be extremely fast and if you have lots of natural light, it will help your camera perform better. If the children are moving, the light conditions can be blurry, so try and take as many photos as possible where there is a lot of light! That doesn’t mean that it has to be extremely sunny or during the middle of the day. In fact, cloudy days often make for the best shooting conditions, because it helps enable the light to diffuse better. Sometimes even sunset (or if you are lucky, sunrise) photos have a warm glow around them, which is better than harsh daytime lighting. Photographers refer to the last hour of sunlight as the “golden hour”.
2. Let them play. –You don’t always have to have them looking at the camera. Sometimes it is lovely to just let them play, let them forget all about the camera, and when they are engrossed in something, just take a few snaps. Show them at play, or the way they interact with other kids. This can enable you to take beautiful documentary-style pictures. My favorites are candid photos where my son doesn’t even know my camera is out and is just being himself, in the moment, enjoying playing with friends or on his own.
3. Think about the composition and background.– Avoid placing your child in the center of the image. Use the rule of thirds, so draw imaginary lines, splitting the image into thirds along horizontal and vertical lines (3×3), and placing them in these imaginary intersections. When doing this, try to think about what else is in the picture. For example, are they running towards something? Leave space in front of them. Maybe try to capture what they are running towards. Are they walking away from a mess they have just made? Try capturing that in the same picture. In terms of background, it is quite good to try to have neutral and clear background. I always try to make sure there aren’t people walking behind, or lots of mess or toys, or lamp posts growing from the top of heads, and so on. I’ve learned by mistake with those – ha! Try thinking of big meadows, lots of trees or tall grass. Think solid colors like a slide or brick wall!
4. Limit their movement (when necessary). – If you want to take a perfect portrait, you might have to limit their movements. Little kids probably won’t follow direction, so one way to get them stay still is to put them on a swing. While they are waiting for you to start pushing, you can usually get quite a few nice pictures of them while they are still. For busy toddlers, you could give them a new toy and as they are mesmerized by it, they usually stay still for a moment examining it. This is your chance to take some candid shots!
5. Use Props. – When my son was little, it was easy to distract him by using a few easy props that he could either play with or keep in the background. Some of my favorite props include large trees at the park or an old car to set the tone. Local to Atlanta, Sanford and Son Junk Cars sells all sorts of old, new or worn cars to those looking to use them to drive or for photo shoots. If you’re looking to sell a car, they offer a quote in less than 60 seconds, as well as pay you cash on the spot. It’s super easy! They specialize in buying junk cars and getting you the most cash possible, while also providing outstanding customer service for their clients. Trust me when I say, you don’t want to go or talk with anyone else before chatting with the folks over at Sanford and Son Junk Cars.
What are some tips you have when taking pictures of children?