8 tricks for taking great photos of your kids.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Hello!  I have a fun post for you today that I hope you will find super helpful!

How many of you drag out the DSLR or point-and-shoot camera on a regular basis?  Show of hands.  

Okay, maybe a few of you (and I do too!), but the majority of photos we all take are with our phones, and that's just the truth these days.

I have very few photos of my childhood because taking out a camera to capture every moment just wasn't a thing in the 80s and 90s.  I'm jealous of our kids' generation because they will have literally thousands of photos to show their kids and reminisce about one day.  I'm not that old (33, to be exact), but times have sure changed from when I was a kid to now.

[Sidebar:  S1 was singing "Ice Ice Baby" to Baby R the other night and it made me think: Vanilla Ice  -- and Dave Matthews and OG Black Eyed Peas -- is the Rock-a-bye-baby of our generation.  Oh and let's not forget the rap part of TLC's "Waterfalls." 90s kids unite!]

But whether you're using a DSLR, point-and-shoot or your phone, the following 8 tips are basically all you need to know to take great photos of your kids. (FYI, all photos below were taken with either my iPhone 6 or 8+)

So let's get started.

1.  Crop it close.
2.  Get down on their level.

We were rushing into church one morning and I wanted to take a photo of S2 in her cute dress, so I snapped this:

Not great, but at least I had something and A photo is better than NO photo.  However, when church let out, we had stopped to talk to someone in the parking lot and S2 climbed into the driver's seat of the car and I had an opportunity to take a better picture:

By cropping in close on my subject (therefore not highlighting my messy van in the background) and getting down on her level, I have a much more successful picture.  I can see the details of her dress better, not to mention the sparkle in her eyes.

Kneeling down to their level is overall more flattering, in terms of lighting and appearance, and a close crop ensures that the subject of the photo takes center stage.

3.  Capture the light!

I spend a lot of time on the couch nursing a baby these days, which means a lot of photos of Baby R are her sleeping in my arms.  I just can't help it, she looks so angelic!

Depending on which arm she's sleeping on, she's either facing the wall of windows in the living room or facing away from them.

Facing away from the light:

Facing toward the light:

The photo of her facing toward the light is what you want - no harsh shadows, overall more well lit.  So, whether you're taking a photo inside or outside, make sure that as the photographer, your back is to the light, and your subject's face is toward the light.

4.  Inject some personality.

I don't know about your kids, but if I tell S2 to stop and smile for the camera, I get a fake smile and end up with a boring picture.

Here, I was trying to get a picture of her in her snow outfit with the snow in the background.  Ideally, I would have taken a shot like this outside, but being 9 months pregnant, I didn't exactly want to venture out into the snow, so this is the best I could do (refer back to #3 - this is also a lighting DON'T).

The above picture is fine but it doesn't really tell a story.  I brought S2 over in front of the fireplace, added a hat for good measure, and told her to put her hands on her hips.  The simple act of telling her to do something out of the ordinary elicited a funny smile and I ended up with a photo that looks like she's actually excited to be going out to play in the snow.

Here's another example of that fake smile I was talking about:

"Give me a thumbs-up!"  Boom: a keeper.  This one has been my phone lock screen for months:

5.  Know your audience!

All I wanted was a picture of my girls in their matching dresses, but S2 wasn't used to the baby yet and didn't like the idea of sitting still next to her for a picture.  Total fail:

So I let it go for the moment and tried again a little while later.  Instead of saying, here let me take a picture, I said excitedly, "Hey, do you want to hold the baby like a good big sister?!" and she was all "Yeah!"  So we set the baby on her lap and she was so excited:

So sometimes it's all about the approach and timing, and knowing what will get your subjects to do what you want them to do.  I would not recommend trying to get a great photo during nap time or if they are in need of a snack -- tired/hangry photo shoots do NOT end well, I think we all know that.


The great thing about digital images (as opposed to film) is that they're limitless.  So don't be afraid to snap tons of photos.  And don't pause between shots - snap snap snap and then go back to check to make sure you got a few good ones.  I do generally try to go back and delete the bad ones, just so I'm not using up valuable iCloud storage. :)  With little ones, this is vital because they generally don't smile continuously (especially until they get a little older), so snapping a ton ensures you get one that you like.

7.  Pay attention to composition.

So, for this photo, I wanted to get a picture of Baby R in this apple dress that her sister also wore.  I put her down on the playroom rug and ran out to the garage to get some faux apples (don't ask me why they're in the garage) and scattered them around her.  30 pictures later (and 2 smiling shots) and...

Just a few moments to think about what would make this picture extra cute turned out an image that I LOVE - and now I have to choose between thumbs-up S2 and apple-y Baby R as my lock screen image... decisions decisions. ha!

Oooh, I have a bonus tip for ya!  This rug is not the most comfortable for feet, much less baby noggins, so I folded up a diaper and stuck it under her head, making sure it wasn't visible in the final shot.  You can kinda see it below her ear, but if I hadn't told you, I'm sure you would have never noticed!  Uncomfortable babies do not make for great pictures.

8.  Apps are a momtog's best friend.

My favorite and most-used phone app for photo editing is Lightroom.  It's part of the Adobe Creative Cloud, but the app is free for anyone to use!  Being a graphic designer by trade, I'm familiar with Lightroom and use it almost exclusively for my photo editing needs in general (only more significant adjustments require Photoshop).  It can do pretty much any adjustment you would need, straight from your phone.  I love light and bright images, so I typically, sharpen, increase contrast & clarity, and bump up the exposure.  But if you're into dim & moody, black & white, soft & serene, whatever!, LR can do it for you.

Taking the apple picture from above, here it is before any adjustments:

And here it is after!

I cropped it, brightened it up and increased the contrast.  So cute, right?

Another app I use is Aviary, also by Adobe, and also free.  It has a few more options such as text overlay, drawing capabilities, blemish corrector, frames, stickers and more.

If I really want to make a fun image, I'll use Rhonna Designs, $1.99 in the App Store.  It has frames, typography, backgrounds, filters and a ton more fun features that can help you make a scrapbook-type image for Instagram or Facebook.

No matter what kind of photo equipment you have, I hope these tips are helpful for making all of your virtual friends jelly of your photog skillz.

Do you have any other tips?  Please share in the comments!!  Here's a pin to save for later (just hover over the image to pin to Pinterest):

1 comment:

  1. I don't have kiddos, but I take pictures of my fur-babies like a MANIAC and these are certainly helpful hints! Even just for blogging photos, I had to learn the hard way about lighting being your best friend (or arch nemesis....) *face palm*