5 tips on how to take awesome pictures of your kids – Chicago, Illinois, child photographer
One question I’m asked ALL THE TIME is how I get such great pictures of my kids. Every parent wants to know because they want to be able to have great pictures of their kids too. Duh. Easier said than done though, right? It’s something that I know parents stress out about. I’ve seen it firsthand in sessions – parents want their children to be these picture perfect kids they see on Pinterest, and they want amazing pictures of their kids smiling directly at the camera. Kids don’t normally do that. They want to run, and laugh, and explore, and play with grass. This stresses parents out, which affects the outcome of the pictures. A photographer is pretty used to this situation and can adjust accordingly to ensure families still get great portraits but it’s frustrating when you’re trying to do it yourself. It’s actually pretty simple and I hope after you take a few minutes to read this, you’ll be able to take awesome pictures of your kids too.
1. Set the environment. Plan this out ahead of time and think of a few different places that your kids really enjoy. Maybe it’s outside on a nature hike, maybe it’s in the backyard, maybe it’s in your playroom or coloring at the table. Think of a place that is familiar and natural to them where they will have fun, be expressive, and enjoy themselves. Kids are full of energy, and busting at the seams, so the last thing they want to do is stop playing to stand around while you try to coax smiles out of them through bribery or threats. Do they like to be tickled? Grab your camera and have the tickle monster come after them, snapping shots of them giggling the whole time. Are they really young and think peek-a-boo is hilarious? Play games, laugh with them, and have fun with it. Egg them on, ask them questions, engage them. If you stand there and tell them to say “Cheese!” well then that’s exactly what you’ll get, them being cheesy. If you’re being silly, they will be silly too, and silly moments are the best kind to capture.
2. Recognize the moment. You know your kids. You can tell when they are about to be excited or if something will strike them as super hilarious. My camera is almost always within arms reach. Yes, that’s mainly because I’m a photographer, but I also know that when a great photo op appears, it doesn’t last long. My kids won’t still be giggling or playing in that super cute way if it takes me 8 minutes to dig out my camera from in my closet somewhere. On the days that you’re ready to try taking some photos, make sure your camera is nearby, battery is charged, and you’re close enough to grab it when the fun moments start happening. You have to be ready for those moments and be willing to drop what you’re doing. For me, a lot of times I’ll be working in another room and hear them laughing with their Dad outside. Tons of giggles is a huge clue to me to stop what I’m doing, grab my camera, and start photographing what they’re doing. It’s almost always silly, fun, and totally them.
3. Anticipate the shots. Run around with them, get down on the floor with them, and try to always be at their eye level with your camera. Keep in mind that they will always be on the move, so dress appropriately. I always, always wear running shoes and jeans when I photograph children. I’m ready to run, get down on the ground and get dirty rolling around to capture the shot. One mistake people make when photographing children is that the shots are always blurry. If you’re new to photography, your camera likely has a sports setting. Try that one out and remember that kids MOVE. A lot. So move your camera as they move and anticipate where they will be by the time you press the shutter. Practice focusing as they move around, and try to always keep the focus point on their faces. If you’re familiar with your camera and shoot on manual, make sure to keep your shutter speed fast so you avoid the motion blur.
4. LET THEM BE KIDS! 🙂 Try not to have any kind of structure and just let them be. Kids can sense when you’re pulling in the reigns and they fight against it, or they just “cheese” the whole time. If you’re getting frustrated, kids are smart and they can sense it. They absolutely will pick up on your frustration and start to get agitated themselves. I’ve seen it, and it happens all the time. Just relax. The goal of this is to just capture them as they are because those are the moments you’ll want to remember. I never try to stop my kids from playing. I absolutely love candid shots and want to capture them just being kids. Simple as that.
5. Be patient and try, try again! Maybe you’ll get greats shots the first time. Maybe you’ll have to put your camera down and try again later on or even the next day. Let’s face it, kids can be a drag when you’re trying to photograph them. You definitely can’t force it and knowing when you’re pushing too hard is important too.
Don’t give up! You owe it to them to capture their childhood as much as you owe it to yourself to preserve the memories of the days that will pass by all too quickly… and if all else fails, hire a professional 😉 Haha! Seriously though, if you just take the pressure off of them to perform, you’ll be surprised at what they give you in return. Before we know it, our kids will be all grown up and I’m hoping these tips will help you freeze these precious moments in time.
for capturing the emotion of the day - the love and happiness that
you would never think
could be enveloped
in a ” - Sharon & David
in a photo
is ” - Christine
candid shots. she truly
what she's doing
and it shows
in her work. We were
very lucky to have
found her for our
wedding. ” - Katie & Tony