Most of you may be Moms, just trying to capture life with your kids (or grandkids!) We all know how challenging this can prove to be. By the time you get all cued up to capture the moment, the “moment” has passed. Kids (especially the little ones) move at a much faster pace than us most of the time!
Whether you use your smart phone or a digital camera, there are some general pointers I’ll give today that will help make your pictures better.
I’ll dive right in, using some images I have captured of kids from my family this summer as examples.
Tips & Tricks #1 — Get In On the Action
At any given moment, kids are usually doing something. Not all of their actions are capture-worthy, but this is where paying attention pays. If you want to remember how your little girl was always doing flips in the backyard or how your granddaughter loves to pet your fluffy feline, then pick a moment when she’s performing and sneak in a few shots. You probably won’t snap the perfect one on the first try, but take a few action shots and then just keep the one you love the most.
Tips & Tricks #2 — Embrace the Quirky
Most kids have their moments… and we tend to delete the images that are goofy or silly and only keep the smiling, posed shots. However, the confused, chaotic and awkward shots are sometimes the best ways to remember different “stages” of kids.
I love this below shot I captured of my nephew, Liam. He is seriously a CASE and you never know what is going to come out of his mouth next (or what he will do next). I don’t even know what was going on in this picture, where he’s seemingly lost inside of his own t-shirt, but it cracks me up and it totally encompasses his personality! I also love the “big boys” in the background playing ball in the driveway… the whole shot gives me a memory.
Tips & Tricks #3 — Candid is Cute
I don’t blame you for wanting the sweet, smiling picture of all eyes on the camera while posing by the birthday cake… definitely get that shot. But also get the cute, giggling interaction that takes place surrounding that picture… sometimes it happens right before, sometimes right after… the trick is to keep your camera live and shoot the moment as it unfolds. These are my favorite captures.
Tips & Tricks #4 — Anticipation
When taking a picture, most of us are very deliberate. We get out our camera, turn it on, stand up, walk over to the people we want to photograph, tell them to do something specific. This is all fine and great and works for certain captures.
My biggest piece of advice for capturing the best moments with kids is to learn to anticipate. Sometimes, you can’t anticipate cuteness and it just happens… so you have to act quick. Other times, you can see it coming. Either way, don’t make a big deal. Turn on your camera and try to catch it. A lot of times, you can stay seated or standing wherever you are… because as soon as the subjects know what you’re doing, the mood and the moment changes. But if you can capture the essence of moment before that happens, then you’ve captured gold.
The next two shots are my husband, who typically does not enjoy getting his picture taken, being really cute with his nieces. Being quick and tricky is the name of the game 🙂
Tips & Tricks #5 — Lighting
Depending on the quality of your camera, you may or may not be able to get away with certain lighting situations. But incorporating the sunset into your images always gives a fantastic ambience. If it’s a bright, sunny day (and it’s high noon), find a spot of shade and take the picture there to avoid squinty, raccoon eyes. In general, for outdoor shots, the softer morning and evening light is the best.
When shooting indoors, one rule of thumb that works regardless of your camera is to turn your subjects’ faces TOWARD the window light. This way, the light illuminates their faces. Natural light is your best friend.
The worst thing you can do is to sit a bunch of people in front of a window and shoot the picture towards the light– your image will be backlit and the faces will be dark. Find a spot where natural light is streaming in, face your subjects’ faces toward it, and take your picture. There is a drastic difference!
Sometimes, you can’t always control where your subject is, or maybe you want to be sneaky. In this case, often just changing your own angle (where you are shooting the image from) can make all the difference in the world.
Tips & Tricks #6 — The Posed Shots
I love a good posed shot. But instead of walking up to some kids and just shouting out “Look at me and smile!” — which usually only results in kids looking any which direction while blurting out “Cheeeeeese” with a fake smile — my instruction is a little different.
Some kids will naturally get together cutely, and your job is done. But if they don’t, I tell everyone, “Put your arms around each other! Look like you love each other! Touch heads!!” This usually does the trick… see the results in the next couple images.
Tips & Tricks #7 — Timing
This is a similar tip to anticipation… if you are anticipating correctly, then usually your timing will be on cue. Sometimes though, it means taking a few subsequent shots in a row so you capture the exact moment you’re looking for. As a professional photographer, I can tell you that my most favorite images aren’t ones I posed, click my shutter button once, and then sat back and looked at the beautiful image I created. They are the ones where I snapped furiously as something was taking place… and later looking back and saying, “Oh wow… I can’t believe I caught that moment.” The nice thing about “digital” is that there is a delete button… so just make sure you delete the 23 outtakes you don’t want!
Tips & Tricks #8 — Framing
Perfectly centered images are the norm, and OK most of the time. But to add interest and character, consider off-setting your subject to one side or the other.
Or– when shooting the image– allow a background subject to be off-set or cut off slightly… still contributing to the “feel and emotion” of the picture, but not as a main point.
Think outside the box… and your images will become more and more creative!
I hope today’s post gave you a few tips on how to shoot better images of your kids! As always, if you ever have any questions or comments about any of these posts, shoot me a message. I love to “talk shop,” answer questions, or even just meet or catch up with my readers!