It's no secret that parents like to photograph major milestones and events of their children, but as times have changed and cameras are left gathering dust while quick snapshots are taken with smart phones, we are losing moments that could be captured in higher quality photos and more artful attention. We are here to encourage you to pick up your camera, learn a little about some of the settings you have at your disposal, and take your kids' photographs from facebook/instagram quality -to- on the mantle/Christmas card/canvas print worthy photographs.
Tip #1: Use Natural Light in Manual Mode
When you shoot indoors in auto mode, your camera will often default to using the flash which is a harsh light that doesn't really make for great images, can cause your child to blink or have less patience getting their picture taken, and overall limit your artistic abilities in creating softer images with a great focal point. So be brave, believe in your abilities, and switch your camera over to manual mode.
If shooting inside, take photographs using light from a window during the morning or afternoon. Notice shadows and position your children so there is even light across their faces. If you aren't familiar with shooting in manual mode, learn how the different settings affect the outcomes of your photographs before you try to get that winning shot from your kiddos-- practice with your dog or a doll/stuffed animal in the same lighting. [ Best practice for portraits is to shoot ISO 800 or 400 indoors with a f/5.6 or f/4 aperture to create a well-exposed shot with a somewhat-shallow depth of field. ]
Tip #2: Get Low and Get Close
After you've gotten the mechanics of lighting down, framing is where you can start to get creative. Capture the best images of your child by experiencing their perspective and capturing the world from their point of view. Shots taken head-on best capture your littles in their element. So get comfy, find something to kneel on and get down on their level!
Head-to-toe images can be great for the first day of school, but try zooming in on details, too (just the top of your daughter's face to include her bright eyes and pigtails or just your son's arms wrapped around his new Batman lunch box). Capture the little things you want to remember as well as the moment as a whole and don't be afraid to get up close with some of your frames for more story-telling and artistic images.
Tip #3: Let Them Be
Some of the best (and let's be honest, your favorite) photographs are not the ones where all of your kids are looking at the camera smiling, but the ones where personalities and "real life" are truly captured. So when taking photographs of your kids, set them up in their day-to-day habitat, watch them play and don't call out to them to look at the camera and "say cheese," let them be themselves (in good lighting of course) and capture those moments that you'll really never want to forget.
Adopt these three practices to go from "just another Mom with a camera" to a "Mom-photographer" in one session! Like anything, expertise will come with experience and your images will continue to improve as you continue practicing and trying new things. We can't deny the ease of using/carrying around a smart phone versus your DSLR, but we can stand by the results. So put down the phone (isn't that what we are telling our kids anyway?) and get out the camera for images you will truly treasure!
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Related: Fotostrap, FOTO, #tellyourstory, Tips, Personalize