I’m a photographer, but I am also a mom, and I know serious cuteness happens far more regularly than when you have your family photos done. I also know photographing your own kids can be tough. So I am here to offer some tips to help you capture the cuteness you see with your eyes, with your lens.
Choosing Your Camera
You do not need the latest and greatest equipment and lens. I am a firm believer in this. The camera is only as good as the person operating it. You can have the greatest equipment in the world, and if you don’t know how to use it, you’re just throwing away your money. Likewise, you can have bare bones and create magic with the right tricks up your sleeve. Don’t feel discouraged because all you have to take pictures of your kids is your iPhone or a point and shoot camera. And don’t fall into the money trap that an expensive camera will automatically produce beautiful images.
If you’re looking to purchase a camera to capture your kids and don’t know anything about photography I honestly suggest starting with a nice rugged point and shoot that can take a fall – we all know the saying “you can’t have nice things with kids.” Having a camera, you’re too scared to damage is going to miss many great moments. If you really want to grow, you can purchase a DSLR camera (interchangeable lens) and then as you master the craft you can upgrade lenses. We got a $40 underwater point and shoot this summer to play with, and it was awesome. The following tips apply no matter what you’re using.
It’s All About The Light
Unlike the camera, lighting is (almost) everything. Images are created by capturing light. It will make or break your image – especially if you’re shooting in auto and aren’t able to control the amount of light coming into your camera. When you’re shooting in auto, or with a phone, you want your light source behind the camera. If the light source (like the sun) is super bright and making everyone squint – shoot with the light source off to the side. If you shoot (in auto) with the light behind you, your subjects will be super dark and underexposed. If there is shade around – it’s usually your best bet. Overcast days are also great lighting days to break out your camera.
We’ve all taken pictures of our kids that turn out a motion blur. Without being too technical, it’s because of the shutter speed, which controls how fast of an object you can capture, was too low. If you’re letting the camera pick your settings (shooting in auto or with a phone), it will pick your shutter-speed. Slower shutter speeds are great because they allow for images to exist in lower light, but they require your subject stay still to be in focus. So if you’re inside or in a dark setting and your kid is jumping and dancing around it will be unlikely that you’ll get an in-focus shot. Action shots are really usually more successful in the brightest of lights, or with flash.
Don’t Force Your Kids Into It
Another thing that will make or break an image? The subject. If you want your kid to smile in the image do something silly to make them smile. If you’re stressed and trying to get them to smile it will show – and even if it doesn’t to a stranger – you will remember it. So make it fun for everyone. And remember not all great pictures are posted. There is great beauty in the every day. Take pictures of your kids doing activities where you’re not asking them to look at the camera.
Stay Close to Your Subject
Both of these images were taken with an iPhone. I didn’t move my body or change my light source (window to the left of image). The first image is with the subject close to the camera and larger distance from the background. The second image is with the subject closer to the background and distanced from the camera. When taking pictures of your kids you usually want the focus to be on them, so stay close to your kid. Also, get down on their level! Don’t just shoot pointing down at them while you stand.
Do you have any tips you use when photographing your kids?