How To Photograph Your Children by Kit Hitchock, Photographer

We all love to have wonderful photos of our children, documenting their growing up and preserving the memories of our family lives. Some of us however are put off photography because of the technical demands, convinced that we won’t know how to take decent pictures of our kids without learning the techniques and skill of a professional photographer.

Good News!

The good news is that digital photography is far more forgiving than the old days of film. The days are gone now, when your high hopes were dashed by getting a packet of almost black snaps back from the printer, with no idea of what went wrong,. We can see the results instantly on the camera screen and it costs nothing to keep on trying until we get it right.

Help Is Here

It helps though to start off with a few tips on how to photograph your children, so that you can get the best results. I’m not going to get technical here – I just want to give you some techniques for photographing kids, which even the technophobes can use to improve their photography.

A Few Good Tips

First and most importantly take lots of photos. Professional photographers will take twenty or more shots for each one photo they expect to use. This is all the more true when you are taking pictures of children. Children move so quickly, turn their heads, blink, smile, talk, make funny faces. To catch the perfect expression on your child’s face you need to take lots of photos all in a row. Take one shot and keep going, without getting the child to move or change position. Afterwards you can delete all the photos that aren’t any good and just keep the best few. Remember: with digital photography it doesn’t cost a cent to take a photo, the cost comes when you print the pictures and you can easily just select the best few to print.

Even More Good Tips

Get down to their level when taking pictures of a child or toddler. If you stand taking a photo from your adult height with the child looking up, you get an unnatural looking picture. Kneel or squat down so you are at eye level with your child. If the child is lying on the floor playing with his toys, then you lie down too. The photos you take in this way will feel much more intimate and take you right into your child’s world, seeing things from his perspective. If you have a camera with a tilting screen this makes it even easier, as you can hold the camera at any level and look down at the screen – a great saver of backs and creaky knees!

Tell Your Story

Your pictures of your children should tell a story, so don’t restrict yourself to just one snap of a scene. If your children are playing out in the garden, take one shot that is an overview of the whole scene, seeing them as small figures in the landscape. Then take others that show the action of whatever their game is. Take some more using the zoom, close-ups of each child’s face. Take a few shots showing details, perhaps of the sandcastle they were building or the flowers they were busy looking at. Take a close up shot of a child’s hand patting the sand down, or holding a flower. This way you’ll be able to put together a beautiful page in an album, which tells the whole story of a part of their lives and really conjures up the feel of the day

Another Great Tip

Think about the light. In the old days of photography, and I’m talking way back, when there were old fashioned plate cameras on tripods, and the photographer dived under a black cloth to take the photo, the less sensitive film plates needed as much light as possible to take a clear photo. The subjects were posed in full sunlight and had to remain fixed in position without moving. Perhaps remembering those days, even now, people still tend to pose family groups with the sun in their faces, so that everyone is squinting and blinking at the camera. We don’t need to do that any more. Our cameras can cope with backlit conditions these days. In fact photos taken with the sunlight at an angle behind the subject have a much softer and more luminous feel.

On The Move

So when you are taking pictures of your children, move around them as they play, taking photos from different angles. The important thing to remember with this technique is that the focusing and metering grid on the camera screen must be on the child’s face when you press the button, to get the right exposure. Try photographing children with the sun directly behind them, behind them but at an angle and side-on. You’ll be amazed at the different emotional feels you get, especially when your little angel is revealed with a halo of light, as the sun shines through her hair!

Some Great Advice

When you are photographing your children inside the house, or even outside in the evenings, you’ll find that the camera flash automatically goes off. Most digital cameras have an option to switch off the flash. Try doing this when there is enough daylight coming through the windows. Flash tends to flatten photos and the bright light loses a lot of the emotion of the picture. Photos taken in low light conditions without flash are often not sharp, but the blur of movement and the glow of the natural light can create a mood and feel that is far more effective than the precision of flash. Try this at Christmas too when there are fairy lights on the tree and candles around the room. You can rest your camera on a table so that you don’t get camera shake and then see how much more romantic and traditional your home and children look in the candle lit glow.

You Can Do It!

All these tips are things that you can practice easily without having to learn any of the technical aspects of your camera. You can keep your camera on its automatic setting and just work on improving your photography with the way you compose your image and view your children through the lens. Really the most important thing about photographing children is to do it often. The more used they are to being photographed, the more relaxed they will be in front of the camera. The ideal is for them to be so used to it that they ignore the camera and carry on playing as though you weren’t there. That is when you get your great candid shots revealing their real selves.

Keep Photographing Your Children!

So keep photographing them and, who knows, one day you may even feel confident enough to learn more about the technical side of photography and take on online photography course to improve your skills even more. And even if that doesn’t sound like something you want to do, having followed these few tips on photographing children, you’ll still have a wonderful, detailed record of your children’s lives, that will bring you joy for many years to come.

Child Photographer

Child Photographer

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