I’m a mother of two beautiful children, and as you would expect, they have grown up with a camera pointed at them their entire lives. Even before I became a professional photographer I LOVED capturing images of anything I could. As a parent, we want to remember every detail of our children’s lives because we know that they just don’t stay little. We are all aware that the first birthday, the first Christmas, baptisms, first Easter, first Mother’s and Father’s Day, first day of school…ALL of these are important! We want that photo of our precious in their gorgeous new outfit, hair quaffed just right, smiling perfectly, with the light just right as they look at the camera. Before I continue, how many of you just laughed out loud because although those are our expectations, rarely is this easy??
As I was saying, we want pictures to remember every major milestone in our child’s lives and no one has the ability to have a professional photographer follow their child around 24/7. Here is where this article steps in! I see too many moms (or whomever the mom hands her camera to) attempting to take pictures and they’ve set themselves up for failure before they even hear the shutter sound.
Here are some tips to help you make sure that you have the best chance of capturing your adorable children smiling wonderfully just as you dream of doing!
- Amount of light is CRUCIAL in any situation when you’re wanting to take a picture. Whether you’re dealing with sunlight or lights in a home is something you must always consider when taking pictures. Too much light is not a good thing, and neither is not enough light.
- Taking pictures outside can seem like an easy task…but that is not always the case. Whenever you are wanting to capture some photos outside, remember these things.
- You do NOT want the sun shining ON your face!!! I know some of you are thinking…but I don’t want to be in the shade and not see anyone’s faces…that’s not the case! Think about it this way. Would you rather possibly have to change one setting on your camera to adapt to a shady place, or have images where you adorable child cannot see you because they’re blinded by the sun and are squinting terribly???
- Now that I have your attention and you’ve realized, “no, I don’t want my kids making awful squint faces…tell me how to fix it”. Find a spot that has even lighting. A covered porch, a big tree in the yard, a wooded area…whatever you can find that has no massive streaks of light shining into it. With this even lighting, no one is squinting and everyone will be lit with much more flattering light.
- If you don’t have a space where light is even or a covered space, make sure that everyone having their picture taken has their back to the sun. This will help with squinting, and it will give a nice hair light behind you…and who doesn’t love a perfect hair light?!
- Time of Day/Schedule
- Time of day: There are times of each day when it is great to take pictures outside, and there are times of each day where it is not a good idea at all unless you have a nice shaded area I spoke of earlier. From roughly 10am-3pm, give or take depending on your location, it is not a good time for outdoor pictures. The sun is directly overhead and it is not flattering for anyone. The Golden Hour is the BEST time of day for pictures if you can make that happen. This is one hour after sunrise, and one hour before sunset. The sun is lower in the sky and it makes for dreamy colors in photographs.
- Schedules: This tip will not apply to everyone, but will to a majority of you reading this. Every mom has had to deal with the “it’s ALMOST nap time but I know this will only take two minutes” feeling. Please, for the sake of your sanity…just wait! Ha! Give yourself plenty of time to find a good spot for photos, and make sure everyone (within reason, husbands, tweens, and teens can be bribed easier that toddlers and babies) is in a good mood, and get everything just the way you want it before you subject the little kids to standing just so and smiling to perfection. Postpone the photo op until after the kiddos get a good nap…OR make picture taking the very FIRST thing you do during the day so that everyone is all smiles and not worn out from adventures/parties/etc.
- Cell phone cameras
- 95% of people have cell phones in their possession 100% of the time. One amazing advancement of the cell phone is the camera quality. It’s a great thing to use whenever you do not have anything else with you, but make sure that you are getting the most out of it you can.
- Tip #1 : LIGHTING ADJUSTMENTS! Remember earlier when I advised finding a shady spot for pictures? Whenever you do that, once you aim your phone at the subjects, your phone should adapt to the amount of light it sees. If it does not…touch the screen (not the shutter button) in a darker spot and it will brighten for you. When you tell the phone what your subject is, it knows that it needs to brighten the image. The same goes for a bright spot. If you’re in harsh, bright lighting, yet need to take a picture; tap on the screen and it will change the lighting for you. If you are not happy with what it did, touch a different spot until you get the results you are looking for!
- Tip #2 : LIVE PICTURES! Live imaging is also on most phones, use this to your advantage! If you’re not sure what live images are, it means that your phone essentially is recording the few seconds before and after you actually hit the shutter button. If you are taking pictures of young children, or several people, preview the image and click Edit. You should see a series of boxes at the bottom of your screen. These are all photo frames of the seconds before and after the image was taken. If your “final image” has little Lola’s eyes shut but everyone else looks amazing; look at your live images and change your Key Photo.
- Tip #3 : FOCUS! Focusing on your subject is even more crucial than lighting in photography! Even if your image is perfectly lit, if it’s out of focus, that cannot be fixed. Lighting can be changed to an extent with editing but a blurry image is just a blurry image. As I stated earlier about touching your phone to change the lighting, this is also true for focus. If you notice that your phone just is not zeroing in on the item/face you want it to…touch that item/face and it should focus on it once prompted.
- Point and Shoot Cameras or DSLRs
- While cell phone cameras are great to have on hand in some instances, if you’re wanting images to print, add into a scrapbook, or give to friends and family; a point and shoot or DSLR camera are your best option. There are SEVERAL options for point and shoot cameras as well as inexpensive DSLR options for every single budget. Do a little online research, and find the camera that bests suites your needs and budget. Having the ability to print images larger than a 4×6, and improving the quality will make for much better memories hanging on your wall.
- One amazing perk of digital photography is you can take 15 images in a matter of seconds and you can delete the images you don’t need immediately.
- Still Shots vs. Action Shots
- If you are a sports mom, make sure that you find a camera that has an “action” setting. Using this setting will tell your camera to increase your shutter speed so that it can capture your child in action and you have less chance that the image will be blurry.
- Still images are the pictures where you have everyone in a group and count to three and all eyes are on the camera. Portrait mode is best for these images since there is much less chance of people moving around.
Whew…I know that was a ton of information, but I hope all of these tips help you successfully capture family memories in the future. Photographing moments with your children is priceless, and I want every mom, dad, grandparent, aunt, uncle, foster parent, God parent, step parent, and best friend to know how to set themselves up for success.
Oh…one last tip…PRINT your pictures!!! Who can see that perfect moment if it isn’t displayed in your home???