No one wishes that their parents photographed them less.
Take this from a second child who occupies about 5% in her mother’s album whilst my brother, the first-born, has about a million and one photos that he can look back on!
So if you’re a mumma, avoid a personal gripe and dial in those photography skills…
The best strategy to take authentic and timeless photographs of your kids is to have them totally comfortable so that they are showing their true selves (you don’t want to wrestle with a toddler over outfit choices!) This means to dress them in clothes that they like and are used to, and to have them in environments that they are familiar with and enjoy being in. And then it means to let them play as they normally would whilst you get ready to get clickin’. Remember that you don’t necessarily have to have them looking at the camera to get a beautiful shot.
For when you do want them to look straight down the barrel of the camera, don’t be afraid to use props to nab their attention. Bubbles and brightly coloured balloons work a treat for this. For the photo below, I waved a balloon back and forth, across my lens to draw his focus!
/UP HIGH AND DOWN LOW
My two favourite perspectives to shoot kids from are a high perspective and down at their level.
From up high, kids can look adorably teensy as they run ahead and explore their world. You can also perfectly showcase their little faces from this angle.
Don’t be afraid to get down in the dirty. By getting down on their level, you can capture more intimate shots. Since you are seeing and documenting the world from their point of view, your photographs can resonate deeply with your child later on, making for precious keepsakes.
/THE LITTLE THINGS
Get close and then get even closer! Make sure to zoom right in and capture those delicious details you love so much like their fluttery eyelashes or tiny toes. These tighter shots are just as important as the wider ones. If you can focus on their little features and shoot with a blurred out background (a low f/stop in photo-speak), you will truly create something special.
/FAST SHUTTER SPEED
As you know, little ones don’t tend to sit still for too long and they definitely don’t understand that mum is trying to get the winning shot!
To elevate your chances of getting a photograph worthy of a spot on the wall, up your shutter speed to at least 1/250. This faster shutter speed means that your images are more likely to be crisp and sharp AND you’ll be able to squeeze in more frames per second – so you know that super cute expression your daughter pulls that only lasts for a blink of an eye? You’ll be able to freeze this to keep forever.
Now, if you don’t know what any of this means such as what f/stop or 1/250 means, or how to adjust your shutter speed or even what shutter speed is, I cannot recommend enough that you learn to use your DSLR properly. The more control you have of your camera, the more creative you can be – and the more moments you can capture of your kids growing up.
One of the most common things past students say to me is “I wish that I had learnt this sooner” – because once you master manual mode photography, it is a skill that you will have for life. I hope this article is just the beginning of your photography journey and the start of a whole throng of treasured family albums.
Gemma Peanut is a professional shutterbug and story teller. Armed with her camera, her untamed heart and a boundlessly messy imagination.
If you’d like to keep on learning about photography, check out Photography 101 with Gemma Peanut where manual mode photography is broken down into human-speak across several beautifully presented video tutorials + the super-active and exclusive Shutterbug Club.