My love of photography started with the birth of my first son. I thought buying a “professional” camera would give me professional looking pictures. I quickly learned that wasn’t happening! Here are a few tricks and tips I have learned along the way that help me get better pictures of my kids (with or without the professional camera).
1. Turn off your flash
Using your on-camera flash does not provide the most flattering light. It’s typically straight on, very bright and causes harsh and awkward shadows.
See my poor baby Cooper, blinded by the light?
2. Find the light
You have to have light to get great pictures! If you don’t have a flash, where will you get your light? I encourage you to get outside or get to a window. The best time to shoot outside is right before sunset or right after the sunrise. There is a LOT to write about lighting, but I’ll keep it pretty simple here. When you go outside, try to get your little ones in some shade to keep those harsh shadows off their face. If you’re inside, get to a window. Most people have their dining room table near large windows, so that is a great place to start. Turning off your flash and finding natural light will dramatically help the look of your images.
3. Get natural smiles
This can be tough when photographing your own children. Saying, “look at me and smile!” usually results in this:
or this (the infamous “cheese” smile):
With babies, I like to make silly sounds or use a squeaky toy. Get your spouse to dance and act crazy behind you. With toddlers and older children I like to play reverse psychology. Telling my oldest “DO NOT look at me. STOP looking at me. What are you DOING?!” got me these:
Also, to get them to look into the camera, I will tell him spiderman/batman/buzz sometimes hides in my camera. Look closely, do you see him!?
I didn’t say this was a piece on great parenting, ok ? If all else fails – bribery!
4. Vary your perspective
Try to think outside the box a little bit. Get down on the ground or stand up on a chair. Stand behind them and call their name to get them looking over their shoulder at you. Shoot the details (their foot kicking the ball, their hand writing the chalk, their arm around their sibling…) or shoot a wide shot of everything in the room. Sit on the grass and have your kids run toward you. The possibilities are endless!
5. Keep practicing!
If I have learned ONE thing about photography, it is to practice, practice, practice! The more you shoot the better you will get.
I hope you have learned a little something. Have fun!