Some of my fondest memories with my own children are of our little ‘photo sessions’. My goal wasn’t just to photograph them, but to play and make it fun, too. I wouldn’t try to pose them, or get them to look a certain way….. I just took photos. The images you’ll see in this article were all taken before I was shooting professionally.
Whether you’re using a DSLR, a point and shoot camera, or an iPhone, you can benefit from these tips. Try some out and let me know how it goes- I’d love to see your results! Though you won’t find any technical information here- using your camera on manual settings, depth of field or colour balance etc, if you have any specific questions feel free to ask in the comments and I’ll do my best to respond.
TIP #1 : FIND GOOD LIGHT
Soft, natural lighting is best. Try using window light (with no direct sun on your subject). If outside, stay out of direct sunlight and instead choose a shady spot near trees or buildings. Overcast days work great too!
Try this: Put your child directly next to the window!
On the left, my daughter sits next to a south facing window in my home. We rarely get direct sunlight coming in this window, due to an overhang and trees that provide some shade. On the right, my son is beside a north facing window- generally the best side of the house for nice soft, diffused light.
TIP #2 : SIMPLIFY THE BACKGROUND
Remove messes and distracting elements from your scene. I’ve been known to move furniture to create a backdrop that is simple and clutter free. That said- do not follow this tip for every situation! Don’t ever miss a moment because your house is untidy, or the background looks cluttered!!! Save this one for those times when you really want to explore your child’s personality in photos.
Try this: Photograph your children in a doorway- they will be nicely lit but the indoors and clutter behind them will disappear in the darkness.
On the left, my son is inside looking out the screen door. On the right I am sitting in the patio doorway, looking in- notice the clutter in the background that has nearly disappeared in the darkness.
TIP #3 : GET DOWN TO THEIR LEVEL
Shooting from standing looking down can be an interesting perspective- showing how small your child is. But if you want some really great interaction and direct eye contact, try sitting, or even laying down. Get close, and engage with your child and you’ll get some wonderful expressions that show their personality.
Try this: When working with babies who don’t walk, lay down with them to photograph them for an interesting perspective.
In both cases here I was laying down on my belly to get real close to the action.
TIP #4 : CAPTURE QUIET MOMENTS
Try to begin photographing your kids while they are quietly playing, immersed in a game, book, their sibling, or even their own thoughts. Eventually they will turn their attention to you and the camera, but these images of quiet moments may become your most cherished.
Try this: Have your camera accessible- you never know when you need it! Having it ready means you can get to it before your subject notices.
Some of my favourite images are quiet moments that my children are having with each other.
TIP #5 : TAKE MORE THAN A COUPLE
Taking many shots of your subject will increase the chance of getting some winning images. It is not uncommon that I take 20 images of my child, keeping only the 3-5 best. You will get some great variety this way- different facial expressions, laughs, cries- all things that you will want to remember about your child’s personality.
Try this: Take a series of images of your child – spend a few minutes exhausting the possibilities; changing the angle, interacting, peek-a-boo from behind the camera. See how many amazing pictures you can get!
The picture above came from this series of images taken. There are 3 that I love and printed out of 18 frames.
Most importantly, please please please back up the pictures you take of your family! Better yet, have them printed. Cell phones, memories cards, hardrives and CD and DVD’s fail ALL THE TIME. I know this from experience that you will be heartbroken to lose any of your precious memories. I lost a good chunk of photos from my son’s babyhood when he knocked over my back-up hard drive. Luckily I had my favourites printed, or I would have lost them all. Please learn from my mistake, get your photos printed, and the digital copies backed up on an back-up service or multiple drives.
That was a different kind of blog post for me, I hope you enjoyed it! Feedback in the comment section most welcome!