Yes I’m a photographer. Yes I love photographing people. Yes I’m all about capturing moments. Natural, beautiful moments… But even I know that when it comes to photographing kids – it’s hard work. They move so quickly. They run away, they won’t stand in the places you want them too. What you think is a great moment doesn’t always look that way in your camera or on your phone, etc etc. If you have ever tried to photograph kids you know what I’m talking about!
BUT, all is not lost – there are things you can do to help you take photos and capture those memories forever..
FIND THE LIGHT –
All photography is about LIGHT. It’s the single most important thing you need to make sure your photos are beautiful. Finding great light is easy once you learn what you are looking for. If you are indoors – turn off all the lights in house or room and look for where you can see light. It’s normally from a door or window. Window light is beautiful and subtle and makes for gorgeous photos. If your kids are playing in this type of light – grab your camera and watch the magic happen.
If your kids are playing outside watch the light. Where does it fall, where are the shadows? It’s really hard to photograph in bright sunshine. Afternoon or evening light is the best time. Don’t be put off by cloudy days either, the light is even and you can just have fun with moments.
And TRY not to use flash. Only use it as a final option.
Moments over everything
Moments are everything. When you look back on your childhood is it the nice hair, and clean clothes you think about? No. You think about Christmases, opening presents, laughing so hard you cry, arguments with your siblings, messy bedrooms. It isn’t the perfect you remember. It’s the imperfect and it’s beautiful just that way.
So when taking photos of your children, you don’t have to make it the perfect, posed image – just make it real, authentic and fun.
Understand basic composition.
Photography and mastering photo taking is a holy trinity of light, moment and great composition – once you have all three you have a great photograph.
Here’s a couple of simple compositional elements that you could try:
- Rule of thirds. Imagine a grid across your image (some cameras actually have a grid that overlays your screen). The rule of thirds are the sections where the lines intersect. Placing your focus in these sections makes for a more interesting photo, as opposed to in the middle which can be a bit dull.
- Negative space. Leavings lots of clean space around your subject can lead to a really interesting image.
- Fill the frame. Get close up, don’t be afraid to use all edges of your photo.
- Use different angles. Get down low or up high – looking down. And particularly when photographing children it’s great to get down on their level – to see the world from their point of view. Different angles creates more interest and adds to the story you are telling.
- Silhouettes. If your background is lighter than your intended subject then you can create silhouettes. Great for outdoors and even better if you can make shapes with your silhouette!
Choose a simple background
If you’re interested in taking a straight forward portrait – then keep it simple. Use an uncluttered backdrop, simple colours…and allow your subject to shine.
Choose your weapon!
The saying goes that the best camera is the one you have on you! Whether it be a camera on your phone, or top of the line pro camera – just make sure you know how to use it. Spend some time getting to know how it works. Find out how it captures light in different situations. Is the shutter slow? Can you shot in continuous mode? Spend some time with it and work it out and don’t be afraid to use the manual if you need too!
The power of observation
Some of the best moments come from when your children are just left to their own devices. If also helps if the camera or taking a photo is made out to be not a big deal. Get them used to you having a camera in hand. Think of your self as The Photographer. Watch. Observe and let them BE. It could be playing with car keys, eating spaghetti, running wild, building with bricks. Watching without interacting allows their personalities to shine through.
Hands and feet
To take an interesting picture – remember the image doesn’t always have to involve their faces. You can tell the story of what it happening just by photographing their hands, or feet or something even more abstract, this gives the viewer enough insight into what is going on to tell the story.
Shooting through multiple objects of people called layering is a great way to add depth and drama to your image. It’s also a great way to hide from your kids and so they think you aren’t photographing them!
Learn to edit your photos.
Learning how to edit your photos well will definitely take your photography to a whole new level. There are countless phone apps you could try – (e.g., Snapseed or Afterlight) or and if you are feeling a bit more technical you could try pro software like Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Lightroom. But any packages that help control brightness, add contrast, decrease or increase shadows and highlights – will massively improve your images.
PRINT YOUR PHOTOS
In this day and age of living online – printing your images has to be the most important thing you can do. Who knows where technology will be in 10 or 50 years time – so having something tangible and real is incredibly powerful.
And it’s always good to remember when taking photos – as photography father, Henri Cartier Bresson, said: ‘Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst!’
OR you can of course just hire a professional to do the job for you! 😉
This article was originally written for the Huffington Post – you can see it here: