Moms and dads often ask me how they can get better snapshots of their kids at home. For me there are no hard and fast rules to live by because all kids and families are different and connect in different ways. That said, here are a few tricks I use to get the best photos I can of my own kids as well as my clients. These photos are nearly straight out of the camera except for a little sharpening for the web.
I think the most important component of any photograph is flattering light. For me, this means turning off the flash and putting my kids in natural light. Outdoors, the best light is usually found in the early morning or the few hours before sunset when the sun is low in the sky. Nice even shade is also a great place to start. Indoors, I like to get my kids facing a big window to flatter their skin and brighten their eyes. This photo was taken in my bright white bedroom in the late morning. There was lots of natural sunlight in the room bouncing off all the white walls and bedding, and none of it was shining directly on my son.
Little, everyday moments make the best family snapshots. In this photo, my daughter had just woken up from her nap and was singing in her crib. I love that she is wearing the too-big dress she picked out for herself that morning, her hair is messy, and she has her beloved lovey in her grip. These are things I want to remember when she is 18 and leaving for college.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking only a smile will do. Kids have many different emotions, and even that indifferent, grumpy or worried look can make a great photo. Here is a recent favorite of my son because it captures his shiny blue eyes and creamy skin. It’s a great portrait, even without the smile.
We parents often tell our kids to smile for the camera and get frustrated when the opposite happens. Posing for photos doesn’t interest most kids. If you’re set on getting real, authentic smiles from your little ones, enlist help. Most kids need a reason to break into big giggles. I know my husband can get big smiles out of our daughter, so when she was in the tub one evening, I had Drew stand behind me for a game of peekaboo while I snapped away. This big giggly grin came every time he made her jump in surprise, and I was able to grab it.
Finally, which camera to buy? There are so many options out there. If your goal is to capture the little everyday moments that happen in your kids’ lives, I think it’s imperative to have an easy-to-use camera that you can grab, point and shoot at a moment’s notice. Kids don’t wait for you to get your camera settings in order. So for my own family snapshots, I use an ultralight, pocket-sized digital camera. It takes excellent snapshots, is easy to use and is perfect when we’re on the go. (Check out the Panasonic Lumix point-and-shoot camera, a great camera at a decent price.)