Spring Has Sprung, Summer Is Around The Corner, The Kids Are Having Fun: Time To Get The Camera Out!

10/05/2017 12:24

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Photo: Rachel Rimell Photography

Spring has just about sprung at last (intermittently at least)! Summer is allegedly around the corner. After a long dreary winter I'm sure everyone is just itching to get out in the sunshine, get the picnics packed and head out for some great family day trips to remember. And what better way to capture those memories than by taking lots - and lots - of photos!

As a professional family photographer I'm often asked how I get such lovely natural images of children. Well the real answer is of course, 'they're not my kids!' Other people's kids always behave better for the camera than your own when you're the one pointing a camera at them. But I do have a few tricks up my sleeve so here are my top tips for getting the best out of your family photographs this spring and summer.

1. Head for the shade. I know - the sun has just come out, you've just slapped on the sunscreen, and you're desperate to feel a bit of warmth on your face! BUT bear with me. Bright sunshine is a photographer's worst nightmare and it is extremely difficult to get good portraits if you don't know what you're doing and have flash equipment to do it. The higher the sun, the more unflattering it can be. Midday sun casts harsh shadows across the face, giving people dark circles under their eyes and nose with very bright patches contrasted against very dark shadows. If the sun is in front of your subjects it will make everyone squint, and if it's behind all your skies will look washed out instead of the beautiful azure blue you recall. If you can, head for a shady tree to get the best shots.

2. Be patient and ready for anything. Kids move. A lot. But you'll get the best images when they're not posing for the camera and just being themselves. Set your shutter speed high to freeze movement. Be ready to capture whatever they're up to rather than trying to get them to sit still, all look the same way and smile.

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Photo: Rachel Rimell Photography

3. Change your angle. Get down low on their level and let them invite you into their world. This is a great way to get them to relax in front of the camera. Ask them about their game. Talk while you shoot. Let them look the camera in the eye for some great engaging images.

4. Look for background and foreground interest. Spring and summer are full of gorgeous photo opportunities - daffodils, bluebells, cherry blossom and later lavender all bring a vibrant dash of colour and kids love larking about in flowers. Shoot low across a blanket of colourful flowers for some really stunning shots. Be careful not to trample all over delicate bluebells though - a great photo is never worth damaging wildlife and ruining it for other visitors. A great resource to find some great places to photograph children amongst the daffodils and other flowers is Great British Gardens and you can find your nearest bluebell woods at The National Trust.

5. Think about your clothing. Generally I recommend wearing what you're comfortable in and personally I like to capture families as they really are - entirely natural and relaxed - and that includes what they're wearing. BUT it is worth giving some consideration to what you're all wearing if you're planning on taking photos, particularly if you're planning to visit some lovely flowers as per tip 4. For example - if you're visiting bluebells or lavender fields you may not want to dress everyone head to toe in bright red. I always recommend fairly neutral colours if in doubt, especially where the background is so colourful and a real focal point for the picture. You don't want clothing to be competing with the background, or with your subjects' faces. Neutral, plain rather than overly-patterned and complimentary colours work best, perhaps with a small accent colour on an accessory such as a bright scarf or coat.

6. Sit down! Don't just line everybody up against a gorgeous background. Let them engage in it. Let them sit and play and chat and giggle.

7. Fill your frame. Everybody loves a bit of background but the biggest mistake people make when trying to get photos of their children is trying to include too much space around them. Go in close - move your actual feet and get closer top them - and crop nice and tight around your subjects to capture some great expressions.

8. Don't stress. If you're barking instructions to the kids to smile then they absolutely won't! Just let the fun unfurl. If you miss the perfect shot, resist the temptation to try to recreate it. Just wait for the next one.

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Photo: Rachel Rimell Photography

9. Don't forget to swap the photographer around occasionally. Let's face it, usually it's mum that is the photographer on family days out so make sure mum is in the picture sometimes!

10. Put the camera away! Get some great pictures of the day and then put the cameras back in your bag and just enjoy your day out with your family. Or book a professional so you can just worry about having fun with the family.

This article first appeared on my blog Ketchup&Cornflakes
Rachel Rimell Photography

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