Everyone enjoys taking photos of their kids. I've put together some tips so that you can get the best out of your photos.
1. Turn off your flash
It's very rare that a photo looks better with a flash. Natural or ambient light is always best. Digital cameras tend to be pretty good at taking photos in low light. Try turning off your flash and see what comes out.
Avoid taking photos outside at noon on a bright sunny day as the light will be too harsh. The best times to take photos outside, light-wise, is the hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset – this is called The Golden Hour.
Read on below...
2. Take a lot of photos
You don't need expensive equipment. You can get excellent photos from a cameraphone as long as the lighting and composition are good. If you find you are enjoying taking photos or want to take even better photos, then better cameras such as digital SLRs with different lenses can make taking great photos even easier. For the time being though, use whatever camera you've got.
I took this photo with my iPhone which has a pretty rubbish camera in it, but my son had the best smile and I didn't want to miss it. It's not going to win any awards, but I'll be very happy in 20 years that I took it.
Don't be afraid to get in close with your camera. The impact of a photo is often lessened because there is too much empty background. You can use photo-editing software to crop the photo, but it's always better to try and work to take the photo you want without having to fix it afterwards.
4. Different angles
Every photo of your kids doesn't have to be face on. Photos of their profile or even from behind can produce good photos. Again, years later you will be glad you got a shot of their chubby chin and cheeks side on.
I am a big fan of taking photos in silhouette. You get photos like this when the background is much brighter than the foreground where your child is AND your flash isn't on. These photos are best when the background itself is interesting.
6. Rule of thirds
Most people tend to centre their subjects directly in the middle of the photo. Experienced photographers instead often use "The Rule of Thirds" to compose their shots. Imagine dividing the image into thirds both horizontally and vertically and then placing points of interest at the intersections of the imaginary dividing lines. Points of interest with people tend to be their eyes.
These photos aren't perfect Rule of Thirds photos, but you can get a good idea of how it makes for a better, more interesting photo.
7. Don't Say Cheese
Don't ask kids to smile for a photo as it will end up being their "fake" smile. Just try and take photos of them being themselves. If you really want to see a smile, then talk to them, joke with them, get them to tell you about something they love and snap away.
You aren't going to get professional-looking photos in your toy-filled living room. Get outside, go to interesting locations nearby. It may be the park or an interesting urban setting such as a graffiti covered skatepark.
If you have a SLR camera, I would highly recommend getting a polarizing filter for your lenses. It turns the sky a beautiful deep blue and water becomes transparent as the polarizing filter reduces reflections. It also intensifies colours giving your photos a real punch. Whilst you can intensify colours in photo editing software like Photoshop, you cannot remove reflections.
The best thing about digital cameras is that it is easy to experiment. Try different settings, different lighting, different angles. Try black and white photos, sepia, low-light. Just experiment.
This photo is an infrared photograph, i.e. it is only using infrared light not visible light. It was taken with my mobile phone's camera (for more info on taking IR photos with your cameraphone, see my blog post) which tells you that you don't need expensive equipment to get interesting photos.
Most importantly, when taking photos have fun.
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