6 Tips For Taking Great Portraits of your Kids
You don’t have to be a professional photographer or have a huge camera to take great portraits of yours kids (whether they be babies, toddlers or even your fur-kids!).
1. Get outside
I recommend taking the kids out of the house and having them play in the garden, amongst the flowers, in the park or on a grassy hill. This will help to ensure you have a nice backdrop, rather than a cluttered house/room and also give you lots of light. If you can, try and hide the fact that you are on a photographic expedition and that your baby is the subject. People can become a little awkward when they know they are having their picture taken, so try and do it on the sly so you catch them in a natural, un-posed position – I find this works well with puppies too.
2. Light matters
Aim for early morning light or late afternoon sun (ideally an hour before the sun sets). You can be flexible with your times as long as the light is not too harsh, as it will cast unflattering shadows onto your subject’s face. So generally I would recommend avoid photographing during the hours of 11am – 1:30pm, as this is when the sun is directly overhead.
3. Make some noise!
It might sound silly, but for babies in particular – put on a high pitched voice and call out their name, and make it loud. This works well for newborns and toddlers, they almost always respond! For kids around the 2-3 year mark, I have a great trick which won’t break the bank. “Lens Bling”! It’s a cute little photography prop that you stick on the end of lens of your camera and it comes in all sorts of characters which your kids will love – dogs, birds, cows, cats, bumblebees – anything! And they squeak, so perfect for getting their attention (and works even better on puppies!). They are about $30 from Etsy and take a while to ship, but kids really do love them. Just watch for fingers on the lens, as kids will want to grab it off you and play with it! Obviously this won’t work with an iPhone, so just applies to anyone who has a camera with a detachable lens.
4. Get in low and go, go, go!
If you can, get in nice and close to your child - take a step closer than you normally would so that you get a good close up of their face/hand/feet/a dog’s wet nose. I really love detail and close ups and you don't need a macro lens to do it - just get in close so you can fill your frame with more detail. This will also help to reduce distracting objects in your background, ensuring that your little treasure is the key focus of your photo. I also recommend getting down low – taking the photo from your child’s perspective to tell the story. Your photo will be a lot more interesting if you are down on the ground at their eye level, rather than standing above them and taking a shot of their lovely, but less interesting hair!
5. You can use your iPhone
You don’t need to buy an expensive camera that has so many buttons that you don’t know what to do with it. An iPhone will work just fine! Focus is the key – by making sure that your baby’s face is in focus, this will ensure that the other unimportant elements in the background of your image are more blurred out. So when taking a photo on your iPhone, make sure that the yellow box that shows up on the screen is on your subject. To make sure it does this correctly, simply tap your subject’s face on the screen and the yellow focus box will move for you.
6. Editing your images
You don’t need Photoshop to edit your photos, but a little bit of adjusting can make all the difference – particularly with your lighting. After you have taken a photo on your iPhone, click Edit and choose the Exposure option (3rd icon at the bottom). Choose the Light option and play around with the highlights and shadows until you like how the image looks. If it’s too bright, bring the highlights down – but if it’s too dark, lift the shadows. As the image below shows, this is important for subjects that are dark (like black dogs).
Hopefully these tips help you out a bit – please let me know how you go and don’t hesitate to ask any questions or for more advice! Have fun practicing – that’s what it’s all about. :)