How To Take Family Photos Like A Pro
By Shivani Shah
What has tons of energy, can’t sit still, hates taking direction, and gets bored easily?
When it comes to getting a good photograph of their kids, parents everywhere despair. But with these simple photography tips, you can take professional-looking pics of your kids in your own home.
Know Your Camera
Understanding how to get the most out of your camera can make all the difference. Time spent fiddling with a lens cap and zoom is just enough time for your kids to get squirmy. Learn how to control the camera’s shutter speed (which determines the sharpness or blurriness while capturing movement) and aperture (which determines the blurriness of the background) beforehand. If you’re using a smartphone, check the app store for any apps that allow you to adjust these specific settings on your phone’s camera. It doesn’t matter what camera you use – the more control you have over it, the better your photos will be.
Pay Attention To The Light
There are some photography tips that no one ever shares. Here’s one: The most important part of taking a good photo isn’t the camera or the lens you use, it’s the light you’re shooting in.
Always try to shoot in natural light. If you’re indoors, find the room with the best natural light and open all the curtains to let in as much light as possible. Avoid using the flash; if you absolutely must, though, don’t expect your photos to be as good as they would be with natural light.
If you’re outdoors, try not to shoot in the bright sunlight. While afternoon sun is the brightest, it also creates very harsh and unflattering shadows. If the kids are awake and active, shoot during what’s known as the golden hour – that is, a couple of hours after sunrise or a couple of hours before sunset. The light is soft, warm and ideal for photography.
Wherever you’re shooting, make sure the kids are positioned so that the light is not behind them, but rather shines on their faces. Otherwise, you’ll just get silhouettes.
Keep The Kids Comfortable
Nothing ruins a photo as quickly as an unhappy kid, so keep your children comfortable. Take candid photos of them performing their favorite activity, playing with a favorite toy, or interacting with each other. Every once in a while engage with them so that, when they turn, you get that looking-into-the-camera shot as well.
Whatever you do, avoid these two surefire photo shoot-ruiners: Don’t pose kids to get that perfect photo; they’ll only end up looking stiff, uncomfortable, and unhappy. Also, don’t use this opportunity to break out the gorgeous princess dress with matching headgear. While you may think there’s nothing more angelic than a pristine poofy skirt, your kid doesn’t. You can strike a happy medium: Tell your kids the family is all going to wear [insert colour family] outfits, then let them pick out one within the parameters. They’ll feel involved and excited to have a say in this fun activity.
Finally — and very importantly — make sure your kids aren’t hungry or sleepy. If “golden hour” is typically nap time or mealtime, make sure they’ve rested or eaten earlier, or shoot at another time to avoid disrupting their schedule. A hungry or sleepy kid is definitely an unhappy one.
Eliminate Background Clutter
Shoot in an environment that’s simple. If you’re indoors, remove extra furniture you won’t be using. If that’s not an option, then remove accessories such as cushions, vases, and even photo frames that will just be a distraction in the background. If you’re outdoors, try not to shoot in a place where there are cars moving in the background or beside a building where windows could take away the focus. A park or garden is ideal, as the grass and trees provide a great natural setting. Wherever you’re shooting, remember that the background should be as uncluttered as possible.
DURING THE SHOOT
Get Down To Their Level
Shooting at the kids’ eye-level completely changes your perspective. If you shoot standing up you’ll get a lot of boring photos of the top of your kids’ heads or of them looking awkwardly up at the camera. Get right in the middle of the action by sitting, kneeling or squatting. The angle of your photos will be more natural, and you’ll be taking photos from a perspective adults don’t often experience.
Get Closer — Then Step Back
The best photos of kids are the ones where you get close and capture their emotions. Take some shots where their faces fill the frame. Take some more where you zoom out just a little to include a bit of the scene while keeping your child (and not the background) the focus of the photo.
Stepping back not only varies the shots, but also give your kids room to play. If you spend the entire shoot with the camera in your child’s face, the only emotion you’re going to capture is irritation. Take photos of them interacting with each other (or with their surroundings, if it’s one child), switching between getting closer and stepping back. And take cues from your kids: Some kids are born stars who love the camera up close and personal, while others may shy away.
Most importantly, have fun with the process and don’t take it too seriously. Play with the kids, run and chase them, laugh a lot, and have a good time.
Happy shooting with these photography tips!