See notice how none of them are looking at me, their all distracted (as kids do!) My lighting was terrible (dark and drab) lol but they were still so cute 🙂
I remember…back before I even thought about becoming a photographer…I was the mom that tried to pose my 4 children (not an easy task!) This attempt usually took place around holidays, I especially remember this one particular photo I tried around easter, I set them all up on a little cute waterless bridge, under a heaping amount of shade (making my photos dark and blah of course) and trying to formerly pose them and get all 4 looking at the camera at the same time… This process ended in me disappointed and frustrated…all though I look back on the pic now and laugh, because it lets me remember how flippin cute they were lol. Any who this brings me to my point, I wish back then I had done a little research, and looked up tips to taking my own home photos… not so that I could have amazing breathtaking professional images of my kids, but so that my pics didn’t end up dark, completely unflattering, and awkward…which is how they usually ended up lol. So I’ve decided I will share my top 5 easy ways of photographing your own children so that you can create flattering, cute, day to day moments with you family 🙂 No fancy camera or equipment necessary =)
notice that the light is soft, a bit golden and even a little pink…very flattering to a child’s skin tones and features 🙂
1. Tip number one: Lighting
I know I’ve discussed a tad about lighting in another blog on the professional side, because I am a HUGE believer that if you do not have proper lighting you have a terrible photograph…but I do understand to teach you everything I know about lighting I would be here blogging for hours for the next 2 years….
So the easiest thing to start with is find soft light… not shade, just soft light 🙂 The best time is just before sunset, or just after sunrise (especially if you live in Florida like me!) The light during this time is beautiful, it’s flattering, and it’s playful. You won’t have to fight with the harsh mid day sun.
This is why soft light is better…when you are in mid day harsh sunlight, the sun will make your images look harsh, the skintone will look terrible, parts of the body or hair will become white because there will be too much sun, and the shadows where the sun isn’t hitting will be extreme and terrible unflattering.
Also be careful about looking for shade as a form of soft light, there’s a big difference between soft light and no light :p In the shade your risking dark, drab, and boring images. If shooting evenings or shooting mornings is something unfeasible a wonderful alternative is window light, this is best used mid day, and the light that falls off into a large window can be beautiful and flattering!
The light is towards the back of her, creating a nice golden soft halo around her hair and pretty highlights around her arm and knees
2. Tip number 2: Position of light
No surprise my second tip has to do with light again, because it really is just that important…
I’ve found that the most flattering position to the light is back lit, this simply means the child is positioned with their back to the sun, this position will create a nice halo effect around the child, and make their hair look soft and golden 🙂 The other big benefit is the child will not be squinting from having the sun in their eyes…which is always a big image killer 🙂
In order to do this properly though you will still need light on their faces, otherwise you have beautiful lighting haloing their backs but blah on the front of them :p My best recommendation is to get a large white foam board from walmart (there pretty cheap usually only a few bucks) to use as a reflector…have dad or a friend position the foam board at about a 45 degree angle (doesn’t have to be exact) just so that the light from behind them will reflect back onto their faces 🙂 If you can’t seem to get the hang of a foam board, or if you do not have an extra set of hands handy, a flash can be a substitute…just keep in mind non professional flashes that point straight into the child’s face can sometimes leave a little red eye :/ but this is still better than no light at all on the face 🙂
In this image I was laying on my belly in the grass with the camera just above the ground.
3. Tip number 3: Get down on their level
Now we move onto some basic composition…when you take your child’s pic are you usually standing above them? Well this position is very hard to make look flattering (it can be done, but takes practice, technique, and so many other things that just don’t fit into my simple 5 step plan 🙂 The easiest way to create flattering images of your child is to get down to their level, to be honest, I’m usually laying on the ground with my camera barely above the surface slightly tilted up lol (I’m really quite funny to watch) but you can also kneel, as long as you at least get the camera level with their face 🙂 The smaller your child the lower you will need to get 🙂 Another great thing to experiment with are closeups, these are great because they focus on the details, their eyes, little noses, and even the texture of their hair… which is great because trust me…you will want to remember this when they grow up!
A “surprised” expression 🙂
4. Tip number 4: Posing and expressions
Kids are not formal. It’s that simple lol, they do not like to hold still… but you can work with this, get them moving, have them throw fall leaves into the air, pull out some bubbles, get them wrestling in the grass (remember stay at their level! if there laying in the grass you need to too!) have them dance or twirl…Doing this will get you real expressions, natural posing, and real emotion 🙂 Not to mention a lot less moommm i don’t want to do this anymore! In the midst of all those playful shots get closer, capture their expressions, and the moments in between! Even arts and crafts are great for pics, set them up on a blanket with something crafty, get down to their level and get ready for some great shots 🙂 Focus in on those determined expressions, those little hands getting to work… Another silly trick (not so much for real emotion) is to get them to show you their sad, mad, funny, silly, happy, yucky, or anything really faces 🙂 You’ll be surprised at how cute their expressions turn out!
5. Tip number 5: The after party 😉
After all is said and done, you’ve taken a ton of pics, your excited to see what turned out…
You will need to filter through them and pick out the best…yes i know, your kid is adorable…and every pic they end up in is adorable…but one of the most crucial things in having great home photos is learning to pick out the best of those adorable pics. Not everything you shoot is going to be awesome…not everything even a photographer shoots is awesome…this is something great photographers practice, they know how to pick out the best. Go through all of those pics, which ones have that perfect expression? Which ones just grab your attention? Which ones will be bringing tears to your eyes when their all grown up?
Lastly if you do have access to an editing software…play around a bit, I will be posting basic lightroom tips to improving your pics very soon…so check back 🙂