There is much more to getting a good photo of your child than getting them to look at the camera & smile. As a professional child photographer, I’ve put together a short list of my top tips for parents looking to get better images of their children – even if you are just using your smartphone.
Note: All of the images in this post were taken with my iPhone. Feel free to follow my Instagram account for more images of our everyday life.
1. Turn That Flash OFF
This goes for all types of photography & all types of cameras – direct flash is not flattering, nor is direct sunlight. My preference for taking images outdoors is natural, filtered light (cloudy day or in the shade), but if you are working in the sun, try to get it behind your child. That way, they are not looking directly into the sun, and you get a nice sun ‘halo’ effect around their head. The best time of day to take outdoor photos is called the ‘golden hour’, or the hour or two immediately before sunset when everything has that gorgeous golden glow.
The same goes for taking images inside, the brighter the room the better, but I’d much rather open the blinds than turn on a light. Lights tend to give off either a florescent blue tone or an overly warm tungsten glow and their skin won’t look natural.
Note: If you turn your flash off and take a photo in a dark environment, expect the image to be grainy or blurry to compensate – especially on phone cameras or on other cameras which don’t handle high ISO very well. But grainy is still MUCH better than blown out skin, red eyes, or the ‘deer in headlights’ look.
2. Get Down to Their Level
I take a lot of my photos at my subject’s eye level. If that means crawling on the ground to hang out with a newborn, I’ll do it. It is natural to take photos looking down at kids from your normal height, but you’ll find you get more interesting images if you change your perspective. Children also think it’s awesome when you are at their level, and feel more at ease when you aren’t towering over them.
Extra Tip: For adults, it isn’t flattering to take images from below eye level – you’ll end up with double chin & up-the-nose shots. If you are taking images of a group of adults and/or children, try your best to stay at the tallest person’s eye level or above.
3. Don’t Forget the Close-up
Kids are only so little for so long and grow up so fast. Capture those details – those long eyelashes, those teeny toes, those baby blues – the things you don’t ever want to forget. When I’m doing a photography session, even if the location is amazing, I always make sure to get at least one simple close-up shot of the child’s face and it almost always ends up being one the parents’ favourites.
4. Get Off-Centre
It’s the basic photography ‘Rule of Thirds‘ – photos are more interesting and draw the eye if the subject is set off to one side of the image. You don’t always have to follow this ‘rule’, but I try to do this at least 75% of the time.
5. Let Them Be Kids
Don’t force children to pose. My favourite images of my kids are the ones that accurately capture their childhood, personalities & the moments I want to remember forever – from running through the sprinkler & splashing in mud puddles, to cuddling on the couch or story-time with daddy. If you want to get a photo of children together, do it when they are having fun, like splashing in a kiddie pool or get them to tickle one another – you’ll get natural smiles and capture a great moment.
Bonus Tip – Don’t wait for the perfect moment!
We live in the age of digital photography, where we can take multiple images in a row without wasting film. I don’t wait for the perfect moment to take a photo, if necessary I’ll take 20 shots in a row and then go through them & only keep the best one or two. Just remember delete the extras, especially on a device with limited space – you don’t want to deal with full memory when another moment arises that you want to capture.
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