10 tips for the best photos of your kids
The question I probably get the most often when it comes to blogging is how I take photos of my kids. From the type of camera/lens I use, to the settings, to just how the heck to get them to cooperate. And, oh boy, some of those are easier than others. Since there are so many ins and outs, I thought it was time to document them all here. Of course, if you still have questions after, please leave me a comment, send an email, etc. This is just a good starting point. Also keep in mind I’m not a professional! I’ve invested in a nice camera, I’ve read a lot of articles online, but I am not professional and really only have experience photographing my own crazy kiddos.
1| Research. You’re probably not going to have an hour to snap pictures of your kids. If you’re like me you probably will get 10 minutes out of them. So go into it knowing what you want. Get on Pinterest, pin examples of what you want. Knowing how you want them to pose will help you when it comes to setting your camera to the proper settings.
2| Pick outfits. This is probably the part that’s the most fun. Pick pieces that coordinate, they don’t necessarily have to match (although they can!) but just be sure to pick colors that compliment each other. If they’re wearing the same color, but not the exact same style/print, they may blend together.
3| Scout locations. My goal is always to find a versatile location. I want to be able to shoot a few different backgrounds without having to do more than walk a few feet away. You don’t want your location to be in direct sun, make sure it’s completely covered. If it’s not, you’ll end up with some shaded and some sunny spots on your adorable little models. You want the sun behind your subjects. So keep in mind your location when picking what time of day to take photos and vice versa. If you’re inside, get as close to a window or door as possible. If you have to lug your bedding into the kitchen so you get all of the light from your sliding glass door, do it!
4| Have realistic expectations. Sure, you’re going to want one with them both smiling at the camera. But even getting just one is tough! My goal is always to get pictures that are actually in focus (lol) and capture their personalities. You know those expressions your children always give you, give each other, give their friends? You want to capture those!
Okay, so those are all things to keep in mind and work on before you actually take photos, these next tips are for actually taking the photos.
5| You can’t edit away bad quality. If your subjects aren’t in focus, you can’t fix that with Photoshop. If they’re blow out (blown out means an area is so white that all details of are gone) you can’t fix that in Photoshop either. So just remember, there are a million ways to edit a photo, but make sure you get focus on the quality while you’re shooting and the editing comes later.
6| Take some test shots. You don’t want to snap 30 pictures and then look through them and realize the lighting isn’t what you thought, or the focus is off, etc. Ideally I have Jason with me and he can sit where the kids will be. If not, I use Ben’s carseat (or Ben in his car seat) or will ask Blaire just to sit there and let her look at her iPad. My goal is not to use up their attention span or their patience while I’m testing everything.
7| Try not to shoot in manual. For my DSLR I typically shoot in AV mode because my goal is to have a blurred background. I use a 50MM 1.4 lens, so I like to shoot as close to 1.4 aperture as possible, because I love a good boken background. With the 50MM, to really get a good boken background, I find I have to be fairly close up to the subject. So, typically no full body images. It’s usually their faces and maybe shoulders. For example, these photos where they’re sitting or standing, my aperture is 1.6, but the photos where they’re laying down on the blanket, it’s a 9.0 because I didn’t have to worry about wanting to blur the background. I just wanted to have the best chances of both of their faces being in focus as possible. In addition to aperture, make sure you pay attention to the ISO. The higher the number, the grainer your photo can be, which is something that happens to me when I leave it in AUTO mode. If I’m shooting outdoors and it’s overcast, usually 200 or 400 are the best settings.
8| Using your phone? If you’re using your phone, there are still steps you can take aside from making adjustments to the settings of your camera. DO. NOT. USE. THE. FLASH. Don’t do it. Still use natural light. Still have the sun behind you, with your subjects out of direct light. I like to turn on the grid because I feel it helps me. If you’re using Portrait mode, just know you’ll need to stay rather close but you’ll end up with gorgeous photos that have the blurred background you can get from a fancier camera. I prefer the Natural Light mode in Portrait, but that’s just what has worked best for me.
9| Think through your poses. I love to look at Pinterest for ideas! When posing your children, make sure they’re both at the same depth of field. For me, this one is sometimes the toughest. It wasn’t something I ever had to worry about as a mom of one. But now with two kids who are young and are constantly moving around, it makes me crazy. In the photo below, you can see Blaire is in focus and Ben is blurry. She is closer to the camera, because of that angle I was standing at. OF COURSE it’s the only photo I have where they’re smiling. So, don’t be like me! Don’t let one child be blurry. Haha!
10| Check your photos often. Take a break, give your kids some fruit snacks (or their binky!) and check the photos you’ve taken and see if you can move on to another pose. Sometimes, I’ve found it easier to move to a different pose to give the kids a change of scene or a change in what I’m asking them to do and then going back to the pose where I want some better shots, hoping they’ll be more content the second time around. It doesn’t always work, but hey, you win some, you lose some, right?
So while these photos aren’t THE BEST I’ve ever taken, I still love them. It was a freakishly warm day in November, it was seriously 70 degrees. So they were both excited to be outside. Ben was newly mobile so he was trying to roll over and escape from his big sister the whole time. But I definitely feel like I captured some of their typical expressions, Blaire always with the sass, Ben always chewing on something or smiling.
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Okay, so what are your tips for taking pictures of your children? I know I’m not a pro and definitely have room for improvement. I know how much I cherish photos of them right now, I can’t imagine how much that will intensify over the years as they keep growing up. I’m going to be the crazy lady with photos covering every surface of her home some day. ;)