While owning the right equipment, and knowing how to use that equipment successfully, can help anyone take good quality photographs, more important is the knowledge of how to take a good shot. Some people are naturally gifted with an eye for the angle, the lighting, and the correct moment to press the shutter button, but the rest of us have to take heed of photography tips and tricks from those in the know.
Taking digital photos of people is an especially tricky task to get right, and kids are perhaps the hardest subject matter of all. Thankfully there are several top tips that, once employed, give everyone the basic tools with which to take amazing digital photos of their offspring all the way through childhood and beyond.
To Pose Or Not To Pose?
It’s easy to assume you should never get your kids to pose for photographs. But that would be an incorrect assumption. Firstly, you’d lose shots like the one above, which shows a level of facial detail that you’d never be able to capture with a natural shot. Secondly, posing is the natural instinct of most children when a camera is around.
By taking a few posed shots you’re likely to make them feel as though they’ve fulfilled their duties, at which point they will embark on another activity enabling you to capture them in their natural, non-posed environment. A mixture of posed and non-posed photos will give you the best chance of capturing some amazing images.
A Different Perspective
One aspect often overlooked when taking photographs of any kind is the angle of attack. That is to say most of us stand stock still and shoot from head height. While this usually offers good results, it’s not difficult to experiment. And the results can be surprising. This is a strategy that’s especially important to remember when taking photos of kids, because, as you may have noticed, they are much closer to the ground than adults.
One simple technique is to get down on their level, so physically kneel down to see the world from their perspective. Alternatively you can take the opposite approach and climb higher than ever in order to shoot down on the action. This has the effect of exaggerating the size difference between adults and children while also allowing you to capture more in each shot.
Unless you’re a fan of old-school cameras and refuse to move to digital equipment, then there is no reason not to take as many photographs as is humanly possible every time you have your camera in hand. Any that don’t come out as planned can be deleted or stored for a time when you may better appreciate them.
The advantage of employing this policy of shooting liberally is that you’re much more likely to capture the perfect image, if such a thing exists. It’s certainly much easier to keep clicking continuously than to wait for the perfect opportunity to present itself. You’ll probably be surprised by which photos capture the mood of the day best when it comes to sorting the wheat from the chaff.
Capture The Mood
The image above demonstrates this tip better than any combination of words can. In that one shot the photographer has captured much more than just the children featured playing in a fountain in a park on a hot day. The mood of the day, and of the kids captured in that moment, exude from the photo for all who view it to feel for themselves.
In a practical sense this involves a mixture of luck and judgment. Luck means being in the right place at the right time, camera in hand. Judgment means knowing where to position yourself, and just when to squeeze the shutter button, in order to best capture the mood. It’s important to note that happiness is but one mood, and there are others, some negative, that can make for amazing photographs.
Keep It In Context
As cute as your kids may be, sifting through endless close-ups of them in later life won’t conjure up many memories. Because showing the wider world beyond is key. To achieve this you need to allow a little background to show itself in most shots, letting the wider setting seep into the photographs in order to put them in context.
This may seem to be obvious advice but if other family members have to ask where you were when a shot was taken then you’re failing to tell the story behind that photograph with the image alone. Which has to be the ultimate aim. This is especially important with digital photos as the opportunity to write a reminder of the scene being captured for posterity on the back of a print no longer applies.
Every Moment Holds Potential
This goes hand-in-hand with the advice to shoot liberally. Before you even get the chance to take more photos than you think you’ll need, you have to remember to have a camera to hand. While you’ll always take one on vacation or to special one-off events, you may not think to slide it in your pocket for a walk in the country, for their weekly soccer practice, or a trip to the local fast-food chain.
The fact is that every moment holds the potential for an amazing photograph. The random shots taken in unlikely places may not be the most aesthetically pleasing, but they may prove to be important in another way. The trick is to have a camera on hand but not to use it all the time. It’s a tough balancing act between being a good photographer and being the parent who watches their kids growing up through a viewfinder.
This is by no means a complete list of the techniques you can apply to take amazing digital photos of your kids, but it’s a start. These top tips should give you the basic knowledge that all amateur photographers looking to improve need when dealing with such an energetic and unpredictable subject matter. You should now have no reason not to capture some great shots whether you’re using a top-of-the-range DSLR camera or a smartphone camera.
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