Do your kids drive you crazy when you get out the camera?
If they do, that makes you normal.
Are you happy with the results of your photographic efforts?
If not, that makes you normal, too.
Today I’ll share a few tips that will hopefully help with both of these problems and leave you with both happy kids and happy portraits.
I think it’s important to have a nice portrait of your children (either together or separately–or even both) at least every other year, but not every photograph needs to be a “formal” portrait. This portrait was taken just before my oldest daughter left for college. I try to get at least once semi-decent photograph of the four of them every time I have them all together. The one below was from #1’s most recent visit home. You can see they’ve all grown a bit. To me, this is one of the reasons we have portraits of all of them together. They didn’t coordinate their clothes and they didn’t pick a pose (yes, they chose the top pose themselves) but I love the way this portrait shows their relationship.
While my kids have learned to be cooperative subjects over the years, like most kids they prefer to play during our portrait sessions. Allowing your kids to relax and enjoy themselves will go a long way toward both good portraits and cooperative kids. Over the years, I’ve discovered that not having too strict of an agenda makes our portrait sessions less stressful.
If you’re like most people, one of the first photographic principles you were taught was to put your back to the sun when taking a picture. While this certainly does keep the sun off the lens, it unfortunately puts your subject facing right into the sun. I don’t know about you, but I personally think squinty, scrunched up faces aren’t particualrly attractive. Think about your subjects first–in this case, your kids–and don’t make them look into the sun.
While my personal favorite times of day are early morning and late afternoon (generally the first and last hours of sunlight in a day), you can get great photos of your kids any time. One of your best friends in photographic lighting is going to be shade. Both of these portraits happened to be taken on cloudy days. A light cloud cover is great for portraits. No squinting, no harsh shadows.
But if it is sunny out, just find a little shade for your favorite subjects. This mid-day photo was helped by a shade tree. This tree allows plenty of light but avoids the “squints.” Just try to keep the sun off the ends of their noses.
If you can’t get them in the shade, turn their faces away from the sun. We’ve still got sun on the top of his head and the side, but not right in his adorable face.
Sometimes turning their faces away from the sun makes their faces a little flat. Yes, you can definitely use a flash outdoors, but that doesn’t always give the effect you like–and with most cameras’ built-in flashes, you need to be pretty close to do any good. A reflector can make all the difference in the world. You can buy one for about $50 at most bigger camera stores–or you can make your own. A sheet of white foamcore works well–or one covered with silver paint or aluminum foil. Even those car sunshades will work if they’re reflective.
No, it’s not her best portrait by any means, but you can certainly see the difference a reflector can make. No other changes were made to the photos.
Do you have a hard time getting your younger kids to stay in one place long enough for a photo? Give them something to do. I had these adorable sisters climb on the fence.
Giving your kids something to do is one of the best ways to keep them happy while getting great portraits. Here we told the girls they could throw rocks in the stream (they wanted to do it anyway, why not turn it to our advantage?).
These are just a few tips. For more cute kid photos and more tips on making great portraits with your kids, visit my Facebook page and click on the album “Photo Tips.”
Have any questions or comments? Things you’d like to learn more about? Leave me a comment below or on my Facebook page and I’ll be happy to answer it for you.