Julie and Gabriel, lollipop in hand, explore the sea wall in Klamath, California. If you’re always photographing your kids, they get used to it and before long, they ignore you.
When you’re a professional photographer, sometimes it’s hard to make yourself pick up a camera when you’re off the clock. Unless of course, you have great looking kids.
You’re probably asking, now which parent doesn’t think their kids are great looking, right?
I take tons of pictures of my kids. My wife’s biggest complaint is that she never sees these pictures.
Previously when I shot film, there would be prints but they’re sitting in a shoe box in some closet. Don’t even ask where the negatives are.
So I’ve compiled some helpful tips for beginners and possibly 1st time parents get better pictures of their kids.
- Photograph at their level. Get down close. Show the world from their perspective.
- Shoot a lot. If you’re using a digital camera, there’s no waste, so why not? Even the most mundane activities can be give you great memories.A great benefit of shooting a lot? they’ll get used to you and ignore you after awhile.
- Pre-focus if you have manual focus capability. If they’re on a swing, focus manually on a spot when they’ll be swinging through. Then wait and time it. you’ll get better results than trying to let your camera chase the focus. Even if you don’t, try this. Half depressing the shutter to lock the focus then wait for the right time to fully depress the shutter.
- Determine the exposure before hand and set that With the technical aspects out of the way, all you have to do is compose, making sure the subject is framed the way you want in your viewfinder before tripping the shutter.
- Use a long telephoto lens especially if you’re in the bright outdoors. This clears out the clutter of the background and isolates your subject. Also gives them some space so that they’ll forget about you and stop hamming it up.
- Talk to your subject, engage them in conversation. It will help them forget about the camera. Or don’t. With kids sometimes you have to play it by ear.
- Don’t get in their faces the whole time. Not every picture has to show their faces. Try one that is a silhouette trusting the camera to underexpose to convey a mood.
- Try shooting in monochrome mode or black and white mode.If you don’t know much about photo-editing and don’t want to learn, look for that setting in your owner’s manual but remember to set it back to color afterwards.
- Shoot with the highest jpeg quality. If you know photoshop, by all means shoot both jpeg and raw. Having a large digital file is like having a longer zoom because it allows you to crop the picture and still have good resolution to print the cropped image.
- The best pictures of kids are usually not posed. Keep your camera handy all the time. Point-and-shoot cameras are great for that because they’re compact and easy to keep close by.
- Study and analyze the lighting. First, when you preview your image after taking the picture, how do skin tones look? You may have to change the white balance if you find you can’t live it with how it looks. If that doesn’t work, maybe turn the room light off and just let one light source dominate. Second. Is the lighting too harsh? Cameras can only record a certain range of highlight and shadow, something has to give. You may have to use a flash to boost the shadow areas to tame the contrast.
- Use the self-timer. If you see a wonderful moment and the light is wonderful, don’t forget to include yourself in the picture. Set it up and get in the picture. Needless to say, this always makes for great memories and fun.
- Capture expressions. As you get better, challenge yourself to look for moments and anticipate them. Those fleeting moments are treasures which you will enjoy in years to come as you get better and better.
When they get used to you and your camera, they’ll be themselves. Your job then is to be ready.
Your kids will take turns to be mischevious, so be ready.
Sometimes kids show their playful nature, posing when you least expect them to
With no one about to help us out when we visited Fern Gulley, location where Jurassic Park was filmed, I set the camera on the ground, and used the self-timer.
Reacting to a robot climbing over his back, Gabriel’s expression contrasts that of Julie’s.