6.11.2007

My 7 tips on photographing children

Tip 1 - Rule of thirds. This is a big one for me, thus my first tip. I'm not even sure why this is so important (usually) except that it makes a photograph much more interesting and not so straightforward and (sorry to say this, but) boring. With the Rule of Thirds, if you visualize through the viewfinder two lines going vertically and two lines going horizontally, you will have 9 boxes. Try to keep your main subject inside one of these 9 boxes, especially those boxes nearest the edges. Believe me, it makes for much more interesting photos, and these are the ones that usually sell (for me) and/or create the most interest in people when they see them in frames in your home.

Tip 2 - Shoot from angles you don't normally shoot from.
With this I mean, get on the ground with your subject. Get on his/her
level. Better yet, shoot from above and straight down or shoot from below. My favorite part about shooting on their level is just that - you're on their level. And you'll be more prone to capturing natural expressions because you aren't constantly saying "look at me" because, well, a lot of the time they already are! Again, shooting pictures from different angles, or at their level, make for much more interesting photos. As far as babies, lay them on the floor, a blanket or rug and lay beside them. Snap pictures while laying beside them. It's the easiest and best way to take pictures of babies that can't yet move or sit up. You'll get a lot more happy baby moments this way, too, rather than forcing them to do something they don't wanna do!

Tip 3 - Don't say "Say 'Cheese'!". This is my biggest photography pet peeve. Take photos of your child being themselves. Forcing them to look at the camera is not natural. It's not how you or anyone else normally see them, is it? So why take pictures on cue when most of the time their "say 'Cheese'!" expressions are super cheesy anyway? If you are already on ground level with them shooting them as they interact in their natural environment, most likely you are going to catch them playing, laughing and
smiling. You then catch their smile as natural as they come. Leave Sears and JC Penney's to the "Look at me" and "Say 'Cheese'!" pictures.

Tip 4 - Cut areas off. By this I mean, especially if you are trying to get a close-up photo, don't worry about cutting off legs or part of their head. These kinds of pictures usually help draw you into the areas you are trying to focus on anyhow, also called framing. Again, it makes for more interesting photos! Which brings me to the next tip on framing.

Tip 5 - Frame your picture. By framing your picture I mean, find something in the environment you are shooting that frames your subject. For instance, a tree branch sticking out. Use that to enhance your photos, not take away from them. Have your child stand behind a branch that seems to be in the way and see what kind of pictures you get. If you have a good depth-of-field feature on your camera, you should be able to keep your child in focus while the branch is out-of-focus, framing your picture and again, making it interesting! You can also frame pictures with flowers, windows, doorways, arches, fences, rows of trees, etc. Possibilities are endless!


Tip 6 - Shoot in continuous mode. If you have this on your camera, use it. I find my best photos that I shoot in continuous mode are the second or third photo. Use this mode especially if you are shooting busy children. It's a great way to catch that priceless expression that you may not have been quick enough to get in just one frame. And with the benefit of shooting digital, you can delete the ones that just don't work!


Tip 7 - be a kid! This is another really important one. If I am at a park with kids, I will get on
the equipment, stand at the top of a slide, or climb inside a tiny crawl space just because that is usually where the magic of being a kid lies. I spend a lot of time laying on the floor, getting my feet dirty in sand and dirt, or playing with toys all the while I'm snapping away at my shutter. The children you are shooting have to know that you want to interact and play with them and that you aren't going to bite. Once they feel comfortable with you, you'll see a huge change in them and in the photos you are capturing!

13 comments:

Mrs. M said...

fabulous tips! i love taking pics and have plenty of chances to shoot the kids i babysit. i'll try some of these this weekend.

Jo said...

Keep the tips coming! My pics still never turn out like yours, but its fun to try and be informed!:)

Jaclyn said...

Thanks so much. These are great tips! I'll let you know how I do using these tips this weekend.

Lauren said...

These are great tips! Thanks! :-)

melody said...

Excellent post. The being a kid part is so easy for me...I'm a female Peter Pan. Keep the ideas coming.

Alexis Jacobs said...

Great tips!!

lil ole' me..... said...

Thanks for the tips Val! I can't wait to use them on my own children someday (fingers crossed!). Until then, I will have to put your tips to good use on my nieces and nephew!

Lara said...

Thanks for the tips! I've been trying to get more interesting shots lately and this kind of advice really helps!

dcrmom said...

This is so helpful! Thanks!!

Jen said...

interesting post

Melanie said...

Great tips!

Shawn said...

Wow, thank you. I need all the tips I can get with my two gorgeous, squirmy beauties. I have many questions now that I am doing this for my blog ... so I hope to read more tips in the future. Hint. Hint. : )

Kim said...

All wonderful tips! Thank You! I cant tell you how many times my husband tells me that the playground is for kids! LOL! My excuse is I want to get that perfect picture, I just want to go down the slide;)