Hi, and happy Monday! I’m so excited to have my friend Meg from Meg O. on the Go guest blogging today about a topic I know many of us deal with: taking great pictures of our kids. Unless you’re, you know, Beyonce, you probably don’t have a professional photographer following you around 24/7, snapping awesome pictures of your family. If that’s the case, here are 6 great tips to ensure you’ll get some great pics of your family, especially during the holiday season.
Hello, friends! My name is Meg and I run the blog Meg O. on the Go! A huge thanks to Esther for having me over to play today. Esther and I are blog friends turned real friends, and we have collaborated together on various projects! I have two little girls – Kennedy is 4 and Caroline is 1. My kiddos love wearing her clothes. I love taking pictures of my girls. When she asked me to guest post on taking photos of children, I have to say I was really flattered! I am, by no means, a professional. But hopefully I have some great tips for you if you’re wanting to up your photography game.
1. Let them be kids. Sometimes the best photos come from letting your kids play and do their thing. Kids are not really meant to be staged. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to get them to pose or hug or do something and it just doesn’t happen. The best photos come when the girls play and interact. I like to talk and sing and be silly. The worst photos happen when I say “STAND HERE AND SMILE.” This photo is a perfect example of kids being kids. It’s one of my absolute favorite photos of the girls.
2. Engage them in an activity. This kind of goes along with the first one, but sometimes just letting them run around and “be themselves” doesn’t lend itself to great photos. Set something up for them. My girls love wagon rides. They’ll sit still in there for long stretches of time, so it’s the perfect opportunity to snap a photo. Other activities to engage children would be building blocks, reading a book, playing with a favorite toy, etc. I also like to have Kennedy play with her princess dolls and explain to me what they’re doing. She gets excited about it and looks up at me all the time. Perfect moments to snap photos.
3. Look for spots around your house for natural light. My house has horrible lighting. The way our house faces doesn’t let in tons of light all the time. Great for energy costs but horrible for photos. There are a couple of spots around my house that are go-tos when I want to snap a quick photo. I like putting them in front of windows or laying them down on beds for a quick snap. Sometimes we’ll even step outside and snap a photo on the doorstep. I make sure to open the blinds (unless the sun is directly coming in) and let as much light into the room we’re in as possible. Anything by windows is a good spot, really. This photo below was taken in the master bedroom right in front of the windows. Kennedy was laying on top of the baby, but that’s okay because the baby can handle it and it is a perfect photo.
4. Make your camera do more work for you. Children move. They move quickly. I do know how to shoot in manual, but I rarely have enough time to adjust my camera settings for the perfect shot. I will often set my DSLR to Aperture Priority mode (AV on a Canon, A on a Nikon). I will adjust my aperture depending on the shot I’m taking and let the camera figure out the rest of the settings. If I’m using my phone, I snap quickly. Many times I don’t get the perfect lighting in an image straight out of the camera, and that’s okay! Especially with out finicky children can be.
5. Brighten your photos. There is nothing wrong with editing a photo after you’ve taken it. If you got more than one kid to look at the camera and smile, you’re basically winning at life. Editing doesn’t have to be hard. I usually brighten, bump up the contrast, and cool the photo down just a hair. My favorite apps are VSCO and Afterlight. I do have Photoshop on my computer, but you can do simple edits like these for free on PicMonkey. The photo below wasn’t taken in the best lighting, and with my iPhone. I laid Caroline down on a blanket and sang her a silly song. She smiled, I snapped! Not great lighting, but nothing a little editing can’t fix.
6. Keep your expectations realistic. Caroline is at an age that is really hard to photograph because she just does whatever the heck she wants. At least with Kennedy I can bribe her (most of the time, some of the time it backfires on me)! I try and focus on fun little moments with her, rather than getting her to look at the camera and smile, even though I try to get some smiley photos of her. I took this photo below at a Christmas parade. I was more interested in capturing what she thought of the parade and lights rather than getting her to look at the camera. Capturing her innocence, joy, and toddler-isms is fun for me right now. Getting photos of the two of my girls is particularly challenging now, but that’s okay!
Like I said, I’m no expert. I just like taking photos. Hopefully some of my tricks help you! What are your favorite tricks for taking photos of your kids?