Play Chess with your Kids
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You can use these 5 tips for taking great kids pics with any type of camera, including your phones. I’ve photographed hundreds of children, so I know well the joys and challenges that come with this! As a parent myself, I understand the difficulties and challenges of trying to get good photos of your kids whilst in busy mum-mode. Whilst expensive kit of course creates better quality images, there are a number of really effective tools that will dramatically improve your pictures.
Photography literally means ‘painting with light’. Light is without a doubt the thing that has the biggest impact on the quality of any photo. When you’re outdoors, avoid harsh, direct sunlight – ideally take photos in gentle, cloudy light or in the shade. If you can’t, then make sure the sun is behind your subject to prevent squinting and looking washed out.
When you’re indoors, let in as much natural light as possible. Open blinds/curtains and move anything that’s obstructing window light. Turn off all lights and lamps – artificial light is actually very dull and ‘muddy’ and may turn everything a strange yellow/orange colour. Once the lights are off, look for areas of light/dark contrast; and take pictures in those pools of light wherever possible. This will usually be in front of windows and patio doors etc. Don’t use your flash! It never looks good 🙂
The rule of thirds tells you to break your image into thirds with two lines both horizontally and vertically. For greatest visual impact, points of interest should lie along these four lines. Especially at the four points where these lines intersect. Many camera phones call this the ‘grid’ and you can turn it on to help guide you while you’re taking photos.
Kids don’t like sitting still – they move – a lot, and quickly. Often the biggest challenge is catching them in that short moment when they’re doing whatever you want to capture. If you press the shutter just once, you risk missing this altogether, usually just by a split second. Shoot in continuous mode so that you have a number of frames captured within a couple of seconds. You can then flick through these and choose the best one(s). Most cameras, including phones, have a continuous shooting mode (also known as ‘burst mode’). This is activated by just holding your finger down on the shutter button instead of pressing and releasing.
Most people photograph others from a standing position, at a fairly close but ‘polite’ distance from their subject. As we’re used to seeing photos taken from this vantage point, the results can lack impact and seem a little ‘boring’. Try:
Genuine moments are by far the most valuable things to photograph. As soon as you let your kids know you’re taking their photo, especially if you ask them to look at you and smile or say ‘cheese’, you’re creating an artificial moment; and the results won’t be as ‘real’ or interesting. If they’re absorbed in play, try to sneak up on them quietly. Watch them carefully and wait for the right moment. It takes patience but the results will be so much more meaningful and impressive.
Anna is a photographer specialising in honest, relaxed, documentary family photography that celebrates real life, character, emotion and individuality. She mentors and runs workshops for other photographers, helping them to carve out their own successful photography businesses. A proud mum to two lively boys aged 13 and 3.