When my oldest was a baby, I became interested in photography. Taking pictures is a perfect hobby for me as I always have adorable clients, and I don’t have to leave the house or find a babysitter to practice. I’m not a professional, but I’ve picked up a few tips over the years.
Professional pictures can be amazing, but they are quite an investment. I realized that if I put time and effort into taking good pictures of my children, I’m usually happy with the results.
Yes, I have a “fancy” camera. But I’m also a firm believer that most of the magic is not in the camera, but in how you set up and take the picture. For example, I make a Family Yearbook from selected pictures, and their are many iPhone pictures scattered amidst the DSLR pictures. Honestly, I usually can’t tell the difference.
Here are three tips to get you started:
1. Decide if you want “formal” or “lifestyle” pictures.
Lifestyle pictures are in vogue right now (and I love them!), but I also appreciate a good posed photo. For all of my kids, I have done a series of posed monthly shots of them during their first year of life, and as they’re getting older, I like to do a yearly birthday picture. I love having these posed shots, but I’d also miss so much personality if I only took good posed shots and ignored their everyday activity.
Although posed pictures do take more planning, for “nicer” lifestyle shots you still need to think and not just point and shoot. Consider how your camera is looking at your kids (try getting down on their level!), where your light is coming from, and what’s in the background of your picture.
2. Pick a location, time, and what everyone will wear.
If you’re going for lifestyle pictures, this isn’t so important, but it still helps to consider it. If you want a picture of your son playing with Legos, set up the Legos by a window, and then wait for him to start playing with them. Your picture will turn out much better than if he was in a dark closet.
If you’re planning a more posed portrait, consider going outside. I love the open space on the Rio Grande, or there’s a pretty red bridge and telephone booth behind the shopping center on Jefferson just North of Osuna. I also love the simplicity of my backyard or even a pretty chair placed near a window.
Pay attention to the time of day for more even lighting and fewer shadows. I generally plan on going within 1.5 hours of sunrise or sunset. If that’s not possible, I plan on taking pictures in the shade or hope for a cloudy day.
If you were paying someone to take pictures, you’d probably pay attention to what your kids are wearing. For more formal pictures, coordinating outfits will make your pictures appear more professional.
3. Bribe, er, reward your kids.
My kids are MUCH more cooperative if there’s something in this activity for them. Before I start, I’ll often tell them that if they cooperate than they can have a reward (candy, screen time, etc.).
- When using a phone camera clean the lens first by wiping it on your shirt. It’s amazing the difference this will make in the clarity of the pictures!
- If you have a DSLR be brave and get out of auto mode. A good place to start is Aperature Priorty mode. Low numbers should blur your background and give them a more artistic/professional appearance.
Go have fun recording some memories! And don’t forget to print some of your captured treasures so you can enjoy them.