Monday, April 11, 2016

9 Tips to take better photos of your kids

Since receiving my online professional photography certificate 6 years ago I have been attempting  all kinds of photography but I was especially drawn to food photography and kids /newborn  photography. I have attended several Creativelive live classes on babies photography and I have photographed my own son ( born in 2013) and several other kids in the family. I have learned many tips and tricks that I am going to share them with you,  but I have also learned that getting perfect picture of a child is less about the camera and more about specific techniques. So weather you own a professional camera , a point and shoot or just take pictures with your smartphone these tips will apply to you. 

1- Establish the lighting

Lighting is what makes the photograph. Every professional and amateur photographer knows that. But you don’t need all the fancy equipment to get professional quality lighting. A lot of professional photographers actually only use natural light.

If you are shooting indoor find a window that admits the most light throughout  the day. Shoot in the early morning or mid afternoon and avoid the hours between 10 am to 2 p.m when the lighting is more likely to be too harsh. Shoot while the window is behind you or on your side. If your are a beginner avoid backlighting which is when the light is directly behind your subject in this case your baby. Also very important not to turn indoor light fixtures on or you are going to have mixed lighting sources that does not look good in pictures at all.

The park, your backyard or sea side make excellent locations for outdoor photo shoots. Follow the same guidelines mentioned above.  All pictures featured in this post were shot using natural light either indoor by the window or a glass door, or outside in the late afternoon.

2- Keep your set up simple.

The most beautiful and striking kids photos are those that are simple and minimal because they put the focus on your baby’s natural beauty. Lots of times parents would have special outfits that they want their kids to be photographed in. What they don’t realize is that sometimes those outfits have lots of colors and patterns that when photographed they would take away and compete with their kids so much that the picture is not about the kid anymore but about the outfit. To get beautiful results  you do not need more than white or off white sheets and blanket and a few special items and outfits that are subtle in colors and have simple patterns. 

3 - Get inspiration from Pinterest

Pinterest is where you want to go to get inspiration on ,well, everything. From food to fashion to photography Pinterest is really the creative output for a lot of people on the web. Try looking for boards that post creative ideas for baby pictures,  and there are many. You can also type in the search box the specific age and gender of your child to get instant results . Example “ 9 month old baby girl photos” . I have an entire board dedicated to pregnancy and newborn photography if want to check it out. 

4- Composition

This is where you get to be creative and artistic. But don’t panic if you’ve got no idea where you are going with your pictures,  you can always cheat back from Pinterest.  A few tips: take a wide shot of your baby and the environment and then come close and shoot every part of her body alone and I have a thing for back shots too. 

5- Don't’ forget those little details 

After you finish photographing  your child and you are satisfied with the pictures, take a few more minutes to capture the little details of the bigger picture. Take shots of the outfit he is wearing, the little toy he is playing with , the environment he is in and any other accessories ; that include a basket that you put him in, or a necklace that your daughter was wearing. These pictures of the little details are what tell and complete the story when you finally put all the pictures together. 

6-  Give her time to relax

Sometimes we have these planned ideas in our head and  we are rushed to take the pictures . But don’t . Give your baby time to relax and get used to the environment and get yourself to be relaxed too. Take a few pictures to test the lighting and the setup and then put the camera away ( but close by) and just have fun with your kid. The best pictures are those that come out naturally and not planned.

7- Capture all expressions. 

When we think of kids photos we think of happy, calm sometimes messy pictures.  Even when you go to a professional photographer they would spend the majority time trying to get your baby to smile. But all parents know that kids are not happy and calm all the time and so should not your pictures. Capture all the expression that your child will give you and try to embrace the beauty in them. A picture of a crying , frustrated baby is as much your child as the smiling one.

8- Develop your pictures.

It might seems that developing pictures is for those old film days. But believe it or not it’s as bit important for the digital era as it was for film. If you are a bit experienced and you shoot RAW then you know that you must develop the images before you can do anything with them. But even if you are a beginner and you shoot with your iPhone or JPEG on your point and shoot,  editing is still important. Try playing with different presets on Lightroom or the “auto color” and “auto contrast on Picasa. On your smart phone try these apps that have both adjustment tools and various artistic filters : Snapseed and VSCO. Filters and special effects that work really well with kids photos are : black and white, over exposure, a wash of yellow tint and vignetting. 

9- Free them 

We live in a digital world and it is nice to have those pictures posted on Facebook or shared with friends on Whatsapp, but having your baby’s pictures printed and hung on the wall is something else. It makes them real. You can print them at home using one of those small digital printers ( I recommend the Canon Selphy) or you can upload them to an online photo printing company. I wrote before about my past experience with and why I am such a fan of their products and service .  And if you live in Kuwait there is this company called Snaprint that lets you upload pictures online and they'll print them and deliver them to you. I haven't tried their service yet but the website looks cool and professional. 

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