I’m not a professional photographer by any means, but I do think I tend to take better than average pictures because I’ve had so much practice over the years. I take hundreds of pictures a week and only post a small fraction of my favorites.
Kids in particular are probably one of the most difficult subjects to photograph, next to wildlife because they will not cooperate for photos 98% of the time. In fact, I think kids are even more difficult because they purposefully do not cooperate.
I’ve compiled a list of tips and tricks that has helped me get some successful shots so that anyone with any camera can achieve better photos of their kids!
DOs and DON’Ts that I’ve learned over the years:
DO pay attention to your lighting. My favorite is dappled light, not too dark or too bright. This makes ALL the difference in photography. Good lighting will make or break your photo.You can correct some lighting issues with editing software, but it’s better to find the right lighting to begin with.
|Too much light|
|Not enough light|
|Just the right amount of light|
DON’T tell them to say cheese. This inevitably causes the most obnoxiously (adorable) unnatural smile ever. Still really cute, just not professional quality. I still catch myself saying this all the time, especially because I love hearing my toddler say “CHEEEE!”
Cheese smiles vs. natural smiles
DON’T be afraid to get dirty. Sometimes you have to get down on their level or even lower to get a good shot.
|I had to lay in the grass for this one!|
DON’T have someone standing behind you trying to get their attention. This will divert their eyes away from your lens. If you have someone there with you, have them help you by putting the babes back in place when they inevitably wander off every 2 seconds and make sure your helper kneels down behind you in between shots.
|Smiling…but for Daddy, not me.|
DO get silly. If they are old enough, tell them to say weird words but don’t photograph them while they are saying the words, take your pictures during the gigglefest that will ensue after! Those natural smiles are WAY better than cheese smiles. My go-to words are “meatball,” banana,” and “cheesy potatoes.” Don’t ask why, they’re just the first things that popped in to my head.
DO put objects on your head. Putting any random object on your head will grab their eyes and will get them look in the general direction of your lens. It works even better if you tell them it’s something that it isn’t. For example, put a leaf on your head and tell them it’s a tomato. Gigglefest!
DO play peekaboo. This is my go-to for babies especially. It doesn’t work quite as well on kids over 2. Pop up from behind the lens with a “BOO!” every couple of snaps.
DO tickle. This is another great one for babies that also works on older kids. Make your hand in to a tickle claw and tell them you are going to get them. In a silly voice, not a scary voice of course. This can be a little challenging because you are going to have to follow through with some tickles every few snaps which means bouncing back and forth between the child(ren) and the distance you need to be away from them which can make for blurry, unsteady shots.
DON’T always expect them to look at you. Some of the most beautiful shots are of your babe looking off in to the distance. You can capture their most adorable features like their double chin or long eyelashes this way.
DON’T lose your patience. I have one of THE most stubborn kids on the face of the planet when it comes to taking photos but you wouldn’t know it from my posts. Anyone who has adventured with us can vouch for my claim. He refuses to cooperate just because he can, so I have to get EXTRA creative with him. It is so easy to get frustrated with the lack of cooperation because you can’t help but think if they would just follow instructions, we could be done in 2 minutes instead of 20. But trust me, getting frustrated almost always makes it worse.
DO use dog toys. They typically have loud, obnoxious, weird squeakers or croakers and will grab a child’s attention immediately. The challenge with this method is that they will often grab for the toy, or walk/run to you to get it but it is a great attention grabber for the child that is bored with your efforts.
DO pay attention to your background. Try to put the littles in front of a pretty, but somewhat plain backdrop. This automatically makes them the focus of the photo.
DO tell them NOT to do what you want them to. This tip actually came from my Dad during dinner when D was refusing to eat his veggies. My Dad told him not to eat his peas and then if course he ate them. D will purposefully turn his back to my camera so I can’t take his picture so I tell him “DO NOT look at me. Whatever you do, DO NOT turn around!” When he does turn around I feign shock and say “I told you not to do that, I can’t believe you turned around!” If you keep playing along, you can get both cooperation and good smiles.
Good luck! Sometimes that is what it takes to snap an awesome shot every once in awhile!
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