I’ve been taking part in Living Arrows each week for a couple of years and now I’m more into photography I’m quite sad that when N was born I didn’t have a great camera and didn’t take many photos. I certainly didn’t have many good ones. I think a lot of people start to get into photography once they have children because they want to make those memories last, and photographing children is a way of doing it.
When N was born 5 years ago, I had a phone which did take photos, but poor ones. And a Canon powershot compact camera that was ok, but had a lot of problems when he was about 2 months old. It meant photos didn’t come out clearly and they had lines on, so I only have a few good photos. I didn’t use Pinterest much, and didn’t read blogs, so I had no idea about all the creative photo ideas that were around until my online mummy friends started sharing around some of the photos they took.
I don’t really have any photos of cute little toes and fingers (only once he’s older), and I don’t have one of N and myself having our first cuddle in hospital after he was born (the OH is rubbish at photos and the only one we have is one of him with N that I took, and a totally out of focus one of me with N). So here’s my tips on taking good photos of children (and remember photography is subjective so take what you like).
Tips for taking good photos of children
1, Lighting – natural light is best, so find a large window to take photos next to, a plain neutral background with no distractions and watch out for your shadow as you’re taking pictures, get outside during golden hour just after sunrise or before sunset
2, Get them in natural poses – a newborn you can’t do much else with them, but for older children from age 3+ don’t rely on them posing. Chances are you’ll get moans or fake ‘cheese’ smiles, when if you time it right and spend time watching them for opportunities to take photos, you’ll get much nicer photos.
3, If you’re using a manual camera, learn how to use aperture if you’re inside doing this and don’t want untidy backgrounds. Shoot with a low aperture to get a blurry background! And watch out for shutter speed – keep it high to prevent them being blurry….or use a good phone camera because they’re fast taking photos – I rarely get blur with my phone camera while I still need practice with my good camera.
4, Keep a camera to hand all the time – you’re only as good as the camera you have with you. With smartphones, that makes life easier.
5, Change the level – try shots from above, below and at their level for some different perspectives.
6, Mix it up – crop into the important details, but widen the background using negative space) to show how small in their world they really are
7, Think context – what makes your baby or child? You don’t just have to shoot pictures of them, but think about the items they love, what symbolises them, so teddies, toys, food, family. If you’re making a photobook, it’s great to have a mix through the years to show how they change and grow, and that means their likes and dislikes too.
8, Framing – where are you going to put the photos? Are the frames landscape or portrait – try and cover both
9, Find your style and repeat. There’s a reason so many photographers stick to one niche and that’s because they take great pictures of that topic. So if you find there’s one type of photo that works for you then stick with it, but just change the backgrounds, pose etc. Or practise other styles if you want to mix it up. I always find that close ups are my best shots of N. They avoid the issue of backgrounds and don’t need to rely on him posing.
Now you can just put it into practice.
Photographing children – the ideas
- Hands and fingers
- Nose or ears
- Curled up on blanket, bed or rug
- Tummy time – front view/side, propped up on something
- Surrounded by toys or teddies, letters of their name, flowers or similar
- Contained – line a washing basket or similar that’s just big enough for them to lie in
- Accessories – hats, wrapped in a cute blanket
Toddlers and upwards
- Think about the 5 senses – sight, sound, touch, smell and feel and use those as themes for photos
- Toys, artwork, writing – ask them to get creative
- Feet, shoes – where they walk
- Climbing – equipment, trees, fences
- Action shots – running, jumping (trampolines are great), dancing
- Vehicles – bikes, scooters, at the park
- Backgrounds – think pretty, graffiti, colour blocks, neutral and plain textures, hedges, fences, grass
- Angles – lie on the floor or stand above them
- Cool backgrounds – look to contrast and match their outfit
- With siblings
- Looking away
- Use light and dark backgrounds and shadows to show their personalities
- Props, think accessories, hats, glasses, hobby equipment.
Hopefully, I’ve given you some ideas for photographing your kids. If all else fails, book someone else to come and take photos of them and the family every couple of years!
When did you get interested in photography? Do you have masses of photos from your children being born, or did you start taking photos later on?
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