How to get better photos of your children?

“Do you want to get better photos of your children??”

I started my photography business back in 2013, and I was only taking photographs of children and it was hard!  Since then, I’ve worked with hundreds of completely unique and wonderful kids.  I’ve learnt from my mistakes, and now have great go to tips and tricks that don’t let me down, and I hope that you’ll find them useful to get better photos of your children at home or on days out (may that come around sooner than later).  Regardless of what camera you use, often it’s the use of light (and/or dark), the composition or perspective that can take a photo from good to great.

through the looking glass

Let’s make the most of this time

I’d originally intended for this article to be timely and useful for the upcoming Easter school holidays.  But the last week has been an absolute whirlwind, and in the midst of COVID-19, the majority of us now find ourselves working, schooling, exercising and having family time and fun confined to our homes and gardens.  Although this is a scary and difficult time, we have to adapt the best that we can, doing what we can to help our children continue with their learning from home, fit in our own work when we can, all whilst trying to keep things as “normal” as possible for our children.  I’m finding this week a massive learning curve.  We’ve had good days and bad, but we’re taking it all one day at a time, adjusting our routine as we go.  If you’re finding yourselves a little overwhelmed, have a read here of an article I put together with some fantastic FREE resources and advice that might make your life just a little easier.

These weeks ahead are going to become an important childhood memory for our children.  This will be a time they will tell their children about – it’s history in the making that they are a part of, so make the most of the good and bad and document this time for your children.  Make it fun, make a scrapbook of your daily adventures and include photos.  Get the children involved with putting this together – writing diary entries, sharing their feelings, the best parts of their day.  When this is all over, it will be a wonderful reminder that during scary times, when you come together as a family you can get through it.

Find the light

This is THE most important influence that will affect the overall quality of any photo.  When you’re indoors, try to stick to rooms that let in the most light, and open doors, blinds and curtains as much as possible to maximise your light source.  If you can avoid it, stay away from using flash as it doesn’t look particularly nice, and the same goes for the use of artificial lights as they can cause a not so pretty yellow tint to your image.  If you have areas of your house with pockets of light, where there is a cool contrast between the dark and the light – take advantage and get create with where you place your subject.

When photographing your children playing outside – morning or late afternoon/early evening are best – when the sun is lower and less harsh.  If you’re out at noon, when the sun is at it’s highest, look for shaded areas that will provide softer light on their faces instead of causing harsh shadows.  If you can’t find a shaded area – put the sun behind your child or use things like trees to block the harsh sunlight.  Cloudy days are wonderful for taking photographs, they are blocking out any harsh, direct light and act like a giant soft box providing soft, flattering light on your children’s faces.

In the image below, my son was already up on the kitchen counter and watching our new air fryer cooking chips!  It was already getting quite dark outside, but I closed the kitchen blinds that are positioned behind him to make sure that there was as much shadow around him as possible and that the light from the fryer on his face was the main focal point on the image.

Don’t say ‘cheese’

This is guaranteed to get you a completely fake, forced smile!  If you want a nice photo of your child looking at the camera, sit and chat with them.  Talk to them about something they really love, or enjoyed doing that day.  Have your camera ready to go and when you see them light up or get animated and excited, get ready to press the shutter!  Try positioning yourself with your back to a window and have your child look outside and tell you what they can see.  Naturally they will look at you whilst telling you, and you can take the picture.   More often than not, the images that you want will be of them playing with siblings or doing an activity that they enjoy, being themselves and natural.  You can easily set up a game or get a book out and put it in a well lit area, take the child to it, let them play and you will get some really natural photos of them having fun.  In the image below, I was just sitting chatting to my daughter about my 365 project (read more here!) and she joked that I’d be taking photos of them sitting on the toilet – when I said that was a great idea she got the giggles and I got one of my most favourite ever photographs of her!

Change your perspective

Sometimes all it takes is a change in perspective to add interest, tell a story or focus on details of your children that you love.  Getting down to their level is not only a great way to engage with children, but you get to see things through their eyes too!  Stepping back and including the environment that they are in is a lovely way of storytelling.  When they are playing in their room, with toys everywhere, include the whole scene.  Don’t be afraid to move things if they are distracting, but try to keep it as true to life as possible to keep it real and genuine.  Take your photo from below or above – I often stand on tables and chairs to get a birds eye view of my children and it makes for a much more interesting photo.

 

Let them run wild and free

You don’t need me to tell you that children rarely sit still, especially toddlers!  So encourage this – let them run around, let them focus on what they are doing and take advantage of burst modes on your camera.  Just keep holding down the trigger/button and you’re more than likely to get a few great action shots – then just delete the ones that don’t make the cut!

Be prepared

There’s nothing worse than seeing a really cute or special moment and then realising your camera or phone is in the other room – you run to get it and then boom, the moment is gone! You can’t always carry your phone or camera around 24/7, but if you know you’re going to be in a particular place/room for a while, get it out and get it ready.  Learn how to access your phone camera quickly – you can google “quick camera access {phone make/model} to learn how.  I had approximately 2 seconds to take this image below of my son flipping pancakes before it ended up on the floor!  It’s not technically great, but his expression is priceless.

pancake day win

Think about composition

You can make an image more appealing by following the “rule of thirds”.  This is breaking your image down into thirds as shown below, and placing points of interest into one of the four intersecting lines.  You can do this mentally, or most camera phones have the option of adding a “grid” onto the screen so you can see it visually.  Viewers naturally look at the intersecting points and so placing things such as eyes or faces in these areas helps to create more interest and energy in the image.  You can always crop an image afterwards if you didn’t quite manage to get it right in camera.

Be sneaky

I stalk my kids all the time!  Whilst they are pretty used to the camera, there are times when I just want to get a photo of them being completely natural.  Peek through gaps in doors, around doorways and through windows – get creative!  I took this image through the crack in my daughter’s bedroom door and I like the way that it frames her reading on her bed after school.

Don’t make it a chore

Begging or bribing kids can work when you want them to co-operate, but you’ll often end up still getting forced smiles and unnatural photos because they just want to get it over with and eat that sweet you promised for a smile!  Make it fun, make the time full of energy and let them be – that’s when you’ll get the most fantastic photos of your children being 100% themselves and that is what you’ll want to keep and treasure forever.

Get in the photos with your children!

Make the most of all being at home together, and make sure to get your partner to get photos of you with your children too and vice versa.  Snuggles on the couch, playing catch in the garden, making lunch together – these are really special times and you all deserve to be in the memories.

Don’t forget to print

Even if you’re using your phone, you can still get excellent quality photos printed if you use a reputable printing lab.  You may be limited as to what size you can print up to, but if you’ve got a really special image, get it printed.  There’s nothing nicer than walking into a room in your house and smiling at a photo and remembering how you felt, what you were doing, or just being amazed at how quickly your little one has changed!  I’d recommend Digitalab and stress that it’s worth paying that little bit extra vs other online or High Street labs, both for quality and service.

 

Thank you for reading, and I really hope that you can make use of one or two of the tips above to help you get better photos of your children.  And when you’re ready to get your whole family in the photos, get in touch to chat to me about your ideal photo session to celebrate your beautiful family by clicking here

Louise x

  1. […] want some advice on how to get better photos of your children, I’ve put together an article here with some advice and useful tips to take your photos from good to […]

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louise wilke photography

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