By Regina Ray, Regina Ray Photography
Children are great and, as parents, we always try to capture every precious moment while they grow up. As we head into the festive season, full of special times to photograph, here are some useful tips on how to get the best shots of your children:
1. Go to their eye level
Treat them as equal to you and align your eye level with theirs. You will see a completely different personality of your child revealed. You may need to go flat on your tummy or have your little one stand on a higher plane (careful, though, make sure there is someone else with you to help you), but the results will be fantastic.
Use a long focal length (or maximum zoom). This will allow you to be far enough from your curious subjects so they won’t try to grab the camera and at the same time will give you a nice depth of field (DoF) to separate them from the surroundings.
2. Capture them at play
There is nothing better than capturing a portrait of a child in their most natural state while playing. Make the experience fun and entertaining for them so that they smile and laugh, even if this means that you have to pull silly faces and make funny noises.
Set your shutter speed at the camera and let the camera do the rest. You might need faster shutter speeds if your little ones are moving around or throwing objects at the air.
Personality and simplicity
It is all about personality and your little ones are full of it. Look for different moments and moods, simplify the background (white wall at the house makes a perfect background) and make this picture just about them.
Use narrow, wide-open apertures on your manual controls camera or the portrait mode on your smartphone. It will help you separate your subject from the background.
3. Use unusual angles
Be creative as much as you want and use the natural vantage point of your height – shoot from above. This will result in interesting images. Try and experiment with different vantage points – this could be a fun game for both you and your child and, along with the images, you will create happy memories.
You might need a wide-angle lens or set the zoom at the lowest possible number – e.g., 24mm on some point-and-shoot cameras; smartphone cameras are usually around 35mm and you can do that with a smartphone.
4. Get them in motion
Most of the time it is very difficult to make children stay still, so instead of trying to make them do what you want them to do, relax and use the moment. Capture them in motion and don’t worry about the blur – this is what makes the images dynamic.
If they run in a circle around you, stay in the middle and turn with them (panning technique). Keep pressing the shutter and you will create fascinating images.
5. Ask them to pose
Or if you are confident (and your child is in a good mood!) try and get them to pose for you. Some children really enjoy the undivided attention and are very comfortable with cameras. If this is the case, have a quick look on the internet for appropriate posing for children and try and recreate some poses.
Don’t push them into poses that they are not comfortable with. And try and turn the whole experience into a play. Give them simple directions and constantly encourage them.
6. Capture them unaware
Some of the best portraits are created when children are not aware of the camera, when they are relaxed and immersed in their own thoughts. These are precious moments that reveal much of their personalities and make fond memories.
7. Use the holidays and the seasons
Every holiday is a happy time that also provides us with a variety of photography props – whether a pumpkin for Halloween, Easter bunnies or Christmas tinsel – incorporate them in your photos. Give them to your kids so they can play with them and feel less awkward in front of the camera or use them as decoration and background. Similarly, each season gives us an amazing natural backdrop for images so go out and shoot the autumn colours or the spring flowers, the falling snow (fingers crossed this Christmas) or the sandy beaches.
8. Capture emotions and facial expressions
You might need to practise your funny faces for that – children are mirrors and the best way to make them do something is if you do it yourself first. So, get practising!
9. Capture them at their favourite activity
The confidence they display while doing their favourite activity, boosted by the attention you are giving them, is not only important but will surely come across in your images.
Learn your camera (or smartphone) controls and experiment with various setting. Do not delete images on the back of your camera – see them big on your computer and try editing them.
10. Last but not least – Be creative
Keep trying. There is no right and wrong. Relax, experiment, try different things. And remember – images are created on both sides of the camera. So, make sure every image is attached to a happy, precious memory.
THE MOST IMPORTANT TIP:
Print your images – they are your legacy. Leave them in your living room and have a look through them on a rainy Sunday or when the whole family gets together. The most beautiful thing about your prints is that they create lovely bonds between you and your children, they are like doorways to happy, loving memories.
All images ©ReginaRayPhotography
All images published with permission