Let’s face it. We all have a smart phone full of pictures of our kids. Its likely we’ll never do anything with those but at least we try! And once in a while we might even take out a real camera and try to take a few family photos on our trip or maybe just in the back yard on a random summer day. Well, here are some 11 tips to take better photos of your kids when you do it. Because if you’re going to do it, you should do it right.
11 Tips To Take Better Photos of Your Kids
1. Do not tell your kids to say cheese
There’s a time and place to ask kids to say cheese, all of those times are food related. Unless you really love the unnatural smile kids produce on the cheese request I suggest dropping it entirely. I can pretty much guarantee that the cheese photos are not the ones that will make your heart sing when you look at their tiny selves few years from now. What do you say instead? Well, saying nothing is always an option or just simple: “Can you just look at me?” will suffice.
2. Get close
They may be on a slide or chatting on a bench, kicking a ball or playing catch, you snap a picture from a good distance so you don’t get in their way or so you don’t have to get up. You have the picture but do you love it? Get right in front of them, risk being squirted with a water gun in your face, risk being slightly kicked on a slide, get right there in the action, get up close, right in front of them, most of the time the kids won’t even notice. The picture will be worth it.
3. Get far
Now I am going to tell you to keep a safe distance, right? Not so much. What I mean by getting far is gaining some distance in some scenarios where you want to back off a bit so you can get more complete picture of the storyline that is happening in front of you right now. Maybe your kid is sitting under a tree playing with sticks. Perhaps you want to show how happily alone he/she is playing by showing the emptiness around or you want to show how crowded and busy the play-park is and how content is your little one in his/her own world, whatever the story is, don’t cut the story line, show what is really going on and get the complete story. And then get close, so you can see the focused role-play look you love so much and know that my tip number 3 wasn’t just a space filler.
4. Climb up
Just as you might get a better view of the complete scene from further away you may get a great scene coverage from above. Where climbing a tree isn’t always the most convenient option you may opt for more simple solutions. Just towering over your kids gets you a pretty different view from above but use any tools you can in an indoor environment, get on a chair, on the sofa, on the table if your table is solid and you are brave enough. Kids have a little stepping stool next to their sink? Perfect aid for raising you up to new horizons. In fact, many photographer’s secret tool! Honestly, a small step (up) for a man, a giant leap in photographer’s efforts.
5. Get low
You guessed it, what comes up, must come down. This may be stating the obvious but kids are small, go to their level. Kneel down, bend over, lay down, try it all, get low and then go lower. You may be surprised what a small change of perspective can do.
6. Don’t stop when all hell breaks loose
I bet your children are angels who never fight or throw tantrums. Yeah, I know, hilarious. But you know what? Some people’s family albums look that way. We all know looks can be deceiving of course however as you may not feel like sending a screaming tearful snotty portrait of your ranging child to her grandparents or share it amongst the (totally real) perfect life posts on social media you may want to hang on to such images for the kiddo’s graduation slideshow or the good old embarrassing board at your baby’s wedding or another life event. So, it is what is says on the cover. Do not stop your camera efforts when tantrum happens, when the feet start kicking or when the cereal drops all over the floor. It will still be there few seconds later when you’re done with the apparently tearful evidence which will one day become pretty hilarious even if you don’t quite see it now.
7. Shoot for character, not just the face
Easy. Kid has his face buried in the book he’s gripping in his favorite uncomfortable looking position? Take the headless head shot. Take the photo of a dancing shadow, feet dangling inches above the ground at the dinner table or sticking out so far from the bed at night, take the shot of the
8. Savor the details
Does your little person chew on favorite bunny’s ears? Has his newly lost tooth created the funniest gap in his mouth does your little girl always have her pinky up when she drinks at her pretend tea party? Ketchup covered mouth during spaghetti Bolognese dinner, chalk-covered t-shirt or their feet digging in a muddy lake.
9. Leave them be
Your kids don’t need to be told what to do for the camera, they are already interesting and unique enough without some scripted set-ups. Just sit, observe, wait, watch some more. Let them do whatever it is they are doing, don’t just click and disappear, sit and wait, let them be themselves and watch great moments happen. Whether they are momentous for their rarity or for their routine simplicity. Watch, see what you love, enjoy and shoot what you what to remember. Be patient, reserve time to wait and be there, dishes can wait, just be there, watch, enjoy, click, repeat.
10. Don’t chop their limbs
Just don’t. Either whole limbs or no libs. With exception of creative goodness.
If you show one arm, show both, same with legs, and especially don’t just chop off feet and hands. And parts of hands and feet. That’s just almost never cool. Generally speaking it just shouldn’t be an awkward crop, especially near joints.
11. Get in the picture
Last but shouldn’t be least at all, whether you are the Mom, the Dad, the grandparent who happens to have the photographer role in the family, you are important enough to be in the picture yourself. Don’t like pictures of yourself? Happy to be hiding behind the lens? That’s ok, but still, get in the picture. You don’t need to show anyone; you don’t need to share. This isn’t necessarily just about you. Take those for your kids, take them for your partner, take them for your future self, you never know when you might feel different and ‘I wish I did’ will be no good to you. Go past the selfie option if you can, hand camera to others, to family, to strangers, to your kids, set timers, set tripods, experiment, do what you can but get IN, someone will be grateful you did.