How To Photograph Children
May Bank Holiday has just been and the weather was amazing! Everyone was outside enjoying a rare heatwave and you haven’t stopped taking photos of the kids playing in the garden! The problem is they’re probably not very good. OK they’re fine on your phone, but chances are none are really good enough to put in a frame or hang on the wall.
Fear not. Here are some of my top tips on how to get great photographs of your children. They are really simple, and taking that extra couple of minutes to think about your photos can make a real difference.
Get Them Used To The Camera
Even as an adult getting a camera put in our face makes us shriek, so it’s little wonder the kids act funny when they see a camera. The idea is to get them used to it. Make sure the camera is in view all day. Don’t take any photos to start with, but just have it in sight. Then as they get used to the camera start slowly, and as the day goes on camera will become just like any other everyday object. Your children will forget about the camera and start acting naturally.
Focus On The Eyes
If your camera has the ability to control the focus point manually (i.e. not the camera deciding where to focus by itself), stick that focus point right on your child’s eye. If they’re not facing you, focus on the nearest eye.
The eyes always need to be in pin-sharp focus, and ideally they’ll show mostly the iris/pupil, as opposed to mostly the white area.
Eyes in a photo attract the viewer’s eye, and make the image instantly more alluring.
Bend The Knees
This is one tip that I always tell people. To instantly improve the photograph make sure you get down to your child’s height. It’s one of the simplest tips and can change the photo and make it so much better really quickly.
I always tell my newborn photography clients that as your children get older, and you want to photograph them more, make sure you bend your knees.
Make sure you photograph everything. Don’t just get your camera out at the mile stones! This tip is so much easier with camera phones these days. This tip also ties in with the first tip; if you have the camera out most of the time then your children will naturally get used to it, showing their true personality.
Choose A Simple Background
Children are often dressed colourfully, or have t-shirts with patterns or characters. Try and find a background that’s uncomplicated, and take care to ensure there are no tree branches or telegraph poles ‘sticking out’ of your subject’s body or head in the background.
To capture those candid moments try and photograph discreetly. This is easily done just by photographing from the chest or hip. If you bring the camera up to the eye, people (including children) instantly became aware that you have covered your face and it spoils the mood.
Parents will know where I’m coming from on this one. You’ll know when your child is most happy, and this is no doubt the same for other children of a similar age too. This might be after waking up from a good sleep, after snack time, playing with their favourite toy etc etc.
Choose your time wisely. Pick a time to pull out the camera for shots of them looking naturally happy, with no need for you to say “Cheese!”.
Choose a time when your children are distracted with a toy or activity to get a candid photo of them looking happy, totally unaware of your camera.
Don’t Make Them Smile
Adults don’t naturally smile all the time, neither do children, so don’t force it. Remember to photograph everything, this includes the tears, the tantrums and the smiles. Remember when photographing your children you are trying to capture their personality not their smile.
If you really want that smile don’t make the say cheese unless you want that fake smile. Ask them a question about their favourite animal, food, toy or cartoon. You will instantly get a real smile from your little one.
Photograph From Above or Below
Alter your perspective and think about your angles. Photographing from a Birdseye view or down on the ground can have a huge affect on the perspective of your photo.
Following on from the previous tip, sometimes it’s a fun photo to make the child seem really small, or at least, small in comparison to the other objects in the frame.
This can be as simple as putting the child on a large arm chair, having them wear adult boots, or stepping right back to shoot them from a distance against a large object such as a wall.
Focus On Body Parts
Try just concentrating on certain body parts. As a newborn photographer I always try and get photos of certain body parts. The little button nose, the tiny fingers and miniature feet. It’s easy to forget how quickly children grow and change.
Also think about photographing your children doing activities, like steeling from the biscuit barrel. Focus on arms and hands and make that the attention of your photo.
Tell A Story
Tell a story with your photograph. Instead of just photographing your children close up, zoom out and photograph then doing something. Children love to play. Mine love making things, so I photograph them colouring and building things and try to make a photo story from that.
These are just some of my top tips on how to photograph children. There are alway other tips and tricks to try but I always try to stick to these ones. The next time you are photographing your children, take your time and try one or two of the tips above. Let me know what you think in the comments below and show me your favourite photos.