Skip to main content

Three Simple Tips to Take Better Photos of Your Kids

Tip #1: Remove unnecessary clutter from your background
This can be done in one of two ways. First, physically remove the unwanted item from sight. This could be a bin, a pile of paper work, a sock annoyingly left by one of the children (for some reason children never want both socks on at the same time) or maybe you've left a can of furniture polish out when you got distracted by one of the million tasks that children create, as in this photo below of myself and my mother from many years ago. This is actually one of my favourite photos from my childhood but ever since I spotted the can of furniture polish on the coffee table I can't stop seeing it. I have even been tempted to Photoshop it out. At least its in the distance and a little blurred in the background.
Or it may be that all you have to do is change the angle you are pointing the camera. Look at your surroundings and make a quick assessment as to whether or not you can make a cleaner and more attractive background just by rotating your position a little. When you are out and about there are many things you cannot move so move yourself or your subjects instead.  A cleaner, less cluttered background will make for a more attractive photograph. 

As an aside, however, sometimes your background has something really interesting in it that you want to include so keep that in mind too. It doesn't just have to be about removing clutter but rather strategically placing appropriate elements that add and not distract in your photographs. Years ago I came across a wonderful photograph of a bride on the stairs in front of a Virgin shop. I thought it was a fantastic idea and loved the play on words. 

Tip #2: Look for the good light
Its often there. It just needs to be found. Many non photographers reckon that a beautiful sunny day makes for a great day to take pictures. And to some extent it does. Everyone is certainly in a better mood and a landscape is going to look fantastic with sunlight and blue skies. However people never look their best in harsh sunlight (unless they are wearing sunglasses). 
(I love this photo for the colours and overall happy feeling in this image, however had the girls not been wearing sunglasses they'd be squinting badly. And as you can see my husband is squinting and has rather dark eyes here - very unflattering for women in particular).

A bright sun, high in the sky casts horrible, dark shadows in very unflattering ways, not to mention that you could end up with a whole group squinting into the camera, not an attractive look. And to place your subjects with their backs to the sun will often result in under exposed faces with an over exposed background. There are ways around this but thats a discussion in itself so I'll leave that for another blog post.  

Instead though, try to find open shade. Look for trees, a porch, canopy, covered bridge, anything that blocks the top light from hitting your subjects but still allows the light to come in. This will provide beautiful, soft and flattering light.  

But if you have to live with bright sun use it to your advantage. Below are a few images where the sun was strong but I still managed to light my daughter well. 

(Notice the harsh shadows on the left. For the photo on the right I had asked my daughter to turn her face more towards the sun. Although we still have squinting the light on her face looks much more attractive).

(In this photo the sun wasn't in the right direction causing too much shadow on my daughters face. So I decided to get her playing where I wanted her so I could photograph her in better light - we can't move the sun afterall - see below for the images I took with her in a better position)


Please note that in each of the above sunny examples the sun was not at its highest point in the sky. Each were taken early evening which will also make a difference. As the sun starts to lower it becomes a more flattering light. The colour also warms up making skin tones more attractive. High noon is possibly the trickiest time of day to get good photos. 

Tip #3: Get them Doing Something
Not all kids like to pose for the camera. Mine in particular hate the experience and I rarely get any sort of natural expression. But photograph them while they are already doing something or ask them to do something so that you can photograph them and I can gaurantee that will change. Before long they won't even notice the camera and you can snap away capturing some great expressions. 

While doing so though, keep in mind Tip #2. Look for the good light first and make sure they are facing into it and not with their backs to it. If their backs are to the light you will likely end up with under exposed images that make their faces look too dark and lifeless. Even if it means moving a coffee table or area rug, stage the moment and then snap away. Real expressions will come naturally through play.  

(I took these images of my daughter about 10 years ago and I still love them. Washing up was something she loved to do as a small child but surprise surprise, hates it now.)

Baking in the kitchen is a great opportunity to have some fun and using daylight and facing the window will ensure some lovely light falling on your child, often making the background fall into darkness which then helps to have your child stand out from the surroundings. Colouring at a coffee table or playing with Lego or building blocks by a large window or glass doors is also a great way to capture some great moments. 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

I am Still Me: A Story about a Transgender Boy

Meet Leo. Leo is 15 and currently going through an epic transformation that has momentarily turned the lives of himself and those around him upside down. A mum who once had the daughter she always longed for is now coping with the realisation that she will be living the rest of her life with a son instead. When your child is born you have certain expectations of the typical life they will lead but most of us know and accept that it won't necessarily end up the way we imagine. Not every person wants to marry, have kids or be involved with the opposite sex. Most of us have come to accept this and can adjust to whatever comes our way relatively easily. But few of us have expected to have to deal with a change in sex. Its not that we've hoped it won't happen, but just that it never occurred to us that it might. This is a new adjustment that we as a society are being presented with today, just like so many others that have come before.


When I first heard that Phoebe was transi…

Portraits Even a Teenager Boy Loves

Finally I've had the opportunity to photograph a young man in my studio again. And funnily enough this was the second time that week which is absolutely superb. In both cases these young men were just as enthusiastic to be involved as I was, which is something I don't often get when I'm working with very young children, my usual subjects. With young children I find my energy in their cuteness. But with young adults I get energy from their excitement over how the portraits are working out. I get such a buzz from the experience and that can keep me going for hours, often editing the photos straight after the shoot for hours more.


Shoots for teenagers is something I've been wanting to focus on for some time. Its not something that I often get asked for though unfortunately. It tends to be parents of very young children who want to capture moments that are slipping through their fingers at lightening speed. Maybe its teenage moodiness that means these moments don't fe…

A Beautiful New Dress Lovingly Handmade

Recently I had the opportunity to work with a wonderful woman, Nedine, who made this gorgeous dress for me. You can find Nedine here. She specialises primarily in making elaborate costumes but is branching out into dresses as well. Together we shared ideas for this piece and visited Birmingham to check out a large fabric store for inspiration and of course fabric. The end result is this.


I'm in love with lace and flowing dresses. We saw lots of beautiful lace and one day I hope to work up to something that will include some of the incredible (but very expensive) lace we saw while out together. I had no idea lace was that expensive. I knew good lace wouldn't be cheap but never realised how quickly the price went up to a range quite far from my current budget. So we decided to start relatively small, before investing in lace that was in some cases more than 10 times the cost of the lace used here. I can't imagine how scary that is to work with.


I love the dress, the quality …

Fuji Announces the New X-T2 and I've Been One of the Lucky Testers!!

I have been one of the few fortunate ones to be selected by Fuji to test Fuji's newest mirrorless camera from the perspective of an SLR user. Today Fuji have announced the release of this camera, the X-T2, (X-T1 being its predecessor). It was such an honour to be selected for this task and I truly enjoyed the experience. I've been hearing such great things about Fuji's cameras over the past couple of years I've wanted to try one myself but when you own a perfectly good camera, in my case the Canon 5D MKIII, its hard to justify trying an entirely new system. As any photographer will confirm, in this industry there is always new kit we want to purchase. So getting to test one out for free was really quite awesome.


Now I am not going to say that I prefer one over the other at this stage. My use of the Fuji is still relatively new. To be perfectly honest they both have very good selling points and I'd struggle to say one is better than the other. But if I were just sta…

Introducing Claude - Another Fantastic French Bulldog

I know this breed is becoming very popular, I believe even set to take over the top spot for most popular breed from the Golden Labrador, but I never expected to get quite so many in my studio. Can't say I'm complaining though. They have such a wonderful character and I love to capture those adorable squished up faces.


This client came in not just for personal portraits though. Instead she is developing a line of homemade all natural dog treats called Claude's Little Doggie Bag and these portraits are to be used in her labels. Which is partly the reason why these images differ quite drastically from my usual style.


This client had a very specific idea for what she wanted on her labels. But again, this is perfect for me because I just love variety. I don't really want to be creating the same work over and over again. This gave me the opportunity to revisit a style I've not used in some time.


This little guy was just 14 weeks old so as  you can imagine, I had a grea…