So, you want to take better photos of your kids but you’re not sure how to go about it? I’ve compiled some basic tips to help you on your way. Keep in mind, these are only guidelines, they’re not set in stone. Some of my examples even break some of the rules! If you take a photo and it’s caught that cheeky grin you love, it’s going to be your favourite no matter how many rules you break.
1. Get down to their level.
Instead of standing and taking photos down on your kids, get the camera level with them. This might mean you’re lying on the ground on your tummy but it’s worth it! This way they’re looking at the camera straight on. They’re also less likely to be squinting into the sun. Don’t get too low though, you don’t want up the nose shots!
2. It’s all about the eyes.
The eyes are the part of the photo you want in focus, so if you have a camera where you can set your focus points, make sure it’s set to the eye closest to you. You also want to look for “catch lights”. These are when you can see light reflected in the eyes. These help make the eyes brighter and lively, so you definitely want them in both eyes. If you’re positioning your kids and not taking spur of the moment photos, check for these catch lights.
3. Be aware of the background.
Clear away the clutter, use a plain wall as a back drop etc. It’s amazing how you don’t notice these things because you’re focussing on what your kids look like. You also want to avoid popping them directly in front of the background. Move them forward and that way the background won’t be as in focus and they won’t throw shadows onto it. If you have an SLR, set your camera to a wide aperture (low number). This will mean the background will be nice and fuzzy and the focus will just be on your kids.
Turn off your flash. Flashes have a tendency to wash out faces because it’s directly in front and eliminates all shadow. If you’re taking your photos inside, move them closer to a window so you don’t need the flash. When looking at the direction the light is coming from, try to angle their faces towards the light/facing the window. If they’re laying down you don’t want the only light to be coming up under their chin (think spooky stories around the campfire). If you want to take photos of your kids outside, try to avoid doing this in the middle of the day. The best time is late afternoon when the sun is nice and golden and not too harsh. It also means it’s not directly above them so you get nice even light. If you can’t avoid the middle of the day, pick a shady spot.
As a general rule you don’t want your kids right in the middle of the photo. You want them off to the side. It’s called the Rule of Thirds. You want to place them where the lines intersect. Also try not to “chop off” limbs right at the joint, it makes them look like they’re missing bits of arm or leg! Another tip is to get in nice and close – you don’t always need their full body in the shot.
6. Clean Faces.
This might sound obvious, but unless you’re intentionally capturing something messy, make sure their faces and clothes are clean. It’s always a shame when you get a great shot only to notice that they have dirt on their shirt or snot on their face once you see it on your computer instead of your tiny camera viewfinder.
7. Get in the photos!
So, you’re worried because you’re still carrying around the baby weight, you haven’t slept in 3 months and haven’t had a chance to wash your hair in a week. Your kids don’t care, they love you! You don’t want gaps of months, or even years, without a photo of you with them. Set the timer or grab a friend to take a photo for you. In 5, 10, 20 years you will all appreciate looking back at the time you spent together.
So there you go, 7 tips for taking better photos of your kids – happy snapping!