It’s time to update the family photo – you get to your chosen location, you’re all dressed beautifully, disaster strikes!
As a photographer, you would think taking photos of my own children would be easy peasy lemon squeezy. Not so – photographing other peoples children is a pleasure. Photographing my own fills me with trepidation. Children are set to test the boundaries (this is how they learn after all), test our patience and test our sanity. I’m losing on the last one (it’s school holidays).
Here are some tips to get that perfect photograph of your children:
- Early morning, after breakfast is best. They’ve had a good nights sleep, full bellies and full of energy. They are less likely to fade on you and more likely to be in a great fun mood.
Side Note: – The lighting is great first thing in the morning. Heading out after 10am, the sun is more direct overhead, creating harsh shadows. Early morning / evening (the golden hour) is best. It is soft light which is extremely flattering for your skin.
- Leave the house in old clothes, pack the clean ones. My kids are ALWAYS hungry. Guaranteed we will be snacking away once we get to our destination. For us, this guarantees spillage. Only change right before you’re due to have your photos taken. And pack spare, just incase. Including for yourself.
- When taking the actual photos, make sure your camera is set to a fast shutter speed. I would suggest 1/500th of a sec at a minimum. I love great bokeh (creamy background), so setting an aperture for f/2.8 – f/4. For those using compact cameras, set it to the action mode when the kids are running crazy. Then set it to either portrait mode or close up to get those creamy backgrounds.
- Check where the sun is. You know those photos you take where the person is a silhouette? Or the background is just bright light? Your camera is not sure what it is exposing for – it can’t do both, especially on AUTO mode. You will want to look for a spot where it isn’t too bright behind your subject, the darker the better, with your subject in the light.
- Make it FUN! Have your child run towards you, pretending to be an aeroplane, ask them to pull the funniest face they can. Have them think of a secret no one knows (they don’t need to tell) – this usually gets a cheeky grin. Tell lots of jokes to get those natural smiles. My kids find anything ‘butt’ related hilarious!
- Of course, you don’t want all your photos to be silly. You’ll want some sweet ones too, especially between siblings. Find a great spot where they can sit together. A park bench, in a tree (or sitting against), in the playground…. – have one look at you and the other looking at their sibling (a good trick to make this happen is ask them if their sibling smells funny, this can quickly turn into a great game). This gives the illusion they might give them a kiss on the cheek.
- Keep it short and sweet. Especially if they’re under 5. Their attention span doesn’t last long. Take photos in bursts, let them have a play then go again.
- Bring something that makes them feel comfortable (and you don’t mind being in the photo) like a teddy bear or their bike.
Lastly, bribe them! Promise lollipops, something fun for them afterwards or let them choose.
Remember, make it a fun day! This is what family is all about. The photographs remind us of how we felt in that moment.