I wanted to create a helpful post for mothers who would like to get more authentic photographs of their children at home and wherever they are. Our children grow up fast, and as a mother, I understand the need to document everything in the hopes of remembering these precious days!
Below are a few questions I receive from mothers who want to photograph their children better. I hope that this helps you, mama, as you continue to capture your children at every stage!
What are some tips for capturing natural and candid moments without kids looking unnatural, posed or uncomfortable?
I never, ever, ever ask children to “say cheese”. In my opinion, this is telling children to grit their teeth and plaster a fake smile across their face.
I recommend asking my kids to smile, while I’m smiling at them (aka not ordering them to smile). I also like to have excited children say “cookies!” Or “guacamole” if I want them to look at the camera.
I will also have children do an activity they like, tickle each other, or ask them questions about their favorite things.
For posing children together, I usually like to give them a position or place to stand and let them act naturally from there. Resting positions are usually easy for kids to do and takes the pressure off of being overly excited about being in a photos. Examples are to rest your arm on your brother’s shoulder, rest your head on your sisters leg, sit right on this spot on ground and rest against your sibling. If we want more excitement, laughter and joy, you can then have siblings tell a funny story, tell their sibling a secret or joke or tickle each other.
For posing a child alone, I usually ask the child to sit or stand where I want them and give them something to do with their hands. Put a thumb in your pocket, pinch your pretty dress, pick a flower, show me a rock. I will also ask questions like: tell me about this picture you drew, anything to engage with them so we are not demanding they drop all their thoughts and smile on command at a camera. Sometimes kids don’t want to sit or stand where I would like them to, so I will ask where they want to sit/stand for a quick photo of just them alone. We can do something really silly..this usually gets them on board for a photo, then I will try to get them to go to the spot I wanted and will ask them a few questions, maybe tell them a silly joke or give them a quick activity to do to get the photo I am hoping for.
What are the best lighting conditions and suitable locations for photographing children?
I recommend using clean, natural light. This means making sure house lights are off and using window light indoors. Ambient light tends to add an orange or green cast on skin. When outdoors, I recommend keeping the sun to the back and side of your subject to avoid haze and squinting. Open shade is another good option to have nice, even light on your child.
I think the most important thing to keep in mind, for any location, is your background. Try to pick up clutter and avoid distracting backgrounds. Use your body to move so a car, garbage can, or other large object is not taking the attention away from what you intend to be the subject of your image. Try to be aware of the objects that will be in the frame of your photograph. If there is something you would rather not see in your photo, take the time to remove it, move your feet to get it out of your frame, or use the object(s) strategically to point the viewer toward what you want them to see! Fence lines, meandering sidewalks and tree branches can often be used as leading lines to frame or “point” toward the child or children in your image and adds interest to your photo.
What if my child is shy or uncooperative?
Activities are great for children who are camera shy. Set up a favorite activity such as crayons and paper, legos, a dollhouse, etc in pretty light. Prepare in your head for the photograph you want, know where you will stand, the angle you will use, etc. Ask your child to play there for a few minutes and get your shot. Then go play for a few minutes with your child so its fun for them. Next time you want to do this, they will come, because you didn’t try to trick them.
I try to keep photographing my children at home to just a few minutes. If I say 5 minutes, I mean 5 minutes. This alleviates marathon shoots that leave me and my children defeated and grumbly. If they are not in the mood, I will usually wait or maybe offer them a piece of candy to help me. Sometimes they want to take the picture, so I will let them photograph me first and then I get to photograph them.
How do I edit my photos?
I use Adobe Lightroom to edit photos. There is a free version for your phone. I have my mobile Beach Preset pack available for quick adjustments like brightening and polishing up of all your beach and pool photos this summer!
I think it’s best to get your images pretty great in camera, by finding good light and eliminating distractions from your background and not try to “fix it later”. In Lightroom, I am typically straightening my images, adjusting the White Balance, increasing Exposure and toning down fluorescent greens that sometimes occur in short grass. There are free editing programs like Fotor or Pixlr available for beginners. My advice is to lightly edit your images, don’t over do it! Fads come and go, so keep your photos looking natural and timeless.
What do I do with all the photos I have taken?
I am a firm believer in printing your photos. You can print them monthly, or annually. I like to print annually into a photo book and gift it to my husband for his birthday in January. He loves looking at old photographs so this is perfect for all the iPhone photos I collect throughout the year and motivates me to do it! Chat books are a great option to print phone photos monthly. You can also upload your images into Shutterfly.com or snapfish.com right from your phone and categorize into months so they are stored somewhere you can print. For the milestones, family vacations and professional photos, I like to create a beautiful album with lay flat pages that will look beautiful on our shelves and I know will be passed on through generations!
Looking for more tips to photograph your children authentically?
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