I recently asked my Instagram & Facebook followers what photography questions they’d like answered. The overwhelming response was that moms need tips for photographing their kids! It seems like such a natural topic for me to write about, and of course, I never would have thought of it if I hadn’t asked. Thanks friends for the wonderful idea!
The nice weather is upon us and moms are most interested in outdoor photos right now. I’ll be posting about photographing indoors soon too. Here are my outdoor tips for now –
5 tips for photographing kids outdoors ~
- This first tip goes for anyone, if you are outdoors please do not shoot at noon or anytime close to it. The sun is way too high, too bright, and just plain harsh. It is going to cause hideous shadows and you’ll be lucky if you get an image where someone isn’t squinting. Photographing your kids as far from noon as possible is the idea. Think early mornings or the hour or two before sunset. Natural light at this time is so pleasing and soft. You can even face your subjects toward the sun and the light will just kiss their faces. No harsh shadows or squinting because the natural light is so much softer. I know this is sometimes not ideal, especially for the very little ones, but I think some of the tips below may help get both mom & child(ren) through it!
- Give the kids something to sit on. We all want that amazing shot, straight on with a big smile and bright eyes looking right at the camera right? It can feel like no matter how hard we try, sometimes the best we can get is the back of someone’s head… and it’s blurry to top it off too. Am I right? Believe me, I have been there and it still happens to me often if I don’t plan things out well. I’m going to show you my secret tool, it’s this little footstool I bought at my local craft store. I painted it white and well guess what, bringing this thing outside suddenly turns me into the coolest mom around. The kids love it! Here is a shot of my son, about to turn 1, leaning on it. He’s now about to turn three, both he and my 6-year-old love it! What I like about is that younger toddlers can support themselves on it, and “older” little kids, find it’s the perfect size to sit on. They are so happy to have something right for their size. I can always get at least a few shots before they move onto something else.
- Dare them to do something. Daring them not to laugh or smile is a good one. I tell them I want really serious faces and proceed to make some ridiculous serious faces myself. This can really bring out genuine smiles. Here’s an image I snapped of my daughter when she would just NOT smile for me at all. I can only imagine the face I was making to get her laughing like this! Be grateful I’m not including a selfie here 😉 Other times I’ll hole-punch shapes and tell them I bet they can’t keep their feet on it. Having them stand on it helps cover it up, plus it turns into a little game and they are just thrilled they can do something you thought they couldn’t. How cute, right?
- Get down on their level. You will get much more natural interactions if you are down there with them. Not only that, but you will actually be able to get photos of their faces! When we are standing up, we see a lot of the top of a child’s head. If we are near them, the angle is much more pleasing. We can capture them facing forward or get those precious profiles.
- Don’t be afraid to let them do what they are going to do. Sometimes we just have to let them run the show. The more we try and direct the situation, the more they can get upset if they are not willing to comply. Here are a few shots where I’ve captured what they are busy doing. I know it’s not that dream shot we all hope for, but there is something so special about capturing what your kids do naturally. This is what memories are made of. You’ll always look back on these images and remember what they used to do when they were little.
Bonus tip! If you are lucky enough to have another adult or an older child with you, test your settings on them first! It will go much more smoothly if you have someone who can stand in a spot for a minute or two while you get everything right in the camera. It’s much harder when you have high-speed lunatics you are trying to capture… at least that’s how it is for me 😉
Read over your exposure settings here if you need a refresher!
To recap, here are my tips ~
- Shoot during early morning or sunset hours.
- Give them a place to sit.
- Dare them not to smile or give them a task.
- Get down on their level.
- Capture them being themselves.
- If you have another adult around, test your settings on them first!
All of these tips are designed to get engagement & cooperation from kids. I have some more technical tips in mind I’d like to share as well. Keep an eye out for those in the coming weeks!
Let me know how these work for you in the comments below!