Have you ever struggled to get a good photograph of an uncooperative child until one of you is in tears? Getting great pictures of kids isn’t as hard as you may think. The key is to make kids comfortable with their environment – places, people and activities – so that they relax and respond favorably. A few simple guidelines can give you great shots.
Photograph the Mundane
Portrait photos are lovely, but your life is what you live every day. Take pictures of your little ones during their daily routine – doing homework, eating dinner, reading at bedtime. These will create more meaningful memories than stiff shots of them with perfectly tidy hair.
Capture the Action
If you have a sports setting on your camera (one that takes many photos in rapid succession while the shutter is pressed), use it! You increase your chances of getting a great action shot. If your child is moving relative to the background, track their progress as they go.
Get Down on Their Level
Standing up while photographing kids makes their bodies look small and distorted. Crouch down for more realistic proportions. Or get underneath them for photos that make them look big and important. Experiment with different angles and positions. Try taking photos from the side or behind for a fresh look.
Take Pictures at the Playground
Don’t underestimate the wonderful opportunities for interesting perspectives, colorful backgrounds and unusual lighting available at your local playground. Not to mention that your child will be having fun and therefore may be a more cooperative subject!
Fill the Photo Frame
Zoom in to eliminate the visual clutter of the background. Reducing the depth of field blurs the background while keeping the subject in focus. These techniques add drama to your photo by making the child’s face a strong focal point. If your little one is looking at the camera, make sure that their eyes are most sharply focused.
Parents, grandparents, siblings, friends; capture memories by taking photos of children with the important people in their lives. Photograph them engaged in their favorite joint activities – reading, playing video games, and eating pizza, for example. If possible, ask the subjects to pose so that their faces are close together.
For the most natural photos, don’t let your child know that you’re taking their picture. You can accomplish this by snapping when they are facing away from you, or by standing back and using a telephoto lens. This can help you get wonderful shot of kids who dislike being photographed.
Timing is Everything
Photographers call the first or last hours of daylight the “golden hour” because during that time light is soft and has a warm hue, making it flattering to most skin tones. During the middle of the day, the sun is overhead and bright, resulting in harsh shadows and washed-out complexions.
Set Up a Photography Studio at Home
If you really love the look of portrait photos, set up a studio shoot at home. This can eliminate the stress of trying to photograph cranky babies or toddlers who have missed their nap time! When your child feels refreshed and well-fed, you are more likely to have their cooperation.
Note: In many jurisdictions, it is not legal to publish a photograph of a child without a signed permission waiver from the legal guardian, so if you happen to catch other children than your own in the image, either refrain from using it publicly, or speak to their guardian when you take the shot.