5 Easy Tips for Taking Better Photos of Your Kids
It's officially spring and around here we're excited to get outside and play. This is a great time to grab your camera, whether it's a fancy DSLR, a simple point and shoot, or your smartphone, and take advantage of the longer days and warmer weather. These 5 easy tips will help you capture better, more authentic pictures of your little ones outside.
1) It is all about the light. The light in the early morning and late afternoon is typically the most flattering and easy to work with. As the clock heads toward noon, the direct and bright rays make for warm sunshine but from a photographer's perspective the light is harsh and unflattering. If you are outside mid-day, the best light for photographs is in open shade. Open shade is easy to find - you just have to look up. If you aren't in the sun and there's nothing blocking your view overhead, you've found it. Shooting in open shade results in more even lighting, fewer harsh shadows and a more natural, even skin tone.
The photo on the left was shot in direct, mid-day sun. Notice the lack of detail in her hair, the shadow on her face and the creases under her eyes. By moving to open shade (right photo), we pick up the texture of her curls and she has a nice, even skin tone and lovely catch lights in her eyes.
2) The only cheese allowed is the kind you eat with wine. You see your kids laugh and smile countless times a week. You know what the real thing looks like. For some reason, a completely different and frankly, odd-looking, face comes out the moment kids (and some adults) are asked to smile for the camera. My advice: talk to them instead. Think about the thing this week that they are most into or think is funny (a cow riding a bicycle? their favorite kind of ice cream? silly knock-knock jokes?) and engage them in that topic. The smiles will be real and, for the most part, if you talk to them about something that they are interested in, they will look at you. Just be sure you have your camera ready for when they do.
3) Get down lower and move around. Crouch, kneel and lay down on your belly to get photos that fill the frame with your child and show the world from their point of view. And instead of taking the same picture three different times, move around to capture different angles of the same thing. You'll be amazed at how the light and the mood of the photo changes when you move even a few feet. In the photos below, the only thing i changed was where I was standing.
4) Pay attention to the background. Look around for an angle that gives you a clean and uncluttered background. Outside this might mean moving your child so that a group of trees or a plain brick wall are in the background. Keeping the photo simple allows the focal point to be on the subject of the photo: the kid(s).
5) Practice, practice, practice. Take your camera with you and use it. Challenge yourself to take one good picture of your kids each week. Yes, you will take a lot of bad pictures. But in the age of digital photography, who cares? Delete those you don't like and keep going. I promise you will end up with some gems.