Taking great pictures of your own kids is easier said than done. You know them better than anyone else and you’re with them more than anyone else. It doesn’t seem like it would be hard to get a few great shots. But every time you pull out your camera they’re shouting or fighting, or your images keep turning out blurry or dark.
Brushing up on the following photo tips will help you transform your snapshots into beautiful compositions that you’ll treasure for years to come.
Get Down at Their Level
One of the simplest and most effective ways to create more interesting photos is to change your perspective. Instead of shooting kids standing up, sit or kneel to get down at their level. Getting down on their level provides a more interesting viewpoint and allows you to connect with them more closely, adding another layer of depth to your images. Depending on the nature of the shoot, don’t be afraid to experiment with more extreme low levels or to get above them for a bird’s eye perspective, particularly for babies and toddlers.
Minimize Distracting Elements
Choosing a clean background or backdrop and clearing out distracting elements, such as stray toys and clothes, instantly makes an image look more professional. When you’re taking posed shots, be conscious of the backdrop. You don’t want an off-putting feature, such as a tree that looks like it’s coming right out of your son’s head. Even when you’re taking candid shots, think about the background and items around you. Moving a couple of toys or a blanket with a vivid print out of the shot will make a big difference.
Get Out of Auto Mode
Many parents get frustrated while taking pictures of their children because the images end up blurry. Kids are always on the move, which means that you need to select a fast shutter speed. In auto mode, the camera simply makes the best choices it can, given the available light conditions. The choices it makes may not be well suited for the shot you’re trying to achieve. Learning to shoot in manual mode on any camera – smartphone, mirrorless, or DSLR – will allow you to take full control of your settings and select the ISO, shutter speed, and aperture for every single shot. There is a learning curve to manual mode, but it’s well worth the effort. If you want to sharpen your camera focus skills you can find more in this Ultimate Guide to Understanding Camera Focus Modes.
Plan Photo Sessions Around Their Schedules
Kids will do their best for posed photo sessions when they’re well rested and well fed. Avoid planning a session right before lunch or dinnertime, before naptime, or at the end of the day. When you’re out and about as a family and you want to get a few shots, don’t push it when you know your kids are tired, hot, or hungry. It’s a shame when you don’t get the photos you anticipated at the apple orchard or local farm, but it isn’t worth the fight, and you won’t be happy with the results.
Invest in a Prime Lens
When you own a mirrorless or DSLR camera, a prime lens is one of the best investments you can make to up your photography game. Many prime lenses are affordable and extremely versatile. You’ll be able to create stunning portraits with blurred backgrounds in a wide range of light conditions. 40mm and 50mm lenses are the best all around prime focal lengths for portraits and general shooting. On Amazon you can find the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 or the Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G, they are extremely good lenses and you will hardly find anything better for that price.
If you anticipate taking a lot of portraits or want a more narrow focal length, an 85mm prime lens is another great option.
When you’re taking pictures of your kids, go with the flow and let them have some control over the process to keep them relaxed and comfortable. Maybe your kids do best when they pick out their own clothing. Or maybe your kids are incredibly silly and can’t resist making faces for the camera. Let them get out their silliness at the beginning of a session or compromise with a few serious shots for Mom or Dad before busting out their best silly faces. When you appease both parties, you get shots that you both love.
Rose Clearfield is a freelance writer and hobbyist photographer. She lives in southeast WI with her husband, son, and three cats. She bought her first DSLR in 2012 and hasn’t looked back since. With an education background and a passion for writing, she loves helping people learn how to take better pictures.