5 Tips for Better Photos of Your Kids
One of the questions I was asked quite a bit during this pandemic, particularly during the first lockdown period, was how to improve their skills with a camera. Everyone has recognised that they had a bit more time on their hands and wanted to take that chance to improve, even with ‘just’ their iPhones etc. One of the common areas discussed was photographing their children. For all of us this time has been a real life changer in how our daily lives have unfolded. Many of you wanted to almost document this unprecedented situation and with the kids with you for home schooling it seemed a great time to both document and have some great photos of the kids at the same time.
To me, taking photos always proves interesting when you look back at them. During this pandemic I think this will have some seriously strong emotions connected to it. Having the foresight to press a phone or camera shutter during some of the key points are likely to provide a hugely insightful look back in years to come.
Now I’ll admit with hands firmly in the air that I don’t photograph children all that often. However there are some great, and really simple, principles you can all apply here.
1) Go to THEIR level
When you bend down to their eye level the photo is already improved. When you shoot downwards at them then the perspective really isn’t great at all. They end up with huge heads, odd angles and feet so far away they look unstable! So take the time to crouch, sit, kneel or even lay down. I personally think they look more relaxed when they see eye to eye with you too. When you’ve got a bunch of kids in the shot then try to focus on the tallest of the bunch. If there’s a big height difference between the tallest and the shortest, which is really easy to come across when families and friends get together, then get the the taller ones kneeling, it can make a huge difference to how your shot comes out.
2) Focus on their eyes
We are all naturally drawn to the eyes on a person in a photo. It’s usually the first thing we see and the first thing that really engages the emotions. So this is where you need the lens to really focus on for clarity and sharpness. If you are using your phone generally if you press the screen where the eyes are and this should instruct the cameras lens to pin point this area. On a DSLR move your focal point to the eye. Again, that extra little step as you set up can be the difference between a winning shot and one that just looks a bit ‘off’.
3) Let them see you!
This works particularly with really small kids or those that can’t understand why you’ve got a box in the way, they can get either upset or distracted because they can’t fully see you. Babies and toddlers in particular. So the trick here is to lower the camera a little or move it to one side in order that they can directly see your expression and react. If they can see your face and your smile then 9 times out of 10 you’ll get a better result. OK, so you’ll need to perfect both keeping them seeing you and at the same time framing the photo and taking it when the camera is slightly detached from you, but it can be a real winner if you can achieve it. If you’ve got a DSLR camera the often something bright attached to your lens is great with babies. There are lots of clever toys you can buy that are shaped to go over a lens, think of a hair scrunchy in design but they can be made to look like animals.
4) Find the light!
I say this all the time in all kinds of photography situations. If you are indoors have them in a place where some natural light falls onto their face. Windows are really great for this and you really don’t need them right up to the window either, a few feet away with them side ways on to the light source is really soft and flattering. Playing on the carpet, reading or snoozing with that soft side light can be wonderful. Just play with your angles and get down low if you need to, in order to get the shot that speaks the most to you. You can get super creative with windows too and there’s always those fab pictures you see where kids are looking out through the window at something and becoming super animated at what they see – Dad mowing lawns, dogs playing, or just the rain running down the pane. Get creative with the window light and the shadows too. We’ve all seen those photos where the light is streaming through and there’s a cat curled up in the sunny spot and the rest is in shade… think how light like that could really create something fabulous with your kids too.
5) Catch them unaware!
This is one of my favourites as it totally means you get some really honest and endearing photos. Try to catch them when they are totally engrossed in something, a game, a jigsaw, open-mouthed watching a cartoon, maybe painting, counting on their fingers for maths or simply reading. That way they are focused on something other than you and there’s a lovely natural element to it. By keeping them still like this too you don’t have to tackle motion blue either.
Hopefully those 5 really quick tips will help get you some better photos indoors. In this digital world it doesn’t matter how many you take until you find the one you really like from the batch. Get to grips with what your individual phones can do too, lots of them have some great settings and tricks to help do things like blur backgrounds, so go have a play and the more you do the more your kids will get used to you taking photos too, so everything becomes easier and more natural around….
Until next time.