Since becoming pregnant, one of the most common remarks I get from people is that I’m lucky to be a photographer and have the ability to get great photos of our son. I am fortunate in this aspect but photographing my son will be second nature to me because I spent over 7 years working with children and families and I’ve learned what works and what doesn’t. Today I’m going to share 5 very simple and easy tips on how to capture those perfect shots of your children.
1. Say ‘look’ instead of smile or cheese – How many photos do you have of your children where they pretty much have the same expression. Either it’s a forced smile that looks completely fake or it’s them with an unflattering grin saying cheese. I also bet when you ask your child to smile or say cheese, they usually have an exasperated look on their faces or refuse to take a photo altogether. Frustrating, right? When you ask your child to ‘look’, it not only peaks their curiosity but you also get candid expressions. It also takes the pressure of asking your child to “perform”.
2. Ask them questions – Talk to your children while you’re photographing them. Divert their attention away from the camera. Ask them to recall a funny moment or describe what they recently watched on Pup Patrol or Peppa Pig. Who their best friend is at school. Ask them anything. You’ll be able to get a lot of candid expressions as well and some good discussion time in with your child. When I’m photographing children, I’m constantly talking to them while shooting at the same time. I will even ask the parents to step away so they’re not hovering.
3. Use props and create distractions – Along with asking them questions, another great tool to distract them is to have them play with their toys or books or create a moment. For example, give them a bowl of ice cream or a snack. Let them play with something that’s new and exciting to them like your makeup or even an old camera you may have. Whatever you think would peak their interest. (But not coloring – kids never look up while they color and they get annoyed when you divert their attention from it.)
4. Get down – Sit on the floor or even lay on your tummy. Photograph them at eye level. You’re less intimidating this way and your photos will look more aesthetically pleasing.
5. Don’t control them; Have fun – If you find yourself starting to get frustrated with them, put the camera/phone down. If you make taking photos unpleasant, they will associate those feelings any time photos are being taken and even a professional will have a difficult time. Let them be themselves. Ask them if there’s anything they want to do. When I feel a child is over it but I still need more photos, I’ll ask them if they want to make silly faces or show me how high they can jump. This always gets them back in the mood and makes for some fun photos for the parents to look back on.
6. Show them their photos after you take them – Children love seeing their faces on a photo. When you show them the photos you take, you get them involved in the process and they begin understanding what photos are. They’ll start wanting to create their own poses and scenarios and if you make it fun for them they’ll be more than ready to ham it up for the camera.
7. Take lots and lots of photos – As a professional family photographer, I see a huge difference between children whose parents take millions of photos of them versus children whose parents don’t. You can guess which kids are easier to work with. Even if it gets frustrating, don’t give up. Get them used to the camera and get them comfortable with it. It’s the same with adults, right? If you’re not used to being in front of a camera, it get intimidating and scary and talk about being nervous. Well, kids are the same way. Capture moments, all moments.
8. Back up your photos – This is more of a technical tip but there is nothing worse than losing photos of your children and family. Make sure you back it up to a computer, then an external hard drive, AND a cloud storage like Dropbox or iCloud (it’s only $0.99/month for larger storage space). I say back it up to an external after uploading it to your computer because you’ll want to delete the photos off your computer since they take about a lot of space and can slow it down drastically.
I can’t emphasize enough to just have fun and let your kids be kids. And make it fun for yourself. Impromptu shoots can be great bonding opportunities for you and your children.
Happy shooting! :)
P.S. If you found these tips helpful and think other parents would like them, too, please share this post. xo
If you’d like me to photograph your holiday photos before I go on maternity leave in December, please use this form here or email me directly at nina @ loveandlemonade.com (no spaces).