When I was growing up, my mum was always the one with a camera in her hand, taking photos of me at the beach or my favourite park, capturing delightful moments of our everyday life. It wasn’t long before I became a mum myself that my love affair with photography had begun.
As a mum, I can relate to the struggle mums go through when it comes to photographing their children, they don’t listen, they can’t sit still, they don’t always give you the picture-perfect-smile you are expecting, but there are ways to make the experience easier. Here are some great tips I would like to share.
1. Make it fun and spontaneous
Sometimes we are so focused on getting the best shots that we neglect how children feel. The last thing we want is for kids to get bored or even feel miserable about being photographed. Why not give them some activities to do and let them take control, or even better, engage with them and play a game together. Sing a silly song and make them laugh, take them for a walk and let them explore, have a competition to see who can jump the highest. Make the experience fun and just go with the flow, you’ll be able to capture their genuine emotions which can’t be reproduced.
2. Bring yourself to your child’s level
Not only is this is a great tip on photographing kids, but is also great to use in everyday life when you talk with them. You might need to kneel down or even lie on the ground, but it’s definitely worth it. You are telling your children they are important and it is easier for them to connect with you. The pictures you get is more powerful than simply looking up at you.
3. Find the best light
When you photograph children outside under the midday sun, it’s more than likely that the sun casts some unflattering shadows on their faces, making them blink or feel uncomfortable. It is best to find an area with no bright, direct sunlight, e.g. in the shade of big trees. My favorite time for outdoor portrait is either early morning or one hour before sunset (golden hour), when the sun is low in the sky and light is complementary. When taking photos of the children indoors, moving them slightly away from the window will give their face a more soft and natural look.
4. Be active and prepare to take lots of images
Move yourself constantly when you are photographing kids, take close-up shots, take shots from a distance, above or even behind. If they are running fast, maybe you should run too, you will get some great action shots. I always find the best shots I get are those “in-between” moments, when things are happening and kids are reacting spontaneously. The more photos you take, the more chance you will get a good expression out of the photos taken.
These are all the tips I would like to share, even though photographing children is not always so easy, it is definitely rewarding when you capture their real personality and genuine smiles!
And one last tip: don’t forget to include yourself in the frame if you can, these are the memories your kids will treasure the most in years to come!
Susanna Lin is a portrait photographer based in Tauranga specialising in children, babies and family photography. Her style is fun, natural and playful.