Written by: Sherry Osborne
I’ve always liked taking photos but what really got me using a camera on a highly obsessive level was when I had kids. While I love to photograph a wide variety of things, my kids are still my favorite subjects to line up in my viewfinder. Here are some basic tips for photographing children – keep in mind that all rules are made to be broken, so don’t feel you have to follow every one of these, but they will help to create beautiful portraits instead of just quick snapshots. 1. Fill your frame. Sometimes it’s fun to get shots of your kids from afar so that you can get them from head to toe to remember how small they once were, but generally you’re going to want to focus on the face to really capture facial expressions.
2. Let your kids do something. We’ve all lived through those portrait sessions done at photo studios, the kind where we were posed alongside our parents or siblings, told not to move, and instructed to smile broadly. They all look exactly the same, so take a hint from that and instead let your kids do something. Take them to the park and photograph them laughing on the swings. Give your two kids a ball to toss back and forth. Snap a great shot of them enjoying a popsicle on a hot day. Anything that lets them be their natural selves will create more memorable pictures of your kids.
3. Don’t force them to smile. Going along with point #2, don’t always ask for a smile. If a smile isn’t genuine you can usually tell in the resulting photo. Besides, sometimes you can catch a lot of amazing personality without the smile.
4. Shoot from their level. Kids are generally smaller than we are, unless you have a teenager. Instead of shooting from standing, take the time to crouch down to their level. Sit down, kneel down, whatever it takes so that your camera is on an even level with their face. This helps to connect with the kids better and works well with my first point, of filling in the frame with their facial expressions.
5. Don’t shoot on their level. Completely contradicting my previous suggestion, take photos of your kids from a higher angle. Because kids are indeed smaller than we are, you can create a striking shot by standing up and looking straight down. You can even climb up on something to add to the effect. It can create a wonderful memory when you look back and remember a time when you had to look straight down to talk to your kids.
6. Capture them from head to toe sometimes. In my first suggestion I said that you should concentrate on their face. However, from time to time it’s great to get photos of your kids where you can see their entire body in the frame. Much like shooting down on them, you can look back on these types of photos and marvel at how small they once were, when they were only a couple of feet tall. It’s also a nice way to capture both your child and the surrounding environment.
Much like anything else in photography, rules are guidelines and as you can see sometimes they contradict each other. It all depends on what kind of effect or emotion you want to create at any given moment. The most important thing when photographing your kids is probably to have fun and maintain a sense of humor. It’s easy to get stressed out if you’re trying to create a great holiday card photo when you’ve got some idea of perfection in the back of your mind. If you can let go a bit and just let your kids be kids, laugh a little, and just enjoy the moment you might find that you’ll get even better results than you could have imagined.
Do you have a favorite tip I’ve neglected to mention? Share it in the comments!