When to Photograph Your Children by Kit Hitchock, Photographer


You don’t have to be a professional photographer to take great pictures of your children. To lots of us it doesn’t come naturally but the good news is that you can learn how to photograph children and babies quite easily with a few helpful tips and plenty of practice.

Avoid Awkward Poses

Too often our generation grew up being posed awkwardly for family group shots, squinting into the sun, while Dad fiddled with the camera and pressed the shutter just as, unable to bear the bright light any longer, we blinked or looked away.

The family album is filled with stiff photos of us all awkwardly posed in front of a monument on holiday. So how can we photograph our own kids differently and produce albums filled with great memories and emotions that show our kids as they really were through their growing up years, from babies and toddlers, through to gorgeous growing children with their personalities shining through in informal, fun photos?

Take Photographs Anytime You Have A Moment

The first thing to remember is that you should take pictures any time you have a moment and even when you don’t. Photographing your kids isn’t something to do just on special occasions, birthdays and holidays. When they are older, photos of them doing everyday things like playing in the garden, running in the park, sitting looking at a pot of flowers, helping you cook dinner, are going to bring back precious memories, even more so than those staged photos in front of the birthday cake.

Children Grow Too Quickly

Children grow up so quickly, that an activity that may seem ordinary at the time, will be a nostalgic memory when they’ve grown out of it in a few years time. “Do you remember when you spent all your time building houses in the sandbox for fairies?” you’ll ask your ten year old daughter, who most likely will deny all knowledge of her former toddler self. But you have photos to prove it and she’ll probably forget her new cool image, enthusiastically looking through the photo album with you at pictures of when she was little.

Keep Your Camera Handy

So keep your camera to hand at all times, with batteries charged. If it is there on the kitchen counter, you can easily grab it whenever you see a cute photo opportunity occurring in the garden. Two kids engrossed in a make-believe dressing up game, or some energetic bouncing on the trampoline have to be caught in action, at the moment it is happening. If you have to go looking for your camera, find new batteries, because they’ve gone dead since you last used it, the moment will have passed. It’s never the same if you try to get your kids to repeat what they were doing ten minutes ago for the camera. The spontaneity will have gone and all you’ll get will be grudging grins or wannabe supermodel poses. Taking great informal pictures of children is all about catching the moment, being an invisible observer of the action.

Carry A Pocket Camera At All Times

A small pocket-sized digital camera is great for taking pictures of children, because it makes it easy. You can and should take it with you everywhere you go, so that any time you see a great picture happening before your eyes you can grab it. How many times have you watched your kids having a great time at a friend’s house, playing with a puppy or baking a cake and getting covered in flour, and wished you had your camera to catch the moment? With your camera always in your bag, you need never miss out on a perfect picture again, and digital now means you can take as many pictures as you like without it costing a dime. Your only problem will be picking out the photographs you want to print out for your album.

Capture Special Occasions

Of course you do want to capture the special occasions too: Christmas, birthdays, vacations, all have a special place in your photograph album. The good news is that if you have been taking pictures of your kids all year round, they and you are going to be much more relaxed with the camera. You’ll know how the flash works, and won’t have to spend ages fiddling with the camera settings while the smiles freeze on their faces. So you’re more likely to get happy, spontaneous pictures of your children unwrapping presents, blowing out candles and all the rest.

Timing Is Everything

Taking pictures of young toddlers and babies is all about timing. You often only have a small window of time available when they are alert but not due for a sleep or a feed. Grab those opportunities when they come. If a baby is happy and smiley, start photographing him as he is. Don’t wait to change him into a clean outfit or move him to a prettier spot in the garden. Your photo is going to be of him, not the clothes or background and you want to catch his expression while he is happy and relaxed. Once you’ve got some shots, you could then try changing him into that fancy outfit, but if he loses his smiles and starts crying at least you will have got the shot already.

It Doesn’t Have To Be Perfect

You don’t have to just wait for sunny days and sunny smiles to take photos either. If we are to believe our family albums the sun always shone throughout our childhoods and we spent the whole time with a bucket and spade on the beach. You want your photos of your kids to provide a true record of their lives, so photograph the rainy days too. You can get great shots of stomping through puddles all dressed up in waterproofs. Most digital cameras have an ISO setting, so that you can take photos in low light settings. Adjust this to ISO 400 on a dull day, switch off the flash, and you’ll be able to get more action shots despite the lack of sunlight.

Create Fun Photos Out Of Disasters

And you can get some fun photos too even in the midst of disaster. Your toddler sitting down in the middle of a muddy puddle and howling, might not seem funny at the time, but a quick snapshot of it, before you pick him up and take him home to dry off, could provide a fun note of reality in the album later on. One of our favorite photos of our youngest as a toddler shows her fast asleep on the floor after one of her legendary tantrums. She’s grown out of them now but that photo provides a link to a part of her babyhood that we might otherwise have forgotten.

Don’t Forget Group Shots

There are times when you do want to have a group shot of all the family together, perhaps for a Christmas card or a present for the grandparents. It’s important to pick a time of day for this when you’re not all in a hurry to be somewhere else, so that you have time to get a relaxed and happy photograph. The best time for this is when you have been doing something all together anyway, so that the group feels natural and connected. You don’t want to have to drag an older child away from a computer game or book they were busy with, or they’ll be itching to get back to it and that will show in their face.

Choose Your Time

Choose a time at the weekend when you’ve maybe been out for a hike in the woods or a walk in the park, or have been busy altogether on a family project. Don’t worry about getting tidied up but just group everyone informally and catch the feeling of togetherness that the activity has generated. If you do want to photograph everybody dressed up smart or in fancy costumes, make an activity of the dressing up part. Make sure it is fun for all of you and the enjoyment will shine through in everyone’s smiles.

When Is The Best Time To Photograph Your Kids?

The short answer to the question, “When is the best time to be taking photographs of my kids?” is: any time that they and you are relaxed. The more you use your camera, the more relaxed you will be with it and the more relaxed your kids will be in front of it. Start taking pictures of your kids now and look forward to some great albums recording your children’s growing up years!

Child Photographer

Child Photographer



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