So the kids are all dressed up and you decide it’s the perfect chance to take some beautiful photos of your kids to share with the grandparents! You bring out the camera, ask for cheese… and we all know how it goes from here! Our kids groan, hide their faces, or run away! Or worse still your kids are totally cooperative, smile beautifully… but the photos come out terribly because they’re soft and blurry or the light is all wrong and you can’t see their faces properly!
Well we’re here to help! Photographing little ones can be a challenge, but here are 5 simple tips to make photo-time more fun and produce great results!
Look for Soft Light
A simple trick for great portraits is to use beautiful soft light found in open shade outdoors. Soft light wraps beautifully around our subject and means we won’t have harsh sunlight, squinting eyes or shadows across faces which can be distracting and unpleasant for our little ones. The best time of day to locate soft light is in the early morning or late afternoon, but if you’re unable to shoot at these times of day, look for shaded areas such as a covered patio, veranda or deck with your subject facing the light or on a slight angle. When photographing indoors look for soft light near windows and doorways, and look for light in your subject’s eyes as a giveaway that you’ve found a great spot to shoot! (See image example above right!)
Choose Simple Backgrounds and Locations
Choose locations that have nice simple backdrops, such as a timber fence, dense foliage, a painted wall or door. The key here is neutrality, simplicity, and a lack of clutter to distract from your subjects of the photo. Keeping your eye out for clutter means that you make sure there aren’t toys or folded washing lying across the floor in the corner of the photo. A simple plain background can help ensure this is the case!
Another great tip is to stand your subjects a good distance away from the background you’ve chosen, rather than directly up against the wall or foliage. The more space you have, the more blurred your background will be, which is how professional photographers ensure their subject is clearly defined.
One thing we can predict is the patience of our kids. You know you’ll have a small window of opportunity, so don’t waste it considering how you’re going to pose, props you’re going to use, whether or not your subjects will sit or stand, if you intend to use a rug or chairs, etc. Work all these things out before you bring the kids in. Take some test shots in your chosen location to make sure you’re happy with the light and how it all looks! I’ve been known to sit a doll or teddy in first, take some shots, tweak as needed and then I’ll call my kids! Using a rug to sit on or a small chair works well for keeping them in place and designating that spot where you’re taking photos!
Avoid the Cheeeese!
Unless your goal is really cheesy smiles, whatever you do, don’t say cheese!
Instead, engage children naturally with playfulness that is appropriate to their age. An adult making silly jokes, funny noises, and just generally playing the goat is an easy way to entice natural happy smiles. Not only will they be smiling, but they’ll look like themselves! As a bonus, they’re more likely to have fun and you’ll get much more time out of them.
Here’s a few composition tips for helping you take more professional looking photos!
- Don’t cut off limbs at the joint (ankles, elbows, knees)
- When children are sitting, you can get in closer if you get them to tuck their legs in, which also results in more harmonious composition. Legs and arms in every direction causes chaos with all the additional lines
- Watch for Clutter. Look all around your subject and remove any items that will compete with your subject for attention
- If you can’t remove the clutter, and you can’t change locations, change your perspective. Get down low and shoot looking up at them so that your sky is your backdrop. Alternatively, shoot looking directly overhead, such as kids lying on grass or a rug.
- Get down low – when adults photograph kids from their own height there’s no real engagement and you can miss their sweet expressions. For a truly engaging portrait get down to their eye level.
- Give them something to do – reading a story, playing with a photogenic toy (think wood not plastic!), a favourite teddy to cuddle, a musical instrument.
These are some simple strategies – of which you can use some, or all to start taking better photos and enjoying the experience a little more!
Want to Learn More?
If you’d like to read more articles from Click Love Grow or take one of our Beginner Photography Courses for Mums (online) then head to our site to find out more!
Lou Glendon of Click Love Grow is a professional photographer, Mum of two girls, and recently arrived Aussie Expat to Savannah in the USA. Her love of photography has expanded to teaching online, and over 1000 women and mums have taken part in her signature, easy to follow and fun community based courses that teach you how to master your DSLR and start shooting confidently to capture beautiful images of things that you love!