How to take great photos of your kids – Sydney newborn and family photographer
I have to be honest, I hesitated writing this blog because as a Sydney newborn and family photographer, I am giving away some trade secrets. But if we can fill the world with more beautiful, happy photos I think I’ll be happy to be let some of those secrets out.
Tip 1: learn how to use your DSLR (or point and shoot or fancy camera phone)
You may have the top of the range DLSR with all the fancy shmancy features and its super shiny and new, but if it sits in the box unused, what good is it to you? So the first step in taking great photos of your kids is to take photos
When I got my first DSLR (a special present from me to me one Christmas) I was so excited when I saw the gold Nikon box, then I pulled out the camera and the precious lens and thought “what are all these buttons and dials for and how do I put this lens thingy on???” I assembled it and clicked the button a couple of times, looked at the under exposed photos and put it away. It wasn’t until I enrolled myself in a photography course that I learned to use the camera and the dials and buttons didn’t seem so scary any more. But it wasn’t until I started to USE the camera that my photography improved and the passion was ignited. Ok, so your passion may not ignite but you can take some pretty amazing shots if you learn how to use your camera.
Tip 2: light the way
Photography is all about lighting and learning how to work with light . The light can help you tell your story. When kids play at the park or playground this is during the day when the light is usually at its brightest. Perfect for capturing happy faces playing on brightly coloured play equipment creating the ultimate picture of childhood happiness. The only thing to watch out for when shooting in the middle of the day is the harsh shadows that can be cast on your kid’s face, the best way to avoid this is to find some shade and take the photos there. As a Sydney family photographer, I prefer to shoot late afternoon when the light is much softer.
Don’t be afraid to take photos in the dark, for example when you are watching a fireworks display. Stand behind your child, get down to their level and hold the camera as still as you can while you take the shot. As long as there is a light source (like the fireworks or campfire or a bedside lamp) and you hold your camera still, you can get some really cool shots.
Tip 3: get down
Adults are naturally taller than kids so the perspective from where you stand is very different to how your kid sees things, so, get down to their level.
This does two things:
(1) you become more approachable and not the scary adult looming over the top of them so you are likely to get more natural smiles.
(2) taking photos from the kid’s perspective can create gorgeous photos of the world as they see it. Suddenly that tree looks enormous or the field with long grass suddenly looks like an adventurous jungle to explore.
Tip 4: get up close and personal
Capture all those little details you know will soon become not so small. Like your baby’s chunky little legs, their tiny hands and feet. Your little girls pigtails, your son’s toothless grin. Take photos of the small things that you can all look back on and smile.
Tip 5: let your kids be kids
Sure instagram will show you all these perfect images of kids in uber chic outfits looking sweet and cute for the camera but we all know that those images probably took 20 takes to perfect. If you have the time and patience to get that perfect shot, awesome, go for it, we will all like your amazing image when we scroll through our feeds.
If your kids aren’t so co-operative let them be. Have a fast shutter speed on your DSLR or be ready to run after them with your camera phone. Action shots are such a great way to get natural smiles from your kids. Get them to have a race, ask them to jump, maybe twirl in their favourite dress. They will forget you’re taking photos, be more relaxed and you will get some beautiful photos of your kids.
Tip 6: its time to get dirty
We all know most kids LOVE to get their little hands and feet dirty. Grab your camera and snap away while your kids are building a sand castle at the beach, jumping up and down in muddy puddles, eating a big slice of sticky watermelon.
Take a second to compose your shot, this is how you can tell your story. Zoom in to get their sticky grin as they smile from you behind the watermelon, then zoom out to get a perspective shot of how little they are compared to the slice of watermelon (get them to eat it on their laps if you don’t mind the mess).
Once the kids are over it, put them in a bubble bath in your bath tub or the kitchen sink, get up over them (safely of course mum and dad) and shoot down for a cool perspective or from the side for a cute shot. There is a photo opp every where.
Tip 7: the quiet times
It’s about the quiet moments too. These are my favourite photos to take of my son. Its when they are napping or resting and are just so peaceful, take a shot from outside of the cot and focus on your baby’s beautiful face. Its when they are so concentrated on drawing or building with lego, get down to their level keep the drawing or legos in your foreground but focus on your child’s face. Tell the story so you can remember it later in life.
Tip 8: keep things in perspective
Take photos that you can only take when your kids are little. Let your little girl try on mummy’s high heels, ask you kids to climb a big fig tree or put a big floppy hat on your baby. They won’t be little for long so capture these moments.
Tip 9: bring out their personality
You know your kid best, try to bring out their personality in the photographs you take. I love dressing up my son in trendy cool clothes and yes I take a tonne of photos of him when he is all dressed up and ask him to smile for me and he does it because he knows it makes mama happy. But I get more natural smiles from my son when I play with him and he’s allowed to get cheeky and pull faces. Sure I’ll take the funny face but the shot I’m really after is him laughing after he pulls his face.
He also doesn’t like to sit still for photos so is happier when I run after him or race him. Are these easy photos to get? Nope. But when I do nail that shot I know its one for his annual album.
Let your kids be who they are. Maybe they don’t want to run and prefer to sit quietly. Maybe they want to be wearing shorts rather than a tutu dress. Whatever it is, the more comfortable you make them feel and the more they feel like they can just be themselves the better the photos you will get.
Tip 10: colour, colour, colour
Childhood for me is about bright, happy colours. Take a photo of your kid holding a bunch of bright coloured balloons. Take a photo of them twirling in their rainbow coloured unicorn dress. Take a photo of your baby playing (or chewing) their bright coloured blocks. As adults sometimes our colour palette becomes a little muted (mine definitely has) but as a kid I wanted Punky Brewster’s outfit, I think that most kids these days will always pick a bright colour over black or white.
So there you have it, some trade secrets for you to try out with your kids. Want to see these tips in action during a family photo shoot? Why not drop me a line via the contact button below.