My dad was our family’s photographer. He was always taking photos, and the moments he captured were priceless. My mom was quite the photographer too! Prior to having me, she worked as a writer and photographer for a newspaper. I guess I come by my love of photography naturally. Despite a lack of formal training, I’ve enjoyed sharpening my skills with the thousands upon thousands of photos I’ve taken of my kids. I’ve loved capturing priceless, everyday moments just like my dad once did. I’ve reveled in seeing the world behind the lens of my camera. From one mom to another, here are a few tricks of the trade I’ve picked up along the way…
Use Natural Light
One of the easiest ways to improve your photos is to turn off your camera’s built-in flash. The artificial light cast by the flash causes an unattractive glare and unnatural shadows. Little faces look better without the harsh light of a flash. Natural light is the key to great photographs. If you’re outside during the daytime, rely on the sunlight. I have a UV filter for my camera lens which also helps protect the lens from scratches, accidental drops, and little fingers. Taking photos inside can be a little trickier. If it’s during the daylight hours when sunlight is coming through the windows, turn off the lights and just use the natural light coming in from outside. If the room isn’t well-lit, opt for a better time or place to take a few snapshots. If you have a DSLR camera, you can put the aperture to wide setting or slow down the shutter speed to let in as much light as possible.
I love candid shots of the kids just being kids. But birthdays, holidays, and other special occasions call for a few posed shots. Plan to capture these photos during times when the kids are fed, rested, and in the mood for a portrait session. Also opt for a time when there is a lot of natural light to work with. Go outside or find the place in your home that has the best light. You could also prepare a few props ahead of time like your child’s favorite toy, a beloved stuffed animal, sentimental pieces of jewelry, or even your wedding dress.
Take photos that show growth! Pictures taken on the first and last day of each school year are a fun way to see how much your child has changed during that time. I’m sure you’ve see the pictures all over Pinterest of the kids holding the signs that read, “First Day of Kindergarten.” There’s a reason why those shots are so popular. They are an adorable and fun way to capture those milestones. Take a bazillion pictures of your newborn! They grow so fast, so don’t be afraid to preserve every detail through photos. Taking monthly pictures of your baby or yearly photos of your school-age child are great ways to preserve those memories. Pose them with the same prop or in the same location time after time to get the full effect of how much they are growing and changing.
Steady Does It
Are your little ones as wiggly as mine? Kids are always on the go. A faster shutter speed will help you capture those active moments. A steady hand is important too. Whether you are using the camera on your phone or a DSLR, holding that camera steady during the shot is crucial. If your DSLR camera has an image stabilization or vibration reduction setting, be sure to turn it on. Using a tripod is another great way to keep things steady.
Point of View
Try taking photos from different angles. Find a new “point of view” by moving around, trying an overhead shot, or positioning yourself low to the ground. Zoom in close to fill the frame with your child. A new angle or zoom can add a lot of impact to a photograph.
Today’s technology allows us to take a limitless amount of photos. Once upon a time, we were forced to snap the photos, develop the film, and hope for the best. In this world of camera phones and digital photography, my personal philosophy is to keep clicking and eventually you’ll hit GOLD! I snap several photos all at once–candid shots from different angles and zooms. One of them always ends up being that perfect shot I was hoping would capture the moment.
Location, Location, Location
Location is crucial in the real estate world, but not as much in the world of picture-taking. For photography, there are no boundaries. From the mini photo shoot in the backyard to the exotic family vacation, great photos can happen anywhere!
As a parent, I know all eyes are on your child. When taking photos of them, pay attention to the rest of the shot too. Wait just a moment for the runner in park to pass, limit distractions in the background, and crop unwanted items out. If you are going for a full body pose, look around the shot to make sure you haven’t cropped out those little hands and feet. You’ll want those tiny toes in the photo to always look back on.
Capture Those Personalities
Don’t always go for the “Look at me and smile!” photos. Get some candid shots of those goofy faces and giggles. Click the camera at moments when your child is doing something they love, fully engaged in what they are doing, and just acting natural.
Edit your photos! Many cameras will come with their own software or you may want to invest in a program like Photoshop. My go-to photo editor is PicMonkey. (And it’s FREE!) Using a photo editing program to make collages, insert text, add filters, and such can make your already fabulous photos even better!
Do you have some tips to offer? I’d love to hear them!