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Photographing Your Kids = Child’s Play

While we love to take photos of our kids, sadly, the results are often disappointing, uninspiring and a far cry from the classic images that capture the innocence of childhood.

We may never be able to quite match the beauty of those pictures (have faith!), but taking memorable photos of children is not difficult. Below, we’ve listed some of our top child portrait photography tips.

Top Tips for Good Photos of Kids

Be Patient and Keep It Candid

girl blowing bubbles

Most of the time, you’ll have to suspect that kids run any photography session. Ask them to smile, and they’ll probably return with a grimace, or even by pulling the most horrific face they can.

The most honest and endearing images of our children are usually taken when they’re left to their own devices. We always emphasise the need to refrain from interrupting the playfulness of children and to simply follow them stealthily, camera at the ready. Candid portraits are always the most illuminating!

Use Natural Light

black and white photo of girl

Using available light is ideal for more natural pictures, so you’re at an advantage if your home has rooms illuminated by large windows.

Flash will kill the cuteness of most photographs with its harsh, directional lighting and its unnatural background darkness and shadows.

Furthermore, it will alert your children to your intentions and distract them from their activities. So, try using available light where possible.

Come Down to Their Level

boy and teddy bear on pier

Another problem commonly seen in snapshots of children is perspective. Simply put, we are tall and they are small – a fact that often sees us adopting a demeaning overhead perspective.

Placing a baby on the ground and standing above his or her head rarely results in a complimentary photograph. Try lowering yourself to floor level and photographing your children at their height. Not only is it less demeaning, but the perspective is more interesting.

Use Continuous or Tracking Focus Mode

girl playing in water

Your kids are going to be antsy no matter how much you try to convince them to sit still. For the best shots, make sure your camera focus mode is set to continuous or tracking. Instead of locking in the focus on one particular point, it will track the moving object – your child.

Some cameras can even anticipate movement and predict where you’ll need the focus, locking it in ahead of time so you get a crisp, clear shot.

High speed or burst modes are also helpful, with your camera taking multiple pictures so you can choose from multiple action shots.

Use a Zoom Lens

child playing in water

Unless you want to shove a camera in your child’s face, which will really distract them from their play, a zoom lens is a must. It allows you to give the kids some distance, but still capture intimate up-close images.

Portrait lenses also do the job well – but it’s better if they have a bit of range on them so you can stand back during play. Try for a zoom lens that goes up to 200mm.

Stay on the Eyes

young girl in field

People looking at your pictures are always drawn to the eyes – so it will look far less impacting if the eyes are blurry. If you’re using a fixed focus, make sure the eyes are the focal point.

Pay Attention to the Background

girl playing in grass

A messy background will distract from your subject. Not only are children typically dressed colourfully, you can also read a lot in their many facial expressions.

It’s important to keep the background simple so the image doesn’t appear too chaotic. Of course, the age-old rule of ensuring playground equipment isn’t sticking out of their heads also applies!

Don’t Hold Back on Pictures

Finally, be sure to take as many pictures as you can. Children are not easy subjects to work with – they are fast moving, will gravitate towards parents (usually the ones with a camera in their hand), and move between several facial expressions within half a second!

For more inspiration, check out our neat infographic on creative portrait photography, learn how to frame a portrait photograph, or get inspiration with these cake smash ideas!

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